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Andrew Bruck Building a Better Legal Profession Above the Law blog.jpg
Andrew Bruck takes a question at Wednesday’s press conference.

Every now and then, we leave our apartment. We did so on Wednesday, to attend the press conference of Law Students Building a Better Legal Profession, where the organization unveiled its law firm diversity rankings (accessible here; Los Angles Times article here).
It was quite informative. For those of you who might be interested — and we’re guessing there are a number of you, judging from the robust commentary on our earlier post — read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Field Trip: The Building a Better Legal Profession Press Conference”

email e-mail message microsoft outlook Above the Law.jpgLast week, USA Today ran an article about “Email-Free Fridays” or “Zero Email Fridays.” Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal ran pretty much the same article.
But it’s an interesting piece, and it relates to an issue that many of us confront: email overload. The problem is especially acute for lawyers at large law firms, but it’s not limited to their ranks.
From the WSJ:

A growing number of employers, including U.S. Cellular, Deloitte & Touche and Intel, are imposing or trying out “no email” Fridays or weekends. While the bans typically allow emailing clients and customers or responding to urgent matters, the normal flow of routine internal email is halted. Violators are hit with token fines, or just called out by the boss.

The limits aim to encourage more face-to-face and phone contact with customers and co-workers, raise productivity or just give employees a reprieve from the ever-rising email tide. Emails sent by individual corporate users are projected to increase 27% this year, to an average of 47 a day, up from 37 in 2006…. And one-third of users feel stressed by heavy email volume, according to a 2007 study…. Many check email as often as 30 to 40 times an hour, the study showed.

Managers complain that rather than confronting problems, employees use email to avoid them by passing issues back and forth in long message strings, like a hot potato. Email reduces face-to-face contact among co-workers and clients; terse, poorly phrased messages further strain those relationships. And it is spilling into weekends, chaining employees to computers when they should be relaxing.

So, are email-free Fridays a brilliant idea? Or is this policy just not feasible? Take our poll:


P.S. We’re hopelessly behind in our email. After we deal with a message, we file or delete it, leaving only pending items in our inbox. Right now our inbox contains 2,471 pending items.
Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of email we receive, we can’t respond personally to every message. If your email does require a response, and you haven’t heard from us for a while, please email us again, by way of friendly reminder. Or here’s a novel concept: try calling!
Fridays go from casual to e-mail-free [USA Today]
A Day Without Email Is Like… [Wall Street Journal]

sadomasochism s&m s and m sadist masochist dungeon Above the Law blog.jpgSince we started off today on a somewhat sordid note, we might as well keep going down the same path. From the AP:

Adrian Exley was wrapped tightly in heavy plastic, then bound with duct tape. A leather hood was put over his head with a thin plastic straw inserted so that he could breathe, and he was shut up in a closet.

That, apparently, was the way Exley liked it. But the way it ended — with Exley suffocating — was not what he had in mind when he traveled from Britain for a bondage session with a man he had met through a sadomasochism Web site.

Exley’s body was discovered in the woods last year, two months after he was bound up in the bondage “playroom” Gary LeBlanc had built in the basement of his suburban Boston home.

LeBlanc, a 48-year-old Gulf Oil sales executive, detailed his responsibility in the fatal bondage session in a five-page suicide note, just before he put a gun to his head and killed himself.

Now the question is: Since Exley consented to the sex play, can LeBlanc be held responsible for his death?

LeBlanc committed suicide, but the issue still matters:

Exley’s family is suing LeBlanc’s estate for unspecified damages, claiming wrongful death. Many bondage enthusiasts are watching the case closely, seeing it as a lesson in where to draw the line of responsibility on consensual but dangerous sex.

Additional sensational and salacious details appear in the full article.
Moral of the story: If you’re into this sort of thing, before doing anything, make sure your partner signs a waiver, assumption of risk, and release of liability form. Then transmit an executed copy to a third party prior to the liaison, so there’s contemporaneous documentation. Good luck.
Deadly consent: Bondage death raises legal issues [AP via CNN]
S&M for Beginners [Tango]

Here is the latest Job of the Week, courtesy of ATL’s career partner, Lateral Link. To refresh your recollection:

“Because Lateral Link does no cold-calling and is more efficient than traditional recruiting firms, successful candidates receive $10,000 upon placement.”

Position: Hedge Fund Specialist
Description: A $3+ billion hedge fund based in Greenwich, CT, is seeking a candidate to handle Hedge Fund and RIC taxation. The day-to-day responsibility is for fund group’s second stand-alone fund, a RIC. The Company handles special situations, event-driven, and distressed and focuses on five lines of business: bank debt, capital structure arbitrage, special situations / classical distressed, rescue finance, and direct lending.
* Work with tax director on fund structuring for and deal structuring for funds.
* Coordinate quarterly and annual RIC compliance in conjunction with Big Four firm engaged to do significant compliance and consulting work and prepare returns
* Analysis of fund’s deal activity to determine when tax treatment/timing differs from GAAP books
* Calculation of monthly tax provision for corporate subsidiaries
Position Requirements:
* Minimum 4 years tax experience, with significant hedge fund and/or RIC experience
* CPA preferred
* Self-motivated and works well in team environment
* Strong written / oral communication skills
* Ability to multi-task
* Bright, self-motivated person interested in working in collegial and professional environment that rewards quality productivity
To apply for this position, please visit laterallink.com.

Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies logo Above the Law blog.jpgWe know how you all love to argue about affirmative action. It’s a hot-button topic here at ATL.
So here’s a proposal worth considering, from Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw (via Paul Caron):

If right-wingers are underrepresented in universities relative to the population and discriminated against by the left-wing majority, as [former Harvard president] Larry [Summers] suggests, should there be affirmative action for right-leaning academics?

It seems that, on principle, those on the left (who favor affirmative action to promote diversity and correct past injustice) should endorse such a university policy, and those on the right (who more often oppose affirmative action) would be against.

One could argue that a conservative law professor — especially a hard-core social conservative, not a law-and-economics or libertarian type — contributes as much to law school diversity (and discourse) as an African-American or female law professor from a socioeconomically privileged background, who went to an elite college and an elite law school, and has the standard liberal views of most legal academics.
Thoughts?
Mankiw: Affirmative Action for Conservative Professors? [TaxProf Blog]
Is academia serious about diversity? [Greg Mankiw]
The Liberal (and Moderating) Professoriate [Inside Higher Ed]

Pretty I Love New York Above the Law blog.jpgWhen we wrote about David Otunga, the Harvard Law School graduate and former Sidley Austin associate now known as “Punk” on the reality show I Love New York 2, we requested more information about a second contestant with a legal background: a current law student who goes by “Pretty.”
A number of you kindly obliged. We now know that “Pretty” is Juan McCullum, 24, a 2L at the Mississippi College School of Law. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mississippi State University, where he was a Student Association officer. He was working at the Mississippi Attorney General’s office this summer.
For more about McCullum, read this article, from the Clarion-Ledger. Or turn down the volume on your speakers and check out his MySpace page, which is almost as annoying as David Otunga’s.
Juan McCullum is a handsome guy, so his nickname of “Pretty” makes sense to us. But he may not be the “prettiest” person on his campus. That honor may belong to Katie Rader, a 3L at Mississippi College law school and one of the Hawaiian Tropic girls.
Check out her photo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “He Feels Pretty, Oh So Pretty”

James Colliton Jim Colliton Cravath Swaine Moore Above the Law blog.jpgAnd we’re not talking about CSM partners working young associates to death, riding them hard and putting them away wet. We’re speaking more literally.
We mentioned this story briefly at the time of his guilty plea, but his sentencing yesterday gives us the opportunity to revisit it in more depth. From the AP:

A tax lawyer who paid a woman so he could have sex with her two underage daughters was sentenced Thursday and declared a sex offender but wasn’t expected to spend much more time behind bars.

James Colliton pleaded guilty this month to second- and third-degree statutory rape and patronizing a prostitute. He received a sentence of one year on each count, to run concurrently.

But because he has already been jailed for 19 months, Colliton, 43, was eligible for immediate release. His lawyer, Howard Greenberg, said he expected the defendant to be released Thursday.

So where’s Colliton headed? Due to his felony conviction, he won’t be able to return to the practice of law (at least not immediately). But might Cravath give him a non-legal or administrative job, perhaps in Recruiting? He likes working with young people.
(Such a gig, however, probably wouldn’t pay Colliton the $500,000 salary that he earned as a senior or permanent associate at Cravath — more than partners at some firms.)
NYC Lawyer Sentenced for Underage Sex [AP]
‘Lolita Lawyer’ among worst of sex offenders [New York Daily News]
Former Cravath Associate Pleads Guilty in Underage Sex Scandal [New York Law Journal]
In Plea Deal, Ex-Cravath Lawyer Admits To Sex Crimes [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Tax Lawyers in Jail

Al Gore Albert Gore Above the Law blog.jpg* Al Gore, law school dropout, wins Nobel Peace Prize. [WSJ Law Blog; Washington Post; New York Times]
* Houston crime lab drops the ball, again. [CNN]
* Iraqi families sue Blackwater in U.S. court. [CNN]
* Lithwick’s take on the interesting SCOTUS case, Medellin v. Texas. [Slate]
* McCartney-Mills divorce settlement could break records. [MSNBC]
* After typo, infants in Arkansas can’t not be allowed to marry. [CNN]

bonsai tree AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Across the pond, Allen & Overy hopes to pick up recruits — quite literally. [Charon QC: The Blawg]
* One path to a judgeship: marry a prominent political fundraiser. [Daily Business Review]
* Alberto Gonzales and George Terwilliger should get along famously. [Washington Briefs]
* The fame of the S&C bonsai trees spreads, as ATL earns a shout-out in the Washington Post’s Express. [Read Express]

He likes PD butts, and he cannot lie. From the New York Daily News (of course):

skirt suit nice butt Above the Law blog.jpgWhen a local judge laughingly said in open court that criminal defense lawyer Ruth Boyer had “a nice butt,” she was not flattered.

