New York Times

H Rodgin Cohen 2 Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGRumor has it that Sullivan & Cromwell’s chairman, banking law god H. Rodgin Cohen, was “pretty angry” when he learned that the New York Times would be covering Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, the anti-discrimination lawsuit filed against S&C by a gay former associate, Aaron Charney.
(The NYT story was pretty even-handed. But it was surprisingly long and detailed, which Cohen probably didn’t like. We discussed it back in this post.)
If Rodge Cohen doesn’t like MSM coverage of lurid litigation involving his firm, then he’s probably less than pleased by all the news coverage of Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney, S&C’s countersuit against its former M&A associate.
Today’s New York Law Journal has an article about the case. Most of it is familiar to ATL readers. What’s new is info about Charney’s legal team, which now includes the scrumptiously credentialed Laura Schnell: Dartmouth, Chicago Law, Jack Weinstein clerkship, Best Lawyers in America listing.
In addition, the New York Times’s widely read DealBook blog has a write-up of the suit. The DealBook post contains a shout-out to ATL. Thanks, NYT!
As some commenters have noted, one purpose of S&C’s countersuit was surely to get Aaron Charney to shut up. It appears to have succeeded, since Charney has been tight-lipped since last Thursday, when the suit was filed.
But the countersuit does mean that (1) S&C is “stooping to Charney’s level,” i.e., crossing swords with someone of lesser stature (no “Rose Garden” / “we will ignore you as if you were a gnat” strategy); and (2) opening itself up to more media coverage, to wit, coverage of its affirmative lawsuit.
We are coming up to New York on Thursday to watch the preliminary injunction hearing before Justice Bernard Fried of New York Supreme Court. And we don’t think we’ll be the only media (or quasi-media) types in attendance.
Bob Kolker, of New York Magazine, is writing a feature-length article about Charney; so we’d expect to see him there. Other top legal reporters we’ll be watching out for — we have no idea of whether they’re coming, though — include Peter Lattman and Nathan Koppel, of the Wall Street Journal; Anna Schneider-Mayerson, of the New York Observer; and Anthony Lin, of the New York Law Journal.
Update (4:35 PM): Prolific ATL commenter Lavi Soloway will be there.
If you’re at the hearing, feel free to come over and say hello. We look like this.
We also look forward to meeting the parties and their lawyers. We’ve emailed Aaron Charney to tell him that we’ll be there (although he hasn’t responded). And we’ve emailed Zach Fasman of Paul Hastings, who represents S&C, to put him on fashion-and-style notice:

I’m planning to attend the hearing on Thursday, so perhaps I’ll meet you then. Be sure to dress for success! I’ll definitely be writing about the sartorial choices of counsel at this red-carpet event.

Hope all is well!


Time to break out the Brioni, Zach. We better see visible hand-stitching on the lapels, bitch.
This is going to be great fun!!!
Update (4:20 PM): As noted by Lawzer, New York Magazine’s Daily Intelligencer also has a brief item on the S&C countersuit.
Law Firm Facing Gay-Bias Suit Fires Back [DealBook / New York Times]
Sullivan & Cromwell Sues Fired Associate [New York Law Journal]
Paper Trail Disturbed at Sullivan & Cromwell [Intelligencer / New York Magazine]
Taking Center Stage [Soloway]

what a jerk rudeness middle finger obscene gesture.jpgIn light of our non-stop coverage of (1) Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell and (2) the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar, we found the timing of this New York Times article — “Help, I’m Surrounded By Jerks” — to be rather uncanny. Not surprisingly, it’s currently the “Most E-mailed Article” on the NYT website.
Law schools figure prominently in the growing field of “jerk research”:

Next month the Career and Professional Development Center at Duke Law School will for the first time offer a workshop called Dealing With Conflict and Difficult People. In September the negotiation program in Harvard Law School’s executive education series will present a seminar called Dealing With Difficult People and Difficult Situations.

