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Sports and the law Edelman.jpg[Ed Note: ATL is happy to welcome back Marc Edelman, sports-law professor/sports-law blogger. Marc will be giving ATL readers his take on the sports-law issues of the day on an ad-hoc basis.]

Sports executives are supposed to be shrewd. They are supposed to be savvy. They are supposed to follow sound legal advice, and they are not expected to write smoking gun emails.

Some big-name sports executives, however, keep fouling this up.

Last Thursday, Portland Trailblazers president Larry Miller sent an email to the other 29 NBA teams, asking them not to sign free agent forward Darius Miles. Miller sent this email because he did not want to incur the salary cap hit that would have been triggered if Miles plays in two more games this season. (For more details, see here).

According to various sources, Miller’s email was filled with legal banter such as claims that if any NBA team signed Miles, it would breach a “fiduciary duty as an NBA joint venturer,” and “tortiously interfer[e] with the Portland Trail Blazers’ contract.”

As a matter of law, however, Miller’s claims are bizarre, if not outright bogus. There is no fiduciary duty amongst NBA teams that forbids them from competing vigorously in the free agent market. In addition, there is no active player contract between a free agent player such as Miles and his former team.

Even more disturbing than these outlandish legal claims, however, is that Miller’s email seems to invite NBA teams to boycott Miles’s services. This reading of Miller’s email places the Blazers at risk of facing an antitrust lawsuit under Section 1 of the Sherman Act or a labor grievance under the anti-collusion provisions in the NBA collective bargaining agreement (Major League Baseball owners got into trouble for similar misconduct in the late 1980s) (pdf).

After the jump, more sports executives behaving badly.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Sports Executives Say The Darndest Things”

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* Law firm Thompson Wigdor & Gilly has moved in to a loft that looks more like a start-up than a law firm. Their light, spacious, white leather studded office doesn’t fool anyone….or does it? [The New York Times]

* SCOTUS will hear a major reverse discrimination case brought by white fire-fighters who say they were not promoted because of their race. [The Christian Science Monitor]

* A South African appellate court reinstated corruption charges against Jacob Zuma, the leader of the ruling party and probable next president. [The New York Times]

* U.S. government regulators are urging Citigroup to replace chairman Winfried Bischof in hopes that it will restore investor confidence in the bank. [International Herald Tribune]

* Los Angeles litigator William W. Vaughn, who defended Dan Rather against slander in 1983, died last week. [Los Angeles Times]

* New York judge Ronald Ellis will decide today whether to revoke Madoff’s bail and send him to prison. Ellis has made thousands of bail rulings including a case involving a French acrobat whose paraglider got caught on the Statue of Liberty’s torch. [Bloomberg.com]

* Thanks to ATL’s night and weekend readers, we’re making a surge in the 2008 Weblog Awards. It’s time to get the morning voters involved. Remember you can vote once every 24 hours. [2008 Weblog Awards]

2008 Weblog Awards finalist badge Best Law Blog.jpgThanks to our readers, we won the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 News & Politics catagory, but things aren’t looking so hot for ATL right now in the Best Law Blog contest of the Weblog Awards. Our friends at the Volokh Conspiracy, a most excellent legal blog, are killing us (and everyone else).

Alas, we didn’t focus on the contest until it was well underway. Because you can vote multiple times — once every 24 hours, until the contest ends on Tuesday, January 13, at 5 p.m. (EST) — we probably should have launched a “get out the vote” effort earlier.

Based on the voting so far, it looks like many of you haven’t noticed the contest yet. But there are still a few days left before the voting closes. If you’re the kind of person who likes to vote on things over the internet, please send the Weblog Awards crew our kind regards. Happy Friday!

