Jews

Thumbnail image for Dave Johnston and Ashleigh.jpgThis summer, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law 3L Dave Johnston won $50,000 on the online game show, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” He had a little help from the TruTV (formerly Court TV) anchor, Ashleigh Banfield. When we interviewed him back in July, we asked what his plans were for his 50Gs.

He said he wanted to use them for a “good cause”: fighting back against Cardozo’s kosher policy. Since Cardozo Law is part of Torah-embracing Yeshiva University, the stated policy is that no school money can be spent on unkosher food, according to Johnston. In his words:

That meant student groups could only purchase their food from certain ultra-Orthodox kosher restaurants that had agreements with the administration. In the interest of cost, most orgs would opt for kosher pizza, made without the meat enzyme found in regular cheese but with the rich flavor of oily cardboard. It’s also more expensive than most pies. Meanwhile, one block west of Cardozo is Famous Original Ray’s (the real one) and one block east is Patsy’s Pizzeria. Where I grew up in California, my pizza options were usually Domino’s and Papa John’s. Maybe that’s why this policy boggles my mind. Here you have the world’s finest pizza in pizza-crazy New York so close, and the majority of Cardozo students do not keep kosher, so it just seems criminal to force us to pay more for less.

“Criminal” seems like a bit of a stretch. But Johnston says the kosher policy caught him by surprise when he first arrived at Cardozo:

This kosher situation caught me off guard when I came to Cardozo as a secular Jew. The kosher policy is not mentioned in Cardozo brochures. Cardozo had been described as a secular law school (see ["Cardozo Law School is secular, but as a result of its heritage many of its students are Jewish."]). I knew Cardozo was affiliated with Yeshiva University, but they seemed separate and distinct. For example, if you refresh the Yeshiva University homepage, you’ll see yarmulkes in most of the photos. I haven’t found a single one on the Cardozo website. To me, that was telling.

Judging potential law schools based on the photos on their websites is probably not the best way to go about the selection process. But at least it tells you more about the attractiveness of the student body than the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

After Johnston won his Millionaire jackpot, he met with Cardozo Special Events about holding an unkosher feast to celebrate his winnings and thank his fellow students for their support. “I wanted to do it by giving them the mouthwatering pizza that no one else would,” said Johnston.

Find out whether pig products found their way into Cardozo conference rooms, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “One 3L’s Anti-Kosher Crusade at Cardozo”

Norman Schoenfeld Allen Overy LLP Above the Law blog.jpgThe Magic Circle law firm of Allen & Overy, defendant in Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy, has just filed its Answer (PDF). They’re hoping to make Norman Schoenfeld’s claims disappear. Schoenfeld, an observant Jewish lawyer who once worked at the firm, alleges that A&O discriminated and retaliated against him as a result of his observing the Sabbath.
We contacted the firm for comment. Here is their statement:

Allen & Overy denies all allegations of discrimination. This person’s employment was terminated based solely on performance within his orientation period, a trial period of time mandated for all employees. He also failed to disclose to Allen & Overy the fact of his previous employment at another law firm.

Our firm has a strict written policy prohibiting any form of discrimination, and we provide all new employees and partners training in both diversity awareness and harassment prevention. Over the past several years, we have also instituted live diversity training for all of our existing attorneys and managers. We will vigorously defend our proud reputation of diversity and inclusion and are confident of a positive outcome for Allen & Overy with respect to these allegations.

More discussion, including interesting information from tipsters, after the jump.
Update (5/9/08): The case is settling. See here.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Schoenfeld v. Allen & Oy-vey-ry: A&O’s Answer
(Plus more about Mark Wojciechowski)”

Norman Schoenfeld Allen Overy LLP Above the Law blog.jpgBack in December — around the holidays, so many of you may have missed it — we wrote about Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy. It’s a lawsuit brought by Norman Schoenfeld, an observant Jewish lawyer who once worked in the New York office of Allen & Overy. Schoenfeld claims, among other things, that A&O discriminated and retaliated against him as a result of his observing the Sabbath.
Since then, we’ve received many requests for updates. This message is representative:

“Is there any news on this lawsuit? As a Sabbath observant 2L, this is of interest to me and many of my friends. A post on ATL providing an update would be appreciated. Love the site. Thanks.”

We’re not aware of any procedural developments in the case. And we sadly didn’t receive much in response to our request for firsthand information about Norman Schoenfeld or Allen & Overy in New York. Here’s the most interesting tip we received — some opinions from an A&O associate:

“That this suit goes on is beyond anyone here at A&O. I did not know this Schoenfeld guy much for the five minutes he worked here and don’t know if his complaint has merit. I will say this though: associates don’t want to work with Mark Wojciechowski and are asking not to work with him.”

