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ball of confusion.JPG* Ball of Confusion. That’s what tax law is today. [Tax Prof Blog]

* I told you that dating partners ends badly. [Sweet Hot Justice]

* The Governator seeks to terminate one day of wages a month for state workers. [Wage Law]

* Melissa Ethridge is threatening to not pay her taxes because of Prop 8. Anybody else think that this issue has been “settled?” [Popsquire]

* Let me get this straight. The Airline industry is suing the TSA for unfair and arbitrary fees. This would be the same Airline industry that now charges you a fee for looking out the window? And they’re suing the TSA over … fees? Only in America. [The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]

Sutherland Asbill Brennan law firm.jpgIn these uncertain economic times, lots of law firms are holding lots of meetings. Sometimes they bring good news, and sometimes not-so-good news. E.g., Covington & Burling (welcoming the Heller IP group); Jenner & Block (everything’s dandy); McKee Nelson (layoffs).

Earlier this week, Sutherland announced associate and counsel meetings would be held next week. What might they be about?

According to the email from managing partner Mark Wasserman that announced the meetings, they “are not planned to announce bad news of any sort.” One Sutherland source takes him at his word:

Ninety-nine percent sure it’s just a “calming fears” meeting, since we’ve already done our nasty round of layoffs six months ago. Wasserman’s a straight shooter (best I’ve ever seen), so if he says there is not “bad news of any sort,” there won’t be.

We reached out to Wasserman, who explained:

We are having a series of roundtable discussions next week with our associates and counsel to share information, answer questions and seek input on topics relating to the economy, our clients and our strategy for the firm. Sharing information and obtaining input from our lawyers is important and valuable to us.

And, as we noted in the email announcing the meetings, there will be no announcement of any bad news, including announcement of any layoffs.

Kudos to Sutherland for being proactive and involving associates and counsel in such discussions. Some firms have taken a decidedly top-down approach to dealing with the economic climate, but they might have been better served by soliciting input from their associates first.

Read more, including the full Sutherland memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading Mystery Meetings at Sutherland (But fear not; no bad news.)”

We’re back with our second installment of the Legal Eagle Wedding Watch in as many days. Enjoy, and have a happy, happy Friday.

Behold, the most outstanding legal lovebirds from the past three weeks:

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1. Brenda Zelin and Kyle Williams

2. Alyssa Greenwald and Edward Wittenstein

3. Erik Hyman and Max Mutchnick

4. Jamie Bartholomew and Steven Aller

Evaluate the worthiness of these couples, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 10.19-11.2: Twin Souls”


Kaye Scholer LLP logo Above the Law legal blog.jpgWe’ve reported on firms that have canceled their holiday parties or significantly scaled them back. Some firms have decided to go ahead with their holiday festivities.

But we hadn’t really heard of a firm that was looking to expand holiday revelry, until Kaye Scholer popped into our inbox.

In the past, Kaye Scholer has held the holiday party at the Palace. As we understand it, this year they are having it at The Pierre and employees are allowed to bring a guest.

Go Kaye! Way to keep morale high.

Of course, not everybody is thrilled. A tipster asks:

So, what does this say about the firm’s bottom line or desire for prudence in a time of economic crisis? Only Barry Willner knows.

Thanks Chief Tipster Downer.

Screw prudence. The Pierre is sweet and we’re happy to report “not horrible” news.

Earlier: Holiday Cheer from Shearman & Sterling

Fried Frank Turns Holiday Party into a Robin Hood Affair

Some Joy in Whoville!

lawsuits gum up the election.JPGNow that campaign season is over, it’s time for the defamation season! Scads of down-ticket candidates have brought lawsuits against their opponents for slanderous advertising during their campaigns.

I guess the presidential election wasn’t close enough for lawyers to make any money off of it.

According to the National Law Journal, even the ACLU sees limited value in bringing these post election actions:

But unless the line of truth is clearly crossed, First Amendment advocates note, negative campaign ads will continue to roll.

“Democracies are messy,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. “And the reality is that the First Amendment does provide wide latitude for candidates to make their case to the people.”

First A-what? But this is America! You can’t say that your opponent is “soft on sexual predators” in America.

