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  • 14 Oct 2008 at 1:37 PM
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Controlling The Narrative: Cleary Gottlieb

Cleary Gottlieb Steen Hamilton LLP CGSH Above the Law blog.jpgOn Friday we told you the story of 2 Cleary associates whose late night mistake caused problems for Cleary Gottlieb and their client, Barclays. Many were sympathetic to the associates and pointed out that blame should be shared with Cleary partners.

Cleary has declined to respond to the story, but that doesn’t mean they are unconcerned about what is said about them in the press. They are not shy about capitalizing of the global financial crisis either; their website now links to a financial crisis resource center. Yesterday, the firm sent around a hyper-positive email to all new Cleary offerees:

Congratulations on your offer to join Cleary Gottlieb!

We thought you may be interested in some recent media coverage of Cleary Gottlieb’s deals and cases.

The message goes on to list all of the great press stories Cleary has received since the firm’s attorneys first discovered fire. What do you think of this effort at firm PR?

Read the full message after the jump.

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Copyright_night_ripper_illegal_art.jpgStanford law professor Larry Lessig had an editorial in the Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition, “In defense of piracy.” Lessig starts off hating on the lawyers who went after the mother in the dancing baby/YouTube/Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” case. (Background here.)

How is it that sensible people, people no doubt educated at some of the best universities and law schools in the country, would come to think it a sane use of corporate resources to threaten the mother of a dancing 13-month-old? What is it that allows these lawyers and executives to take a case like this seriously, to believe there’s some important social or corporate reason to deploy the federal scheme of regulation called copyright to stop the spread of these images and music?

The answer: Crazy copyright law.

Lessig goes on to defend others whose creativity is derived from others’ creativity, like Danger Mouse and mash-up artist Girl Talk, whose latest album samples from 300 different songs. No rights acquired.

Midway through, the editorial goes into “Braveheart” mode. There’s a war going on, says Lessig– the “copyright wars.” Kids these days are sharing copyrighted material through peer-to-peer networks, while the art world is embracing a rampant remix culture.

This war must end. It is time we recognize that we can’t kill this creativity. We can only criminalize it. We can’t stop our kids from using these tools to create, or make them passive. We can only drive it underground, or make them “pirates.” And the question we as a society must focus on is whether this is any good. Our kids live in an age of prohibition, where more and more of what seems to them to be ordinary behavior is against the law. They recognize it as against the law. They see themselves as “criminals.” They begin to get used to the idea.

That recognition is corrosive. It is corrupting of the very idea of the rule of law. And when we reckon the cost of this corruption, any losses of the content industry pale in comparison.

That’s heavy. Lessig’s suggestions for ending the war, saving our lawless kids, and encouraging creativity, after the jump.

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jr ewing aka dale markland.jpgDo you remember the tale of Jeff Murphrey? He was the Houston-based attorney who tried to reschedule a deposition after Hurricane Ike caused significant property damage to his home.

When Dallas-based attorney Dale Markland objected (and requested Murphrey to pay rescheduling fees) Murphrey fired off this letter, which then went viral.

Well apparently Dale Markland (a.k.a J.R Ewing) has responded to Murphrey’s insult by devoting a whole section of his firm’s website to the spat. Here is Markland’s attempt to set the record straight:

* The hurricane in the Houston area occurred on September 12/13;

* Mr. Murphrey cancelled the deposition on September 23 when I was already on my way to Fort Wayne, Indiana for the deposition;

* I first got notice of this cancellation by cell phone message while in Chicago O’Hare Airport rushing to catch my connecting flight to Fort Wayne;

* The voice mail message I received in Chicago stated that Mr. Murphrey cancelled the deposition because he had meetings with contractors and city officials related to hurricane damage. It stated nothing about the horrors Mr. Murphrey addresses in his September 26 letter.

* Our firm’s attorneys attempted to gain Mr. Murphrey’s agreement that our client be recompensed for the unnecessary attorney’s fees and travel expenses entailed in my needlessly going to Fort Wayne. This is appropriate and professional behavior for attorneys who are representing their clients properly under the Texas State Bar Disciplinary Rules and The Texas Lawyers Creed. It is also, in my experience, not abnormal behavior for an attorney properly representing his client. If I had been in Mr. Murphrey’s shoes, I would have paid for the fees and expenses out of my firm’s pocket.

* Mr. Murphrey agreed to pay the travel expenses but declined to pay the attorney’s fees for the useless trip to Fort Wayne.

* It was not my fault or the fault of the client who pays my fees and expenses that Mr. Murphrey did not cancel the deposition until I was on my way to Fort Wayne.

* If Mr. Murphrey had simply picked up the telephone and called me, or had sent me an email or letter sometime between the hurricane on September 12/13 and when I left for Fort Wayne on September 23, I would have gladly agreed to re-set the deposition he had noticed. Then my client would not have been stuck with the fees and expenses of my useless trip to Fort Wayne.

