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sky-is-falling.jpgWe received roughly 1,527 responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on whether you’re busy, which is up from the roughly 1,350 responses we received in June.

Overall, things are looking slower than they did in December or June, with 32% of associates afraid that they won’t make their hours this year, in contrast to 28% of associates in June and 18% in December. Worse yet, 3% of respondents said that they had already been laid off, an answer that wasn’t available in the earlier surveys.

Meanwhile, the number of respondents who still think their firms actually need to hire more people has dropped precipitously, from 25% in June to only 15% today.

Is business slow? December 2007 vs. June 2008 vs. September 2008

December 2007   June 2008   September 2008
Yes, I’ve been laid off. n/a n/a 3%
Yes. I won’t make my hours. 18% 28% 32%
Yes, but I’ll make my hours. 15% 12% 16%
It’s slow for others, but not me. 16% 14% 11%
No. 25% 21% 23%
No. We need more people. 26% 25% 15%

Find out what’s hot and what’s not, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Yikes”

Palin Vogue.JPGLate Friday night, we reported that Sarah Palin’s tax returns failed to report the per diem reimbursements she received as governor of Alaska. Over the weekend our commenters weighed in:

This is an easy income tax question. Any 1L/2L taking an income tax class could have answered this problem. Yes, the IRS usually relies on employer’s W2 forms. That’s for administrative convenience. For the most part, the IRS doesn’t want to audit every employee’s fringe benefits, which would be an incredible waste of tax dollars. That being said, the governor, with all her qualifications and knowledge regarding the U.S. system of governance, should have known that a per diem (worth how much over the last 18 months?) should be included in her tax return. If my employer reimbursed me for tens of thousands of dollars (for what expenses?), I would at least think about whether this was income.

But ATL weekend readers concluded that Palin will likely face no criminal liability:

The answer is probably that Palin is civilly responsible for underreporting income and underpaying taxes, but is not criminally responsible.

Criminal tax violations require “willfulness”. In the criminal tax arena, the Supreme Court has interpreted that as a pretty tough standard — approaching actual intent to violate a known obligation. See Cheek v. United States (1991). But a taxpayer is civilly liable for taxes whether or not she knew or had reason to know of the liability. (You’re still liable even if you relied in good faith on your accountant; even if you thought you didn’t have to pay; even if you made just a math error). And the IRS can require payment of back-taxes for whatever years are still within the statute of limitations, which almost certainly would include Palin’s limited time as governor.

So to the extent [Roger] Olsen [Palin's tax lawyer] is simply saying that Palin won’t be criminally prosecuted, he’s right. To the extent he’s saying that the IRS would believe Palin current on her obligations, he’s wrong — she’s going to have to file amended returns and send in a check.

Tax professors comment after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sarah Palin: The Case of the Unreported Income”

live free or die.jpgThe market may have already discounted the $700 billion ($840 B) bailout bill, but the legal profession hasn’t even begun to get its hands around this thing.

But while we wait for serious actions to arise from the market implosion, at least we have this crazy dude from “reenactment of 1776” to help us pass the time. This guy is one of the many — mentally unbalanced — souls who makes the internet so much fun. But he has taken a break from his usual calls for a violent proletariat revolution to attack the bailout bill through more “constructive” means. He proposes a class action lawsuit against … well, I’m not sure who exactly. But the point is that he is against it! And he believes that the 13th Amendment provides all the legal cover he requires:

If this bailout is passed, I Larry Bumgarner, from will try to file papers in Federal Court to get an injunction against this bailout, to stop it, so that we can protect the lower and middleclass from thirteenth amendment violations. This I would like to turn into a class action suit with members of the lower and middleclass. If you would be interested in joining a class action lawsuit please respond to this site with your e-mail address.

I don’t like,

I don’t like,

I don’t like Mondays.

It gets so much better after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Little Bit Of Knowledge Is A Hilarious Thing”

michelle obama.jpg* Citigroup convinced Justice Charles E. Ramos of the New York State Supreme Court to issue an emergency order this weekend blocking Wachovia’s sale to Wells Fargo. “The litigation could be a blockbuster, pitting some of the nation’s largest surviving financial institutions against one another and giving work to the most expensive legal talent money can buy.” [New York Times]

… * UPDATE: Wells Fargo and Citibank may divvy up Wachovia. [Bloomberg]

* Shocker from Michelle Obama’s new biography! She was dissatisfied with firm work at Sidley Austin. Even when they gave her Coors beer ads. [Lynn Sweet/Chicago Sun-Times]

* Expect the future of SCOTUS to get attention in the last month of the presidential race. Reverend Wright to One First Street? [New York Times]

* Charges in the Italian legal “Parent Trap” case. The Italian judge and her non-lawyer twin sister who swapped places for a day will be charged with fraud. [Reuters]

* We welcomed SCOTUS back earlier today. More on the term ahead and the lawyers who will be working their magic before the justices. [Legal Times]

  • 06 Oct 2008 at 7:51 AM

Welcome back, SCOTUS!

