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  • 05 Mar 2008 at 1:05 PM
  • Uncategorized

An Update on the Penn Law Situation

University of Pennsylvania Law School Penn Law Above the Law blog.jpgA bit of follow-up on goings-on at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. First, in yesterday’s post, we predicted: “[E]xpect Dean Fitts to send out some vague email offering blanket reassurances, but declining to say more due to federal privacy law. That seems to be par for the course for these incidents.”
Our prediction has been vindicated:

Sent: Wed 3/5/2008 12:01 PM
To: [U. Penn. community]
Subject: A Message from Dean Fitts

To the Law School Community,

As you may know, there was increased Public Safety presence at the Law School for a few days. Like most institutions, the University varies security on campus in response to changing situations and often does so out of an extra sense of precaution. We usually do not discuss these measures publicly. In this case, we did not do so out of respect for the privacy of a member of our community. Let me assure you that there were never any threats made nor were there any “incidents” at Penn Law. Our decisions in this case, as in others, are made and evaluated constantly with the intent of serving the best interests of our community. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to stop by
my office.

Have a great spring break,


Second, check out comment #7 on the Daily Pennsylvanian article, posted today at 12:04 AM. It purports to be from the student in question (who identifies himself by name). This individual writes:

Unless there was yet another mishap by Penn or Penn Law, I am the student who was placed on this leave of absence. This is nothing more than a staged proceeding to force me to make precedent in the third circuit by tarnishing my reputation.

I am not on any psychiatric medication nor have I taken any. If the University actually believes that I pose a threat to your safety, then it should protect you by requiring me to seek mental health treatment instead of invoking this policy. I am now alone and upset and near a campus full of bright and happy students.

Very curious. We do wonder whether some law schools, out of an entirely legitimate concern for the safety of their students, overreact to reports of unusual behavior. History is full of examples of mass hysteria, from the Salem witch trials to the day care sex abuse scare, that turned out to be unfounded.
We’re not disputing the need for law school administrators to be vigilant, especially in light of the horrific school shootings of the past few years. And we completely understand their concern: if, God forbid, something were to happen on their campuses, they would be held responsible.
We’re just playing devil’s advocate and tossing out some fodder for discussion. That’s all.
Comments: Student prompts security increase [Daily Pennsylvanian]
Earlier: What’s Going on at Penn Law?

Greenberg Traurig lawyers blackout Miami Above the Law Blog.jpg
Some of you may be tired of our little Miami blackout caption contest. But we agree with the commenters who suggested that a contest with 20 entries was unwieldy. We’d like to get it right this time.
Here’s what we’ve done. We’ve taken the top five vote getters — there was a clear drop-off after #5, with all other choices polling under 10 percent — and pitted them against each other in a final round.
If you feel like it, you can review the contenders, and vote for your favorite, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Caption Contest: The South Florida Blackout (Final Round)”

bored no work law firm Above the Law blog.jpgLast year, we asked you whether work was busy at your firms, and found that patent attorneys were particularly busy nationwide, while associates in real estate and structured finance were pretty slow in many markets. In last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we revisited the topic, and asked which practice areas are hottest (or nottest) at your firm. We received about 550 responses.
Not surprisingly, real estate and structured finance remain slow, but the malaise appears to be spreading to other transactional practices as well. Nationally, sixteen percent of respondents said real estate was the slowest practice at their firm. Corporate and structured finance were declared the slowest practice groups by twelve percent each. Capital markets and M&A were next, with approximately eight and one-half percent each. (While law firms may be slowing, in-house positions in these practices abound.)
While deals are slowing down, disputes are speeding up. About seventeen percent of respondents said that commercial litigation was the busiest practice area in their firm, while another eleven percent said patent litigation was hottest. Bankruptcy was declared the busiest group by fourteen percent of respondents. Corporate, while slow at many firms, was still going strong according to five percent of respondents.
Check out some market by market results after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Survey Results: Got Work? (Part Deux)”

foot in mouth.gif“That’s Wider, W-I-D-E-R. Got it, f**k face? You’re welcome.”
We thought that this deposition was one of the more colorful ones out there. But it pales in comparison to the deposition described by Shannon Duffy in today’s Legal Intelligencer:

A federal judge has levied sanctions of more than $29,000 on a lawyer and his client after finding that a deposition was a “spectacular failure” because of the client’s constant use of vulgar language and insults and dodging or refusing to answer questions, and his lawyer’s failure to rein him in.

In his 44-page opinion in GMAC Bank v. HTFC Corp. (PDF), U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno found that Aaron Wider, the CEO of HTFC, engaged in “hostile, uncivil, and vulgar conduct, which persisted throughout the nearly 12 hours of deposition testimony.”

Robreno noted that Wider used the “F word” or variations of it 73 times during the deposition and that the video shows that his lawyer, Joseph R. Ziccardi of Chicago, at one point “snickered” at his client’s conduct. Ziccardi was also to blame, Robreno found, because he failed to stop his client’s tirades and persuade him to answer questions.

