Given the state of the world, we can understand some anger at the Big Guy Upstairs. And the best way to deal with anger is in the courtroom, right?
So thought former Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers. He sued God last year, “seeking a permanent injunction to prevent God from committing acts of violence such as earthquakes and tornadoes.”
Judge Marlon Polk threw out the suit, and all future suits against the Almighty. From the Omaha World-Herald:
You can’t sue God if you can’t serve the papers on him, a Douglas County District Court judge ruled in Omaha Tuesday.
Judge Marlon Polk threw out Nebraska Sen. Ernie Chambers’ lawsuit against the Almighty, saying there was no evidence that the defendant had been served. What’s more, Polk found “there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant.”
Chambers, an avowed atheist and Creighton University School of Law grad, defended his suit, saying he was trying to make a point. He doesn’t think that the Nebraska legislature should prohibit certain lawsuits. We’re not sure we see the logic behind defending frivolous lawsuits by filing a frivolous lawsuit, but we are amused by his legal arguments:
In August, [Chambers] argued that Polk should take judicial notice of the existence of God. The senator cited the facts that U.S. currency says “In God We Trust,” God is invoked during oaths in court hearings, and chaplains offer prayers before legislative bodies.
“If God is omnipresent,” Chambers said in that August hearing, “then he is here in Douglas County and in this courtroom.”
Polk denied as moot the motion to take judicial notice of God.
Today is not a good day to be Carlo Rizzi. We’re getting word that Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal is laying off a bunch of attorneys and staff today. The big number we are hearing is that 60 associates and staff are out of jobs.
According to one tipster, the layoffs are being carried out nationwide, with no input from local offices.
However you slice it, 60 is a huge number. Sonnenschein didn’t exactly deny these reports. A firm spokesperson told us:
We look at staffing levels around this time every year as part of our budget and practice planning processes, and it is not unusual for us to make adjustments. While we understand that rumors such as the one you are reporting about Sonnenschein and multiple other law firms are circulating, we have nothing to add at this time.
Gary J. Simson, best known for his incessant bitching about the U.S. News rankings, is stepping down as dean of the Case Western Reserve School of Law:
We write to inform you that Gary J. Simson has agreed to resign as dean, effective at the end of this academic semester. Starting today, Robert H. Rawson Jr. will serve as Special Advisor to the Provost for the School of Law. Once, Mr. Simson steps down, Mr. Rawson will become interim dean of the school.
Mr. Rawson is a partner of the Jones Day law firm and served for 15 years as Partner in Charge of its Cleveland office. A Rhodes Scholar who graduated from Princeton University before earning his Juris Doctorate from Harvard University, he is highly regarded as a litigator, with particular expertise in antitrust matters. He also has deep appreciation and understanding of higher education, having spent 20 years on the Board of Trustees of Princeton, including 13 as chair of the board’s executive committee. We are deeply grateful both to Mr. Rawson and to the Jones Day law firm for this opportunity to tap his expertise during this time of transition.
We will launch a national search to fill the dean’s position, and note that Mr. Rawson has indicated he has no interest in being a candidate for the permanent post.
Simson has had a somewhat rocky tenure at Case Western. As one tipster put it:
Simson has been at the school for just over 2 years and has had an “uneven” response from the larger community, at best…
Simson was the dean who invited Ohio AG Marc “Dannimal House” Dann to come as a commencement day speaker. That offer was later rescinded. But he’ll be best remembered around these parts for his full frontal attack on the U.S. News rankings.
Gary, we hardly knew ye. The world can always use another Brian Leiter.
Perhaps the Clifford Chance layoffs were just the beginning. We’re getting multiple reports that Katten Muchin Rosenman is laying off associates in their Chicago office, today. Right now.
Katten representatives did not respond to inquiries made last night or today.
Meanwhile, the Charlotte-firm of Moore & Van Allen has laid off 20 staff members today. Though calls to Moore & Van Allen were not immediately returned, one tipster suggests that the layoffs were focused in the Wachovia practice group.
No word yet on the safety of associates at Moore & Van Allen.
