Litigatrix

Lindsay Harrison front steps SCOTUS.jpgLindsay Harrison at One First Street. Photo by Patrice Gilbert.

To paraphrase the controversial Campari ads at issue in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (aka The People vs. Larry Flynt), everyone remembers “their first time” — arguing in open court, that is. It’s a rite of passage that all young litigators must go through. At large law firms, associates (or even junior partners) typically tackle something minor for their first oral argument — e.g., a non-critical discovery motion — and then work their way up the ladder.

But that’s not the case for everyone; some people start at the top. Meet Lindsay C. Harrison. She’s a fifth-year associate in the D.C. office of Jenner & Block, who just had her very first oral argument — which happened to be in the U.S. Supreme Court. On Wednesday, she appeared before the nine justices to argue the case of Nken v. Mukasey (or, technically, Nken v. Filip; more on the name changes later).

Read our interview with Lindsay Harrison, after the jump.

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Kathryn Ruemmler Kathryn H Ruemmler Kathy Ruemmler Latham Watkins.jpgSuperstar litigatrix Kathryn Ruemmler, a litigation partner at Latham & Watkins and an Enron prosecutor before that, has been picked to serve as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General in the Obama Justice Department. That title is a mouthful, but lawyers inside the Beltway know it’s a Big Deal.

The revolving door between the DOJ and Latham swings again. Ruemmler has traded places with another fierce female litigator: Alice Fisher, who rejoined the firm after heading up the Criminal Division.

As for Ruemmler, the government’s gain is Latham’s loss. Says one LW tipster: “She’s a really good lawyer, and a genuinely nice person. We’re very sorry to lose her.”

Kathy Ruemmler isn’t just a genial genius; she’s stylish, too. From the WSJ Law Blog, reporting on a day of the Ken Lay trial:

Speaking of footwear, the boldest fashion statement of the day — possibly rivaling O’Melveny paralegal Bill Evans’s goth getup for the gutsiest sartorial move of the week — came from the government’s Ruemmler. The deputy director of the Enron Task Force, who won convictions against four Merrill Lynch bankers in the 2004 Nigerian Barge case, paired a conservative gray suit with stunning 4-inch bright pink stiletto spikes.

Litigatrix indeed. Just because you work for the DOJ doesn’t mean you have to shop at DSW.

There’s a lot of diversity in Obama’s Department picks so far. Eric Holder, nominated to serve as Attorney General, is African-Amercan. Elena Kagan and Dawn Johnsen, nominated to serve as, respectively, Solicitor General and head of the Office of Legal Counsel, are women.

The full memo about Ruemmler’s move, after the jump.

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Sue for Women in Litigation.jpgBack in August, we reported that a magazine for female litigators was in the works. They were in the naming phase at the time, and we tried to help them out by surveying you about the worst of their proposed names, including such gems as “Chill,” “Woman Litigator,” and “Spirit, The Magazine for Women in e-Discovery.” Almost half of the voters chose “Trial Mama” as the worst of the worst.

Well, in that post, we asked you all to suggest better titles. And it seems the magazine mavens were listening. They have embraced the suggestion proffered by commentator #33 on that thread, and named the magazine “Sue, For Women In Litigation.”

Kudos to us for calling them out on terrible title ideas and kudos to you, anonymous ATL reader, for naming a new magazine. It launches January 2009, and will be published bimonthly. The magazine promises “stories of remarkable individuals along with expert advice, cutting-edge data and emerging trends to help readers gain more recognition, more equity and opportunity in the legal workplace.”

The mission of “Sue” after the jump.

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Magazines.jpgThe makers of KNOW: The Magazine for Paralegals have another legal publication in the works. A tipster forwarded us an e-mail about a “new magazine for women professionals in litigation.”
Imagining the love child of Glamour and the American Lawyer, we expected to see planned articles on hot courtroom studs and legal fashion faux pas. But it sounds like this publication will be more strait-laced. The email announcement claims the magazine will “be chock full of work style and life style balance articles; address women’s issues in the law firm and in-house legal environment and offer informative pieces on current topics in technology, litigation and e-discovery.”
They’re in the naming phase, and are considering the following. Which two are not like the others?

* Women in Litigation
* Chill
* Woman Litigator
* Trial Mama
* American Litigator
* Spirit, The Magazine for Women in e-Discovery
* Equality, The Magazine for Women Litigators
* Legal Women, A Workstyle & Life Balance Magazine

We’re not excited by the bland “Women in Litigation” options, or anything with “e-Discovery” in the title. But “Chill” and “Trial Mama” are truly ridonculous. ATL Idol Exley’s “Clitigator”, or Lat’s beloved “Litigatrix”, would blow all the other entries away. We welcome better title suggestions in the comments.
Among the options offered, we can’t decide which is the worst. What do you think?


