Fast Food

Fry Guy Fry Kid William Smith William P Smith Bill Smith McDermott Will Emery Above the Law blog.JPGWe have a ruling in the HappyMealGate case (prior coverage here, here, and here of Wiliam P. Smith, the McDermott Will & Emery partner who told Judge Laurel Myerson Isicoff that she was “a few French Fries short of a Happy Meal”). And it’s surprisingly lenient.
Judge Isicoff basically gave Smith a stern talking to:

“There is no jurisdiction in the U.S. — including the district where Mr. Smith regularly practices — where the expression and tone Mr. Smith used on May 7 would fall in the bounds of acceptable behavior,” a solemn Isicoff said from the bench in front of a packed courtroom.

and ordered him to take an online professionalism course administered by the Florida Bar.
Smith brought McDermott chairman Harvey Freishtat with him to beg and plead for mercy from Isicoff. Apparently it worked.

Isicoff said she accepted the apologies of both Smith and McDermott Will & Emery chairman Harvey Freishtat, the head of the Chicago-based, 1,000-lawyer firm, who also appeared in front of her to beg her pardon.

Looks like the fry guy got off relatively easy, and we’ve all learned something: don’t stoop to middle-school insults while arguing in front of a federal judge, especially if you’re appearing pro hac vice.

Fry Guy Fry Kid William Smith William P Smith Bill Smith McDermott Will Emery Above the Law blog.JPGSurely you all recall William P. Smith — a partner at McDermott Will & Emery (Chicago), and head of its bankruptcy department — who recently told a Miami bankruptcy judge, in open court, that she was “a few French Fries short of a Happy Meal.” We broke the story here (with follow-up here).
The “Happy Meal” comment royally pissed off Judge Laurel Myerson Isicoff (and not ’cause she’s a Burger King partisan). She benchslapped Bill Smith via an Order to Show Cause, directing the Fry Guy to explain why he shouldn’t be suspended from practice in her court.
The firm has now filed a motion in response to the OSC. From the Daily Business Review:

Chicago attorney William P. Smith says he’s very, very, very sorry for telling U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurel Myerson Isicoff she was “a few French fries short of a Happy Meal” during a May 7 court hearing in Miami.

The chairman of McDermott Will & Emery, the Chicago-based firm whose bankruptcy practice Smith heads, is ready to prostrate himself before the judge as well.

According to a recent motion filed by the law firm, Harvey Freishtat, who heads the 1,000-lawyer firm, plans to fly to Miami for a hearing on Smith’s comment. The motion states Freishtat will personally express “on behalf of the entire firm, to this court, to the other lawyers in this case, and to the other honorable judges of this District Court, [his firm’s] sincere and deepest apology for the words used by Mr. Smith.”

And would Her Honor like a side of fries with that?
More discussion after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “HappyMealGate: Let’s Just Have a Public Flogging, and Get This Over With”

Fry Guy Fry Kid William Smith William P Smith Bill Smith McDermott Will Emery Above the Law blog.JPGEarlier this month, we wrote about how William P. Smith — a partner at McDermott Will & Emery (Chicago), and head of its bankruptcy department — landed himself in the deep-fat fryer. Smith unwisely told a bankruptcy judge, in open court, that she was “a few French Fries short of a Happy Meal.”
Well, Judge Laurel Myerson Isicoff didn’t respond so well to that colorful statement. She issued a sua sponte Order to Show Cause, directing William Smith (hereinafter “the Fry Guy”) to explain why he shouldn’t be suspended from practicing in her court.
Several tipsters have directed our attention to this delightful article, from the Daily Business Review, about the Fry Guy’s “super-sized gaffe.” It describes the fallout, for both Smith and McDermott Will & Emery, from L’Affaire Happy Meal — and includes a shout-out to Above the Law.
Excerpts and discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “HappyMealGate: An Update on the Fry Guy”

pizza slice Above the Law blog.jpg* Inmate’s last request: pizza for homeless. [CNN]
* Iraqi death row inmate claims innocence, confession by torture.[CNN]
* Brit convicted for leaking secret Bush-Blair memo. [AP]
* AG Gonzales feels he has weathered the Attorneygate storm… [New York Times]
* … Meanwhile, another US Attorney firing is revealed. [Washington Post]

sphinx of sacramento Anthony Kennedy Justice Anthony M Kennedy Above the Law blog.JPG* Justice Kennedy profile: “The Sphinx of Sacramento.” [Slate]
* NBA refs give a new meaning to DWB. [
SI]
* Imus plans lawsuit based on contractual language that acknowledged irreverence. [MSNBC]
* Trans fat lawsuit against KFC deep fried, disposed of properly. [CNN]
* Indian judge who issued Gere warrant transferred. “Routine”? [MSNBC]

