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broward county.jpgBroward County has given us many, many Judges of the Day in the past. Now the county has earned the dubious distinction of our first ever “Courthouse of the Day” award. The central courthouse building is a disaster area.

From Courthouse News Service:

A 2-inch pipe burst on the second floor, courthouse communication center, damaging about 3,000 civil, family, traffic and misdemeanor files….

The building has broken elevators and tottering plumbing, air conditioning and electrical systems. Its mildew problem has led two longtime judicial aides to notify the county of their intent to sue. They say the mildew has given them severe pulmonary problems.

The courthouse’s Welcome Page indicates jurors (and assumedly attorneys and court staff) are not off the hook though. They are required to report as scheduled.

The Sun Sentinel has concerns about the effect of the decrepit courthouse on constitutional rights:

The constitutional access to courts is blocked because of aging water pipes, flooded rooms and a prior lack of urgency. Telecommunications into and out of the hub of our local legal system are downgraded to cell phones for judicial assistants and walkie-talkies for bailiffs.

That’s right. Because the phone lines are out, the court has posted cell phone numbers for all the judges. So if you were hoping to score the number of hottie former Judge of the Day Ana Gardiner (or at least her judicial assistant), now’s your chance.

Broward citizens deserve, demand working courthouse [Sun Sentinel]

Broward County Courthouse Is Falling Apart [Courthouse News Service]

champagne glasses small.jpgIn response to the many queries we receive from couples hoping to be selected for LEWW (yes, we do get them — mostly from grooms, oddly enough), we’d been thinking about drawing up some submission guidelines (sort of like the NYT’s).

But we’ve got a better idea. Three words: pay to play. See, we’ve got this thing, and it’s f****** golden. You don’t just give it away for nothing. Call us; we’ll talk.

Here are this week’s candidates (only two again, because it’s December and the pickings are getting slim):

1. Nancy Kuhn and Bernard Nussbaum

2. Shira Tolins and Benjamin Roth

More on the newlyweds, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 12.7: The Luckiest”

michigan law school strikes back.jpgI know a lot of readers think we have an ax to grind with the University of Michigan Law School (even though we take pot shots at Head Coach Sweater Vest at every opportunity). We like Michigan. Maybe if more U-M Law students trusted that, a certain student would have come to ATL instead of the police. At least then she wouldn’t have been (immediately) charged with a crime for her involvement in a prostitution scandal that also implicated a U-M Near Eastern Studies professor:

The case came to light in April when the student went to an Ann Arbor police station to report she was assaulted by [Professor Yaron] Eliav after they met at a hotel on the city’s north side.

The student told police she was advertising sex acts online via Craigslist to help pay tuition costs. For an in-state student, U-M Law School tuition is $41,500 a year; out-of-state students pay $44,500.

The student told police she reluctantly agreed to allow Eliav to strike her buttocks with a belt, but got upset when he slapped her in the face twice, reports said. She said she suffered vision problems afterward, but did not have any lasting injuries.

Even the Ann Arbor police couldn’t keep from cracking wise about the law student’s “term-time job”:

The rarity of how the case began – with a law student showing up at the police department’s front desk to report she was assaulted while committing a crime herself – was not lost on investigators.

“Perhaps she should have cracked a legal textbook before coming in to the police station to talk about this,” Ann Arbor Detective Sgt. Richard Kinsey said.

More fun details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “University of Michigan Law Student Should Have Come to ATL First”


proskauer rose logo.JPGLast Thursday, we reported that Proskauer Rose laid off 35 associates and 25 staff. At the time, the firm released a statement explaining the need for the cuts:

We are taking these actions in response to the worldwide economic crisis, as well as an unprecedented reduction in our historical lawyer attrition rate, which requires that we align our staffing with current and projected levels of activity on behalf of our clients.

But how often are first-year associates the subjects to “historic attrition?” Not many first years show up for work in September only to leave by December.

But our sources indicate that a number of first-year associates where included in the 35 attorneys Proskauer laid off. A couple of tipsters report that as many as eight first-years lost their job.

We reached out to Proskauer to clarify the number of first-years let go, but the firm declined to comment.

As we understand it, the fired first-years were given a number of reasons for their dismissal. We explore some of them after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Update: Proskauer Rose”

economy freezes over.JPGWhile Southeastern United States Senators are busy making the world safe for Toyota, Southeastern law firms are busy just trying to survive.

The latest bad news comes the 132-year-old law firm Womble Carlyle. The North Carolina based firm has decided to freeze salary increases for all attorneys through the first half of 2009 at least:

In these times, prudent management requires that we minimize our expenses in order to retain the flexibility that is necessary to deal with unforeseen developments. Accordingly, in addition to a variety of expense cuts that are included in the budget, we have decided not to increase base salaries for salaried attorneys and staff at the beginning of 2009. As we approach the midpoint of the year, we will review the situation and decide whether to provide any increases for the balance of the year. The only exceptions are those attorneys who become salaried members or of counsel on January 1, 2009.

