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kevin_moriarty.jpgEarlier this year, Kansas lawyer Kimberly Ireland filed a lawsuit against state judge Kevin Moriarty, accusing him of masturbating while overseeing her divorce mediation. After we wrote about it, her ex-husband came to Judge Moriarty’s defense, saying his wife’s accusations were limp.
Ireland is now recanting her claims as well, issuing a public apology.
Excerpt and links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Kevin Moriarty Did Not Beat the Honorable Gavel”

Alabama Crimson Tide.JPGUpdate: This motion was granted.
Some on this board have doubted my commitment to college football. Even though I didn’t go to a school with a major FCS team, I adopted Michigan long, long ago (Elvis Grbac era), and I know how important the sport is.
So believe me when I say that this motion to continue is one of the most rational arguments you are likely to hear today. The motion comes from defense counsel in Alabama. It’s so wonderful that even the plaintiffs attorneys found it amusing, as this email from Marsh, Rickard & Bryan shows:

Check out this Motion to Continue that was filed by the defendants in one of our cases today. LOL, it’s awesome.

Roll Tide!

Indeed, it is awesome. And, by now, I’m sure you know why defense counsel is asking for the continuance.
But it’s not just the thought. After all, sports-related continuance motions have been filed before.
It’s the execution that makes it great. Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Best. Motion to Continue. Ever.”

thank you post it note.JPGA quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Above the Law:

If you’re interested in advertising on Above the Law or any other site in the Breaking Media network, download our media kits, or email [email protected]. Thanks!

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGHere’s a bit of surprising good news, from a source at Simpson Thacher:

Thought that STB should get its props for the (completely unexpected) notice that those on the public service fellowships will receive a pro-rated portion of the bonus that their individual class years received. Not bad, considering that normally not being employed at the firm by bonus day means no bonus.

This does seem like a pleasant surprise — especially since we now know that Simpson initially didn’t budget for bonuses for younger classes. We looked back at the terms of the public interest fellowship program at Simpson for mention of prorated bonuses for participating associates, and we found none.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Simpson Shares the Wealth with Public Service Fellows”

Do I Have A Right challenge.jpgBack in October, we wrote a piece for the Washington Post about retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s new educational video games. She’s spearheading a project called Our Courts, which seeks to improve civic education in middle schools. One game, Supreme Decision, lets the kiddies weigh in on a First Amendment case in the Supreme Court. The other, Do I Have A Right? (DIHAR), lets players start a law firm and serve clients with constitutional issues.
The subject of law firm management is a subject near and dear to many ATL readers’ hearts. We have noticed that commenters often have many suggestions for how it can be done better. So we have decided to put you to the test with a DIHAR tournament.
The winner of the tournament will get more than just bragging rights. The award for the ATL reader with the highest score is a starring role in an upcoming Our Courts game.
More information, plus complete contest rules, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The ATL ‘Do I Have A Right?’ Challenge”

Garth Brooks sues hospital for 500000.jpg* Microsoft reaches a settlement with European antitrust regulators, agreeing to give Windows users a choice of browsers. [New York Times]
* Garth Brooks is suing his hometown hospital for half a mill. (If we had knowledge of any of his music, we’d engage in some wordplay here based on an album or song title, but we don’t.) [CNN]
* First the government bailed out Citigroup; now it’s giving Citi some nice tax breaks. [Washington Post]
* The bankruptcy bar: it’s all about the benjamins, baby. Here’s a list of prominent practitioners and how much they charge, gleaned from public filings. [Am Law Daily]
* A federal judge sets aside the guilty plea of Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli. [Blooomberg]
* Raj Rajaratnam and Danielle Chiesi, accused of involvement in the notorious Galleon Group insider trading ring, have been indicted by a federal grand jury. [New York Times]
* Congratulations to McGuireWoods, which led a defense team that just won a jury trial in a patent infringement case involving wireless aircards (which are great, by the way; if you travel a lot, get yourself one). [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGLast week, I wrote:

If Dewey doesn’t follow the market and instead pays what it did last year, I’ll strip naked and run through the streets screaming “I am TTT! I am so TTT!”

Happily for me — and the women and children of the New York metropolitan area — Dewey & LeBoeuf decided to match the associate bonus market. The firm will be on the Cravath scale (not the S&C scale).
Bonus news before Christmas is so much better than re-deferment news during Chanukah.
Check out the full Dewey & LeBoeuf bonus memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Dewey & LeBoeuf Helps Me Keep My Clothes On”

Lean on Me.JPG* “They used to call me Crazy Joe, now they can call me the Batman.” [Bad Lawyer]

* Is it really so hard to imagine that young, talented, hard-working individuals would rather start their careers instead of sitting around for a year while being fed $80,000 to stunt their professional growth? [The Economist]

* E-marriage sounds like a terrible idea, for alcoholics. [Ideoblog]

* Wild and crazy CPAs. [What About Clients?]

* Notorious lawyers of 2009. [Business Insider]

* Humor is everywhere around you. [Lowering the Bar]

* Former Biglaw lawyer has problem washing baby’s penis. Sounds about right. [Babies in the Wild]

Cerberus Capital Management v Paul Hastings Janofsky Walker.JPG‘Tis the season for… litigation between law firms and their ex-clients? What happened to the holiday spirit of peace and good will for all?
First Simpson Thacher (malpractice), then Debevoise (last item — unpaid fees), and now, Paul Hastings (malpractice). From the New York Law Journal:

A financing unit of Cerberus Capital Management L.P. has sued Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, claiming the law firm gave it bad advice in connection with a loan the private equity firm made last year to a company looking to bring retailer Steve & Barry’s out of bankruptcy.

