John Roberts

The year is quickly drawing to a close, but we have unfinished business to conduct here at Above the Law. Come on, people, we still have to crown our Lawyer of the Year for 2012.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for nominations, in the comments or via email. We’ve narrowed down the nominees to a field of nine (although you’ll see only eight options in the poll because one is a joint nomination). As in past years, the contenders run the gamut from distinguished to despicable.

And the nominees are….

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[UPDATE: Hm...well it looks like everyone in D.C. (including Feinstein herself yesterday) was wrong. So she's sticking with her Intelligence chair. This assignment now becomes something of a "what might have been" exercise) Query: what changed? Why would Leahy not take Appropriations? Was he worried about turning Judiciary over to the more conservative Feinstein?]

Daniel Inouye, the second longest serving Senator in history, died on Monday. Inouye had represented the state of Hawaii in Congress as either a Representative or Senator since… well, forever. Inouye took office the day Hawaii became a state and never stopped. He was also an undisputed badass who wasted a German machine gun nest by prying a grenade from his own partially severed arm and throwing it at a guy trying to kill him! This was a more impressive response to having your arm severed that I would have.

But with the loss of Inouye, the Senate has to find a new chair for the powerful Appropriations Committee. Since the Democrats run on strict seniority, noted Batman enthusiast Patrick Leahy of Vermont jumped at that plum assignment.

And here’s where this all comes back to the law. By taking the Appropriations gig, Leahy had to forfeit his role as chair of the Judiciary Committee. Enter Dianne Feinstein, who will take over as the shepherd of the country’s legal policy making for the next Congress.

So what will a Feinstein-led committee look like?

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The Defense of Marriage Act. California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. These were two of the big issues that the U.S. Supreme Court was deciding whether to hear this Term.

The Court just issued its certiorari orders. What happened?

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* “Maybe in the future you could let us know when something as definite as that comes [at the last minute.]” It would appear Chief Justice John Roberts has yet again been angered terribly by a lawyer from the Department of Justice over policy changes. [CNN]

* G’day, mate! Perhaps Peter Kalis was telling the truth about his firm, because everything really is great at K&L Gates after last night’s announcement. Partners at the Biglaw firm just approved a merger with Australian firm Middletons. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The commission overseeing the revisions to Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code will focus their energies on labor and benefits. Aww, how nice of them to think of the little people. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The suit over job stats against Thomas Jefferson School of Law lives to fight another day. The school was “disappointed,” but probably not as disappointed as the students it allegedly duped. [National Law Journal]

* And speaking of disappointment, people are still pissed off about Case Western Law Dean Lawrence Mitchell’s defense of going to law school, aka “a full-throated defense of the indefensible.” [New York Times]

* If you’ve made a mistake on your law school application, fret not, because there’s a way to correct it. (Note: some would say the real mistake was applying in the first place.) [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Another day, another lawsuit filed against the much-sued and oft-creepy Dov Charney. This time, an ex-store manager alleges the American Apparel CEO choked him out and tried to rub dirt in his face. [Huffington Post]

* Allowing abortions only in cases where the life of the mother is at stake doesn’t actually protect the life of the mother. [Slate]

* Chief Justice Roberts decided that living in a glass house shouldn’t prevent him from throwing a few stones. [Atlantic]

* It’s that time of year when we start seeing lists of things to buy for the lawyers in your life. [Constitutional Daily]

* You realize that people aren’t actually going to pay these loans back, you know. [Economix / New York Times]

* Wow, there was a whole day in New York City where nobody got shot, stabbed, or raped. [Reuters]

* While you contemplate living in a dangerous city, check out this list of most dangerous campuses. [Business Insider]

* Hopefully you guys have noticed Above the Law in the News category on the ABA Blawg 100, but don’t forget to look at all the different sections and vote for your favorite sites. [ABA Journal]

* Chief Justice John Roberts gave a Solicitor General’s Office attorney a vicious tongue-lashing for failure to be upfront about policy changes between presidents. Now that’s what we’d call a verbal benchslap! [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* When asked if they’d be following Cravath’s bonuses, a dozen Am Law 100 firms didn’t even care to respond or discuss the matter. It seems the partners would rather keep their associates squirming with suspense a while longer. [Am Law Daily]

* Watch out, world, because Catholic University of America just hired a Biglaw senior partner to lead its law school. Say hello to Dean Daniel Attridge, formerly managing partner at the D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis. [National Law Journal]

* A federal judge ordered tobacco companies to disclose in product warnings that they chemically induce smoking addictions to turn a profit, but those fools will keep puffing their cancer sticks anyway. [WSJ Law Blog]

* This just in from Flori-duh: you know you’re probably going to have a bad day in court when the judge won’t declare a mistrial even though the prosecutor technically wasn’t a member of the state Bar. [Miami Herald]

We know what you must be thinking: how could the Chief Justice of the United States have anything in common with the woman who wrote and starred in Girls, the overtly sexualized hit series on HBO? Chief Justice John Roberts thinks that corporations are people whose money talks, while Lena Dunham often appears naked on the small screen while contemplating raunchy sex acts. The pair seem like complete opposites — but as we know from that fabulous Paula Abdul song, opposites sometimes attract.

As it turns out, Chief Justice Roberts and Dunham were both big hits this year with liberal thinkers. Yes, you read that correctly. Roberts, once a bastion of conservative hope, is now being praised as a liberal hero alongside a woman who starred in an Obama ad that likened first-time voting to losing one’s virginity.

They’ve even been named on a few year-end lists together. Let’s check them out….

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Chief Justice Roberts: he ain’t evolving.

* In light of Chief Justice Roberts’s historic vote to uphold Obamacare, should we expect JGR to be more liberal going forward? According to Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Oath (affiliate link), “Do not expect a new John Roberts. Expect the conservative he has always been.” [Talking Points Memo via How Appealing]

* Law firm staff layoffs: they’re not just an American thing. Slaughter and May is dropping the ax on 28 secretaries. [Roll On Friday]

* “[A]ny robot or high school graduate can calculate numbers in a matrix to arrive at the highest possible sentence. But it takes a Judge — a man or woman tempered by experience in life and law — to properly judge another human being’s transgressions.” [Justice Building Blog]

* Professor Dershowitz’s $4 million Cambridge mansion? Robert Wenzel is not impressed: “if I lived in that house, I would want to attack Iran and most of the rest of the world, also.” [Economic Policy Journal]

* A man sues a strip club, alleging that a stripper ruptured his bladder when she slid down a pole and onto his abdomen. Ouch. [Legally Weird / Findlaw]

* Still on the subject of Torts, two attractive blonde sisters walk into a bar — and discuss who can be held liable if a man suffers a heart attack during a threesome. Video after the jump….

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In a few hours, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will meet in Denver, Colorado, for the first of three presidential debates (though the second is a town hall debate; are those really “debates?”). As lawyers, you likely possess more than a passing interest in the events of the evening.

You are also Above the Law readers, which means you likely possess more than a passing interest in reckless self-destruction through the massive consumption of alcohol.

As a lawyer, drinker, and college debate coach who gets way too into these things, I have constructed a drinking game to shepherd you through the process of viewing tonight’s debate….

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How many justices can you name?

Despite all the recent controversy surrounding U.S. Supreme Court decisions on health care, immigration and other issues, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t name even a single member of the Supreme Court.

– a depressing conclusion drawn from a recent FindLaw telephone survey on the Supreme Court.

(What else can be learned from the absurd results of this survey?)

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