“He told A&O he was bringing associates from Mayer Brown; MB associates refused to come work with him. Better to stay on a sinking ship like MB NY than work for a nightmare like Mark Woj….”

“No one can understand how firm management let this happen (rumor is that A&O already fired their first outside counsel). Recruitment of NY lawyers is badly affected and we just wait to see how much this costs the firm in damages (and associates of course since all s**t gets passed down – you know the partners won’t take the hit in their pocket).”

We contacted the firm for comment, but they didn’t have anything to add.
If you have any firsthand information to pass along about the events in question, please email us. Thanks.
Complaint: Norman Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy (PDF)
Earlier: Lawsuit of the Day: The Jewish Version of Charney v. S&C?

Norman Schoenfeld Allen Overy LLP Above the Law blog.jpgWe have to step out for a bit (company holiday party). We’ve only skimmed this Complaint (PDF), just filed in the Southern District of New York, by a Jewish lawyer against his former employer, Allen & Overy.
Check out the Complaint for yourself, by clicking here (PDF), and offer your thoughts in the comments. We look forward to reviewing your reflections when we return.
P.S. A special request: nicknames for this lawsuit, a la “Brokeback Lawfirm” for the Aaron Charney case, are especially welcome.
Complaint: Norman Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy (PDF)
Update: Here is the firm’s statement, emailed to us by a spokesperson:

Allen & Overy denies all allegations of discrimination. This person’s employment was terminated based solely on performance within his orientation period, a trial period of time mandated for all employees. He also failed to disclose to Allen & Overy the fact of his previous employment at another law firm.

Our firm has a strict written policy prohibiting any form of discrimination, and we provide all new employees and partners training in both diversity awareness and harassment prevention. Over the past several years, we have also instituted live diversity training for all of our existing attorneys and managers. We will vigorously defend our proud reputation of diversity and inclusion and are confident of a positive outcome for Allen & Overy with respect to these allegations.

We’ll write more about this later. If you have any firsthand information to pass along about the events in question, please email us. Thanks.

The firm of Dewey Ballantine was never known for being particularly PC. From a 2004 article by Anthony Lin, for the New York Law Journal:

Nearly one year after lawyers at Dewey Ballantine infuriated members of the Asian-American community by performing a stereotype-laden parody song at their annual dinner, the law firm is again dealing with allegations of racial insensitivity….

On Monday, an employee sent a firmwide e-mail advertising the availability of some puppies for adoption. Douglas Getter, a London-based American who heads Dewey Ballantine’s European mergers and acquisitions practice then sent a firmwide reply.

“Please don’t let these puppies go to a Chinese restaurant!” Getter wrote in his e-mail.

Adolf Hitler Dewey LeBoeuf Zieg Heil Sieg Heil Above the Law blog.jpgNow Dewey has merged with LeBoeuf Lamb. Happily, it appears their firm cultures are a good match. Check out this email exchange appearing below — and note that Partner X came from the LeBoeuf Lamb side of the marriage….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey & LeBoeuf: A Bunch of Nazis?”

egg hardboiled egg hard boiled egg vs man Above the Law blog.jpgIs this litigation kosher? You bet. From Vos Iz Neias (Yiddish: “What’s News”):

A New Hampshire prison inmate’s file drove a federal judge to rhyme to express himself.

A prison inmate protesting his [non-Kosher] diet attached a hard-boiled egg to documents sent by mail to U.S. District Court Judge James Muirhead.

“I do not like eggs in the file. I do not like them in any style. I will not take them fried or boiled. I will not take them poached or broiled. I will not take them soft or scrambled Despite an argument well-rambled,” Muirhead wrote in his response to inmate Charles Wolffe.

Wolffe, 61, says he is an Orthodox Jew and has accused prison officials of refusing to feed him a kosher diet. He is seeking… proper foods and $10 million from the state. His case has been scheduled for a trial.

More discussion, plus the full text of Judge Muirhead’s order, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Practice Pointers: Do Not File An Egg with Judge Muirhead”

Noah Feldman Noah R Feldman Jeannie Suk Jeannie C Suk Above the Law.JPGWe’re probably about to open a big ol’ can of worms. We’ve been procrastinating on writing this up for a while. But what the heck — opening up cans of worms is our job.
This past Sunday, the New York Times Magazine had a very interesting essay by celebrity law professor Noah Feldman. Here at ATL, he and his wife, fellow Harvard Law School prof Jeannie Suk, have reached a level of Brangelina celebrity that has entitled them to their own mono-moniker: Feldsuk (which you voted on, so you’re estopped from complaining).
Here’s the lede of Professor Feldman’s piece:

A number of years ago, I went to my 10th high-school reunion, in the backyard of the one classmate whose parents had a pool. Lots of my classmates were there. Almost all were married, and many already had kids. This was not as unusual as it might seem, since I went to a yeshiva day school, and nearly everyone remained Orthodox. I brought my girlfriend. At the end, we all crowded into a big group photo, shot by the school photographer, who had taken our pictures from first grade through graduation. When the alumni newsletter came around a few months later, I happened to notice the photo. I looked, then looked again. My girlfriend and I were nowhere to be found.

