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Perkins Coie logo.JPGApparently, the activities of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are now a matter of national import. The group, best known for absolutely nothing prior to a month ago, is now poised to “threaten the fabric of democracy,” according to Senator John McCain.

One might have expected the Obama campaign to take the knuckleball in the dirt, but there is only one October. Last Friday, the Obama campaign called in lawyers from Perkins Coie to harass USAG Michael Mukasey into harassing McCain to stop harassing Obama.

Perkins Coie partner Robert Bauer asked Mukasey to instruct special prosecutor Nora Dannehy to add McCain’s recent conduct to allegations of partisan misconduct within the Justice Department. According to The Blog of the LegalTimes:

[The letter] alleges that Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign and the Republican Party made false claims of voting fraud as part of a Republican effort to influence the presidential election. The letter accuses Republican officeholders of calling on the Justice Department to investigate allegations of fraud, and Justice Department officials of spurring what he called “baseless” investigations.

The McCain camp responds after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Perkins Coie/Obama Fight McCain Over ACORNs”

Philip Straniere before and after.jpgSalaries for New York judges have been capped at $136,700 for the past ten years. We reported on their attempt to force a raise by suing the New York legislature. New York Supreme Court justice Edward Lehner ruled in favor of mo’ money in June and gave the legislature 90 days to up their pay.

The state’s chief judge, Judith Kaye, was the force behind the lawsuit. But a lesser-known judge, Philip Straniere, of Staten Island, did his part to support the movement. He grew a big, bushy protest beard. He’s been wearing it for the last 14 months.

Unfortunately for cash-strapped New York judges, neither the beard nor lawsuit have done the trick as of yet. According to the New York Law Journal, New York Governor David Paterson has appealed Lehner’s decision. The judges’ brief defending Lehner’s decision is due Friday, with argument scheduled for November.

Straniere has not given up the protest, but he has given up the beard, in order to look less like Father Christmas while he runs for a state Supreme Court judgeship. His shave made the news. From the Staten Island Advance:

Straniere scores points for his Family Guy reference with a shout-out to Peter Griffin’s bird-infested growth. Negative points for the barber for butchering Straniere’s chin.

Paterson Seeks Reversal of Order to Boost Judges’ Pay [New York Law Journal]

Shave and a haircut (not pictured) [Staten Island Advance]

Earlier: Judicial Pay Raise Watch: New York

susan herman aclu.jpgOn Saturday the American Civil Liberties Union elected a new president, Susan Herman.

She’s a constitutional law professor at Brooklyn Law School and had served as the ACLU’s general counsel prior to this promotion. It has been a long time since ACLU leadership changed hands:

Herman’s selection gives the organization a new public face for the first time in nearly two decades. Nadine Strossen, the ACLU’s longest-serving president and the first woman to hold the job, had led the group since 1991, overseeing a substantial rise in formal membership and national staff.

Herman intends to spearhead the organization’s outreach to the African-American community, and she believes that her professorial background will help encourage young people to become card-carrying members.

More on Susan Herman’s background after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ACLU Looks To Brooklyn Law For New President”

Edward Nottingham Judge Edward W Nottingham Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgChief Judge Edward Nottingham is a familiar figure for long-time ATL readers. The Colorado federal judge has starred in past posts such as “Chief Judge Nottingham: Putting the ‘Ho’ in Your Honor?” and “Chief Judge Nottingham Likes Strippers; Handicapped People, Not So Much.”

A quick recap of “Naughty” Nottingham’s misadventures: being too drunk to remember how he spent $3,000 at strip clubs over two days, calling 911 on a paralyzed lawyer in a wheelchair after she confronted him for parking in a handicapped space, and having his name show up on a list of clients of a Denver prostitution business.

Well, he’s back in the news, folks, and though we’ve retired him from Judge of the Day, we’ve decided to give him a nod at the request of many tipsters. The Department of Justice has launched an investigation of “Naughty” for asking a prostitute to lie on his behalf. He wanted her to say they met at a restaurant in Denver and went out a few times and that they were only “good friends.”

From Colorado’s 9news.com:

The woman claims she had sex with Judge Nottingham for $250 to $300 an hour once a week from February 2003 through November 2004 at the former escort agency Bada Bing of Denver….

