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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]

Bruce Zirinsky Bruce R Zirinsky.jpgIn this economic climate, bankruptcy partners are worth their weight in gold. Expect to see more lateral movement in the bankruptcy bar, as marquee names get courted by firms seeking greater presence in the area.

Here’s what could be the start of a trend: Bruce Zirinsky (pictured), co-chair of the financial restructuring department at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, is moving from CWT to Greenberg Traurig. Joining him is fellow bankruptcy partner John Bae.

In response to inquiries from ATL, spokespersons at Cadwalader and Greenberg Traurig issued this joint statement:

We can confirm that Bruce Zirinsky and John Bae have tendered their resignation at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and have accepted offers to join Greenberg Traurig shortly.

Congrats to Greenberg Traurig on their new hires. GT seems to be growing despite the downturn, as reflected in their most recent press releases.

As for Cadwalader, all’s fair in love and lateral moves. The firm is losing two bankruptcy partners, at a time when they’re in high demand. But recall that, back in March 2007, CWT raided another firm for Chapter 11 champs of its own: George Davis, Deryck Palmer, John Rapisardi and Andrew Troop, who left the storied bankruptcy group of Weil Gotshal for Cadwalader.

Reflections on what the Zirinsky and Bae defections mean for CWT, after the jump.

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Skadden logo.JPGGary Green was an associate at Skadden in Los Angeles. About a year ago he was fired. On New Year’s Eve, Green filed a complaint against the firm and a number of partners and associates.

Green’s complaint brings the fire. He alleges defamation, wrongful termination, tortious interference, and a host of other things.

And he has some very inflammatory things to say about specific Skadden partners and associates. He calls one of the partners incompetent, bizarre, abusive, and inappropriate. He goes so far as to allege in a court document that a particular partner has run a practice group “into the ground” and is “one of the weakest — if not the weakest partner — in Skadden’s Los Angeles office.” And it goes on.

Green alleges he was fired for giving a harsh review to a junior associate. Most alarmingly, he alleges that Skadden partners were angered by the review because it opened the firm up to potential malpractice claims from a Skadden’s client.

You can download the full complaint after the jump. But first you can read Skadden’s response after the jump.

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Kid Rock.jpg* If you look closely, you’ll notice that now you can share your favorite ATL posts on Facebook, or Digg It.

* Boston College Law School graduate, Caplan & Ross attorney, and “blook” writer Nicole Mondschein has lots of interesting imaginary friends. [The Star Islanders]

* Great orginal research exposes Elena Kagan: the law student. It turns out I got better grades than she did first semester 1L year. After that … not so much. [The BLT: Blog of the Legal TImes]

* As future poet laureate Beyonce might say “I’m a survivor, I’m not gonna give up, I’m not gonna stop, I’m gonna work harder. I’m a survivor, I’m gonna make it, I will survive, Keep on survivin'” [Law and More]

* Soldiers and Veterans: know the law, know your rights. The Reserve Officers Association of the United States has completely revamped it’s law library and the information there sounds fantastic. [ROA]

* Kid Rock wants his judge to either A) send him to jail or B) go to Iraq to prove a point to the Kid. Hmmm … which one do you think is more likely to happen? [Popsquire]

Clifford Chance LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe mentioned this massive layoff from across the pond in today’s Morning Docket, but it seems like we need to devote a full post discussing the shocking news.

Having already laid off 20 New York litigators, Clifford Chance today let go of 70 – 80 London lawyers. The Lawyer reports:

In a statement, London managing partner Jeremy Sandelson said: “We have not taken this decision lightly. However, like any other business, we have to respond to prevailing market conditions.

Our clients and their legal services needs have undergone significant change over the past year. We need to reflect that in the London office, and that includes ensuring that our level of staffing is appropriate for today’s economic realities.

By taking action now, we believe we will be well placed once conditions begin to improve.

Today’s information puts yesterday’s news about Clifford Chance asking for more capital from their partnership into a larger context. Yesterday, we said:

Associates: next time you complain about greedy partners slashing your pay, consider the possibility that they’re suffering too in this economy. They’re trying to safely navigate the recessionary shoals, just like the rest of us. Some of the measures they’ve been taking, like pay freezes and reduced bonuses, may just be prudent planning. Better to have a smaller paycheck than no paycheck at all.