* The first I knew of Mr. Murphrey’s story of horrors regarding his home damage was when I received his September 26 letter–after he cancelled the deposition, after I had made the useless trip to Fort Wayne, after I had appropriately determined whether Mr. Murphrey or his client would pay for the needless fees and expenses and after he had declined to pay my client for the fees.

* I am very sympathetic to Mr. Murphrey and his home situation, but it is not my client’s fault that Mr. Murphrey failed to cancel the deposition before I left, and the client should not bear this significant financial burden. My duty under Texas law is to uphold the interest of my client and that is what I have attempted to do.

More Markland excerpts after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Stars At Night; Are Big And Bright …”

  • 14 Oct 2008 at 10:08 AM

Best Career Prospects

pyramid scheme capstone small.jpgA week ago, we mocked Princeton Review’s “Best Career Prospects” law school rankings.

We felt that any methodology that ranked Boston College Law School as a better career move than Yale Law School had to be flawed.

Brian Leiter chose to tackle this career prospects question from a simple but reasonable angle:

Where do the most elite law firms in the United States go to hire new lawyers? We started with the most recent Vault list of the most prestigious law firms in the U.S. We had to go to #24 on that list to identify fifteen super elite law firms that had the right kinds of search engines to permit efficient identification of where associates at these law firms went to law school.

From this premise, Leiter has composed a list of the best “feeder schools” for Biglaw jobs.

Results after the jump.

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dog food.jpg* Simpson Thacher chosen as the legal advisers on the $700 billion bail-out. [The Lawyer]

* Google and Yahoo are in talks with the Justice Department to avoid an antitrust suit. [CNet]

* Pet owners whose furry little friends were sickened by contaminated pet food traced to China expected to get a settlement as high as $32 million. [Associated Press]

* Signs of a slowdown at your firm. “Partners doing legal research and writing memos and briefs in longhand is a sign of the apocalypse.” [Fulton County Daily Report]

* The adventures of a Georgetown law student set up on a blind date. Are D.C. roots and a shared interest in law school enough to seal the deal? [Washington Post]

ships3.jpg[Ed. note: Happy Columbus Day. And to the Canadians, happy Thanksgiving. Our publisher Breaking Media has encouraged us to embrace the holiday spirit on this second Monday of October, so we will not be publishing today. We'll see you tomorrow.]

* “Experts call 5 ongoing probes of federal jurists unprecedented.” [Houston Chronicle]

* Arizona bar exam results are out. [Supreme Court of Arizona (PDF)]

*Citigroup may have gracefully walked away from the battle with Wells Fargo over Wachovia, but it’s not walking away from its lawsuit for $60 billion in damages. [New York Law Journal]

* Sidley and Austin: breeding ground for terrorists? [Talking Points Memo]

* The Troopergate report was released on Friday. Sarah Palin found to have abused executive power. [Washington Post]

* Elizabeth Wurtzel in the house at Boies Schiller. [WSJ Law Blog]

Cleary Gottlieb Steen Hamilton LLP CGSH Above the Law blog.jpgToday, every associate’s worst nightmare came to a merciful end in a New York Bankruptcy Court.

The nightmare started for a first-year Cleary Gottlieb associate on the night of September 18th. The associate was called in for some extra muscle on the Barclays acquisition of Lehman assets. At the request of a second-year associate, the first-year reformatted an Excel spreadsheet of critical contracts to be assumed and assigned in bankruptcy on the closing date of the Lehman/Barclays sale. Predictably, this work was done long after normal business hours, just after 11:30 p.m.

On September 19th, Cleary produced the list of contracts based on the associates’ work the night before.

The problem was that the list contained 179 contracts that should not have been included. The Lehman/Barclays sale closed on September 22nd, with the over inclusive list of contracts.

My stomach gets tied up in knots writing that.

The resolution after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Case For Sleep: What Happens In Excel After Dark”

heller drone no more.JPG* Another book about law school, this time from an NYU grad. Fat Black Pussycat > Off the Wagon. [Law School Story]

* So, who is going to be the next USAG? [Law and More]

* Absentee ballots allowing people to vote for “Barack Osama” were mailed to about 300 residents of Rensselaer County, NY. That would be the longtime district of former New York State Senate Republican leader Joe Bruno. “Whoops.” [Albany Times Union]

* Will tighter ABA accreditation standards harm minority students? Only if you believe that minorities are disproportionately benefited by the low-end law schools getting squeezed by the ABA. I’m not sure if that stands up to empirical scrutiny. [The Shark]

* Online dating guide for lawyers. [Sweet Hot Justice]

* Apparently, informing associates and staff about their rights and options has been deemed “non-essential” by Heller management. [Heller Highwater]

judge_lippencott.jpgThis county judge in Ohio is being honored with ATL Judge of the Day for her creative sentencing. Judge Susan Fornof-Lippencott sentenced a local man to… gasp, the horror, the horror… Beethoven!

From the Associated Press:

Andrew Vactor was facing a $150 fine for playing rap music too loudly on his car stereo in July. But a judge offered to reduce that to $35 if Vactor spent 20 hours listening to classical music by the likes of Bach, Beethoven and Chopin.

Vactor, 24, lasted only about 15 minutes, a probation officer said.

