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One nice thing about unpublished or non-precedential opinions is that judges feel free to have fun when writing them. When your words aren’t going to be memorialized in the august pages of F.3d or F. Supp. 2d, you can take some stylistic liberties.
A source drew our attention to Vitaich v. City of Chicago, No. 94 C 692, 1995 U.S. Dist LEXIS 11804, at * 3-4 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 16, 1995), a colorful unpublished decision by Judge David H. Coar (N.D. Ill.). Here’s a squib from the recitation of the facts:

Even though plaintiffs have filed a total of three complaints, the essential facts do not vary. They allege the following: plaintiffs had been throwing down a few cool ones at a neighborhood watering hole euphemistically named, “The Great Beer Palace.” Around the witching hour our two princes crossed the threshold of the establishment into the moonless night. The princes and the palace’s draughtsman exchanged vulgar calumnies as they left. Of a sudden, the princes were set upon by the three of the Dreaded Wearers of the Blue [i.e., police officers] known commonly as Cole, Ignowski, and Ogliore. The princes suffered unmentionable tortures at the hands of these rabid beasts. Prince Vitaich attempted to escape on his trusty steed “Harley” but a masked Blue Wearer felled the steed, trapping Sir Vitaich (of Virginia) under it and causing him great pain and anguish. The princes shouted for a paladin or a shire reeve to aide them in their distress, but what great irony upon their discovery that the very Wearers of the Blue were the self-same Defenders of Justice they had summoned, like an invocation gone awry. Oh cruel fate. “We are the defenders of the land of stinking onions whom you seek!” they cried. With that, they vanished into the night, their laughter echoing through the deserted appia on the Avenue of Lincoln. By such a tortuous troubled path have come our wounded princes to this High Court by sealed writ, calling the Wearers of the Blue and the hamlet that gives them succor to task for invading the rights set down by the Tapestry of Edicts known as the Constitution. (citations omitted).

If you go in for a clerkship interview with Judge Coar, bring your 20-sided dice.

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s some follow-up on last week’s post about bonuses at Heller Ehrman. We don’t mean to pick on them, but we have talkative sources over there, it’s been a slow day (even setting aside earlier technical difficulties that took the site offline for a while), and this is what we happen to have in the hopper.
A tipster tells us:

[T]he big news from [last week's] meeting was the news that the firm will not be departing in any way from the bonus memo that was put out at the time of Heller’s non-raise last summer (click here (PDF)). In other words, a class of 2002 associate with over 2400 hours last year is guaranteed only $45,500 — approximately $55k less than s/he would have received for billing 2100 hours down the street at Quinn.

After last month’s news that MoFo (which had announced a very similar non-raise and bonus structure) was upping everyone’s bonus by $10k-$20k, the associates here were hopeful (and basically expected) that Heller would do the same; the firm always claims that it doesn’t pay attention to what NY firms or LA firms do (without giving any good explanation, given that it has more associates in those two offices (combined) than it does in SF), and generally names Orrick and MoFo as the firms it looks at as “peers” — though it notably stopped mentioning Orrick as soon as Orrick raised without slashing bonuses last summer. It’s unclear who the firm now sees as its “peers,” since I don’t know of any AmLaw 100 firms that pay as little as Heller does.

The firm will likely respond to this discontent, if at all, by trotting out its old schtick about how its “culture” is so different from that of law firms that pay more. This may have been true 10 years ago, and is undoubtedly still true if you’re comparing it to, say, Skadden. But this place is no different than Orrick or MoFo or Latham in terms of how associates spend their time (and how much of it they spend), and how they’re treated. I can’t think of any reason I could legitimately give to a law student of why they should come here if they had offers from these other CA firms; I certainly would choose differently if I were a 2L now. Expect increased lateral departures, regardless of what the firm says it will do for bonuses next year.