I imagine that if you are a lawyer that relies heavily on the disaster area of the Charlotte banking market, just having a job is reward enough. You don’t want to be laid off in North Carolina right now. Womble Carlyle hopes to avoid that worst case scenario after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Freeze Watch: Womble Carlyle Bows to Southeast Economy”

Duquesne law school building.JPGDuquesne Law Students are still waiting for a satisfactory reason for the dismissal of (former) Duquesne law dean Don Guter. We reported yesterday that the Dean was given 24 hours to resign, without explanation.

While there has been much speculation about why Guter was asked to leave, none of the rumors have been confirmed.

But rumors and innuendo are not enough for the law student’s association at Duquesne. With one unanimous voice, the Student Government Association asked the administration to explain themselves:

Tonight, during fall finals, upon the voices of about 200 law students pleading for support, the Duquesne Student Government Association (“SGA”), after nearly 3 hours of argument and deliberation, passed a resolution that (1) The SGA strongly objects to President Dougherty’s removal of Dean Guter from Dean of the School of Law, (2) The SGA has NO CONFIDENCE in Charles J. Dougherty’s continuance in the role of the President of Duquesne University.

I can almost see 200 Duquesne law students, all standing on their desks, shouting “Oh Captain my Captain” while an old guy in a tweed jacket shouts “Mr. Guter, leave. Leave at once!”

But to use another memorable movie quote: ATL asks Duquesne law students “Now, what are you prepared to do?” After the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Duquesne Law Dean Dismissal Follow Up”

Hiring anybody.JPGWith all of the carnage in the legal community, unemployed attorneys might have to look outside the box to find jobs right now. We suggest an “all of the above” strategy. Headhunters, personal connections, career counselors, or even Craigslist could produce the job you need to satisfy your landlord.

An interesting little ad appeared on Craigslist this week. The job is based in Long Island:

Small Congenial Litigation Office with an insurance defense, Plaintiff’s personal injury and commercial litigation practice seeks an entry level attorney who wants to learn how to practice law.

All of our attorneys have a big firm background. You don’t need one. You will however, learn from quality attorneys while showing us just how invaluable you are and why you should be paid more money.

Are there any Hofstra 3Ls out there whose Biglaw dreams crashed on the rocks of the shifting economy.

Remember, life isn’t all about prestige. This firm is offering something no Biglaw firm would dare say:

We are not looking to overwork the successful candidate. We have lives – he/she should too. Bill 35 to 40 hours a week legitimately and the rest of the week is yours. Show us that we can’t live without you, and we’ll increase your salary. Bring in clients or cases and get a piece of what you bring in. Bring in the right case, and make more than the partners.

Nice.

I grew up on Long Island and have some knowledge about the environs around the Mineola courthouse. The ad’s kicker makes a lot of sense:

Trust me there are worse places to work – my partners and I have all worked there. Practicing law need not be a chore, but it is essential to get the right start.

Do you have information about other firms that are “hiring” in this market? Send them into tips.

Read the full ad after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Law Firm Hiring on Craigslist: Hofstra Students Welcome”

New Yorker.jpg* Legal Talk of the Town: A Virginia couple has sued the New Yorker and Greenberg Traurig for an illegal search and seizure of their home. They are represented by Ken Cuccinelli, who hopes to be Virginia’s next attorney general. [Courthouse News Service]

* Under this new Justice Department rule, Rod Blagojevich will have to give a sample to the National DNA Index System. [Washington Post]

* Jury deadlocked on death penalty for Atlanta courthouse killer Brian Nichols. [New York Times]

* Celebration time for Rutgers and Seton Hall law school students and alumni. The New Jersey Supreme Court lifted a gag order to allow judges to participate in U.S. News & World Report’s law school rankings, in the hope that New Jersey schools start ranking higher. [New Jersey Law Journal]

* Human Rights Day, Bill of Rights Day, and Human Rights Week. Thoughts, reactions, diatribes, memoirs invited. [Blawg Review]

Weil.gifSo should Weil Gotshal associates be rooting against a government bailout of GM and the other big automakers?

GM bankruptcy –> more fees for Weil –> bigger bonuses (which WGM has not yet announced)?

UPDATE (1:00 AM): As of now, it looks like the auto industry bailout talks have failed. This makes a GM bankruptcy even more likely.

But even if GM does file for Chapter 11 (or even Chapter 7), thereby generating thousands of billable hours for Weil associates, it’s unlikely that Weil will pay out Skadden-sized bonuses (although the speculation sure is fun). As noted in the comments, Weil generally follows the market, and the market has settled around Cravath.

Paying above market could create problems for Weil. As one reader previously noted, “Weil will never be a bonus leader because there is concern at the firm that it would seem unsightly by the firm’s bankruptcy clients to lead the market with bonuses.”

