Old People

Does Polly wanna cracker -- or to be a witness to a crime?

I overuse the words “horrifying” and “terrifying.” Most people do, but I blog, so I probably do it more than most.

But this right here, this is truly horrifying. This is something out of the movie Seven. I’m going to have nightmares over this. And now, so will you.

Let’s check out the allegations….

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Granny wants you to not be an idiot.

Pure lunacy is on display today in the Dear Prudence column on Slate. A prospective law student is set to take the December administration of the LSAT. But his or her grandmother — for ease of reference, I’ll use the male pronoun throughout this post — recently lost a battle with Alzheimer’s. Hence this question to Prudence (from questioner “Funerals and Such”):

I lost my grandmother yesterday, and I am devastated as we were very close. She had Alzheimer’s for years, and I made my peace with this some time ago. My family has planned the funeral for Saturday.

Here is the problem: My LSAT is Saturday, and I have waited for years for an opportunity to pursue law school. (I am near 30.) I told my mom that I couldn’t make the funeral because I cannot reschedule the LSAT, and she was furious! I have been on the phone with the LSAT people all morning, pleading to reschedule. No luck. Mom has informed me that she and my family are really disappointed with me, and I need to be at the funeral in order to pay my respects.

I don’t want to disappoint my family, but I have waited my entire life for this chance at law school, and I don’t want to give it up now. Additionally, if I don’t take the LSAT on Saturday, I will miss the opportunity to take it again in February (possible surgery), and I can kiss law school for next fall goodbye!

Yeah, this fellow is trying to decide between taking the LSAT or honoring his dead grandmother, and it’s apparently an open question. He’s going to make an excellent Biglaw attorney someday.

In the meantime, Prudence and I disagree about the appropriate response….

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I don’t remember the moment I first learned how to wipe my ass without hurting myself. I don’t think I received a special present or accolade for that momentous life event. But perhaps my parents did take notice in this way:

MOM: Our little boy just successfully wiped himself without incident!
DAD: Good. Maybe you were right when you prevented me from taking him out back and shooting him.

The point is that successfully using toilet paper is a basic skill in civilized society. If you have an accident while administering toilet paper to yourself, it’s the kind of thing you really want to keep to yourself.

Unless, of course, you think you can get money out of the mishap. America baby, the only place where hurting yourself while performing basic hygienic practices can lead to a tort payday.

A Michigan woman broke her hand while trying to get toilet paper out of a dispenser in a restaurant bathroom. And now the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that her case can be presented to a jury….

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This man's closet is very lucrative.

Here’s a fun one. Lawyer owes $72.5 million. Lawyer claims he has $50,000. Lawyer conveniently forgets the $8.9 million in assets he has, and the nearly $1 million he has stuffed in his closet.

That’s the story of Harry Pavilack, a lawyer who is well known in South Carolina thanks to his television ads. The ABA Journal reports that Pavilack produced $994,000 from the closet of his Myrtle Beach office when a bankruptcy investigator impressed upon him the importance of full disclosure.

Why does he have that much cash sitting around? I was hoping it was because Pavilack is old (he’s 70) and doesn’t trust these gosh-darned electronic transactions. But sadly it appears far more likely that Pavilack was just trying to frustrate his creditors…

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I already mentioned this in Morning Docket, but the issue deserves a full post. A little girl of 4-years-old barreled her bike into an old lady on a Manhattan sidewalk.

The 87-year-old woman broke her hip, and subsequently died.

Despite being just four-years-old at the time of the accident, State Supreme Court judge Paul Wooten ruled that a negligence suit could go forward against the child. Apparently, children under four are presumed to be incapable of negligence, but if you are over four you are capable of being an idiot.

So we’ve got a 4-year-old, an 87-year-old, a bike with training wheels, and the sidewalks of New York. Where do your sympathies lie?

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'Whee!!! I'm old!!!'

What’s the judge wearing underneath his robe? In the case of Judge Wesley E. Brown of the District of Kansas, the oldest living federal judge, the smart money is on these.

