Google / Search Engines

How can you be a happy lawyer?

* Is concern for “privacy” simply a justification for censorship on the internet? Some thoughts from a lawyer for Google. [Peter Fleischer: Privacy...? via Kashmir Hill / Forbes]

* 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]

Jonathan Bristol

* Ex-Winston & Strawn partner Jonathan Bristol, former counsel to money manager / fraudster Kenneth Starr, has reached a plea agreement with S.D.N.Y. prosecutors. [New York Law Journal via Summary Judgments]

* Elsewhere in Ken Starr news, it seems that some celebs are getting hit with IRS tax liens as a result of their ties to him. [TaxProf Blog]

* Congratulations to a 3L at Harvard Law School, Nneka Ukpai, who trounced the prosecution at trial and won an acquittal for her client. [Yolanda Young / On Being a Black Lawyer]

* 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]

* This week, A Round Tuit includes a nice round-up of opinions on the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Westboro Baptist Church case (Snyder v. Phelps). [Infamy or Praise]

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

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.

Read on at Forbes….

* 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]

* Charlie Rangel’s legal team didn’t cover itself in glory. [Associated Press]

* The FCC will take up net neutrality at a December 21 meeting. Anything that might make ATL load slower must be fought with a demented sort of urgency. Everyone, write your congressmen! [Reuters]

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Perk Watch: A Follow-Up on Google’s Gay Gross-Up”

It’s good to be gay at Google — or a “Gaygler,” as they call themselves. And not just because the company sometimes has a float in the San Francisco Pride parade.

The New York Times recently reported:

[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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Perk Watch: Google’s Gay Gross-Up”

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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “This Week in Biglaw: 06.27.10″

Google has stepped in the privacy sh*t again. The Google cars collecting data for Google Maps’s nifty Street View service have also been inadvertently collecting information off of people’s unsecured wireless networks. If someone’s Wi-Fi account lacked a password and encryption, the cars had the ability to snatch some data.

Google claims the Wi-Fi sniffing was inadvertent, that this was a programming error, and that it didn’t realize it was stockpiling the personal info. It was discovered by German investigators and now has EU regulators up in arms, says Ashby Jones at the WSJ Law Blog. It’s unclear how much data exactly was sniffed during brief drive-bys of houses. It’s also unclear why anyone would set up a Wi-Fi account without password protection these days. But there’s no law banning stupid/lazy people from filing invasion of privacy lawsuits.

Two West Coast plaintiffs filed a class action suit in Oregon on Monday, asking Google to “pay up to $10,000 for each time it snatched data from unprotected hotspots.” It includes a TRO preventing Google from deleting the data, which the company otherwise had planned to do. (Irony alert.)

The news led ABC 7 in Washington, D.C. to go around and ask people on the street how they felt about Google snooping on their Wi-Fi accounts. One person they asked was a federal judge; if Google comes around his house, it better be packing…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Google’s Privacy-Invading Street View Cars Should Avoid Judge Larry Burns’s House”

Google Buzz.jpgGoogle launched its version of a social networking site last week with Buzz. Many people were royally pissed dismayed by the privacy flaws in the initial launch. Google took the list of people that users emailed most frequently and created a public “friend list.”
As TechCrunch pointed out, “merging something designed for public broadcasting (Buzz) with something inherently private (Gmail) was just looking for trouble.”
The trouble has arrived. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a privacy complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. And today, Harvard Law 2L Eva Hibnick filed a class action lawsuit in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Google Gets Buzzed With A Class Action Lawsuit”

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