The highest profile lawsuits after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Election Lawyers Gotta Eat”

comedy tragedy.JPGWe’ll start with the funny stuff. It’s been a few months since federal prisoner Jonathan Lee Riches has graced these pages. We welcome the wacky pro se litigant back as he joins the war against World of Warcraft. He’s filed a motion to intervene in video game lawsuit MDY v. Blizzard (WoW’s creator). Virtually Blind has Riches’ motion to intervene, where Riches claims:

World of Warcraft caused Riches [sic] mind to live in a virtual universe, where Riches explored the landscape committing identity theft and fighting cybermonster rival hacker gangs. Riches was addicted to video games and lost touch with reality because of defendants. This caused Riches to commit fraud to buy defendants video games. Riches chose World of Warcraft over working a legit job. Riches mind became a living video game.

Riches has definitely lost touch with reality. He’s filed countless lawsuits, against everyone from Catherine Zeta-Jones to Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Judges are understandably fed up with frivolous and crazy pro se suits like those filed by Riches. Louisiana judge Edward Dufresne grew so sick of them that he stopped reading pro se appeals from convicts. According to the Times-Picayune, he directed court staffer Jerrold Peterson to automatically deny any appeal not filed by an attorney. Dude, due process much?

The sad news: After 13 years of this, Peterson committed suicide, blaming guilt over the 2,500 appeals he denied. In response to Peterson’s suicide note, the Louisiana Supreme Court has asked the Fifth Circuit to step up and review the many appeals.

Third-Party Motion in World of Warcraft Bot Case Accuses Blizzard of… Well… Beats Me [Virtually Blind]

In a suicide note, reflections on guilt [Times-Picayune]

[Ed Note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com]

Dear ATL-pls hndle copy 2.jpg

About a week ago I was out for happy hour drinks with some people from my firm. I really hit it off with a young-ish junior partner who I hadn’t really spoken to before. He asked me out for drinks and I said yes, but I’m wondering if this entire situation isn’t a disaster in the making.

Do you think I should cancel? By the way, I’m a corporate associate and he’s in litigation, if that changes anything for you.

Sincerely,

The Other Wendy Savage

Dear The Other Wendy Savage,

JACKPOT. If all goes well, you’re only two years away from quitting that crappy job of yours and spending your days sitting on a couch watching Guiding Light and eating gummy worms. But before you can live the dream, you’ve got to navigate the rocky terrain of dating both a boss and a co-worker.

If things go badly on the first date, no harm no foul. You’ve scored free drinks, he won’t mention it to his fellow partners for fear of Megan’s Law, and you’ll probably never have to work together. Even if there are no sparks, non-billable time with a partner at your firm may come in handy anyway. I once went on a date with a partner from another firm and I asked about that year’s bonus and whether partnership meetings resemble Priory of Sion rituals.

The problems creep in if you continue dating and then things go south. At that point any attempts to hide your relationship from co-workers will be laughable, and, depending on whether you work in a corny firm, once you’ve gotten to third base you may have to report it to human resources and sign a sexual harassment release. Partners and associates may talk about it behind your back or look down on you, but people have been drinking haterade since time immemorial. If it doesn’t work out between you two, you can always move your desk, lateral out, or date another partner at the firm.

Look, is it risky to go on date with the partner? Sure, but it’s a far greater gamble to date an M.F.A. student (future poverty), a bartender (adulterer), or someone in finance (future poverty). As humble servant of Christ Joel Osteen implied in his Portfolio magazine profile, “God wants you to be rich.” And so do I. So do I.

Your friend,

Marin

What does Elie think about all this? Find out after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx:
Hot for Partner”

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* A state agency publicly admonished retired Superior Court Judge John M. Watson for being rude in court, citing a case “in which he repeatedly mocked attorneys.” The agency claims Watson’s actions threaten the “integrity of the judiciary.” [Los Angeles Times]

* A federal judge “opened the first hearing into the government’s justification for holding suspects at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” This hearing was made possible by a Supreme Court ruling in June that Gitmo detainess “can seek their freedom through federal habeas corpus cases.” [New York Times]

* In an effort to keep thier son on life-support, parents of a 12-year-old boy with brain cancer will take the Children’s National Medical Center to court. The hospital argues that keeping him alive is unethical because he has “no brain activity,” but his parents, Orthodox Jews, say that is not how their religion defines death. [The Washington Post]

* A jury ruled that the former administrator of Grafton, Mass was not sexually harassing his secretary when he stared at her breasts so often that she had to hold a piece of paper in front of her chest when walking through the office. His doctor said he has an eye condition, lucky guy. [On Point]

New attorneys for the next administration.JPGNew lawyers to lead the nation are sending in their résumés. Already, UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley has received a choice position as part of Obama’s transition advisory board. (I wonder if he’s accepting resumes from his students?)