Who says law schools don’t prepare their students for the “real world”?
Of course, most law schools don’t need to offer “workshops” for dealing with pricks. Students learn these lessons through practice — by dealing with professors.
Disclaimer: Please do not interpret this post as our taking sides in either Charney v. S&C or Shanettagate. Consider this provocative quote from the article (emphases added): “[S]ome scholars say, the problem is not the difficult people themselves. IT IS YOU.”
Furthermore, reasonable minds can differ over who is the “jerk” in a particular situation. The article mentions “[t]he explosive boss” as one example of a jerk, but it also cites “the Complainer, the Whiner and the Sniper” as jerkly archetypes. So the S&C partners might argue that Aaron Charney is a “jerk,” or Shanetta Cutlar might label Ty Clevenger as a “jerk.”
Help, I’m Surrounded by Jerks [New York Times]

H Rodgin Cohen Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGThe lawsuit filed by an openly gay associate against his prestigious law firm, Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, has been picked up by the mainstream media — big-time.
We expect that, after this rash of articles, the MSM will move on from this story. Rest assured, dear reader, that ATL will not.
We intend to cover the crap out of this case. If you have any information whatsoever about Aaron Charney, Sullivan & Cromwell’s treatment of gay lawyers, or related subjects, please email us. No detail is too small to escape our interest. If you shared your apple juice with Aaron Charney in kindergarten, we want to hear about it.
Okay. We have carefully read this morning’s coverage of the lawsuit by the New York Times, the New York Law Journal, and the Times of London — so you don’t have to. We’ve located the highlights, the juiciest details, and the money quotes.
The most notable news, as reported in the NYT and the NYLJ, is that Charney has been barred from the Sullivan & Cromwell offices while an internal investigation is underway. Considering the weirdness and tension that would have resulted otherwise, both Charney and the S&C partners are probably happy about his absence.
Excerpts and links to the full articles, after the jump (i.e., click on the “Continue reading” link below).

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell: Aaron Charney Has Left the Building”

Legal Eagle Wedding Watch NYT wedding announcements Above the Law.jpgBecause of Bonusmania, we’ve fallen behind a little in Legal Eagle Wedding Watch. In this post, we discuss lawyer weddings from the weekend of December 2-3.
The most high-profile wedding that week was between media heiress Anne Hearst, sister of Patty Hearst, and novelist Jay McInerney (announcement here). But there were also three marriages involving attorneys:

1. Rebecca Benjamin, Joshua Rikon

2. Randi Harari, Jonathan Mason

3. Lisa Kaplan, Brad Sherman

Our scores and commentary, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch: December 3, 2006″

horny manatee horny manatee horny manatee horny manatee horny manatee Above the Law.jpgNear the top of the NYT “Most E-Mailed Articles” list sits a piece entitled So This Manatee Walks Into the Internet. And, oddly enough, there’s a legal angle to the story:

At the end of [a recent] skit [on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien"], in a line Mr. O’Brien insists was ad-libbed, he mentioned…

There was only one problem: as of the taping of that show, no such site existed. Which presented an immediate quandary for NBC: If a viewer were somehow to acquire the license to use that Internet domain name, then put something inappropriate on the site, the network could potentially be held liable for appearing to promote it.

In a pre-emptive strike inspired as much by the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission as by the laws of comedy, NBC bought the license to, for $159, after the taping of the Dec. 4 show but before it was broadcast.

Congratulations to NBC on its latest acquisition. If you develop any comedic material inspired by the meme of the horny manatee, please email it to conan AT hornymanatee DOT com.
So This Manatee Walks Into the Internet [New York Times] [official site]

Christmas tree.jpg* The holiday season is here, and you know what that means: year-end bonuses for law firm associates. On Friday, Milbank Tweed made the first big bonus announcement. And this time it wasn’t fake.
* They talk a lot about “due process” over at Yale Law School. But questions have been raised concerning the process by which Linda Greenhouse, SCOTUS reporter for the New York Times, was selected over Justice Samuel Alito for the school’s prestigious Award of Merit.
* If Greenhouse benefited from preferential treatment from YLS Dean Harold Koh, it wouldn’t have been the first time.
* Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer: not just geniuses, but also an inspired comedic duo.
* Speaking of great legal minds, Professor Noah Feldman is leaving NYU for Harvard Law School.
* And speaking of NYU Law School, if you haven’t already voted in the 3L hotties contest, there’s still some time left. Polls close tomorrow at 3PM (Eastern time).
* Finally, we have a new little sibling. Please extend a warm welcome to Supermogul: The View From the Top.

