Unlike yesterday — and by the way, we’ll keep the reader poll open for a few more hours — today we have no difficulty picking our Lawyer of the Day. Hollywood lawyer James Jackson maltreated his Filipino maid. We do not like it when you mess with our peeps.
From the AP (via Law.com):
A former Hollywood studio attorney and his wife were sentenced Monday for abusive treatment of their Filipino maid in a case federal prosecutors said “amounts to modern-day slavery.”
James Jackson, the former vice president of legal affairs at Sony Pictures, was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine. His wife, Elizabeth, was sentenced to three years in prison after her attorneys unsuccessfully pleaded for her to receive home detention.
These Hollywood types are ruthless (we’ve watched “Entourage”). Studio lawyers make Biglaw partners look like social workers. Consider the treatment alleged by the former maid in her civil suit against the couple:
[Former maid Nena] Ruiz claimed in her civil lawsuit that Elizabeth Jackson regularly slapped her and pulled her hair. She also said she was forced to sleep on a dog bed and was given three-day-old food to eat even as she was expected to clean and provide fresh fruit to the Jacksons’ pets. The Jacksons only paid her $300 for her work….
Back in November, we broke the news that, barring a “substantial improvement” in market conditions, the law firm of Thacher Proffitt & Wood would resort to lawyer layoffs in January. The firm is a major player in structured finance and real estate, two practice areas that have been hard hit by the credit crunch.
January is now here — and, in fact, almost over. We were reminded of this last week, when we saw this article in the New York Sun about law firm layoffs, mentioning Thacher Proffitt:
Earlier this month, Manhattan-based Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft laid off 35 lawyers, 26 of them in New York City, and late last year, Thatcher Proffitt & Wood cut 50 associates’ jobs. The cuts have spurred other firms to follow suit, experts said.
Was the statement accurate, insofar as it suggests or implies that TPW laid off fifty (50) associates? We followed up with Thacher, which issued this statement, through a spokesperson:
As described in our November 27, 2007 official statement, we notified 24 associates in the Structured Finance and Real Estate Practice Groups that if there was no substantial improvement in the market, it was near certain that economic layoffs would take effect in January 2008. As of today, 99% of the 24 associates have accepted a package which compensates them through the end of March 2008, and many have already found new positions. To clarify recent media reports, these events occurred ahead of our initial plan to commence layoffs. [Ed. note: Maybe it should be 96% of the 24 associates -- 23/24 = 95.8%. But who knows... maybe one person is still working part-time for TPW?]
In addition, we offered our first-year associates in the Structured Finance and Real Estate Practice Groups a four-month severance package, should they volunteer to leave the firm. Again, referring to our original statement, the first-year associates’ offer remains strictly voluntary; they are under no obligation to accept it. We do feel it’s in their best interest to explore other opportunities, since we are concerned that we will not be able to provide them with the best work experience at this formative stage of their careers. A group of first-year associates has voluntarily accepted this package.
Finally, we would like to acknowledge the goodwill of those in the business and legal communities who have expressed interest in our associates and have helped to place them in new positions. Although these decisions were difficult for our firm, we are confident that our approach kept our associates’ interests in mind and also mitigated our business risks.
We construed this as a statement that the firm did not have to resort to layoffs (as originally planned). We followed up with TPW, and they confirmed this understanding: “Up to this point, departures have been voluntary.” [FN1]
But should TPW associates start dancing in the hallways? Not yet. When we asked if this meant the firm had ruled out layoffs going forward, Thacher was noncommittal: “We cannot speculate on future market conditions and the potential impact on our attorney population.”
So stay tuned. In other TPW news, it’s not just associates who are leaving. Partner V. Gerard (“Jerry”) Comizio, a prominent banking and financial services lawyer here in D.C., just left Thacher to join Paul Hastings (see this press release). When a firm is going through tough times, partner defections are to be expected (although they’re unwelcome news, since rainmaker departures only exacerbate the problem of insufficient business to go around).
[FN1] We realize, of course, that if you “voluntarily” depart after being told you’ll probably be laid off if you stay, it’s not completely “voluntary.” A cynic must suggest that it’s like “voluntarily” giving the mugger your wallet after being told you’ll be shot if you don’t. But, on a hyper-technical level, we wouldn’t consider these departures “true” layoffs. People can always wait for the ax to fall — like the one apparent holdout among the 24 associates. Fearing Recession, Law Firms Tighten Belts [New York Sun] Pinup’s Naked Justice: Keeps Lawyer Job [New York Post] Paul Hastings Bolsters Bank Regulatory Practice with the Addition of V. Gerard Comizio to the Washington, D.C. Office [Paul Hastings (press release)] Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Thacher Proffitt Announces Likely Future Layoffs
Our favorite bride this week is one we don’t get to write about. Rachel Berkowitz is a professional organizer who “helps individuals and businesses to organize closets, filing systems and offices and to move and pack.” And if you’re not a little bit turned on by that, we want to see your underwear drawer.