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Heller Ehrman

Job of the Week

Here is today’s ATL / Lateral Link Job of the Week. In 2007, Lateral Link secured attorneys offers at more than half of the Vault Top 100 firms and numerous corporations and funds.
Position: Senior Vice President and Counsel
Location: Orange County, California
Description: Investment firm focused on growth companies in both the US and in Asia is seeking a Senior Vice President/Counsel. Firm has offices in both Newport Beach, CA and Hong Kong, and manages both public and private investments through various portfolios in both jurisdictions.
Duties will include:
* Oversee legal structure of the firm and monitor investment advisor regulations.
* Draft basic legal documents, including term sheets and letters of intent/memorandums of understanding.
* Set up US investment vehicles.
* Liaise with HK outside counsel on setting up foreign investment vehicles and with China based transactions.
* Negotiate investment subscriptions with clients.
Position Requirements:
• Mid-senior level associate with transactional, investment management and securities experience
• The position is based in Newport Beach or Los Angeles (company prefers if candidate can work from Newport Beach Office several days a week)
• Flexibility to travel between LA and Hong Kong every 5 to 6 weeks (and more frequently depending on needs)
• Compensation will be based on candidate experience but will include base salary, bonus, and a comprehensive benefits package
Company Description: This investment firm is focused on growth companies in both the US and in Asia is seeking Senior Vice President/Counsel. The firm has offices in both Newport Beach, CA and Hong Kong, and manages both public and private investments through various portfolios in both jurisdictions.
For more information, see job # 8063 on Lateral Link.
Earlier: Prior Job of the Week listings (scroll down)

Thacher Proffitt Wood LLP Above the Law blog.jpgThis morning we’ve been hearing rumors of associate layoffs at Thacher Proffitt & Wood. As you may recall from ATL’s prior coverage (scroll down), TPW has reduced its ranks over the past few months, through voluntary departures. But those departures took place after the firm warned that it might have to resort to layoffs.
Apparently something went down at the firm yesterday afternoon. Some sources characterized what happened as layoffs, with affected associates given until May to leave. But we contacted the firm, which denied the rumors and issued this statement:

Thacher Proffitt has not done layoffs. We have increased our efforts to provide associates with outplacement in practice areas that have been most affected by current market conditions.

We take the firm at its word; they’ve been pretty candid in the past about their personnel decisions and how they’ve been affected by the credit crunch. If you have the inside scoop on what took place yesterday, please email us. Thanks.

lolcat arbitration lolcat Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s some interesting follow-up to yesterday’s post about the new mandatory arbitration policy that Kirkland & Ellis has imposed upon its associates. From Karen Donovan, over at

There have been many stories about how the big law firms coddle associates with lush perks and big bonuses. Now there is some tough love. Kirkland & Ellis has sent a memo to its associates informing that should there be a dispute with their employer that cannot be resolved internally, they will have to go arbitration, rather than court.

The new policy, first reported by David Lat of the blog, asks employees to hit the “acknowledge” tab on this e-mail by March 3.

If you’re a K&E associate hoping to escape the clutches of the new policy, good luck (unless you’re in California):

“Continued employment in most states is adequate compensation for an arbitration procedure,” says Michael Casey III, a Miami partner with Epstein Becker & Green, a law firm that specializes in employment and labor issues. Casey has advised a number of firms to put mandatory arbitration policies in to place. He says a number of big law firms have them, but he declined to name names.

There’s still hope for those Kirkland associates who toil in the firm’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices. A decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down a mandatory arbitration policy at O’Melveny & Myers. The Ninth Circuit has generally found “these are contracts of adhesion or unconscionable,” says Gary Friedman, an employment partner with Weil, Gotshal & Manges. But Friedman says arbitration agreements are “still relative rarities” in the world of law firms.

K&E itself stayed mum on the subject: “‘We don’t comment about employment matters,’ says Jay Lefkowitz, a New York partner on the firm’s global management committee.”
No Court for These Lawyers [Portfolio]
Earlier: Kirkland & Ellis: We Love Minorities! (But don’t dare take us to court if you are one. Instead, please sign our mandatory arbitration policy. Thanks!)

On Fridays, we like to poll our readership on random subjects. Often these reader polls relate to matters of style and usage. Past polls have covered such important topics as favorite email sign-offs and whether to use “pleaded” or “pled” in legal writing.