The sexist comment by LaGrange Town Justice Edmund Caplicki, made in July 2005, was reported to the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which yesterday publicly scolded the jurist for his “inappropriate” remark.

Caplicki, 62, told the watchdog group he was merely parroting the comments Boyer’s client – a man accused of theft – had made about the lawyer’s backside. But the panel noted the jurist not only quizzed three other male defendants on whether they agreed with the evaluation, but then mentioned it again to Boyer….

Boyer’s supervisor at the Dutchess County Public Defender’s office had the incident reported to the commission. Friends described Boyer, 42, as being anything but thin-skinned. “She has a very cordial, respectful and diplomatic approach to everything,” an assistant at Boyer’s law office, Larry Clark, told the Daily News. “It’s very hard to get a rise out of her.”

“But apparently not so difficult to get a rise out of Justice Caplicki,” as one of you notes.
Someone should put the Ed Caplicki in touch with Peter Barta, another connoisseur of court-appointed ass. And keep His Honor away from Ursula Ungaro at judicial conferences.
Public censure for judge who said lawyer had ‘nice butt’ [New York Daily News]

Tomorrow is a very big day for almost 20 California lawyers. From Blogonaut:

Qualcomm Qualcom Above the Law blog.jpgA federal district court has ordered 14 California lawyers to explain why they should not be sanctioned for their “exceptional misconduct” on behalf of Qualcomm in a lawsuit that the San Diego wireless company lost. All of the lawyers subject to the order were from the Cupertino law firm of Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder or the Heller Ehrman law firm’s offices in Menlo Park and San Diego, the San Diego Tribune is reporting.

Five additional lawyers have been drawn into the proceedings since the order was issued, so the fate of 19 attorneys rests on the outcome of an October 12, 2007, 9:30 a.m. hearing before U.S. Magistrate Barbara Major, the newspaper reports.

We previously wrote about the underlying discovery snafu over here.
Both Heller Ehrman and Day Casebeer have been the subject of gossip recently. Last month, Heller Ehrman was rumored to be carrying out staff layoffs in California (believed to affect up to 90 people). If you know anything about this, please email us.
Update: Oops, sorry, don’t know how we missed this article from The Recorder, reporting on Heller axing 65 administrative staff positions nationwide. No attorneys were laid off.
As for Day Casebeer, rumor had it that they were rescinding offers to incoming associates. But it appears that this was inaccurate, as rumors sometimes are. When we contacted the firm, they had this comment:

We are delighted that eight new associates will join us this Fall and that two have already started work. It’s a record class for us. Far from rescinding any offers, we remain very interested in resumes from others interested in joining our practice.

Especially if you’re experienced in electronic data discovery.
Federal Court Brings Written Charges of “Exceptional Misconduct” Against 14 Lawyers [Blogonaut]
19 lawyers face sanction hearing [San Diego Union-Tribune]
Recovered Emails Bedevil Qualcomm in Court [Wall Street Journal]
Heller Says Slowdown Not Behind Layoffs [The Recorder via Law.com]
Earlier: Benchslap of the Day: The Qualcomm Debacle

Seyfarth Shaw LLP AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgOr maybe it is. From a tipster:

Several offices of Seyfarth Shaw met yesterday and today to discuss the results of the Am-Law Mid-Level Associate Survey, as well as those from an internal survey distributed. [T]he data revealed in these surveys reflected a considerable level of dissatisfaction from associates regarding a variety of areas, and [discussion was held] to cover some of the things the firm is doing to address them (as discussed at the Partners retreat in late September).

When this non-descript “Associates Meeting” was announced last week, most of the associates believed it was to discuss that fact that Seyfarth was finally going to get off ATL’s List of Shame and raise to 160k. However, to our surprise, the whole issue of salaries was completely glanced over. It was merely conveyed that the Compensation Committee was still compiling data regarding recent “market trends in compensation” and would be “meeting” (not necessarily deciding anything) in December.

Seyfarth really continues to amaze….

Okay, so you’re getting below-market pay (except in New York, where associates start at $160K). But look on the bright side — at least your firm makes awesome videos! From an earlier message:

I am not sure how you can get your hands on this, but Seyfarth Shaw did a professional-quality “MTV-Cribs” spoof for the opening of its new Chicago office last fall where Steve Poor (managing partner) walked around in a Hugh Heffner-style smoking jacket showing off the firms new office space. It was clearly a joke (unlike the Nixon Peabody fiasco) and the firm showed it to the new first year associates during first year orientation. However, I would pay money to see that video again….it was hilarious!

If any of you has a copy of said video, or knows how one might be obtained, you know where to reach us.

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