That concern seems warranted. As GM director George Fisher told Bloomberg last week, “We are fearful, very fearful, of a prolonged [bankruptcy] proceeding that would just destroy our brand in the marketplace and therefore that is not considered a viable option…. These Wall Street geniuses and law firms are coming up with all these solutions that make them a lot of money.”

FURTHER UPDATE: As noted in the comments, as well as the original WSJ article, GM has also retained former Weil partner Martin Bienenstock, now at Dewey & LeBoeuf, to help it become a “futuristic” automaker for the 21st century. Good luck with that.

GM Hires Advisers to Weigh a Bankruptcy Filing [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]
GM Hires Lawyer Bienenstock to Reconfigure Automaker [Bloomberg]

Earlier: If the Big Three Fall, Which Law Firms Rise?
Jones Day’s Chrysler Bankruptcy Coup
Chrysler Hires Jones Day As Bankruptcy Counsel [Dealbreaker]

pregnant old lady elderly woman having baby.jpg* The fertile octogenarian: could legal fiction become reality? [Concurring Opinions]

* The twenty most popular law reviews to submit to via ExpressO. A quirky list, to say the least. [The Conglomerate]

* Has Kentucky engaged in “celestial outsourcing” of its homeland security needs? [Supreme Dicta]

* Want to teach case law to patent examiners? You might have the next Einstein in your class. [Securing Innovation]

* We’re suckers for awards and recognition, so we’re pleased as punch by this shout-out. Also, if you haven’t done so already, please vote for ATL in the Blawg 100. [Law and More]

Rod Blagojevich illinois law above the law.JPGSome have wondered: Where was star litigator Dan Webb at Governor Rod Blagojevich’s bond hearing?

High-powered Winston & Strawn litigators Dan Webb and Bradley Lerman were not at Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s side when he appeared at a bond hearing on Tuesday. Blagojevich instead tapped Sheldon Sorosky, a lawyer from two-partner Chicago litigation shop Kaplan & Sorosky. Whither Winston & Strawn?

Here’s a possible answer, from the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich owes more than $500,000 in unpaid bills to the law firm Winston & Strawn, his primary counsel since federal investigators began looking into various allegations of corruption five years ago. It is unclear whether the legal bills are for personal or campaign work, or for both. Campaign filings show Winston & Strawn had charged the governor’s campaign fund, Friends of Blagojevich, nearly $2 million in legal fees through the end of 2007.

“Friends of Blagojevich”: probably in short supply right now.

Update: As noted in the comments, if Winston & Strawn isn’t eager to rep Rod, it’s understandable. Recall how the firm blew $20 million defending Illinois’s last corrupt governor, George Ryan. It lost the trial, lost the appeal, and couldn’t even get pro bono credit for the thousands of hours spent on the case.

Blagojevich Has $500,000 in Unpaid Legal Bills [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

Webb-less in Chicago: Where Was the Star Litigator At Blago’s Bond Hearing? [Am Law Daily]

Thacher.jpgTalks between Thacher Proffitt and King & Spalding, a story we broke here, remain ongoing. From the Legal Times:

Atlanta-based King & Spalding is in talks to acquire most, but not all of Thacher Proffitt & Wood’s lawyers, say two sources aware of the discussions. In order to avoid dissolution, New York-based Thacher hopes to find a partner to acquire it, these sources say.

One New York legal consultant says the discussions have been ongoing for the past three to four months, and that the firms hope to reach an agreement by year-end. The consultant says King & Spalding is considering taking on about 100 of Thacher’s 195 lawyers, but that it’s not yet clear which practices and offices the 100 lawyers would come from. “There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty about who’s going to be invited to the party,” says the consultant, who asked not to be named.

Not sure we’d call it a “party.” But the alternative to a K&S acquisition isn’t appealing:

[Thacher's] overall headcount is down more than 100 lawyers compared to last year — and so are its profits. Profits per partner fell more than 22 percent in 2007 to $1.02 million, according to the Am Law 200.

The firm has had a constant stream of high-profile departures, including its vice chairman Thomas Leslie, who decamped for Greenberg Traurig in October, and Washington managing partner Richard Schaberg, who left for Hogan & Hartson’s D.C. office last month. The New York consultant and another individual familiar with the discussions say that if the deal falls through, Thacher Proffitt will likely go under.

It’s worth noting that TPW has placed its New York headquarters up for sublease (as reported by Lindsay Fortado and David Levitt of Bloomberg). If TPW is seeking a subtenant for all five floors it leases at Two World Financial Center, then one has to wonder if the firm plans to continue operations (at least in its current form).

As for King & Spalding, it’s growing strategically, despite the downturn. The firm recently snagged three energy partners from Kirkland & Ellis. KS hopefully has room in the lifeboat for Thacherites seeking a new home.

To Avoid Dissolution, Thacher Proffitt Talks With King & Spalding [Legal Times via WSJ Law Blog]

Thacher Proffitt Puts Up New York Office Space for Sublease [Bloomberg]

King & Spalding Adds Three Energy Partners in Washington, D.C. [King & Spalding]

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