Yesterday the FBI executed a search warrant on the Scruggs Law Firm in Oxford, Mississippi — the shop of high-flying plaintiffs’ lawyer Dickie Scruggs. It wasn’t immediately clear what investigation the search was related to. Here’s some commentary on the situation that we enjoyed, from David Rossmiller (in brackets, following excerpt from news article):
“This is a surprise to everybody connected to the Scruggs Firm,” [lawyer Joey] Langston said, “but I’ve got to tell you people who are very high profile and very successful have to contend with unpleasantries and this is unpleasant, but we’ll contend with it.”
[I like the touch of noblesse oblige here -- as if the FBI descending on one's place of business is the same as, say, getting heckled by drunken lumpenproletariat while showing up in top hat and tails to receive an award for charitable giving.]
Multimillionaire trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs has been indicted on charges of conspiring to bribe a judge in the case involving $26.5-million in attorney fees involving Katrina claims….
According to the indictment, Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey cooperated with the FBI in the investigation after reporting a bribery overture to authorities.
According to the indictment, Scruggs and others tried to influence Lackey by giving him $40,000 in cash to resolve the attorney fees’ dispute in favor of Scruggs’ law firm. Some of the conversations between Balducci and Lackey were captured on tape.
Down in Mississippi, there has been speculation of a connection between the FBI search warrant and this week’s surprise resignation of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), Scruggs’s brother-in-law. Lott’s office told the Sun Herald the two events were but a mere coincidence.
* Hey look! Biglaw partners have an ATL of their own, and it’s called, appropriately enough, More Partner Income.
Here’s a post about how to get associates to enter their hours in timely fashion — so partners can get themselves PAID, w00t. Helpful hint: Offer them CANDY! [MorePartnerIncome.com]
* “JD, No Job, Debt – What An Opportunity!” Here’s some advice about how to deal with your predicament. [Law and More]
* Boalt Hall — er, Berkeley Law — students discuss whether post-1L grades matter. For the record, Yale does have grades, and its system is pretty similar to Berkeley’s (except without “High Honors”). [Nuts & Boalts]
* Speaking of Yale Law School, Professor Ian Ayres — our small group professor, and a great teacher — has come up with a brilliant way to get people to lose weight. If you overindulged over Thanksgiving, you should check it out. [New York Sun]
Some of our prior coverage of Heller Ehrman has been abitgloomy. We take it all back. Now that the firm’s Los Angeles office is under a magnificent new leader — Nancy Sher Cohen, whom we have previously praised in these pages — we see nothing but good things ahead.
Legal Pad conducts a very interesting interview with Nancy Cohen. Here’s an excerpt:
Legal Pad: How do you feel about “Above the Law” blog calling you “divalicious”?
Cohen: I found out about it from several associate who came to show it to me. Isn’t that funny? I just looked at it and howled. There is a lesson there. You just never know who is going to be writing about you, thinking about you, making comments about you. It’s a reminder that you should always do your best and always be sensitive and nice, civil.
We’re confused. Does Ms. Cohen think that we were speaking negatively of her? To the contrary, we had only good things to say. From our prior post:
When we were in private practice, our experiences with Heller Ehrman were quite positive. We attended several depositions defended by the diva-licious Nancy Sher Cohen, who protected her witnesses like a lioness protecting her cubs. We were most impressed by this badass litigatrix (who is also a community activist and cancer survivor; see this profile).
As for the “diva-licious” quip, let the record reflect that the term “diva” is ATL’s highest form of praise. Longtime readers are well aware of our obsession with strong-willed women — especially women who have managed to achieve tremendous success in a traditionally male-dominated field like law.
This is why we are such fans of Senatrix Hillary Clinton, who is a tough, smart, fearless leader. We have no clue why some of you seem to think we don’t like her. We think Senator Clinton is fabulous.
Why do you think we’ve snapped up so many domain names related to her? Visit HillaryClintonIsMyGirl.com, HillaryIsMyGirl.com, Hillarylicious.com, HillaryIsSexy.com, HillarySexy.com, or HillarySex.com. Where do you get redirected to? ‘Badass Diva’ Ready to Run Heller in L.A. [Legal Pad /CalLaw] Earlier: Going to Heller in a Handbasket? (Part 2)
Ed. note: We have nothing against headhunters or legal recruiters. To the contrary, we’re generally big fans of them — especially the ones who advertise on ATL, making this website possible.
But it can’t be denied that some of them can be real pains in the a**. If you have a headhunter horror story to share, feel free to submit it by email (subject line: “Headhunter Horror Story”).
