Legal Ethics

* While you weren’t looking, Phil Mickelson was cleared of insider trading of Clorox options. How does Lefty get his reputation back? Shooting better than 70 at Pinehurst would help. [mitchellepner]

* Lat reviews The Good Lawyer (affiliate link) by Douglas O. Linder and Nancy Levit. [Wall Street Journal]

* Canada grants asylum to Florida sex-offender. Maybe Canada can give a hand to Crystal Metheny. [National Post]

* Lawyer charged with stealing from clients defends himself: “[Wife] had become accustomed to a lavish lifestyle that generated living expenses of $40K per month.” Well then! [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

* Can President Obama just raise taxes unilaterally? Apparently so. [DealBook / New York Times (gavel bang: TaxProf Blog)]

* So as I read this, someone who definitely bought prostitutes to influence people is accusing someone else of allegedly buying prostitutes to influence people. [Forbes]

* How to make the most of your summer associate experience and not screw up spectacularly (though if you choose to screw up spectacularly, please do it in a reportable way). Video below… [Mimesis Law]

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* Beastie Boys prevail in another intellectual property fight. This time winning $1.7 million from Monster Energy — the drink that guarantees you’ll get no sleep until Brooklyn. [Grantland]

* Law school hands out the wrong exam. To the whole class. [Legal Cheek]

* Best politico defense of taking a bribe: I was too drunk to realize I was being bribed! [New York Post]

* Lawyer wrote “go ahead and disbar me” to Departmental Disciplinary Committee. Sometimes there’s no just bluff to call. [Legal Profession Blog]

* One more problem with high student debt: debt alone can nix your character and fitness approval. [Arizona Law Review]

* A celebration of courtroom illustrators in light of the release of The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Art (affiliate link) [Illustrated Courtroom]

* Vice Media is doing tremendous work exposing injustices. Perhaps they need to look into their own office. (UPDATE: Vice has changed its ways and now pays its interns.) [Capital New York]

* In a comical bout of karma, a landlord sued its blogger resident for alleged defamation. Next thing you know, HUD inspection records come to light. Let’s just say the landlord should be very unhappy that truth is a defense. [Columbus Dispatch]

* Check out the conclusion of ReplyAll’s conversation with John Grisham. [Above the Law]

* Do you think someone is not happy with Jones Foster’s billing practices?

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Johnny Manziel (By: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports)

* Sad day for Jonathan Lee Riches. His lawsuit over Johnny Manziel’s penis has been thrown out of court. [Black Sports Online]

* Hot on the heels of yesterday’s item about SCOTUS porn parties, Professor Tribe guest blogs about his new book (affiliate link) and coercion, bribery, and influence. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Former Brooklyn DA and aspiring TV star Charles Hynes is staring down larceny accusations. [Gothamist]

* Texas basically assigns a cop to actively discourage investigate indigent parties seeking assigned counsel. [Socialist Gumshoe]

* The Supreme Court doesn’t like talking about patents — its opinions on the subject are getting shorter and shorter. [Patently-O]

* A lawyer is in hot water for allowing underaged drinking at a post prom party. The point was to keep the kids from driving. But no good deed goes unpunished. [Turn to 10]

* An interesting profile of one of my favorite professors, Ken Feinberg, labeling him “the lawyer who decides what a life is worth.” Yikes. [KDVR]

* The business strategy of just telling clients what they want to hear deflates. [Dealbreaker]

* Who says no one reads law reviews? The porn industry does and they really like this student Note. [XBiz]

* This is why we can’t have nice things. Second Circuit explains that if a revolving door agency of sycophants says it’s OK, it’s OK. Full opinion below…. [New York Times]

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Biglaw = big a-hole?

[T]he experience [of working at Cahill Gordon & Reindel] tested my ethical compass, and it coarsened my behavior. I was sometimes a jerk in dealing with my adversaries. I was sloppy in accounting for my time. I managed to care deeply about whether associates at the firm across the street were making a few dollars more. I did almost no pro bono work.

Don’t get me wrong. You get excellent training at big law firms. Many of the lawyers there do good and honorable work. But the big firms are built on a set of ethical tensions.

Adam Liptak, the Supreme Court correspondent of the New York Times, offering commentary on his time spent in Biglaw in an article written for the Harvard Crimson. Liptak worked at Cahill from 1988 to 1992.