Earlier: We Don’t KNOW How This Magazine for Paralegals Will Do

Tilda Swinton Karen Crowder Ally McBeal Calista Flockhart.jpgThat’s the title of our latest column for the New York Observer, which reflects upon recent television and film portrayals of women litigators.
It touches upon some of the same themes highlighted in Amy Kolz’s excellent American Lawyer article from last year, but it’s more focused on fictional female litigators, as opposed to real-life ones. Here’s how it starts:

Whatever happened to Ally McBeal? If recent movies and television shows are any guide, the life of a female lawyer has gotten a lot less pleasant since the carefree, charmingly neurotic days of dancing babies and bathroom kisses. But today’s portrayals may be more accurate, and certainly more critically acclaimed.

Last January, Glenn Close won a Golden Globe for her compelling performance as Patty Hewes, a fearsome and wildly successful plaintiff’s lawyer, on the addictive TV show Damages. The following month, Tilda Swinton snagged an Oscar for stepping into the pumps of Karen Crowder, a hard-charging in-house litigator, in Michael Clayton.

In March, Julianna Margulies (of ER) returned to television as aggressive defense lawyer Elizabeth Canterbury, the title character of Canterbury’s Law. Even Katey Sagal, who embodied the famously vulgar Peggy Bundy on Married With Children, reincarnated herself this year as Marci Klein, the sleek, powerful, and ruthless founding partner of the law firm on Eli Stone.

You can read the full column over here.
Farewell, Ally McBeal; Enter the Litigatrix [New York Observer]

Jennifer Blum Jennifer A Blum Jen Blum Jenn Blum lawyer Above the Law blog.jpgIs the complaining about the tough job market for graduates of non-elite law schools overblown? Take, for example, Western New England College School of Law. According to U.S. News, it’s a tier 4 school. But when it comes to career success, its graduates are doing just fine, thank you very much.
Some WNEC alumni make partner at Sullivan & Cromwell. Others attain fortune and fame on television. From TortsProf Blog:

I admit to some hesitation in acknowledging watching American Gladiators, which is not by any rational measure a particularly good show. And yet there it sits on our TiVo, and yet we watch it. Such is the mystery of life, no? But today, I get to tie it in both to my law school and to Torts.

Last night one of the contestants, Jennifer Blum, was identified as a New Jersey lawyer and a professional football player (she plays for the New York Sharks and is an all-time leading receiver). A quick search of our alumni database reveals that she’s a 2002 graduate of Western New England College School of Law! Sources vary; I thought they said on the show that she’s a criminal defense lawyer, but other sites indicate that she’s a civil litigator. Maybe she reads this blog!

Or maybe this one. Hi Jen! If you’d be willing to be interviewed on ATL, please email us.
From her American Gladiators bio:

Jennifer Blum is a women’s football player who grew up sleeping with a football in her bed. When she was 9-years-old, she and her parents sued for her right to be on a boy’s soccer team — an event that was covered in the media nationwide. Always a tom-boy, never afraid to take a hit or hit back, she is ready to jump into the ring with the Gladiators. Blum, a civil litigation lawyer, is 34 years old and currently lives in Franklin Park, New Jersey.

Jennifer Blum Jennifer M Blum Jen Blum Jenn Blum lawyer Above the Law blog.jpgJen Blum sounds tough and tenacious. How did she fare on the show? Find out by reading Professor Bill Childs’s full post (which also includes excerpts from the incredibly long waiver form that contestants must fill out).
Update: A tipster informs us that she used to work for the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. See picture at right.
Lawyers Ready? Gladiators Ready? [TortsProf Blog]
Jennifer Blum [American Gladiators]
Lawyer Profile: Jennifer Blum [Martindale-Hubbell]

Susan Estrich Fox News Quinn Emanuel Supreme Court clerk Above the Law blog.jpgMore news from one of ATL’s favorite law firms, Quinn Emanuel. See Gawker and Radar.
If your friends are as fabulous as Susan Estrich’s, why hide them behind a bcc?
Query: Could this actually be a brilliant viral marketing ploy? Has Susan Estrich harnessed the power of the blogosphere to get all the world to read her paean to QE?
The Art Of The ‘To’ Line [Gawker]
Fox News’ Susan Estrich Has a New Job [Radar Online via Big Law Board]

The tipster who forwarded this invite to us pretty much said it all: “Weil: Are you joking?”
Weil is currently ranked #9 on the Vault 100. How many spots should they be docked for this?
(In case you’re wondering, yes, we did contact the firm for comment. We did not hear back from them.)
Star Jones Reynolds Above the Law blog.jpgWEIL GOTSHAL & MANGES — INVITATION TO DIVERSITY RECEPTION FEATURING STAR JONES
Please join us at our diversity reception for first year law students next Tuesday, January 22nd! Please also note that the time for the reception has changed to 6:00pm to 9:00pm.
Our guest speaker, Star Jones, will be arriving at 6:00pm to mingle, so plan to be there early! Further details are below.
For those of you who cannot view the JPEG, here are the details for the event:
Location: STK
Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Time: 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Special Guest Speaker: Star Jones of truTV (formerly Court TV)
RSVP by Friday, January 18 to [xxxx] or (212) 833-[xxxx]
[xxxx]
Legal Recruiting Coordinator
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
767 Fifth Avenue
Star Jones Reynolds [Wikipedia]
Star Jones [official website]

