Legal Ethics

Public opinion is polarized regarding the mega-leakers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. One common view holds them to be heroic patriots. To others, they’re simply traitors. Prominent whistleblower attorney John Howley asks us to consider the possibility that they can be both at once.

Last week, ATL—along with our friends at Lawline—hosted a fascinating (seriously) and timely CLE course, Whistleblowers, Traitors and the Rule of Law. Howley walked the attendees through the various laws governing whistleblowers, treason, and espionage. He also gave an overview of the most important whistleblower and treason cases, as well as explored the thorny legal and ethical implications for lawyers involved in such cases.

The course was as much a history lesson as a legal one. The role of whistleblower plays an integral part of our national history. In fact, the first American whistleblower law predates the country’s founding. In 1777, sailors accused the commander of the Continental Navy, Commodore Esek Hopkins, of torturing captured British sailors, and petitioned the Continental Congress to remove him. Hopkins sued for criminal libel, and Congress — by unanimous vote — agreed to defend the sailors in the suit. Congress also passed a law requiring all military members to inform Congress of “misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by any officers in the service of these states.”

Many of the most important heroes in American history were, technically, traitors, including the Founding Fathers. And knowingly so. As Benjamin Franklin quipped, “We must hang together or we will hang separately.”

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Sorry, SCOTUS.

* A study revealed that almost half of all links in online Supreme Court opinions are dead, but at least internet pranksters like this guy have been given a chance in the spotlight. [New York Times]

* CHECK YOU [BLACKBERRIES] OFTEN, because firms like Shearman & Sterling, McCarthy Tétrault, Skadden Arps, and Torys will advise on the ancient technology’s private sale. [Am Law Daily]

* We hope this IPO isn’t imported from Detroit. Chrysler filed a prospectus with the SEC yesterday with the help of attorneys from Sullivan & Cromwell and Cravath. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Paul Bergrin, more commonly known as the “Baddest Lawyer in the History of Jersey,” was handed a life sentence yesterday. At least he’ll have street cred with his gen pop friends. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* If you’re still thinking of applying to law school now, you must be the kind of person who needs advice on how to go to college and fill out applications, all at the same time. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

Ed. note: Above the Law will be signing off early to begin the ATL/Kaplan Bar Crawl Review. Follow along on social media (Twitter and Facebook) or on the liveblog post after NS, or better yet, come out and join us!

* A Facebook “Like” is protected by the First Amendment. ATL Likes this. [The Atlantic]

* You can’t get a Frappuccino to go with your Kalashnikov any more. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* The stand-up comic judge has been shut down by the New Jersey Supreme Court in a 7-0 decision. Everyone’s a critic. [ABA Journal]

* An interview with Alan Page of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and formerly a Defensive Tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. Page’s hometown has a bust of him on display. Not so impressive until you realize he’s from Canton, Ohio. [Coverage Opinions]

* If you’re looking for some more legal content related to International Talk Like a Pirate Day, check out Buried Treasure: Finders, Keepers, and the Law. [ABA]

* A list of everything you should be doing with your time instead of getting a law degree. [Yahoo!]

* A warm welcome to Chris Geidner as the new legal editor of BuzzFeed. In addition to some great content, like his amazing profile of Edie Windsor (first link), stay tuned for “25 Ways Justice Alito Is Like This Cat.” [New York Observer]

* If you’ve upgraded your iPhone to iOS 7, you’re probably annoyed right now. Here are some tips to help preserve your battery life. We can do nothing about fixing how ungodly ugly it is. [Tuaw]

Lawyers pad bills. They shouldn’t, but they do. Sometimes it’s an honest mistake born of bad record-keeping. Sometimes it’s a genuine cash grab. Other times it’s brought on by an honest desire to exact a tiny measure of revenge on a client whose indecisiveness or incompetence has made the lawyer’s life hell.

But when lawyers unethically pad these bills, there’s little chance of getting caught when there’s just an extra 30 minutes billed to “further work” here and there. But if a lawyer were to, say, start billing the same client for 29-hour days, it’s really only a matter of time until the jig is up.

If you think no lawyer is dumb enough to bill the same client for a 29-hour day, you’d be wrong….

