A Shreveport judge’s excessive use of prescription drugs led her to disgrace the judiciary by missing work, falling asleep on the bench, and at times talking gibberish to convicts, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled in a 7-0 decision that permanently removed her from office.
LaLeshia Walker Alford, first elected to the Shreveport City Court in 1997, was removed from the Caddo Parish bench and ordered to reimburse the state $5,000 for the cost of the investigation that began six years ago.
We especially appreciated the article’s deadpan subhead: “Absences, gibberish on bench recounted.”
So how did this all get started?
Alford, a Tulane Law School graduate who was re-elected in 2002, fell under state investigation after an anonymous complaint May 27, 2002, accused her of missing work regularly, canceling court without any notice, and presiding on the bench impaired, inarticulate, and at times nodding off. At one point, Alford threw a 15-year-old boy into an adult lock-up after fuming over his poor report card….
Dozing off on the bench? No big deal. One well-regarded federal judge has his clerks bring him a pitcher of ice cubes and a glass while he’s on the bench, so he can chew on ice to stay awake.
But napping on the bench is just the tip of the iceberg for Judge Walker Alford. Check out some excerpts of her judicial gibberish, after the jump.
We’ve confirmed the news, which surfaced previously in the comments, about the pay raise announcement by Seyfarth Shaw. Here’s what one source told us:
The Chicago office had an all-associate meeting [yesterday]. First- and second-year associates will stay lockstep — $145K for first years, $155K for second years — while third- through eighth-years will get “market” base salary ranges. Not clear where anyone will fall in the ranges yet, since we don’t find out until the week of March 3.
The bonus pool remains the same as last year, which means no “extraordinary” bonuses. (But there seems to be room to reward top performers one way or another.)
The managing partner of the office made a crack about sending him anonymous questions by posting them “on Wikipedia,” so perhaps it’s time for a higher profile for you.
Additional information, including ranges for selected classes, after the jump.
* Supreme Court, in nearly unanimous decision (RBG dissent), protects medical device makers from lawsuits, finding suits preempted by FDA approval. [New York Times; Drug and Device Law; Riegel v. Medtronic (PDF)]
* NYT report links John McCain to a comely female lobbyist, Vicki Iseman (who bears a resemblance to his wife Cindy; see picture). [New York Times]
* Is this her Alamo? Clinton debates Obama in Texas tonight. [Houston Chronicle]
* Will Mel Weiss of Milberg Weiss cut a plea deal? [WSJ Law Blog]
* An update on the William & Mary firestorm that we covered earlier: prominent D.C. lawyer Robert Blair resigns from the W&M governing board. [Washington Post]
* Nicolas Cage in Face / Off with IRS. [TaxProf Blog]
* Former AIG CEO wins court victory over key document discovery. [DealBook / NYT]
* Online writer sues NYC over press passes. [New York Sun via Drudge]
From a blast email we received yesterday from Sullivan & Cromwell (yes, we’re on the S&C distribution list):
Please note Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s representation of Microsoft (U.S.) in its proposed US$ 44.6 billion acquisition of Yahoo! (U.S.), announced February 1, 2008. The S&C team on the transaction includes corporate/M&A partners James Morphy, Duncan McCurrach and Alexandra Korry in New York and Eric Krautheimer in Los Angeles.
If you followed the Aaron Charney saga as obsessively as we did, you’ll recall that Krautheimer and Korry were the tale’s two main villains — partners who, even if not harboring antigay bias, weren’t exactly the most fun people to work for. From an associate’s perspective, working on a high-profile deal for this dynamic duo must be super-exciting, but not without its challenges.
Programming note: For those of you in Chicago, we’ll be having a little ATL “happy hour,” starting in about half an hour. We’ll be hanging out in the Loop, at Miller’s Pub (134 S. Wabash btw. E. Adams and E. Monroe), from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Swing by and say hi if you’re in the neighborhood.
* Keen observations and provocative reflections about Michael Clayton, which Yale Law grad Patrick Radden Keefe describes as “an indictment of the mercenary universe of white-shoe law firms and a devastating—and unusually accurate—look at the demoralized lives of the lawyers who work for them.” [Slate via WSJ Law Blog]
* We usually dislike law firm ads with animal themes. But this one, for Womble Carlyle, is pretty darn cute. [copyranter]
* A sex-ed license? So what’s the equivalent of parallel parking on the licensing test? [PrawfsBlawg]
* Judge sentences molester to hell. Commenter: “That will teach him. My wife is the cook there.” [Syracuse.com]
Results are still flowing in from last week’s ATL / Lateral Linksurvey on leave and part-time arrangements. So far, we’re up to almost 700 responses, and we have received quite a few tips about maternity leave.
The running table of firms’ paid maternity leave policies that we posted yesterday has now been updated to include new information on Heller Ehrman, Nixon Peabody, Kaye Scholer, Cahill Gordon, Kirkland & Ellis, Freshfields, Kramer Levin, Thelen Reid, Goodwin Procter, and to correct information on Winston & Strawn and Mayer Brown.
Today, let’s talk about how associates view their firms’ policies, and also explore the availability of part-time, flex-time, and other alternative work/life-styles.
Overall, it looks like firms have room to improve:
Roughly 30% of respondents of either gender felt that their employer’s part-time and leave options were adequate, but 42% of female respondents and 28% of male respondents disagreed.
Fourteen percent of female respondents said that they felt uncomfortable asking for leave or part-time status, a discomfort shared by eighteen percent of male respondents.
