* Supreme Court rebuffs claim of presidential power with respect to enforceability of World Court ruling. [Washington Post]
* Meanwhile, other countries’ courts reject U.S. punitive damages. [New York Times]
* Second Circuit shoot down New York State’s Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, on preemption grounds. [New York Times]
* Affirmative action opponents seeking ’08 wedge issue? [Washington Post]
* Sierra Leone war crimes court funding raises questions about whether money’s being well-spent. [Washington Post]
* WMD materials found in D.C. truck, on second check. [MSNBC]
* Supreme Court rebuffs claim of presidential power with respect to enforceability of World Court ruling. [Washington Post]
We linked to it yesterday in passing, but thought we’d draw your attention to it in a dedicated post. Check out TheLawyer.com’s report on the 2007 financial performance of the top 50 U.S. law firms (ranked by revenue):
The top 50 US firms last year generated a total of $46.8bn (£23.4bn) in revenue – an increase of more than 16 per cent on the 2006 total of $40.27bn (£20.14bn)….
2007 was one of the strongest on record for the majority of US firms, despite the turbulence that rocked the market in the summer and which continues to do so. The average profit per equity partner (PEP) at the leading group of US firms showed smaller, although still significant, growth. In 2006 the average PEP among the top 50 US firms was $1.55m (£842,391). Last year that rose by 11 per cent to $1.72m (£860,000).
Here’s the discussion of one of the most closely watched metrics, profits per partner:
Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft was second only to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in terms of posting the biggest fall in PEP. The former was down by 6.2 per cent, although despite this drop it hung on to its place in the top five best performers on PEP overall, with $2.72m (£1.36m). Here, Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz remains out of reach of any other US firm with a PEP of $4.48m (£2.24m)
And what will this year look like? You already know the answer to that question:
Ward Bower of US legal market consultancy Altman Weil says the numbers confirm that 2007 was the best ever for top firms in terms of both productivity and profitability.
“Don’t expect to see that in 2008,” he added. “Some of those same firms are off 10 to 15 per cent on the revenue side for the first two months of this year.”
For additional data, plus a table of the top 50 U.S. law firms and their 2007 financial results, see here.
US top 50′s £46.8bn haul makes 2007 the best year ever [The Lawyer]
Magnificent ’07: The Lawyer US Top 50 2007 [The Lawyer]
* An account of Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s Supreme Court argument. Depressing detail: he rented his morning coat. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
* Conservative legal celebrity deathmatch: U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement v. Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz. [Concurring Opinions]
* Nationwide Layoff Watch: Merrill Lynch. [Dealbreaker]
* The Obamas release their tax returns, revealing Biglaw-esque income. Do they give enough to charity? [TaxProf Blog via Instapundit]
* We linked to this site, a helpful resource to aspiring law clerks, around the time of its launch. But now it’s been redesigned, with a
pantsuit-clad hottie at the top of the page. So feel free to visit again. [SoYouWantToBeALawClerk]
* An ATL PSA: please help a newly blind tax law professor. [TaxProf Blog]
* If you’re here in D.C. and looking for something to do this Friday night, March 28, here’s an idea. It’s a fun event, and it’s for a good cause. Hope to see you there! [AEF - APABA]
The New York Times is on a bit of a “bully” kick lately — using their “bully pulpit,” if you will. They recently ran this 1100-word article, by Pulitzer Prize winner Dan Barry, about an Arkansas teen who has been subjected to bullying at school for years — sometimes to the point of physical violence. (Gawker glibly summarizes it as a piece about “a random kid, Billy Wolfe, who gets knocked around a lot.”)
Sure enough, it has a legal angle to it:
The Wolfes are not satisfied [with the school's response to their complaints about their son being bullied]. This month they sued one of the bullies “and other John Does,” and are considering another lawsuit against the Fayetteville School District. Their lawyer, D. Westbrook Doss Jr., said there was neither glee nor much monetary reward in suing teenagers, but a point had to be made: schoolchildren deserve to feel safe.
One ATL reader who drew this article to our attention is definitely on the side of the parents: “I’d like to see a post about the tort and criminal aspects of the case. Seems like the school’s gonna get creamed.”
