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* How do you persuade Justice Scalia? [ABA Now]

* Here’s a podcast that includes me going absolutely apes**t about Hollywood misconceptions of lawyers. Usually these rants are lost in the din of an open bar. Michelle King, executive producer of The Good Wife, and Michael Asimow, a law professor at UCLA, add more reasonable perspectives. [Law School iPodcasts]

* It’s not enough that summer associates programs have been scaled back. Some people want them eliminated entirely. [TechnoLawyer]

* What if Oliver Wendell Holmes were a frontrunner for a SCOTUS nomination today? [Suits & Sentences]

* The DOJ is planning on prosecuting a leading porn director in D.C., instead of a more socially conservative jurisdiction. [Politico]

* If DNA day existed in the 90s, O.J. would have been convicted. Just saying. Good to see Blawg Review doing its part on behalf of science. [Genomics Law Report via Blawg Review]

Televise this chief justice and this president on stage at the Kennedy Center for three hours talking about the role of government and the future of our polity. This historic clash of intellectual titans would be the most powerful civics lesson since the Federalist Papers, and we could sure use it.

– Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley, proposing an Obama v. Roberts smackdown.

Back in December, WilmerHale announced that it was moving away from lockstep associate compensation. The plan will be phased in through 2012, but at the time of the announcement, WilmerHale gave precious little information about how the firm would determine which associates were meritorious and deserving of advancement. At the time, I wrote:

Many lawyers were liberal arts majors in college, so they should be comfortable with the array of soft and nebulous factors that will now determine how much they get paid.

WilmerHale supporters didn’t like that line too much. They told me that I should give the firm time. They told me that the firm would eventually come up with objective indicators of merit, so that associates wouldn’t feel that their pay was tied to soft factors and office politics.

In fact, word on the street was that WilmerHale was working with consultants to come up with the merit factors crucial to their anti-lockstep plans.

Well, a tipster reports that WilmerHale has given associates some more guidance on the new merit-based factors — and, well, you’re going to want to check these out for yourself…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What Does ‘Merit’ Mean at WilmerHale?”

Or make that a cucumber of one. Remember this allegation, from the lawsuit filed by former case manager Hanh Nguyen Allgood against the prominent Richmond law firm of Williams Mullen?

When the [office elevator] doors closed, [partner] Robert Eicher pretended to be sad and depressed. He asked Allgood for a hug. When she complied, he pressed his genital area against Allgood’s left thigh. Allgood felt something hard pressing against her thigh and attempted to pull away from him. Eicher held Allgood tighter to prevent her from pulling away, and pressed his genital area against her thigh even harder. Allgood was horrified. She pushed him away and stepped back. In response, Eicher laughed and pulled a cucumber out of his pants pocket.

We’re sorry to disappoint all you lovers of law firm gossip, but sadly, we won’t be hearing testimony in open court about the cucumber incident….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Williams Mullen Gets Out of a Pickle of a Lawsuit”

Administrative Professionals Week is upon us — ignore it at your peril. While senior partners might be able to pass the week off with a slap on the bum for a job well done, the associates among you would be wise to throw some cash at those who make your office run.

The official day on which you need to make a financial display of appreciation is Wednesday, but people are supposed to be nice to their secretaries for the entire year week.

Given the recession and general market uncertainty, some lawyers might be tempted to cheap out on administrative professional recognition. But surely even the most hardened associate understands that the recession has been much tougher on administrative personnel than it has been on practicing attorneys. Right?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Happy Administrative Professionals Week!”

Shortly after Justice John Paul Stevens announced his upcoming retirement from the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Elena Kagan emerged as a leading candidate to fill his seat. The phrase “Team Kagan” started popping up all over the place (as we noted in our Twitter feed). Numerous users of Twitter and Facebook, as well as many bloggers and observers of the Court, proudly proclaimed themselves members of “Team Kagan.”

Over the weekend, Team Kagan may have gained another prominent member: former President Bill Clinton. In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Clinton said that he and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are simply too old for SCOTUS. “I’d like to see [President Obama] put someone in there, late 40s, early 50s, on the court and someone with a lot of energy for the job,” Clinton said.

Hmm…. Of the three leading candidates for the Court — Elena Kagan, Judge Diane Wood (7th Cir.), and Judge Merrick Garland (D.C. Cir.) — only one, Kagan, fits the “late forties / early fifties” demographic. Kagan is 49, turning 50 later this month (on April 28). Wood is 59 — although she’s in great health, and looks like a million bucks. Garland is 57.

Then ex-president Clinton took another step towards openly endorsing Kagan. He urged Obama to consider someone from outside the judiciary. Again, of the three leading candidates, Kagan is the only non-judge. (Judges Wood and Garland were appointed to their judicial posts — by President Clinton, as a matter of fact — in 1995 and 1997, respectively.)

Going into this weekend, Solicitor General Kagan was already viewed as the frontrunner for JPS’s seat. We’ve said so here at Above the Law (here and here), and she’s also the nominee predicted by our readers (and by Fantasy SCOTUS players, too). Tom Goldstein, over at SCOTUSblog, has flat-out declared that “[o]n October 4, 2010, Elena Kagan will ask her first question as a Supreme Court justice.”

