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ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol medium.jpg
Six lawyers, currently or formerly at large law firms, hoping to make the jump to the writing life (read: working in pajamas). One leading legal tabloid, in need of its next lead editor. A mass of angry anonymous commenters, looking for someone new with whom to have a love-hate relationship.
“THIS…. is ATL Idol.”
It’s a reality-show-style competition, in which site readers will pick the new editor in chief of AboveTheLaw.com — the recipient of some 3 million page views a month, described by the Washington Post as “a must-read legal blog.” We believe it to be the first time that a full-time blogging gig — one with a salary you can live on, health insurance, and even a 401(k) — has been awarded through a “reality blogging” contest.
Back in May, we posted a help wanted ad for a new full-time writer here at Above the Law. Over the weeks that followed, we received a slew of excellent applications. We also located additional prospects through personal networking. All in all, we probably considered almost 100 talented candidates.
We narrowed the list down to six highly impressive finalists. But we found the prospect of choosing just one of them to be agonizing.
So we’ve decided to outsource this task to you, the readership of Above the Law. Over the next three weeks, the finalists will blog on ATL, for your consideration. Just as they would on a true reality TV show, the “assignments” will vary from week to week (details about them to follow).
Each Friday, we will open the polls, allowing you to vote for your favorite — the blogger you’d like to see take the helm at this venerable legal tabloid. At the end of week one, the bottom two out of six finalists — the pair of contestants with the fewest votes — will be eliminated. Next week, the reader vote will take four finalists down to two. In the third and final week, the two finalists will go head to head, in a legal blogging deathmatch. Your votes will determine the winner, Above the Law’s new leader.
ATL readers are an opinionated bunch, so we expect you to have strong views about the contestants (which you should feel free to share in the comments). But to those of you who need more guidance when voting, fear not. Just like American Idol, ATL Idol will provide you with three “celebrity judges,” to offer their expert opinions of the contestants’ blogging, and to inform and guide the electorate.
Our judges, who are all leading legal bloggers in their own right, need no introduction. But we’ll introduce them anyway, briefly. They are (in alphabetical order):

  • Ann Althouse, Robert W. & Irma M. Arthur-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and author of her eponymous blog, Althouse;
  • Tom Goldstein, head of the D.C. litigation practice and co-head of the firm-wide Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump, and founder of SCOTUSblog; and
  • Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate (where she blogged at Convictions), author of two books, and a contributor to the New York Times and the Washington Post (among many other publications).
    Our impressive panel is well-balanced, featuring representatives from three major groups of legal bloggers: one law professor, one practicing lawyer, and one professional journalist. We’ll leave it to you to decide — perhaps based on how caustic their commentary is — who’s Simon, who’s Randy, and who’s Paula.
    Update: Professor Althouse emphatically rejects any suggestion that she’ll be the Paula Abdul of this contest. This is just as well; when we invited Dahlia Lithwick to serve as a judge, she called “dibs” on Paula.
    Check back later today, when we’ll post brief bios of the six finalists. And check back throughout this week – and, of course, over the next three weeks – to figure out which writers you love, and which you’d leave. The identity of ATL’s next editor rests in your hands.
    We’re expecting this contest to be fun and exciting. Please spread the word to your friends and colleagues. And once the polls are open, we pass along to you the exhortation of Ryan Seacrest: “America, don’t forget to vote!”
    Update: The bios of the finalists are now posted over here.
    Earlier: Help Wanted: ATL Seeks A New Writer

  • dont-go-pleez.jpgIn today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, it’s time to focus on time off.
    ATL has previously reported on firms trimming the length of their summer programs, in part because of economic doldrums, but also at least purportedly in part because of vacation cycles.
    As one firm’s managing partner put it: “We believe that the August vacation season for our attorneys is simply not a period that is conducive to a positive Summer Associate experience.”
    So, it being “vacation season,” are you taking any?
    Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

    Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.

    Aaron Charney headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney.JPGBack in February 2007, shortly after young gay lawyer Aaron Charney sued his former firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, alleging anti-gay discrimination and retaliation, the WSJ Law Blog asked: “Are Aaron Charney’s Big Law-Firm Days Over?”
    Based on the experts it spoke to, the WSJ concluded that “it’ll be tough for Charney, though not impossible, to find work at another big firm.” In the comments to the WSJ post, readers were less optimistic. One described Charney as “toast” — a sentiment apparently shared by many ATL readers we heard from, who found laughable the notion that Aaron Charney might someday return to Biglaw.
    If you were one of those who doubted that Aaron Charney could return to a large law firm, it’s time for you to eat one of these. Next month, Charney will be joining Clifford Chance, in the Magic Circle firm’s New York office.
    We reached out to both Aaron Charney and Clifford Chance for confirmation and comment. Charney did not get back to us, but the firm did. From firm spokesperson Mike Kachel:

    I can confirm that Aaron Charney, a talented lawyer, will join our New York office in early September from Sullivan & Cromwell as a fifth-year associate. Aaron’s presence will further strengthen our M&A practice and we’re delighted he’s joining us.