samuel alito harold koh linda greenhouse.JPGWe’re delighted that our scoop about Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh pushing Linda Greenhouse over Justice Samuel Alito for the YLS Award of Merit has been picked up so widely. It even made the pages of the Holy Trinity of the Right-of-Center Blawgosphere: Instapundit, Volokh Conspiracy (Jonathan Adler), and Althouse.
As noted, our transcript of the deliberations was fictionalized and satirical. But it is based upon what we’ve learned about the process by which Greenhouse was selected.
If you disbelieve our account in its entirety, allow us to share with you some supporting information. This isn’t the first time that Dean Koh has been accused of showing favoritism towards Linda Greenhouse. Consider the case of the Harry Blackmun papers.
Koh, a former law clerk to Justice Blackmun and advisor to his daughter Sally, played a major role in giving Linda Greenhouse exclusive, early access to Blackmun’s papers — much to the chagrin of other news organizations. As reported at the time by Tony Mauro:

Blackmun’s daughter Sally, the executor for the papers, said in an interview last week that Linda Greenhouse, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times, and Nina Totenberg, longtime Court correspondent for National Public Radio, have been given exclusive pre-release access to the papers for their respective media of print and broadcast journalism….

The Washington Post asked for early access before the exclusive arrangement was made, but was denied. Editors at the Post were described by one knowledgeable source outside the newspaper as “livid” over the favored treatment granted to the Times.

Executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. and Post attorney David Kendall of Williams & Connolly repeatedly sought reconsideration of the exclusive deal, without success, according to sources at the Post. The Post petitioned Sally Blackmun and Yale Law School professor Harold Koh, a former clerk to the justice and now an adviser to Blackmun.

A Post source says that Koh invited the newspaper to make a proposal for early access last July, but did not mention a deadline. According to the source, by the time the Post replied in September with a plan for non-exclusive early access, the decision had already been made to give the Times exclusive access.

Say it ain’t so! Dean Koh had already made up his mind, in favor of La Greenhouse? Quelle surprise!

For her part, Greenhouse says she began talking with Koh last July, but did not seek exclusivity. The offer to give the Times the only print media preview “fell in my lap,” she says….

Koh declined to comment on why Greenhouse and Totenberg were selected.

So what is the origin of Linda Greenhouse’s Svengali-like power over Harold Koh?
We have a theory. Check it out, along with a bunch of interesting links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Harold and Linda, Sittin’ in a Tree…”

In response to this post — about the low partnership rate for minority lawyers at large law firms, the subject of a recent New York Times piece — an ATL commenter wrote:

[UCLA law professor Richard] Sander relies too heavily upon grades as predictors of law firm performance. All of us know scores of brilliant law students who turn out to be terrible lawyers — because they lack social skills, common sense, etc. These people go on to become law professors.

If you’d like to read an entire article devoted to this rather banal proposition — namely, that partnership decisions aren’t based on how well a lawyer did back in law school — click here.*
So Jonathan Glater’s Week in Review piece may not be terribly interesting or amusing. But check out some of the reader comments on Adam Liptak’s original article; a few are real winners. Like this one:

I am sixty years old, and have gone to Law School with Blacks and think the proiblem is simple.

Blacks have lower standards for being accepted at law schools…. Then, while in Law School, my impression was that less was expected oif [sic] Black students while in Law School. Finally, when they are recruited, they are recruited to fill a quota or some diversity goal at the firm or company.

Blacks for a variety of reasons have not had the cultural background to develop as fully as they one day will….

