Some have wondered: Where was star litigator Dan Webb at Governor Rod Blagojevich’s bond hearing?
High-powered Winston & Strawn litigators Dan Webb and Bradley Lerman were not at Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s side when he appeared at a bond hearing on Tuesday. Blagojevich instead tapped Sheldon Sorosky, a lawyer from two-partner Chicago litigation shop Kaplan & Sorosky. Whither Winston & Strawn?
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich owes more than $500,000 in unpaid bills to the law firm Winston & Strawn, his primary counsel since federal investigators began looking into various allegations of corruption five years ago. It is unclear whether the legal bills are for personal or campaign work, or for both. Campaign filings show Winston & Strawn had charged the governor’s campaign fund, Friends of Blagojevich, nearly $2 million in legal fees through the end of 2007.
“Friends of Blagojevich”: probably in short supply right now.
* Renomination of Steven Bradbury to head OLC seen as diss to Dems. [New York Times]
* Barry Bonds seeks dismissal of perjury charges. Depends on what the meaning of “is” is? [San Francisco Chronicle via How Appealing]
* Senate debates whether to grant phone companies immunity from suits arising out of their helping out on warrantless wiretapping. [Washington Post]
* Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan seeks Supreme Court review of his conviction. [Chicago Tribune via How Appealing]
* Also turning to the SCOTUS: cheeky pro se litigant who forestalled foreclosure for 11 years. [WSJ Law Blog]
* You’ve got mail? Maybe not, at least at the White House, which is having some email archiving problems. [Washington Post]
Since the tireless Howard Bashman is in transit, we’ll temporarily assume his role as super-timely provider of appellate litigation news.
This just in: A divided Seventh Circuit panel has affirmed the criminal convictions of former Illinois Governor George H. Ryan and his associate, Lawrence Warner. The majority opinion is by Judge Diane Wood (who is a judicial hottie); the dissent is by Judge Michael Kanne (who is reportedly not fat).
This is especially bad news for Winston & Strawn. As some of you may recall, the firm reportedly blew $20 million on defending Governor Ryan, on a pro bono basis. United States v. Ryan [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit]
* President Bush said yesterday that 14 “high-value” terror suspects, who were previously held in secret by the CIA, had been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, for possible trials before military tribunals. Gitmo’s not exactly the Four Seasons Nevis; but we suppose it’s an improvement. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Former Illinois Governor George Ryan was sentenced to 6½ years in prison on federal corruption charges. Interesting factoid: “Ryan was the third former governor in Illinois history to be convicted of wrongdoing, all since the 1970s.” [Chicago Tribune]
* The court-appointed guardian of New York grande dame Brooke Astor’s assets in looking into whether her son improperly obtained some $14 million from his mother while “managing” her finances. [New York Times]
* James Frey, disgraced author of “A Million Little Pieces,” and Random House, his publisher, have reached a settlement with readers who filed lawsuits claiming they were defrauded. The terms of the settlement are a bit silly — but then again, the lawsuit was too. [New York Times]
Former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson just resigned as chairman of Chicago legal powerhouse Winston & Strawn, after 13 years at the helm. Here’s what he had to say about his departure:
Thompson, 70, described the move as a natural transfer of power to younger lawyers. He noted that the firm had amended its rules twice so he could remain chairman beyond the mandatory retirement age of 65.
“I was supposed to step down as chairman five years ago,” Thompson said. “It’s time for the next generation — which is exactly what I said when I stepped down as governor.”
But perhaps there’s more to this than meets the eye. Thompson was brought in as a rainmaker — and rewarded with a salary in excess of $1 million. But then things went south:
In recent years Thompson’s patina as a rainmaker lost a bit of shine. As a board member of Hollinger International, Conrad Black’s former publishing empire, Thompson faced lawsuits and a Wells Notice from the SEC. He left the board earlier this year, but an unnamed source reportedly said to the Sun-Times: “He became an issue.”
He also came under some criticism — from both inside and outside his firm — for Winston & Strawn’s pro-bono defense of former Illinois governor George Ryan, who was indicted on corruption charges. The firm reportedly spent an estimated $20 million on Ryan’s defense.
The case didn’t end well: Ryan was convicted, and The American Lawyer refused to count the thousands of hours spent on the case as “pro bono” work. Wow — that’s one expensive lapse of judgment.
If you have any inside dirt you’d like to share about L’Affaire Thompson, email us. Thompson resigns as law firm chief [Chicago Sun-Times via WSJ Law Blog]
Ms. JD is hosting their 2nd annual cocktail benefit to raise money for the Global Education Fund. The event will be held on August 21, 2014 at 111 Minna in San Francisco. Our goal is to raise $20,000 to fund the legal educations of four dedicated law students in Uganda who count on our support to continue their studies at Makerere University during the 2014-15 academic year.
The Global Education Fund enable womens in developing countries to pursue legal educations who otherwise would not have access to further education. According to the World Bank, investment in education for girls has one of the highest rates of return to promote development. In Uganda, more than 45% of women over the age of 25 have no schooling at all, and men are more than twice as likely as women to have access to higher education. Together, we can work to end educational inequality. For more information about the program, please visit http://ms-jd.org/programs/global-education-fund/
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.