Last week, I went to the preliminary hearing for Chris Bucchere, a software developer charged with felony vehicular manslaughter. On a workday morning in March 2012, Bucchere struck and killed a 71-year-old pedestrian, Sutchi Hui, in a busy, crowded intersection. Bucchere’s case has gotten a lot of attention in San Francisco, both because this is a case of manslaughter by bike rather than by car, and because Bucchere garnered criticism for writing about the incident on an online biking forum afterward, particularly because he ended the post by lamenting the “heroic” death of his helmet.
As in many urban environments, there is strife between the different classes of commuters in his city. Bucchere epitomized for many the reckless biker who takes liberties with the laws of the road — annoying drivers — and does not take seriously the damage that can be done on two wheels to those on two legs — annoying pedestrians, and in this case, mortally injuring one. The case interested me because press reports indicated that data from Bucchere’s Strava account — an app that bikers can use to track their rides — had been used to show how fast he had been going and to prove he had ignored stop signs.
District Attorney George Gascón told me the Strava data was part of the reason the city had decided to bring such severe charges against Bucchere. “It implies he was trying to compete with himself,” Gascón said. Bucchere’s online comments also played a role. “His helmet was more important than a human being.”
The Strava data did not wind up being instrumental in the hearing at all, though; instead 30 seconds of surveillance video took center stage.
* We have a new pope. Pope Francis I has no involvement with the sexual abuse scandals surrounding the Church, but has had other legal troubles in his past. [Los Angeles Times]
* UNLV Law Dean Nancy Rapoport schools other deans on drafting press releases about the U.S. News rankings. [Nancy Rapoport's Blogspot]
* Lend your support to this new project to create Oyez-style audio/video archives of state Supreme Court proceedings. This will be really helpful, but I’m holding out for audio/video of Wade McCree’s courtroom. [Knight News Challenge]
* If you’re mad that your name comes up when people Google “erectile dysfunction,” filing a public lawsuit over that fact isn’t the answer. [IT-Lex]
* Charter schools are lame because the crazy people running them teach whatever they want, like this one that teaches students that hippies were dirty. Well, okay, that’s not actually untrue, but the system’s textbooks have other faults, like explaining how the KKK was just misunderstood, y’all. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]
* Man loses his memory after car crash-induced head trauma, decides to become a lawyer. I’ve always said would-be lawyers should have their heads examined. [BBC News via Legal Cheek]
* The Department of Justice has reached yet another settlement in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill case, this time with Transocean Ltd. for $1.4 billion in civil and criminal penalties and fines. [National Law Journal]
* “[W]ith success comes regulatory scrutiny.” Google convinced the FTC to close its ongoing antitrust probe by promising to change its allegedly shady patent usage and purportedly skewed search terms. [Bloomberg]
* According to Littler Mendelson, federal contractors might want to consider sending out sequestration-related layoff notices to employees in order to comply with the WARN Act. America, f**k yeah! [Government Executive]
* Governor Andrew Cuomo will have a major impact on the New York Court of Appeals when appointing new judges. It could be a partisan decision, but his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, insists his son will leave politics at home. [Capital New York]
* When you write in defense of the value proposition of law school, you wind up in the op-ed pages of the NYT. When you tell the truth about it, you wind up in the opinion pages of the WSJ. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* Remember Danae Couch, the Texas Tech law student who was crowned as Miss Texas? She’ll compete for the Miss America title next weekend. If you’d like to help her become a finalist, you can vote for her here! [KFYO]
If you’ve ever been in a bookstore (and we hope that you have), you’ve seen the ubiquitous red Zagat guides, often situated right next to the checkout line to encourage impulse purchases. They’re wonderful resources for the restaurant-obsessed (note my avoidance of the f-word). The Zagat guides compile thousands upon thousands of user-generated reviews and distill them into clear, concise, often clever capsule reviews of restaurants in top cities around the world.
Last year, Google purchased Zagat for between $100 million to $200 million. That’s a pretty nice chunk of change — especially for a pair of former lawyers.
Yes, Tim and Nina Zagat are attorneys. Let’s learn about how they got their start….
