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* Obama made the order to close Guantanamo within a year and former U.S. attorney David Iglesias has been hired to prosecute suspected terrorists held at the prison. [The Associated Press]

* Caroline Kennedy withdrew her Senate bid, so all that press was much ado about nothing. [The New York Times]

* The Chinese court sentenced two to death and one to a life prison sentence for their role in the tainted milk scandal. [The International Herald Tribune]

* SCOTUS refused to reconsider COPA Wednesday, and agreed that a Massachusetts family could sue the school district for sex discrimination.[The Associated Press]

* A Bank of America shareholder is accusing the bank of withholding information about Merrill Lynch’s $15.3 billion in losses before the shareholders voted on its acquisition. [Bloomberg]

oath.jpgThe second time was a charm. Constitutional crisis averted.

Okay, it was hardly a “constitutional crisis.” But it was probably wise to take a mulligan on the oath, to avoid crackpot claims of illegitimacy. In the words of law professor Jonathan Turley, who recommended retaking the oath:

He should probably go ahead and take the oath again. If he doesn’t, there are going to be people who for the next four years are going to argue that he didn’t meet the constitutional standard. I don’t think it’s necessary, and it’s not a constitutional crisis. This is the chief justice’s version of a wardrobe malfunction.

Turley seems to place blame for the screw-up on Chief Justice Roberts, as does CNN (see their headline below). Based on the results of yesterday’s reader poll, ATL readers concur.

Obama retakes oath of office after Roberts’ mistake [CNN]

Experts say Obama should retake the oath [San Francisco Chronicle]

Reading of the Presidential Oath, Take Two? [WSJ Law Blog]

Earlier: Whoops. How does that Constitution go?

Santa Clara Law Logo.JPGAre you familiar with Second Life? It’s a virtual world where real people can interact and do business with other real people, without the pesky interference of “the mortal coil.”

Santa Clara Law has decided to take this phenomenon to what I suppose is its logical conclusion. Competing to attract the best students, Santa Clara will host an application workshop in Second Life tomorrow. From the press release:

Posing as her own self-created avatar, “Penny Canucci,” SCU Law School Dean of Admissions Jeanette Leach will play host to prospective students who sign in for the event, taking place from 6 to 8 p.m. at “Santa Clara Island” on Second Life.

They’ll view a video welcome from Santa Clara Law Dean Donald Polden (appearing in real-life video footage, not as an avatar). After Leach’s workshop, participants will be able to ask questions of the admissions office staff and gather information about applying to Santa Clara Law.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when dealing with a digital generation that finds face-to-face interaction “a little weird,” I guess your only choice is to jack into the Matrix.

More on Santa Clara’s Second Life strategy after the jump.

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Alex Kozinski David Lat Los Angeles.jpgIf you missed our recent event with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.) in Los Angeles, and if you’re here in New York, feel free to swing by Columbia Law School at around noon tomorrow:

A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence

When: Thursday, January 22, at 12:10 PM
Speakers: The Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Ninth Circuit; David Lat, Founder, Above the Law
Where: JG 106, Columbia Law School, 435 West 116th St. (at Amsterdam Ave.)
Cost: Free and open to the public. Lunch will be served.

Thanks to the Columbia Law School Federalist Society for hosting the event. We hope to see you tomorrow.

Update: If you missed the talk, here’s a write-up, from Ben Hallman of the American Lawyer.

A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence [Columbia Law School Federalist Society]

Earlier: Kozinski & Lat: The Podcast

Obama freezes.JPG* Scientific research is now available about people who post “first” in the comments. [Graph Jam]

* Given my flare flair for misspellings and grammatical train wrecks, I’ve got a lot of sympathy for President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts. Don’t let the commenters get you down, guys! [Language Log]

* Litigation is up in response to the faltering economy. In other breaking news, I’m freaking freezing. [May it Please the Court]

* How many associates got a first draft of the MLK Day closing memo? [Courtoons]

* Maybe President Obama reads ATL? He just froze salaries too. [Law and More]

Cooley Godward logo.JPGWe reported earlier today that Cooley Godward laid off a number of attorneys and staff. The firm just sent out its official press release, and it turns out the cuts run even deeper than we previously reported.

