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* Justice Department report details FBI objections to interrogation techniques used on terror suspects. [Legalities / ABC News; McClatchy]
* Jurors get a bit too much evidence in R. Kelly trial. [CNN]
* Officers in Sean Bell case face NYPD charges of misusing firearms. [New York Times]
* Florida woman gets seven years for enslavement. [CNN]
* Clinton takes Kentucky, but Obama grabs Oregon and the majority of pledged delegates. [MSNBC; New York Times]
* Should Obama promise Hillary a SCOTUS nomination? [Washington Post]

Bingham McCutchen Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThis isn’t as sexy as lawyer layoffs and associate pay cuts. But today has been a bit slow on the news front, so we’ll take what we can get. From Legal Pad:

Bingham McCutchen just confirmed to us that it laid off staff last week in at least two Bay Area offices — 12 in San Francisco and five in Silicon Valley.

San Francisco Managing Partner Geoffrey Howard said the S.F. layoffs constituted between 5 and 10 percent of the staff there and affected three departments: support services (e.g. copy/fax, mail room, catering, etc.), accounting and records.

They laid off people in catering? One might expect Bingham to pay increased attention to food and beverage, in the wake of Roofiegate.
Bingham Lays Off Bay Area Staff [Legal Pad]

R Kelly child pornography kiddie porn ATL.jpg* A summary of jury selection in the R. Kelly kiddie porn case: “I haven’t heard of jurors this stupid since the O.J. trial.” [Supreme Dicta]
* Really, there’s no cause for alarm. ATL comes in peace. [Tex Parte Blog]
* Cisco GC Mark Chandler feels the heat on Capitol Hill. [Washington Briefs]
* Recent Fantasy Baseball rulings by the Honorable Marc Edelman, ATL’s resident sports columnist. [SportsJudge Blog]
* For those of you who deal with the Malaysian judiciary (all three of you), take note: “[B]usiness as usual in Malaysia is no longer acceptable.” [Wall Street Journal Asia (subscription)]

pink slip layoff notice Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re not the only ones obsessed with layoffs these days. So is the New York Times, which has published two meaty articles on layoffs in the past few days — one in the Business section, and one in Sunday Styles.
The upshot of the business piece: Wall Street firms are increasingly relying upon “stealth layoffs” (like their brethren in the law, as we’ve discussed). Louise Story and Eric Dash report:

[E]xactly how many jobs have been or will be eliminated [on Wall Street] is unclear. In the past, banks typically made sharp reductions all at once. After the 1987 stock market crash, for example, employees were herded into conference rooms and dismissed en masse.

This time, companies are making many small cuts over the course of weeks or even months. Some people who have lost jobs, and many more struggling to hold them, say banks are keeping employees in the dark about the size and timing of layoffs.

Sound familiar, law firm associates?
Read the rest, below the fold.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Misery Loves Company”

Fiver.jpgWhen traveling abroad for the first time, it seems every American is struck by the brilliance of creating paper money with a correlation between the size of a bill and its value. “That must be nice for blind people,” we think.
Well, the D.C. Circuit thinks the same way. In a 2-1 ruling (PDF) issued today, it affirmed a district court decision holding that the U.S. discriminates against blind people with its uniformly-sized bills.
The American Council for the Blind sued the Treasury Department six years ago. If the decision stands, vending machines everywhere will have to be redesigned!
That seems like a better defense than the one the Treasury Department used. From the Associated Press:

The U.S. acknowledges the design hinders blind people but it argued that blind people have adapted. Some relied on store clerks to help them, some used credit cards and others folded certain corners to help distinguish between bills.

The court ruled 2-1 that such adaptations were insufficient. The government might as well argue that, since handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask for help from strangers, there’s no need to make buildings wheelchair accessible, the court said.

Apparently, that huge ugly number five on the new five-dollar bill was the Treasury Department’s first stab at meeting the needs of the blind. Unfortunately, it discriminates against good aesthetic taste.
What do you think of the decision?