* Billable hours in Biglaw are down 1.5 percent, and 15 percent of U.S. firms are planning to reduce their partnership ranks in early 2013. Thanks to Wells Fargo for bringing us the news of all this holiday cheer! [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Hostess may be winding down its business and liquidating its assets, but Biglaw will always be there to clean up the crumbs. Jones Day, Venable, and Stinson Morrison Hecker obviously think money tastes better than Twinkies. [Am Law Daily]
* How’s that “don’t be evil” thing working out for you? Google’s $22.5M proposed privacy settlement with the FTC over tracking cookies planted on Safari browsers was accepted by a federal judge. [Bloomberg]
* Perhaps the third time will be the charm: ex-Mayer Brown partner Joseph Collins was convicted, again, for helping Refco steal more than $2B from investors by concealing the company’s fraud. [New York Law Journal]
* H. Warren Knight, founder of alternative dispute resolution company JAMS, RIP. [National Law Journal]
Hey, don’t blame us. We didn’t make this list of the worst law schools in the country.
In the Above the Law Career Center, we just give law schools letter grades, based on user surveys completed by ATL readers. But the Daily Caller has compiled a list of the ten worst ABA-accredited law schools. Mwahaha.
One really strong point about this list is that it’s more outcome-oriented than other rankings. It’s not looking at LSAT scores and GPAs; it’s looking at bar passage rates, cost, and employment data.
So, send your angry emails to the Daily Caller, or your own administrators, if you are unlucky enough to be going to one of these schools…
* Dewey know when Judge Martin Glenn will issue his ruling on the failed firm’s proposed partner contribution plan? If all goes according to plan, we can expect to learn if the PCP’s been approved or rejected as early as next week. [Am Law Daily]
* Hot on the heels of Google’s digital-book settlement, the company announced that it would be appealing its copyright infringement jury verdict in the Oracle trial. One thing’s for sure: Judge Alsup will be angered terribly by this. [Bloomberg]
* David Askew, formerly the director of Edwards Wildman’s pro bono program, will now lead the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms as CEO and general counsel. [Corporate Counsel]
* The American Bar Association submitted an amicus brief in support of using race as a factor in college admissions, because diversity in college education is a must for diversity in law schools, duh. [ABA Journal]
* Remember the family law judge who got caught beating his daughter in a video that went viral? Now he wants the Texas Supreme Court to reinstate him, over his ex-wife’s objections. Good luck with that. [CNN]
Out west, we’re in the middle of a gold rush. Programmers, marketers, and young business school grads are flocking to the Bay Area all with big dreams of striking start-up gold.
If you wander down Market Street, you’ll hear people mumbling a mantra: “Internet business. Internet business. Internet business.” Or perhaps, “Please let Google buy me. Please let Google buy me.”
Lawyers don’t usually play too much into this equation, except for the unfortunate in-house counsel tasked with explaining to a start-up’s management why playing beer pong in the conference room during work hours may be an unwise decision.
Or are attorneys much more relevant here than the layman might realize? Yesterday, the New York Times profiled a storied Biglaw firm that’s playing quite a part in the current techbubble boom. It’s not this firm’s first time at the rodeo, but other firms smell dollars in the air, too, and there’s a battle brewing over who will represent the next Google, Facebook, what have you.
‘If there’s one thing America needs, it’s more lawyers!’
* Bank robber tuned jailhouse lawyer turned successful author, Shon Hopwood, is now in law school — on scholarship. Second chances FTW. [Seattle Times]
* As Hopwood transitions from inmate to law student, another would-be lawyer’s career is going the other direction. One of Reema Bajaj’s classmates is headed to the slammer. [Daily Herald]
* Damon Thibodeaux is the 300th person in the U.S. to be exonerated on DNA evidence. The Louisiana death row inmate was exonerated after 15 years behind bars. Oy. [Washington Post]
* Apparently this is the jailhouse edition of Non-Sequiturs, so here’s Judge Richard Posner expounding upon prison rats, damp, dark cells, and the concept of the Bubonic Plague in jail. Heavy s**t, man. [How Appealing]
* Lionel Hutz is a wonderfully terrible cartoon lawyer, but God help the client who ends up with a real-life version. [RocketLawyer]
* A trip down the substantially creepy rabbit hole wherein Chevron’s Ecuador litigation, Google, and concerns about electronic privacy all converge. [Opinio Juris]
* Add Maryland to the list of states sending gay marriage to the ballot box. [Daily Beast]
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.
● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.
● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.
● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!
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.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!