    The firm is clearly pleased to have Charney on the team. But does everyone at Clifford Chance feel the same way? The CC source who tipped us off to the news alluded to some grumbling among the rank-and-file about Charney’s hiring (but didn’t specify why people wouldn’t want to have Charney as a colleague). As for why the firm wanted to hire Charney, this tipster suggested that Clifford Chance may want to improve its standing in the gay community, after settling a sexual orientation lawsuit brought by a gay partner in London last year.
    Regardless of the naysayers’ views, this does seem like a felicitous pairing. Aaron Charney gets to return to the world of corporate law and deal work, which he clearly loves. Clifford Chance gets to beef up its New York M&A practice — and enhance its diversity record, too. Congratulations to both Charney and Clifford Chance!
    P.S. Clifford Chance wasn’t the only firm that flirted with Charney. As we mentioned back in May, he also interviewed with Kramer Levin.
    P.P.S. Whatever happened to Charney pal Gera Grinberg? Might Clifford Chance have room for him too?
    Are Aaron Charney’s Big Law-Firm Days Over? [WSJ Law Blog]
    Earlier: A Brokeback Lawfirm for the Other Side of the Pond

    Monica Goodling 4 Monica M Goodling sexy pose Above the Law blog.jpgWe hear that the Justice Department’s special report on our favorite DOJ diva, Monica Goodling, will be coming out later today — in fact, later this morning. Perhaps within 15 minutes or so, give or take….
    Stay tuned. We’ll update this space with more as it emerges.
    Update (10:08 AM): As we predicted, the report of the Office of the Inspector General, “An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General,” has been released. To access it, click here (PDF).
    We haven’t head the chance to read it yet (since we’re juggling several stories this morning). If you take a look at the report, please feel free to point out the most interesting portions, in the comments.
    Further Update: More from NPR, the AP, and the WSJ Law Blog.
    Justice Dept.’s Hiring Tactics Illegal, Report Says [National Public Radio]
    DOJ: Former aide broke law in hiring scandal [Associated Press]
    Who’s to Blame for GonzoGate? DOJ Report Points to Goodling [WSJ Law Blog]

    Shia LaBeouf Shia LeBeouf Shia LaBoeuf.jpg* Conviction in Siemens bribery and corruption case. [Reuters]
    * Another malpractice suit filed, this one against Thelen Reid. [The Recorder via Am Law Daily]
    * Virginia jails must report foreign inmates to feds. [Washington Post]
    * Shia LaBeouf arrested for DUI. [CNN]
    * Mistrial motion in Barbie-Bratz dolls case, after juror booted for ethnic slurs. [WSJ Law Blog]
    * Judge Charlies Brieant (S.D.N.Y.), RIP. [New York Times]

    Wild Things lesbian kiss Neve Campbell.jpgLet’s close out the week with one more post about everyone’s favorite summer associate scandal: the girl-on-girl kiss that got two summer associates fired from the Minneapolis law firm of Lindquist & Vennum.

    Earlier today, we alluded to rumors of “additional lasciviousness” at Lindquist, and now it’s time to deliver. We wouldn’t want to be accused of being teases.

    Now some of you may be getting lesbian kiss fatigue (although some of you may say, “no such thing!!!”). But having received this tip, we can’t sit on it, or we’d be accused of giving you only part of the story.

    From a tipster (who provided additional identifying information to explain how he’s in a position to know this, which we’ve omitted to preserve his anonymity):

    “[The Kiss] happened at a bar with a bunch of summer people after dinner at a partner’s house. [One of the summers] was probably just fired as a scapegoat, because that same night [another summer] made out with a married partner. I bet they didn’t fire that girl because they were afraid of employment discrimination suits.”

    Well! All this scandalous talk — faux-lesbian kisses, orgiastic firm retreats — is making us blush.

    We retract any and all prior remarks suggesting the folks at Lindquist are prudes and squares. To the contrary, it sounds like the place is so buck wild that lesbian lip-action is on the mild side of the spectrum. We are — involuntarily, mind you — imagining Nancy Vollertsen dancing on a table.