We will update you as more facts become available. But do not trust to hope, it is forsaken in these lands.
Update (5:40): Moore & Van Allen tipsters want us to know that the Bank of America group was hit just as hard, if not harder than, the Wachovia group.
Update (6:05): While Katten is still not officially confirming anything, recently laid-off attorneys are telling us that they are hearing that between 20-25 associates where let go today in the Chicago office. The severance package: 90-days at full salary. Not good times today. Bad times.
A NALP report confirms what we see everyday: minority women partners barely exist. The National Law Journal reports:
Minority women remain the most underrepresented group among law firm partners, according to the report. They currently make up 1.88% of partners at law firms. By contrast, the report found that minority men make up 4.21% of partners, and women overall account for 18.74% of partners.
That. Is. Embarrassing.
Before everybody explains away the numbers by saying “there aren’t as many minority women in the pipeline,” note that there are a lot of minority women downstream:
In 2008, 45.42 percent of summer associates were women, 24.04 percent were minorities and 12.99 percent were minority women. In the associate ranks, 45.34 percent are women, 19.11 percent are minorities and 10.74 percent are minority women.
Many minority women start off on the Biglaw path, but they leave. To have babies? Not according to the ABA:
A 2006 study by the ABA Commission on Women, “Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms,” concluded that women of color are leaving the profession in droves because they are the victims of an uninterrupted cycle of institutional discrimination. Many women responding to the ABA survey said they felt they were denied the same opportunities to succeed as their male and nonminority counterparts.
We mentioned yesterday that Simpson Thacher has been chosen to advise the government on the massive $700 billion bailout plan. They were chosen on Friday and are already racking up billable hours on it.
Six other firms were approached by the Treasury, but only two expressed interest. Zach Lowe at the American Lawyer reports:
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton confirmed Tuesday that it was one of the six firms the Treasury Department considered as candidates for a role as lead adviser on the $700 billion bailout plan.
Only two of those six firms pursued the work that eventually went to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
Lowe tracked down a lawyer at one of the firms that rebuffed the Treasury. The lawyer admitted it was “prime work,” but that they feared not being able to represent “regular clients on the program.” In the cost-benefit analysis, the potential billable hours to financial services companies clamoring for bailout money must outweigh the government possibilities.
But Simpson Thacher is not sweating it:
Richard Beattie, chairman of Simpson Thacher, says the Treasury did not put any pressure on the firm to drop clients and that the firm is not concerned about losing business.
“They did not say that,” Beattie says. “It’s ridiculous. We represent JPMorgan Chase and would not give up a client like that.”
AmLaw reports that Simpson’s other financial clients include Washington Mutual (now part of JPMorgan Chase), Lehman Brothers, and AIG. Given that list, we can see why the government is the more attractive client at the moment.
We received just over 1,200 responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Linksurvey on politics in the workplace, and two things immediately became apparent.
First, there aren’t that many good political lolcats, so we’ve decided to make do with an lolronpaul (h/t punditkitchen).
Second, now that the general election is in full swing, political discourse is way up at law firms:
* 86% of respondents reported that they discuss politics in the workplace, which is up from 74% back in February.
* 92% noted that associates discuss politics (up from 80%).
* 73% of respondents said that partners discuss politics (up from 64%).
* 52% noticed that staff members discuss politics too (up from 38%).
But while conversations are up, actual campaigning is about the same:
* Only 18% of respondents said that fellow associates had tried to convince them to vote for a particular candidate, and 15% said that associates had encouraged them to contribute to a campaign. This is about the same as what we reported in February.
* Similarly, twelve percent of respondents said that partners had tried to swing their vote, but roughly sixteen percent reported that a partner had solicited a contribution. These, again, are the same numbers we saw in February.
* About seventeen percent of respondents felt that their firms encouraged them to participate in political events, either for personal satisfaction or as a rainmaking opportunity. Only about 4% of respondents, however, felt the need to conform to any particular view.
Interestingly, only 9% of respondents said their firms were solidly Republican, in contrast to 50% who declared their firms Democrat territory. 24% of respondents said their firms were evenly mixed.