Sanctimonious attorneys bemoan the decline of civility in the legal practice. The “shark” mentality has eroded the quiet dignity of the second oldest profession (someone had to represent the first prostitute at her arraignment). It’s all a bit overblown — a callback to a halcyon time that never quite was.

Still, there’s something to be said for the fact that Clarence Darrow was never quoted telling William Jennings Bryant “[Bleep] With Me And You Will Have A Huge [Bleep]hole.” I mean, unless I missed that part of the transcript.

And now comes another attorney accused of threatening to violate someone in a most uncomfortable way. Except this time it wasn’t in a one-on-one conversation, but for all the world to see on Facebook….

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Keith Lee

As has been discussed ad nauseam, it’s a tough time to be a lawyer right now. The legal industry is in a rut and the economy continues to limp along. With the flood of lawyers that have been forced to hang their shingle over the past few years, there has been increased competition for clients. This has led to some fairly cutthroat competition in the world of attorney advertising.

Many types of practice don’t advertise. Or rather, their advertising is of the tried-and-true “display expertise” variety. Write articles for your bar association magazine, speak at clients’ industry events, join boards and committees. Not so much talking about yourself, but showing that you are active and engaged in the legal industry. Let your reputation speak for itself; let others talk about you. Develop a reputation, not a brand.

But building a reputation is hard. Developing a brand is expensive. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just mooch off of someone else’s hard work or money? Such was the proposition to New York attorney (and occasional ATL writer) Eric Turkewitz  this past week…

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“… TO BE SANCTIONED!”

Usher wrote this song called Bad Girl. It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. Anyway, this guy named — I s**t you not — Dan Marino claims he wrote the song and Usher and his cronies stole it from him. He wants millions and millions of dollars. But rather than trigger the fall of the House of Usher, his lawyer got handed his hat.

He hired a lawyer named Francis Malofiy to zealously represent his interests. To his credit, “zeal” is not a failing of Mr. Malofiy. Courtesy, respect, professional responsibility — these things might be lacking, but he’s got zeal covered.

And, as it so often does, the latter failings (coupled with the former strength) gave rise to an epic benchslap….

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When we last checked in on Patton Boggs, the long-suffering law firm was on the brink of a bankruptcy breakthrough. Its partners, and the partners of Squire Sanders, were in the middle of voting on a merger that would save Patton Boggs.

Alas, sadly for Patton Boggs, Squire Sanders has suspended the merger vote. What happened? Did Squire come to its senses get second thoughts about that hideous proposed firm name, Squire Patton Boggs?

Actually, no; the issue is more substantial than that. Here’s a hint: Patton Boggs might have saved itself by June, if it weren’t for those meddling… Ecuadorian villagers!

(The vote is back on. Please note the multiple UPDATES at the end of this post.)

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It’s the nightmare scenario of every discovery: what if the client forged all these documents? There really are very few checks upon your own client beyond crafting careful instructions and trusting that it dutifully fulfilled all of them in gathering documents for your review (or at least your contractors’ review). Hounding the client for assurances can only go so far if the client is committed to deceiving the tribunal.

That’s the nightmare a Biglaw firm just faced, and after the firm won a big jury verdict in its client’s favor, the truth came out. How would the firm react?

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* “Ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, if my client was the shooter, why would he have left the witness alive to testify? He’s a man who finishes the damn job.” [ABA Journal]

* Who would pretend to be a lawyer who is not? Apparently this public figure. [Legal Cheek]

* Jill Abramson is out at the New York Times. Could the reason be her decision to lawyer up? [Law and More]

* If you’ve hung around ATL long enough, you’ve heard us speculate that it just doesn’t make economic sense to attend most law schools. Here’s proof — only about 50 are even worth it economically. Which is hard to believe because I thought law degrees were worth $1 million. [TaxProf Blog]

* Lawyers get depressed, and not talking about it makes it worse. [Everyday Health]

* Seven-year-old kids are developing health problems from picking tobacco, because we let children work on tobacco farms apparently. [Slate]

* The Asian American Bar Association will be conducting a trial reenactment of 22 Lewd Chinese Women next Wednesday. Register here! [AABANY]

* As the new movie comes out, lawyers are really worked up over the Godzilla intellectual property. They need to hire Jorge Rivers: Godzilla Lawyer, whose ad appears after the jump (starring Thomas Lennon)…. [The Columbus Dispatch]

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