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* Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who lost his bid for re-election on Tuesday, says he will not seek pardon from President Bush. [CNN.com]

* MJ says he is too sick to fly to testify at High Court in London in a breach of contract case. His opponent in the case, the son of the King of Bahrain, doesn’t buy it and says Jackson can be “bandaged up.” [BBC News]

* A Chicago federal court introduced a preliminary injunction that will put pressure on unionized pilots not to engage in the “sick outs” that led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights last summer. [Chicago Tribune]

* Clients choose boutique firms to sue big banks like UBS because the “Magic Circle” law firms won’t accept cases that could hurt the banks they represent. [Bloomberg.com]

* Wrestling gives you STD’s! Three wrestlers are suing York College of Pennsylvania coaches for letting players wrestle with active lesions. “Herpes simplex 1 is sometimes called herpes gladitorium because it is spread in athletics contests.” [Courthouse News Service]

gay marriage skadden.jpgThanks to the voters of California, we now live in a time where previously granted rights can be snatched away from law abiding citizens on the strength of majoritarian domination.

If you didn’t think that was going to spark a whole bunch of legal arguments (on both sides of the issue), you’ve never been oppressed by an otherwise “free” society.

So, let’s take a look at all the crazy things dribbling out of California right now. For my money, here’s the most ludicrous argument:

If opposition to same-sex marriage is to be understood as pure bigotry, then no accommodation for religious believers will be made. This is what people have got to understand is at stake in this conflict. It is not a scare tactic, or a made-up charge: there really will be a substantial effect on traditional churches, synagogues, mosques and religious institutions if gay marriage is constitutionalized.

As usual, the argument ends there. People like to talk about the “substantial effect” on religious institutions, without naming one concrete effect. See, in this country, we have civil marriages and religious marriages. I’ve yet to talk to a supporter of gay marriage who wants to the state to force a priest or a reverend or a rabbi to perform a gay marriage in a house of worship. Heck, in the Catholic church at least, you can’t get straight-married by a priest in a church unless you submit yourself to hours of religious indoctrination and lie about your relationship with contraceptives.

(Christ, did I just say that out loud? Now I have to go to confessional again before Christmas. Damnit.)

Nobody is going to mess with the right of religious people to “not condone the gay lifestyle.” America reads you loud and clear. You’re not gay, you have a huge penis, and that one time in college you were just really drunk. The private feelings of religious people towards gay people are strictly between religious people and their Jesus (who preached a lot about love and tolerance, but whatever).

The impact of gay marriage on the 1st Amendment is nil. As many (many, many) people have pointed out: if you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t get gay married. Thank God we have an entire constitutional amendment that allows churches to marry whomever the hell they want to without interference from the state. It’s a good thing that all gay rights advocates want is for gays and lesbians to have a legal bond commensurate with what straight people can achieve on a pirate ship.

Okay, but the 1st Amendment argument against gay marriage is a total red herring. After the jump, California drags us into some more complicated legal issues.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Prop 8:
When The Law Stops Acting as a Shield and Starts Acting as a Sword”

carnivorous nightmare.jpg* Are you a lawyer and a vegan? If you’re not too weak, click on the link. [Professional Vegan]

* It turns out that the guy who started this company used to be a lawyer in Dallas. [World Beer Company]

* I can’t wait until Wendy Savage gets to play Wendy Savage in the Wendy Savage Story that is sure to be coming to a theater near you. [f/k/a]

* International tax rates on individuals are falling, in case Republicans are looking for some exit options before Obama takes office. [TaxProf Blog]

* There are many sides to the SEC v. Mark Cuban case. It’s not our place to judge, we just bring the popcorn. [The Cuban Revolution]


wurtzel book cover.gifGenerally, it is not cool to make fun of people who don’t pass the New York Bar Exam.

Generally.

However, Elizabeth Wurtzel puts us in a difficult position. A) She’s a public figure, B) She really doesn’t seem to care. When the New York Observer approached her with the news that Gawker alerted the world that she failed the bar, Wurtzel responded:

“Wow, really? I had no idea. I didn’t even see that. That’s interesting,” Ms. Wurtzel said of the report, with an awkward half-smile.

Well, what was she supposed to say?

I’m so ashamed and embarrassed, and Gawker has compounded my misery. I wish I could cry but I have no more tears left. I wish the public would just leave me alone so I can hang myself in the privacy of my own bathroom.

Why give the haters any opening? Going quietly into the night is a fine option.

So, why isn’t ATL just leaving her alone? After the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Elizabeth Wurtzel: ‘Wow Really?’”