Most other respondents weren’t sure, but only twelve percent of male respondents and five percent of female respondents didn’t care.
We sometimes find the Obama campaign to be maddeningly perfect. So Texas attorney Kirk Watson wins our Lawyer of the Day prize, for managing to humanize — through his screw-up, on national television — this picture-perfect, messianic movement.
A good summary, from a tipster:
Last night, at around 11 p.m., Chris Matthews really humiliated Texas state senator Kirk Watson. Watson was unable to name any of Obama’s legislative accomplishments, even though Watson has endorsed Obama. The video is awkwardly amusing and available over at Wonkette.
Another source from the Lone Star State adds: “Watson is very ambitious — much like Queen Hillary. He’s a partner with K&L Gates in Austin, although no one knows if he does any real legal work.”
Here’s one well-edited version of the video (see below; for a more complete clip, go here). Kirk Watson tries to dodge the question, but Chris Matthews, like a tough appellate judge grilling a hapless advocate, won’t let go:
The stereotypical law professor might be viewed as too disengaged from the “real world” to be a good politician. But as Barack Obama shows, it’s quite possible to move from legal academia into political life.
Now another prominent young law prof — who, by the way, is an outspoken Obama supporter — is contemplating Congress. From a Stanford Law School source:
Larry Lessig is considering a congressional run to replace Tom Lantos. Seems to have sparked a lot of energy and attention here on campus and in the Silicon Valley the last day or two.
No discussion yet about what happens to his Con Law class if he decides to run.
Time for lunch. We leave you with this appetizing email, which went out yesterday to the students and faculty of UC Hastings College of the Law.
Subject: Installation of green bike enclosure
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 13:21:33 -0800
To: [U.C. Hastings students and faculty]
Please be advised.
The new green bike enclosure for 200 McAllister is scheduled for installation on Wednesday, February 20, 2008. Due to nature of work involved (metal cutting, welding and lifting of heavy panels), the site will be off limits to all students, staff and faculty till Friday, February 22, 2008.
We apologize for the incontinence and the short notice. Thank you for your cooperation and support.
It’s not just Pepper Hamilton. Email screw-ups are committed by even the most renowned lawyers — like longtime Skadden Arps partner Sheila Birnbaum, a living legend of the product liability defense bar. As we previously wrote, “Birnbaum, who heads Skadden’s Complex Mass Tort and Insurance Group, has a nickname reflecting her expertise: ‘The Queen of Toxic Torts.’”
Some of [Mississippi Attorney General] Jim Hood’s proneness to gaffes must have rubbed off on Sheila Birnbaum of Skadden, Arps, a lead counsel for State Farm, when she was down in Mississippi to hear Hood testify February 6….
Birnbaum accidentally replied to all the people on the distribution list for an e-mail Hood’s press spokeswoman sent out this morning to a number of people, including reporters. Birnbaum thought she was responding to other State Farm lawyers.
Ah, the perils of “reply all.” Perhaps a CLE course should be given on how to use it properly?
(Part of the class could be devoted to client confidentiality issues. I Can Haz Ethics Credits?)
P.S. Birnbaum, by the way, does very nicely for herself. Back in May 2001, Forbes published an interesting list of some of the country’s highest-paid corporate lawyers. Birnbaum reportedly earned $3.8 million a year — and that was back in 2000-2001, before the latest Biglaw boom.
Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell wants to make it clear that the firm has a single associate pay system, says Jerry Clements [pictured], chairwoman of the 721-lawyer firm that formed with the October 2007 merger of Texas’ Locke Liddell & Sapp and Chicago-based Lord, Bissell & Brook. Clements says she did send a 2008 compensation memo to former Locke Liddell associates on Feb. 5, but she also had sent one in late December 2007 to former Lord, Bissell associates.
“There is clearly one structure that applies to everybody,” she says, noting that the firm’s management is in the process of integrating the two associate compensation systems. “The thought that folks would think that we would have two different compensation structures within one firm would be a little bit amazing to me,” says Clements, a partner in Austin.
Clements says the firm sent two memos because Lord, Bissell associates were accustomed to receiving a salary memo in December, and Locke Liddell associates usually received one by early February. Clements says the February memo addressed to “Legacy LLS associates” was more detailed, however, because management had settled on a new deferred-compensation component by then. “What’s causing the blog upset is that the Lord memo did not include the deferred compensation piece because we had not decided on it yet,” says Clements, referring to a Feb. 12 posting on the Above the Law blog. Since Feb. 5, management has been tweaking the associate compensation system, Clements says. The firm sent an updated compensation memo to all 285 associates on Feb. 14, spokeswoman Julie Gilbert says. She declines to provide a copy, saying it’s confidential.
Many ATL readers have a weakness for obscure debates about punctuation, grammar, usage, and style. See, e.g., here, here, and here. It makes sense; after all, lawyers are paid to worry about such things as proper comma placement.
So we weren’t surprised when several of you drew our attention to this interesting New York Times article, all about the semicolon. The piece, currently at the top of the Most Emailed Articles list, has a legal angle:
People have lost fortunes and even been put to death because of imprecise punctuation involving semicolons in legal papers. In 2004, a court in San Francisco rejected a conservative group’s challenge to a statute allowing gay marriage because the operative phrases were separated incorrectly by a semicolon instead of by the proper conjunction.
According to the Times, “whatever one’s personal feelings about semicolons, some people don’t use them because they never learned how.” Are you a member of that group?
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.