The satirical Onion News Network recently reported on new government funding for that “massive online surveillance program run by the CIA,” known as Facebook — dreamed up by “secret C.I.A. agent Mark Zuckerberg.” The report made light of how much information we’re willing to make available to a third party — information that we would never consider freely handing over to the feds. While funny, the report speaks to serious concerns about privacy. Civil liberties advocates like Christopher Soghoian and Nicholas Merrill worry about the ease with which the government can get access to the digital information we store with third-parties like Facebook, Yahoo!, and Google, as well as to the rich databases that our mobile phone providers have.
Should we call it the Tech.B.I. or the Dot.Com.I.A.?
* What’s the secret to lawyer happiness? And no, it doesn’t involve illegal drugs or porn stars (Charlie Sheen isn’t a lawyer). [Slaw via Legal Blog Watch]
* Want to start your own law blog? Read this interesting interview with BL1Y (a regular in the ATL comments section). [Lawyerist]
* Superstar criminal defense lawyer John Dowd, the Akin Gump partner who successfully got Monica Goodling (among many other clients) out of legal trouble, offered a rousing defense of Raj Rajaratnam today. [Dealbreaker]
* Congratulations to a 3L at NYU Law and future S.D.N.Y. law clerk, Eli Northrup, who belongs to a hip-hop band called Pants Velour — which has, in the words of our tipster, “captured the magic of Charlie Sheen as only music can.” [YouTube]
A legal challenge to Google search results garners more sympathy in Europe than it would in the U.S.
A cutting-edge legal complaint in Europe over internet reputation could force Google to rethink how it handles individuals’ control over the search results for their names.
Spanish plastic surgeon Hugo Guidotti Russo wanted Google to liposuction from his results a 1991 news article about a patient angry about an allegedly botched breast surgery. The article from El País, about a breast surgery that led a female patient to accuse Russo of malpractice, has the translated headline, “The risk of wanting to be slim.” Russo was later cleared of wrongdoing in the surgery, but the article, which doesn’t mention his acquittal, shows up on Russo’s first page of results. Google, as is its policy, refused to scrub it.
The case is one of over 80 in Spain in which the country’s privacy regulator, the Agency for Data Protection, has ordered Google to intervene and delete links from search results because they are out of date or contain inaccurate information. The agency summed up the conflict with a public advisory on its website in January: “Google Trial. The right to forget meets the freedom of information.” The “right to be forgotten” is not one found in the American Bill of Rights, but it’s becoming a popular one in Europe in the digital age, even if it does sound like the most depressing right ever.
* Musical chairs: Donald M. Remy leaves Latham to become the new general counsel for the NCAA. No offense, but I hope he’s terrible at his job. The NCAA needs to be sued by all comers until they stop profiteering off the sweat of poor young athletes so that old, rich university presidents can make even more money. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]
* Anything you Google can and will be used against you. [Forbes]
* Did sanitation workers really make the blizzard worse by protesting proposed wage cuts through a “slowdown”? Somewhere there’s a union official freezing his ass off and smiling. [NY1]
* Some people say law school is a waste of time, some people say getting a Ph.D is a waste of time — is anyone starting to feel like “education” is a waste of time? Snooki is rich, famous, and has a book coming out; Sarah Palin might become president. Maybe stupid and uninformed is a perfectly acceptable way to go through life? [Economist]
* Here’s something interesting. Harvard Law School is doing some research on legal mentoring (or lack thereof). They need people (including non-HLS people, of course) to take their survey. [Harvard Law School]
* I wish Princeton had a law school. I bet it would be loads of fun to cover, since their college alums are already so good at getting embroiled in sex-contest scandals. [Jezebel]
* One soldier responded to the Pentagon’s DADT survey by asking “How far are we going to go with this whole gay thing? Am I supposed to celebrate gayness – do they get to wear a rainbow flag on their uniform?” Just the tip, sure, and only if they earn the badge. [Washington Post]
* Interpol has put Julian Assange on its most-wanted list. The Strokes did it better. [CNN]
* A European antitrust investigation of Google shows that size matters. For Bing, there’s ExtenZe. [Los Angeles Times]
* New York judges may be getting their first raises in 12 years. [New York Times]
An engineer at Google may have abused his unfettered access to users’ account information. Gawker reports that David Barksdale, 27, a former Site Reliability Engineer with Google, allegedly tapped into the accounts of four teenagers, using information from their Gmail, Google Voice, and GTalk chat accounts in order to harass them.
Gawker doesn’t provide much in the way of sources, so I have to assume that this story was relayed to the blog by the teenagers themselves, who are not identified. One example of Barksdale’s alleged harassment is unblocking himself on a teen’s chat list and looking up the name and phone number of one of the teen’s girlfriends and threatening to call her. Given all the damage that could be done raiding someone’s email account, this seems rather unimpressive. More Mean Girls than Enemy of the State-inspired.
The Daniel Faraday lookalike is probably wishing he could use a time travel machine to prevent himself from ever getting involved with the teens. What kind of trouble is he going to get into beyond the humiliation of gracing Gawker’s pages?
If you’re a gay employee and have a domestic partner who receives health benefits through your employer, you have to pay more in federal income tax — about $1,000 a year, on average. This is because federal law, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages. As a result, the feds treat employer-provided health benefits for domestic partners as a form of taxable income (if the partner is not considered a dependent).
(Note, however, that this could change. A federal judge in Boston recently struck down part of DOMA. Stay tuned to find out what happens on appeal.)
Earlier this month, we wrote about a perk that Google extends to its gay employees who find themselves in this situation. As reported by the New York Times, Google “essentially [covers] those costs, putting same-sex couples on an even footing with heterosexual employees whose spouses and families receive health benefits.” Google makes an extra payment to gay employees to make up for the increased tax burden — a perk that we dubbed “Google’s gay gross-up.”
We asked you, our readers, if any legal employers also offer this benefit. As it turns out, several do.
Find out which employers provide this perk — and vote in a poll on its fairness, which was hotly debated in the comments to our prior post — after the jump.
[Last] Thursday, Google [began] covering a cost that gay and lesbian employees must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits, largely to compensate them for an extra tax that heterosexual married couples do not pay. The increase will be retroactive to the beginning of the year.
“It’s a fairly cutting edge thing to do,” said Todd A. Solomon, a partner in the employee benefits department of McDermott Will & Emery, a law firm in Chicago, and author of “Domestic Partner Benefits: An Employer’s Guide.”
Why do gay and lesbian employees pay more in taxes to begin with?
Ed. note: Law Shucks focuses on life in, and after, BigLaw, including by tracking layoffs, bonuses, and laterals. Above the Law is pleased to bring you this weekly column, which analyzes news at the world’s top law firms.
One of the many interesting features of BigLaw is the comings and goings of its denizens. Whether it’s looking for the bigger, better deal, jumping off a sinking ship, or departing for the greener pastures of inhouse or government life, every move has a story.
There has been plenty of speculation recently about which firm is wrapped up in an Inspector General investigation of the firm’s practice of hiring former SEC lawyers, who then turn around and advocate for clients at the agency they just left. The Senate Finance Committee is none too happy about the "revolving door," claiming that in at least one instance, the SEC was unduly lenient because of the firm’s close ties with the commission. Usually lateral hires aren’t contentious (examples like Jeremy Pitcock notwithstanding), so this could put a damper on hiring some of the most-coveted free agents.
So which law firm or lawyer(s) might be facing Senate scrutiny?
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
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: email@example.com.
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.