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wii controller.jpgThe Wii is a gaming console that has challenged the image of gamers as couch potatoes. Using a remote control with motion sensors, player actually goes through the motions of swinging, throwing, dancing, hitting, and punching (depending on the nature of the game) to get their on-screen character to do the same. Most people love the wii… except when an exuberant swing sends the remote control flying into a $2,000 flat-screen TV, ending the game and smashing the screen.

Many have heard horror stories about remote controls being sent flying. Nintendo added safety straps to their remotes, to keep them attached to players’ wrists. But a Colorado woman claims the straps are defective, allowing controllers to “crash into TVs, walls and children,” and has filed a $5 million class action suit, citing a video game review from From Courthouse News Service:

The named plaintiff claims the wrist strap broke while her 11-year-old son used it properly, and the device flew into her 52-inch flat-screen TV, smashing it. She claims hundreds of other consumers have reported property damages and personal injuries from the failed wrist straps.

The complaint cites the editor in chief of, who received a promotional game, and claims he “personally witnessed and observed the following while the Wii video game was being used in its intended and advertised manner: ‘so one of the girls in particular really was having a good time and really got into this game, and she was going for the full arcing motions likes you see in those commercials …’ and ‘before you knew it this Remote, with strap on, and I made sure that bad boy was strapped to her wrist, because Nintendo’s warned me so many times. It actually flew out of her hand anyway, broke, out of her hand, the strap actually ripped, it went like this, flying at mach speed I think, BAM!, hit our wall, put an indent in our wall.”

The complaint cites Nintendo’s instructions for the controller, including, “The key is to pump the Wii Remote and Nunchuck back and forth in your two hands as rapidly as possible without abating” and “Swing hard to make sure you clear the net!”

Nintendo should probably reword that, “Pumping your wii remote as rapidly as possible, but not at mach speeds.”

And Nintendo thought it had its hands full with controller patent infringement suits.

Wii Remote Out of Control, Says Class [Courthouse News Service]

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgWillkie Farr & Gallagher will be matching Cravath’s low bonuses this year.

The email didn’t bother to explain why, since it’s pretty clear that market conditions have beaten associates into submission with a giant, invisible hand.

The Executive Committee is pleased to announce the following year end bonuses for associates:

Class of 2008: $17,500 (pro-rated)

Class of 2007: $17,500

Class of 2006: $20,000

Class of 2005: $22,500

Class of 2004: $25,000

Class of 2003: $27,500

Class of 2002: $30,000

Class of 2001 and senior: $32,500

Bonuses will be paid in December, consistent with our customary practices.

The Firm appreciates your efforts during these challenging times.

Commentary and context, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Willkie Follows the Plan of Cravath”

champagne glasses small.jpg

After another craptasticical week for lawyerdom, here’s your weekly dose of wedding cheer. Unfortunately, like many of the firms we cover on ATL, LEWW has been forced to make some difficult decisions. We had to show one set of newlyweds the door–entirely for performance-related reasons, of course, because LEWW doesn’t do layoffs.

Here are the two lucky-to-survive entries:

1. Lauren Attard and Jordan Schwartz

2. Anna Joo and Adam Fee

Read more about these couples, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 11.30: Softball Diamond”

Jones Day Logo.jpgThe future of the Detroit’s Big Three is looking grim, as Congress has turned tight-fisted in response to the automakers’ request for $34 billion to stay alive. Chrysler is getting ready to throw in the towel, and has chosen Jones Day to do the throwing.

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Chrysler LLC has hired the prominent law firm Jones Day as bankruptcy counsel, according to several people familiar with the matter. The firm was hired several weeks ago to help the ailing auto maker prepare for a possible Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Jones Day bankruptcy maven Corinne Ball, a partner in the New York office, will lead the effort should Chrysler fail to secure a $7 billion capital infusion by the end of the year.

Corinne Ball Bankruptcy Czarina.jpgJones Day co-head of restructuring Corinne Ball is handling the case, said the people familiar with the matter. She has worked on other automotive bankruptcies, such as that of auto-parts supplier Dana Corp., and many cases involving the United Auto Workers union. She represented GM in its acquisition of Korean auto maker Daewoo.