Vactor may not have been a fan of the classical tunes, but Nas appreciates Für Elise along with you, Judge Fornof-Lippencott.

Despite the classical sentence, she’s not too terribly high-brow. According to her bio, Judge Bach-inator is a farmer and participates in “West-Liberty Salem High School Mock Trials.” And Men’s News Daily reports that she has sentenced other offenders to episodes of Oprah and Dr. Phil. Now that’s harsh!

Judge sentences rap fan to Bach, Beethoven [Associated Press]

Rap music fan sentenced to Beethoven, pays fine instead [Men's News Daily]

“Non-essential” Heller Ehrman people, it’s time to pack it up:

Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGIt is with a great deal of regret that we write to inform you that we will not be able to pay you for work performed after today, Friday October 10 and, as a result, that your employment with the firm will be terminated today. We also expect that we will need to inform other employees over the following two weeks that we are unable to pay them any further and will need to terminate their employment. We do expect that we will be able to continue to pay some people for a longer period of time. Regular paychecks will be provided today but because of the volume of final paychecks we will need to prepare, it may take a few days to get your final paycheck to you. We know this is important to you but please be assured your colleagues in the Payroll Department will be working as hard and as quickly as they can to get you your paycheck.

These actions have been forced upon us by the two banks — Citibank and Bank of America — that control our ability to make any payments. Generally, they have refused to pay employees who we cannot convince them are necessary (as they define it) for the wind down efforts. We understand how upsetting this news is. You should continue your activities to serve clients, including, where applicable, to bill your time. Time billing and client service are two of the criteria the banks are examining in our continuing negotiations with them to maintain an orderly transition.

We want to thank you for your professionalism and forbearance to date and ask you to continue to proceed with the same degree of professionalism you have demonstrated during your valuable service to the firm and to its clients.

The Dissolution Committee

The rest of the bad news, after the jump.

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gilbert randolph soon to be old logo.JPGGilbert Randolph has added Jerry Oshinsky to their partnership ranks. The firm will change its name to “Gilbert Oshinsky” to highlight this new acquisition. Firm chairman Scott Gilbert announced the new hire via a firm-wide email:

I have a number of exciting announcements.

First, I am extraordinarily pleased to tell you that Jerry Oshinsky will be joining the firm, likely as early as next week. A number of us were Jerry’s colleagues at Dickstein Shapiro, Morin & Oshinsky; indeed, it was the prospect of combining our respective practices that ultimately led me to leave Covington & Burling after 18 years and join Dickstein in the first place. Jerry is simply THE preeminent litigator and advisor in insurance law, and we certainly now can say that there rarely has been a coverage decision or settlement of any significance in the United States that did not directly involve Jerry or other of our firm lawyers. Of course, as anyone who knows Jerry can readily attest, he also is a tremendous human being, in every sense of the word. As his friend of 30 years and an ardent admirer, I just could not be more pleased and excited that Jerry has chosen to begin this new, and yet to be the most satisfying and successful, chapter of his storied career with us.

Second, as soon as Jerry is able to join the partnership, the firm will be changing its name to Gilbert Oshinsky LLP. This name best reflects our new, or in some cases reestablished, relationship with Jerry, as well as the merger of our two substantial practices. And yes, on several levels, we henceforth will be known as the GO to firm.

“GO to firm.” Nice touch.

The email went on to say that GO would be opening a Los Angeles office and that Oshinsky would be operating out of that new facility.

But the email does not mention Jerry C. Randolph, co-founder of the firm. Is there a limitation on the number of “Jerrys” allowed as name partners? Does he sleep with the fishes? Were they so excited about the “GO to” stuff that Randolph’s name became a marketing causality?

Dickstein Shapiro responds (sort of) after the jump.

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Dickstein Shapiro, ‘Morin & Oshinsky’ To Change Stationery”

gay marriage skadden.jpgConnecticut homosexuals now have the same right to get married — and eventually lose half of their stuff — as heterosexuals:

The Supreme Court released its historic ruling at 11:30 a.m. Citing the equal protection clause of the state constitution, the justices ruled that civil unions were discriminatory and that the state’s “understanding of marriage must yield to a more contemporary appreciation of the rights entitled to constitutional protection.”

Writing for the 4-3 majority, Justice Palmer wrote:

Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice, to decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.

Homosexuals were held to be a quasi-suspect class.

Now we go to the ballots. On election day Connecticut voters will have an opportunity to convene a state constitutional convention that could result in a ban on gay marriage.

Any inappropriate, firm-wide emails sent by partners staking out political positions should be sent here.

Update (Lat, J., concurring): In the comments, some of you have complained about our use of “homosexual” as a noun (instead of a more P.C. formulation like “gay men and lesbians”). Obviously we are not biased against gay people around here. Rather, our use of “homosexual” was intended to be ironic and amusingly archaic. Thanks.

High Court Grants Gay Marriage Rights [Hartford Courant]

Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health (PDF)

Earlier: Orrick’s Internal Battle Over Proposition 8

Skadden Partner Walks Into the Lion’s Den Society

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