Full disclosure: Former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, whose criminal conviction was recently upheld by the D.C. Circuit, is a friend of mine. We grew up in the same town and have known one another for decades. In no way is what follows unbiased or objective in any sense. That said, I know that I’m right and the case against Kevin Ring was simply, unambiguously wrong. Not to say that there was no ambiguity as to whether he broke a law — there was a tiny bit of that. But under no sane system of justice would Kevin be going to federal prison. Though he almost certainly is, pending a request for en banc rehearing from the D.C. Circuit followed by a Hail Mary filing for a writ of certiorari.
We can all stipulate that Jack Abramoff is one of the sleaziest and most repellent characters to besmirch the legal profession in decades. (My favorite Abramoff moment: the time he tried convince his rabbi to bestow upon him a fake, back-dated “Scholar of Talmudic Studies” award, so he could get in the Cosmos Club.)
Anyway, Abramoff was Kevin’s boss for three and a half years, during the final period of which they were both partners at Greenberg Traurig. In the words of the judge at his sentencing hearing, Kevin was a “cog” in the Abramoff operation, a “second-tier level” administrator of the firm’s lobbying team. I won’t try to spin Kevin’s time as a lobbyist as some honorable endeavor. I couldn’t. Generally speaking, lobbyists are regarded by most of us as only slightly less distasteful than the politicians whose favor they are trying to curry. But that does not make them criminals….
Let me regale you with two recent examples of lawyers disclosing client confidences. There’s a lesson tucked into each.
First: An acquaintance sent me the résumé of, and asked me to speak to, a young lawyer. The idea was to give some general career advice, rather than necessarily to hire the person.
I’m a pushover, so I agreed to have a cup of coffee with the relatively new lawyer. Over coffee, he (or she, but I’ll use the masculine) explained that what he liked least about the job he’d just left (which was identified on his résumé) was being asked to do unethical things. My curiosity piqued, I asked for an example. He explained that he’d been asked to draft a contract that committed his employer to violating the law as part of the contractual relationship. (Think along the lines of, “We will ship the illegal weapons to you in New York.”) My young acquaintance said that he’d gone to the general counsel, who had instructed him to draft whatever contract the business wanted. The earnest young lawyer had solved the ethical problem by drafting a contract that, when read carefully, would prohibit the illegal conduct. (Think: “Under no circumstance will any weapons of any type be shipped pursuant to this contract.”)
I’m afraid I won’t be recommending this person for any jobs. . . .
Some say that models and bottles should be included in a lawyer’s employment benefits package, but failing that, VIP treatment at the local strip club comes in a close second. You just have to make sure you’re getting these perks on the down low, or else you might find yourself in the unemployment line.
That said, if you’re interested in potentially having to fish dollar bills out of your g-string as an alternative career due to your sudden joblessness, then perhaps you should consult with Ari Pregen, an assistant state attorney from Florida. Well, actually, that was his job before he got fired.
You see, when you walk into a strip club and expect to be treated like a king just because you’re a lawyer, you’re going to get yourself into some trouble when your superiors find out about it….
‘They stole [accreditation] from us. Sneaky little ABA. Wicked, tricksy, false!’ — FAMU Law
Ed. note: Due to the Presidents’ Day holiday, we will be on a reduced publication schedule today. We will be back in full swing tomorrow. We hope you enjoy your day off (or feel free to lament your lack thereof in the comments).
* “[T]hey don’t want to hear nothing.” Vedel Browne, the man accused of robbing Stephen Breyer at machete-point while the justice was vacationing in his home in the Caribbean, now claims that he’s innocent, mon. [St. Kitts-Nevis Observer]
* You know what, the farmer in the Super Bowl commercial probably didn’t have to deal with bullsh*t like Monsanto’s seed patents, but today’s farmers do, and they’ll argue their case before the Supreme Court this week. [New York Times]
* “I’m a betting man. And I would bet and give odds that Sullivan & Cromwell has never said that publicly.” Who dares question S&C’s stance in the hot mess that is Herbalife? None other than Carl Icahn. [Am Law Daily]
* Here’s an important Biglaw math lesson that’s been provided to us via California-based firms like Irell & Manella, Munger Tolles, and Orrick: a little revenue minus a lot of partners equals profitability. [Recorder]
* Amid a flurry of filings on Valentine’s Day, love must’ve been a battlefield for the embattled Dewey & LeBoeuf refugees who were in desperate search of their once promised 2011 bonuses. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* From the department of things that suck: having to defend your office’s alleged “underhanded tactics” in a $150 million wrongful conviction case while you’re trying to get re-elected as district attorney. [New York Times]
* We got bitches in the office lawyerin’ on, and they ain’t leavin’ till six in the mornin’ — unless they want to be fired. An ex-Travers Smith trainee claims she was canned for leaving the firm “early”… at 6:30 a.m. [Telegraph]
* If it weren’t for Cosmo, this woman wouldn’t have known her landlord was an alleged creeper. A Maryland lawyer now faces criminal charges for allegedly filming his female tenants in the nude. [Washington Post]
* “We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious!” The ABA officially put Florida A&M on notice that its law school accreditation may be in jeopardy if they don’t shape up in terms of bar passage. [Orlando Sentinel]
* What do you do the second you step off a cruise ship that’s been described as “a floating toilet, a floating petri dish, a floating hell”? You grab the very first lawyers you see, and sue! [Nation Now / Los Angeles Times]
Another busted barrister: Archie Leach (John Cleese).
