* EU fines Microsoft $1.3B. [New York Times]
* Sinking Eskimo village sues energy companies for global warming. [CNN]
* Polygamist Jeffs charged in Arizona. [MSNBC]
* Mayor recalled over MySpace picture and golf course management. [CNN Video]
* Law Blog chats with “NCAA defender to the stars.” [WSJ Law Blog]
* EU fines Microsoft $1.3B. [New York Times]
A struggling personal injury lawyer was disbarred last month, for splitting fees with non-lawyers, aiding the unauthorized practice of law, and other offenses. Sounds pretty unexciting, right?
But Keith Rubinstein is no ordinary PI lawyer; don’t cry for him, Argentina. Last year, he beat out Evita — i.e., Madonna, the Material Girl herself — in a bidding war for a $35 million townhouse on the Upper East Side. For more about Rubinstein, see this interesting article, by Anthony Lin in the New York Law Journal.
Rubinstein is used to swanky digs. He previously lived in a West Village townhouse that Will Smith rented for $60,000 a month during the filming of “Hitch.”
Speaking of lawyerly landlords, Charles T. Munger, a founder of Munger, Tolles & Olson, has been in the news lately for real estate reasons. Munger owns the building that houses the popular Dutton’s bookstore in Brentwood, Los Angeles. Dutton’s is closing its doors in April, in part due to rising rents.
But don’t blame the bookstore’s fate on Charlie Munger. From the Los Angeles Times:
The property [housing Dutton's] is owned by billionaire investor Charles T. Munger and his wife, Nancy. A founder of the Los Angeles law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, he partnered in 1978 with Warren E. Buffett to run Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a holding company.
Munger was in Washington on Monday and could not be reached. He said in a statement that he would allow Dutton’s to use the space rent-free during the liquidation and that he would cover the $550,000 debt in exchange for the store’s closing. Dutton described the offer as “very gracious and generous.” As part of the deal, Munger said, Dutton would retain the Dutton’s trade name.
With a net worth of $2 billion, Munger can afford to be “very gracious and generous.” Anyone know how bonuses were at Munger this year?
Of course, Keith Rubinstein and Charlie Munger made their fortunes outside the law — through real estate and investing (Berkshire Hathaway), respectively. The moral of the story may be: if you want really big bucks, look beyond the law.
Lawyer Disbarred For Splitting Fees, Other Misconduct [New York Law Journal]
Dutton’s shelf life finally runs out [Los Angeles Times]
* Law school applicants: they got they mind on they money, money on they mind. NY to 190! [TaxProf Blog]
* And can you blame them? Even if 2008 is looking grim, 2007 was another great year for Biglaw. Record PPP, yeah you know me. [Wall Street Journal via WSJ Law Blog]
* How much “faculty deadwood” does your law school or alma mater have? Answers are on the way. [Green Bag / SSRN via Inside Higher Ed via PrawfsBlawg]
* “Pay no attention to that lesbian behind the curtain!” [Huffington Post]
In light of the explosive economic growth of China and the Far East, many top U.S. and global law firms are trying to figure out how to enter Asia. And Above the Law is, too.
We’re looking for someone to write a weekly column for us about practicing law in Asia. It would be similar to ATL’s other columns — e.g., Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, Sports and the Law — but centered on what it’s like to be a lawyer in Asia.
The ideal candidate would be someone currently practicing in Asia. But former and future Asia practitioners would also be considered, as long as they can write knowledgeably about working in Asia, have a network of sources on the ground, etc.
The columnist can write under a pseudonym if desired. The gig comes with pay (a modest stipend). It’s an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to do some fun, non-legal writing, or to share their expat experience with ATL’s large and growing readership.
If you might be interested, please email us (subject line: “Asia column”). Please include a brief bio and a discussion of your vision for the column, including possible topics to write about if you have some in mind.
Thanks! We look forward to reviewing your applications.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury has ruled against a federal judge who was seeking $21 million after alleging that he was severely injured when he fell from a malfunctioning escalator at an Encino shopping center.
U.S. District Judge George P. Schiavelli, 59, said he was riding the escalator at Encino Place shopping center in August 2005 when it stopped “suddenly and without warning,” knocking him down the stairs and causing permanent injuries, according to court records.
It wasn’t destined to be an easy case for Judge Schiavelli. California is a well-known judicial hellhole for plaintiffs who sue shopping malls. It’s second only to New Jersey in pro-mall bias.
And prejudice against judges may have played a role in the jury’s verdict:
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Browne Greene, said the jury ruled against Schiavelli not because of the merits of his case, but because of his position on the federal bench. “The bias against judges in today’s world is just palpable,” he said Monday evening.
Perhaps another argument in favor of a judicial pay raise?
P.S. What is it about judges who bring suit after falling down escalators or stairs? See also Judge Robert Bork and Judge Paul Chernoff.
Encino judge gets no award in escalator fall [Los Angeles Times]
George P. Schiavelli bio [Federal Judicial Center]
Hotties in the Holding Pen: Untimely SFJ Nominations [Underneath Their Robes]
A brief update on an earlier story. Last week, we mentioned that celebrity cyberlaw prof Larry Lessig, of Stanford Law School, was contemplating a congressional bid. His prospective campaign would be centered on the theme du jour of Change (in this case, of Congress).
Many ATL commenters didn’t think highly of the idea:
“He has NO chance against Jackie Speier.”
“He can’t exactly self-fund, and the primary is just over three months away. I like the fellow well enough, but this seems foolhardy.”
“Jackie Speier has this thing locked up. She has name recognition, prior elected experience, the endorsements of everyone who matters, party money, and a compelling story that involves getting shot several times by crazy people. Beat that.”
