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black hole milky way Above the Law blog.jpgEvery now and then, it’s healthy to be reminded of the triviality of your daily preoccupations. From the New York Times:

[T]wo men pursuing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii…. think a giant particle accelerator that will begin smashing protons together outside Geneva this summer might produce a black hole or something else that will spell the end of the Earth — and maybe the universe.

Scientists say that is very unlikely — though they have done some checking just to make sure.

That’s nice to know.

[Plaintiffs] Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth. Or it could spit out something called a “strangelet” that would convert our planet to a shrunken dense dead lump of something called “strange matter.” Their suit also says CERN has failed to provide an environmental impact statement as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Alas, this valiant effort to save human civilization may be frustrated, thanks to something as pedestrian and technical as…. jurisdiction:

James Gillies, head of communications at CERN, said the laboratory as of yet had no comment on the suit. “It’s hard to see how a district court in Hawaii has jurisdiction over an intergovernmental organization in Europe,” Mr. Gillies said.

And that’s the story of how, for want of personal jurisdiction, mankind was lost.
(For the record, CERN denies that what they’re doing is unsafe, citing multiple scientific reports that have evaluated their activities from a safety standpoint.)
Asking a Judge to Save the World, and Maybe a Whole Lot More [New York Times]

Barack Obama small Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.JPG* Was Barack Obama a “real” law professor at the University of Chicago? Or just a pseudo-prof? [Marc Ambinder / The Atlantic]
* Speaking of Obama, why didn’t he save more for retirement? Professor Mankiw speculates: “Maybe he is expecting vastly higher tax rates in the future, when the accumulated savings will need to be withdrawn and taxed.” [Greg Mankiw via TaxProf Blog]
* Speaking of law profs, should they reveal their political leanings to their students? [PrawfsBlawg]
* The IRS on YouTube. Is “Linda Stiff” her real name? [TaxProf Blog]
* Biglaw jumps on the blogging bandwagon. [Kevin O'Keefe / Real Lawyers Have Blogs]
* We’re all in favor of judicial reform. But will an appointive judiciary yield up fewer Elizabeth Halversons? [Wild Wild Law: Legal Antics and Jurisprudence in Nevada]
* “£295/hr for a junior associate? You mean that 25 year old girl who finished her training contract 3 weeks ago?! If it is true then Geeklawyer is undercharging chronically.” [GeekLawyer]
* Courtesy of Slate, Hillary Death Watch. Today they peg her chances of winning the Democratic nomination at 12 percent. [Slate]
(But don’t forget Monica Crowley’s quip about HRC: “She’s like Glenn Close at the end of Fatal Attraction. You think she’s dead, and then she sits bolt-upright in the bathtub.”)

Samuel Fishman Samuel A Fishman Latham Watkins Above the Law blog.jpgWith respect to our earlier post, about a rumor that Latham & Watkins represents the Church of Scientology, we have our doubts. See this comment (at 2:53 PM).
But here’s some bad news about Latham that appears to be more reliable. From the WSJ Law Blog:

[Samuel A. Fishman (pictured)] has pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and is slated to be sentenced in June….

The criminal information and papers from the U.S. attorney’s office say Fishman, 51 of New Jersey, was a lawyer in the corporate department of a major U.S. law firm with offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia. SEC documents show a Samuel A. Fishman was a lawyer at Latham & Watkins….

The criminal information says that, upon discovering the scheme, the law firm reimbursed its clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses. The information says Fishman was the billing partner for a number of the firm’s institutional clients, including clients in banking, utilities, telecommunications and entertainment.

From 1993 through 2005, it says, Fishman mischaracterized on invoices certain expenses, such as non-reimbursable meals and parking fees, as reimbursable expenses, such as photocopying and express mail, amounting to more than $200,000 of mischaracterized expenses. He also sent client invoices that inflated actual costs to the firm, amounting to $100,000 of non-existent expenses, the information says. It says that he also falsely represented personal expenses, such as hotel bills, as reimbursable business expenses.

In case you’re wondering, Samuel Fishman is a 1981 graduate of NYU Law School. See here. Harvard Law School’s two-day winning streak for Lawyer of the Day has been broken.
Update (4:20 PM): Here is the firm’s official statement about the Sam Fishman matter, from David Gordon, managing partner of Latham’s New York office:

“As reflected in the statements from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, our firm discovered the issues relating to Mr. Fishman in 2005, immediately acted to protect our clients fully, and disclosed the matter to appropriate law enforcement authorities. Mr. Fishman resigned from the firm at the time the issues were discovered. Since that time, we have cooperated fully with the investigation.”

