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Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGIt looks like the shareholders of Heller Ehrman will finally get the latest information about what’s going on at the firm. We just received this message:

To: All Shareholders

We are holding a FW SH VC today to provide you with as much information as we can. Although we will not have answers to all your questions, we plan to update you on our “bank discussions, plans for an orderly transition (or wind down) of our business and larger opportunities for our people”.

We realize all of you are very busy. Please make every effort to participate in today’s meeting. Thank you.

Heller is starting to look like a supernova that happens in slow motion.

The email has caused some members of the Heller community to speculate on the obvious question: are we getting paid this week?

Whether it’s “an orderly transition” or a “wind down,” the future of Heller could be known in the next few hours.

Will We Get Paid This Friday? [Heller Highwater]

john_mccain.jpg* McCain is suspending his campaign — and trying to back out of Friday’s debate — so he can focus on the economy. We’ll go with that until Sarah Palin figures out how she can drop McCain from the ticket entirely. [Dealbreaker]

* The ABA is launching a new magazine directed at IP attorneys, blatantly pandering to the only attorneys that have stable futures these days. [ABA]

* I wish I had the stones to say this to my parents … yesterday [Ridiculum]

* Man farts on police officer and gets charged with battery. What’s next, resisting arrest via halitosis? [ via Drudge]

* Bar results are out in Florida. [TaxProf Blog]

* O.J. nemesis David Cook (who represents the Goldman family) has been barred from testifying against Simpson in his current armed robbery trial. The prosecution had hoped to use Cook to establish Simpson’s motive. [AP]

Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGMemo to prospective 2009 Heller summer associates: you might want to disregard that summer offer you received. While the firm has not officially canceled it’s 2009 summer program, this email is exemplary of the chatter we are hearing at ATL today:

Three weeks ago, I interviewed for a summer associate position with … Heller Ehrman. A week later, I received an offer. Although I harbored concerns about taking an offer from Heller, I liked many of the people I met … A few days ago, I got a call from their recruiting department. They said that although they could not officially rescind their offer, they “strongly encouraged” me to decline their offer, and accept an offer from another firm. They said that, looking ahead, they are now uncertain about the viability of a summer program in 2009. I can’t imagine that bodes well for the future of the firm…..

With Heller Ehrman’s future still up in the air, no job or offer is safe. Prospective summers should beware. Current employees are already telling you that things are not looking good.

But there seems to be one dominate question in the minds of our readers:

[T]he firm’s management should get together and write a book on how to run a profitable 119 YEAR OLD LAW FIRM that has survived Black Tuesday and the great depression, survived Black Monday, the S&L Crisis of the 90′s and every other low point in American financial history until now into the ground in just one year.

During this interregnum between the signs of distress and the official announcement of … whatever, the blame game seems like the only appropriate distraction.

The San Francisco Chronicle has one take on how Heller lost its way:

The closest recent parallel is the demise of another venerable San Francisco law firm, Brobeck Phleger & Harrison, which filed for bankruptcy in 2003. But the end of Brobeck, founded in 1926, was tied to the collapse of the dot-com boom in 2000. Brobeck’s lucrative specialty in technology IPOs and tech company clients imploded.

Heller Ehrman, by contrast, foundered while it shared with other law firms a challenging economy and an intensely competitive mutual effort to attract top lawyers who can bring in business.

But many readers felt that management — not the market– was to blame for Heller’s woes:

It was Heller Ehrman’s continued attempts to LOOK LIKE a big NY Law Firm that brought all of Heller Ehrman down.

I just wonder what law firm in NY would take on lawyers from Heller’s NY Office who spent the last 5 years destroying a 100+ year old SF Law Firm?

Of course, Tupac is no fun without a Biggie response:

I am so sick of the West Coast blaming all of this on NY. The NY associates, paras and staff didn’t have a vote and/or a say about Heller setting up shop in NY. We are in the same boat you are. So back off!!