Ableco Finance LLC, a unit of Cerberus with more than $6 billion under management, filed an amended complaint Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court against its former lawyers seeking more than $55 million it said it lost because of the $125 million loan. Ableco claims it would never have made the loan last year if the Paul Hastings team had advised it that the buyer would not have rights to all of Steve & Barry’s inventory, which Ableco understood would back the loan.

“No competent, diligent finance lawyer would have put his client in such a vulnerable position,” Ableco’s complaint reads in part.

Ouch. We agree with Ashby Jones of the WSJ Law Blog: “It’s never good for a law firm to get sued by one of its clients. But when the client is a deep-pocketed heavyweight like private-equity giant Cerberus, the news is probably especially unwelcome.”
But Paul Hastings is fighting back, with the help of high-powered counsel.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Cerberus v. Paul Hastings”

Sonnenschein logo.jpgLast month, we asked you if it was better to be laid off before the holidays, so you could adjust your holiday spending accordingly, or after the holidays, so you could bank the extra paychecks. Above the Law readers were pretty evenly split on the question: 50.8% would rather be laid off before, 49.2% wanted to hang onto their jobs through the holiday season.
Based on that poll, we can expect half of the people Sonnenschein laid off on Friday to be relatively happy with the news. The other half writes emails to Above the Law. Like this person:

Sonnenschein Nath Rosenthal laid off staff on Friday (14 days before Christmas)!

Sonnenschein confirmed the staff layoffs in a statement to Above the Law:

After an extensive and careful review of operations and staffing across the firm, we have decided to undertake a selective reduction in non-legal personnel. We have done everything possible to minimize the dislocation such a transition will make – not only on those leaving the firm, but for all our remaining employees. That includes consideration of tenure of service and other factors in determining severance and compensation continuation for those departing.
This reduction furthers our ongoing effort to right-size our workforce to best meet client needs and to achieve an appropriate attorney-staff balance.
Our restaffing will not in any way diminish our work product, business operations or our ability to deliver the highest quality service to our clients. Indeed, the firm will continue to make strategic investments in talent and professional resources. We have implemented these changes mindful that many of our clients have had to make similar adjustments in their workforce over the past 18 months.
We have great respect for all of those staff who will be moving on and are grateful for their service to Sonnenschein.
Elliott Portnoy, Chairman
David Schadler, Chief Operating Officer

No associates were affected by the staff cuts at Sonnenschein on Friday.
We can’t say the same for the next bit of news. Completely unrelated to the staff cuts, the firm has unveiled its new, non-lockstep compensation model. Let’s check it out after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sonnenschein: Staff Layoffs and New Associate Compensation Model Potpourri”

Aaron Biber Gray Plant Mooty.jpgAaron Biber was a principal specializing in business law at the Minnesota law firm of Gray Plant Mooty — until yesterday. As mentioned in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs, he’s been charged with molesting a 15-year-old boy.

His photo appears at right. We’ll let you be the judge.

Biber was a prominent member of the local bar. From the Minneapolis Business Journal:

Biber is treasurer of the Minnesota State Bar Association, and a former president of the Hennepin County Bar Association. He’s being held at the Hennepin County jail. Freeman’s office expects to ask for $1 million bail at his arraignment, scheduled for Tuesday.

South Lake Minnetonka police arrested Biber on Friday at the Eden Prairie Mall, where he had allegedly arranged to meet the boy. Authorities say Biber had previously had sex with the boy in October at Biber’s Shorewood home.

Gray Plant Mooty has put Biber “on leave” and taken down his bio. This Minnesota firm can teach Biglaw a thing or two — they’ve even eliminated the cached version.

UPDATE: Actually, you can find a cached version of his 2007 bio here (gavel bang: commenter). We’ve pasted a portion of it after the jump.

More yucky allegations, and the reaction from his colleagues, after the jump.

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Wilmer Hale logo.JPGThe Day That Lockstep Died
(to the tune of “American Pie”)
My, my, pushin’ lockstep aside,
They say merit — do they mean it? ‘Cause my raise has run dry.
But top-tier firms are not inclined to comply:
Sayin’, we’re not sure if this s**t will fly; we’re not sure if this s**t will fly.

What started out as a trickle is turning into a flood. Orrick and DLA Piper have already announced new associate compensation models for 2010 — and now WimerHale wants in on the action. The firm announced the change in a memo to all of its associates:

The Firm has decided to transition to a merit-based compensation program for associates and counsel in our U.S. offices. This afternoon we will hold local office meetings to discuss the details with you followed by an open forum for questions. Shortly you will receive a calendar invitation for this meeting, but first we wanted to provide you with background on the plan, the timing, and our thought process.

Before we lay out the details of the new model, it is important to recognize that this step is one that falls within a much larger framework. As you have heard us say before, whether at the State of the Firm address or in smaller group settings, the traditional structure and method of doing business for law firms is changing and needs to change.

The plan will be phased in through 2012 — but why wait until 2012 to address labor costs, when you can freeze associates’ salaries for 2010? Today’s WilmerHale announcement includes the news that the firm will be freezing associate salaries (except for second-year associates, who will be bumped up to $165K).
Additional details on the new compensation scheme and the full memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “WilmerHale Joins the Killing Lockstep Party”

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