This reader is probably not alone in feeling sympathy for Billy Wolfe. We’d guess that victims of schoolyard bullies are disproportionately represented among the ranks of lawyers, especially lawyers at top law firms. What do revenge-seeking nerds do after high school? They grow up to become lawyers, so they can acquire wealth and power, and lord it over their used-car-selling ex-tormentors at twentieth high school reunions.
But the Times didn’t stop there with its fixation on bullying. A second Times article, in today’s paper, discusses bullying in the workplace. How long before Nick Kristof writes an impassioned column on the subject, after traveling to Arkansas and hanging out with poor Billy for a week?
More discussion, after the jump.
The latest major law firm to enhance its parental leave policy: Dewey & LeBoeuf. Remember the holiday party car controversy? All is forgiven. Eighteen weeks, plus Denim Day? You couldn’t ask for anything more.
Actually, maybe you can. From a male tipster at the firm:
D&L just went to 18 weeks for parental leave: 8 weeks of medical leave for a birth mother, 4 weeks of childcare leave, and an additional 6 weeks of primary caregiver leave. This means that birth mothers get 18 weeks, adoptive primary caregivers get 10 weeks, and a parent who is not the primary caregiver gets 4 weeks.
So beleaguered working dads still only get a month. Can I humbly suggest that the next big perk should be non-primary caregiver parents to 8 weeks? We still lose sleep and have to deal with, ah, a moody home environment…
Sure, that would be nice — but first things first. Don’t look a fringe-benefit horse in the mouth.
For a table listing the maternity leave policies of various large law firms, prepared by ATL survey guru Justin Bernold, click here. For a compilation of paternity leave policies, click here.
The Dewey & LeBoeuf cover email and memo, after the jump.
A tipster sends us troubling news from the University of Chicago Law School:
University of Chicago Students got an e-mail from Dean Levmore today announcing that the Law School will be turning off internet access in classrooms beginning next quarter.
We express our deepest sympathies for Chicago students who will have to check ATL for updates between classes. Perhaps we can arrange for some kind of carrier pigeon system for urgent news.
We’re wondering how many of you currently have internet access in the classroom. Is cutting off access to the web a trend at law schools? A number of law professors have complained about laptops undermining learning.
We’re obviously biased in favor of maximum internet access for all; perhaps you feel differently. So let us know your views via commentary, and take our poll on whether internet should be allowed:
As many of you may recall, from our prior coverage of him, Jonathan Lee Riches is in a South Carolina prison until 2012 for wire fraud and conspiracy. He’s killing his time by filing a ridiculous number of ridiculous lawsuits in courts across the country, nicely summarized in this overview of his oeuvre, in the Fulton County Daily Report:
Thirty-nine percent of the 491 cases filed so far this month in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia have been filed by one man: Jonathan Lee Riches.
Among the defendants to his 192 suits are former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his wife, Silda; the 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. Riches’ celebrity targets include actors Anne Heche, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones; musicians Cyndi Lauper and Eddie Van Halen; and Braves pitcher Tom Glavine.
Riches has alleged that Eliot Spitzer “used the fines [from corporate convictions] to pay for prostitutes,” that the MacArthur Foundation froze Riches’ inmate account and funneled the money to Spitzer; and that Pepper Hamilton took a $1 million retainer from him and other inmates, but used the money to gamble on the New York Giants.
We wonder if the suit against Cyndi Lauper was about the mental anguish suffered when “Time After Time” gets stuck in your head.
Federal district courts across the country are annoyed at the waste of their man hours and money in processing the complaints. Is he crazy or crazy like a fox? He’s garnered a great amount of media attention, as detailed in his Wikipedia entry (and we’ve written about him extensively in these pages). We surmise that he may be setting himself up as a media commentator on frivolous lawsuits.
Some of Riches’ prior complaints have been dismissed, including a $662 trillion suit filed in the Northern District last summer against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. The suit alleged that Vick was attempting to “kidnap” Riches’ mind and to force him to lose weight, and demanded that the $662 trillion be delivered — in “British gold” shipped via truck — to the front gates of the prison where Riches is incarcerated.