Here’s an interesting choice for Edley and the rest of the transition team that will be picking the next Solicitor General. According to the Legal Times:

No woman has ever served as solicitor general, but a number have been mentioned as candidates for the job in an Obama administration. Stanford Law School professors Kathleen Sullivan and Pamela Karlan and Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan are possibilities, as well as Morrison & Foerster partner Beth Brinkmann and MetLife litigation counsel Teresa Wynn Roseborough.

They could also be considered to lead of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which produces legal opinions on complex matters for the attorney general and the president. Lawyers who have held both positions have gone on to become Supreme Court justices. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes and Justices Stanley Reed and Thurgood Marshall were solicitors general. The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist and current Justice Antonin Scalia once headed the Office of Legal Counsel. That experience could come in handy should one or more Supreme Court justices step down in the next four years.

Speculation has also centered on prominent African-American attorneys who may be ready to step forward:

Valerie Jarrett (Stanford, Michigan Law): Jarrett is a longtime Obama adviser, who’s now one of three people heading his transition team. She told the WSJ that blacks won’t be pigeonholed into “historically conventional” roles, such as secretary of housing and urban development or assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Other high profile positions after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Stars of the New Administration”

Winston Strawn LLP logo Above the Law blog.JPGWinston & Strawn is expanding with the help of Heller refugees. A tipster reports on the latest internal Winston communication:

[We] are extremely pleased to announce that the firm has added a number of former Heller Ehrman attorneys who will greatly enhance Winston’s practices and international presence. Winston has acquired three partners in Hong Kong from Heller and Heller’s international trade group in D.C. In addition, we welcome Joe Armao, a well-known environmental litigator, as a partner in our San Francisco office.

In Hong Kong, we are joined by capital markets and M&A partners Simon Luk and Michael Phillips and commercial litigation partner David Hall-Jones. Subject to local regulations*, these partners will be supported by additional associates and other professionals. Winston is also pursuing and fully expects to expand its presence in Asia with one or more offices in mainland China, likely to be in Shanghai and Beijing. We have begun the application process for this expansion. More details will follow as they become available.

In Washington, we have added four high-profile international trade partners: William Barringer, Daniel Porter, Christopher Dunn and James Durling, as well as associates Valerie Ellis, Matthew McCullough, Yu Li, and Ross Bidlingmaier. The international trade group will be supported by a number of non-lawyer trade professionals on the ground in Beijing.

Core practices primarily affected include complex commercial litigation, international arbitration and cross border deal-making capabilities. The firm has expanded materially in 2008 with the opening of the Charlotte office in January, the addition of prominent lateral attorneys to our existing offices and practices throughout the year, and this most recent expansion to Asia.

A press release will be available tomorrow morning on winston.com. An office page for our new Hong Kong location will be posted as well and will include address information and profiles of our new group.

We expect to take over existing Heller office space only as necessary. A full integration effort is underway; please take a moment to welcome our new team.

Regular readers of ATL will not be surprised by Winston capturing some top Heller talent.

Recent history after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Winston & Strawn Reaps Heller Rewards”

Obama foot in the door.JPG* The end of white supremacy? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Can managing partners learn something from future COS Rahm Emanuel? [What About Clients?]

* There were many successful female judges on Tuesday. [Ms. JD]

* Is law professor apathy one reason Prop 8 passed? [The Shark]

* You know what they say, the hardest part is getting in. [Ridiculum]

Texas bar results.JPGThey weren’t supposed to be released until Friday, but Texas has gone ahead and posted the “winners” of the July 2008 Bar Exam.

Congratulations.

Passing the bar is God’s way of saying “be careful what you wish for …”

Earlier: Exams! Results! Northeast Corridor!

Prior ATL coverage of Bar Exams.

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