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Arnold.JPG* Arnold Schwarzenegger gets his tank back, offers rides to children. [Houston Chronicle]
* The Morality of Trade: “Commerce is not a cuss word.” [Commerce Law]
* Did anybody remember that it’s a leap year? [PrawfsBlawg]
* Perhaps the shortest jury deliberation ever. [CNN]
* Virginia Supreme Court strikes down taxation without representation. So close, DC! []

Yoshino.jpgNYU School of Law announced today that it has hired Professor Kenji Yoshino as a tenured faculty member. He was a visiting professor at the school last year and again this spring.

Professor Yoshino graduated from Yale Law in 1996 and is influential in the fields of constitutional law, anti-discrimination law, and law and literature. It’s quite a score for NYU. Read the original email announcement, from Dean Ricky Revesz, after the jump.

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Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGHere’s some happy news from Heller Ehrman. It appears they have heard the complaints, and they’ve done something about them. From one source:

Attached is the long awaited Heller Ehrman compensation memo, and at first glance, I’m pretty impressed. They seemed to have listened to associates’ concerns and made some pretty significant changes. They reinstated the 2000 hour bonus and have decided to retroactively pay the 2000 hour bonus to all eligible associates for 2007. I’m happy about the compensation bump which brings us more in line with the market, but what I’m really excited about is that the firm has decreased the first year billable expectation to 1600 without decreasing salaries. With the launch of a new mentoring program and this announcement about 300 career development hours for first years, the firm is actually acting on its long-stated goal of promoting associate development.

Another tipster concurs, also zeroing in on the new program for first-year associates:

Attached is the Heller Ehrman 2008 Associates Compensation memo, which associates received this morning. I think the compensation memo demonstrates that the firm has responded to associates’ concerns in a very positive way. The firm is reinstating the 2000-hour bonus for 2008, and making retroactive 2000-hour bonus payments for 2007.

Perhaps most positively, the firm is providing 300 hours of career development for first-year associates, so that first-years will now have only a 1600-hour billable requirement. I think law students and first-year associates will see this as a very positive development, which recognizes associates’ desire for career development, but also gives the firm a way to recognize clients’ staffing concerns.

After the bad press the firm has been getting in recent months, I think this memo is some good news, and I hope ATL will recognize it as such.

We do. Check out the memo, after the jump.
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: A Heller Ehrman Update

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Happy News at Heller Ehrman: Bigger Bonuses, Better Billables (for First Years)”

Love.jpgMarc J. Randazza fills us in on the Texas sex toy ban, just struck down by the Fifth Circuit. According to Marc, the arguments for outlawing the sale of toys for your pleasure-parts are thus:

(1) If the Texas dildo law is invalidated as an improper encroachment upon personal liberty, this will open the floodgates, and laws on bigamy and incest will be struck down too.

(2) Striking down the law “impermissibly overrides state lawmakers’ settled ‘authority to regulate commercial activity they deem harmful to the public’” (naturally citing a dissenting opinion from the 11th Circuit).

Marc slams the arguments for his own well-articulated reasons at the link. To us, the first argument is a slippery (heh) slope argument, which is usually a weak logical tactic. The second argument is stronger, although we’d like to see a list of reasons why sex toys are so harmful.
It is still illegal to sell sex toys in Alabama. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an Alabama case in 2007 on the subject, so the lower court’s ruling (upholding the ban) remains intact. This quote, from Alabama store owner Sherri Williams (the store’s name is “Pleasures”) sums up the passion of people across the Southland who find the ban ridiculous:

“My motto has been they are going to have to pry this vibrator from my cold, dead hand. I refuse to give up,” she said.

You go, girl. By contrast, guns are perfectly legal in both states.
Texas — Still Obsessed With Dildos [Legal Satyricon]

Samantha Power 2 Cass Sunstein Kennedy School of Government Above the Law blog.JPGWe greatly enjoyed our recent visit to the University of Chicago Law School. The U. Chicago students were very welcoming and made us feel right at home, even inviting us to their law school musical — which, by the way, was delightful.
(We added many of them as friends on Facebook before we were mysteriously banned from the site, without notice or explanation. So if you no longer see us on FB, it’s not because we “de-friended” you, but because our account was disabled.)
A few Chicago students, however, had a bone to pick with us. They objected to this ATL post, which cast the recently announced departure of Professor Cass Sunstein — prominent scholar, beloved teacher, and possible Supreme Court nominee under President Obama — as a hiring coup by Harvard Law School, a triumph by HLS over Chicago. They emphasized that Professor Sunstein’s leaving the Windy City for Cambridge was prompted by personal rather than professional reasons.
Professor Sunstein said as much his farewell email (emphasis added; in fact, all emphases added throughout this post, unless otherwise indicated):

I’m writing to say that I’ve just accepted an appointment at Harvard Law School. It is an understatement to say that I don’t take this step easily or lightly. As most of you know, I’ve been reflecting on this question for several years. I finally decided, for personal reasons, that I need a change.