Court says money discriminates against blind people [Associated Press]
Amer Cncl Blind v. Paulson, Henry [PDF]

chart 1 graph pie chart bar graph.GIFWe realize that we’re constantly sending surveys and polls your way. That’s because blogging is an interactive medium — which is a good thing. We talk to you, and you talk back to us. We couldn’t do our jobs without all the tips and info we get from you, via email, comments, and yes, surveys.
Anyway, we hope that one more survey won’t kill you. Please take a few seconds to fill out our anonymous reader survey, which gives us a sense of our readership demographics. You can access the survey by clicking here.
And please don’t overlook the final question, in which you can offer us editorial feedback — what you like, what you dislike, and what you’d like to see more or less of in these pages. Thanks.
P.S. In case you find the educational categories a little confusing, “post grad work” means you’ve done some post-graduate work, but aren’t done yet (e.g., you’re in law school). “Post grad degree” means that you have completed at least one post-graduate degree. If you have one such degree, like a JD or a master’s degree, but are in the process of getting another, like an LLM or PhD, check off the “post grad degree” box.
Above the Law Reader Survey []

Dewey LeBoeuf LLP logo D&L DL Above the Law blog.jpgProps to our friends over at Dewey & LeBoeuf. Sure, Denim Day is great at all, and their wine-and-cheese events sound like a lot — maybe too much — fun.
But DL also thinks of the less fortunate. From an internal email that went around recently:

As news of the devastation in China and Myanmar spreads, and in support of our colleagues and clients in Asia, we recognize a responsibility to support and assist the many thousands of individuals and families in need at this time. Current news reports suggest that the massive earthquake in the Sichuan province of China has already claimed the lives of more than 20,000 people, with numbers that could soar to as many as 50,000. The deadly cyclone of the Myanmar delta region has already claimed over 75,000 lives, with more than 55,000 people still missing and over 1 million people in need of aid.

The firm will match all donations made by our lawyers and administrative staff up to $200,000 to the following four funds designated for relief in China and Myanmar….

Perhaps other law firms are undertaking similar efforts? If your firm is, feel free to note that in the comments.
The complete Dewey & LeBoeuf email, including links to four relief organizations that you can support, appears after the jump.
Update: As noted in the comments, Heller Ehrman is one of the firms stepping up to the plate. The firm is matching employee donations to the Red Cross up to a total of $50,000. Memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Humanitarian Crises in Myanmar and China: What’s Your Firm Doing?”

Posner.jpgProcrastination is a terrible habit, and the internet is truly the great enabler. How many hours of productivity are lost to YouTube each year?
Judging from Law Firm March Madness traffic, lawyers are definitely among the office workers looking for distraction. Slate has gathered “procrastination rituals” from various professionals. One of the contributors is Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit. His ritual is not to procrastinate:

Procrastination is very unhealthy. It causes problems for the people who are counting on you to complete things in a timely fashion and it makes your own life more difficult…. It helps to be a little compulsive. Then you feel uncomfortable if something is hanging over you — that’s the opposite of procrastination, a compulsion to complete things and get rid of the albatross hanging over you…. I have that compulsion.

And that’s why he’s Richard Posner: circuit judge, law professor, author of almost forty (40) books, prolific blogger, and one of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals. And he even manages to sleep, about six hours a night on average.
“Don’t procrastinate.” Like so much good advice, it’s hard to follow. But we’ll try. Just after we’re done reading this article about a scientific formula for procrastinating, searching the videos that come up on YouTube when you search “procrastinate”, listening to the Posner-Lat podcast, and playing our turn in Scrabulous…
Procrasti-Nation []

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGEarlier this month, there was some discussion in the comments about law firms possibly cutting associate salaries to cope with the economic downturn. The scenario sounded far-fetched — but maybe it’s not as far-fetched as some might have hoped.
Look, we aren’t saying that the sky is falling. There’s a world of difference between a law firm based in Fort Lauderdale, with 128 lawyers and extensive exposure to Florida real estate, and the giants of Biglaw, with hundreds of millions (or even billions) in revenue, profits per partner well into the seven figures, and diversified practices.
But still, nobody would call this good news. From the Daily Business Review:

Attorneys at Becker & Poliakoff are being hit with a 12 percent pay cut for the foreseeable future to help the real estate-dominated firm deal with a drop in profitability and delays in collections.

