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Thumbnail image for DontMessWithTexas.jpg* Senators Obama and McCain head to Nashville for a town hall style face-off tonight. [CNN]

* More thoughts on Obama, McCain, and SCOTUS. A look at the judicial philosophies of the presidential candidates based on pivotal campaign speeches. [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

* D.C. Circuit rules against forcing testimony from Harriet Miers, Joshua Bolten, and others, in the congressional investigation of U.S. attorney firings. [Washington Post]

* Scientists suggest that the urge to punish is hard-wired into our brains as a result of human evolution. But so is the urge to forgive. [New York Times]

* At least three U.S. attorneys, in New York and New Jersey, are probing whether Lehman Brothers misled investors before declaring bankruptcy. [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

* The tables are turned. The city of McAllen sues Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. [Houston Chronicle]

princeton review law school rankings.jpgPrinceton Review has released its annual (nonsensical) law school rankings. This year we are treated to the Best 174 Law Schools Rankings. The rankings are divided into 11 categories.

In this down market, the Best Career Prospects category seems appropriate. The top-ten law schools are:

1. University of Michigan Law School

2. Northwestern University School of Law

3. University of Virginia School of Law

4. Harvard University Law School

5. Boston College Law School

6. Stanford University School of Law

7. The University of Chicago The Law School

8. New York University School of Law

9. University of Pennsylvania Law School

10. Boston University School of Law

Notice that Yale Law School isn’t on this “best career prospects” list. I dare somebody to get into Boston College and Yale and go to Boston College because they think that is a better career move. Send ATL both acceptance letters and a BC transcript, and we’ll send you $100 and a photograph signed by God.

More ridiculous rankings after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Princeton Review Ranks Law Schools Too”

oktoberfest.JPG* Vince McMahon tags a motion to dismiss to quash wrestlers Chris Kanyon, Raven and Above Average Mike. If that doesn’t work it’s the steel jury box all the way. [Connecticut Employment Law Blog]

* The latest from the Citi/Wachovia/Wells Fargo cock fight is that they have agreed to a standstill on all litigation until noon on Wednesday. They will cease formal discovery until then. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Corporate attorneys might be interested that Delaware is starting an internet based “talk radio” station. [Delaware Talk Radio]

* It’s German-American day so we’re in for an Oktoberfest Blawg Review.

[LawPundit via Blawg Review]


law firm merger small.jpgThe Lawyer reports that Allen & Overy might be in merger talks with Shearman & Sterling:

A&O is occasionally tempted by the thought of a market-busting merger. It approached Freshfields back in 2006, as exclusively revealed in The Lawyer (see story).

Senior partner David Morley is moving to New York next week for three months (see story). This is being taken in New York as proof that a deal is in the offing.

A&O has nicked a whole load of Shearman’s Germans – though by rights this ought to rule out a deal with the rest of the firm.

Shearman needs help. (Actually, this is incontrovertible.)

After the jump, could this actually happen?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Merger Mania:
Allen & Overy + Shearman & Sterling = A&S&S??”

There are many strange visuals floating around during these days of financial uncertainty. Here are some interesting ones we saw over the weekend.

The first is from Sheppard Mullin‘s new Menlo Park office:

shepard mullins temp office.JPG

That is one way of saying “we have no clue how long we’re going to be here.”

Meanwhile, others exact pictorial revenge after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pictures Of Our Times”

ropes gray logo.JPGLast week we told you that Jenner & Block held a firm-wide pep talk to assure associates that everything was going great.

Apparently, this is the new trend. Terrified associates are being told that they have nothing to fear, for now.

Last week Ropes & Gray’s chairman Brad Malt sent out this email:

We’re living in extraordinary times, and I know many of you are concerned about what the current turmoil in the financial markets might mean to us here at Ropes & Gray. I’d like to offer some thoughts on why we are well positioned to weather the turbulence in the marketplace.

Our firm is over 140 years old, in no small part because we always build for the long term. We have weathered many recessions, starting with the Panic of 1873, and we have always emerged stronger. Today, we possess many competitive advantages, including diversified practice offerings and a diverse client base. Thankfully, we do not depend for our bread and butter on the kinds of companies or markets that are most troubled right now. While recent events have felt unsettling for many people, nothing that is happening should distract us from continuing to execute our strategic plan and deliver excellent client service.

The recent turmoil in the financial markets has also presented the firm with important opportunities to advise clients, including some of the companies affected by recent events. Among the many examples, we obtained a temporary restraining order for our broker-dealer client, Ameriprise Financial Services, in the first case involving a money market fund to “break the buck.†An extraordinary cross-disciplinary and cross-office team reached a multi-billion dollar agreement to purchase Neuberger Berman’s investment management business and Lehman Brother’s fixed income and alternative asset businesses. We are representing various senior officers of major financial institutions in investigations of sub-prime lending activities and related class action lawsuits. And we have advised numerous hedge funds, CDO funds, mutual funds and other clients on other aspects of the market situation, including analysis of distressed securities, advice about credit default swap counterparties, advice about the new short-sale restrictions, and bankruptcy rules.

In the longer term, we are very well positioned to take advantage of opportunities that will arise from the changing market environment, and we continue to invest in lawyers and staff to help us do so. We were delighted recently to welcome our associate Class of 2008, and we actively continue to hire for summer 2009 and beyond.

To be clear, we are not immune to what’s happening in the wider world. However, I believe the strengths we have built in our firm, our proven agility in addressing changing market landscapes, and the dedication and high caliber of you, our people, will enable us to withstand the short-term market challenges. As always, we are grateful for your continuing hard work and commitment.

This letter reads somewhat like DPW and Debevoise emails where those firms touted their post-meltdown successes.

O’Melveny & Myers shows firms how to send a spooky reassurance email after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “We’re Super: Thanks For Asking”

ATL Bloggers.jpgLaw.com has an article this week lamenting the absence of females in the legal blogosphere. C.C. Holland writes:

The question is not a new one, but it’s gaining traction in the blogosphere lately as the old concern spawns new debate. And it seems to be true that the majority of high-profile legal blogs, whether in academia or the practice of law, are helmed by men.

Sites such as Above the Law (David Lat), How Appealing (Howard J. Bashman) and Balkinization (Jack M. Balkin) are each authored or edited by one man. The China Law Blog is written by Dan Harris and Steve Dickinson of Harris & Moure. The Volokh Conspiracy, another popular law blog, list 18 contributors, none of whom are female. The woman blogger whose name comes up most frequently in the legal space is law professor Ann Althouse, but her blog isn’t primarily about legal issues.

We object! For one thing, Above The Law is “authored or edited” by a new man, editor in chief since August Elie Mystal. (David Lat is ATL’s founder and still near and dear to our hearts, as a regular contributor and managing editor of our parent company Breaking Media.)

Additionally, the gender-ambiguous C.C. neglects to note that the ATL ladies outnumber the men these days, as some may have noted last week in our self-congratulatory post. ATL’s XX team consists of Laurie Lin, Hope Winters, Marin and yours truly.

More on the female law blogger question, and bikini photos, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Hey! ATL has female bloggers and an EIC with a gender-neutral name”

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 reenactmentof1776.com 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
  • SCOTUS

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

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