Supreme Court 6 Above the Law blog.JPGIt’s the first Monday of October. That means the “open for business” sign is being hung back up at One First Street.

Adam Liptak took a look at the Supreme Court’s new strategy for this term in a New York Times article this weekend:

The court is working at a brisker pace than it has in recent years. It is accepting more cases and hearing them earlier in the term. In October and November, the court will hear three arguments a day, rather than the usual two, returning after lunch for the third one.

By frontloading the arguments to the beginning of the term, which generally runs from October to June, the court may be able to issue decisions more regularly and avoid the usual end-of-term barrage of significant rulings.

The National Law Journal has a nice distillation of the particularly interesting cases on the docket this term:

  • Business is seeking federal pre-emption of state personal injury suits in the pharmaceutical drug and tobacco arenas.

  • Employees and employers square off in two job bias cases, one involving retaliation and the other pregnancy leave and retirement credit.
  • Sexual harassment in schools draws the justices into the interplay of two major discrimination statutes.
  • And an unusually large number of environmental cases — four — will be argued, ranging from Navy sonar and its effect on marine mammals to the use of cost-benefit analysis in setting environmental standards.
  • Among other issues, there also are “dirty words” in a Fox Television challenge; a free speech challenge involving a monument to the “Seven Aphorisms” of the Summum religion; liability-immunity issues for prosecutors and top federal officials; terror victim compensation lawsuits; and counsel representation in state clemency proceedings.
  • In keeping with the spirit of one case on the docket, FCC v. Fox Television Stations, we’d like to say, “SCOTUS, welcome the f**k back.”

    Justices Return to Work, With Less Meaty Docket [New York Times]

    In the New Term, High Stakes for the High Court [The National Law Journal]

    Earlier: SCOTUS to Weigh In on F**king S**t

    oj simpson mug shot Above the Law no pun intended.jpgThis news came in overnight. Via the AP (story filed at 2:33 AM Eastern time):

    O.J. Simpson, who went from American sports idol to celebrity-in-exile after he was acquitted of murder in 1995, was found guilty Friday of robbing two sports-memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.

    Simpson, 61, could spend the rest of his life in prison. Sentenc[ing] was set for Dec. 5….

    The Hall of Fame football star was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges for gathering up five men a year ago and storming into a room at a hotel-casino, where the group seized several game balls, plaques and photos. Prosecutors said two of the men with him were armed; one of them said Simpson asked him to bring a gun.

    Talk about timing:

    The verdict came 13 years to the day after Simpson was cleared of murdering his ex-wife and a friend of hers in Los Angeles in one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century.

    Karma is a bitch. We previously expressed pessimism about the prospects of a conviction, but we can’t say we’re unhappy to be proven wrong.

    Update: (Mystal, J., concurring): I do think that the verdict was bull$#TTT because a white man who tried to get his own stuff back would never have been found guilty of a “crime” in a western state like Nevada. But I’m not going to lie (go to the 6:15 mark); the man killed two people back in the day.

    I was happy that he got off back then, Fuhman was a racist cop, and I was happy that “society” learned that there is no justice when racist cops are involved. But I don’t suborn support killing people.

    Acquittal via the race card, conviction via the race card … seems fair to me.

    Simpson guilty on all charges in robbery trial [AP]

    O. J. Simpson Found Guilty in Robbery Trial [New York Times]

    Earlier: Do I Smell A Fuhrman?

    Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGThis won’t come as a galloping shock to the pessimists out there, but Heller Ehrman is not going to pay out the accrued vacation time of their associates and staff. The disappointed employees were told today via a firm-wide email:

    On behalf of the Dissolution Committee:

    To Our Employees:

    The Dissolution Committee is sending this message to keep interested employees as informed as possible of relevant developments. A number of people have raised questions about accrued vacation pay payable upon termination. We regret to inform you that the banks’ which now control our ability to write checks — Bank of America and Citibank — have informed us that we may not pay terminating employees for accrued vacation. This decision was made despite our strenuous, repeated efforts to convince the banks otherwise.