ATL’s readership has a similar liberal bent, with 60% of respondents deciding that Barack Obama won last week’s town hall debate, and 70% declaring that they will be voting for That One in a few weeks. 10% of respondents, however, were able to stay awake thought McCain won the debate, and 25% intend to vote for him.
But some of you would rather choose none of the above. One percent of respondents wrote in that they’ll be voting for Bob Barr, two people still look forward to voting for Hillary Clinton, three people will vote for Ralph Nader, and four people — not shown in the photo above — will be voting for Ron Paul.
A lot of people have been asking how Schulte Roth & Zabel are doing during the economic downturn. It’s a relevant question given Schulte’s large book of hedge fund business.
But even as hedge funds are slowing down, Schulte could get a lot of work thrown their way if there is any fire to these G.M./Chrysler talks. According to AmLaw Daily Cravath is advising G.M. during the preliminary merger talks, while Schulte is advising Chrysler.
The high profile M&A work is being thrown Schulte’s way because of their longstanding relationship with the private equity giant Cerberus:
[Cerberus] bought Chrysler from Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler for $7.4 billion in 2007–roughly $30 billion less than Daimler paid for the company in 1998.
In fact Cerberus could be the key to the whole deal:
[P]eople close to the merger talks said that Cerberus had proposed to contribute cash to GM-Chrysler in addition to the estimated $11 billion in reserves that Chrysler has on its books. In return, Cerberus would receive equity in the combined company and become a large shareholder.
It’s important to remember how young Schulte Roth is, having just been established in 1969 (compared to Cravath’s nearly 200 year history). A huge deal like this probably won’t offset the general slow down in hedge fund work, but it does show that Schulte has a couple of clubs in the bag to get through the current downturn.
We’ve discussed that under Barack Obama’s plan, taxes on Biglaw associates are likely to go up. But a cursory glance over on Open Secrets shows that many law firm partners are contributing towards the Obama campaign.
One associate we’ve talked with has a pretty interesting idea on how to deal with Biglaw partners that support Obama’s plans to take extra money away from “greedy” associates:
So a sixth year associate, who currently makes $250k and will receive a raise to $265k in January will see a larger chunk of that extra $15k disappear to taxes (via the new 39% tax bracket and and the 6.2% FICA tax). This will probably amount to a couple of thousand dollars per associate. I know this has been a lot of information, so bear with me …
My challenge to the lawfirm partnerships who are voting for Obama: bump senior associate salaries to compensate associates for the tax hike/salary cut they favor. This will no doubt be portrayed as the greediest of greedy associate complaints, but why should I pay for their preferred social policies?
Baseball teams do this all the time. New York and Boston often bump up players’ salaries to compensate them for the high state tax rates in New York and Massachusetts (as compared to places like Florida or Texas).
Of course, there are many (many) flaws with this idea. If you are angry about having your taxes raised, the preferred outlet for redress is the polling booth (or Boston Harbor), not your boss. And (ahem) associates are probably more worried about keeping their jobs right now than making their salary “whole” depending on the presidential administration.
But we take the point. Senior associates are likely to get hit under the Obama tax plan, and some people still vote their pocketbook. But look on the bright side. At least we are not staring into the abyss of a socialist nationalization of the private banking industry.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Things have changed recently in Korea – a few of our US and UK client firms are looking, very selectively, for a lateral US associate hire. Until just recently, there was not much hiring like this going on in Korea, since US and UK firms started opening offices there. We have already placed two US associates in Korea in the past month at top firms. Most of the hiring partners we work with in Korea do not actively work with other recruiters.
If you are a Korean fluent US associate in London, New York or another major US market, 2nd to 6th year, at a top 20 firm, with cap markets or M&A focus (or mix), or project finance background, and you are interested in lateraling to Korea to a top US or UK firm, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Our head of Asia, Evan Jowers, was just in Korea recently, and Evan and Robert Kinney will be in Korea in a few weeks. We are in the process of helping several firms open new offices in Korea (a number of which are interviewing our partner level candidates) and also helping existing offices there fill openings.
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For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
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