AmLaw noted the possibility for this major coup for the Jones Day team. This will be a massive deal. Sad for Detroit and the general economy. But what’s not these days?

Chrysler Hires Law Firm Jones Day as Bankruptcy Counsel [WSJ]

To Handle Potential Bankruptcy, Chrysler Taps Jones Day [WSJ Law Blog]

No Way! Jones Day Retained as Bankruptcy Counsel for Chrysler, Say Reports [AmLaw Daily]

Chrysler Hires Jones Day As Bankruptcy Counsel [Dealbreaker]

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgLegal Week is reporting that Clifford Chance has done the predictable thing and slashed associate bonuses to half of what they were in 2006:

The US arm of the magic circle firm will award bonuses ranging from a pro-rated $17,500 (£12,000) for first-year associates to $32,500 (£22,000) for eighth-year associates – a significant decrease on last year, when the firm awarded bonuses ranging from $35,000 (£24,000) to $65,000 (£44,500).

In October, we reported on Clifford Chance’s layoffs of 20 litigation associates. But at the time we noted that the financial health of the firm had been strong in 2007:

Interestingly enough, Clifford Chance recently snagged the #1 spot on the American Lawyer’s list of top-grossing global law firms (ranked by 2007 revenue). Will its proactive response to economic turmoil help CC keep the top spot for 2008? Or are the cuts a sign of deeper troubles at the firm?

Because Half-Skadden low balled the market on associate bonuses, we can’t tell if today’s announcement is indicative of “deeper troubles,” or if Clifford Chance is just being a prudent bonus follower? Certainly, Clifford Chance wasn’t going to leave bonuses at Skadden levels so soon after firing attorneys. That would have just seemed irresponsible.

So far, the Cravath bonuses have set the floor. We’ll see if any firm wants to take it to the basement.

CC announces bonus cutbacks for US associates [Legal Week]

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Clifford Chance (Redux)

Prior ATL coverage of associate bonuses.

OJ jailed.jpgO.J. Simpson is going to jail, finally:

OJ Simpson, who walked away a free man after one of America’s most sensational murder trials, was today sentenced to 15 years in prison for a botched attempt to recover sports memorabilia.

The sentence was handed down today by Judge Jackie Glass. The judge largely ignored Simpson’s pleas for leniency, which in and of themselves were hilarious:

“I just wanted my personal things. I was stupid. I’m sorry. I didn’t know I was doing anything illegal. I thought I was confronting friends. I thought I was retrieving my things. I didn’t mean to hurt anybody and I didn’t mean to steal anything,” Simpson said.

As a general rule, when I’m confronting “friends” I leave my glock back at the safe house. But maybe O.J. confused real life with Grand Theft Auto IV.

But the best line was the way O.J. began his address to the court:

“I stand here today sorry, somewhat confused. I feel apologetic to people of state of Nevada,” Simpson began.

Fashionista editor Britt Aboutaleb opined: “he’s probably thinking to himself how did i get away with murder and now I’m going to jail for something retarded”

No doubt.

OJ Simpson jailed for 15 years [The Guardian]

O.J. Simpson: ‘I was stupid. I’m sorry’ [CNN]

Earlier: While You Were Sleeping: O.J. Simpson Convicted

Seyfarth Shaw logo.jpgThe latest layoff news comes from Seyfarth Shaw. The firm’s Executive Committee sent around a firm-wide email this morning:

As part of our planning for 2009, we have reviewed our staffing in light of market conditions and expected client needs — for now and for the coming year. While we continue to anticipate a solid 2008, we believe there is a need to exercise prudent business judgment and respond to what economists predict will be a continued challenging economic climate in the year ahead.

One of the decisions we have made has been to reduce legal headcount by approximately 30 attorneys and other time keepers across our offices. We believe this is the best course of action for the Firm in light the economic downturn. These are very difficult decisions to make and, we know, hard news to learn.

It’s another classy letter that sends a clear signal to the legal community that former-Seyfarth associates were let go only because of the terrible economic climate that is hurting everyone.