Those Blacks — with whom we are quite familiar, since we went to Law School with them — just don’t have the “cultural background” to succeed in Biglaw. Clients and judges have such a hard time understanding Ebonics….**
* Yes, we’re being a bit glib. There’s an issue of causation versus correlation here. Obviously partners aren’t picked because they did well back in law school (which is the straw man that Glater’s piece knocks down).
But law school performance may correlate with certain skills that ARE the basis for partnership decisions. Professor Sander cites research showing a correlation between law school grades and how long lawyers remain at a firm. This in turn correlates with how many lawyers make partner, given the usual “up or out” system at most big firms. (But ATL is not the ideal forum for getting down into the academic weeds on this subject, so we will stop here.)
** We are NOT saying that anyone who subscribes to Professor Sander’s theory — which is supported by a wealth of research and data — is “racist.” We just think this particular commenter expressed himself rather inelegantly, that’s all.
Straight ‘A’ Student? Good Luck Making Partner [New York Times]
Lawyers Debate Why Blacks Lag at Major Firms [New York Times]
Earlier: How Long Will It Take…

Richard Sander Richard H Sander Professor Above the Law.jpgfor this thought-provoking article — “Lawyers Debate Why Blacks Lag at Major Firms,” by Adam Liptak, one of our favorite legal affairs writers — to hit the New York Times “Most E-mailed Articles” list?
(Our prediction: By the close of business tomorrow, November 29, it will be in the top 10.)
Update: It happened even faster than we expected. The article cracked the top 10 by 9:35 AM.
We may blog about it more later. At the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention, we attended a spirited panel discussion on law firm hiring practices and diversity, featuring Professor Richard Sander (at right). So minority lawyers and the world of Biglaw is a subject that’s been on our mind lately.
In the meantime, feel free to opine in the comments.
Lawyers Debate Why Blacks Lag at Major Firms [New York Times]

Legal Eagle Wedding Watch NYT wedding announcements Above the Law.jpgWe’re a little behind in Legal Eagle Wedding Watch (hereinafter “LEWW”). We’ll be rectifying that shortly.
But before we do, a methodological digression. It concerns how we score couples on the “family” component of the competition. We respond to some reader questions we’ve received:
1. “Isn’t rating people based on the wealth and pedigree of their families horribly obnoxious and elitist?”

Yes. And that is the raison d’etre of LEWW.

2. “Why don’t you give couples higher scores if they came from impoverished backgrounds? Someone born to poor immigrant parents, who somehow managed to make it to a top law school and top law firm, is much more impressive than some rich legacy kid with the same achievements.”

A fair question. But we’re rating couples, not invididuals. An individual who overcame tough circumstances to achieve success in the legal profession is an impressive individual; but a Mayflower descendant marrying the child of a billionaire is an impressive couple.

For centuries, marriages have been used to bring together agglomerations of wealth and power. See, e.g., Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. And this remains true today, even if not to the same degree. This is why the Times, despite being much more meritocratic in its couple selection than decades past, still has a hard-on for Daughters of the American Revolution, and Sons with First Names That Sound Like Last Ones.

In short, despite the changes over the years — more racial and ethnic diversity, the inclusion of gay couples — the NYT weddings and celebrations page still has a “Social Register” feel to it. And LEWW, in keeping with that spirit, awards extra points for “Social Register”-worthy families.

3. “You’re pretty stingy in scoring families. What does a perfect ’10′ look like?”

A timely question. Earlier this month, on November 19, we saw a couple with an astronomically high score in the family department. We won’t be rating them in LEWW, since neither spouse is a practicing lawyer (although the husband has a law degree). But here’s what a 9.9 — or maybe a 9.8, to leave some room for improvement — might look like.

Meet Lea Carpenter and Clifford Brokaw IV:

She is a daughter of Carroll M. Carpenter and Edmund N. Carpenter II of Wilmington, Del. Her father is a partner in and a former president of Richards, Layton & Finger, a law firm there. The bride is a descendant of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours, the founder of the DuPont Company….

He is a son of Elizabeth Rogers Brokaw and Mr. Brokaw III of Southampton, N.Y. His father retired as the chairman of Invail Capital, an investment firm in New York. The bridegroom is a descendant of William Bradford, a governor of Plymouth Colony, and of Dr. Josiah Bartlett, a New Hampshire signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Yes, we have tagged this under “Nauseating Things.”

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