* Domenici asked for ousting of New Mexico U.S. Attorney. [New York Times via How Appealing]
* Descendants of ex-slaves not welcome in Cherokee Nation. [Jurist]
* Prosecutors decide to pass on attempted murder charge for astronaut in kidnapping case; CNN decides to use a more flattering picture. [CNN; compare with CNN (2/05/07)]
* And speaking of unflattering pictures… [CNN]
* Breyer to appear on NPR “comedy” show. [AP via Yahoo!]
Update: In case you were hoping to attend the “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” taping, you should note that it has been pushed back by a week.
Media and Journalism
- Crime, Lunacy, Media and Journalism, Morning Docket, Native Americans, Pictures, Politics, Romance and Dating, Stephen Breyer, U.S. Attorneys Offices
* Domenici asked for ousting of New Mexico U.S. Attorney. [New York Times via How Appealing]
UPDATE / CORRECTION: The premise of this post — that Mayer Brown intentionally tried to “get out in front of” this story — is incorrect. Our facts were correct, but our interpretation of them was erroneous.
It is factually accurate to state that the Chicago Tribune story hit the web before Mayer Brown sent out the announcement email to its associates. It is also true that Mayer Brown representatives spoke with the Chicago Tribune about this news before the firm-wide email went out.
But there’s a backstory here that needs to be explained. We’ll have more to add in a subsequent post.
FURTHER UPDATE: The subsequent post describing what actually happened appears here.
One of the rules of so-called “crisis management” is to “get out in front of” bad news. The reasoning is that if you try to cover up bad news, you’ll just make matters worse. So you should just announce the bad news, take your lumps, and try to move on as quickly as possible.
Mayer Brown tried to get out in front of the news that it was axing 45 equity partners, which it announced earlier this afternoon — a Friday afternoon, which is when such things get announced. It apparently told the Chicago Tribune about the news before making a firm-wide announcement to its associates.
This may have taken “getting out in front of bad news” too far. It can be demoralizing for your employees to hear about something that affects them after (or even through?) the news media.
But this was clearly an announcement that was made with the media in mind. The internal memo that was sent around at Mayer Brown even included contact information for the firm’s communications team.
If Mayer Brown was going to be so forthright about this news, and basically throw open its kimono, why didn’t it just “go all the way” — and post a news story or press release on its website?
You handed a bunch of unprofitable geezers their walking papers. So what? That’s the way the Biglaw works in this day and age. You don’t attain profits per partner in excess of a million by coddling the useless.
Own it, people — own it!!!
Mayer Brown cuts 45 partners in restructuring [Chicago Tribune]
Mayer Brown Purging 45 Partners [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw-ling: Firm Drops Ax on 45 Equity Partners
From the new March issue of The American Lawyer. Both are by the fabulous and fashionable Vivia Chen. Go Vivia!
1. “Antigay or Antihuman?” [American Lawyer]
Yes, this is an article about Sullivan & Cromwell. Money quote:
“We can’t fire everybody who might say something inappropriate, who does something foolish under pressure,” says [firm chairman H. Rodgin] Cohen, adding that partners and associates who step out of line receive counseling. “[But] I’m 100 percent convinced that this firm is no worse than others.”
Maybe; maybe not:
In the last two years, S&C has scored near the bottom in The American Lawyer’s midlevel associates survey. And according to an S&C memo leaked to The Wall Street Journal in January, the firm had a 31 percent attrition rate among its associates in 2005.
“Every word of that complaint rang true to me,” says one former lawyer. “They [M&A partners] are just vulgar.”
“I don’t think it’s discrimination; M&A is just a brutal group,” says the former lawyer. “I think this guy was treated badly and unprofessionally.” Sums up another former M&A associate: “S&C isn’t antigay, just antihuman.”
2. Rainbow Revolution [American Lawyer]
This article is adequately summed up by the subhed: “Despite the lawsuit against Sullivan & Cromwell, these are the best of times to be a gay lawyer.” Our favorite quote:
One reason that accurate data [about gay lawyers at large law firms] is hard to collect is that GLBT individuals can stay below the radar screen. “It’s not obvious; I don’t sing ‘YMCA’ when I walk into a room,” says Joseph Hall, 43, the only openly gay partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell. Unlike gender or race, revealing sexual orientation is a matter of choice.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)
Yesterday we posted an interesting excerpt from Lincoln Caplan’s book, Skadden: Power, Money, and the Rise of a Legal Empire, which discussed Sullivan & Cromwell. The excerpt concerned a closeted gay associate at S&C who committed suicide after being passed over for partner.
