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republican not gop.jpgI think we can all agree that this is not the best year to be running as a Republican. When your party’s leader is a lame duck — clocking in with a sub-thirty percent approval rating — it’s only prudent to keep your distance.

But did Washington gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi go too far in trying to escape the Republican brand? On ballots that have already gone to the printer for the November election, Rossi listed his party affiliation as “GOP Party.” As we’ve previously mentioned, Democrats sued Rossi to force him to use the more common “Republican” label on the November ballots.

Democrats didn’t sue because calling yourself a member of the “Grand Old Party Party” is redundant and annoying. They have actual polling data that shows:

[M]any people don’t know that GOP and Republican mean the same thing. One recent [Stuart] Elway poll indicated Rossi did better among voters if he used the “GOP” label instead of “Republican.”

“There’s no question we were shocked by the Elway poll,” state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz said, adding that an internal poll by the party had a similar finding.

While the Democrats have an interesting political argument, their legal argument … does not exist:

A new state law allows candidates to identify their party on ballots as they please (up to 16 characters long), but Sam Reed, Washington’s secretary of state, said he had encouraged candidates “not to do silly things.”

Mr. Reed, a Republican and the defendant in the Democrats’ lawsuit, said G.O.P. — for Grand Old Party — had been used for years and was acceptable.

Game, set, match.

But how “off-message” are Democrats in Washington State? If you are an incumbent Democratic governor, and you think that the GOP is going to take you down in a year where even the Republicans are calling their brand no better than “dog food,” you have serious problems — problems that a naming convention isn’t going to fix.

Leave the courts out of your campaign. It’ll be better for everybody.

Democrats Sue Over ‘G.O.P.’ on the Ballot [New York Times]

Smith v. Reed (pdf) [Ballot Access]

hungry thinking lawyer.jpgWe know you legal folk struggle with your weight. Nearly 70 percent of respondents to Justin’s weighty April survey admitted to putting on the pounds since embarking on the legal track. Maybe it’s because you’re such deep thinkers!

Thinking makes you hungry, says Science Daily. A Canadian research team has found that intellectual work, that stuff lawyers do so much of, causes a substantial increase in caloric intake:

The research team, supervised by Dr. Angelo Tremblay, measured the spontaneous food intake of 14 students after each of three tasks: relaxing in a sitting position, reading and summarizing a text, and completing a series of memory, attention, and vigilance tests on the computer. After 45 minutes at each activity, participants were invited to eat as much as they wanted from a buffet.

The researchers had already shown that each session of intellectual work requires only three calories more than the rest period. However, despite the low energy cost of mental work, the students spontaneously consumed 203 more calories after summarizing a text and 253 more calories after the computer tests. This represents a 23.6% and 29.4 % increase, respectively, compared with the rest period.

Perhaps you can fight the bulge by thinking less hard. Another option is to get an in-work work-out with a treadmill desk — Quinn Emanuel’s Aaron Craig logs five to six miles a day at the office.

If resolved to keep the paunch, the intellectual fatties can at least take comfort in knowing that the thin lawyers are the dumb ones. [Ed. note: There was no substantial increase in caloric intake as a result of coming up with that bit of logic.]

Thinking People Eat Too Much: Intellectual Work Found To Induce Excessive Calorie Intake [Science Daily]

michigan law school strikes back.jpgHonestly, we are not trying to pile on Michigan. We know how obsessed some of their students are with their U.S. News law school ranking. But perhaps the law school administration has taken things too far in their attempt to make Michigan the “champions of the west.”

From TaxProf Blog:

Michigan’s new Wolverine Scholars Program — in which [University of] Michigan undergrads with a minimum 3.80 GPA are admitted to Michigan Law School if they agree to not take the LSAT. The rankings benefit is that there is no LSAT score to report to U.S. News, while the minimum 3.80 GPA will boost Michigan’s median 3.64 GPA, which counts 10% in U.S. News’ methodology.

Look Michigan, if you are going to try to rig something, at least have the decency to do it under the cover of darkness.

To a UM college student with a 3.8, the Wolverine Scholars Program looks like an interesting example of game theory. But to the rest of us, it looks a straight bribe. It’s like Michigan Law School is saying: “Please, please, please don’t take the LSAT. Because if you get a 167 we probably have to accept you anyway. And if you get a 175 you will better deal us for a lobster dinner.”

The Big Ten strikes back, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “University Of Michigan Law School: Please Stop The Insanity”

vacation memo from a turkey.jpgWe here at ATL are big believers in push-back. Tell the partners and your colleagues about your personal needs and desires, and try your best to take some control over your work schedule. The firm can survive without you.

But the theory behind successful push back is that you are not the most important person at the firm. It seems that one first-year associate didn’t learn that lesson. He sent out the following “vacation memo,” after just three days at the firm:

1. I will depart for vacation on Wednesday, November 26th (the Wednesday before thanksgiving). I plan to return to the office on Tuesday, December 2nd (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving).

2. In case of emergency, I will be staying at [redacted]. I can best be reached on my cell phone at [redacted]. I will be visiting my parents, and their house has a landline [redacted].

3. The secretaries in my pool will open my mail. These are [redacted].

4. I will be answering my own phone at the numbers listed above.

5. I currently have received no matters, though this will undoubtedly change by Thanksgiving.

6. I will send out an update and official vacation memorandum with this information a week before Thanksgiving.

Some helpful advice, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Does A Turkey Write A Vacation Memo?”

randy yellow hat.jpg[Ed Note: This is the third and final installment in the Curious Case of Randy, a rather eccentric law firm partner. You can read Part 1 over here and Part 2 over here.]

