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Glenn Close Damages FX Above the Law legal tabloid.jpg* A politically incorrect theory to explain the growing pay gap between male and female JDs. Opines Jane Genova: “No one likes The Professional Woman — not women, not men, not children, not animals, not even The Professional Woman.” [Law and More]
* Thoughts on the ethical and tax considerations of winning an NCAA tournament office pool. [TaxProf Blog]
* Lawsuit of the day last week: verdict reached in the suit brought by ex-Sonnenschein partner Douglas Rosenthal against his former firm. [The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]
* $21 theft, $1 million bond? [Cincinnati Enquirer]
* Ahoy, mateys. Say hello to Blarrgh Review — aka Blawg Review #153. [Declarations and Exclusions via Blawg Review]

Wall Street Wall St Above the Law blog.jpgDominating today’s news cycle is the Treasury Department’s plan to reform the nation’s system of financial regulation. For some thoughts on the proposal, check out what John Carney has to say over at our sibling site, Dealbreaker (in posts here and here).
This regulatory reform proposal comes at a grim time for Wall Street, characterized by some as “the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.” It feels like we’re at the end of an era. Wall Street profits are sinking fast, venerable investment banks look endangered, and financial-sector layoffs could claim 20,000 more jobs in the next two years, in New York City alone.
This is generally viewed as bad news for Biglaw, considering how much large law firms depend on the financial services industry for work. But could it perhaps be a boon for lawyers, if their standing in the city’s financial pecking order falls at a slower rate than that of Wall Street Masters of the Universe?
A reader drew our attention to this interesting Sunday Times article:

The collapse of a major financial institution is usually an occasion for hand-wringing and tut-tutting over potential job losses, lower consumer spending and missed mortgage payments.

In New York City, it’s also seen as an opportunity. For many of the city’s middle class, especially those in the creative class, who have felt sidelined as the city seemed to become a high-priced playground for Wall Street bankers, the implosion of the brokerage house Bear Stearns raises a tantalizing possibility: participation in an economy they have been largely shut out of.

Wonders our tipster:

“Some New Yorkers seem to be looking forward to the collapse of Wall Street and their huge salaries in the hopes that prices deflate a bit. Does this return lawyers to the top of the financial food chain? Or do those huge partner salaries take a dive along with Wall Street?”

For some law firms and lawyers — e.g., those that are heavily dependent on securitization and structured finance work — the Wall Street retrenchment is definitely unwelcome. But for others, especially those focused on countercyclical practice areas like bankruptcy, the bust could be a boom.
Take a look back at this post, in which one Biglaw partner described the plight of lawyers in New York as follows:

“Face it, [lawyers] have no status. We go to these [elite private] school functions [for our kids], and this well-heeled group looks right through you. They won’t give you the time of day. You’re just one step ahead of the doorman.”

So could there be, for lawyers, a silver lining to this economic cloud? Will lawyers move up a notch or two in the Gotham caste system thanks to the recession? Or are they too closely linked to Wall Street and its sinking fortunes to benefit significantly from any social and economic realignment?
Dumping Our Regulatory Alphabet Soup [Dealbreaker]
Treasury’s Brave New World Of Financial Innovation [Dealbreaker]
You Say Recession, I Say ‘Reservations!’ [New York Times]
Earlier: Pity the Poor Partners?

In the 2009 U.S. News & World Report law school rankings, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law fell from #52 to #55. See here.
It’s a little surprising, since the past year has been good for Cardozo. Their bar passage rate is now the third-highest among New York law schools. One of their graduates is currently clerking for Justice Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court.
And, most importantly, their Law Revue is turning out delightful videos. If you share our love of Project Runway, you’ll enjoy this good-natured spoof (film by Ryan B. Finkel). It’s a little long, and somewhat uneven — but on the whole, it’s well-done and quite fun. The film is expertly put together, with the actual Project Runway footage elegantly interspersed into the fake footage, and the performances — especially those by the Heidi Klum and Chris March impersonators — are hilarious and compelling. Check it out below (plus links to two videos from last year’s show).
So what’s responsible for Cardozo’s USNW&R decline? The booting of littering-and-loitering law students from the fifth-floor faculty lounge? Rampant “expensive umbrella” and iPod theft? Your guesses are welcome.

project law school – cardozo law revue 2008 [YouTube]
Joe in a Book Cardozo Law Revue 2007 [YouTube]
Cardozo Law Revue 2007 Beavis and Butt-for [YouTube]

BarBri 2 bar bri bar exam review course prep course Above the Law Above the Law ATL.jpgSeveral readers have written in to inquire about the status of the BAR/BRI class action litigation. Here’s the latest update on the lawsuit website:

Over 85,000 Claim Forms representing claims for over 120,000 BAR/BRI courses have been received and processed by the Claims Administrator. However, several objectors appealed from the Court’s Order granting final approval of the Settlement. A total of seven Notices of Appeal of the Settlement were filed….


On January 25, 2008 Class Counsel met with attorneys for the objector-appellants and defendants’ counsel under the auspicies of the Ninth Circuit Mediation Program. After a full day of mediation, the parties could not reach a resolution that would allow for a dismissal of the appeals and distribution of the Settlement Fund. Further updates will be posted on this website.

So don’t hold your breath waiting for that check. But for some class members, you may have another source of relief.
Details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Up With the Bar/Bri Litigation?”

Spring! Cherry blossoms, opening day, and pedigreed lawyers uniting in marriage. We’re pleased to be back with another installment of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, featuring these three impressive couples:

1.) Susannah Foster and Kenyon Weaver
2.) Kathleen DeLaney and Courtney Thomas
3.) Heath Kern and Joseph Gibson

More on our finalists, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 2.24 and 3.2: Cancún Honeymoon”

Barry Diller IAC InterActive Corp Diane von Furstenberg John Malone Above the Law blog.jpg* Media mogul smackdown: Barry Diller (pictured) prevails over his former mentor, John Malone, in Delaware Chancery Court. [New York Times; Wall Street Journal (subscription) via WSJ Law Blog]
* HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, under DOJ investigation, calls it quits. [AP]
* Questions raised about 9/11 lawyer Peter Napoli, of fen-phen fame (or infamy). [New York Times]
* A round-up of Monday morning action at the Supreme Court. [SCOTUSblog]
* A look back at the inception of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping: Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson wouldn’t sign off on the requests, so they had to be rerouted to AG Ashcroft. [New York Times]
* A preview of the “fleeting expletives” case, by Julie Hilden. [FindLaw via How Appealing]

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]
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]

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