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Ed. note: Law Shucks focuses on life in, and after, BigLaw, including by tracking layoffs, bonuses, and laterals. Above the Law is pleased to bring you this weekly column, which analyzes news at the world’s top law firms.

In honor of the commencement of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we’re going with a sports-themed edition for this week.

But when lawyers say they’re "Masters of the Game," they’re not talking about an athletic endeavor.

Despite the paucity of accomplishments on the field (although Business Insider did pull together a list of lawyer Olympians a few months ago), lawyers, especially big-firm lawyers, have played critical off-field roles in sports. Lawyers also like to set up World Cup office parties and attend other sporting events.

For example, there would be no free agency without BigLaw (Weil Gotshal and Paul Weiss in particular). That has given rise to sports agents, many of whom are lawyers, and players’ associations, the NFL’s version of which is now run by a Patton Boggs lawyer.

More-recently, Covington & Burling and Jones Day went head-to-head at the highest legal playing field. Jones Day won in a 9-0 rout (much to the surprise of FantasySCOTUS players) when the Supreme Court struck down the NFL’s antitrust exemption and remanded for further hearings on apparel licensing, which could redistribute hundreds of millions in fees.

Even on the deal side, nothing gets done without BigLaw. Newly merged Hogan Lovells represented Russian gazillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov on his investment in the New Jersey Nets from a seller represented by Simpson Thacher, and the list goes on from there.

That’s all history.

After the jump, we take a look at the surprising amount of sports-related work BigLaw does in just one week.

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In his speaking tours around the country, Clarence Thomas has a lot to say — sometimes critical things to say, about his fellow justices’ approach to oral argument and the lack of alma mater diversity among the Court’s clerks, for example.

But when Thomas is back at One First Street, sitting on the bench, he gets quiet. Very quiet. He hasn’t spoken a word during oral argument in over four years. He’s said before that it’s because he doesn’t see the point in badgering the attorneys arguing before the High Court. But we think there may be another reason: he hates his job. He’s suggested it himself.

In the Washington Post, we set forth a proposal for him: step down. And seek the Republican presidential nomination for 2012.

A bit about our reasoning, and a reader poll, after the jump.

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* Lawyers are terrible at predicting the outcome of their own cases. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Boies Schiller is about to get its hands on some Goldman Sachs money — and everybody knows that GS money is worth more than regular money. [Reuters]

* And here I thought that the “Extender” bill was sponsored by Pfizer. [Going Concern]

* It’s a crime to pull a fire alarm when there is no fire. But there could be civil damages for accusing an employee of pulling the alarm when she did not. [Am Law Daily]

* You’d think Ohio could find guardians ad litem who are not perverts. [Bad Lawyer]

* Maybe the people who calibrate breathalyzers should have to offer testimony before breath test results are admitted into evidence? [Underdog]

* Japanese lawyers are moving into politics. [WSJ Law Blog]

Marriage: an institution so sacred that two gay guys could ruin it with their love and commitment. But someday soon we might be able to get out of this sacred tradition using our phones.

Already there’s a company offering some basic divorce information via iPhone apps. Robert Ambrogi’s Law Sites has the news:

If you’re married to your iPhone but not so sure about your spouse, then DivorceApps.com may have just what you need. It is developing a series of iPhone apps designed for people who are considering or in the process of divorce.

Brilliant. Just as the digital age is opening up new ways for divorce lawyers to be effective, technology might be able soon obviate the need for most divorce lawyers altogether…

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There have been many profiles of the latest Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, but this personal note to President Bill Clinton provides insight that a newspaper story can’t. It was among the documents released by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library today:

The tipster who pointed it out to us (among the 2000 pages it was buried in) noted that it reveals “the warmth and tact that she has supposedly mastered over her career.” (It may also explain why Bill Clinton seemed so supportive of Kagan as the nominee, back when Obama was mulling over his shortlist.)

Of course, Lady Kaga was not lucky enough to make it to the bench when Clinton nominated her to the D.C. Circuit, but things are looking far more promising this time around.

Last month, we reported that Skadden might be moving its Washington offices into the fabulous new CityCenter D.C. project. We expect their new digs to have a glamorous cafeteria, one that will rival Condé Nast’s Frank Gehry-designed extravaganza.

Or at least a cafeteria that’s compliant with the District of Columbia health code. From the Washington Post (not on the Post website yet; we found it through ATL advertiser Lexis-Nexis):

Thursday, June 10, 2010

These food establishments were closed because of health code violations. The list, compiled from health department reports, reflects actions taken by the departments.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom Employee Cafe
1440 New York Ave. NW

Should we steer clear of the Skadden D.C. bathrooms for a few days? Is Bob Bennett feeling relieved (hehe) over his move to Hogan right now?