One associate decided to move beyond assigning blame and instead skipped straight to the eulogy. Though the firm deleted the message in short order, it lives on thanks to a few quick-saving people and appeared in our comments thread. We applaud the writer’s attempt to stress the positives as Heller remains incommunicado.

Memo re-posted in full after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Dark Side Of The Moon:
Speculation, Blame, And Silence Swirl Around Heller “

diddy didnt do that.JPGMaria Dominguez knows that Diddy samples songs, but maybe she thought her boobs were off limits?

Dominguez, a hedge fund manager at an undisclosed firm, sued Diddy and Vibe magazine for publishing topless photos of her in a pool taken at Diddy’s 2003 “White Party” in the Hamptons. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan tossed the $3 million invasion-of-privacy suit yesterday. Ling-Cohan felt that there was no expectation of privacy when you are with Diddy:

“Sean Combs and his renowned annual White Party are subjects of tremendous public interest, attracting the steady attention of the public and many news organizations,” Ling-Cohan wrote.

Dominguez argued that she didn’t know pictures were being taken, and didn’t give anybody permission to publish her endowments.

Vibe’s lawyers countered with:

If you need to call Mr. Gorbachev to ask permission, you’ll never get anything published.

Gorbachev was pretty progressive. Maybe he would have given his blessing to publish naked pool pictures. I’m almost positive Yeltsin would have been down.

But Diddy’s lawyers articulated an excellent “fair use” policy that all future White Party revelers should commit to memory:

When you come to a party and you dress provocatively and you see a swarm of photographers there, you would know what you’re getting yourself into.

I did it before, I’ll do it again.

Maria Dominguez’s topless ‘Mermaids Gone Wild’ photo lawsuit against Diddy, Vibe gets tossed [Daily News]

UVA lw school building.JPGChen Chih-chung was kicked out of UVA Law before he could start his 1L year for missing the school’s orientation meeting.

At least that is UVA’s official response.

No ordinary 1L would be kicked out of school for missing one meeting — but Chen is no ordinary 1L. As Virginia Law Weekly reports:

[Chen] is the son of Taiwan’s former President, Chen Shui-bian, who served from 2000 to 2008. After leaving office in May, he was indicted for his alleged role in a large-scale embezzlement and money laundering scheme.

The younger Chen missed the Law School’s orientation when he flew home to cooperate with an inquiry into whether he played a role in the alleged criminal enterprise. Chen Chih-chung has since been added as a defendant in the investigation.

The family denies any wrongdoing.

Why Chen missed the mixer, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Taiwanese 1L Has Serious Daddy Issues”

randy yellow hat.jpg[Ed Note: Yesterday we learned that Hope's partner pal, Randy, was taking testosterone pills to treat his "lactating man-boobs." Today we learn about the downside of hormonal supplements.]

“Testosterone pills? Like, how many do you have to take?”

“Well, right now three. One with every meal.”

I wanted to end this conversation and finish the bloody filing so I could go out and get wasted.

“Well, I hope it helps and you feel better soon!” I gathered my papers and stared at my laptop.

“Well, my chest isn’t hurting as much, but there’s this other problem.”

Good Lord.


“Well…” Randy leaned forward and whispered, “I can’t stop thinking about sex. I’m like obsessed with it. I can’t do my work. It’s all I think about — I feel like I’ve turned into a teenage boy again.”

Okay, this is weird. Really weird. And, weird is what I sought to escape. I found myself longing for the hairy armpits, unbuckled trousers, and pool parties back at Pants Down.

“I mean… I can’t even go to lunch in public without staring at every girl that walks by.”

This proved to be true. I later witnessed this at a lunch with some summer associates. Each time a remotely attractive girl walked by, his neck moved more rapidly than the ducks I fed stale bread to at our lake house. Clearly he was hungry — and not shy.