I didn’t want to seem paranoid, especially in front of my girlfriend, to whom I was by that time engaged. So I called my oldest school friend, who appeared in the photo, and asked for her explanation. “You’re kidding, right?” she said. My fiancée was Korean-American. Her presence implied the prospect of something that from the standpoint of Orthodox Jewish law could not be recognized: marriage to someone who was not Jewish. That hint was reason enough to keep us out.

Not long after, I bumped into the photographer, in synagogue, on Yom Kippur. When I walked over to him, his pained expression told me what I already knew. “It wasn’t me,” he said. I believed him.

Since then I have occasionally been in contact with the school’s alumni director, who has known me since I was a child. I say “in contact,” but that implies mutuality where none exists. What I really mean is that in the nine years since the reunion I have sent him several updates about my life, for inclusion in the “Mazal Tov” section of the newsletter. I sent him news of my marriage. When our son was born, I asked him to report that happy event. The most recent news was the birth of our daughter this winter. Nothing doing. None of my reports made it into print.

Many readers emailed us about this piece. The reactions of three of them appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Feldsuk, Disrespected? Oy Vey!”

Legal%20Eagle%20Wedding%20Watch%20NYT%20wedding%20announcements%20Above%20the%20Law.jpg
LEWW is delighted to bring you the first all-Jewish edition of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch! The MOT really represented this week. Mazel Tov to all the happy couples and their proud parents!
Here are the finalists:

1. Rebecca Kristol and Elliot Silver
2. Talia Milgrom-Elcott and Aaron Dorfman
3. Lisa Gordon and Michael Kanner

More about these couples, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 5.27: Pierced Through the Heart”

Congratulations to the Columbia Law Revue crew for putting on a great show, which we attended on Thursday night. We were lukewarm about some of their prior efforts, but our opinion has changed entirely.
Check out this great clip, a parody of this SNL video, which is currently #61 on YouTube in today’s Top Favorites for Comedy:

Additional videos are available here. Enjoy!
P.S. Despite their video-making prowess, the CLSers are still a lost cause when it comes to the coolest law school competition. They’re getting a beating at the hands of UVA (which, to be fair, also makes excellent video parodies).
A Special Finals Care Package [YouTube]
Columbia Law Revue [official website]

Aaron Charney 2 headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney.jpgOur recent post about Aaron Charney and his well-to-do family background generated tons of discussion (about 90 reader comments). We’d like to pass along two pieces of additional information on the subject.
From a tipster who went to the same temple in the Syracause area (Temple Adath Yeshuran) as the Charney family:

“The Charneys do quite well for themselves with their stores. They never seemed to be wanting for cash, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that he’s got a trust fund.”

If Charney does come from such an affluent background, it may explain his willingness to “roll the dice” by pushing forward with his lawsuit against S&C. Someone from more modest means might have taken a more modest settlement, then moved on to a job at another firm. But someone with family money to fall back on might be more willing to shoot for a seven-figure payday, knowing that he could ride out even a lengthy period of unemployment with parental help.
But our source also has this to add:

“I’m not sure if Aaron Charney’s father is the only owner of the clothing store chain. The business may be a family business with more than one owner.”

We looked back at Bob Kolker’s profile of Aaron Charney for New York magazine. Kolker identifies Charney as “[t]he only son of an owner of a small chain of men’s clothing stores in the Syracuse area.” The indefinite article — “an owner,” rather than “the owner” — leaves open the possibility of multiple owners.
So this might dilute Charney’s patrimony, if other branches of his extended family also have their fingers in the dynastic till. Unlike, say, a chunk of the Wal-Mart fortune, multiple heirs from multiple families could be quite dilutive of Aaron’s share.
Does anyone know if Aaron Charney’s father is the sole owner of the Charney chain of stores? Anyone care to estimate what the chain’s annual revenue might be?
As always, if you can shed more light on any of this, please drop us a line.
Earlier: Brokeback Lawfirm: Aaron Charney’s Doing Just Fine, Thank You

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