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stripper.jpgThe legislative and judicial branches are going head to head in Texas, over a “pole tax.” Sounds noble, right?
Not exactly… since the referenced “poles” are those found in strip clubs. Texas State Rep. Ellen Cohen wants to charge strip club patrons a $5 tax, with proceeds funding programs for the betterment of society. Don’t strippers do enough for society already?

Cohen’s law — some dubbed it the “pole tax” — was expected to raise millions of dollars, with the money dedicated to sexual assault programs and health care for the uninsured.
Gov. Perry signed the law last June and it went into effect this year.
Jenkins ruled the law unconstitutional, writing that erotic dancing is a form of expression protected by the First Amendment. Laws regulating expression must pass strict constitutional tests.
Jenkins focused on the dedication of the fee revenues to the uninsured, writing that he saw no evidence linking the activity of nude, erotic dancing to a lack of health insurance among the dancers.

We wonder if Travis County District Judge Scott Jenkins was listening to Madonna’s “Express Yourself” when he made his ruling.
Cohen vows to revive $5-per-patron strip club fee [Houston Chronicle via TaxProf]

We received 1,036 responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on where you’d most want to work, which, in turn, was based on your nominations last month.
Here’s how it turned out:
Survey Results: Which Firm Would You Most Want To Work For?
favoritefirm.gif
Overall, Latham & Watkins dominated the field, pulling in almost one fifth of all votes. Latham was the most popular choice among voters in L.A., the Bay Area, and Washington, DC, and was particularly favored by tax lawyers and litigators.
Runner-up Wachtell was actually the top choice of respondents in New York, narrowly besting Davis Polk and Latham. It was also, by far, the most popular pick among M&A lawyers, with roughly 30% of their vote.
Kirkland placed third overall, but was the top choice of Chicago respondents and patent lawyers, with almost twice as many votes as the next most popular firm in Chicago (Latham) and almost as many patent votes as the next two firms combined (Latham and Quinn).
Williams & Connolly, Ropes & Gray, and Davis Polk tied for fourth, with Ropes & Gray dominating the Boston vote, Williams & Connolly pwning DC (and gaining the second highest vote from litigators after Latham), and Davis Polk rocking the investment management scene (with Ropes & Gray running second best in that field).
Paul Hastings was the clear winner among labor & employment attorneys, winning almost 70% of the vote, and was also the most popular choice among real estate attorneys and lawyers in Atlanta.
On the Magic Circle front, Linklaters proved more popular than Allen & Overy, and was actually the most popular choice among securities lawyers. Allen & Overy was the most popular choice among structured finance attorneys.

third grade.jpg
Yesterday, Georgia brought us our judge of the day and news from our favorite pro se litigant. Today, it brings us murderous third graders. From CNN:

A group of third-graders plotted to attack their teacher, bringing a broken steak knife, handcuffs, duct tape and other items for the job and assigning children tasks including covering the windows and cleaning up afterward, police said Tuesday.

Photos of the assembled weapons are here.
We realize there is a tenuous legal connection here… but authorities at the school are citing privacy law and there will be charges!

The children, ages 8 to 10, were apparently mad at the teacher because she had scolded one of them for standing on a chair, Tanner said.
Two of the students were arrested on juvenile charges Tuesday and a third arrest was expected. District Attorney Rick Currie said other students told investigators they didn’t take the plot seriously or insisted they had decided not to participate.
“Some of the kids said, `We thought they were just kidding,”‘ Currie said. “Another child was supposed to bring a toy pistol, and he told a detective he didn’t bring it because he thought he would get in trouble.”
Currie said the children are too young to be charged as adults, and probably too young to be sentenced to a youth detention center.
Police seized a steak knife, steel handcuffs, duct tape, electrical and transparent tape, ribbons and the paperweight from the students, Tanner said.
Currie said he decided to seek juvenile charges against two girls, ages 9 and 10, who brought the knife and paperweight and an 8-year-old boy who brought tape. He said all three students faced charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, and both girls were being charged with bringing weapons to school.

How the world has changed. When we were in the third grade, we sang the variation on “Joy to the World” that celebrated the teacher being dead, but we didn’t actually mean it!
11 Students Plotted To Kill Third-Grade Teacher [Local 6 News via Drudge]
Police Release Photos of Weapons in Waycross Plot [First Coast News]
Cops: Third-graders arrested in teacher attack plot [CNN]
Third-graders grilled on plot to kill teacher [The Florida Times-Union]

* A 2003 memo shows that the Justice Department greenlighted aggressive interrogation methods (including poking; Facebook, holla). Maybe those Yalies suing John Yoo need to amend their complaint. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Speaking of Yalies, here are a Yale 1L’s thoughts on the U.S. News rankings controversy. [Hartford Courant]
* A bipartisan effort to protect homeowners at risk of foreclosure. [New York Times]
* Despite the grim economy, partner poaching continues — and even extends to finance and securitization lawyers. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Hey Mon — please don’t try to board a flight with apparent bomb-making materials. [CNN]
* Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano may have offered clients more than just investigative services. [New York Times]

Sullivan Cromwell new logo Above the Law blog.jpgThe Brokeback Lawfirm scandal folded its pup tent months ago. But there’s still stuff to cover at one of ATL’s favorite firms, the venerable Sullivan & Cromwell.