Good luck to our U.K. friends suddenly receiving no paycheck at all.

Clifford Chance to make 80 London lawyers redundant [The Lawyer]

Earlier: Clifford Chance to Partners: Brother, Can You Spare… £100,000?

Nationwide Layoff Watch: Clifford Chance (Redux) Twenty Litigators Laid Off, in NY and DC

baker-logo.gifThe holidays are over. Now it’s time to get back to business, and in Biglaw these days that means getting back laying people off.

Multiple tipsters report that there were layoffs at Baker & McKenzie this morning. The firm just confirmed the news:

Therefore, consistent with our strategy and discipline, and in response to the economic conditions we are currently witnessing, we are taking proactive steps to ensure that we remain financially strong. In particular, we are proactively focusing on helping our clients manage through these turbulent times, and we are acting to reduce our own operating costs. These actions include, but are not limited to, slowing or deferring some long-term projects, travel and hiring restrictions, and some limited workforce reductions, including six associates in our New York office this week.

The laid off associates were given a 3 month severance package.

One tipster reports:

No one was safe from first years to senior associates to support staff which were terminated. … Those who are left are worried about more cuts.

Another tipster, who also claims that some first years were let go, adds this:

The reasons given were that not enough work was available.

Read Baker & McKenzie’s full statement after the jump.

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UofC Law School logo.JPGThings just seem to be getting more and more draconian over that the University of Chicago Law School. Yesterday we reminded you of the school’s attempts to shut down internet access in class. The day before that we mentioned that some student was calling for an end to video games on personal laptops during lectures.

Today, the UofC Dean of Students has piped up with thoughts about the appropriate use for a law school listserv:

It has come to my attention that there may be some confusion among our student body about the proper use of our student listservs, and now is an ideal time to clarify this information. For your review, I have attached the guidelines for the use of the LawAnnounce listserv. You will notice that the LawAnnounce listserv is meant for informal announcements that may be of general interest to the law school community, and serves as an electronic bulletin board of sorts. While the list is monitored by our administrative staff, the Law School generally does not restrict content on this site with few exceptions. For example, while students are not permitted to use the listserv for “political commentary,” students may be permitted to invite others to a political rally. (*See restrictions below.) The listserv is not meant to be a discussion board, however, on any political issue. Therefore, rebuttals or commentary about a posting should be directed to the poster and/or to the administration, but not to the listserv. This kind of back and forth discussion is more appropriate for a blog and not for this forum. Similarly, any offensive language, including the use of racial slurs, is strictly prohibited on LawAnnounce.

ATL would love to take credit for the “ideal” timing of this letter. But sadly, it appears that politics made this message necessary.

After the jump, more stern warnings from the Dean of Students that are promptly disregarded.

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kindey long island lawsuit.jpgGetting a divorce is never a quick fix, even for a surgeon. You have to divide up the money, the property, the kids, the kidneys.

A Long Island surgeon embroiled in a nearly four-year divorce proceeding wants his estranged wife to return the kidney he donated to her, although he says he’ll settle for $1.5 million in compensation.

If you grew up on Long Island, home of Lorena Bobbit, this story makes perfect sense.

If you grew up on Earth, it gets a little weird:

He said he gave his kidney to Dawnell Batista, now 44, in June 2001. She filed for divorce in July 2005, although he claims she began having an extramarital affair 18 months to two years after receiving the kidney transplant, his attorney, Dominick Barbara, said.

I’m not sure I agree with the good doctor’s tactic. See, if my wife had an affair, I’d want the other guy’s kidney … or liver. Or severed head on a pike that I’d display on my balcony.

But I guess I can understand the desire to send a (former) loved one into toxic shock and/or have $1.5 million.

Sadly, basic human decency the law is not on his side:

Manhattan attorney Susan Moss said, “The good doctor is out of luck and out a kidney. This is similar to cases where a husband wants to be repaid for the cost of breast implants and the such. Our judges are not willing to value such assets, so to speak.”

Good thing that kidneys are internal organs, because you know how they roll on “Strong Island.”