We’ll kick off the series with this fantastic story, which a reader just submitted. It’s long, but worth it — highly entertaining, suspenseful, and written with real panache. Enjoy!
Sure, we’ve all had annoying recruiters call. Many of us have decided to accept a free lunch from these yahoos from time to time to garner some legal gossip. I was not such a person until yesterday, and it turned out to be an utter disaster. Part 1: The romancing.
A recruiter, let’s call him Bob, has been calling me for over a year. I have blown him off 1000 times and told him I am happy at my mid-sized firm. My salary and bonus structure is good, and as a third-year lawyer, I’m really practicing law. (I’ve never even summarized a deposition.)
One day, we had plans to go to lunch at a nearby seafood restaurant, but I canceled at the last minute. Still, he calls every few weeks about some new position at some major firm looking for a person exactly like me (which is doubtful, considering my less than stellar law school grades). Part 2: The lunch invitation.
Bob calls me Monday and says that Jones Day is interested in seeing my resume. Again, he tells me what amazing experience I have, blah blah, and asks me to give him my resume. He also says he still wants to take me to lunch. I say, “Let’s go tomorrow.” He says ok and that he will call me Tuesday morning to finalize plans. Part 3. The planning.
First thing Tuesday morning, Bob calls and asks me where I’d like to go. I say that I have no idea, he presses me to choose, and I say, “Well, let’s redo our old plans and go to [the seafood restaurant]. I’ve never been there, so I don’t know if it’s good.” He says, “It’s…ok, that’s good. Let’s go there. I wouldn’t want to take you to Jason’s Deli or anything, and there’s not much more over there. Let’s meet at noon.” Part 4. The falling apart.
At 11:30, Bob leaves a voice mail that he needs to move our lunch to 12:30. At about 12, he calls again to ask if I got the message. He then says, “I wish I could say that some big negotiation came up, but the truth is, I forgot my ATM pin number and it locked me out from getting cash after I tried three different numbers. So I’ll have to use credit for our lunch. But I’ll see you at 12:30.” He then describes what he’ll be wearing.
Read the rest, after the jump.
In the world of Biglaw, bad news and good news go hand in hand these days. Recall that Clifford Chance announced associate layoffs and generous bonuses in the same week.
And now Thacher Proffitt & Wood, on the heels of yesterday’s news about likely future layoffs, is raising base salaries for its senior associates. We haven’t seen the full memo yet, but here’s an excerpt:
“It has long been a primary principle of our attorney compensation philosophy in New York and Washington DC to have our base salaries and annual discretionary bonuses be competitive with the top firms in New York City. In that regard, we are announcing the following changes to associate compensation…”
Our sources describe it as basically a match for the class of 2002 and more senior: 2002 – $250,000, 2001 – $265,000, 2000 – $280,000, and 1999 – $290,000. Update (2:55 PM): We now have the memo. It appears — together with additional discussion, including a word about bonuses — after the jump.
This Friday, at the Ninth Circuit courthouse in San Francisco, a ceremonial “passing of the gavel” will be held. The court’s outgoing chief judge, Mary M. Schroeder, will hand over the gavel to her successor, Alex Kozinski. Details about the ceremony appear in this press release (PDF).
From How Appealing (additional links collected below):
Judge Kozinski was able to sneak some humor into the news release:
“The chief judge of the circuit assumes the position based on seniority. The chief judge is the judge in regular active service who is senior in commission of those judges who are (1) 64 years of age or under; (2) have served for one year or more as a circuit judge; and (3) have not served previously as chief judge. Judge Kozinski also believes that looks count, though he can provide no support for that proposition.
Before Thanksgiving, we put up an open thread devoted to discussion of the California bar exam. We’re surprised that nobody mentioned this interesting tidbit of news (which we learned about from a tipster via email):
Congratulations, Mr. Krautheimer!
Back in April, at the height of the Aaron Charney controversy, it was rumored that Krautheimer was going to be transferred to S&C’s Los Angeles office. Some speculated that it was to remove him from the New York office, where Brokeback Lawfirm all went down. But if Krautheimer’s move to the West Coast is still going forward, despite the settlement of the Charney lawsuit, we’re guessing Krautheimer has his own personal reasons for wanting to move to L.A.
On our earlier post about the move rumors, a commenter called S&C LA wrote: “No truth to this at all. Sorry, this rumor is just that and nothing more.” Presumably this commenter thinks that Eric Krautheimer — a leading M&A lawyer, and a partner making millions of dollars a year, at one of the nation’s top corporate law firms — took California’s three-day bar exam just for fun.