Weeks pass, and Randy continues to be randy. Stopping by my office no less than three times a day. Gawking at the summer associates as they get their lunches downstairs. I kind of just check out.

I decide to ignore him, figuring that eventually he’ll go away. I do, however, find myself staring at his chest each time he comes in and interrupts me. I’m looking for milk. Or the emergence of breasts. But I don’t recall seeing anything. I think the pills must have gotten that problem under control — but not the other thing. He’s so antsy and manic — sometimes I thought he might start touching himself in my office. Anyway, here it comes, and I’m not lying.

Several weeks later, as February approached — the month that I have always contended is the cruelest month (not April, as T.S. Eliot alleges) — Valentine’s season begins. I tend to ignore all this heart/love crap because I think it’s stupid. I was never one to send out Valentine’s Day cards, even in elementary school. I rejected it. I mean, I can barely say I love you to my parents or my boyfriend; I’m certainly not going to say it to some random person. And I doubt my meatball (non-lawyer, a big plus) boyfriend will do anything anyway.

So I walk into my office at 9:00 a.m., maybe 9:30 actually, on February 14th. There is a large, blood orange, inter-office envelope on top of my desk. I figure it’s my expense report or the report of my billable hours, which I haven’t met for two months. As I open it, however, a pink something falls out. I turn it over. It is a homemade Valentine, constructed out of pale pink construction paper, topped with an old-school white doily, and on it, there is a poem written by a dark purple crayon. My first thought is, how cute; it must be from my partner’s daughter, Rose.

Find out what the poem is about, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Curious Case Of Randy: Part 3″

republican not gop.jpg* President Bush wants lawmakers to hurry up and pass the $700 billion bailout plan. Sounds like taxpayers are going to be paying back those $600 economy stimulation rebates and then some. The Dems agree to drop the provision giving greater authority to bankruptcy judges. [New York Times]

* Democrats sue in Washington to force “G.O.P.” gubernatorial candidate to embrace his “Republican” identity. [New York Times]

* Guantanamo prosecutor quits, citing ethical concerns. [Washington Post]

* Kudos to these four law firms. Covington, Arnold & Porter, Katten, and Pillsbury make Working Mother magazine’s best employers list. [National Law Journal]

* Who would have thought a gas mask would be needed for a DUI arrest? [WSAZ]

* Gibson Dunn’s Ted Olson will appear before SCOTUS for the 50th time this fall. One secret to his success: St. Michael the Archangel. [Legal Times (subscription req.)]

* ATL’s former bling-bling lawyer of the day, Gabriel Schwartz, was robbed of property worth only $63,000, by his random-lady-friend-turned-thief. [Associated Press]

Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGAt yesterday’s shareholder video conference, the leadership of Heller Ehrman assured the partnership that their line of credit was still open. That doesn’t mean that they can survive, just that they still have some time to make their next move.

Meanwhile, after the meeting, Heller Chairman Matthew Larrabee finally communicated with associates and staff:

To: All-Hands

I am profoundly sorry that I have not been in direct communication with you recently. We realize that there has been a lot of news coverage about our firm, and it is wrong to have that be your source of information. We have been focused on urgent and significant issues that are facing the firm and carefully considering our options. We also have been focused on trying to get answers to the many questions that we know need to be addressed.

While that may explain some of the private meetings and small-group discussions that have been held recently, we know that there has been a lengthy gap in communication that needs to be filled as soon as possible.

To that end, we are planning to hold meetings with everyone before the end of this week via video conference and/or local, in-person discussions. You will receive an invitation to participate as soon as we can finish gathering important information we know you seek.

Again, I apologize for not communicating with you sooner. We realize the anxiety that you are feeling and we are doing everything we can to find answers to your questions.


But what is left to say? As one tipster put it:

[T]he whole place here is nuts. I’m kinda soaking up a salary until a decision gets made, but we’re operating under the assumption that we’re gonna fold.

Pour a shot on the ground for Heller? Probably in a few weeks for sure.

A wise man once said, “The waiting is the hardest part.” Take heart Hellerites, the long dark of dissolution is almost at an end.

All By Myself single alone lonely National Singles Week.jpgAre you still stuck at the office, settling in for a long evening of work, and thinking about what to order from SeamlessWeb? Maybe you goofed off all day because you have nobody to go home to at night.
(We know what that’s like. It’s why we’ve been covering the ATL night shift lately.)
Fellow single people, we wish you a Happy National Singles Week (September 21-28). From the San Francisco Chronicle:

There are 92 million unmarried Americans, and this is their week.

Since the 1980s, the third full week of September has been National Singles Week. Started by Ohio’s Buckeye Singles Council as a way to recognize the role singles play in society, it is now known as National Unmarried and Single Americans Week. According to the U.S. census, the adjusted name acknowledges that many unmarried Americans do not identify with the word “single” because they have partners or are widowed.

Many of them are also rejecting the stereotyped notion that they’re living in hope of the perfect spouse appearing, a Disneylike vision in a reality-show world. They’re creating a grassroots effort to obtain equal rights in health care access, taxation and other areas while demanding that they be seen as living their lives in full.

And equal rights in law offices, too. Single lawyers: How many times have you had to pick up the slack or hold down the fort for a colleague who left work early for an anniversary dinner, daughter’s ballet recital, or Valentine’s Day celebration?
Read more — plus take a reader poll, concerning whether single people or married people make better Biglaw employees — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Happy National Singles Week!
(And: Do single people or married people make better law firm employees?)”

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]

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