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver Hedges associate salary Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgSome associates at Quinn Emanuel are a tad grumpy these days. But here are three items to cheer them up:
1. Profits per partner clear $3 million. As we previously reported in these pages, some QE associates were rather unhappy with their bonuses. But look on the bright side: stingy bonuses mean more money once you make partner.
As reported by Zusha Elinson in the Recorder:

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges continued its screaming ascent in 2007 with financial results that should put a scare into the most profitable New York firms.

The Los Angeles-based litigation shop reported that profits per partner hit the $3 million mark last year — a height surpassed by only three firms on the Am Law 100 list for 2006.

“That’s Wachtell country,” said Ronald Beard, a law firm consultant with the Zeughauser Group, referring to the highly profitable New York deal shop Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Managing partner John Quinn offered a rebuttal to the bonus complaints:

The financial results didn’t prevent some associates from complaining about their bonuses. Legal blog Above the Law reported griping that the firm unexpectedly drew the line for full year-end bonuses at 2,100 hours, 100 hours more than the previous year.

Quinn said that decisions about bonuses are made at the end of the year, not beforehand, and that 2,100 was “not necessarily” a bright line. He added that Quinn associates were given a special bonus this year on top of the normal ones, matching a move made by only a few elite New York firms.

“If [Quinn associates] are not the most highly paid, they’re among the most highly paid in the country,” Quinn said. “Any suggestion that the firm has done really, really well and the associates haven’t shared is false.”

We have a rebuttal to the rebuttal from a disgruntled associate. Check it out — but caveat lector, this tipster may have an ax to grind — after the jump.
Update: Note the many defenders of the firm in the comments. Not all associates are whiny bee-atches!
2. Susan Estrich is in da house. Quinn seems to have a weakness for high-powered litigatrices. Already home to former Stanford Law dean Kathleen Sullivan, the firm just added Susan Estrich, who joins as Of Counsel in the Los Angeles office. From one associate:

Susan Estrich just joined our firm. Classic.

Now when I watch Fox News at home, I’ll hear plugs of work.

3. Retention bonuses: We’re looking into reports of retention bonuses in the high five-figures, which vest in 18 months. In light of the dissatisfaction in the ranks, retention bonuses may be just what the doctor ordered.
Quinn Partner Profits Clear $3 Million [The Recorder via Law.com]
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: A Few More Updates

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Charlene Morisseau 2 Charlene Morrisseau Charlene Morriseau DLA Piper Harvard Law School Southern Center for Human Rights.JPGFormer DLA Piper associate Charlene Morisseau isn’t just our Lawyer of the Day. This high-powered litigatrix — a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and a former editor of the Harvard Law Review — should be hailed as a heroine by Biglaw associates everywhere.

From a most engaging article by Anthony Lin, in the New York Law Journal:

A Manhattan federal judge has thrown out a race discrimination suit brought against DLA Piper by a former associate who claimed the firm’s New York office was a hostile work environment.

Charlene Morisseau, a 2001 graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was a law review editor, joined DLA Piper as a litigation associate in April 2003 but was asked to leave less than a year later. In a lawsuit filed last year, Ms. Morisseau, who is black, claimed her firing was retaliation for complaints she had made about discriminatory treatment.

She requested almost $250 million in damages from the firm and the 11 partners she individually named in the suit.

Now, we’re all in favor of giving associates more money. But $250 million may be a bit much, even for a Harvard Law grad. It’s about 90 percent of DLA Piper’s total firm profits for 2006 ($280 million).

But it looks like Morisseau won’t be seeing a dime:

Southern District Judge Lewis Kaplan granted summary judgment to the firm Monday, finding that DLA Piper had put forth a “legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for plaintiff’s termination.”

“Here, the uncontradicted evidence demonstrates that plaintiff did not perform in a manner satisfactory to Piper notwithstanding her academic credentials,” the judge wrote. “She was a confrontational, stubborn, and insubordinate employee in an environment in which professional personal relations, flexibility and a willingness to accept supervision were essential.”

Now we’ve reached the good part. Here’s why Charlene Morisseau should be every associate’s idol:

[I]n court filings, DLA Piper denied treating Ms. Morisseau differently and said the firm had taken action because the ex-associate had exhibited a pattern of unacceptable behavior, including yelling at partners and throwing one out of her office.

The firm said Ms. Morisseau ordered former partner Marilla Ochis to “back up” out of her office after Ms. Ochis had come to discuss an e-mail exchange Ms. Morisseau had apparently taken offense to.

Have you ever fantasized about telling off your partner oppressors? Well, Charlene Morisseau has lived your dream — and then some.

Read the rest, after the jump.

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