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* A 2003 memo shows that the Justice Department greenlighted aggressive interrogation methods (including poking; Facebook, holla). Maybe those Yalies suing John Yoo need to amend their complaint. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Speaking of Yalies, here are a Yale 1L’s thoughts on the U.S. News rankings controversy. [Hartford Courant]
* A bipartisan effort to protect homeowners at risk of foreclosure. [New York Times]
* Despite the grim economy, partner poaching continues — and even extends to finance and securitization lawyers. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Hey Mon — please don’t try to board a flight with apparent bomb-making materials. [CNN]
* Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano may have offered clients more than just investigative services. [New York Times]

Sullivan Cromwell new logo Above the Law blog.jpgThe Brokeback Lawfirm scandal folded its pup tent months ago. But there’s still stuff to cover at one of ATL’s favorite firms, the venerable Sullivan & Cromwell.

Here are two items. First, from a tipster:

If I recall correctly, Sullivan & Cromwell sent out a memo in December or January saying that even though they paid the “special bonuses” in December, they still intended to pay additional profit-sharing bonuses in February. [February is over] and as far as I know, not a word from S&C. Can you guys please make a big deal over this?

The tipster’s memory is slightly off. From chairman H. Rodgin Cohen’s earlier bonus memo:

[T]he Firm will pay senior associates compensation in addition to salary and bonus through our new Senior Associate Supplemental Bonus Plan (“the Plan”). We have decided to accelerate payments under this new Plan to result in the following [market-matching bonuses] being paid on December 14 to our senior associates, with final supplemental payments to be made in the Spring of ’08.

We are now officially into spring 2008. So ATL hereby “make[s] a big deal over this.” Has S&C paid the supplemental bonuses to its senior associates? If so, can someone please give us the skinny?

Second, here’s an interesting rumor of a partner departure from S&C, from a different tipster….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Up at Sullivan & Cromwell?”

Avvo Lawyer Attorney Ratings Above the Law blog.jpg* Better late than never: data on New Jersey lawyers finally released to lawyer ratings site Avvo. [AP]
* Speaking of the Garden State, Judge Fred Kieser Jr. would have been a great Lawyer of the Day (if we hadn’t missed this when it came out last month). [NJ.com]
* “[I]n a move designed to show that it is doing its part in the global war on terrorism, China announced today a crackdown on counterfeit designer handbags….” [Securing Innovation]
* News you can use (if you have dreams of legal academia): teaching fellowships for aspiring law professors. [TaxProf Blog]
* If you’re STILL not tired of talking about those U.S. News law school rankings — and we’re finally sensing some fatigue, since our last post didn’t even generate 100 comments — here are a few more links:
  * “The Contradictory Goals of Law School Rankings” [Concurring Opinions (Dan Solove)]
  * “An Open Letter to Bob Morse of U.S. News” [Brian Leiter's Law School Reports]
  * “US News Hacked?: Does the US News Web Site Display 3rd Tier & 4th Tier Law Schools Ranked in Order?” [PrawfsBlawg (Geoffrey Rapp)]
* The 2008 April Fool’s Blawg Review Appendix. [a fool in the forest via Blawg Review]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWe previously reported that Covington & Burling, in their New York office, paid special and year-end bonuses at market levels. But what did they do in their other offices around the country?
The firm takes its sweet time, for one thing. Last month, a tipster there wrote us:

The D.C. office of Covington & Burling still has not paid bonuses to associates. When our peers at other firms (and in NY) got bonuses months ago, it seems offensive and stingy to hold out on the bonus payment…

But that’s the way things have always been. We contacted Covington and learned, through a spokesperson, that “it’s been our firm’s policy for years that our bonus schedule is around April 1 in all markets, except New York.”
So today is April 1. Do you know where the Covington bonuses are — and what they’re like this year?
If so — or if you have bonus news on another major national law firm, not previously covered in these pages — please email us (subject line: “Associate Bonus Watch”). Thanks.
Update: We’ve learned that in Covington’s San Francisco office, bonuses ranged from $5K to $65K (but don’t have any more details).
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Covington & Burling (New York)
Associate Bonus Watch: A Few More Updates

Latham Watkins Church of Scientology Scientologist Above the Law blog.jpgA quick follow-up to Friday’s post about Latham & Watkins possibly representing the Church of Scientology. The post was updated multiple times, and there were also lots of comments on it. Depending upon when you stopped reading, you may have come away with an erroneous impression.
At one point, we — and some commenters — expressed doubt that LW represents the Scientologists. But for the record, it now appears that Latham really IS representing the Church.
See this post from Radar Online, which has more details, and collects several legal letters sent out on behalf of the Church (thumbnails; click to enlarge) According to Radar, “[a]t least one Latham & Watkins letter was signed by David J. Schindler, the former Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the criminally mischievous nerd any self-respecting hacker wannabe worships, Kevin Mitnick.”
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Latham & Watkins to Free Stress Tests?”

commonal.jpgWe’re still in the great state of Georgia (which brought us today’s Judge of the Day). Now one of our favorite pro se litigants has been barred from further filing in the Northern District of Georgia.
From the Fulton County Daily Report:

The federal court filing spree launched by Jonathan Lee Riches, a pro se inmate who has barraged courts around the country with some 1,500 handwritten suits, is coming to a halt—at least in the Northern District of Georgia.

