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Covington Burling LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGA couple of tipsters have let us know that Covington & Burling has scheduled a firmwide meeting tomorrow.
We don’t think they’re going to announce a merger (because no suitable partner comes to mind). We have it on good authority that they’re not announcing layoffs (or anything else negative).
So what gives? Why does a firm pull all of their associates and counsel into a room? Did they just buy a coat factory?
Let the rampant speculation begin in the comments. We’ll update with actual facts as soon as we receive them.
Update: The actual facts appear here.

houston ike lawyers work.JPGIn the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the Houston legal community is getting back to work. WRAL news channel 5 reported that Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell expects to reopen Wednesday. Andrews Kurth has their attorneys working remotely. According to the WRAL report, an Andrews spokesperson said, “all of our BlackBerrys are working.”
Other Houston area firms were contacted by ATL directly. The most important news is that everybody is safe.
Mike Conlon, partner-in-charge of Fulbright & Jaworski’s Houston office, said:

[W]e have been able to assist all that have needed temporary housing. While our Houston office is closed today, our lawyers are working from remote locations, including our other offices in Texas. All computer support functions are operating, and other offices are providing additional support where needed, which is part of Fulbright’s disaster recovery plan.

Fulbright & Jaworski plans to be fully functional by tomorrow.
More news from Houston after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Houston Lawyers Get Back To Work After Ike”

David Otunga Sidley Austin I Love New York Above the Law blog.jpgBack in July, we mentioned that singer-actress Jennifer Hudson and her Harvard Law hottie — David Otunga, Sidley Austin associate turned reality TV contestant — were thinking about getting engaged. Now they’ve made it official, according to People:

“I can confirm that Jennifer got engaged to her boyfriend David on Friday night in L.A.” says [Hudson's] rep.

Otunga, who is known as “Punk” from the reality show I Love New York 2, popped the question with a Neil Lane diamond ring on the Dreamgirls Oscar winner’s 27th birthday.

The couple, who have been dating less than a year, both hail from Chicago.

Congratulations and best wishes to the newly affianced!
Perez Hilton is unimpressed, referring to Otunga as “a loser” and a “chump,” but that seems like a minority view. Look for Otunga and Hudson to clean up in a future edition of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch. The combination of an HLS degree and an Oscar is not to be scoffed at!
Jennifer Hudson is Engaged! [E! Online]
Jennifer Hudson Engaged to Boyfriend David Otunga [People]
Engaged – to a Loser! [Perez Hilton]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of David Otunga (scroll down)

Bush war crimes.JPGBack in June, we reported on Massachusetts School of Law at Andover’s intention to plan the prosecution of President Bush for war crimes, via teleconference.
Ignoring the advice of sane people, the unaccredited law school went ahead with their conference, this weekend. Dean of MSL Lawrence Velvel had this to say about President:

He is a former drunk, was a serial failure in business who had to repeatedly be bailed out by daddy’s friends and wanna-be-friends, was unable to speak articulately despite the finest education(s) that money and influence can buy, has a dislike of reading, so that 100-page memos have to be boiled down to one page for him, is heedless of facts and evidence, and appears not even to know the meaning of truth.

Tell us what you really think, Mr. Velvel. But does anything there rise to the level of war crime?
More on the “conference” after the jump

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Remember This Guy? I Think He’s Still The President.”

funny-pictures-panda-will-let-you-take-the-bamboo.jpgBack in March, we found that 27% of ATL readers — and a third of ATL readers in New York — thought the Bear Stearns collapse would hurt their careers.
With Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy this morning, and Merrill Lynch selling itself to Bank of America, after “a marathon series of meetings at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz,” we can’t help but wonder how billables at Wachtell and Weil and Shearman & Sterling are going to look this month . . . and how everybody else’s are going to look over the next year (especially if other firms, like, say, AIG, go under as well).
As we asked back in March:

But how will it affect you? Will work slow down as investors circle the wagons, or will there be a regulatory response that actually increases the need for lawyers? Will shareholders’ fear of fire sales increase bankruptcy and litigation work?