According to the firm, 52 attorneys and 62 staff were let go today:

Given the continued slowdown we have experienced in pockets of the Firm over the last five months and the forecast for continuing global economic turmoil in 2009, the Executive and Management Committees concluded that a reduction is necessary at this time. At all levels throughout the Firm we strive to provide an opportunity for everyone to grow professionally and at an appropriate pace. It was the collective judgment of the Firm’s management that in the current environment we would compromise our ability to achieve that goal without reducing the Firm’s headcount across the board.

Our tipsters report that the San Diego office was particularly hard hit. In addition, a commenter said that New York took it on the chin as well.

Read the full Cooley release after the jump. Good luck to all those let go today.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of law firm layoffs

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Update: Cooley’s Layoffs Were Worse Than We Thought”

Harvard Law School seal logo.jpgToday there were white powder scares at some venerable institutions. The Wall Street Journal editors were targeted this morning, as were professors at Harvard Law School. Many tipsters believe that Professor Alan Dershowitz was targeted.

HLS just sent around this message reassuring students:

Dear members of the HLS Community,

Earlier today, a letter delivered to an office on the Fifth floor of Hauser Hall was opened by a faculty assistant and was found to contain some white powder. The university police and the Cambridge police department were notified and responded to the scene immediately, along with the Cambridge Fire Department and the university’s Environmental Health & Safety team.

There is no indication of adverse effects to any of the people who were in the vicinity of the letter when it was opened. Samples have been taken for laboratory testing by the investigating authorities.

While testing has yet to be completed, the authorities have concluded and informed the law school, based on the investigation thus far, that they do not believe that an evacuation of Hauser Hall is warranted. Nevertheless, because the investigation is ongoing, caution and prudence require that the fifth floor of the building remain off limits until the investigators have cleared the scene. Moreover, in order to minimize the possibility of interference with the investigators and responders, the law school administration is asking that anyone intending to study or conduct

business in Hauser not do so until further notice informing the community that the building can once again be accessed freely.

Any students and staff presently in Hauser should feel free to leave if they so choose. Classes scheduled in Hauser later today or this evening, are being rescheduled, and any affected individuals or groups should contact the office of the Registrar for further information regarding new locations for those activities.

We will continue to update the community as we learn more.

I know Professor Dershowitz a little. Intimidating this man is not an option. In fact, Dersh is more likely to defend these powder sending yahoos and use the case as an educational opportunity for his students than he is to lose sleep over this nonsense.

Next time, you best bring kryptonite.

We’re glad to hear everybody is safe.

staff attorney contract attorney doc review.jpgYesterday’s staff layoff post generated a lot of tips and rumors. Please keep them coming. It appears that staffs are taking it on the chin even worse than associates and partner profit margins.

While we are still playing “fact or fiction” with some of the rumors, we can now report these additional staff reductions around the world of Biglaw.

First off, Julie Kay at the National Law Journal reports that Squire Sanders laid off a number of staff from a variety of positions:

Alvin Davis, managing partner of Squire Sanders’ Miami office, said on Friday that Miami employees laid off at the firm on Thursday include “a couple runners, some staffers and a few people in accounting.”

Times are so bad firms can’t even afford the accountants who tell them how bad times are.

There were conflicting reports as to whether any attorneys got caught in the crossfire:

But while Davis said no lawyers were laid off, sources inside the firm said that lawyers indeed had been laid off, but were still working at the firm until they find jobs elsewhere.

After the jump, more staff layoff news.

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Cate Edwards Georgetown mansion.jpgNo Gropius dorms for her, thank you very much. Harvard Law School student Cate Edwards, oldest daughter of prominent politician John Edwards, just purchased a million-dollar property in Washington’s tony Georgetown neighborhood.

From an item in Washingtonian:

Buyer: Harvard law student Cate Edwards.

Famous dad: Former presidential hopeful John Edwards.

Price: $1.3 million.

Amenities: Two bedrooms, five baths.