People can argue about whether or not Indians — of the South Asian variety, not the Native American variety — are or are not “Caucasian.” I take no position on that issue, having been burned before (see the comments to this post).
I will say this, though: in my opinion, South Asians share in common with East Asians the ability to pass for much younger than they really are. (It’s generally a blessing, although not always; in a discussion at the recent Penn APALSA conference, some panelists talked about how looking young can complicate dealing with clients and opposing counsel.)
So how much younger can South Asians claim to be? One India-born lawyer, who graduated from a top 14 law school, finds herself in litigation for allegedly lying about her age — amongst many, many other things.
* She loves me, she loves me not: media darling Sonia Sotomayor used to be in favor of the use of cameras during Supreme Court arguments, but she’s done a complete about-face on the issue, just like Justice Elena Kagan before her. [National Law Journal]
* Everyone and their mother knows what Antonin Scalia thinks of the State of the Union address, but let’s find out what my colleague Elie Mystal thinks about the good justice’s antics — namely, Scalia’s non-attendance for the past sixteen years. [HuffPost Live]
* American Airlines and US Airways will be merging to create the largest (and most awful) airline in the country. Perhaps the DOJ’s antitrust division can save us from this parade of horribles. [DealBook / New York Times]
* It looks like Team Togut is going to have a crappy Valentine’s Day. They thought that their partner problems were all wrapped up, but according to these filings, it seems that they’ve only just begun. [Am Law Daily]
* If Irving Picard, the trustee in charge of the Bernie Madoff bankruptcy case, is able to get his way, money will soon be raining upon the victims of the massive Ponzi scheme at warp speed. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* This probably isn’t just a “distraction” or “silly sideshow” anymore, because Apple now says it will be fighting Greenlight’s attempt to block the tech company from restricting its issuance of preferred stock. [Bloomberg]
* Instragram has asked a federal court to toss a lawsuit over changes to the photo-sharing app’s terms of service because it contests that users still own the rights to all of their fugly Walden-filtered pictures. [Reuters]
* Remember Kenneth Kratz, the former Wisconsin prosecutor who referred to himself as “the prize”? He’s settled his sexting suit with Stephanie Van Groll, also known as the “hot nymph.” [Twin Cities Pioneer Press]
* Go to grad school at Lehigh for free: check. Sue for $1.3M over your C+: check. Get chastised by a judge over your ridiculous lawsuit: check. Whatever, we still beat Duke, and that’s really all that matters. [Morning Call]
Mary Jo White? More like Mary Jo Green. President Obama’s pick to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission is deliciously rich, as revealed in her financial disclosures.
Although she’s barely five feet tall, making her a little litigatrix, Mary Jo White wears big shoes. In the words of my colleague Elie Mystal, a former Debevoise & Plimpton associate, she’s “one of those alpha dog partners…. the kind of partner that makes other partners stammer, shuffle papers, and try to look really busy and intelligent when she’s in the room.”
The sizable net worth of Mary Jo White shouldn’t surprise anyone. Not only is she a longtime Debevoise partner, but her husband, John W. White, has been a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore for more than 25 years (interrupted from 2006 through 2008 by a stint at the SEC, actually, where he served as Director of the Division of Corporation Finance).
Today’s story about a law student bound for prison has me thinking about how regular people become criminals. The story of Marc Gersen is the kind of thing books are made of; it’s big and bold and colorful.
But on the smaller scale, people are pushed into unethical decisions all the time, and it rarely comes with the stark choices of, “Should I, or should I NOT, start a meth ring?” People, especially the kind of risk-averse people who end up in law school, don’t make one big decision to “become a criminal.” It’s a bunch of little decisions that incrementally take you from “normal, law-abiding citizen” to “bad actor.”
Today, we got an email from a person who is thinking about making an unethical choice out of desperation for a job. Why don’t you read her dilemma for yourself and tell her what you think she should do….
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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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