A comment on that post:
“Does this anecdote show anti-gay bias, or just that S&C partners are a**holes? The S&C lawyer who committed suicide was closeted.”
“Would the failure of partners to attend his funeral represent hostility towards gays? Or just general indifference by S&C partners to associates who don’t make partner?”
The “we’re not homophobes, just a**holes” line of defense probably won’t do wonders for S&C’s recruiting this fall. But one of you has brought our attention to an excerpt from later on in the book (pp. 160-61) that speaks more specifically to the issue of gays at S&C.
It concerns the late Jonathan Bowie, a partner at Skadden at the time of his passing. As one commenter noted, “Bowie was passed over for partner at S&C, that’s why he moved to Skadden. On a sad note, he later died of AIDS.”
From Skadden, by Lincoln Caplan:
Unlike the S&C associate from the earlier excerpt, Bowie wasn’t “very closeted” during his time at the firm. He had a boyfriend at S&C, and “people knew” about him. So his story, and his being passed over for partnership, may be slightly more revealing than the prior anecdote.
Note our use of the word “slightly.” It’s worth pointing out that the above excerpt contains no clear, objective evidence of anti-gay bias at S&C. People get passed over for partner for all sorts of reasons. The anecdote rests entirely upon perceptions of S&C held by lawyers at a different, rival firm. And it’s over two decades old; a lot can change over 20 years.
We just thought it was interesting (as did the source who sent it to us). So we’ve posted it here for your consideration. You can decide how much weight to place upon it.
P.S. We try not to miss a single news article about the litigation between Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell. But we did fail to mention this interesting Gay City News article, by Professor Arthur Leonard, which appeared late last week.
Professor Leonard analyzes S&C’s recent motion to dismiss Aaron Charney’s complaint. We never offered our own thoughts on that motion, but we agree with much of Professor Leonard’s thoughtful analysis.
Charney Litigation Heats Up [Gay City News]
Earlier: Brokeback Lawfirm: A Walk Down Memory Lane
- Books, Jan Crawford Greenburg, Jeffrey Rosen, Media and Journalism, Neal Katyal, SCOTUS, Supreme Court
We’re stepping away from our computer for bit, to attend an event at Georgetown Law School featuring two of the best writers about the Supreme Court working today: Jan Crawford Greenburg, of ABC News, and Jeffrey Rosen, of The New Republic. It will be moderated by the brilliant Professor Neal Katyal (who also happens to be Jeff Rosen’s brother-in-law).
Both Greenburg and Rosen have just published new books about the Court. Rosen is the author of The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries that Defined America, and Greenburg is the author of Supreme Conflict.
Before her book was published, we speculated that Jan Crawford Greenburg might unseat Linda Greenhouse as Queen Bee of the SCOTUS press corps. We suggested that the young and attractive Greenburg might play Eve Harrington to Linda Greenhouse’s Margo Channing. In light of the rapturous notices that Supreme Conflict has received, as well as its status as a New York Times-certified bestseller, we feel that our prediction is coming to pass. Watch out, Linda G.!
Some content will be posted while we’re gone. So please do check back soon!
Earlier: All About… Jan?
- Aaron Charney, Alexandra Korry, Biglaw, Eric Krautheimer, Gay, H. Rodgin Cohen, Media and Journalism, Robert Kolker
This is a continuation of our prior post, Brokeback Lawfirm: The New York Magazine Piece (Part 1), which discussed the first half of Robert Kolker’s New York magazine article about Aaron Charney.
Our discussion picks up on page three (web pagination) of Kolker’s piece. At the top of that page is this fabulous graphic, entitled “Notes on a Scandal”:
It’s arguably a little derivative of an earlier New York Observer graphic (discussed here). But the textual elements are new, and some of the featured individuals are different.
The illustrations are amusing. They’re perhaps the most “pro-Charney” part of the whole article, since they’re so unflattering to the S&C lawyers, who are drawn to resemble animals. H. Rodgin Cohen looks like a frog, and Alexandra Korry looks like a chimp.
Our further thoughts on the article appear after the jump.
- Aaron Charney, Biglaw, Columbia Law School, Eric Krautheimer, Gay, Media and Journalism, Pictures, Robert Kolker
We’ve now finished reading Robert Kolker’s interesting and highly detailed New York Magazine article about Aaron Charney (a piece that we’ve been anticipating for weeks). And we do have a few thoughts on it — besides admiration for Ted Partin’s elegant, black-and-white headshot of a trim-but-borderline-emaciated Aaron Charney, at right.
On the whole, the piece is well-researched and thoughtful. It doesn’t contain THAT much new information for people who have been following this case as slavishly as most ATL readers have. But it’s well-written and engaging, a good read.