[T]he former prostitute says Judge Nottingham asked her to help fabricate a story to tell investigators.

“We just decided to agree that we met at a bar. I don’t remember which one. We decided to say that we just, over the years, had become friends and on occasion would go out on dates,” the woman told 9Wants to Know. “The truth is that I met him when I was an escort for an escort service and he did visit me regularly and he did pay to be with me.”

“It just seems ridiculous that someone in his position would ask someone to lie,” the former prostitute said. “He’s there to uphold the law and he’s breaking it.”

Such a sweet sentiment. Obviously, this former prostitute is not a regular reader of our Judge of the Day feature.

Several newspapers have reported that Nottingham is expected to resign any minute now. But as of Monday at noon, the Colorado District Court’s Clerk Office had not heard anything from him.

Government investigating allegations against Nottingham [9news.com]

Earlier: Previous ATL Coverage of Edward Nottingham

1159667323241.jpgSo far this year, we’ve found that an awful lot of ATL readers get in the billable spirit over the holidays. Back in January and February, we learned that about a quarter of you worked on Christmas, almost a third of you worked over New Year’s, and more than half of you worked on Martin Luther King’s Birthday. This summer, we found that 42% of you worked over the Memorial Day weekend, and 40% of you put in patriot hours over the Fourth of July weekend. And just last month we learned that 45% of you labored over Labor Day Weekend.

In today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we continue our exploration of the holidays. Last week, a number of commenters were even more scandalized than usual when ATL took Columbus Day off. But were all of you really working that weekend?

Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.

New York University Law School NYU Law School Above the Law.JPGRemember the barely watchable movie Major League II? Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn arrives at spring training with an assortment of off-speed curveballs and change-ups, abandoning his 100-mph-plus fastball essentially because he’s gone soft.

That (terrible) plot is being carried out by the nation’s top law schools. We’ve reported on HLS and SLS moving away from letter grades. We scuttled a poll by Columbia Law School trying to ascertain whether students there wanted to move to a modified pass/fail system. Now, despite earlier protestation from some members of the student body, NYU Law is now moving towards their own version of grade reform. The hope, apparently, is sterling transcripts for all, academic competition for none:

In Fall 2007, the Executive Committee of the faculty re-evaluated the NYU grade curve as part of a broader charge. The Committee concluded that the curve appears to be somewhat out of line with peer schools, and expressed concern that an unintended effect could be that it systematically disadvantages our students applying for clerkships and some other jobs.

Is there no end to this madness? In essence, that letter represents a bunch of students saying:

Whaaaa. Law school is hard. I want my clerky-ships. How come Johnny gets all the good grades? Whaaaa!

And NYU is caving. They’re throwing a curveball in a 3-1 count instead of having the guts to throw a hard strike.

Getting good grades is not a right. And it shouldn’t be a gift. Some people have the talent and focus to get good grades, other people have the social skills to get laid. What precisely was wrong with that system?

Read the full NYU Law memo after the jump.

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recession california associate pay raises.jpgUnfortunately, this Monday brings more statistics and indications that the job market for lawyers is in very bad shape.

The National Law Journal is reporting that while law students are expected to graduate with an average of $73,000 of debt, job prospects are looking especially weak:

[W]hile most would-be lawyers already have accepted that only a small fraction will start their careers with a big-firm salary of $160,000, the past few weeks of economic chaos have caused many to wonder if any kind of attorney work is in their near future. …

[T]here is genuine cause for concern. The number of legal jobs nationwide is steadily declining, according to employment figures released this month by the U.S. Department of Labor. Jobs in the law sector shrank by 2,000 in September — the fifth consecutive month of losses. The legal work force of 1,165,100 was down by 1.15% from a year ago, when the industry employed 1,178,600 people.

NALP is reporting the anecdotal evidence that we’ve been seeing: law firms are scaling back on their summer associate programs.

Not surprisingly, law students are worried:

One of the biggest challenges for career services professionals is dealing with the rumor mill among law students, who are a “worrisome lot” by nature, said Tom Ksobiech, assistant dean for career services at the University of Alabama School of Law.

“Everyone has heard something from ‘a friend,’ ” he said. “According to the ‘friend,’ there are no jobs anywhere.”