Samuel A. Fishman [Latham & Watkins via Archive.org]
Lawyer Pleas in Case Charging that He Bilked Firm and Clients [WSJ Law Blog]
Lawyer at Major Firm Charged with Bilking Firm and Clients [WSJ Law Blog]

Florida gator alligator Above the Law blog.jpgWhat is it about Florida that causes its lawyers and litigants to misbehave so egregiously? Just last week, the Florida Supreme Court sanctioned colorful attorney Jack Thompson. And now they’ve expressed their displeasure (PDF) with pro se litigant Julio Mora.
What did Mr. Mora do to upset the court? From its opinion:

Mora has filed pro se pleadings containing scandalous and obscene language. Specifically, in his “Petition to Inhibit Jurisdiction From this Very Supreme Court of Injustice,” Mora maintained that through its show cause proceedings with DOC, the Court has proven itself “to be a pack of incompetent cowards, without balls, testicles, courage or valor.” Further, Mora urged this Court to

“take this case and the ultimate decision, if ever, and please shovel it to the chief justice and every other justice’s a**hole, in order to have a common place to store the justices’ crap, together with the justice crap from their’s mind, properly disposed through the sewer system, in order to prevent the contaminants to reach the citizen of Florida, and also kiss Julio Mora’s the idiot seeking justice, kiss his a**hole every time the justice will retire going to their den. . . . Please kiss my a** one more time.”

The court declined to grant Mora the requested relief. Instead, it sanctioned him, directing the clerk of court to reject any future filings from Mora “unless signed by a member of The Florida Bar.”
In a court of law, it’s the parties who do the ass-kissing — not the judges.
Mora v. McNeil (PDF) [Supreme Court of Florida]

Tom Cruise Oprah Winfrey couch jumping Above the Law blog.jpgThe law firm of Latham & Watkins has lots of things going for it: eye-popping profits, ample prestige, and a promise of no layoffs. What more could you ask for?
How about…. a powerful and glamorous client, with deep connections in Hollywood? Reported over at Radar Online:

Recently, Radar reported on Scientology’s short-lived attempt to beat its Guy Fawkes mask-clad antagonists “Anonymous” at their own game: scary YouTube videos. A clip posted by a Sciento associate under the name “AnonymousFacts” displayed the names and personal information of several supposed Anonymous members and accused the group of violent threats and terrorism. YouTube quickly took the video down and suspended AnonymousFacts. But the hassle for at least one of the three men shown didn’t end there.

A little more than a week ago, Jonathan (he asked his last name not be repeated again), who’d joined a Facebook group called “I Support Anonymous” and attended their protests, answered a knock at the door of his parents’ L.A.-area home, where he lives while attending community college. A mustachioed man in a suit and claiming to be from the law firm of Latham and Watkins was holding a “file” and asked to speak to Jonathan’s parents by name, he recently told Radar. He told the mystery man his parents weren’t available and offered to take the package for them. “No,” the man said. “I can’t legally give this to you.” Jonathan shrugged and told him to come back later. That’s when things got weird.

Later a friend of the family came over and said Mr. Mustachio was hanging out in front of the house and had asked her if she was Jonathan’s mom. When she said no, he waited until Jonathan’s parents did arrive, then handed them the file and said, “This is a courtesy letter. No charges are being filed yet. But your son may be involved in terrorist activity.” And then he left. Inside the package was a letter accusing Jonathan of terrorism and a DVD copy of the YouTube video, he says.

Sounds like a pretty fun assignment for a junior associate — anything to get out of the office. But the “Church” denies this ever happened:

A Church of Scientology spokesperson says the group does employ various lawyers across the country to deal with what she tells Radar are “acts of violence, terrorism, and death threats,” but adds, “It is not true that lawyers from any firm representing the Church have visited anyone. If anyone is suggesting otherwise, that is false.”

We’ve contacted Latham for comment. We’ll let you know if and when we hear back from them.
Update: We have our doubts about the firm’s involvement. Writes a commenter:

It is highly unlikely that the person hounding this kid is actually from Latham. Scientologists have a policy (called the “Fair Game” policy) that allows them to lie, cheat, impersonate, physically threaten/assault, etc. if it will further the aims of the “church”. Although that policy was ostensibly cancelled at some point (in name only), scientologists continue to live by it in practice. It’s pretty much guaranteed that the man with the file was not from Latham but was instead a scientology poser.