The apparent support of a former president can only increase Kagan’s lead. But what about the issue of her (real or perceived) sexual orientation?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Did Bill Clinton Just Join Team Kagan?
And what team does Elena Kagan play for?

I am by no means an expert on cutting down trees. If you hand me a chainsaw, I am far more likely to injure myself than any wood in my immediate area. But if the people from Ax Men kidnapped me and forced me to chop my way out of their trailer park hideout, there are some basic mistakes I’d avoid.

First and foremost, I wouldn’t cut down anything I was leaning on at the time I started chopping. You don’t need to be a lumberjack in order to understand Newtonian physics. That knowledge puts me way ahead of an Englishman named Peter Aspinall. The Telegraph reports:

Peter Aspinall, 64, had been asked to prune a sycamore tree in the grounds of a hotel, but instead of leaning his ladder against the trunk he placed it against the branch he was hacking down.

When the branch fell it took Mr Aspinall with it, 14ft to the ground below. He broke his heel, damaged his ligaments and had to spend ten days in hospital recovering from surgery on his injuries.

When I first read the lede of the story, I thought the tipster sent it to me as another candidate for a Drinking Ban Order. But no, having been injured by his own amazing stupidity, Aspinall decided he needed to sue somebody.

His target: the employer who asked him to cut down the branch in the first place…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Man Cuts Himself Out of a Tree”

The new U.S. News law school rankings are out. Now it’s time to allow students and alumni to weigh in on their law school and their brand new rank.

At the very top, the order remains unchanged. Yale, Harvard, and Stanford continue to be kings of the U.S. News world. If prospective students can get into one of these schools, they should probably go. Biglaw, legal academia, and Article III clerkships await graduates of these prestigious institutions.

We know the stereotypes of the east coast schools. Yale is the elite training ground for clerks and scholars — and Biglaw dollars are available to those students who want a slice of the pie. Harvard is the most prestigious J.D. diploma factory in the world. HLS is all about big numbers: lots of students, and lots of money for graduates who dive into Biglaw.

Is Stanford the Yale of the west or Harvard of the west? Or would Stanford be ranked even higher but for “east coast bias”? Aside from U.S. News prestige, what’s special about Stanford that Berkeley students wouldn’t understand?

The subtle differences between the top-3 are questions for only a few LSAT rockstars.

Next, let’s check in on Chicago’s march up the rankings…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Open Thread: 2011 U.S. News Law School Rankings (1 – 5)”

  • 19 Apr 2010 at 9:00 AM

Morning Docket: 04.19.10

* Civil aviation regulators in Europe face criticism for their handling of the ash cloud generated by the Bjork Eyjafjallajokull volcano. [New York Times]

* Some updates in the SEC’s case against Goldman: it will be presided over by Judge Barbara Jones, and it will surely be followed by a rash of “me too” private lawsuits. [WSJ Law Blog and WSJ Law Blog]

* Dewey & LeBoeuf raises $125 million in a bond offering. [Bloomberg News]

* “Oh what a feeling”: Toyota expected to pay a $16.4 million fine to the federal government, in connection with its response to accelerator problems in its cars. [Reuters]

* “New York’s most obnoxious lawyer” charged with tax crimes. [Am Law Daily]

* The Justice Department will not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against eight staffers who worked at a boot camp where a 14-year-old inmate died. [CNN]

* “No more Souters”: Adam Liptak explains why most recent SCOTUS appointments have ruled largely as expected. [New York Times]

Consider the tax burden on high earners once the Bush administration’s tax cuts expire next year. Add up the federal, state, city and sales taxes for a lawyer in New York City who earns $300,000 a year. Depending on the circumstances, this individual could be facing marginal tax rates in the range of 60 percent.

– Professor Tyler Cowen, arguing in favor of reducing government spending, in a piece for the New York Times.

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.

Layoffs are no longer the core theme of this column, and there were none reported at major firms this week, but it’s still the source of one of the most-interesting stories. New Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance pink-slipped 10 ADAs (of about 500 total) [HT: ABA Journal].

It’s a detour from our focus on BigLaw, but you’ll have to excuse us, because: (a) most of those affected were very senior, so are more likely to join or face off against BigLaw, and (b) their reactions are exactly the same as we’ve been hearing from affected BigLaw lawyers for two years now:

“It’s been very unsettling, I think, for a lot of people because it hasn’t been part of the culture here that people would get fired,” said one prosecutor… .

Another senior assistant district attorney said that morale was “terribly low.”

“We’re all now told that the firings are over for the time being,” the assistant said. “Everybody is walking around wondering if they’re going to be next.”

Some prosecutors, the assistant continued, “are starting to reassess their career path.”

Sound familiar?

After the jump, we get back on track with BigLaw news about sanctions, laterals, and more.

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Who will replace Justice John Paul Stevens? While pundits, savants, and oracles across the SCOTUSphere pontificate and read Article III tea leaves, conducted extensive and detailed polling to predict the next Justice. We have invited our nearly 5,000 members–who represent some of the closest and most ardent Court watchers–to weigh in on the vacancy, rank the candidates on the short list, and give their views on the potential nominees.

(We are still collecting data. Sign up for free at and voice your opinion.)

This is the first in a series of posts breaking down his data, as we attempt to add some certainty to the vast amounts of uncertainty emanating from the penumbras of the upcoming vacancy…

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