Eric Holder new DOJ boss.JPGNewsweek is reporting that Covington & Burling partner Eric Holder will be picked as the new U.S. Attorney General:

Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, still has to undergo a formal “vetting” review by the Obama transition team before the selection is final and is publicly announced, said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified talking about the transition process. But in the discussions over the past few days, Obama offered Holder the job and he accepted, the source said. The announcement is not likely until after Obama announces his choices to lead the Treasury and State departments.

Holder would become the first African-American to head the Department of Justice.

Holder received his B.A. and J.D. from Columbia. Obama’s transition team is still debating Holder’s deputy:

One top candidate, favored by Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other former Clinton White House officials, is Elena Kagan, dean of the Harvard Law School and a former lawyer in the White House counsel’s office under Clinton. Another top candidate, favored by other Obama advisors, is David Ogden, a former chief of staff to Attorney General Janet Reno, who is currently heading Obama’s Justice Department transition team. Kagan brings legal policy credentials; Ogden has more experience in the Justice Department trenches.

Will Holder depoliticize the DOJ? We hope that is near the top of his agenda.

Obama’s Attorney General [Newsweek]

Newsweek: Holder is Next Attorney General [The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]

Earlier: Legal Stars of the New Administration

Lawyers Poised To Rule The World

It’s time for an ATL caption contest! Since there are so many new readers since the last time we ran one of these, here are the rules: post your caption entries in the comments. We’ll take our favorites, incorporate them into a poll, and allow you to vote for your favorite.

We present the picture below without comment or back story, so as not to limit your creativity. If you know the back story, please refrain from posting it.

We’ll tell everybody the real story behind the picture when the contest is over.

Enjoy. And for the love of God, with so many people out there who are sure they can do this job better than me, y’all better bring the funny.

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Earlier: ATL Caption Contest: Tighty-Whities

‘Tighty-Whities’ Caption Contest Winner

Avvo logo.JPGAvvo is a legal website that rates practicing attorneys. They have now released a set of law school rankings based on which schools generate the highest average rating of alumni. The top five are pretty standard. The highest average rating belonged to Yale:

1. Yale Law School: 7.6

2. Stanford Law School: 7.5

3. Harvard Law School: 7.4

4. University of Chicago Law School: 7.4

5. Columbia Law School: 7.4

Sorry NYU Law alumni. Your average rating was only 7.34.

It’s somewhat surprising that Yale rated so highly. So many people complain that Yale students aren’t very good at legal practice, despite their theoretical strengths.

Still, it’s Yale, so we’re talking “mild surprise” as opposed to “galloping shock.”

Anyway, unlike so many rankings, Avvo also released the figures of the five worst law schools in terms of the ratings of their alumni.

See the worst, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Top Law Schools Based On Top Lawyers”

Women lawyers pay.JPGWhenever we do a post on gender inequality in the legal profession, some readers insist on finding arguments to make the income gap “acceptable.”

Another survey was released yesterday, this time from the National Association of Women Lawyers, that shows pay and promotion inequality is still the norm.

The WSJ Law Blog puts the facts plainly:

There is also a considerable pay gap. At 99% of the firms, the top-paid partner is a man; on average, male equity partners earn more than $87,000 annually than female equity partners. (Fifty-nine firms in the AmLaw 200 reported compensation data.)

Can you imagine what those numbers would look like if the other 141 AmLaw 200 firms had bothered to report their compensation data?

The survey itself deals straight-away with one of more common justifications for continued inequality:

In spite of more than two decades in which women have graduated from law schools and started careers in private practice at about the same rate as men, women continue to be markedly underrepresented in the leadership ranks of firms. Women lawyers account for fewer than 16% of equity partners, those lawyers who hold an ownership interest in their firms and occupy the most prestigious, powerful and best‐paid positions. The average firm’s highest governing committee counts women as only 15% of its members – and 15% of the nation’s largest firms have no women at all on their governing committees. Only about 6% of law firm managing partners are women.

Let me access my inner Joe Biden and repeat that: two decades, starting careers in at the same rate as men, 16% of equity partners.

More survey results after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More Evidence of Sexism in the Legal Community”

Elizabeth Halverson small Judge Elizabeth Halverson Liz Halverson Above the Law blog.JPGThe Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission has done a great public service. They have collected all of the faults of (former) Judge Elizabeth Halverson into one 28-page document.

The commission found:

No employee, even those inured to a judge’s mercurial temperament and foul mouth should have to experience what Judge Halverson made her immediate staff live and work through on a routine basis.

Halverson — who maintains her innocence — has 15 days to appeal the decision.

Could this be the end of the public’s fascination with Judge Halverson? Unlikely.

But what is she going to do now? She’s going to need food, shelter, and most likely a pliant slave with massage expertise. Any ideas on an alternative career for ATL’s favorite judge?