Seriously–would an associate from Latham actually serve papers on anyone? F**k, no. We use process servers!!

We feel bad for Latham. Some imposter is going around making it look like they represent the Church of Scientology. And their lawyers have mustaches.
Further Update: Or maybe Latham DOES represent the Church of Scientology? See here. (Gavel bang: commenter.)
We have reiterated our inquiry to Latham concerning whether or not the firm represents the Church of Scientology. We’ll let you know what we find out. (They did not respond to an earlier request for comment on this subject.)
Final Update: Read more in this update.
‘Anonymous’ Kid Outed by Scientologists Gets House Call [Fresh Intelligence: Radar Online]

Here’s a photo of President Bush and his White House Counsel — Fred Fielding, former senior partner at Wiley Rein (fka Wiley Rein & Fielding), dressed up as the Easter Bunny — at the White House Easter Egg Roll earlier this week:
Fred Fielding Easter Bunny White House Counsel Fred F Fielding Above the Law blog.jpg
Quips our tipster: “One can only hope Fielding isn’t splitting hares. Or giving hare-brained advice.”
Okay, you’re groaning. Think you can do better? Then enter the ATL caption contest. Same rules as before:

We welcome your suggested alternative captions, in the comments. Assuming sufficient response, we’ll take our favorites, incorporate them into a poll, and hold a caption contest.

We doubt we’ll receive as many submissions as we did for our last caption contest. But we’re going to limit the entries this time: we’re closing the comments if and when we hit the 100-comment mark. So if you’d like to enter the contest, don’t delay. Thanks.
Update (2 PM): Okay, we’ll let it get up to 200 comments. We especially appreciate suggested captions that are in some way law-related. What makes this picture relevant to ATL is the fact that the man in the bunny suit is President Bush’s chief lawyer (and a former name partner of a leading D.C. law firm).
If we just wanted to post a random, funny photo of the president with the Easter bunny, we would have used this one.
Update (4:50 PM): You seem to be having a lot of fun with this, so we will keep the comments open indefinitely. But in picking the finalists, we will focus on comments that have a connection to the legal profession (as opposed to comments that are more politically oriented or simply random).
Update (3/31/08): Thanks for all the excellent entries. The comments section is now closed.
The rabbit behind the man: White House counsel Fred Fielding [Washington Post]
Bush Hugging Bunny [Wonkette]

Job of the Week

London Bridge small Tower Bridge of London Fergie Abovethelaw Above the Law online legal tabloid.jpgHere is today’s Job of the Week, brought to you by our friends at Lateral Link. Even if the U.S. capital markets may be slowing down, the overseas markets are still busy, and many firms are looking for U.S.-trained attorneys. Lateral Link has positions throughout Western Europe and Asia. These positions qualify for Lateral Link’s $10,000 placement bonus.
Position: U.S. Capital Markets Associate
Location: London, UK
Description: The London office of this U.S- based law firm seeks a U.S.-qualified capital markets attorney with at least two years of experience.
Requirements: Candidates must possess excellent academic credentials as well as strong organizational, research, writing and analytical skills.
Firm Description: This New York-based law firm ranks among The American Lawyer’s top 100 law firms based on gross revenue. The firm specializes in project finance, capital markets, and leasing and structured finance. Practice areas include antitrust, emerging markets, municipal bonds, tax, litigation, real estate and corporate.
Job Code: 8005
For more information about this and other international positions, please check out Lateral Link.

US News World Report small cover 2009 law school rankings ratings Above the Law blog.jpgAs we reported earlier this week, the latest U.S. News & World Report law school rankings are out. And some schools are flipping out over their falling rankings. A tipster at the University of Iowa College of Law writes:

[B]elow is an email the Iowa law students received yesterday from Dean Jones about the new US News & World Report rankings. Apparently our dean is setting up small group meetings with the students. No faculty. No other administration. Methinks this may be somewhat of a divide and conquer strategy. These meetings may be in part a result of the newly formed Facebook group “Stop the Bleeding at Iowa Law.”

My favorite part, though, is that the “faculty” have dubbed their concern about the rankings “Project Apollo.” Well, if they’re not going to do anything about it, at least they can come up with a secret, clever code name, so it looks in hindsight like they’ve been planning D-Day part 2. Bravo profs and administration, you’ve really impressed me this time.