Here are two items. First, from a tipster:

If I recall correctly, Sullivan & Cromwell sent out a memo in December or January saying that even though they paid the “special bonuses” in December, they still intended to pay additional profit-sharing bonuses in February. [February is over] and as far as I know, not a word from S&C. Can you guys please make a big deal over this?

The tipster’s memory is slightly off. From chairman H. Rodgin Cohen’s earlier bonus memo:

[T]he Firm will pay senior associates compensation in addition to salary and bonus through our new Senior Associate Supplemental Bonus Plan (“the Plan”). We have decided to accelerate payments under this new Plan to result in the following [market-matching bonuses] being paid on December 14 to our senior associates, with final supplemental payments to be made in the Spring of ’08.

We are now officially into spring 2008. So ATL hereby “make[s] a big deal over this.” Has S&C paid the supplemental bonuses to its senior associates? If so, can someone please give us the skinny?

Second, here’s an interesting rumor of a partner departure from S&C, from a different tipster….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Up at Sullivan & Cromwell?”

Avvo Lawyer Attorney Ratings Above the Law blog.jpg* Better late than never: data on New Jersey lawyers finally released to lawyer ratings site Avvo. [AP]
* Speaking of the Garden State, Judge Fred Kieser Jr. would have been a great Lawyer of the Day (if we hadn’t missed this when it came out last month). [NJ.com]
* “[I]n a move designed to show that it is doing its part in the global war on terrorism, China announced today a crackdown on counterfeit designer handbags….” [Securing Innovation]
* News you can use (if you have dreams of legal academia): teaching fellowships for aspiring law professors. [TaxProf Blog]
* If you’re STILL not tired of talking about those U.S. News law school rankings — and we’re finally sensing some fatigue, since our last post didn’t even generate 100 comments — here are a few more links:
  * “The Contradictory Goals of Law School Rankings” [Concurring Opinions (Dan Solove)]
  * “An Open Letter to Bob Morse of U.S. News” [Brian Leiter's Law School Reports]
  * “US News Hacked?: Does the US News Web Site Display 3rd Tier & 4th Tier Law Schools Ranked in Order?” [PrawfsBlawg (Geoffrey Rapp)]
* The 2008 April Fool’s Blawg Review Appendix. [a fool in the forest via Blawg Review]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWe previously reported that Covington & Burling, in their New York office, paid special and year-end bonuses at market levels. But what did they do in their other offices around the country?
The firm takes its sweet time, for one thing. Last month, a tipster there wrote us:

The D.C. office of Covington & Burling still has not paid bonuses to associates. When our peers at other firms (and in NY) got bonuses months ago, it seems offensive and stingy to hold out on the bonus payment…

But that’s the way things have always been. We contacted Covington and learned, through a spokesperson, that “it’s been our firm’s policy for years that our bonus schedule is around April 1 in all markets, except New York.”
So today is April 1. Do you know where the Covington bonuses are — and what they’re like this year?
If so — or if you have bonus news on another major national law firm, not previously covered in these pages — please email us (subject line: “Associate Bonus Watch”). Thanks.
Update: We’ve learned that in Covington’s San Francisco office, bonuses ranged from $5K to $65K (but don’t have any more details).
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Covington & Burling (New York)
Associate Bonus Watch: A Few More Updates

Latham Watkins Church of Scientology Scientologist Above the Law blog.jpgA quick follow-up to Friday’s post about Latham & Watkins possibly representing the Church of Scientology. The post was updated multiple times, and there were also lots of comments on it. Depending upon when you stopped reading, you may have come away with an erroneous impression.
At one point, we — and some commenters — expressed doubt that LW represents the Scientologists. But for the record, it now appears that Latham really IS representing the Church.
See this post from Radar Online, which has more details, and collects several legal letters sent out on behalf of the Church (thumbnails; click to enlarge) According to Radar, “[a]t least one Latham & Watkins letter was signed by David J. Schindler, the former Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the criminally mischievous nerd any self-respecting hacker wannabe worships, Kevin Mitnick.”
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Latham & Watkins to Free Stress Tests?”

commonal.jpgWe’re still in the great state of Georgia (which brought us today’s Judge of the Day). Now one of our favorite pro se litigants has been barred from further filing in the Northern District of Georgia.
From the Fulton County Daily Report:

The federal court filing spree launched by Jonathan Lee Riches, a pro se inmate who has barraged courts around the country with some 1,500 handwritten suits, is coming to a halt—at least in the Northern District of Georgia.

Calling Riches a “vexatious and abusive litigant,” U.S. District Judge Willis B. Hunt Jr. last week permanently enjoined Riches—who has filed 351 suits in the Northern District alone over the past several months—from filing any more without first meeting a strict set of criteria.