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* Johnny Football failed to defeat Alabama on Saturday (though he was gentlemanly enough to keep Bama from covering the spread), but now he has a tougher foe in the IRS. [TaxProf Blog]

* Don’t be that guy who takes naked pictures of your girlfriend. And definitely don’t be that guy who takes naked pictures of his 16-year-old girlfriend while married to the girl’s older sister. In other words, don’t be this lawyer. [Legal Profession Blog]

* Are you an attorney on LinkedIn? Have people been endorsing your legal skills? Congratulations, you’re probably violating an ethical obligation! [IT-Lex]

* Another round-up of people with law degrees who decided to be famous for something other than lawyering. When the list kicks off with Geraldo Rivera and Jerry Springer, you know you’re in for a classy list. [Millington Star]

* One year later, a look at how the Steubenville rape case has affected the town. [Jezebel]

* The world of litigation finance suffers some setbacks as it turns out lawsuits might be the only investment less stable than the Twitter IPO. [Wall Street Journal]

* Time for some more legally themed poetry! This time, let’s get all Edgar Allan Poe up in here. [Poetic Justice]

* Following up on our event in Toronto last week, Bruce MacEwen recapped the evening’s discussion here. [Adam Smith, Esq.]

It looks like this ‘real’ housewife needs to get a real lawyer.

* The debt “vultures” are still circling Argentina’s carcass, but later this month, the justices of the Supreme Court will convene to decide whether or not they’ll take up the country’s bond case. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Judge Robert Wilkins managed to sail through his D.C. Circuit confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee with great ease, but let’s see what happens when he gets to the full Senate. [Blog of Legal Times]

* An in-house attorney in Pennsylvania was suspended from the practice of law for six months because he attached a camera to his shoe to secretly film up women’s skirts. What a classy dude. [Legal Intelligencer (sub. req.)]

* Massive open online courses are trending in the world of higher education, and some law schools — e.g., Harvard and Northwestern — decided to get on the bandwagon while the getting’s good. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* “I’m prepared to drop everything and go to law school,” says the man appealing his age discrimination suit against Baylor Law School because his GPA predates grade inflation. [Texas Lawyer (sub. req.)]

* The man who represented cast members of the Real Housewives of New Jersey was arrested for the unauthorized practice of law. We bet these “reality” TV stars wish they had a real lawyer. [Bergen Record]

Judge Wade H. McCree

I don’t agree with it, [but] I’m not surprised.

Brian Einhorn, the lawyer representing Judge Wade McCree in his judicial misconduct case, commenting on the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission’s recommendation that McCree be removed from the bench. Wade had been accused of sexting a shirtless photo of himself to a bailiff and having an affair with a litigant, sometimes using his chambers for sexual rendezvous.

Polina Polonsky

Last month, we brought you the titillating tale of Polina Polonsky, a “gorgeous brunette lawyer” who allegedly had an affair with Khloe Kardashian’s husband, NBA player Lamar Odom. Although it sounds like a Hollywood divorce train wreck in the making, sources claim Khloe and Lamar are going to stay together, even though the 6’10″ free agent is reportedly battling an addiction to crack cocaine, an odd drug of choice for a man of his wealth.

We know what you must be thinking: “Again with the Kardashian crap? Who cares if Lamar cheated on a Wookiee?” But today we think you’re going to care about the Kardashians if only because the lawyer involved in this torrid affair may have committed a serious breach of her ethical duties to clients at her firm.

What did this comely criminal defense attorney do that could have been so bad? Well, if your case didn’t go as planned, it may be because a washed-up basketball player like Lamar Odom was doing your legal work….

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* “The situation is an absolute mess.” Last summer’s SCOTUS decision on mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders has created a “legal limbo” for inmates. We hope they find suitable dance partners. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Even after you retire, you apparently still have to deal with the Cebullsh*t from your life on the bench. Former Chief District Judge Richard Cebull’s misconduct review is likely heading to Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. [Great Falls Tribune]

* Woe unto them that call unpaid work fair: the Second Circuit quickly granted Fox Searchlight an appeal in the Black Swan unpaid intern case in the hope of offering some “much-needed guidance.” [Deadline]

* Which private law schools offer students the best value? Some unlikely contenders are named on this list, and some T14 schools even make appearances. We’ll have more on this later today. [National Jurist]

* GW wasn’t the only school that grew the size of its entering class (although it was the largest increase). William & Mary and Missouri-KC saw big gains, too. Yay, more lawyers! [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* If you’re considering applying to law school, think about schools that have lowered their standards and are offering scholarship money like candy. Otherwise, here are some helpful hints. [Huffington Post]

* Henry Putzel Jr., former reporter of decisions at the Supreme Court, RIP. [Washington Post]

Nobody puts DLA Piper in a corner. It’s the world’s new highest-grossing law firm, after all.

Were DLA Piper’s revenues enhanced by alleged overbilling of clients? A former client made that claim in a lawsuit, which the parties ultimately settled (but not before some bad PR for DLA).

Now one of the lawyers who was a thorn in DLA’s side finds himself in a prickly situation of his own. He’s up against the Biglaw behemoth yet again, pursuing a high-profile case that a judge just described as “reek[ing] of fraud and malfeasance”….

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