    Okay, this scandal may have run its course; all good things come to an end. But we remain open to corrections, in case we’ve gotten anything wrong. Feel free to send any info our way, by email (subject line: “Lindquist and Vennum Summer Associate Scandal”). Thanks.

    Earlier: Prior coverage of The Kiss (scroll down)

    Scrabulous Facebook.jpgFacebook, Facebook, Facebook. It’s all over the news these days due to a spate of lawsuits. If we weren’t so into Facebook, we might be over it. It’s way overexposed.
    Anyway, here’s one of the latest suits. This one is near and dear to our hearts, as it concerns one of our favorite procrastination tools Facebook applications: Scrabulous. From the Associated Press:

    The Indian creators of a Scrabble knock-off that has become one of the most popular activities on Facebook have been sued by Hasbro, the company that owns the word game’s North American rights.

    You might think this will give you the opportunity to break your Scrabulous habit and stop wasting so much time on Facebook. Not so fast — Hasbro conveniently launched its own version and hopes to keep you hooked:

    The suit against Scrabulous’s creators comes less than two weeks after the release of an authorized version of Scrabble for Facebook.
    Hasbro said in its lawsuit that Scrabulous violates its copyright and trademarks. Separately, Hasbro asked Facebook to block the game.

    (Lat, let’s not start a new game until they figure this out. I shall savor my recent victory for now.)
    More Facebook legal news, and a reason to create a Facebook profile if you haven’t already, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More Facebook Lawsuits: Hasbro Doesn’t Think Scrabulous Is Fabulous”

    When we recently lamented the lack of summer associate scandals, in the New York Observer, did we speak too soon? Although we may be in the home stretch, law firm summer associate programs are not yet over — and neither, thankfully, are the salacious tales they generate.

    Here’s a story we’ve known about for a while — it happened late last week — which has already surfaced elsewhere on the web. We’ve delayed on reporting about it because we wanted to get more confirmation and give the parties involved a chance to comment.

    We reached out to numerous representatives of the firm — managing partner Daryle Uphoff, chief marketing officer Greg Wolsky, recruiting director Lisanne Weisz, diversity coordinator Nancy Vollertsen — by phone and by email, yesterday and today. We also contacted the two summers involved, via Facebook message. Nobody has gotten back to us, despite ample time to do so. We’ll have to push ahead without them.

    Since we’ve heard the story from multiple sources, all offering generally consistent accounts, we are fairly confident in its accuracy. But if you have any corrections or additions to offer, please email us (subject line: “Lindquist and Vennum Summer Associate Scandal”).

    Here are some of the versions we heard (many tipsters sent it in):

    1. Word through the grapevine is that two female summer associates at Minneapolis firm Lindquist & Vennum were fired recently for getting drunk at a firm event and making out with each other.

    2. I’m an associate at a large Minneapolis firm, and word is that two female summer associates at Lindquist & Vennum, another of the large firms in town, got drunk at a summer associate event and were making out with each other. They were fired on Friday.

    3. [Two summers at] Lindquist & Vennum were fired over the weekend. Drinking was involved; however, the firm supplied it to them during a boat cruise in 90+ degree weather. Can you get this posted? I want more information.

    4. I am a summer associate at a Minneapolis law firm. I can tell that you that two female Lindquist and Vennum summer associates were recently fired (within the last week). I could not tell you for sure why they were fired, but the rumor is that they were drunk at some sort of firm social event (one that had partners present), and started to make out with each other.

    And they got fired for this? We’re surprised the old-white-male partners didn’t cheer them on.

    Update / Correction: According to reports received after this post was published, whether the SAs were “making out” or merely kissing on the lips is unclear. Furthermore, the event in question was not the boat cruise, but a post-dinner gathering at a bar. For an update post containing additional information and corrections, see here.

    One tipster pointed us to some corroborating evidence:

    Lindquist has removed all photos/references of the two from its summer associate section on its website.

    This is true. We verified it ourselves, by comparing the current summer associate page, which lists eight summers, to an older version, which lists ten summers. (But please do not post in the comments any links to archived or cached versions of the page.)

    You can read more, if you want to — if you don’t, then don’t — after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Summer Associates of the Day: Sapphic Summers in Lesbianic Lip-Lock?”

    New York Observer Aquagirl cartoon.jpgThat’s the question we attempt to tackle in our latest New York Observer column. It’s illustrated with an Aquagirl cartoon, seen in miniature at right. Click on the thumbnail to be taken to the article, where you can see the original version at full size.