In today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, let’s find out if your thoughts are any different, now that we’ve had a little post-Bear-Stearns experience to inform our expectations.
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

spitting.jpgOklahoman attorney Lewis Moon and Oklahoma County public defender David Bedford got a little wild at a Whataburger on Friday. After being arrested for drunkenly driving through the drive-through backwards, the two decided to mix it up with the coppers. From KTUL 8:

Police say Moon spit on an officer and produced a badge and claimed to be a deputy.
He was arrested on complaints of actual physical control of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, impersonating a law officer, resisting arrest and placing bodily fluids on a law officer.
Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Myers says the badge is not official but is a keepsake given to people who support the sheriff’s department.

We started to issue a sad little “awwww” at the idea of someone presenting the cute little keepsake badge and then spitting on the officer… but then we were distracted thinking about “placing bodily fluids on a law officer” existing as its own charge. That’s an embarrassing one to have on your record. As if you spit in your hand and then rubbed it on the officer. It would sound much more respectable if it were “assaulting a law officer with bodily fluids.” But we digress…
The lawyers kept behaving badly after they were taken into the station and it was caught on film. You know things have gone horribly wrong when “Geek Lawyer” is mocking you.
Two Attorneys Arrested In Warr Acres [KTUL 8]
Wasted lawyers behaving badly [GeekLawyer]

AIG Dinallo Spitzer.gifMake no mistake: the future of AIG is in the hands of Eric Dinallo, superintendent of insurance for New York State.
Insurance companies are regulated by many different agencies, but because so many of the companies are incorporated in New York, the state’s superintendent of insurance becomes the de-facto primary regulator. Dinallo led the charge with bailouts of Ambac and MBIA. According to the WSJ Law Blog:

With AIG gasping for air, these days are Dinallo’s Stanley Cup, so to speak. According to the WSJ, Dinallo (Vassar, NYU Law) “took a significant role” in AIG’s survival talks over the weekend.

Dinallo rose to power under former-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s tutelage. But Spitzer’s infamous downfall almost made him a star. As many know, “Client #9″ was exposed after his liaison with Ashlee Alexandra Dupree in room 871 of the Mayflower hotel in Washington.
Spitzer’s traveling companion earlier that day? Eric Dinallo. The two men were in Washington to give testimony on the how downgrading the ratings of insurance agencies would kill the municipal bond market.
It’s pretty clear that Dinallo did not see anything troubling regarding the former governor, and he has steadfastly refused to say anything about the day Spitzer went down. But to be that close to a train wreck and walk away unscathed speaks volumes of Dinallo’s private fortitude and public character.
AIG’s fate is in the hands of a pretty straight shooter.
Working for the Weekend: Lawyering up Merrill/BoA, Lehman, AIG [WSJ Law Blog]

law firm merger.jpgThe dollar is dead anyway, so why would a law firm look to expand it’s American operation? Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is reaching out to Europe by merging with the German firm of Hölters & Elsing.
Evidently, Hölters & Elsing was looking at a number of American partners, but Orrick offered the best deal. According to Orrick CEO Ralph Baxter:

We are strategically expanding our global platform with the addition of one of the last major, independent law firms in continental Europe’s leading economy.

With this move nearly one-third of Orrick’s attorneys will be located outside of the U.S.
Orrick with retain its traditional name in the U.S., but in Germany the firm will be known as Orrick Hölters & Elsing.
Orrick and Hölters & Elsing Agree to Merger [Orrick]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of law firm mergers.

texting hate.gif* While the vultures descend on Lehman, another big company joins the death watch. Insurance giant American International Group is looking to sell off its major assets. [New York Times]
* Does $10 for unlimited monthly text messaging seem high to you? Maybe it will change. An antitrust class action suit has been filed against the big four: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint-Nextel, and T-Mobile. [Courthouse News Service]
* Roy Pearson is still mourning those lost pants. The appeal in the case of the $54 million pants is set for next month. [Legal Times]
* Are price-gouging investigations during hurricanes the new trend among attorneys general? Florida AG Bill McCollum will investigate gas stations’ response to the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Ike in Texas. [Bay News 9]
* New York AG Andrew Cuomo is more concerned about the student loan industry. [The Ticker]