Also, it’s commendably balanced. In your reactions to it, some have you attacked it as pro-S&C, while others have criticized it as pro-Charney. This strikes us as evidence of the article’s evenhanded nature. You can view it as either pro-S&C or pro-Charney, depending upon your point of view and what you choose to focus on within the piece.
More detailed thoughts, after the jump.
The New York Magazine piece about Aaron Charney, which we have been eagerly awaiting, is finally out. The article, by Robert Kolker, looks long and juicy (hehe). We haven’t read it yet, but we’re about to. You can check it out for yourself by clicking here.
In the meantime, check out this quasi-artsy, black-and-white, dramatically lit photograph of Aaron Charney. It was taken by Ted Partin. The caption reads: “Aaron Charney at home.”
So THIS is what Aaron Charney’s bedroom looks like. But where are the omnipresent pictures of his mom and dad?
It’s a strangely seductive picture, isn’t it? Aaron’s bedsheets look inviting — they’re practically crying out, “Roll around in us!” They look very high-end; we’d be surprised by a sub-400 thread count.
Do you remember our reader poll — still open, actually — entitled What Should Aaron Charney Do Next? One of the choices was “Pose nude for Playgirl,” but it has received only 9 percent of the vote thus far. In light of this vaguely racy photo, we respectfully suggest that the figure should be higher.
We’ll have more to say about Bob Kolker’s article after we’ve had the chance to read it. Check back soon.
Update: More thoughts on the article appear here and here.
The Gay Flannel Suit [New York Magazine]
Earlier: ATL Reader Poll: What Should Aaron Charney Do Next?
- Ann Althouse, Arthur Leonard, Blogging, Conferences / Symposia, Dahlia Lithwick, Fashion, James Lindgren, Law Professors, Lawrence Solum, Media and Journalism, Pictures, Randy Barnett
A pair of Volokh Conspirators, Professors James Lindgren and Randy Barnett, at last week’s NYLS conference on writing about the law. Inset: Professor Cameron Stracher, who organized the symposium.
In our write-up of the NYLS conference panel on law reviews, we offered the following fashion commentary:
Professors Barnett and Stracher are both rockin’ the “downtown auteur” look: black or dark blue suit, dark collarless shirt, no tie. Not bad in a vacuum, but unfortunate that they’re on the same panel with the same look (except as to the color of their shirts).
Professor Barnett has taken issue with our observations. He claims that he was wearing a crewneck shirt, while Professor Stracher was wearing a turtleneck — and that “a world of difference” exists between the two.
We pulled out our photographs of Professors Barnett and Stracher. Professor Barnett is clearly wearing a crew neck — the same crew neck he’s wearing in his website photo, it seems. But we couldn’t tell the type of Professor Stracher’s collar (above inset).
So we looked up Professor Ann Althouse’s more detailed photograph of Professor Stracher (together with yours truly). Yep, that’s a turtleneck (although a relatively short one).
We apologize to Professor Barnett, and we regret the error.
In addition, Professor Lindgren wanted to clarify his choice of a button-down shirt (for which we criticized him). He explained that he has several levels of sartorial formality, and he deliberately chose a button-down because he viewed the NYLS conference as calling for a moderate rather than extreme level of formality. Given the fairly laid-back nature of the proceedings, we can see where he’s coming from.
For true legal-media-and-academia groupies, additional pictures of top legal journalists and law professor bloggers appear after the jump.
We must confess: we’ve never been huge fans of the bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich. And we don’t like dogs. In America, these are felonies.
But we’ve finally found a BLT we can enjoy. Say hello to The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times!
From Jim Oliphant’s inaugural post:
Hey look, it’s a blog.
Not exactly revolutionary at this point is it? So why would Legal Times do it, other than, of course, to slavishly follow journalistic convention.
That’s the cynical reason. The real reason is the opportunity this medium affords us, one that despite the wretched excess of blogs polluting the net remains very real, particularly in the areas this publication watches.
Check out that droll opening line, sans exclamation point. Admire the meta-ness of it all: blogging about their decision to start a blog.
The Legal Timesfolk are off to an excellent start as bloggers. Check out these two juicy posts (picked up by How Appealing):
1. Seller is Relocating, about how Justice Alito has put his New Jersey home up for sale (we’ll probably do a Lawyerly Lairs post on it); and
2. The Chief and Microsoft, about the rare oral argument “oopsie” from Ted Olson.
Delicious. We’ve added BLT to the ATL blogroll, and we expect to visit early and often.
The BLT is Served [The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]