    We will continue to seek the banks’ permission to pay these amounts as soon as possible. The Dissolution Committee did obtain the banks oral permission to fund the payroll due next Friday in all other respects. We are now awaiting their written confirmation, which we expect to receive later today.

    We sincerely regret that the banks are preventing us from paying our terminating employees the full amount to which they are entitled at this time. We wish it were otherwise, and we will continue to press the banks to change their position.

    The Dissolution Committee

    As we’ve discussed before, the banks really do have the ultimate authority when it comes to these situations. However, Heller made many protestations in the immediate aftermath of the dissolution that associates and staff would be paid all that they were owed.

    Is “orderly dissolution” a thing of the past? Hellerites weigh in after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Anatomy of a Dissolution:
    BoA & Citi Tell Heller Ehrman There’s No Money For Vacation Time “

    Palin Vogue.JPGEarlier today, Governor Sarah Palin released her tax returns. It turns out she makes a little more than most “hockey moms” but she’s no Joe Biden. TaxProf Blog breaks down how she stacks up to the other Article II contenders:

    Gov. Palin’s charitable contributions do not approach the 10% tithe required by her evangelical church, but they are in line with the average charitable contribution of Americans with her income and they are over ten times greater (on a percentage basis) than Joe Biden’s miserly charitable contributions.

    But Paul Caron was also right on the money about another issue: Palin’s failure to report her per diem reimbursement she received as governor of Alaska. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have mentioned these reimbursements before.

    Palin tonight responded with authority to these allegations. The campaign released a letter (pdf) from D.C. tax attorney Roger M. Olsen:

    Unless employees have reason to know that the W-2 is incorrect, the IRS expects employees to rely on the employer’s W-2 as prepared & filed with the IRS, as Governor Palin did. The income tax aspects of fringe benefits are complex and highly technical, and not subject to second-guessing by laymen. The State of Alaska is confident that its position is correct. Its employees were entitled to rely on that determination, So was Governor Palin.

    Sounds like Olsen just called the liberal media “TTT.” Caron points out that Olsen is more qualified to speak about Palin’s tax returns than your average cable news anchor:

    Mr. Olsen has a tax LL.M. from George Washington and is a former Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division under President Reagan.

    Are there any uber-qualified attorneys that would like to support the Olsen-Palin position? Or stand opposed?

    Gov. Palin Releases Law Firm Opinion Letter Justifying Her Not Reporting Per Diem Expenses as Income [TaxProf Blog]

    Palin Releases Tax Returns and Financial Disclosure Forms [TaxProf Blog]

    Roger Olsen Letter (pdf)

    women playboy want wall street.jpg* The real Spiderman gets hit for tax evasion. Times are tough so I guess the IRS can’t just go after black actors and rappers anymore. [TaxProf Blog]

    * A chance meeting with Sandy Dee. [Dr. Frank's]

    * A sneak peak at the Simpson’s upcoming Treehouse of Horror episode. [io9]

    * I knew Eliza Doolittle. Eliza Doolittle was a friend of mine. Madame, you are no Eliza Doolittle. [What About Clients?]

    * If your firm’s janitor stops coming around, your firm might be trying to help you. [Law and More]

    * The Beautiful Lawyers of Boston Calendar launch party was last night, and their photo gallery is now online. Until GULC does a “women of K street issue” I’m not going to get too interested. [f/k/a]

    * I speak from some experience here; when breaking media says they are looking for new writers, they are totally serious. [Dealbreaker]

    • 03 Oct 2008 at 4:19 PM
    • Uncategorized

    Skadden/DPW v. S&C: Boom Goes The Dynamite

    wall street bull backside.jpgThe deal between Citigroup and Wachovia fell through, allowing Wells Buffet Fargo to swoop in and pick up the ball Citigroup dropped.

    Citigroup is considering whether to increase it’s bid for Wachovia or sue Wachovia according to the Wall Street Journal. They might also consider crying themselves to sleep on their huge pillow.

    But legal insiders are busy blaming people for the aborted merger between the two commercial banks. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog suggests that Sullivan and Cromwell –counsel for Wachovia on both mergers– attorneys hit the snooze button one too many times:

    We lobbed a call over to Wachovia’s lawyer, S&C’s Rodgin Cohen, to find out. Cohen declined to comment on the record. But in looking for clues this morning, we came across this National Law Journal story entitled, “Crisis mantra for sleep-deprived M&A attorneys: don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Discussing the feverish pace of three recent billion-dollar bank mergers, the NLJ quoted Cohen in explaining how to put such deals together so quickly: “We all understood, you can’t sweat the small stuff.”

