Based here in New York, I’ve spent the last several days watching the news while drinking copious amounts of whisky (klassy hurricane tip: pour the whisky directly into the can of coke — it saves washing a glass later if you’re worried about losing water!). The stream of images showing devastated areas is truly horrifying.
Thankfully my bunker of an apartment survived unscathed, but that did not excuse me from my own share of post-traumatic stress. But in my case it was seeing a number of lawyers-turned-politicians parading across the news channels displaying their own law firm certified brand of crisis management and triggering flashbacks to my years in private practice.
When we suffer the zombie apocalypse (which could happen as early as next Tuesday) or any other movie-level disaster, if we continue to place executive power in the hands of lawyers, we’re all screwed….
Yesterday the FBI executed a search warrant on the Scruggs Law Firm in Oxford, Mississippi — the shop of high-flying plaintiffs’ lawyer Dickie Scruggs. It wasn’t immediately clear what investigation the search was related to. Here’s some commentary on the situation that we enjoyed, from David Rossmiller (in brackets, following excerpt from news article):
“This is a surprise to everybody connected to the Scruggs Firm,” [lawyer Joey] Langston said, “but I’ve got to tell you people who are very high profile and very successful have to contend with unpleasantries and this is unpleasant, but we’ll contend with it.”
[I like the touch of noblesse oblige here -- as if the FBI descending on one's place of business is the same as, say, getting heckled by drunken lumpenproletariat while showing up in top hat and tails to receive an award for charitable giving.]
Multimillionaire trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs has been indicted on charges of conspiring to bribe a judge in the case involving $26.5-million in attorney fees involving Katrina claims….
According to the indictment, Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey cooperated with the FBI in the investigation after reporting a bribery overture to authorities.
According to the indictment, Scruggs and others tried to influence Lackey by giving him $40,000 in cash to resolve the attorney fees’ dispute in favor of Scruggs’ law firm. Some of the conversations between Balducci and Lackey were captured on tape.
Down in Mississippi, there has been speculation of a connection between the FBI search warrant and this week’s surprise resignation of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), Scruggs’s brother-in-law. Lott’s office told the Sun Herald the two events were but a mere coincidence.
This week marked the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The news has been full of reports about the status of the affected areas, particularly New Orleans, two years later. Most of them have not been good; here are a few examples:
“Bitterness lingers 2 years after Katrina” [AP via Yahoo!]
“Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast Struggling 2 years later” [CNN]
“Hope, skepticism mark Katrina anniversary” [USA Today]
But this is a legal blog, and so we want to know specifically about the state of the legal community in New Orleans two years post-Katrina. Immediately following the hurricane, the New Orleans legal system was “devastated.” Has it recovered?
We’d like to hear from associates in New Orleans about their current experiences. Are the courts up and running? What is the backlog like? What about associate pay; is it back to normal?
And this has little to do with biglaw, but when is New Orleans going to get a handle on the murder situation?
Share your perspectives on the state of the New Orleans legal community in the comments.
* No do-over for Vonage. [c|net via How Appealing]
* Legislature approves $5 million settlement in Florida boot camp death case. [CNN]
* Katrina wrongful death claims blown away by judge. [Jurist]
* Reno trial lawyer faces his own trial. [Reno Gazette-Journal]
* Fen-Phen plaintiffs have a horse in Saturday’s race. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Jury selection begins in Atlanta courthouse shooting case. [Fulton County Daily Report ]
* Jury rocks State Farm like a hurricane (complete with both wind and storm surge damage), awards $2.5 million in punitive damages. [CNN]
* Houses passes stem cell bill; President promises a veto. [Jurist]
* Second rule of Fight Club: Don’t film Fight Club and sell copies on the internet. [FindLaw]
* You Kidds play nice.[ABC]
* I think I may be the only New Yorker who regularly watches local channel NY1 — I just can’t get enough of Pat Kiernan’s deadpan delivery, especially of the more frivolous items. What would he say (and too bad he can’t) about this doctored photo of his colleague “BBB”? [New York Post via Gothamist]
* Because monkeys are people too. [AP via Yahoo! News]
* The lesson learned is to move if you live near a dam. (I am amazed at my restraint in the face of such a punnable word, but hey, this is pretty serious.) [New Orleans City Business via Ernie the Attorney]
* Anyone who hasn’t been ripped on in cyberspace is either in a coma or hasn’t come out of his Y2K bomb shelter. I bet these guys would love to be able to claim a cause of action. [Findlaw]
* Senate approves broad new rules to try detainees. [New York Times; Bashman linkwrap]
* Senate House grandstands over Hewlett-Packard as most witnesses take Fifth; libertarians celebrate that time wasted is time not spent passing new appropriations. [New York Times; WaPo]
* Verizon Wireless piles on against H-P. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Observers suggest Supreme Court cases over abortion might be contentious. You think? [Legal Times]
* Dozen Iraqi journalists arrested under new law against criticism of government. See? They’re already following in our footsteps up to the Alien and Sedition Acts! [New York Times]
* Belgium rules sifting of bank data illegal. [WaPo]
* California court hearing testimony over how many angels can dance on the pinhead of an anesthesized Death Row inmate. [Bashman linkwrap]
* Louisiana appellate court strikes down med-mal damages cap for failure to index to inflation, providing another excuse for doctors not to return to post-Katrina New Orleans. [Point of Law]
* New York Times writes thumbsucker on the Pirro marriage. [New York Times]
* The number of women clerking at the Supreme Court has fallen to the lowest level since 1994. It’s all Scalia’s fault. Oh wait, no it isn’t — he never hires women anyway. [New York Times]
* Former Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr has asked the Supreme Court to hear the appeal of a high school that disciplined a student for displaying a banner that said “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”‘ during an off-campus Olympic torch relay. Such a killjoy, that Starr! And definitely don’t stick that doobie you-know-where… [Associated Press]
* A federal court has tossed out the retaliation claim made by Jesselyn Radack, the ex-Justice Department lawyer who advised the FBI not to question John Walker Lindh without his lawyer. [National Law Journal]
* One year after Hurricane Katrina, life is still hard for lawyers in the Big Easy. One former New Orleans attorney is now working as a short-order cook. So stop complaining about the paper cut you got doing document review. [National Law Journal]
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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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