On the transactional side, things seem to be going gangbusters for Skadden Arps. As we noted yesterday, the firm took the top spot in three separate rankings of 2012 M&A work. In 2011, a different firm sat atop each set of rankings, but in 2012, Skadden ruled them all.
On the litigation side, though, the new year has brought new headaches for Skadden. Earlier this month, a high-profile partner at the firm, along with another partner and an associate, got hit with a big benchslap. A federal judge issued an order to show cause, asking the Skadden lawyers to explain why they should not be sanctioned, and set “a status hearing in open court…. [at which the attorneys] are all directed to appear in person.” Ouch.
Skadden recently filed its response to the OSC. Let’s review the benchslap, then see what the Skadden lawyers had to say for themselves….
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, from Ross Guberman, a look at lawyers’ ethical breaches and their consequences.
Quick: List all the ways you can get into ethical hot water while writing a brief, and then list all the things judges can do to you in return.
Sometimes lawyers go too far, but do judges ever overreact?
In your short and fascinating book, we meet all sorts of wayward attorneys who are in some way punished by courts for something they’ve done in a brief. One attorney called the members of an administrative board “monkeys” and compared their pronouncements to the “grunts and groans of an ape.” Another attorney neglected to mention an unfavorable case even though he himself was counsel in that case. Yet another referred to opposing counsel as “Nazis and redneck pepper-woods.” And various other attorneys drafted a proposed order with a first sentence that’s nearly four pages long, filed a complaint that the court called a “hideous sprawling mess,” cited a dissent as controlling authority, or copied another lawyer’s brief.
When you compare all these alleged ethical breaches with the penalties they provoked, what are a few of the behaviors that seem to irk judges most?
* “I’m sorry Ms. Jackson, I am for real. Never meant to make your planet cry, I apologize a trillion times,” is likely what Barack Obama told Lisa Jackson when he found out she was stepping down as EPA administrator. [New York Times]
* Cook County, Illinois, is experiencing problems wherein the kookiest of judges get “electoral mulligans” every six years. Public humiliation and harsh ratings might be a great way to finally put an end to this practice. [Chicago Magazine]
* Another way to get revenge against the schools that screwed grads with their allegedly misleading employment stats: disciplinary action for ethical violations committed by those licensed to practice law. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, unless you’re accused of being a murdererbirderer. Boalt Hall law students Justin Teixeira and Eric Cuellar have now been criminally charged for their alleged roles in the decapitation of an exotic bird. [Las Vegas Sun]
* Harvard Law is offering a free online copyright class, and anyone can enroll — even 13-year-olds. This may be your only chance to take a course at an Ivy League school, so hurry up and apply. [National Law Journal]
* George Zimmerman and his lawyer are being sued by a private detective for failure to pay $27K for security services, which included a detailed escape plan to get the murder defendant into a hidey-hole. [Boston Herald]
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.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Bull and S***. If you’re not slaving away trying to get last minute billing hours, you’re slaving away trying to support a crazed population of folks trying to meet year-end sales numbers. It has been a difficult year, at best, for business. Heck, even Apple was downgraded to neutral yesterday. So, here comes the push.
The push is to close every deal possible, no matter the amount, no matter the risk, by 11:59 p.m. on December 31. But our job is to stanch the flow of craziness, is it not? Stay with me here — I am not allowed to collect commission due to a conflict of interest, yet every dollar that boosts our revenue, and thus our numbers for Q4, goes toward the bonus pool from which I directly benefit. If our end of year numbers are strong enough, the analysts punch our ticket into the new year and my options’ value rises. I may be dense (just ask my wife), but I fail to understand the difference from a commission-based return, and a bonus- or option-based return. The end result is the same, is it not? A benefit is conferred upon me based in part on my participation in the process of my sales-side corporation. But I am expected to “push” back.
I cannot, for real reasons, as well as flippancy, express some of the nuttiness that goes on at this time of year. Risks are taken akin to jumping from the high dive toward a half-empty deep end in the hopes that the water will be there in time. And it always ends happily with a splash. But, the troubling aspect to me is this incongruent fallacy of ethics. I am ethically bound to zealously represent my corporation, and at the same time, I am representing people whose very careers are at stake. I am well aware of the order of precedence there, but practically speaking, that line becomes blurred at this time of year, and frankly, I find it to be unsettling to be forced to live a legal fiction….