    The Law Blog claims that the “small stuff” might be an exclusivity agreement:

    Citi claims the letter of intent it reached with Wachovia contained an exclusivity agreement prohibiting Wachovia from trying to lure other bidders. …

    An M&A partner at a large New York firm who spoke with us this morning says no. “Quite often, letters of intent don’t include exclusivity agreements.”

    Additional winners and losers after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skadden/DPW v. S&C: Boom Goes The Dynamite”

    Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGWhile law firms try to cherry pick Heller Ehrman’s departing attorneys, some companies are also trying to pick up Heller Ehrman’s business.

    But there is a way to be decent about these things. The people at VentureSource might need to brush up on their etiquette. The venture capital resource group sent out the following email to many of their subscribers, including some people who are still affiliated with Heller Ehrman:

    Heller Erman[sic] dissolved its practice last week. This week, dozens of venture capital firms and portfolio companies may be in search of new legal representation.

    See all the clients–including their financial details and key contacts–available in VentureSource. You can also use the database to spot other potential clients in every industry and region in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Israel and China.

    Don’t wait: Call me at [redacted] or send me an e-mail to subscribe to VentureSource or set up a personal demonstration.

    Position Your Business to Benefit from the Fall of Heller (& Others)

    Verily, the funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage table.

    Look, Heller is open to poaching. Cooley Godward Kronish is the latest to “benefit from the fall of Heller.”

    Cooley Godward Kronish LLP announced today that 15 partners from Heller Ehrman will join the Firm. Ten partners will join Cooley in Silicon Valley, four in Seattle, where Cooley will open an office, and one in Washington, DC. In addition to comprising the core of Heller’s Venture Law Group (VLG) in these offices, the partners joining Cooley include the heads of Heller’s firm-wide business and intellectual property transactions practices, the co-heads of its energy and clean technology practice, the co-chair of its life sciences practice and two VLG co-founders.

    Heller receives an apology from VentureSource after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Etiquette Of A Dissolution: Emails You Shouldn’t Send”

    Out to Lunch small Summer Associate Lunch.jpgThe halcyon days of summer have passed. Gone are the epic lunches and frequent happy hours with eager summer associates. By the time September rolled around though, many were relieved to get back to work and not feel obligated to while away the hours talking to law students about the merits of firm life.

    But now it’s October. And law students will be entering your life again soon. It’s interview season!

    Which means more talk of firm merits, and more importantly, more lunches. During a recent online chat with Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema, one lawyer chimed in with a helpful hint for interviewers: Be sensitive to interviewees’ diet limitations.

    Washington, D.C.: Tom… I’m an attorney at a huge D.C. law firm… [T]his is interview season. My colleagues and I will be taking hundreds of potential associates out for fancy lunches this fall. And I’m always shocked to hear the places my colleagues sometimes venture for these lunches, and more shocked to see their jaw drop when they realize their choice might not have been welcomed by the interviewee. I adore Rasika [Ed. note: Up-scale Indian restaurant in D.C.], but I would never take a job candidate there. That’s just unfair. Some people don’t like spice; others might be thrown off their game by an ethnic menu. As a vegetarian, I am particularly sensitive to the issue (I remember interviewing at several law firms that took me to the Capital Grille [Ed. note: D.C. Steakhouse] where the only thing on the menu I could eat was the $7 green salad – and consequently half the interview discussion awkwardly revolved around my dietary preferences). I’ve also been tipped onto celiac disease – which a shockingly large number of my colleagues have. So basically, when taking someone on an interview lunch, I pick innocuous, unoffensive “standard” food…. So, to all you attorneys doing interview season right now, think a little about where you take the candidate!!

    Tom Sietsema: Good advice re: business meals. Not everyone likes meat, or something foreign, or A Fancy Experience.

    We disagree with the Washington, D.C. lawyer. Our thoughts:

  • Interviewers, the restaurant is part of the challenge. If interviewees are totally flustered by an ethnic menu and show it, that’s a sign. Don’t hire them.
  • Interviewees, don’t be a vegetarian. Meat tastes good. [Ed. note: Kash speaks as a reformed vegetarian.]
  • Interviewees, if you are a vegetarian, don’t make it a big deal. We checked out Capital Grille’s menu; D.C. veggie lawyer could have gotten some French onion soup too. Ordering a $7 green salad is a martyr’s move. No one wants to hire a martyr.
  • If you need to choose a restaurant, use ATL’s handy guide, compiled this summer: ATL Round-up: Where the Lawyers Eat Out.

    Another legal lunch comment from the Washington Post food chat, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Interview Lunch Spots: ‘Not Everyone Likes Meat’”

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