As we understand it, the firm cuts hit the New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Boston offices.

We don’t know if this will have any impact on the long standing rumor of a merger between Seyfarth Shaw and Squire Sanders. But Seyfarth’s decision comes just two weeks after Squire Sanders announced layoffs of … 30 attorneys. Make of that what you will.

Read the full Seyfarth Shaw announcement after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Seyfarth Shaw Lays Off 30 Attorneys”

Not Hiring sign.jpgWe spent a lot of time documenting the recruiting struggles for Harvard Law School students. Comparatively speaking Yale Law students seemed to do pretty well. The school did not send around an “accept your offers” email to students, and it appears that most Yale students who wanted jobs in Biglaw did okay. A tipster reports:

It doesn’t seem that the economy has hurt anyone too badly. Nobody said that they got dinged by any firm they really wanted…everyone seems to have a handful of offers from various firms they’re happy with.

Despite the placid exterior that comes from being at the top and knowing it, even mighty Yale looks like it’s ready to make some concessions to the general market strife. The school is now contemplating moving their fall recruiting program to August, prior to the start of classes:

yale law school.jpgThe Law School is considering moving the Fall Interview Program from September to the latter half of August prior to the start of classes. A number of factors have influenced this decision, including proposed changes to the law school calendar for 2009-10; the National Association for Law Placement’s new timing guidelines governing interviews; recent developments in the financial markets; and the shift to Early Interview Week programs by many law schools. In contemplating this change, student feedback is important to us. Please take a moment to hit reply to this email and answer the following question:

I _________ (would/would not) recommend that the Law School move FIP from September to August.

Feel free to provide comments here. In addition, Deans Sharon Brooks and Megan Barnett will be offering drop in sessions next week (at dates and times TBA) for students who wish to provide their comments in that manner.

Please reply by Monday, December 8, 2008.

Evidently, all of the cackling you heard from schools that start fall recruiting in August was based on some objectively positive results.

Meanwhile, the Crimson Behemoth moves in the same direction after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Fallout: Harvard/Yale Make Concessions to ‘Reality’”

Dreier LLP Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier Mark Dreier Drier Dryer.jpgMore details have emerged in the story we broke last night, concerning the arrest of high-flying New York litigator Marc Dreier, founder and managing partner of Dreier LLP.

In the comments to our post, some of you wondered about the lack of MSM coverage. The story has now been picked up by the New York Post, the New York Times’s City Room blog, and the WSJ Law Blog (all of whom mention ATL — thanks for the shout-outs).

From the NYP story:

Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier LLP.jpgThe founder of a high-profile Manhattan law firm – and close friend of retired Giant Michael Strahan – has been arrested in Canada on charges of criminal impersonation, The Post has learned.

The powerful white-shoe lawyer, Marc Dreier, 58, was arrested on Wednesday and is cooling his heels in a grimy jail cell just west of Toronto.

We had also heard the impersonation allegation, but held off on mentioning it until we had more details. One source tells ATL that the alleged impersonation stemmed from Marc Dreier’s attempt to secure a loan. When credit markets get tough, the tough get… new identities?

The Post also reports that Dreier was arrested on Wednesday; we reported the arrest took place Tuesday. According to City Room, the arrest took place late on Tuesday night (11:25 PM).

More from the Post:

“He is in provincial custody in Maplehurst Correctional Complex,” said an employee at the Ontario pokey. His bust stems from his alleged role in a multimillion fraud case, a source told The Post.

A detective for the Toronto Police Department confirmed Dreier’s arrest but said he couldn’t provide specific details about the nature of the criminal impersonation charges because the investigation was still ongoing.