Vexatious. That’s a great Scabulous word!
The order [pdf] dismisses all of Riches’ pending cases without prejudice. Skadden Arps and Pepper Hamilton must be breathing huge sighs of relief.

Among the defendants to Riches’ Atlanta suits were former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his wife, Silda; the law firms Pepper Hamilton and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Hooters of America; Norwegian Cruise Lines Inc.; and investment banker Bruce Wasserstein, whose private equity fund used to own the Daily Report’s parent company.

Riches’ celebrity targets included actors Anne Heche, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones; musicians Cyndi Lauper and Eddie Van Halen; and Braves pitcher Tom Glavine.

In one case, he alleged that actress Molly Ringwald “said she is going to turn me into a redhead and … burn me with 16 candles,” an apparent reference to Ringwald’s 1984 hit movie “Sixteen Candles.”

The candles line tempts us to withdraw our promise not to have Riches join ATL as a guest blogger.
Judge blocks inmate’s flood of cases to district court [Law.com]

Marvin Arrington Judge Marvin S Arrington Above the Law blog.jpgJudge Marvin S. Arrington, who has served since 2002 as a Superior Court Judge in Fulton County, Georgia, is profiled on a website called The History Makers. The bio describes Judge Arrington’s achievements as a pathbreaking African-American lawyer, politician, and judge — also described by the judge in his book, Making My Mark: The Story of a Man Who Wouldn’t Stay in His Place.
Well, it seems that this “History Maker” continues to make headlines. This “man who wouldn’t stay in his place” doesn’t want you to stay in his place, either — at least if you’re white.
Judge Arrington recently ordered white lawyers out of his courtroom. This short video clip about the expulsion hovers near the top of today’s headlines on CNN.
Judge Arrington didn’t expel the whiteys for Reverend Wright-type reasons. Rather, he wanted to deliver a heartfelt lecture to an all-black audience, about race in America and how they should conduct themselves. See also Bill Cosby.
The judge was certainly well-intentioned. But tossing out all the white folk was a pretty dumb idea unwise (at least from a PR standpoint). Judge Arrington is therefore our Judge of the Day.
Courtroom Race Lecture [CNN Video]
Black Judge Orders Whites Out Of Atlanta Court [WSBTV.com]
Hon. Marvin S. Arrington, Sr. Biography [The History Makers]
Making My Mark: The Story of a Man Who Wouldn’t Stay in His Place [BN.com]
Fulton County Superior Court – Marvin S. Arrington appointed [BNet.com]

Sports and the Law 3 Above the Law blog.jpgIn honor of both the start of baseball season and April Fool’s Day, log onto Westlaw and type in 123 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1474. What you will find is a piece from the June 1975 University of Pennsylvania Law Review called The Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule. This Aside, presumably written tongue-in-cheek, examines “whether the same types of forces that shaped the development of the common law also generated the Infield Fly Rule.”
The Infield Fly Rule is a baseball rule that prevents infielders from intentionally dropping pop flies with less than two outs and either runners on first and second base or the bases loaded. According to the rule, if a batter hits a pop fly in infield territory, the umpire is supposed to automatically call the batter “out.” Runners are then free to advance at their own risk.
As discussed in the Aside, baseball owners implemented the Infield Fly Rule to combat gamesmanship by infielders, including most famously Columbia Law School graduate Monte Ward, who realized that intentionally dropping pop flies would allow turning single outs into double plays and triple plays. Without adding such a rule, base runners would have no way to know whether to advance or retreat on pop flies until the very last moment.
Over the years, The Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule has developed a cult following. The work has been cited 56 times, including by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Wikipedia ranks the Aside as one of the sixteen most “significant” works ever published by Penn Law Review. The author Will Stevens even stepped forward to identify himself after having originally published the piece anonymously.
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law Review”

assigning partner 2 work assignment Above the Law blog.JPGWe received almost 900 responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on how work gets assigned.
Here’s how you said it is:
  * 54% of respondents said that their work was assigned directly by the partners.
  * 19% of respondents seek out the work they want in a “free market.”
  * 18% have work assigned by a practice group leader or department head.
  * 3% have work assignments filtered through an advisor or mentor.
  * 6% wrote in that their firms have some combination of the above, which generally boiled down to a mix of direct assignments from the partners and a free market.
But many respondents would rather see some of those direct assignments filtered through a department head or a mentor. Here’s how you said it should be:
  * 37% of respondents want their work to be assigned directly by the partners. Among respondents whose work actually is assigned directly by partners, this number jumped to 88%.
  * 21% of respondents would like to get the work they want in a “free market.” A slight majority (54%) of the respondents who do receive their work this way considered it the best option.
  * 28% would prefer to have work assigned by a practice group leader or department head. Among respondents who already receive their assignments through this system, 40% considered it the best option.
  * 11% would rather have work assignments filtered through an advisor or mentor. But only 17% of respondents whose firms currently use this method would choose to assign work this way.
  * 3% wrote in that they would like a mix of the above.
Earlier: Featured Job Survey: Where Does Your Work Come From?

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

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