Since he’s a prominent Obama supporter — as well an adviser to the campaign, but more on that later, since it ties into our tale — it’s not surprising that Professor Sunstein is All About Change.
The law school’s popular leader, Dean Saul Levmore, also stressed the personal component to Professor Sunstein’s move. As he told the University of Chicago’s student newspaper, the Maroon:

“I’m sort of embarrassed that [the story] said that the University of Chicago couldn’t be reached for comment,” Levmore said. “It looks like we didn’t want to talk, but the truth is that this decision [to leave Chicago for Harvard] was based on personal reasons and I respect that privacy. The media will find out about them soon enough.

With a comment like this, Dean Levmore was basically begging us to go digging. So dig we did.
Martha Nussbaum Cass Sunstein Above the Law blog.jpgLet’s see, Cass Sunstein’s “personal reasons” for leaving U. Chicago… hold on a sec. Isn’t Professor Sunstein part of legal academia’s most fabulous power couple, together with that renowned philosopher queen, Professor Martha Nussbaum? And didn’t Professor Nussbaum just turn down a Harvard offer?
That was then; this is now. What we learned in our investigation is consistent with this ATL comment, as well as this (subsequently removed) Wikipedia edit.
It appears that Professor Sunstein may be part of a new “power couple” — in the most literal sense. Rumor has it that he’s romantically involved with Professor Samantha Power — a beautiful, brainy professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who is roughly 15 years his junior. She is a Pulitzer Prize winner who has also been profiled in Men’s Vogue (see glamorous photo, at the top of this post). What’s not to like?
Update: More about Samantha Power here (from a college classmate who tried to hit on her, without success, and just ended arguing politics with her).
Now, please don’t give us full credit (or blame) for bringing to light the Sunstein-Power relationship. When we attended the Chicago Law School musical last weekend, Samantha Power got a shout-out near the end of the show, when the Cass Sunstein character announced his departure for Harvard. So the rumor of her romance with Professor Sunstein is already widely known throughout the U. Chicago community (and beyond); it’s no state secret. It is already known to hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
We reached out to all three members of this Mensalicious love triangle, which seems to come straight out of a Saul Bellow novel. Find out what we learned — two of them had no comment, but one of them did — after the jump.

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Listserv.gifFrom one of our tipsters:
Richard Rosenbaum, president of Greenburg Traurig, made the following group email faux pas. He used the company listserv to send two emails soliciting contributions for the McCain campaign, proving that law students aren’t the only bumbling souls who screw up listserv etiquette. From Rosenbaum’s first email:

“As we have said on a number of other occasions, our firm does not support any particular presidential candidates as a firm. We are a business catering to a wide range of clients and employing lawyers and staff with a wide variety of interests and preferences in the political arena…”

Blah blah blah, a bunch of politically correct qualifiers, then BANG! The money-grab:

“I have recently been named a National Co-Chair of Senator McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. As has previously been the case, over the next several months I will be working alongside several other leaders from the American business and legal communities to personally solicit contributions and other political support for Senator McCain’s presidential campaign.”

Now, of course, Rosenbaum goes on to say that participation is voluntary, etc. But is it really appropriate for a firm President to use group email to solicit campaign funds?
More, after the jump.

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Dechert LLP logo Dechert Price Rhoads Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve been hearing vague rumblings of something about to go down over at Dechert LLP. Said rumblings are reminiscent of what we heard in the days and hours leading up to Cadwalader’s Thursday Morning Massacre. Also note this comment on today’s Morning Docket:

Not all Dechert associates have three days to enter their time. Some will need to enter it before they leave the building today.

We hear that certain groups at Dechert are super-slow, and morale in some quarters is super-low. These are, of course, often harbingers of lawyer layoffs.
We’ve put in an inquiry to the firm, but they haven’t gotten back to us yet. We’ll let you know if and when they do. In the meantime, feel free to dish in the comments, or email us. Thanks.
Update (4:40 PM): As reported by the Legal Intelligencer, Dechert just laid off 13 associates. We have a new post up on the subject over here.

IRS.jpgThe IRS is investigating the denomination Trinity United Church of Christ for hosting Barack Obama as a speaker in front of 10,000 people in June of 2007. Non-profit organizations are generally not allowed to endorse candidates, although politicos can speak at such organizations.
You can find the AP article here. More press and blog coverage is after the jump.
IRS Investigates Obama’s Denomination [AP]

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Robert Somma Bankruptcy Judge Robert Somma Above the Law blog.jpgAs we previously mentioned, Bankruptcy Judge Robert Somma announced his plan to resign from the bench, after he was arrested for DUI (while wearing women’s clothing). We questioned Judge Somma’s decision to step down:

Is this really that big a deal? When you strip away the women’s clothing, colorful but irrelevant details, you’re left with a DWI arrest — which, while not exactly commendable conduct, is something other judges have survived.