Dean Jones’s email appears after the jump. Meanwhile, a source at University at Buffalo Law School reports:

For the return on investment — a Biglaw job for $13k a year in tuition (for the top of the class) — many students were OK with the shortcomings of this law school. [But] with T3 looking over our shoulder, some fellow students are contemplating jumping ship….

It’s hard to justify leaving for debt-ridden T25 greener pastures when L. Rev. and a market-paying job in the City are likely. No one likes to be on the Titanic, though.

The message sent to the Buffalo student body by interim dean Makau Mutua, after the jump.
Update (10:50 AM): Add the University of Minnesota Law School to the list of institutions whose deans are sending out school-wide emails about their declining rankings:

Students at the University of Minnesota Law School received this email today from the two interim co-deans. It’s pretty hilarious that they try to claim we are still a top 20 school even though we are now ranked #22. It’s particularly amusing that they have decided to “address the particular factors that caused a decline this year.”

The email from the school’s two interim co-deans, after the jump.
Update (11:10 AM): From a source at UNC School of Law:

Since you’re posting panicked USN&WR reactions, add this one to your list. You know it’s bad when you have to respond in Latin.

Dean Boger’s email, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The U.S. News Rankings: Law Schools Lose Their S**t React”

* Defense contractor accused of supplying ancient arms to Afghan army and police…. [CNN]
* While Defense Secretary Gates orders review of nuclear arsenal after accidental shipments to Taiwan…. [Washington Post]
* And AG Mukasey vows to crack down on corruption in wake of PR governor accusations…. [MSNBC]
* Meanwhile, 11th Circuit grants bail pending appeal to former Alabama governor, who claims to be the victim of a politically-motivated prosecution. [New York Times]

Anibal Acevedo Vila Governor Acevedo Puerto Rico Above the Law blog.JPGToday’s Lawyer of the Day has a political connection. He’s a superdelegate to the Democratic convention, as well as an Obama supporter. From the AP:

Puerto Rico Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila indignantly denied wrongdoing Thursday and gave no sign he would abandon his re-election effort after being charged with campaign finance violations that carry a penalty of 20 years in prison.

Acevedo, a superdelegate to this summer’s Democratic convention, accused U.S. prosecutors of pursuing a politically motivated indictment alleging that the governor and a dozen other people conspired to illegally pay off his campaign debts.

“I am going to defend my rights and protect the dignity of my family and of the people of Puerto Rico who support me,” the governor said in a statement hours after the FBI arrested most of those named in the indictment in San Juan, Philadelphia and Washington area.

Fun factoid: Governor Acevedo is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the alma mater of Eliot Spitzer, another governor — make that ex-governor — facing possible legal trouble. This means that HLS has given us two Lawyers of the Day in a row; yesterday’s LOTD was card-counting queen Jane Willis.
(In Harvard’s defense, Governor Acevedo just got an LLM there. He received his JD from the University of Puerto Rico.)
Feds Charge P.Rico Governor, 12 Others [AP via Blogonaut]
Puerto Rican ‘Governor’ Somehow Caught In FBI Sting [Wonkette]
Aníbal Acevedo Vilá [Wikipedia]

Maximilia Cordero small Jeffrey Epstein Dealbreaker Above the Law blog.JPG* Sad news: “Jeffrey Epstein’s accuser, Maximilian Cordero, has broken it off with boyfriend – lawyer – blogger William Unroch.” [Dealbreaker]
* Justice Kennedy: “There are all kinds of nuts who can get 90 percent on the bar exam.” At ATL, we call them Lawyers of the Day. [Althouse]
* Delhi to… $33K! And the senior lawyers in India are making out like bandits. Two hundred grand goes a lot further in Mumbai than Manhattan. [Legal Blog Watch]
* Proof that Hillary truly is a badass. [Blogonaut]

Posted below is the European fee schedule of Allen & Overy. At current exchange rates — approximately $1.55 to the Euro, and $2.00 to the British pound — this means that partners bill out at about $1,050 an hour in Paris, and $1,190 an hour in London. Says a source: “Twelve-hundred bucks an hour for a partner in London? Ridiculous.”
On the other hand, if a $1,200-an-hour partner can solve your problem in six minutes — with a well-placed telephone call, or an absolutely brilliant judgment call — maybe she’s worth it. Perhaps you should be more worried about $600-an-hour junior associates (to say nothing of $350-per-hour paralegals).
Allen Overy billing rates rate card Above the Law blog.jpg

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