Best Law Blog [2008 Weblog Awards]


Alex Kozinski David Lat.jpg* Law students across the country are struggling to find jobs, so what are law deans doing about it? They’re spending more time calling up kids trying to convince them to matriculate to law school. Pedagogical excellence, one tuition check at a time. [TaxProf Blog]

* Do you want to see what happens when judges start a rock band? I mean a real one and not the more common definition that involves a Playstation or an Xbox. If your interest is piqued, check out Deaf Dog and the Indictments at the Kennedy Center this Sunday. [Kennedy Center]

* Ignoring people really does work sometimes. [What About Clients?]

* Did you know there was a blog for Mormon lawyers? [Mormon Lawyers]

* A Jamie Lynn Spears lookalike wants $2 million from LAX for being used as a Jamie Lynn Spears decoy. I think we’ve just come up with the plot of “Dave II.” [Popsquire]

* Don’t forget, David Lat is out there on the West Coast right now. Stop by at one of his various events and talk about what you’d like to see on ATL in 2009. [Above the Law]

pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgWe’ve been reporting on the Biglaw salary freeze heavily over the past month. Earlier this week, we did a round-up of firms that had announced their intention to keep 2009 salaries at 2008 levels.

At that point, we knew of sixteen firms that had sent memos to their associates notifying them that raises were not forthcoming. While certainly unpleasant, everyone acknowledges that it’s more welcome than layoff news.

Today, we’re getting e-mails from several associates who are freaking out that the freeze is on at their firms, based on their first paychecks of 2009. Their paychecks came in last night at 12:01 a.m. and they are the same amount as paychecks last month. Here are the unconfirmed freeze reports we’ve received so far…

Mayer Brown:

Mayer brown checks just popped at last years levels. So apparently there is a freeze, maybe, but no memos on it yet. Please investigate.


Today was the first pay day in 2009 for Mayer Brown NY. In the past, our first pay check of the year automatically reflected salary increases. No such increase today. Smells like a pay freeze?!? With the added courtesy of letting ADP announce it instead of management.

(UPDATE (6:05 p.m.): Mayer Brown spokesman Bob Harris says the firm “has not yet announced its plans for lawyer compensation in 2009″ and that it usually makes the decision in February.)

Steptoe & Johnson:

Steptoe & Johnson froze salaries. What stands out about this is that they did not send a memo or anything telling associates salaries would be frozen, or saying when/if the position would be reconsidered. Today was our first payday, and they just issued everyone the same checks they were getting last year. No comment. No memo. No explanation. Typical douche-baggery.

Stroock:

They haven’t made any announcements of a salary freeze. They just haven’t announced any salary increases and continue paying the old salary. When I looked at the employee system to check the amount of tomorrow’s paycheck, it shows that I will be paid the same salary as last year.

Not everyone is freaking out. A reassuring voice, after the jump. Also, Ballard Spahr and RatnerPrestia have officially put the freeze on, with a memo and a press release, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw to Associates: ‘Surprise! Your salary is frozen’?”

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The winter wedding announcements are often a prestige wasteland, but we’re actually quite pleased with the caliber of the couples we’ve been able to round up for the first 2009 edition of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch (which admittedly includes some entries from late 2008).

Here are your contestant couples:

1. Bella Sewall and David Wolitz

2. Daniela Jampel and Matthew Schneid

3. Jaime Teitelman and Howard Wachtel

Click on the link below to read more about these newlyweds.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 12.21-1.4: Winter Thrill”

William and Mary Marshall Wythe School of Law Above the Law blog.jpgMaybe William & Mary School of Law administrators were checking in on the ATL Idol competition over the summer. The Law School Dean Search Committee’s methods for choosing a new dean sure sound familiar:

Hi. After vetting well over 100 candidates and conducting ‘airport’ interviews over two weekends (one in DC, the other here in Williamsburg), the Law School dean search committee has chosen 5 finalists who will be coming to campus for interviews over the next 6 weeks. There may be a 6th candidate, but that has not yet been determined.

Hey, ATL Idol turned out well enough (didn’t it?). Why shouldn’t William & Mary law students have a more active role in choosing the new dean? They at least deserve a chance to meet the candidates.

Students will have the opportunity to meet each candidate in a ‘town hall’ (large group, question & answer) setting. We will provide dates and times as schedules crystallize.