DISCIPLINE COMMISSION: Halverson removed from bench [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

Discipline Body Removes Judge Halverson, Citing ‘Bizarre’ Staff Treatment [ABA Journal]

In re Elizabeth Halverson.pdf

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Judge Halverson

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgWe’ve tentatively started the Associate Bonus Watch for 2008, with news of Orrick’s and McDermott’s bonus plans, and the not-really-news that Morgan Lewis will not make bonus decisions until after the holidays.

With the dismal economy and the widespread law firm layoffs, we speculated last month that regular bonuses may be less than last year, and “special” bonuses would likely disappear. The New York Law Journal agrees with us, and suggests two other reasons for it:

The scale of the expense and the almost compulsory nature of the market are widely resented by partners. But they also realize bonuses play a huge role in associate morale, recruitment and retention. Most managing partners who spoke to the Law Journal about bonuses cited potential problems with associates in requesting anonymity. But this year they all also mentioned another interest group keeping a watchful eye on bonuses: clients.

So, reason one: If they give you a bonus, you might tell someone, um, like Above The Law. And reason two: pressure from clients to control costs. Anonymous firm leaders say they fear the effect a big bonus announcement would have on their fee negotiations with belt-tightening clients, especially those in the financial sector.

Orrick chairman Ralph Baxter notes that while Orrick will still pay bonuses, “performance factors, including billable hours, will reduce the number of associates at the firm” who actually get a bonus.

The article suggests that the dismal economy could provide the opportunity that some firms have been looking to escape the bonus bidding war, and eliminate associate bonuses all together. We know you’re worried. In a recent Lateral Link survey by Justin Bernold, one out of every thirteen respondents was unsure when, or if, bonuses would be paid. But as The New York Law Journal notes:

Of course, much will depend on what Cravath and Sullivan & Cromwell do.

As always, we welcome bonus news and memos via email (subject line: “Associate Bonus Watch”).

Firms Rethink the Value Of Associate Bonuses [New York Law Journal]

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: McDermott Will & Emery is Sticking to the Plan … For Now

Associate Bonus Watch: Orrick Stands Behind Bonus Structure

Associate Bonus Watch: Morgan Lewis Pushes Back Bonus Decisions

Open Thread: Associate Bonus Speculation

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* Change you can believe in? It looks like Obama has recruited a few “washington insiders”: 8 of the 10 top lawyers he has hired for his transition team are veterans of the Clinton administration. [Bloomberg.com]

* After his hunt yesterday, Justice Antonin Scalia told a room full of big-time Texas lawyers that he disagreed with judges who used foreign law to interpret the constitution. [Houston Chronicle]

* “Protesters galvanized by a dragging death that has stirred memories of the notorious James Byrd case rallied twice outside an eastern Texas courthouse to speak out against a judicial system they consider racist.” [Associated Press]

* Are you ready for your close-up Mr. Rehnquist? The Hoover institution released files documenting Rehnquist’s first three years on the Court, years filled with land-mark cases like Roe v. Wade and United States vs. Nixon. [New York Times]

* California Attorney general is pushing the Supreme Court to decide the legality of Prop. 8. The Court could begin to act as soon as Wednesday, when they have their weekly conference. [San Jose Mercury News]

* Say it ain’t so! Washington regulators have finally opened up the doors on Belgian-based beer company InBev’s acquisition of Anheuser Busch, which monopolizes

50% of the US beer market. The merger will make InBev the largest beer company in the world. [Courthouse News Service]

* Sorry Ohio…President-elect Obama is probably going to wait a while before overhauling NAFTA. [Bloomberg.com]

Robinson cole logo.JPGThelen attorneys in NYC and Hartford have a new landing spot. Robinson & Cole picked up 30 displaced Thelen attorneys. According to the Connecticut Law Tribune:

The move adds heft to Robinson & Cole’s construction, real estate, employment and finance practice groups, among others.

“It’s a smart move and good pick-up,” said Connecticut-based law firm consultant Peter Giuliani, but not one that challenges Day Pitney’s status as the leading law firm in the state.

Of course, the Robinson & Cole press release shows no signs of Pitney envy:

The addition of these accomplished attorneys to Robinson & Cole speaks to our strength as a regional firm and will add considerable value to expansion of our New York City office, expansion of our intellectual property practice, and the addition of a prominent construction practice, all goals of the firm’s strategic plan,” said Robinson & Cole’s managing partner, Eric D. Daniels.

Meanwhile, back at the artist formerly known as Thelen, the situation continues to be fluid and confusing:

“At this point it is every group for themselves and not a coordinated top-down plan,” said San Francisco-based Thelen spokesman Kevin Livingston. “Thelen really doesn’t exist anymore. I barely know what is going on in San Francisco.”

Heller Drone comes to the rescue of a disorganized Thelen response, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Robinson & Cole/Heller Drone Comes to the Aid of Thelen Attorneys”

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