On the legal-eagle front, three Fordham JDs (at least) and a Sunday school teacher make this our first Catholic-themed week here at LEWW.
Before the New Year, associates in the New York office of Morrison & Foerster received their bonus news. Now it’s time for their colleagues outside of NYC to collect their cash.
In addition to the firm’s “standard productivity bonuses under the published 2007 compensation program,” MoFo is paying out (1) “a one-time bonus” (it sounds “special” to us), ranging from $10,000 – $20,000, to associates and certain of counsel who met or exceeded their hours requirements, and (2) merit bonuses, for “exemplary lawyering and exceptional teamwork,” ranging from $15,000 – $30,000.
Full memo, after the jump.
Time is running out on this month’s ATL Lawyer of the Year and Second Favorite Blog After ATL polls, both sponsored by ATL and Lateral Link.
So far, we’re up to just over 2,600 votes for Lawyer of the Year, and Wall Street Journal pick Loyola 2L is still going strong. Meanwhile, Barack Obama has a roughly 2.5 to 1 lead over Hillary Clinton, and Alberto Gonzales is stamping out civil rights stomping on music rights attorney Ray Beckerman . . . but pretty much nobody else.
On the blogging front, the Wall Street Journal remains the blog to beat, while Above The Law is still in second place and Volokh Conspiracy is on track for third, having opened up a hefty lead over Patently-O and SCOTUSblog. Write-in candidate Ms. JD has overpowered Overlawyered, and Likelihood of Confusion has turned the tables on Professor Bainbridge and is now closing in on Skadden Insider.
We’ll post the final results on Thursday.
But while you’re voting for the champions above, are you also voting with your feet at work? In last month’s ATL / Lateral Linkjob survey about 20% of you responded that you were considering leaving your current firms once you received your bonus. But that was before many of you knew what your bonuses were going to be.
So last week, we asked you whether your job searches were indeed underway. Find out if the answers changed after the jump.
* Resignation in Detroit text-message scandal (previously discussed here). [Detroit News]
* A proud American tradition unknown in the rest of the world: bail for profit. [New York Times]
* Legal luminaries at the SOTU. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Trial begins in alleged microwaving of infant. [CNN]
* TRO against Patriots’ Moss extended until after Super Bowl. [SI]
* Mortgage crisis may affect litigation departments. [WSJ Law Blog]
* U.S. jails Colombian FARC leader. [BBC]
We don’t really have any major bonus news to pass along. Here are a few items following up on previously reported developments:
1. Latham & Watkins: On Friday we reported on the LW bonuses, which were well-received by associates. We now have more detailed information, which appears after the jump.
2. McDermott Will & Emery: We wrote here about their decision to issue supplemental bonuses. Those bonuses have now been paid, and people are happy. More details after the jump.
3. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft: As previously reported, the bonus situation over there is rather vague. An addendum, also after the jump.
Remember MacGate, at American University’s Washington College of Law? It was resolved. But technology problems persist at WCL:
Date: January 28, 2008 2:34:20 PM EST Subject: Wireless at WCL
Dear Student Body:
The following problems have been discovered with the WCL network:
1. All access points in room 101 were either turned off, or nonfunctional for the past two years.
2. All access points on the 5th floor were located in elevator shafts, or other places where they did not provide coverage.
3. Certain points on the 6th floor were assigned the wrong IP address,and so did not provide access.
The Technology department is working to address these problems. If you continue to experience problems with the internet, please inform the Student Services Committee at [xxxx]. You can also file an online trouble ticket, when you find yourself in an area with internet access, at [xxxx].
Regards, Student Services Committee
At first we thought this was satirical, but we were assured that it’s not: “This is for real — we got it from the SBA today. Our wireless has been terrible recently.”
Your friends at ATL obviously want you to have wireless access in class. But we realize that someprofessors contend that internet access in classrooms is an impediment to instruction.
* Where do broken heartsLawyers for Fred go? Into the open arms of Mitt Romney, who just picked up an impressive group of conservative legal eagles. [Mitt Romney]
* We previously linked to transcripts of the Kumari Fulbright 911 tapes, but now you can listen to them yourself (click here, then scroll down to the italicized link). Says a tipster: “The screams must have been pretty loud if that many people could hear them from their homes and from the street.” [Arizona Daily Star]
* Sangria is illegal in Virginia, so restaurants there serve “a bowdlerized version of the drink.” Ted Frank wonders: “[W]hen is someone going to bring a consumer class action against the Spanish restaurants serving faux sangrias without warning customers?” [Overlawyered via WSJ Law Blog]
* Is IP law sexy? Not to this “curvy,” aspiring actress. [New York Post; Ropes & Gray]
* Speaking of sexy, do you have a crush on Hillary? This kid does. [YouTube via Blogonaut]
P.S. Some of these items are a little stale (from last week). As we just mentioned, we’re clearing a backlog of items we’ve been meaning to write about. Update: In response to this comment — no, we’re not done for the day. More posts to come.