“Well, I really think you need to talk to your doctor about this. Maybe they can lower the medication.”

“Well, he has lowered it. Still. All I think about its sex! Even my wife is sick of me — I want it like three times a day.” My mind flashed back to the photo of the blond trophy wife on his desk. Please. She probably doesn’t even want to do it with him three times a year.

“I’m really sorry about your problem. But, I do have to get this filing done in an hour.”

I get him out of my office — and fast. I mean, what does he want me to do here? Service him? Well, he can try the self-service island. I wanted to tell him to go whack off and leave me alone.

Hope tries to finish the task at hand, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Curious Case Of Randy (Part 2)”

Starline Hollywood Tour.jpgFive women embarked on Starline’s Haunted Hollywood Tour, expecting to hear celebrity tales of sex, drugs, and depravity. But it sounds like they inadvertently signed up for an immersion tour, with a guide who was drunk, high, and verbally and sexually abusive. Now they’re suing.

From Courthouse News Service:

Five women say their host on a Starline Tours of Hollywood sexually pawed them while drunk or on drugs, called them “ni***rs” and “bitches,” urinated in a man’s front yard, lay down in the street with his shirt off, sexually attacked one woman while the other four yelled at him to stop, and assaulted them.

Maybe they should have been tipped off when their guide showed up in a “run-down, smoking Cadillac.” They claim they thought the car and depraved behavior were all part of the Halloween theme of the tour. Until the guy started to sexually assault one of them.

TMZ [PDF] got its hands on the complaint [PDF]. We’ve posted some choice excerpts after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Is Sexual Assault Supposed to be Part of the Tour?”

omgnoob.jpgIn today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we turn our attention to first-year associates.

Last month, we reported that a lot of practicing attorneys don’t really like summer associates:

The number of practicing attorneys who said “Summer associates, hate ‘em” narrowly beat the number of practicing attorneys who said “Summer associates, love ‘em,” by a margin of 25.06% to 24.82%. And while that edge may not be statistically significant, it still has to sting a little.

Among lawyers who had been practicing for more than two years, the gap widened considerably, to 30% vs. 22%.

And in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and Miami, associates of all ages hated summer associates most of all, to the tune of at least 40%.

But now the summer associates of yesteryear are arriving at law firms around the country (unless their start dates have been delayed). How will they be received?

Will they be welcome colleagues, greeted as liberators from document production?

Or, now that their days of free lunch are behind them, will they consume precious billable hours and leave older associates hungry for work?

Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.

wall street bull backside.jpgWe have extensively covered the law firms shaking and baking thanks to the market collapse over the past few weeks. But the M&A and bankruptcy lawyers are only half of the clusterf&^%. Which litigators will get work as old Wall Street business models die spectacular deaths?

LegalTimes reports that O’Mel­veny & Myers is set up to have a huge litigation year:

[L]itigators at O’Mel­veny & Myers must be doing cartwheels in the hallways. Since Bank of America–a loyal client of O’Mel­veny’s litigation department–took over Countrywide earlier this year, O’Melveny has already begun to pick up extra work generated by the beleaguered mortgage company. With Merrill about to become part of Bank of America, O’Melveny might just be the best bet for out-of-work securities litigators looking for someplace to send their résumés.

More litigious winners after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Meltdown Roundup For Litigators”

pls hndle copy 2.jpg[Ed Note: Pls Hndle Thx is a new weekly advice column in which ATL tackles your toughest law firm problems and provides you with debatable advice. Got a question? Send it here, and we'll pick the best ones for future posts].


My secretary is an idiot. She means well but can’t do basic things like collate, input edits correctly or cover for me when I leave the office early. She’s in her late 40s and a single mom, and while she tries hard, she really sucks. The secretary supervisor has been pestering me to review her because that’s how they determine pay levels, but I know if I’m honest in my review she’ll get penalized and potentially be fired. What should I do?