It must have been strange for a veteran lawyer, almost 15 years out of law school, to be taking the bar next to newly minted law school graduates — including 18-year-old Kathleen Holtz. But then again, former Stanford Law School dean Kathleen Sullivan did it — twice.
On the S&C website, Eric Krautheimer is still listed as based in New York. But expect to see him in L.A. sometime soon, now that he’s a member of the California bar.
P.S. On the S&C website, the link to Eric Krautheimer’s bio was moved from here to here. Was the firm trying to render all of ATL’s links to his bio obsolete? If so, nice try — but nothing that a site-wide “Find and Replace” can’t fix. July 2007 California Bar Examination Pass List [State Bar of California] Earlier: Brokeback Lawfirm: Is Eric Krautheimer Headed for Hollywood?
A legal staffing agency put up an advertisement soliciting applications for a temporary paralegal position. Cover letters and résumés started rolling in. Like this one:
I am not a paralegal. But, I type 85 WPM and used to be [an] executive assistant and have multiple skillsets, easy to train, that honestly set me $1000 over the salary of a degreed political science bachelors degreed [sic] person. Sadly, she was aggressive and began reading Hitler’s methods and worked her way to stop my success with her deception.
The compliance lawyer finally figured out what she was doing and wound up getting rid of her. She now works in buying and selling electrical components somewhere.
So, I have no way to measure her value or mine within this paralegal field. I’ll let you be the judge.
A cover letter referencing Hitler? + 10 points. We don’t know what “Hitler’s methods” consist of, but then again, we never read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Nazis.
Read the rest of this long, strange, rambling cover letter — does the applicant need a paralegal gig, or a therapist? — after the jump.
Call us old-fashioned, barbaric, or unenlightened — but this strikes us as a bit ridiculous. From ABC News:
Massachusetts lawmakers say a proposed measure that would ban parents from spanking their children, even in their own homes, is a way to protect kids from abuse. But many parents believe it’s an example of government run amok.
In all 50 states, parents are legally allowed to spank their children. But in 29 states it’s illegal for a teacher to practice corporal punishment, including spanking.
A Massachusetts nurse is hoping to change that and make the state the first in the nation to ban corporal punishment at home.
“I think it’s ironic that domestic violence applies to everyone except the most vulnerable — children,” said Kathleen Wolf, who wrote the bill.
Massachusetts lawmakers will consider the bill today.
Ah, the People’s Republic of Massachusetts. If Willie Horton had gotten spanked more as a kid, maybe he wouldn’t have turned to a life of crime.
More discussion, plus the obligatory reader poll — yes, we really do care what you think! — after the jump.
Wondering where to spend New Year’s Eve this year? Well, if you’re in New York City, do you have any friends over at Skadden? Surely you must. Considering that the firm recently passed the 2,000 attorney mark, everyone has friends at Skadden (if they don’t work there themselves).
From an internal email by “New York office guru” Wally Schwartz, posted at the Skadden Insider blog:
Since our 4 Times Square office is located in such close proximity to New York City’s New Year’s Eve celebration many employees have rung in the New Year by viewing the festivities from our offices. For the most part these gatherings have been enjoyable and appropriate. However, during last year’s celebration there were several problems caused by an excessive number of guests, and, in some cases, excessive drinking.
[T]he following policies are being implemented for this year’s celebration:
Each employee is limited to inviting a maximum of three guests, each of whom must be registered with security….
Guests must be accompanied, or met, by their Skadden host in order to be admitted.
No alcohol will be permitted.
A New Year’s Eve celebration without booze? That sucks.
Moral of the story: If you’re spending New Year’s Eve at SASMF, get royally trashed before showing up at Four Times Square. No vodka in the Skadden lemonade [Skadden Insider]
This episode gives new meaning to the term “flip phone.” A cell phone that went off during court proceedings caused one judge to, well, flip out. From the NYT’s City Room blog:
The next time you pass through the city court system in Niagara Falls, N.Y., remember to turn your cellphone off.
Today, the Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended the removal of a judge in Niagara Falls City Court who had, what the commission’s chairman, Raoul L. Felder, called, “two hours of inexplicable madness” when a cellphone rang in his courtroom.
Specifically, on the morning of March 11, 2005, the judge, Robert M. Restaino, was presiding over a slate of domestic violence cases when he heard a phone ring in his courtroom. He told the roughly 70 people in the courtroom, according to the commission’s report, that “every single person is going to jail in this courtroom” unless the phone was turned over.
Look, we hate cellphones ringing at inappropriate times as much as the next guy. But was Judge Restaino’s reaction a tad over the top? We suggest — with respect, Your Honor — that you’re a few beeps short of a ringtone.
Read what happened next, after the jump.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.