Wall St Wall Street investment banking finance financial.jpgIn case you hadn’t heard, Wall Street is in meltdown mode right now. Our colleagues over at Dealbreaker have been working over the weekend and around the clock to cover all the latest developments.
Here are the two big stories from the financial world. First, the top-level parent company of Lehman Brothers, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. (But no sleeping in for Lehmanites; they have been informed that they’re still expected to show up to work this morning.)
Second, Merrill Lynch, the investment bank that some feared might be next to go down the Bear Stearns / Lehman Brothers path, has reached a deal to sell itself to Bank of America, for $50 billion.
What do these deals mean for lawyers? Well, at least in the short term, they bring good news: more work. (Over the long term, of course, the news may be less good, as current and potential future clients vanish from the landscape on Wall Street.)
For its bankruptcy, Lehman is turning to Weil Gotshal & Manges, long known for its top-notch bankruptcy practice. From Dealbook:

Weil.gifLehman has hired Weil, Gotshal & Manges, the law firm that handled Drexel [Burnham Lambert]‘s bankruptcy filing [in 1990]. Harvey Miller, the head of Weil’s restructuring practice, is known as one of the deans of the bankruptcy bar.

In addition, Lehman is trying to sell its more valuable assets, including its broker-dealer and asset-management operations. It appears to be represented in those efforts by Sullivan & Cromwell, according to TheDeal.com (subscription).
Wachtell Lipton Rosen Katz WLRK AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgMeanwhile, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a powerhouse in financial-institutions M&A, is getting a piece of the action on the Merrill deal. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Merrill / B of A deal was hammered out in “a marathon series of meetings at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, the law firm which has long represented Bank of America in its deals.”
Shearman & Sterling logo Above the Law blog.jpgWachtell isn’t lending out their offices for free. As TheDeal.com reports, WLRK is indeed representing Bank of America in the transaction (for a fee that will be well into the eight figures — Ed Herlihy doesn’t come cheap). Merrill Lynch is being advised by Shearman & Sterling.
If you’re aware of other winners and losers from these deals, please share what you know, in the comments.
Lehman Announces Bankruptcy Filing For Holding Company [Dealbreaker]
Bank of America Reaches Deal To Buy Merrill Lynch [Dealbreaker]
What a Lehman Bankruptcy Filing Might Look Like [DealBook]
Bank of America to Buy Merrill [Wall Street Journal]

axiom wetsuit guy saves lives.JPGThere is a lot of career angst among Biglaw associates. Especially these days. And legal recruiters often to try to tap into that ennui to convince associates to change firms or lifestyles (and use their services of course).
But we can’t recall a recruiter trying to start an associate revolution. That is pretty much what Axiom tried to do this week. The company launched an ad-campaign specifically targeted at: Shearman and Sterling, Davis Polk, Simpson Thacher, Cravath, Skadden, and Sullivan & Cromwell.
And they did it old-school. They put their company fliers on cars parked outside of the firms offices in both NYC and San Francisco.
The “manifesto,” as Axiom calls it, reads like something out of Jerry McGuire:

We are attorneys who are passionate about practicing law, not billing hours. Attorneys who see time with the family as important as time in the boardroom. Attorneys who solve the legal problems of Fortune 500 companies with the same passion that pushed us through law school to begin with. That’s our axiom. What’s yours?

They even hired the attorney pictured above to walk around New York and San Fran. in a wetsuit carrying a poster-board sign that looks like it was scrawled by Steve Buscemi from Billy Madison.
Did anybody actually see this happening this week?
It’s so close to bonus season, and in this economy we don’t know how many lawyers are willing to jump ship right at the moment. But if you do, remember to take the fish with you.
Full manifesto reprinted after the jump

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Got an Axiom To Grind?”

madden lawsuit.JPG* Now you see this? You see Electronic Arts coming around the corner making their video games, not bothering anybody? Then BOOM, Lucian Bebchuk comes in right here and WHAP knocks EA down with a harassing lawsuit move. [Business Associations Blog]
* See. The police really do hassle people in big cities. [Simple Justice]
* Law Profs? 95%. Biglaw? $22 Million. Never having to say “yes” to public financing? Priceless. [Word of Mouth via Point of Law]
* Yale > The Truth. [Bitter Lawyer]
* … speaking of Yale, at least the Yale Law women get it. [Law Fuel via Ms. JD]
* Go Blue! Screw SCOTUS! [WSJ Law Blog]

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