* North Dakota legislators are not comfortable with these sitcom-like living arrangements the kids (and senior citizens) are doing these days. [MSNBC]
* If they think college students are vain, imagine how a study of law students would fare. [CNN]
* Hillary Clinton selects general counsel. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Is Big Food the next Big Tobacco? [ Law.com]

* Filet-O-Fish creator never got a dime off his religion-inspired fish sandwich, yet remains grateful for all he did achieve. That is the spirit of Lent (which starts tomorrow!). [Cincinnati Enquirer]
* No one disses Nike. [The Guardian]
* Inventor of the Electric Slide says Teri Hatcher is doing it all wrong. [MSN Technology via Sivacracy.net]
* Flasher invokes the “These pants always do that” affirmative defense… [IndyStar.com]
* …while Peeping Tom sticks with the less creative “What? This is the women’s bathroom?” defense. [The Milwaukee Channel]
* EMI and Warner Music — on again! [The Daily News]

pizza pizza pizza Above the Law legal tabloid blog blawg.jpgThat’s the provocative question Professor Stephen Bainbridge poses in his TCS Daily Column. We say: Don’t give the clients any ideas.
(Of course, if the dying lawyer writhes on the floor in agony for six minutes before expiring, expect to get billed for that tenth of an hour.)
Professor Bainbridge asks this rhetorical question: “[W]hy does anybody hire transactional lawyers?” After all, frequently they “giv[e] advice that could be given by other professionals.” Plus, they’re annoying. And expensive.
He outlines two competing hypotheses for explaining the work of corporate lawyers: the “Pie Division Role” and the “Pie Expansion Role.” Under the former, which takes a zero-sum view of the world, lawyers try to maximize the gains of their own client. Under the latter, which does not take a zero-sum view, “the lawyer makes everybody better off by increasing the size of the pie.”
Bainbridge argues that training of transactional lawyers should focus more on the “Pie Expansion” model. To demonstrate the limitations of the “Pie Division” role, he gives this example:

You and a friend go out to eat. You decide to share a pizza, so you need to agree on its division. Would you hire somebody to negotiate a division of the pizza? Especially if they were going to take one of your slices as their fee?

But isn’t this exactly what corporate lawyers do — and how they earn their seven-figure paydays?
We offer our own, somewhat cynical take on Professor Bainbridge’s pizza example, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading ““First, Kill All the Transactional Lawyers?””

chicken mcnuggets Above the Law McDonalds.jpg* Chickens help us cope with “chronic anxiety” too. After they’re ground up and turned into McNuggets. [Nasty, Brutish & Short]
* “DO NOT put any person in this washing machine.” Unless they’re really smelly — and small. [Overlawyered; Associated Press]
* Eliot Spitzer has a man-date. In more ways than one. [New York Daily News]
* Joan Biskupic gets a book deal. For a bio that writes itself. [How Appealing]
* Judges should too. ‘Cause most of them couldn’t do their own Westlaw research if their lives depended on it. [TaxProf Blog]

As previously mentioned, we’re on a reduced publication schedule this week. We’ll be doing a daily news round-up (and maybe a few other random posts here and there). We’ll return to our normal diarrhea of the keyboard publishing schedule on January 2.
* Civil libertarians, just raise the white flag. The Justice Department knows what you’re doing RIGHT NOW. [Washington Post]
* His father always knew there was “something special” about Judge Frank Easterbrook. And litigants who have appeared before FHE feel the same way. [Buffalo News via How Appealing (of course -- no offense, but we aren't regular readers of the Buffalo News)]
* In other Seventh Circuit news, Judge Richard Posner delivers remarks about maritime law to an audience of supermodels. We swear we’re not making this up. [Washington Post]
* Following up on our prior report, here’s a clear sign that Chadbourne & Parke partners don’t have enough business. [WSJ Law Blog]
* If McDonald’s french fries never taste the same, blame it on the anti-trans-fat legislation. [UPI]
* Complications of diabetes: not just medical, but law-related, too. [New York Times]
* If you’re a judge with unfulfilled literary aspirations, try writing something safe and non-controversial. Ideally it should be something nobody would want to read. We suggest a pop-up book about the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch via How Appealing]
* Even more fun than charades: take Peter Lattman to a party, start reading out random newspaper headlines, and challenge him to find a legal angle to the stories. [WSJ Law Blog]

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