Well, not so fast….

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Writers tend to use the word “literally” too much — and literally incorrectly.

In this case, the word is entirely appropriate. A lawyer literally shot himself in the foot. The ABA Journal reports:

An Ohio lawyer shot himself in the foot on Monday as he was retrieving his gun from a locker at the courthouse.

Toledo lawyer Paul Redrup had placed his 40-caliber Smith & Wesson in a storage locker before entering the Wood County courthouse, the Bowling Green Sentinel Tribune reports. As he was leaving, he took the gun out of the locker and put it in his pocket. The gun accidentally fired, and Redrup was grazed in the right foot.

Here’s a question: why the hell was a lawyer taking a firearm to a courthouse?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Shooting Yourself in the Foot > Shooting Your Mouth Off”

Ann Althouse was a law student once. (Photo by Richard Lawrence Cohen.)

We spend a lot of time telling prospective law students to carefully consider the decision to go to law school. And still they come. We tell prospective law students that law school is expensive and the job market is weak. But still they come, in record numbers.

What makes them come? NPR did a story on the difficult job market for recent college graduates. The article tells us about Hawaii college graduate Ryan Kam’s considered rationale for going to law school.

It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s downright pathetic…

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Forget Queer Eye and the Biggest Loser. When it comes to makeovers, we’re far more entertained when Biglaw firms overhaul their websites. Especially when they involve mind games (MoFo), body shots (Ballard Spahr and Cox Smith), or hotties (Davis Polk).

Cravath previously had an Internet 1.0-type website. It was extremely basic; its sole function seemed to be to list email addresses. The dull site failed to capture the arrogance prestige of this elite law firm.

The new site, on the other hand, does capture this aspect of Cravath. The Biglaw way is not to be the biggest, but to be the best, according to Cravath’s philosophy page:

At Cravath, we hire only the top students from the nation’s finest law schools, we train those associates through rigorous rotation of practice, we elevate partners exclusively from within and we compensate partners on a lockstep model throughout their careers. The Cravath model has been adopted by many prominent law firms and consulting firms. While some firms have abandoned the model over time to promote lateral growth and global expansion, we have not. We do not seek to be the largest firm by number of offices, lawyers or specialty groups. We promote excellence in client service, at the expense of short-term profit. We believe that maintaining a true partnership of the finest educated and trained lawyers is the single, best manner of handling our clients’ most challenging legal issues, most significant business transactions and most critical disputes.

The new site also has a newsy feel about it. Check out the front page — it looks like The Cravath Swaine Journal.

And Cravath has learned to embrace photos. At least for its partners and senior associates. Though Cravath attracts the best and the brightest young lawyers, as noted above, it doesn’t want to show them off on its website. If you’re a junior associate, no bio or photo for you on the site!

What’s up with that?

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We’ve done a lot of reports on schools that have instituted grade reform to make it easier on their students. But at DePaul College of Law, the administration decided to strictly enforce its curve as a way of combating wanton grade inflation.

Apparently not all of the professors were on the same page. Professor Howard Rubin taught Legal Profession this past spring and graded the class the way he always has. But his grades were curve-busting, and the administration asked him to lower those grades to match the school’s curve.

Professor Rubin refused to do this — and, well, now we’ve got emails…

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Why do people try to scam law firms? Is it because people know firms are flush with cash, or out of some deep-seated hatred of lawyers, or because they think law firm bookkeepers are stupid (since sometimes they are)?

Earlier this month, the FBI issued a warning to law firms about overseas scammers sending e-mails to lawyers asking for help collecting delinquent payments. Beware.

That one is a little complicated. A scam being run closer to home is simpler and stupider. The New York office of a Biglaw firm sent out a memo to its associates this week to beware of the “taxi scam.”

How does it work?

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* Americans are warming up to Lady Kaga: public support for confirming Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court has reached 58 percent. [Washington Post]

* But two Republican senators have issues with some of the memos Kagan wrote as a law clerk to Justice Marshall. [Associated Press via How Appealing]

* As new estimates double the rate of oil flowing into the gulf, the gusher of lawsuits against BP continues — aided by ad campaigns from plaintiffs’ lawyers. [New York Times]

* Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder insists that “the American people will not pay a dime toward the cleanup of the Gulf region” because “BP will be held responsible.” [The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]

* Tagged.com has been tagged with accusations of tolerating child pornography; New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo may sue. [Wired]

* He loves to work for people who fly and it shows: former Delta lawyer John Varley becomes the new general counsel of Virgin America. [Atlanta Business Chronicle]

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