Check out the list of W&M Law Dean finalists after the jump.

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loeb loeb.gifBack in November, we reported that Loeb & Loeb laid off eight associates. At the time, the firm told us:

We continue to actively recruit, hire and invest in the firm’s core practice areas and in the past three months alone we have hired 13 associates, including 9 first-year associates, and 3 lateral partners. We expect to have a higher attorney head count at year end than at the beginning of the year.

But as the firm continues to make lateral hires, it looks like they are also continuing to cut associates. We understand that four associates were let go on Tuesday and that today will be their last day.

Our tipsters report that these attorneys will be receiving a 2 month severance package.

We’ve reached out to the firm, but Loeb & Loeb has not yet responded to our inquiries.

But it’ll be interesting to see how the firm describes the cuts. Last time, the firm said:

As part of Loeb & Loeb’s periodic attorney evaluation process and assessment of its overall personnel needs in its various practice areas, eight associates firmwide were notified that they were being let go.

We’ll see if these cuts are called performance related, or if they were triggered by the global economic meltdown.

Earlier: Nationwide (Stealth) Layoff Watch: Shearman & Sterling and Loeb & Loeb

Wildman Harrold logo.jpgWildman Harrold, a Chicago based law firm of over 200 lawyers (and an ATL commenter favorite) has laid off 10 lawyers.

The firm has confirmed that there were “approximately” 5 income partners and 5 associates let go. Our tipsters also report that eight staffers were also let go, but the firm did not confirm that information.

One tipster reports that Wildman’s managing partner had previously promised that there would be no layoffs at the firm:

The Managing Partner, Robert Shuftan, assured associates a month and a half ago that the firm would not be conducting layoffs unless something “catastrophic’ happened to the firm.

Another tipster reports:

The laid off attorneys were told that the moves were necessary because of the current economic climate.

But the firm contends that the layoffs were part of its annual review process.

Read the full firm statement after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Wildman Harrold Makes Deep Cuts”

ATL 2008 in review.jpgFinally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: time to announce Above the Law’s top two stories for 2008, on the gossip front. We’ve also been recapping the top stories on the business side of the fence, but stories about the business of law are available from many other outlets. Juicy law firm gossip is harder to come by.

Our two leading gossip stories were broken here at ATL. They were subsequently picked up by mainstream media outlets, but we covered them first.

Read about the two stories, after the jump.

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office of solicitor general.gifStudents who received a prestigious Bristow Fellowship with the Solicitor General’s Office will be informed today.

The Office of the Solicitor General confirmed with us this morning that the decisions have been made and successful applicants will be told today. If you applied, you might want to keep your phone lines open.

But if you are a student from Yale Law School, this year might not be your year. An inside source tells us that no student from Yale received a fellowship this year.

That’s rough. Students from Yale Law are getting shut down before Harvard Law Dean Elena Kagan even takes over. But we shouldn’t expect Kagan to be unduly influenced by Harvard-Yale competition in her new role. Talent always rises.

Let us know which schools did well in securing a fellowship this year in the comments.

cass sunstein regulatory czar.jpg* Cass Sunstein could share a U-Haul with Elena Kagan for the move down to Washington, D.C. Here are some reactions to Sunstein’s appointment to “regulatory czar” in the OMB. Richard Epstein says “it’s one thing to start a debate, which is what you do in academia, and it’s another to start a program, which is what you do in government.” Hiss! [The Boston Globe]

* Bankruptcy judges are likely to get much more powerful soon. Congress is getting more serious about a law allowing the restructuring of mortgage debt in a bankruptcy. [Reuters]

* Prominent civil rights attorney Charles Morgan Jr. who argued for “one man, one vote” before SCOTUS died yesterday. [Washington Post]

* Washington lawyer Cyrus Mehri joins the N.A.A.C.P.’s crusade for more diversity on Madison Avenue. [New York Times]

* Apple may be wishing John McCain had won the presidency. [New York Times]

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