* “To do nothing in the face of pending disaster is to be complicit. It’s time to act. It’s time to vote.” What a convenient time to discover that the Department of Justice tabled new gun control proposals in favor of an upcoming election campaign. [New York Times]
* Rumor has it that the president will nominate Senator John Kerry to be secretary of state for his second term. Upon hearing the news, Hillary Clinton updated her Tumblr page before she caught a case of the vapors, fainted, and got herself all concussed. [CNN]
* “If you don’t know, then you have to plan for the worst.” Everyone’s pissed off about the possibility of being pushed off the fiscal cliff, but on the bright side, it’s creating a mountain of billables. [National Law Journal]
* Remember the judge who resigned after he accidentally showed a colleague a picture of the “judicial penis”? He was removed from office by a judicial ethics panel. How very effective. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
* And for the talent portion of the competition, Alicia Guastaferro, the pageant princess who was picked up for prostitution after getting caught with an attorney, will have her hooking charges dropped. [Huffington Post]
I’d like this story a lot better if it was about an associate busted for using a fake disability to get extra time, instead of just about an associate getting busted for not actually having whatever BS affliction the kids are using these days. But I guess this is a start.
A Hastings Law graduate and former summer associate at Morrison & Foerster was nailed for faking an unnamed disability to get more time on the California bar exam.
In related news, I’ll now be marketing myself as a disability-faker detector. I have a simple methodology for determining fakers, and I’m not afraid to share it. My system is: if you can fake it so well that I can’t tell the difference, then it’s not a real disability that requires extra time in the first place!
I’ll be coming to a bar testing center near you to show my proven method in action…
Back in July, we brought our readers a story about an Illinois judge who had allegedly been using his courthouse computer to view hardcore pornography while in chambers. Most would’ve lodged an objection to the judge’s alleged behavior, because after all, he could’ve waited until he got home to sate his supposed desire for untoward viewing pleasures, just like everyone else.
After the inception of a judicial ethics inquiry, some of the porn sites the judge visited were revealed by a Chicago-area newspaper (and based on his pervy predilections, it seems the good jurist is a chubby chaser). But alas, the only thing the judge is chasing now are his hopes of keeping himself on the bench.
Late last week, the alleged porn procurer found himself before the Illinois Courts Commission (ICC) to defend his honor and his livelihood. During the hearing, the judge confessed to many of his sins, and revealed the reason why he couldn’t wait until he was within the comforts of his own home to visit his favorite XXX sites….
* When it comes to the art of law firm valuation, you may be surprised when you find out which Biglaw firm is worth the most. Here are a few hints: it’s not Baker & McKenzie, and it’s not DLA Piper or Skadden, either. [American Lawyer]
* Evening students are capable of doing more than ruining your class rank. Jacob Lew, once a night student at Georgetown Law, is now the White House chief of staff assisting with fiscal cliff negotiations. [New York Times]
* For now, the only thing that’s keeping Florida from gaining another law school is a lack of square footage in the real estate rodeo. But that’s probably a good thing, because adding a twelfth law school would be more than a little ridiculous. [Daytona Beach News-Journal]
* Samsung’s trying to get out of paying $1.05B to Apple, and their lawyers are trying to pin knowledge of the jury foreman’s misrepresentations on their technological nemesis to get the verdict thrown out. [Bloomberg]
* Shakira’s hips don’t lie, but her contracts allegedly do. The sexy singer’s ex-business partner (who’s also her ex-boyfriend) is suing her for $100M to “recover his share of past and future partnership profits.” [Billboard]
* On the even of the Supreme Court’s conference that will determine whether a gay marriage case will be on the docket in 2013, a federal judge ruled that Nevada can ban the practice in the state. Not fab. [BuzzFeed]
* A bankruptcy judge gave Dewey & LeBoeuf’s unsecured creditors the go-ahead to sue the pants off Joel Sanders and the Steves (a moniker for what likely would’ve been an extremely orange band). [Am Law Daily]
* Hostess Brands received final approval to wind down its business and begin selling off its Twinkies to satisfy its creditors, but not before $1.8M in bonuses payouts were authorized. [DealBook / New York Times]
* UCLA School of Law recently announced its plans to offer an LL.M. in Law and Sexuality. Now, recall that just one month ago, Justice Scalia advised students not to take “law and _____” courses. [National Law Journal]
* Dominique Strauss-Kahn agreed to settle a suit brought against him by a hotel maid who accused him of rape. We still don’t know the dollar amount, but we bet he kept his aggravated pimp hand strong. [Bloomberg]
* A day in the life of Lindsay Lohan includes an arrest for assault in New York, followed by charges related to a car crash in California. Her legal drama is almost as bad as Liz & Dick. [Daily Dish / San Francisco Chronicle]
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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