Professor Lessig apparently decided he couldn’t. For his official statement on why he decided not to run, see his website.
P.S. Are we sure Professor Lessig couldn’t have pulled this off? After all, he is a former Supreme Court clerk (Posner / Scalia). Those folks can do anything they set their formidable minds to!
From Larry [Lessig08.org]
Lessig Decides Against Run for Congress at Internet Speed [The Lede / New York Times]
Larry Lessig: I’m not running for Congress [The Iconoclast / CNET]
Earlier: Following in Obama’s Footsteps? Professor Lessig Considers Running for Congress
- Attorney Misconduct, Benchslaps, Biglaw, Federal Judges, Intellectual Property, Lawyer of the Day, Legal Ethics, Perks / Fringe Benefits, Trials
Pity the poor partners of McDermott Will & Emery. Sure, their firm is highly regarded and highly profitable. But when they head off to try cases in far-off places, they often get benchslapped silly.
You may recall the case of bankruptcy partner William Smith, who found himself in the deep-fat fryer after telling a judge she was “a few French Fries short of a Happy Meal.” Although the judge was upset, in the end Smith got a slap on the wrist.
Things didn’t end as happily for Terrence McMahon and Vera Elson, MWE partners based in Silicon Valley. Judge Richard P. Matsch — the tough, well-regarded trial judge who presided over the Oklahoma City bombing case — sanctioned McMahon and Elson for “cavalier and abusive” misconduct and a “what can I get away with?” attitude during trial. From the Denver Post:
A federal judge recently got so infuriated by the conduct of two highly regarded trial attorneys that he overturned a jury’s $51 million verdict, then ordered the lawyers to pay the fees and costs of the opposing lawyers, a sum that could total several million dollars.
Ouch. So is that coming out of their partnership draws?
Or maybe the firm will find other ways to cut costs. Read more, after the jump.
Update: Please note that this post has been corrected since it was first published. The correction appears after the jump.
For his yearbook page, one of our most quiet high school classmates selected this quotation, by Martin Fraquhar Tupper: “Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech.”
Justice Clarence Thomas concurs. As reported by the AP, “[t]wo years and 142 cases have passed since Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas last spoke up at oral arguments.”
So what if the “time” of CT’s “well-timed silence” has dragged on for two years? Holly Hunter was mute for two hours in The Piano — and she snagged herself an Oscar!
Thomas: No Questions in 2 Years [AP]
According to the non-theme-song song (mp3) of Nixon Peabody, the firm is “the best to work with” and “the best to work for.” At NP, “it’s all about the team, it’s all about respect, it all revolves around integrity.”
And top of the line ingredients. From the Washington Post:
Big-time lawyers are pros at waiting for judges’ tough decisions, but yesterday afternoon at Nixon Peabody in the District, some may have posted fewer billable hours until results of the firm’s 19th annual cook-off were handed down.
The competition pits men against women, which could lead to actionable territory and dangerous stereotyping. Yet, it has helped build camaraderie among all departments, firm employees say, pointing to Nixon Peabody’s ranking among Fortune magazine Top 100 Best Companies to Work For, three years running.
Wow, they really milk that honor for all it’s worth! Kudos to NP’s public relations department for placing this puff piece in the Post. The firm’s PR operation has come a long way from the days when they threatened bloggers over leaked musical homages (and generated unflattering publicity for themselves).
More discussion, after the jump.
There have been some rumblings on this blog of a slowdown in judicial clerk hiring, even as firms raise clerkship bonuses to $50K.
Today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey digs a little deeper into who is (or isn’t) hiring judicial clerks, and what their bonuses look like.
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here or here for the results.
Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.
[Ed. note: Today we bring you some "news you can use": a practical look at how political choices might affect your personal finances. This post is by Ted Frank, who blogs at Overlawyered.com and PointofLaw.com, and who has guest edited ATL in the past. Take it away, Ted.]
BigLaw lawyers love Obama. If one searches by law firm various databases on-line for campaign contributions, one sees an overwhelming sea of blue, and most of it to Obama.
But how will Obama affect BigLaw wallets? On Above the Law, we regularly see commenters threaten to abandon law firms for falling $5,000/year short of market. I therefore thought it worthwhile to examine the effects of Obama’s tax and spending plans on take-home pay.
We all know that Obama wants to end the Bush tax cuts. That is a 3% bump across the board to the bad old days when associates faced a marginal federal tax rate of 36%.
But the real hidden tax is that Obama plans to end the social-security tax cap. Right now, you may notice, sometime during the summer or early fall, your take-home pay suddenly goes up because they stop deducting FICA. Current law caps social security taxes: in 2008, the cap is at $102,000. Obama proposes to abolish this. That mid-summer bump will be no more: add about several thousand dollars to your annual tax bill.
But social-security taxes are not only on employees. The government also charges 6.2% to employers that you never see on your W-2s. But rest assured the partners see this, and will notice that the expense of keeping an associate has risen several thousand dollars a year when FICA taxes double and triple. Will they swallow that additional expense, or take it out of your bonus?
Find out, after the jump (or click here).
* President pushes House on FISA. [CNN]
* EPA may exempt “toxic gases” from factory farm reporting requirements. [Washington Post]
* Congress may ask DOJ to investigate Clemens’s testimony, not McNamee’s. [New York Times]
* Ford pushing employees to accept buyout packages. [New York Times]
* UAW strikes at American Axle in MI and NY. [MSNBC]
* Five former execs found guilty in AIG fraud case. [WSJ Law Blog; New York Times]