Last week was a busy one in terms of bonus news. In addition, we were prevented from publishing as much as we wanted by technical difficulties (which lie outside the jurisdiction of your undersigned blogger, a mere writer and not a tech person).
Our recent neglect of the “misbehaving lawyers” beat has given rise to a backlog of possible Lawyers of the Day. We’ve decided to clear the backlog by tossing out five nominees and having you vote on who should get the honor.
Click on each lawyer’s name to read more about their alleged misadventures. Then vote on who should be our Lawyer of the Day.
1. ToddParis: This North Carolina lawyer was held in contempt after a judge caught him reading Maxim [quasi-NSFW] in court. “When [Judge Kevin] Eddinger gave Paris a chance to respond he apologized and ‘stated in his view the magazine was not pornography, was available at local stores and that he did not intend contempt,’ the [contempt] order said.”
2. Beth Modica: “A former suburban prosecutor and PTA president had sex with two underage boys, joined many other teens in booze and pot parties and kept it all a secret from her police chief husband, officials said Tuesday. Beth Modica, 44, was indicted on 35 counts alleging statutory rape, criminal sex acts, sex abuse and endangering children. Wearing an olive-gray suit and handcuffs, she pleaded not guilty at her arraignment in Rockland County Court and was ordered held on $75,000 bail.”
3. Mikal Hanson: “Pierre police early Thursday morning arrested an assistant U.S. attorney, who is accused of drunken driving and speeding. Mikal Hanson, 52, an assistant U.S. attorney in Sioux Falls, was stopped by police shortly before 1 a.m. for speeding, said Pierre Police Chief Elton Blemaster. The arresting officer could smell alcohol on Hanson and asked him to perform field sobriety tests, Blemaster said. ‘Mr. Hanson didn’t complete them as instructed,’ he said.”
4. Canadian Senator Mobina Jaffer: “Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer is under investigation by the Law Society of British Columbia for allegedly overbilling one of her legal clients, including charging for 30 hours of work in a single day…. Jaffer has been called before the law society to account for more than $6 million in legal bills charged to her former client, a Catholic missionary order known as the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.”
5. Jay Grodner: From the Chicago Tribune (via Blackfive.net):
Jay Grodner, the Chicago lawyer who keyed a Marine’s car in anger because the car had military plates and a Marine insignia, finally got his day in court last week. Grodner pleaded guilty in a Chicago courtroom packed with former Marines. They came to support Marine Sgt. Michael McNulty, whose car Grodner defaced in December, but who couldn’t attend because he’s preparing for his second tour in Iraq….
“You caused damage to this young Marine sergeant’s car because you were offended by his Marine Corps license plates,” said Judge [William] O’Malley….
“That’s because there is a little principle that the Marine Corps has had since 1775,” the judge continued. “When they fought and lost their lives so that people like you could enjoy the freedom of this country. It is a little proverb that we follow: “No Marine is left behind.
“So Sgt. McNulty couldn’t be here. But other Marines showed up in his stead. Take him away,” said the judge and former Marine.
So those are the five contestants. Here’s the poll:
Things have been quiet on the Supreme Court clerk hiring front. There are rumors that Justice Alito has finally finished hiring for October Term 2008, but nobody seems to know who the lucky winners are. If you know, please drop us a line.
We do, however, have some news. A tipster reports:
Justice Ginsburg just hired a 2006 UVA Grad to begin clerking summer 2009. I knew Pamela Bookman (pictured) in law school, and not only is she incredibly smart, she is remarkably fun and down to earth. Kudos to Pam!
For confirmation, see this article, which has the story of how Pam Bookman got an offer from RBG on the spot:
Even though Bookman [who is clerking for the International Court of Justice in The Hague] currently lives thousands of miles away from Washington, D.C., she was still able to arrange an in-person meeting with Ginsburg. Two weeks after receiving an e-mail from Klarman saying that Ginsburg wanted to interview her, Bookman traveled to Washington while visiting her parents during winter break. Bookman chuckled that her interview was her first time ever visiting the Supreme Court. After chatting with Ginsburg about international law, the justice offered her the job on the spot.
“It was thrilling, it was surreal,” she said. “I’m still not sure this is real.”
The current tally of OT 2008 and OT 2009 SCOTUS clerks, with Pamela Bookman added, appears after the jump.
Biglaw is becoming kinder and gentler. The number of large law firms enhancing their parental leave policies continues to grow. The latest to join the club: Debevoise & Plimpton.
From a (male) tipster:
18 weeks. Not bad. Of course, since I’m unlikely to give birth to a child anytime soon, I’ll have to be satisfied with 10 weeks.
Also, what’s with this “primary childcare giver” business? Of the new parents I’ve known, the first few months seemed like one needed at least two primary childcare givers, if not more. Eh, I doubt D&P will be sending auditors into associates’ homes to check who bills the most hours with the baby.
The email announcing Debevoise’s policy, plus a list of firms that have recently enhanced their parental leave policies, after the jump.
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:
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.
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.