Here’s today’s topic. It’s about what to call a version of a document in which changes from a prior version — or, more generally, divergences from a different version — are indicated on the face of the document (e.g., with strikethrough text showing deleted language, or double-underscored text showing added language).

From a curious tipster:

Is it “redline” or “blackline”? What is the difference, and why does my Asset Management group seem to use one, and M&A the other? Could this be the basis of an ATL usage survey?

FWIW, this Google Answers thread is the only online discussion I have found of this matter, and it is not especially responsive.

We’re curious as well. In the chambers in which we clerked, such documents were called “redlines.” But at the law firm for which we worked, most of our colleagues called them “blacklines.”

What’s your preference? Take the poll below, and opine in the comments.

* Time magazine will take one final appeal in the Indonesian defamation case that awarded former President Suharto over $100 million in damages. [New York Times]
* A third West Virginia Supreme Court justice refuses to recuse in the Massey Energy case. [Charleston Gazette via How Appealing]
* Duke lacrosse team players — not the indicted ones, but current and former players who claim the indictment of their three teammates caused them emotional distress and invaded their privacy — have filed a federal lawsuit against Duke, Durham, and various school and police officials. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Concerns over possible DOJ antitrust action loom over XM and Sirius share prices. [AP]
* And you thought a $160,000 starting salary was nice. Some doormen at Las Vegas clubs clear over $400,000 a year. [Las Vegas Review-Journal via Drudge]

craigslist logo AboveTheLaw Above the Law legal blog.jpgFaced with a challenging job market, law school students are turning to the web. See, e.g., 3L for Hire.
And now they’re advertising on… craigslist? Well, if it’s good enough for law firms — at least the kind that require the ability to lift 25 pounds — it’s good enough for students, too.
From the Austin craigslist:

I am a second year law student seeking a summer opportunity with a DFW medium/small law firm. I attend Texas Wesleyan University and maintain a 3.22 GPA. I am a hard working, and dedicated individual. I wil be happy to provide my transcript and resume upon request.

Thank you.

Maybe this student should try posting in the “missed connections” section of craigslist? lawstudent4job – 25 – (austin).
Craigslist may work better for finding a personal relationship (or selling used furniture). Check out this ad:

Law Student seeks Cinderella – 25.

I am a 25 year old law student. 5′ 9″. 160 lbs. Blonde hair, blue eyes, from Kansas City. I am single, never been married, no children, and have a Bachelor of Science degree, a Masters of Arts degree, and am a first year law student. I am looking to meet a woman and take her to a formal event for my law school called “Barristers Ball” (Essentially a Law School Prom). Dinner, drinks, and dancing will be provided at no cost to you. I am just looking for a lovely lady to take to the event for “Arm-Candy.” Responses must include an “Actual” full body photo of yourself and you must be willing to meet sometime soon on the weekend for drinks. I do enjoy drinking and I smoke occasionally when I drink. If this bothers you…please do not respond. Please Note: The child in the photo is not mine (It is my Nephew)…

We understand that the student in question is at the University of Miami — a law school that has provided ample ATL fodder. Click here, then scroll down, to review UM’s past exploits.
Second Year Law Student Seeks Summer Opportunity [craigslist - austin]
Law Student seeks Cinderella – 25 [craiglist - miami]

Tonight’s theme: presidential politics.
* John Edwards could end up being the next Attorney General. Ted Frank takes a tough look at one of Edwards’s most celebrated cases. [The American]
* Random factoid: “Obama’s vol. 104 is the least-cited volume of the Harvard Law Review in the last 20 years.” [Volokh Conspiracy (comment by LawStatMan) via TaxProf Blog]
* Speaking of Barack Obama, what cologne does he wear? [copyranter]
* Who’s hyping Huma? [Big Head DC]

Zuber Taillieu LLP Olivier Taillieu Borat Above the Law blog.jpgAs recently mentioned in these pages, the internal slogan of the post-merger Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell is “One Firm, One Future.”
Some firms, however, take the opposite view. We’ve just discovered a Southern California boutique whose motto might as well be “Two Firms for the Price of One.” Or maybe “Corporate Work and Plaintiffs’ Work: Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together.” A tipster tells us:

My friend just interviewed at a place called Zuber & Taillieu in Los Angeles. You know, Olivier Taillieu — the guy who filed suit on behalf of the frat boys from Borat….

