We haven’t seen as many films this year as we usually do. But one of our favorites, either our #1 or #2 pick for the year, is The Queen (directed, and brilliantly so, by Stephen Frears).
Here’s a decent plot summary:
In late August 1997, just as Prime Minister Tony Blair was moving into 10 Downing Street, Princess Diana died in a Paris car wreck. England went into traumatized mourning deeper than anyone could have predicted, while the royal family — Diana’s estranged former inlaws — offered no public reaction at all.
As resentment toward the royal cold shoulder built into a monarchical crisis of public opinion, young Mr. Blair [attempts to intervene] with the Queen, [urging] the House of Windsor [to make] a public demonstration of something like humanity.
But Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) resists Blair’s call for a more public show of empathy. She is a deeply traditional woman, and as far as she’s concerned, Diana’s death is a “private matter” — since Diana, divorced from Prince Charles some time ago, was no longer a “royal” or “HRH” at the time of her death.
The Queen’s commitment to tradition makes her tone deaf on the public relations front. She does not know how to navigate the complex and challenging world of the modern mass media. The Queen fails to see the crisis in confidence that is looming — a crisis that threatens the institution of the monarchy, which she loves above all.
What we must now ask is:
Is H. Rodgin Cohen, the chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell, the Biglaw version of “The Queen”?
Then again, this roommate situation isn’t the typical set-up of two post-college kids throwing up a sheetrock wall in a 500-square-foot one bedroom. It’s an amazing apartment on Lower Broadway, a sprawling loft with high ceilings and great furniture — courtesy of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” on which Berman once appeared (even though he’s actually gay).
Jeff Berman went into this roommate arrangement not knowing for certain whether it would work out. Per the New York Times:
For Mr. Berman, a young lawyer who had met Ms. [Lauren] Reece — then Billy — at a bar in Chelsea two years before, moving in with a transsexual required a leap of faith. He was worried that a host of changes, physical as well as psychological, would make the perky Ms. Reece “a bit unstable.”
As it turns out, domestic tranquillity reigns. The two roommates could pass for a suburban couple: Mr. Berman, 26, in workout pants and a T-shirt, Ms. Reece, 28, in a pink cardigan and pearl necklace.
Aww… Isn’t that cute?
But look, even if Lauren Reece has turned out to be a total head case, Jeffrey Berman might still have wanted to move in. Why? As everyone knows, space-deprived Manhattanites are sluts for square footage. Who wouldn’t room with someone “a bit unstable” — heck, aren’t we all — in exchange for 1,400 square feet and 14-foot ceilings?
Hell, we’d move in with a transsexual PROSTITUTE if he/she had a pad that fabulous. Give us earplugs and some hand sanitizer, and we’re good to go. Update: Yes, this post has been tweaked slightly since its original incarnation. In the Right Place at the Right Time [New York Times] Jeffrey C. Berman [Debevoise & Plimpton]
Why do we say this? Because more lawyers are on the scene, that’s why! And now everybody gets to grab their socks.
(Internal investigations: Fun for the whole family!)
Here’s a quick update on what’s going on in Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, the lawsuit filed by Aaron Charney against S&C, alleging anti-gay discrimination and retaliation.
On the civil litigation front, Sullivan & Cromwell has a week or two before it must answer Charney’s Complaint (PDF). As we previously mentioned, S&C is conducting an internal investigation into some of Charney’s allegations.
Here’s the latest news:
1. Sullivan & Cromwell associate Gera Grinberg, the purportedly straight associate with whom plaintiff Aaron Charney had a relationship that an S&C partner allegedly referred to as “unnatural” (HOTT!!!), has retained counsel: Gallion & Spielvogel.
Some time ago, we tried to contact Mr. Grinberg. We received this response from his new lawyers:
I understand that you recently have attempted to speak with Sullivan & Cromwell associate attorney Gera Grinberg.
Please be advised that my law firm, Gallion & Spielvogel, has been retained to represent Mr. Grinberg. My partner, Steven Spielvogel, and I are both alumni of Sullivan & Cromwell’s Litigation Department; we have a great deal of experience with internal corporate inquiries and, in fact, our firm specializes in handling such sensitive internal investigations.
As you can well understand, under the circumstances we have instructed our client not to speak directly with any media representatives. To the extent that you wish to contact Mr. Grinberg for any reason in the future, you should direct your inquiry to me at my law firm by email.
I trust that you and other representatives of your organization will refrain from any further attempts to reach my client directly.
Edward R. Gallion Gallion & Spielvogel
Interesting that Grinberg has hired lawyers who are former S&C litigators (and presumably still on good terms with the firm). We wouldn’t be surprised if the powers-that-be at the firm pointed Grinberg in Gallion’s direction.
Why has Grinberg retained counsel? We’re guessing Gallion is representing Grinberg in connection with Sullivan & Cromwell’s internal investigation. Speaking of which…
2. We previously asked you which outside law firm was handling S&C’s investigation.
We haven’t confirmed this 100 percent. But we are hearing on the street that S&C has retained Paul Hastings. The team is said to be led by Zachary Fasman, a Paul Hastings partner who specializes in employment litigation.
We will contact Mr. Fasman and let you know what, if any, comment he has to offer.
If you have info you can share about this matter, please contact us. Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)
It looks like the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Law Association of New York (“LeGal”) has gotten tired of receiving angry emails from random gay law students at Columbia, NYU, and Fordham.