Noting that a trio of other Riches’ suits — in federal courts in Michigan, South Carolina and Florida — had been dismissed as frivolous, Senior U.S. District Judge Willis B. Hunt Jr. dismissed the suit against Vick in August. He cited 28 U.S.C. §1915(g), the “Three Strikes Rule,” which says a prisoner is prohibited from bringing federal civil actions in forma pauperis if, while incarcerated, he has had three other suits dismissed on the grounds of frivolity, malice or failure to state a claim.
There is, however, an exception. The prisoner may file, the statute says, if he’s in imminent danger of physical injury.
“[T]his Court finds that none of Plaintiff’s farcical assertions in the complaint, including his claim that Michael Vick threw snowballs at his car, qualify as a claim of imminent danger of serious physical injury,” Hunt writes in Riches v. Vick, No. 07-13940-J.
Don’t worry. We are amused, but we promise not to bring him on as a guest blogger at ATL.
Inmate’s Frequent Filings Take On Targets Ranging From Spitzer to Van Halen [Fulton County Daily Report via Law.com]
This month’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, focused on which firm you would choose if you could go anywhere, was dominated by Latham & Watkins and Wachtell Lipton. But several firms were close behind.
* Respondents had several reasons to applaud Latham: “Prestige”, “Friends there are happy”, “Awesome firm, awesome people”, “They rock”, “Prestige, substantive work, great litigation practice”, and “Top notch clients and matters; kick ass bonuses; selective hiring in a good way (need good grades plus a good; personality); Vault top 10 without the stuffiness of originating on the east coast; good growth but no risk of Brobecking (great management + tons of funds)…..should I go on?” Or, as one respondent summed it up: “ass kickers.”
* At Wachtell, with 2007 profits per partner of $4.48 million, money played a key factor in respondents’ enthusiasm for the firm: “100% bonus”, “money”, “it’s all about the cash”, “I want the compensation!”, “money honey” and, of course, “CASH.”
* “Money” was also a big plus for Cravath (even though their profits per partner were a mere $3.3 million). Voters also noted “Prestige, training, can go anywhere else afterwards.”
* “Prestige” and “Exit opportunities” also won several votes for Skadden, who also had more than $2 billion in revenues last year. (Their SideBar program is pretty cool, too.)
* “Bonuses and work” were praised at Kirkland & Ellis, as was stability: “They’re well positioned for the credit crunch and M&A downturn. And the pay’s better, of course.”
* Sullivan & Cromwell was also coveted for “good work, and $$$$” as well as “reputation.” With profits per partner of $3.13 million, that “$$$$” is appealing at multiple levels.
* Paul Hastings surged in popularity as respondents complemented their labor & employment practice and their compensation structures in Atlanta and Chicago.
* In an incendiary match-up, Davis Polk was heralded as “da bomb”, while Boston heavyweight Ropes & Gray was declared “the bomb.”
* Among the Magic Circle firms, Allen & Overy supporters declared “Great offices, european attitude” while Linklaters was called “the best globally, both in equity and debt.”
* Debevoise won several votes for its combination of “prestige and culture”.
* Litigators were torn between Quinn Emanuel, where “hard core litigators with a great reputation” create an atmosphere where “[p]ersonality, quirkiness, and fun seem prevalent,” and Williams & Connolly, as “the best litigatio[n] shop. Period.”
So of these fourteen juggernauts of practice, prestige, and sweet, sweet profits, who would you most like to work for?
Cast your vote in today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, after the jump.
Young New Hampshire lawyer Daniel Hynes, who is just 27, has earned a place among our Lawyers of the Day for extorting hair salons.
Feel free to use the Power of the Law Degree to ensure that your landlord heats your apartment adequately. But using it to threaten beauty parlors… that’s just wrong. From the Concord Monitor:
A Manchester lawyer who threatened to sue a Concord salon for pricing haircuts differently for men and women and then took money to settle the matter was found guilty of theft by extortion.