Becker & Poliakoff is the first major South Florida firm to turn to its lawyers to make cuts to help it deal with the economic slowdown and real estate downturn. Other firms have trimmed staff jobs, including paralegals and secretaries, and cut back on other expenses to help cope with the economic landscape.

Alan Becker, the firm’s managing shareholder, informed attorneys and support staff about the pay deferment plan via podcast Wednesday. The cut took effect Thursday and affects only lawyers. No layoffs are expected.

So that’s the silver lining to the proverbial cloud. You’ve suffered a 12 percent haircut on your salary, but at least your job is secure.
We don’t know what the Becker & Poliakoff pay scale is, but we’re guessing it’s well below the $160K scale. Back in 2003, it looks like their starting salaries were in the $63K-$70K range.
But just out of curiosity, what would Biglaw salaries look like if they were trimmed in this manner? If a 12 percent reduction were applied to the first three steps of the standard New York pay scale, salaries would go from 160-170-185 to 141-150-163.
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Cut Watch: NY to 141?”

kfed.jpgThe inanity of Kevin Federline’s fame never ceases to amaze. He has achieved widespread recognition by shacking up with Britney Spears, making some babies, and creating some bad music.
K-Fed has garnered enough media attention that there’s some excess for his attorney. Mark Vincent Kaplan is interviewed by the AP this week. He talks about the custody proceedings over Spears and K-Fed’s two children and how the case has helped his career:

The case is arguably among the most significant in the attorney’s 34-year career, and Kaplan said it has inspired personal satisfaction and professional growth.

“Very few lawyers get the opportunity that this case has presented on every possible issue you can think of,” he continued. “Even fewer lawyers recognize the opportunity, and even a smaller percentage of those have the (guts) to go for the opportunity.”

Of course being around celebrity has perks of its own.

“It’s made it possible to not have to make reservations at a restaurant,” he said, “but that too shall pass.”

Celebrity divorces and custody battles seem like a nice niche. No reservations needed at restaurants. He gets to use the paparazzi to do his research instead of hiring private investigators (like that no-good Pellicano guy).
His quote seems a little defensive, though. Maybe because there’s a good percentage of attorneys who wouldn’t want their name followed by “aka K-Fed’s attorney.”
We spotlighted Kaplan previously as a Lawyer to Layabout Lovers. He also served as counsel to Chris Judd, another back-up dancer turned celebrity husband, in his divorce from Jennifer Lopez.
Federline Lawyer Candid About Spears Custody Case: ‘There’s Never Been Anything Like This’ [Associated Press via]

house home Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Senate reaches agreement on housing relief bill. [New York Times]
* Polygamists question fairness of custody laws. [MSNBC]
* SCOTUS upholds child porn law. [Washington Post; SCOTUSblog]
* SCOTUS upholds tax exemptions for municipal bonds. [TaxProf Blog; WSJ Law Blog]
* AG Mukasey wins first SCOTUS argument in terror prosecution. [Washington Post]

yale law school 2.JPG* Which law schools are the most successful at placing their graduates in legal academia? You can probably guess. [Concurring Opinions]
* Speaking of law school faculty hiring, Dean Kagan and Harvard Law School have the hots for Jonathan Zittrain. [Legal Blog Watch]
* Prof. Ilya Somin to Californians: vote no on Prop. 99. [Los Angeles Times]
* Mistress Ruthie — who kinda reminds us of Chelsea Clinton — does Blawg Review (#160, if you’re counting). [Ruthie's Law via Blawg Review]

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