After the jump, practicing attorneys are also feeling the pinch.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More Bad News: The Monday Edition”

[Ed. Note: Eliza Gray is a new writer for Above the Law. She graduated from Harvard and after a six month stint in Brussels covering European Union politics at the European Voice, she moved back to New York to pursue a journalism career. She and Kash will be alternating Morning Docket responsibilities.]

* Hit my car baby, one more time. Today, jurors will continue to deliberate Britney Spears’ driver’s license case, which began last year after she hit a car and ran. If convicted, Spears could start singing behind bars.[Associated Press]Britney Spears.jpg

*Scary thought: Obama and McCain are “forming squadrons of lawyers who are filing challenges and preparing in case Election Day doesn’t settle the contest for the White House.” Legal battles have already begun in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.[Bloomberg.com]

* In addition to Friday’s bombing in Georgia, a lawyer in St. Louis was injured when a briefcase bomb went off in a parking garage. Police do not yet know if the attorney was an intended or unintended target of the blast. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

*Alaska’s Supreme Court will weigh in on the ‘Troopergate’ case this week. The court will decide whether or not to release the results of the investigation spurred by allegations that Sarah Palin abused her powers as Governor to get her brother-in-law fired.[KansasCity.com]

*US attorney Michael J. Garcia and New York attorney general Andrew M. Cuomo are working together to investigate trading in credit-default swaps.[The New York Times]

Dahlia Lithwick Slate Senior Editor.jpgWe spent a fair amount of time last week in lovely Charlottesville, Virginia, where we spoke at the University of Virginia Law School (coverage of our talk appears here and here). We spent lots of quality time with UVA Law students — at dinner, at a karaoke bar, and walking around the beautiful grounds.

One of the highlights of our trip was attending a luncheon talk by the fabulous Dahlia Lithwick, who has covered the Supreme Court for Slate for the past ten years (and who also served as a celebrity judge on ATL Idol). Despite suffering from a nasty flu, she delivered remarks that were hilarious and insightful, shedding much light upon media coverage of the Court.

Read more, after the jump.

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tatts on a lawyer.JPG* Now that the debates are done, it’s time for the dance-off. [MiniMovie]

* Somebody broke into David and Victoria Beckham’s house, but they left the mojo. [Popsquire]

* Nageley, Meredith & Miller attorney suggests waterboarding Barack Obama. At last night’s Al Smith dinner Obama revealed that he was actually from Planet Krypton so everything should be okay. [Legal Blog Watch]

* … but Republicans in New York are facing a lot more than internet threats. [Politico]

* Do you like your lady lawyers to have tatts? [Corporette]

Dechert logo.JPGWe really don’t know why everybody is so certain that Dechert is laying off a massive number of people. 20, 50, “nearly 100 attorneys,” no number seems too high or outrageous to post in the comments when it comes to Dechert’s “stealth” layoffs.

Clearly the firm is going through some kind of reorganization process, but there haven’t been any official “layoffs” since March.

But with all this smoke, there is bound to be a little bit of fire.

Read Dechert’s official response to the rumors after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Rumors Of Dechert’s Demise Are Slightly Exaggerated”

beer pong rules.JPGA new study commissioned by an undisclosed top 25 law firm suggests that neither a law school’s ranking nor a student’s GPA is a great predictor of an attorney’s long term success in Biglaw:

Law school rank and GPA were only moderately predictive of success, the study found. In general, one of the study’s authors, Ron Paquette, tells the ABA Journal, “The Harvard attorneys do not perform any better than those at the 30th-ranked law school.”

Of course, that makes sense. Given that many HLS students have based their entire sense of self-worth on going to Harvard, it’s obvious that graduates from WIlliam and Mary can’t hope to compete with … wait, what? I don’t under … ow. Worldview. Melting.

The study also identified attributes that were detrimental to success, and some were “counterintuitive,” the study summary says. Ron Paquette [one of the study's authors] disclosed one of them–foreign language proficiency. He says the study recommended that the law firm should not give “extra credit” to those job-seekers who can speak another language.

Merde! Ce rapport est mauvais.

More productivity indicators after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law School and GPA: Not Indicative of Long Term Success”

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