Ah yes, we do recall. Look back at this post. Engaging in Gallion & Spielvogel-esque self-promotion, Olivier Taillieu described himself as follows: “[Olivier clerked] for the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, one of the most prestigious and sought-after clerkships in the country. Following his clerkships, he entered private practice as a litigator in the Intellectual Property and Technology Department in the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, one of the top 15 law firms in the country as ranked by revenue by The American Lawyer.”
Back to our source:

Well, get this. What that firm doesn’t announce on their “corporate” website is that they have an evil twin: a plaintiffs’ side alter ego, called ZT Personal Injury Law Group. Exact same attorneys, but this time, you can call them at 1-866-SUE-2-WIN. Pay particular attention to the language about penises and vaginas on the firm’s Child Molestation page.

It looks like this “O’Melveny spinoff” isn’t doing QUITE the same caliber work as they’d have you believe…

ZT Personal Injury Law Group Above the Law blog.jpgIndeed. We checked out that “Child Molestation Law” page, which features such lovely words as “vagina,” “rectum,” and “penile penetration” — not your standard law firm website fare. Here’s an excerpt:

If someone you know is a victim of sexual abuse, contact one of our child molestation attorneys today to find out what ZT Personal Injury Law Group can do for you. We offer a FREE consultation, and we don’t get paid unless you win!

Well, look on the bright side: at least these ex-OMM lawyers are doing well for themselves. They’re hiring more lawyers and expanding their firm — which is more than can be said for the O’Melveny mother ship, with its rumored layoffs.
Update: As some commenters remind us, Olivier Taillieu was a contestant on that short-lived reality TV show, The Law Firm.
Zuber & Taillieu LLP [official website]
ZT Personal Injury Law Group [official website]
The Law Firm [Wikipedia]
Earlier: Still More About Borat

Barack Obama Senator Barack Obama.jpgSince we’ll be speaking at the University of Chicago very soon, we thought it would be topical to share with you the interesting responses we received to our earlier request for stories about presidential candidate Barack Obama as a U. Chicago law prof.
The general consensus: he’s awesome, as beloved in the classroom as he is on the campaign trail. Several raves appeared in the comments, and we also received some via email. First, from Professor D. Daniel Sokol (who also blogs, at the Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog):

I had Obama as a prof when I was at the University of Chicago for a seminar on race and the law. His title of Senior Lecturer is one that only a few people hold– the others are Richard Posner, Frank Easterbrook and Diane Wood — all former Chicago full time faculty members now on the 7th Circuit.

Obama was an amazing professor and in many ways, I wish I could be as effective in the classroom as he was. He engaged students in the material and showed great skill at eliciting good student comments and managing class discussion. Obama also integrated in social science empirical literature into our discussions to better inform some of the normative discussions that we had. I thought he managed intellectual diversity very well, as we had a spectrum of students from libertarians and conservatives on one hand to radicals on the other.

Additional anecdotes, plus a digression on Obama’s views on the Second Amendment and gun control, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fired Up and Ready To… Teach! Barack Obama as Law Professor”

Locke Lord Bissell Liddell LLP logo AboveTheLaw blog.jpgHere’s some quick follow-up to yesterday’s post about Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell (which has a nice new logo — kudos to their graphic designer). An unhappy tipster tells us:

Jerry Clement’s compensation memo is attached. Also attached is an email from Jerry announcing the departure of eight partners from LLBL’s Chicago office.

These eight partners left yesterday to join DLA. Some commenters inaccurately called these partners “old.” Four are under 45. Two other partners announced their departures on Friday (these two are not going to DLA). Together these ten partners purportedly generated roughly 9-10% of LB&B’s billable work in 2007.

Check out the memos, plus an account of the recent associates’ meeting, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise: More on Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell”

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