A jury took about 1½ hours to convict Daniel Hynes, 27, on Wednesday. Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Baker said Hynes sent letters to at least 19 salons in the state.
One arrived Dec. 20, 2006, at Claudia’s, the North Main Street hair salon owned by Claudia Lambert. In the letter, Hynes said prices should be based on the time a cut takes or on the length of hair, instead of on gender. He wrote: “I demand payment in the amount of $1,000 in order to avoid litigation,” according to court documents.
Since he was not representing a client, Mr. Hynes defended his right to extort by citing the First Amendment and the right to petition the courts. We are surprised it took the jury an hour and a half to deliberate on this.
Hynes would have been wise to enlist a female friend to play his client in this fiendish plot. His reasoning comes across as a bit weak:
In one court document, he argued that the price structure that he saw as discriminatory had caused him stress and mental anguish, despite the fact that prices for men were less than those for women. He said he was being denied an “inherent benefit in being treated equally.” He pointed to a woman’s right to vote and said he benefits from her right, even though he is a man.
If Mr. Hynes is not disbarred, we’d like to talk with him about how we can get a haircut for under $100.
Update: Find out how Daniel Hynes fared on appeal.
Lawyer guilty of salon extortion [Concord Monitor]
Coming soon to a theater near you: Howrey LLP: The Movie?
Late last week, several readers here in Washington reported unusual activity at the Howrey offices:
“Howrey is doing a film shoot in the lobby of its DC office… Multiracial attorneys in suits everywhere… Looks serious.”
“I was in the building where Howrey’s DC offices are today. There was some filming with a lot what seemed to be Howrey attorneys. At one point, a large group ran through some doors, talking on their cell phones. Hopefully, it’ll provide something entertaining to watch on YouTube….”
As long as they don’t take it down as soon as they put it up (or we link to it).
One tipster decided to do a little reporting:
“A few minutes ago, I walked through my building’s lobby to go out and get lunch. On the way, I was surprised to find the lobby lit up like a movie set. A few dozen young folks in suits — many of them holding cell phones — stood in a big group, listening to some guy shouting some directions. I chatted up the security guard at the front desk, who told me that Howrey was shooting a commercial.”
“From what I can tell, the whole scene will make for a fairly lame ad: ‘Hire Howrey — we stand around in suits, smiling and cell-phoning.’ Perhaps the worst-case scenario would be Howrey trying to play off of the Verizon cast-of-thousands ads….”
“On my way back, I noticed that they have stacks of life-sized photos of people up against the wall. Maybe they decided to replace their associates with cardboard stiffs? (Some would say that, at Howrey, they did that years ago.)”
We contacted Howrey for comment — about the filming, not the extent to which they staff matters with cardboard stiffs — but they did not get back to us.
* State makes VA Tech families settlement offer to prevent litigation. [CNN]
* Questioning Justice Scalia’s math on innocents in prison. [New York Times]
* New Pakistani PM releases jailed judges. [MSNBC]
* DOJ Antitrust approves XM / Sirius merger. But FCC still needs to weigh in. [New York Times]
* Fox refuses to pay indecency fine, as its litigation against the FCC heads to the Supreme Court. [Washington Post]
* Score 1 for democracy, thanks to the king of Bhutan. [MSNBC]
* Smashing Pumpkins sue Virgin Records for using music in Pepsi commercials. [CNN Money]
There are already about a half-dozen major law school ranking schemes out there. So why not create one more?
The folks over at Vault, already famous for their super-influential law firm rankings, have tried their hand at ranking law schools. Not surprisingly, given Vault’s focus on the world of large law firms, even their law-school rankings are Biglaw-centric. From the press release:
Vault solicited employers’ points of view by surveying law firms across the country on which schools produce the best associates. With 58% of law school graduates entering private practice, and no other firm-determined rankings, Vault’s law school rankings fill an important gap with their emphasis on employability.
Nearly 400 hiring partners, associate interviewers and professional recruiting staff rated law schools on a scale from 1-10 based on how well their graduates are prepared to achieve success in the firm environment.
The Vault top 10 law schools, plus links and commentary, after the jump.