An NPR internship with Nina Totenberg doesn’t pay like a summer associate gig. Perhaps Cate was able to draw upon the fortune amassed by her father during his career as a top trial lawyer.

The property has two bedrooms and five bathrooms. A high bathroom-to-bedroom ratio is a token of a luxuriousness. But does Cate really need all those bathrooms? Does Papa Edwards — who might crash occasionally at Cate’s place, having sold his own mansion around the corner in 2006 (for $5.2 million) — really have that much ickiness to wash off?

The children of Senators Ted Kennedy and John Warner also snapped up some swank properties. Read about them over at Washingtonian.

Chips off the Old Blocks [Washingtonian]
No Conflict? NPR’s Nina Totenberg Takes on John Edwards Daughter As Summer Intern []

Cooley Godward logo.JPGWhen the ATL inbox is on fire, there is a lot of smoke somewhere out there in legal community.

Tipsters report that Cooley Godward has decided to make significant layoffs today. Tipsters that work at the firm place the numbers as high as 10 percent of associates and staff. That could put the overall number of layoffs into the fifties. The laid off employees will have to be out by the end of the week. They’re being given a 3 month severance package.

Cooley Godward spokespeople could not be reached for immediate comment.

But other tipsters report that attorneys were told that the layoffs were based on the economy, not anybody’s individual performance. The layoffs are also understood to affect all offices and some departments (like IP transactional) that one wouldn’t necessarily expect.

We will update you as more information comes to light.

The now confirms that there were layoffs today, more than we reported here. The firm says that 52 attorneys and 62 staff were let go. Check here for continuing coverage.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of law firm layoffs

Wilmer Hale logo.JPGA couple of internal emails came across our desk today, heralding good news — at least for the partners.

Profits per Partner are up at WilmerHale:

PPP are $1,080,000, which is up from last year by a little bit. Also, 6.7% of total hours billed by the firm were to pro bono matters.

And the firm is passing some of those profits back down to associates. Individualized bonus memos are making the rounds at WilmerHale today, and at 2000 hours associates will be receiving a Cravath level bonus. Our Boston based sources are pretty happy with that.

Perhaps more importantly, WilmerHale announced that they will not be freezing salaries. So while associates at Goodwin Procter will be getting a better bonus, WilmerHale associates will be getting pay raises that are reflected in their February paychecks.

White & Case also shows a revenue increase after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Profits Per Partner Up At WilmerHale and K&L Gates. Revenue Up At White & Case”

pls hndle copy 2.jpg[Ed Note: Do you have a question for next week? Send it in to]

Dear ATL,

I have a soft addiction to Facebook, Gmail and online dating sites. My firm doesn’t block the sites and I can’t help spending hours a day procrastinating on them. I wanted to ask the IT department to block these sites, but I’m afraid of being the girl who blocked J-date. Do you think I should do it?


Dear Unplugged,

We all learned about the “tragedy of the commons” in property class: the phenomenon whereby people acting selfishly destroys a common resource, like a public park or the ATL comment threads.

In asking IT to block Facebook, Gmail and Jdate, you’re inherently being selfish. In doing so, you alert IT and ultimately the partnership to the notion that other associates may also be wasting time on the internet. The firm may then block these sites on a firm-wide basis, essentially punishing those associates who check their online dating profile no more than twice an hour and who dutifully set their Gchat status to “busy/you may be interrupting.” The catastrophe that would ensue from complete blockage would likely be on par with the cursed day that Friendster accidentally revealed whose profiles people had been checking. Not pretty.

Firms may not realize until it’s too late that they’re cutting too wide a swath by getting rid of social networking sites. Take away Facebook, and how will people know if someone from middle school is now In a Relationship or ate Thai food for lunch? We won’t. Without this critical information, lawyers simply cannot do their jobs effectively. Might as well cancel Lexis and look for the latest legal developments in the crusty Pacific Reporter 2d. In fact, while we’re at it, why not toss computers altogether and go back to drafting motions through cave paintings.

So before you run down to IT and tell them to shut off the internet, why don’t you stop thinking about yourself for once and consider your co-workers. They use the internet too.

Your friend,


double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: World Wide Web of Addiction”

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