Surgeon Sues Estranged Wife for Return of Kidney [Law.com]

Parker Poe.jpgParker Poe, a Charlotte-based law firm, laid off 13 attorneys and an undisclosed number of support staffers yesterday.

A firm spokesperson confirmed the news last night:

Parker Poe did, today, separate 13 attorneys from our firm.

The attorneys had less-than-one to 3 years of experience with our firm.

Depending upon their years of service with the Firm they received up to 3 months severance.

At least they waited until after the holidays before they “separated” people from gainful employment.

Read what our tipsters are saying after the jump.

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Dickstein Shaprio still basically relevant logo.JPGDickstein Shapiro sent a memo around the firm yesterday that was the bearer of much bad news. Not only did it announce a salary freeze for 2009, it officially announced layoffs that were conducted on Tuesday. Full e-mail after the jump, but here’s an excerpt:

First, we have made a limited number of reductions in our associate/counsel ranks. Those affected by this decision were informed yesterday afternoon. These are purely economic decisions — this is a group of talented attorneys who have made valued contributions to our Firm.

Spokespeople at Dickstein have not yet confirmed the number laid off, but sources say it was 10 associates and counsel, all in the D.C. office. [Update:The firm now tells us the ten came from both the D.C. and New York offices.] One source says those laid off were told it was “economic-based” — as opposed to layoffs in 2008 that were ostensibly performance-based — but that the firm did take a look at their hours. The corporate group was hardest hit.

One source says Dickstein associates were “pissed.” The email went around at noon yesterday and “glibly” announced layoffs and the salary freeze. Associates would have preferred a firm-wide meeting to announce the news. They were also annoyed to get the news of the freeze 36 hours before their first 2009 paycheck was to arrive (at 12:01 a.m. tonight).

Additional news about Dickstein is pouring into our inbox. One tipster reports overhearing a partner voice concern about Bernard Madoff paying his legal fees and the firm’s ability to take on new associates in 2009.

More after the jump.

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sweet hot justice logo.jpg[Ed. Note: The following piece was authored by "The Legal Tease" of Sweet Hot Justice fame. You can check out all of Legal Tease's other evocative musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]

You know this guy, you do. Every Big Firm has at least one. You started hearing the lore about him your first week at the firm and you admit that you were part intrigued, part terrified. You’ve seen him in passing in the halls, usually after most of the firm has emptied out after dark. Perhaps you’ve even tried to speak to him, only to be met with a distinct lack of eye contact and a half-snort as he scuttled away. He’s more socially awkward than any mental patient, not fit for human–no less client–interaction. But, word on the street–and that word’s always mentioned in hushed, reverential tones–is that he’s brilllliant. Like, crazy genius smart. That’s why the firm keeps him around. The brilliance. He’s the resident Big Firm Savant. And I’m here to tell you first-hand, the whole “genius” thing is a complete and total fraud.

How do I know this? Because I’ve spent the last two weeks holed up on an idiot fire drill deal that’s never going to materialize with not one, but two of my firm’s rumored Big Firm Savants.

One, of course, is our old friend, Glenn, who has the twin distinctions of having billed more hours than any other associate four years running and not having made eye contact since 1993. The other is Russ. Russ, a corporate equity partner whose book of business is rivaled in magnitude only by his lack of a personality. Or emotional range. Or ability to speak in a voice that doesn’t sound like he was recently plugged back into the Matrix.

Still, when I found out I’d be working with Russ, I figured it wasn’t necessarily all bad. Sure, I’d have to spend part of the holidays working on a dead-end deal led by a robot with lip chap the size of glaciers and a leadership style that rivals Ted Kaczynski’s. But on the upside, I’d finally get an inside look at how true legal genius works. I’d be working side-by-side two infamous Big Firm Savants. I’d experience the brilliance.

And most intriguing of all, I’d witness firsthand the rumored way that Russ supposedly “comes alive” in front of clients–because that’s part of the legend of Russ, of all Big Firm Savants: They’re corporate mole people around the office, but stick ‘em in front of a client and bam, they “come alive.” They shed their awkwardness and stun anyone within billing distance with artfully delivered soliloquies of razor-sharp legal analysis worthy of the whitest shoe. They shine. They must, right?

Wrong.

Read more about Big Russ and Glen after the jump.

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