    In the piece, we lament the relative dearth of summer associate stories this year. It certainly has been a quiet summer at New York law firms.

    But with respect to the rest of the country, did we speak too soon? We’re hearing some delicious SA gossip out of Minneapolis.

    But we’d like to get more details and confirmation before running with it. If you can help us out, please email us. Thanks.

    Update: Martha Neil of the ABA Journal gives us a kind shout-out over here.

    Further Update: You can read about the Minneapolis summer associate story over here.

    Tart Reform! Facing Heat, Legal Ladies and Laddies Stay Buttoned [New York Observer]

    Law Blogger Laments Lack of Summer Associate Scandals [ABA Journal]

    A clear winner emerged from the 2499 votes on ATL’s Tighty-Whities caption contest:

    lawyer in white briefs attorney underwear.jpg

    “And now my junior partner has something he’d like to say…”

    The man in the photo is David Remes, a partner at Covington & Burling — but not for long, as reported by the Legal Times. From the WSJ Law Blog:

    David Remes, who made Law Blog headlines last week for removing his pants at a news conference in Yemen, is leaving the firm, according to the Legal Times, which reported the news over the weekend. Remes will reportedly devote himself exclusively to human rights litigation.

    Last week, we reported that Remes (Columbia, Harvard Law), who’s representing 15 Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay, removed his pants at a news conference in Yemen. Remes was attempting to demonstrate what he feels are the inappropriate body searches that detainees are undergoing several times per day.

    “At the press conference in Yemen — this is a society where the rule of morality is so strict — I wanted to drive home the degree of humiliation that these searches cause by illustrating a typical body search,” Remes told the LB.

    Biglaw doesn’t like seeing those kinds of briefs.

    Remes Resigns from Covington & Burling [BLT]
    David Remes, Who Dropped His Pants in Yemen, to Leave Covington [Wall Street Journal Law Blog]

    Earlier: ‘Tighty-Whities’ Caption Contest Finalists

    Christian Bale Batman Bruce Wayne assault.jpgWe have not yet seen the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight. It’s too bad we’re not summering at Simpson Thacher in New York. Have you seen the film? Does it live up to the hype?
    Meanwhile, Batman star Christian Bale was arrested in London, before being released on bail. From the Daily Mail:

    Batman star Christian Bale was released on police bail today after he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting two family members.

    The Hollywood actor was questioned for four hours at Belgravia police station in central London and later bailed to a date in September pending further inquiries.

    Bale, 34, is alleged to have lashed out at his mother Jenny, 61, and sister Sharon, 40, in his suite at Park Lane’s Dorchester Hotel on Sunday night.

    If true — Bale denies the allegations — such conduct is most unbecoming of Bruce Wayne.
    Batman star Christian Bale released on bail amid claims he assaulted his own mother and sister [Daily Mail via Drudge Report]
    CHRISTIAN BALE DENIES ASSAULT ALLEGATION [AP via New York Post]

    lawyer in white briefs attorney underwear.jpgWe’re currently running a caption contest for the photo at right. We’re not the only ones with an ongoing legally-themed caption contest. If one flips to the back of the current infamous New Yorker issue, the cartoon for their caption contest (Contest #153) is set in a courtroom. We’ll keep an eye on that contest, and issue an opinion on the finalists when they are announced.

    We prefer not to give you the context for caption contest photos, but the background on this one is as exposed as the lawyer in the photo. It’s up on Yahoo! News, the WSJ Law Blog, and the ABA Journal, among other places. It got more publicity over the weekend, with the news that David Remes, the pants-dropping partner in the picture, is leaving Covington & Burling (as reported by the Legal Times; see also the WSJ, via New York magazine).

    We’re pushing on with the contest, since we had over 200 entries. These are our finalists:

    A. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief…”
    B. “Million Dollar Pants Lawsuit: Part 2″
    C. “Ya know, John, I think the school board had something else in mind when they asked for an assembly on the how the penal system works.”
    D. “Having been found guilty of malpractice, the lawyer literally had his pants sued off.”
    E. “Another unsuccessful effort to get ‘junk’ science before the jury.”
    F. “And now my junior partner has something he’d like to say…”
    G. “[Y]our honor, i thought you said you wanted to take a closer look at the briefs.”
    H. “You think that jury was hung?”
    I. “Counsel, the phrase ‘may it please the court’ is NOT a literal request.”
    J. “Other Van Winkle Law Firm partners have expressed concern that Joe represented his favorite extracurricular activity a little too enthusiastically in his ‘Meet Joe’ bio photo.”

    Earlier: ATL Caption Contest: Tighty-Whities

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