Calling Riches a “vexatious and abusive litigant,” U.S. District Judge Willis B. Hunt Jr. last week permanently enjoined Riches—who has filed 351 suits in the Northern District alone over the past several months—from filing any more without first meeting a strict set of criteria.

Vexatious. That’s a great Scabulous word!
The order [pdf] dismisses all of Riches’ pending cases without prejudice. Skadden Arps and Pepper Hamilton must be breathing huge sighs of relief.

Among the defendants to Riches’ Atlanta suits were former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his wife, Silda; the law 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, whose private equity fund used to own the Daily Report’s parent company.

Riches’ celebrity targets included actors Anne Heche, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones; musicians Cyndi Lauper and Eddie Van Halen; and Braves pitcher Tom Glavine.

In one case, he alleged that actress Molly Ringwald “said she is going to turn me into a redhead and … burn me with 16 candles,” an apparent reference to Ringwald’s 1984 hit movie “Sixteen Candles.”

The candles line tempts us to withdraw our promise not to have Riches join ATL as a guest blogger.
Judge blocks inmate’s flood of cases to district court [Law.com]

Marvin Arrington Judge Marvin S Arrington Above the Law blog.jpgJudge Marvin S. Arrington, who has served since 2002 as a Superior Court Judge in Fulton County, Georgia, is profiled on a website called The History Makers. The bio describes Judge Arrington’s achievements as a pathbreaking African-American lawyer, politician, and judge — also described by the judge in his book, Making My Mark: The Story of a Man Who Wouldn’t Stay in His Place.
Well, it seems that this “History Maker” continues to make headlines. This “man who wouldn’t stay in his place” doesn’t want you to stay in his place, either — at least if you’re white.
Judge Arrington recently ordered white lawyers out of his courtroom. This short video clip about the expulsion hovers near the top of today’s headlines on CNN.
Judge Arrington didn’t expel the whiteys for Reverend Wright-type reasons. Rather, he wanted to deliver a heartfelt lecture to an all-black audience, about race in America and how they should conduct themselves. See also Bill Cosby.
The judge was certainly well-intentioned. But tossing out all the white folk was a pretty dumb idea unwise (at least from a PR standpoint). Judge Arrington is therefore our Judge of the Day.
Courtroom Race Lecture [CNN Video]
Black Judge Orders Whites Out Of Atlanta Court [WSBTV.com]
Hon. Marvin S. Arrington, Sr. Biography [The History Makers]
Making My Mark: The Story of a Man Who Wouldn’t Stay in His Place [BN.com]
Fulton County Superior Court – Marvin S. Arrington appointed [BNet.com]

Sports and the Law 3 Above the Law blog.jpgIn honor of both the start of baseball season and April Fool’s Day, log onto Westlaw and type in 123 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1474. What you will find is a piece from the June 1975 University of Pennsylvania Law Review called The Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule. This Aside, presumably written tongue-in-cheek, examines “whether the same types of forces that shaped the development of the common law also generated the Infield Fly Rule.”
The Infield Fly Rule is a baseball rule that prevents infielders from intentionally dropping pop flies with less than two outs and either runners on first and second base or the bases loaded. According to the rule, if a batter hits a pop fly in infield territory, the umpire is supposed to automatically call the batter “out.” Runners are then free to advance at their own risk.
As discussed in the Aside, baseball owners implemented the Infield Fly Rule to combat gamesmanship by infielders, including most famously Columbia Law School graduate Monte Ward, who realized that intentionally dropping pop flies would allow turning single outs into double plays and triple plays. Without adding such a rule, base runners would have no way to know whether to advance or retreat on pop flies until the very last moment.
Over the years, The Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule has developed a cult following. The work has been cited 56 times, including by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Wikipedia ranks the Aside as one of the sixteen most “significant” works ever published by Penn Law Review. The author Will Stevens even stepped forward to identify himself after having originally published the piece anonymously.
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law Review”