Additional details, from news accounts and from ATL sources, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Going Through the Dreier: An Update”

little orange juice.jpg

* Bad news for the big three: the New York Times says Congress “is suffering from acute bailout fatigue.” [NYT]

* There were 13 law firm mergers in the third quarter this year (not unusual). The largest number of combinations (5) were in the southeast. [The Birmingham News]

* O.J. Simpson is finally going to jail. He will be sentenced today in Nevada. This time, he stole back sports memorabilia from two people. Can you think of a more inelegant end to the Simpson saga? [The Associated Press]

* If you break the law in New York, at least you get free day care. Thanks to Judge Judith S. Kaye (New York State’s cheif judge), there are 34 children’s centers across the state in family, criminal, and civil courts. They provide a safe and happy place for children whose parents are involved in legal battles. [NYT]

* The shareholder lawsuit against the merger of Bear Stearns and JPMorgan Chase was dismissed Thursday in the New York State Supreme Court. [Reuters]

* Singapore awarded Clifford Chance, White & Case, and Latham & Watkins licenses to practice law, as part of an attempt to compete with Hong Kong and other cities in China and the Middle East that have benefitted from having international law practices. [Bloomberg]

* Discover is mad at Morgan Stanley for secretly hanging-out with Visa and Mastercard behind Discover’s back. Sounds a lot like middle school, only in the real world, you can sue. [Bloomberg]

Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier LLP.jpgProminent New York litigator Marc Dreier — founder and managing partner of Dreier LLP, former head of litigation for Fulbright & Jaworski (NY), and former litigation partner at Rosenman & Colin — was arrested in Toronto on Tuesday. The arrest was carried out by Canadian law enforcement.

The alleged offense appears to be financial in nature, with sources mentioning money laundering and misuse of escrow funds as possible charges. The Ontario Teachers Pension Fund and Fortress Investment Group may be involved in some capacity.

The effect of Dreier’s arrest on the firm that bears his name is unclear, but certainly not good. Sources report that some firm escrow accounts have been frozen by law enforcement authorities. Emergency partnership meetings were held Wednesday and today. (This may explain why Marc Dreier and a firm spokesperson did not immediately return our calls seeking comment.)

Marc Dreier lives well, with a fabulous Manhattan apartment rumored to rent for $50,000 a month, plus a place out in the Hamptons. “He lives the life of Greek billionaire tycoon, but he doesn’t make that much money,” says a former employee.

Dreier may not be a Greek billionaire tycoon, but Dreier LLP has been quite successful. According to its firm profile, since its founding in 1996, Dreier has grown to include more than 250 attorneys in six cities. The firm has had a number of high-profile clients, including billionaire developer Sheldon Solow and controversial book publisher Judith Regan (whom the firm later sued, claiming she skipped out on legal fees).

The firm’s holiday party was scheduled to take place tonight at the Waldorf. Not surprisingly, the festivities have been canceled. On one social networking site, a former Dreier employee wrote: “[xxxx] is wondering how he could work for two law firms (Milberg Weiss and Dreier) where both firms’ lead partners were arrested…. Sad commentary on life.”

Update (1:40 AM): Some addenda and corrections:

1. Escrow accounts haven’t been frozen; they’re just short some cash — a lot of cash. One number being bandied about: $38 million.

2. The firm may not be able to make its next payroll, on December 15. There is only $300,000 in the payroll account, and the next payroll is for $2.6 million.

3. Fortress Investment Group is not involved.

4. The holiday party was canceled by an email sent out at around 5 p.m.

Further Update (6:35 PM): Actually, we were right the first time. Fortress Credit Corp., the entity involved in this matter, is a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group, according to Am Law Daily.

We’ll keep you posted. If you have info to share, feel free to email us. Thanks.

Indiana Law Indiana University School of Law Bloomington Above the Law blog.JPG* I believe every single IU student that reads ATL has pointed out that IU Law School changed its name to the Michael Maurer School of Law, thanks to a $35 million contribution from Mr. Maurer. Are there other BigTen schools that would be willing to sell the name of their law schools? How much do you think you’d have to pay Michigan to get it to be called the “Jim Tressel School of Law and Pansy Sweater-Vest Knitting?” [Indiana Daily Student]

* Procrastinating instead of studying for finals? You’ve got a lot of company. [The Shark]

* Is it even harder to control client costs when you are struggling to make your hours and are terrified of being fired? [What About Clients?]

* Kid Rock is getting into it with a Georgia judge. I think we’ll need more beer to settle this. [Popsquire]

* Remember Brobeck? Remember the man that ran them into the ground? He’s back … [WSJ Law Blog]

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