Judge Brown, the subject of a front-page profile in the New York Times (the news cycle is a little slow right now), is a whopping 103 years old. He was born on June 22, 1907. The president at the time was Roosevelt — Teddy, not Franklin. Judge Brown was appointed to the district court by President John F. Kennedy, and he’s one of just four JFK appointments still on the bench.

Despite his (extremely) advanced age, Judge Brown still regularly takes the bench to hear cases. And, impressively, he does so with his eyes open….

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'And then I told him I'd file a motion to compel his a**....'

It’s important to think about — and not just think about, but save for — your retirement. This is especially true now that Social Security is looking less than alluring. (When I see that money taken out of my paycheck, I just kiss it goodbye, forever.)

When it comes to providing for associates and other employees, most large law firms take a fairly straightforward approach: they offer 401(k) accounts, but no matching employer contributions. One of the few Biglaw firms that provided a match, K&L Gates, stopped that policy back in 2007.

With respect to retirement provisions for partners, there’s more variation from firm to firm. Some shops provide for retired partners in very generous fashion. For example, retired partners at Wachtell Lipton can receive annual seven-figure payouts for many years after leaving the firm (although sources at my former firm tell me some of this money represents a return of capital to the retired partners, and as such will vary from partner to partner).

A million-dollar retirement benefit is no doubt very pleasing. But at other firms, aging partners are less content with their arrangements….

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I have to, it’s my job. I mean what would I do? I don’t know what I would do.

– Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner, when asked at trial how he could carry on after feeling threatened by radio host Hal Turner’s comment that Judge Posner and two of his colleagues “deserve to be killed.”

Wachtell Lipton is one of the nation’s most prestigious and most profitable law firms. The lawyers who work there, especially the partners, are some seriously smart cookies.

So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that a former Wachtell partner has gotten the best of his ex-wife in contentious divorce proceedings. Leigh Jones of the National Law Journal reports:

It may have been the result of some crafty legal maneuvering by a Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz partner, or it may have simply been part of his tempestuous marriage to a “European Playmate” nearly 30 years his junior. Whatever the reason, the now-retired partner has thwarted a second bid by his ex-wife to invalidate a prenuptial agreement and collect a share of the annual retirement payments that he receives from the firm.

The Appellate Court of Connecticut, in a decision released on Thursday, affirmed a divorce judgment between retired Wachtell partner Peter McKenna, now 72, and Roberta Delente, a one-time model from Brazil who was working for an agency called “European Playmates” when the couple met in 1997. She was 32 at the time.

The divorce judgment left Delente, from whom McKenna sought a divorce less than a year after their wedding in August 1999, with virtually nothing from the marriage.

Let’s cut to the question that everyone is curious about: How big is McKenna’s (retirement) package?

UPDATE: And how hot is Roberta Delente? We’ve added a photo — as well as a link to the appellate court’s opinion, but that’s less exciting — after the jump.

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The courtroom lends itself to dramatization. A trial has a natural story arc: The adversarial system makes for a clear conflict between characters. There’s a natural end point when both sides rest their cases and the verdict comes down. Plus, lawyers are such loveable characters.

And so there are many great movies and TV shows about lawyers. (Along with some not so great ones.) They can amuse, inspire, terrify, or convince you to go to law school.

The ABA Journal has made a list of the 25 greatest fictional lawyers of all time:

In our survey of this literature of lawyers, however, we feel obliged to recognize a great divide—ante-Atticus and post-Atticus.

From Dick the Butcher’s famous pronouncement to Jack Cade in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2 — “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” — through Dickens’ Mr. Tulkinghorn and Galsworthy’s Soames Forsyte, literature (with a few exceptions) treated lawyers poorly.

That all changed with Harper Lee’s unflappable, unforgettable Atticus Finch. With Atticus, the lawyer — once the criminal mouthpiece, the country club charlatan, the ambulance-chasing buffoon — was now an instrument of truth, an advocate of justice, the epitome of reason.

Since Finch is a literary lawyer on steroids, they have cut him from the competition. The list is the 25 greatest who are not Atticus Finch. Did your favorite make the list?

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