The F-word does indeed have many variants. See Sterling Johnson, English as a Second F*cking Language; Jesse Sheidlower, The F Word: Second Edition.
Read more about the deposition’s dirty details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Joseph Ziccardi
(And Client of the Day: Aaron F**king Wider)”

dry cleaning store 2 Judge Roy Pearson Above the Law.JPG* The battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, between two of the world’s most famous lawyers, will go on — perhaps all the way to the convention. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Could a Clinton-Obama ticket avoid the otherwise inevitable train wreck? [Politico]
* Meanwhile, John McCain sews it up on the Republican side. But conservatives vow to press forward with their court challenges to McCain-Feingold. [Washington Post]
* Time to bone up on your Delaware corporate law. More maneuvering is likely in the Yahoo-Microsoft takeover battle. [New York Times]
* The $54 million pants case inspires proposed legislation in Maryland that would require dry cleaners to pay customers for clothing they damage. [Washington Post via WSJ Law Blog]
* Elsewhere in state legislative developments, Arizona reverts to the Wild West, contemplating a law to allow concealed weapons on campus. The sponsoring lawmaker “initially wanted her bill to cover all public schools, kindergarten and up, but other lawmakers convinced her it stood a better chance of passing if it were limited to higher education.” [New York Times]
* Global kiddie porn bust snares 14 Americans. [CNN]
* Debevoise makes headway in its internal investigation of Siemens. To all the beleaguered junior associates working on this matter: Hang in there! [WSJ Law Blog]

Serena Kozakura bra breast boob tit Above the Law blog.jpgWe tend to focus more on domestic legal news, but every now and then, we’ll make an exception. From the AFP:

A Japanese pin-up model says that her big breasts have not only boosted her career — they also helped her overturn a court verdict.

The bikini model, who goes by her professional name Serena Kozakura, was cleared after a court decided she was too well-endowed to squeeze into a room through a hole, as she had been found guilty of earlier…. Kozakura, 38, was convicted last year of property destruction after a man said she kicked in the wooden door of his room and crawled inside, apparently because he was with another woman. Kozakura had said the man made the hole himself.

In her appeal, the defence counsel held up a plate showing the size of the hole and said that she could not squeeze through with her 110-centimetre (44-inch) bust….Tokyo High Court presiding judge Kunio Harada agreed and threw out the guilty verdict on Monday, saying there was reasonable doubt over the man’s account.

In the words of one headline writer, “The Best Defense is a Breast Defense”

“The judges were very good-mannered as they showed no expressions on their faces. I guess they’re well-trained,” Kozakura said.

Or maybe they were just… distracted. Do appellate judges have a weakness for well-endowed women? See also the late Anna Nicole Smith, who prevailed before the U.S. Supreme Court in Marshall v. Marshall (unanimous decision).
You can access a video of Ms. Kozakura demonstrating her inability to fit through the hole via Weird Asia News. The video appears at the end of the post (but before the comments); scroll to around the 3:40 mark.
Big breasts win verdict for Japanese pin-up [AFP]
Court Finds Model Innocent Based on Breast Size [Weird Asia News]

* So who’s presiding over the criminal trial of former Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko? None other than judicial hottie Amy St. Eve (N.D. Ill.) — who, coincidentally, pursued the Clintons as one of Ken Starr’s Whitewater prosecutors. [The Sleuth / Washington Post]
* If you’re a Scrabulous addict wondering why a legal cloud still hovers over the game — can’t the dispute just get settled, like pretty much any normal civil case? — here’s some insight into the situation. [DealBook/ New York Times]
* Interested in clerking? Here’s a new website you might want to check out. [So You Want To Be a Law Clerk?]
* Gawkers flock to watch a $1,000-an-hour lawyer take the stand. [Legal Blog Watch]
* It’s still a few weeks away, but if you’re looking for something to do on the evening of Friday, March 28, here’s an idea. It’s a fun event, and it’s for a good cause. Hope to see you there! [AEF - APABA]

We’re a bit surprised that Judge William R. Wilson, Jr. (E.D. Ark.) has never been our Judge of the Day. He’s a pretty colorful character. How many federal judges openly embrace the “L” word (as in “liberal,” not the other L word)? Or raise mules in their spare time? (Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.) raises chickens, but mules are a bigger production.)
Today Judge Wilson finally gets his time in the ATL limelight. Check out this amusing letter he sent to a lawyer whose motion in limine he viewed as a bit over-the-top:
William Wilson Judge William R Wilson Jr Bill Wilson Above the Law blog.jpg
Read the response of plaintiff’s counsel, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Bill Wilson”

  • 04 Mar 2008 at 4:10 PM
  • Uncategorized

Nationwide Layoff Watch: An Update on Dechert

Dechert LLP logo Dechert Price Rhoads Above the Law blog.jpgWith apologies for the delay, here’s our promised update on the situation over at Dechert LLP.
As we mentioned last Friday, back in this post (and its multiple updates), it looked like Dechert laid off 13 lawyers in its Finance and Real Estate practice (“FRE”). Then firm chairman Barton Winokur sent out this message, late on Friday afternoon:

Due to the major shift in market conditions affecting client demands in our Finance and Real Estate practice area, we currently do not have sufficient work for all the associates in FRE. As a consequence, we have told 13 associates in the U.S. FRE group that we see no demand for them in that group in the foreseeable future. However, due to increased and substantial demand in other practice areas, we will be offering those lawyers the opportunity to work in those other groups.