Secretary Purgatory

Dear Secretary Purgatory,

Take heart: the good news is that your secretary doesn’t have to be a law firm charity case. The bad news is that you have to implement the following three step system before you give your damning review:

1. Um, try talking to her. If you’d like your secretary to edit more carefully, simply snatch the offending documents from her hands and snarl, “Next time can you try not making 10,000 mistakes so that I don’t have to do everything myself? Great, thanks.” Or, just casually mention that she is doing a horrendous job and needs to shape up or else.

2. Set traps in order to determine whether any improvement in your secretary’s work is real or a false positive. For instance, you might ask her if she sent that fax that you specifically asked her to send. If she replies in the affirmative, triumphantly reveal that there IS no such fax and that she’s a filthy liar. Proceed immediately to Step 4. If she doesn’t know what you’re talking about, grudgingly admit that you were testing her but that you’re nevertheless onto her dirty tricks.

3. Regale her with stories about assistants who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, like Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire. Renee risked it all for her boss, you should mention ominously as you sit on the edge of her desk. Does she want to be a Renee? Don’t wait for her answer – walk toward your office and when you reach the doorway, pause, turn back and say, “I don’t know… I just don’t know.”

4. If you’ve implemented Steps 1-3 and your secretary still shows no signs of progress, give her an honest review. Frankly, if you suck at your job, the partnership won’t hesitate to give YOU a bad review (unless you work at Davis Polk, in which case you won’t be told anything until you’re fired). The hallowed pyramid structure of law firms can only be maintained if shit rolls down hill. Just as senior associates must throw you under the bus when you screw up, so too must you throw your underlings under the bus so that we may preserve this cycle of abuse for our children and our children’s children.

Your friend,


See Elie’s response after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx:
Help! My Secretary’s an Idiot

superman warren buffett.jpg* Can Warren Buffett save Wall Street? [New York Times]

* Everyone’s scrambling to get involved in cleaning up the financial industry meltdown. Even the F.B.I. [Los Angeles Times]

* Warning to travelers in Muslim countries: Please refrain from having sex on the beach. [Reuters]

* “Dude, FGM is not cool.” Okay, maybe that’s not a direct quote… Attorney General Michael Mukasey rebukes the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals in an asylum case. [Washington Post]

* Former ABA president Alfred Carlton, Jr. ruminates on what the bailout means for law firms. More jobs, more work. Yay! [The American Lawyer]

* Ex-Judge Donald “Penis Pump” Thompson is out of prison but has been disbarred. [Tulsa World]

* Judge says Dan Rather can go ahead and sue the heck out of CBS. [Austin Business Journal]

Carlos Spinelli Noseda Carlos J Spinelli Noseda Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law blog.jpgBack in July, we were the first to wonder about the mysterious departure from Sullivan & Cromwell of Carlos Spinelli-Noseda, a rising star at the über-prestigious (and profitable) law firm. Some commenters viewed our interest in his departure as unseemly, prying, or reflecting bias against S&C.

We don’t mean to gloat — okay, maybe just a little — but we’ve been vindicated by recent revelations. From a report by Anthony Lin in the New York Law Journal:

A former Sullivan & Cromwell partner has resigned from the bar for billing his clients and firm more than $500,000 in fraudulent travel and entertainment expenses.

Carlos J. Spinelli-Noseda, a banking and finance specialist who joined Sullivan & Cromwell straight out of Harvard Law School in 1994 and became a partner in 2003, was facing a disciplinary investigation over a pattern of improper billing dating from roughly July 1998 to February 2008.

In a June 3 affidavit of resignation he submitted to the disciplinary committee of the First Department, Mr. Spinelli-Noseda admitted he could not successfully defend himself against charges of professional misconduct. Such resignations are frequently tendered when further proceedings are almost certain to lead to disbarment.

Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Former Sullivan & Cromwell Partner Resigns for Defrauding Clients and the Firm (to the tune of $500K)”

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