And we’re not alone. This message is making the rounds of the bankruptcy bar:

As I am sure most will agree, the news of Judge Somma’s resignation was disheartening. We are hopeful that Judge Somma will reconsider his decision with the support and encouragement of a significant portion of the bankruptcy bar.

Attached is a letter which several of us intend to submit to Chief Judge Boudin of the First Circuit Court of Appeals, with a copy to Judge Somma. If you would like to join us, please advise us at your very earliest convenience, and we will add your name as a “signatory”.

We intend to submit the letter to Chief Judge Boudin by the close of business tomorrow, Thursday, February 28, 2008. In the event that you cannot respond by then, but nonetheless are supportive, please so advise either of us by return email at your earliest convenience, and we will endeavor to supplement the list of supporters as may be appropriate. Otherwise, as no amount of support can be too great, if you wish to send your own personal letter of support, we also encourage you to do so as well.

Please feel free to circulate this email to those who may not be included in our list of email addresses and thank you for your assistance.

You’re welcome!
Alas, it appears the submission deadline has passed (close of business yesterday). But if you’d like to submit your own letter of support, you can use the previously sent letter as a model. Check it out, after the jump.

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Today we have another two-for-one Job of the Week — a unique in-house litigation position and a corporate opportunity — brought to you by ATL’s career partner, Lateral Link. This past week, Lateral Link helped its members obtain offers from D.E. Shaw (in-house) in NY, Quinn Emanuel in LA, Kirkland in Chicago, Akin Gump in NY, Patterson Belknap in NY, Miller & Chevalier in DC, Hogan & Hartson in Baltimore, and a clean energy company (in-house) in Boston.
Position: Associate Counsel – Litigation
Description: This major mutual fund management company is seeking a junior to mid-level litigator to serve as legal counsel. The position will involve setting litigation strategy, overseeing and advising on a wide array of litigation matters, preparing court filings, and appearing in court on behalf of the company. The company is seeking someone with litigation experience at a mid- to large-sized firm, a minimum of two to four years of litigation experience, or one year of experience plus at least one year in a federal court clerkship. (Job Code: 8135.)
Position: Associate Counsel – Corporate Services
Description: The company is also seeking a junior to mid-level corporate associate to join its Corporate Legal Services team and represent the Company and its subsidiaries on a variety of corporate and contract matters. The position will involve contract drafting and negotiation, advising senior management on matters of law, and setting company policy regarding contracts, corporate, and other legal matters. The company is seeking someone with 2-5 years corporate or transactional experience at a mid- to large-sized law firm, exceptional leadership, organizational and interpersonal skills, demonstrated persuasive and influencing capabilities, and the ability to work quickly and independently with attention to detail and sensitivity to deadlines. (Job Code: 7944.)
Company: This Company, located just outside of Philadelphia, offers individual and institutional investors a line of popular mutual funds and brokerage services. Claiming more than $1 trillion of assets under management, the firm is battling for the title of largest retail mutual fund manager on the planet. Their fund options include more than 180 stock, bond, mixed, and international offerings, as well as variable annuity portfolios. The company is known as much for its puritanical thriftiness and conservative investing as for its line of index funds, which track the performance of such groups of stock as the S&P 500.
You can learn more about these and other job opportunities by visiting Lateral Link.
Earlier: Prior Job of the Week listings (scroll down)

Blow Candy.jpgA candy company’s been under some scrutiny lately about their new drink mix, which they innocently named “Blow.” It comes in little clear packets and supposedly gives you lots and lots of energy. Athough it probably doesn’t work as well as that Adderall you have in your desk, it is likely much cheaper.
In any event, get your Blow now if you want it. The FDA is mighty displeased, and they’ve threatened legal action if the company doesn’t “rehab” its image. Hmm, what other drug-related words can we pack into this story?

Thank You Ma’am

Author Picture.jpgMy name is Sharon Eliza Nichols, and I’ll be co-blogging with David today. First, though, I thought I’d introduce myself.
I’m a curious little blonde girl with poor impulse control. I’m also a 1L at the University of Alabama School of Law. It’s my sincere desire to contribute to the world of legal sensationalism, and preferably not as the object of some politician’s philandering. Writing for ATL lets me do that, and I’m thankful for the opportunity.
I’m currently in law school, but I’ve had some unusual experiences. My father is a Southern Baptist pastor, so you can imagine the tension caused by the good preacher’s daughter writing a semi-irreverent blog. I started the Facebook group “I judge you when you use poor grammar,” which all of you should immediately join. Because the group became unexpectedly large, I’ve had some experience in entrepreneurship, charming the media, and writing for a large audience. I ruffle a separate set of feathers over at Thank You Ma’am.
I also love the beach, sun, bright colors, shiny objects and southern accents. Hate mail, grammatical corrections and marriage proposals should go to Ijudgeyouwhen at gmail dot com.
Let’s get it started in here, ATL-style. Cheers!

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