We think we’ve gotten to the bottom of what happened to the Dechert 13. And we’ve picked up a few other tidbits about the situation over there.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: An Update on Dechert”

Tired of being motherf**king taped on your motherf**king plane? Then file a lawsuit over it — and win millions of dollars. From the AP:

The owner of a air charter service was ordered to pay attorney Mark Geragos and an associate several million dollars for ordering the secret videotaping of Michael Jackson and the lawyers as they flew with the pop star to his surrender on molestation charges in 2003.

According to court papers obtained Monday, Superior Court Judge Soussan G. Bruguera ordered XtraJet owner Jeffrey Borer and his company to pay Geragos at least $10 million and possibly up to $18 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Geragos’ colleague Pat Harris was awarded between $1.25 million and $2.25 million in damages.

Wow. That’s a helluva lot of cash for being videotaped. With your clothes on.
Lawyers Awarded Millions in Suit Over Michael Jackson Taping on Plane [AP via]

Soup Nazi No Soup For You No Minority Scholarships Above the Law Blog.jpgThe tipsters at Kirkland & Ellis who have complained about the gay cocktail party and the diversity networking forums would welcome this news, which comes from our home state. Reports Charles Toutant in the New Jersey Law Journal (subscription):

Seton Hall University School of Law has suspended its “Partners in Excellence” minority scholarship program while it considers whether it can make the selection process race-neutral, as federal regulators demand that it be.

The school has also entered an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to ensure that an annual job fair, run by local law firms but promoted by the school, is not restricted to minority students.

The actions are the result of a departmental investigation in response to a 2003 complaint that the minority programs are discriminatory. The grievant, David Wilson, a white Brooklyn Law School graduate looking for a job, came across promotions of the job fair and scholarship program online. He reported to the Department of Education that the job fair was exclusively for minority students and that the law school’s Partners in Excellence program preferred minority students.

More details about the programs appear in the full article (subscription). The tipster who sent this our way predicts: “[T]his will undoubtedly be a comments clusterf**k. Let the closet racists be heard!”
What do you think of minority-only scholarships and job fairs within the legal profession? Sound off in the comments, or take our poll, which appears below.
We could break this down into a series of more targeted questions — e.g., scholarships vs. job fairs? which minorities deserve preferential treatment? — but we’re not Gallup. So here’s a rather broad question, designed to take the temperature of the ATL readership on a very general level.

Under Federal Scrutiny, Seton Hall Puts Minority Scholarships on Hold [New Jersey Law Journal]

Sports and the Law 3 Above the Law blog.jpgOn Friday, February 22, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P. (“MLBAM”) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (“MLBPA”) filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court (No. 07-1099), seeking to overturn the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that the first amendment protects free use of baseball players’ names and statistics in fantasy sports games. MLBAM and the MLBPA both contend that the Eighth Circuit’s ruling fails to properly balance important concerns about state-law publicity rights against first amendment interests.
The original case, C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P., emerged from a change in MLBPA policy regarding the licensing of player names to fantasy sports businesses. The district-court plaintiff, C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. (“CBC”), for over ten years had licensed directly from the MLBPA major league baseball player names for use in fantasy sports contests. Then, in 2005, the MLBPA decided not to renew CBC’s license—instead granting an exclusive right to use baseball players’ names to MLBAM “for exploitation via all interactive media.” MLBAM thereafter launched its own fantasy baseball contest on its website and refused to grant a sublicense to CBC. This led CBC to file suit.
CBC originally filed suit in the District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, which granted it summary judgment, holding that CBC’s fantasy games did not infringe on any state-law publicity rights that belonged to major league baseball players. The Eighth Circuit affirmed on other grounds, finding that while CBC was indeed infringing on major league baseball players’ publicity rights, CBC’s “first amendment rights in offering its fantasy baseball products supersedes the players’ rights of publicity.” The Eighth Circuit based its ruling on three factors: (1) fantasy baseball statistics are already in the public domain; (2) major league baseball players are already “rewarded, and handsomely;” and (3) there is no danger that any consumers would be misled into believing the use of players’ names represents a product endorsement.
Discussion picks up, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Supreme Court Might Hear Dispute Over Fantasy Sports Property Rights”

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