assigning partner 2 work assignment Above the Law blog.JPGWe received almost 900 responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on how work gets assigned.
Here’s how you said it is:
  * 54% of respondents said that their work was assigned directly by the partners.
  * 19% of respondents seek out the work they want in a “free market.”
  * 18% have work assigned by a practice group leader or department head.
  * 3% have work assignments filtered through an advisor or mentor.
  * 6% wrote in that their firms have some combination of the above, which generally boiled down to a mix of direct assignments from the partners and a free market.
But many respondents would rather see some of those direct assignments filtered through a department head or a mentor. Here’s how you said it should be:
  * 37% of respondents want their work to be assigned directly by the partners. Among respondents whose work actually is assigned directly by partners, this number jumped to 88%.
  * 21% of respondents would like to get the work they want in a “free market.” A slight majority (54%) of the respondents who do receive their work this way considered it the best option.
  * 28% would prefer to have work assigned by a practice group leader or department head. Among respondents who already receive their assignments through this system, 40% considered it the best option.
  * 11% would rather have work assignments filtered through an advisor or mentor. But only 17% of respondents whose firms currently use this method would choose to assign work this way.
  * 3% wrote in that they would like a mix of the above.
Earlier: Featured Job Survey: Where Does Your Work Come From?

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

Blackberry baby small Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve blogged before about the danger of Blackberry addiction. However, the latest research linking cell phone use with brain cancer risk is much scarier than Blackberry orphans.
We first started worrying about cell phone radiation at the ending of the film Thank You For Smoking. It was easy to dismiss a Hollywood quip, but it’s harder to ignore a news report on an award-winning expert on cancer research:

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take “immediate steps” to reduce exposure to their radiation.
The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.
It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

The article goes on to cite a dismissal of the doctor’s work by the “Mobile Operators Association.” Given that the MOA’s members include T-Mobile and Vodafone, we’re not exactly reassured.
Is the fear of brain cancer enough to make us stop using our cellphones and Blackberries? Probably not. We know french fries likely cause cancer, but we can’t give those up either. We are warming to the idea of a phone headset, though.
Mobile phones ‘more dangerous than smoking’ [The Independent via Drudge]

Sam Alito baseball card Philadelphia Phillies Above the Law blog.jpg* Supreme Court grants cert in fantasy baseball case. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* Treasury Department plan to reform financial regulation meets with skepticism, faces long odds for passage this year. [New York Times]
* “Breaking News? Less M&A Work for Lawyers in Q1.” [WSJ Law Blog]
* More about the departure of HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, currently under DOJ investigation. Yesterday Jackson invoked the old Beltway standby: more time with his family. [New York Times]
* Obama leads Clinton in doling out campaign cash to superdelegates. [McClatchy]
* Bad news for Cravath and Cadwalader associates: Manhattan judge scratches punitive-damages request by plaintiffs in bedbugs case. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Happy Birthday, Justice Alito! SAA turns 58 today. [SCOTUSblog]

US News World Report small cover 2009 law school rankings ratings Above the Law blog.jpgTo be perfectly honest, we’re getting tired of writing about the new U.S. News & World Report law school rankings. But judging from the number of comments on our earlier posts — 1,153 and 575, as of this posting — you’re not tired of reading and talking about them. So, onward.
In our last post, we wrote about law schools freaking out over their falling rankings. The schools we specifically mentioned, whose administrators sent out defensive messages to the student body on the subject, were the University of Buffalo (down from 77 to 100), the University of North Carolina (from 36 to 38), the University of Iowa (from 24 to 27), and the University of Minnesota (from 20 to 22).
To this list of law school lamentation, please add Case Western, which went from 53 to 63 (memo posted in the comments, but independently verified by us) [FN1]; and the University of Miami, which fell from 70 to 82. One UM student had harsh criticism of Dean Lynch’s message (PDF):

Here’s Dean Dennis Lynch’s blast to University of Miami students, attempting (complete with a cornucopia of grammatical errors — maybe this is indicative of the problem?) to explain away a nearly 25% drop in the rankings over the last three years (resulting in an institution now perilously teetering on the edge between Tier II purgatory and Tier III oblivion).

I’d direct your attention to his trumpeting of UM’s “ranking” on the oh-so-often cited ‘Law Dragon’ survey. With someone like this in charge — to say nothing of UM’s past glory, like professors getting arrested for soliciting prostitutes — the real wonder is how UM is even ABA accredited, let alone ranked on U.S. News.

Self-hatred much? We love our UM tipsters, but maybe they need to find themselves some good therapists.
Not every administrator at a law school that slipped in the rankings viewed sending out a school-wide email as such a hot idea. From a future law student, who won’t graduate law school until 2011, but who’s already an ATL tipster (call us Socrates — we like to corrupt the youth):

I was at the U of Illinois College of Law admitted students weekend. In the 2009 USN&WR ratings, Illinois Law “fell” from #25 to #27. So, the dean of admissions spent the first 15 minutes of a 30 minute break-out session ostensibly about “Campus Housing Options” talking about the rating decline.

He said that “at some schools, like Minnesota and Iowa, the students are so freaked out about this that the administration sends out emails immediately to calm them down, but we’re not going to do that here, because you know it will be on AboveTheLaw.com in 30 seconds after I hit ‘send.’

Well, we’re not that fast. But thanks for the compliment and shout-out.
More discussion and links, after the jump.

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