Over at their website, LeGal has posted an interesting statement (gavel bang: Soloway) about Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. LeGal, you may recall, is the gay rights group whose vice-president, John Scheich, spoke out publicly in defense of S&C (as discussed here and here).
The statement, issued by LeGal’s Board of Directors, reads as a whale of a bitchslap stinging rebuke of Jack Scheich. It’s unintentionally amusing, in a smirk-inducing, Schadenfreude-ish sort of way.
We reprint (1) the LeGal Board’s statement, and (2) a personal email that Scheich sent to Charney — yeah, seriously!!! — after the jump.
We’ll get back to the subject of payraises for law firm associates in a minute. For now, here’s a quick update on the other story that Biglaw is abuzz about: Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, the case filed against S&C by associate Aaron Charney, alleging anti-gay discrimination and retaliation.
We’re monitoring coverage of this lawsuit through a news feed. Here are links to, and excerpts from, the latest stories:
1. Maple Grief [TheLawyer.com]
[O]ne charge [in the Charney Complaint] strikes [us] as particularly heinous. And that is that partners at the firm said the prevailing attitude internally was that “S&C considers all Canadians to be irrelevant”.
Given that the firm’s M&A lawyers spent most of last year defending Canadian nickel producer Inco on a £9.3bn hostile bid, we would be keen to hear Sullivan’s arguments played out in a tribunal.
If you haven’t already done so, you can still vote in our poll asking you whether you support Aaron Charney or Sullivan & Cromwell in Charney v. S&C. Click here to vote in that poll (or to view the results if you’ve already voted).
After we posted Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell: The $15 Million Question, a number of you started to debate in the comments:
“5-10 mil seems like a fair sum to ask for in this matter.”
“I’d let partners say much more degrading things to me for $5M. I’d also allow myself to be left out of the summer mentoring program. ABP’s sandwiches are not bad at all. Esp. that chicken mozzarella one.”
“Does anyone have statistics on the average employment discrimination award in NYC? Include not just the cases that won millions, but also the cases we never hear about.”
“$15 million? Sheesh. I’d take it up the butt for $15 million, much less tolerate a few comments about bending over.”
We realize that what we’re about to do is completely unscientific and unreliable. We don’t know all the facts of the case. Nor do we have any data concerning the average size of employment discrimination awards in New York City (as one of you expressed an interest in seeing). So we don’t have any solid basis for comparisons.
But please, humor us; we’re curious. For what it’s worth — and we admit it may not be worth much — please take our latest poll:
Some of you are getting tired of our wall-to-wall coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. We hate to break it to you, but it’s not changing anytime soon.
In deciding what to cover, we listen more to our tracking software than to individual commenters. And our traffic stats make clear that most of you can’t get enough of this case. Your appetite for more information about Charney v. S&C appears to be insatiable.
(But we’ve decided to give you a break from Charney’s “glistening-smile mug shot,” from the S&C website. For this post, we’ve used a smaller headshot that one of you kindly sent our way.)
In our weekend coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, we pointed out a New York Post article that referred to Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell as a “$15 million lawsuit.” We wondered where this $15 million figure came from, since Aaron Charney doesn’t specify the amount of damages he seeks in his Complaint (PDF).
A commenter responded:
“$15 million is supposedly the figure AC and his lawyer first demanded in the meeting mentioned in RC’s memo from the firm.”
We followed up with Aaron Charney, who denied this claim. Read more after the jump.
“[N]o work is getting done [at S&C]. We’re too busy concocting conspiracy theories about why certain highly-detailed comments to the WSJ law blog were pulled…(these posts were fairly specific in their criticisms of S&C and, in particular certain partners/wannabe underlings)…”
Over at the WSJ Law Blog itself, there was some meta-commentary about the deletion of these comments:
“Why are comments being deleted from the board? There were definitely a few on here that were posted since 7:35 AM today.”
“[O]ne of my finest writings was summarily removed by the WSJ Law Blog thought police. Why don’t we all keep parallel logs of our writings as each is entered, and if the law blog continues with its caprice in 2007, et seq., we loggers can then start a class action against WSJ law blog. Coul[d] be fun!”
“I am a gay blogger and WSJ expunged me without my consent. It felt GREAT.”
“A post regarding the attractiveness of one of the attorneys mentioned in complaint ([Melissa] Sawyer) was removed, I know that much because I remember it being there. And after looking up her profile myself . . yes, she is a fox.”
We followed up with Peter Lattman of the WSJ Law Blog, to find out why certain S&C-related comments were getting zapped. We received a response from Bill Grueskin, managing editor of WSJ.com.
We reprint Mr. Grueskin’s response, and explain ATL’s own policy on reader comments, after the jump.
We wrote a fair amount over the weekend about Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. Scroll down the page to see our coverage, or click here and here.
One of our posts concerned an interesting letter that a gay NYU Law graduate wrote to John Scheich, first vice-president of the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of New York (LeGal). Last week, Scheich made statements to the media supporting S&C in the case. This NYU grad’s letter questioned Scheich about the basis for LeGal’s public support of S&C.
Scheich’s response to the letter, also reprinted in our post, struck us as a bit snippy. Based on your comments, many of you agree with us.
Now Aaron Charney (at right) has decided to give Jack Scheich a piece of his mind. We reprint Charney’s letter after the jump.
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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