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We sometimes find the Obama campaign to be maddeningly perfect. So Texas attorney Kirk Watson wins our Lawyer of the Day prize, for managing to humanize — through his screw-up, on national television — this picture-perfect, messianic movement.
A good summary, from a tipster:

Last night, at around 11 p.m., Chris Matthews really humiliated Texas state senator Kirk Watson. Watson was unable to name any of Obama’s legislative accomplishments, even though Watson has endorsed Obama. The video is awkwardly amusing and available over at Wonkette.

The legal link? Turns out, Watson graduated first in his class from Baylor Law School.

Another source from the Lone Star State adds: “Watson is very ambitious — much like Queen Hillary. He’s a partner with K&L Gates in Austin, although no one knows if he does any real legal work.”
Here’s one well-edited version of the video (see below; for a more complete clip, go here). Kirk Watson tries to dodge the question, but Chris Matthews, like a tough appellate judge grilling a hapless advocate, won’t let go:

Chris Matthews Angrily Harasses Obama Supporter To Death [Wonkette]
Video: Another Obama supporter can’t name anything Obama has actually done [Hot Air]
Chris Matthews Interviews Sen. Kirk Watson [YouTube]
Kirk Watson [official website]
Kirk P. Watson bio [K&L Gates]

Draft Lessig Change Congress Professor Lawrence Lessig Larry Lessig Above the Law blog.jpgThe stereotypical law professor might be viewed as too disengaged from the “real world” to be a good politician. But as Barack Obama shows, it’s quite possible to move from legal academia into political life.
Now another prominent young law prof — who, by the way, is an outspoken Obama supporter — is contemplating Congress. From a Stanford Law School source:

Larry Lessig is considering a congressional run to replace Tom Lantos. Seems to have sparked a lot of energy and attention here on campus and in the Silicon Valley the last day or two.

No discussion yet about what happens to his Con Law class if he decides to run.

As Professor Lessig recently told the WSJ Law Blog, he wants to change the political process, primarily by reducing the influence of money and lobbyists on policy decisions. And what better way to reform the system than from within?
If you’re interested in expressing support for Professor Lessig, check out the links collected below. The Draft Lessig Facebook group already has over 3,000 members — but surely they’d welcome more.
Lessig ’08 [official website]
Draft Lessig – Change Congress
Draft Lessig for Congress [Facebook]
Law Blog Q&A With Lawrence Lessig [WSJ Law Blog]

Time for lunch. We leave you with this appetizing email, which went out yesterday to the students and faculty of UC Hastings College of the Law.
From: [redacted]
Subject: Installation of green bike enclosure
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 13:21:33 -0800
To: [U.C. Hastings students and faculty]
Please be advised.
The new green bike enclosure for 200 McAllister is scheduled for installation on Wednesday, February 20, 2008. Due to nature of work involved (metal cutting, welding and lifting of heavy panels), the site will be off limits to all students, staff and faculty till Friday, February 22, 2008.
We apologize for the incontinence and the short notice. Thank you for your cooperation and support.

It’s not just Pepper Hamilton. Email screw-ups are committed by even the most renowned lawyers — like longtime Skadden Arps partner Sheila Birnbaum, a living legend of the product liability defense bar. As we previously wrote, “Birnbaum, who heads Skadden’s Complex Mass Tort and Insurance Group, has a nickname reflecting her expertise: ‘The Queen of Toxic Torts.’”

From the Insurance Coverage Blog:

Some of [Mississippi Attorney General] Jim Hood’s proneness to gaffes must have rubbed off on Sheila Birnbaum of Skadden, Arps, a lead counsel for State Farm, when she was down in Mississippi to hear Hood testify February 6….

Birnbaum accidentally replied to all the people on the distribution list for an e-mail Hood’s press spokeswoman sent out this morning to a number of people, including reporters. Birnbaum thought she was responding to other State Farm lawyers.

Ah, the perils of “reply all.” Perhaps a CLE course should be given on how to use it properly?

(Part of the class could be devoted to client confidentiality issues. I Can Haz Ethics Credits?)

P.S. Birnbaum, by the way, does very nicely for herself. Back in May 2001, Forbes published an interesting list of some of the country’s highest-paid corporate lawyers. Birnbaum reportedly earned $3.8 million a year — and that was back in 2000-2001, before the latest Biglaw boom.

State Farm attorney mistakenly sends query about having Hood held in contempt to reporters, Hood’s press spokesperson [Insurance Coverage Blog]
Email May Hurt State Farm, Miss. Truce [AP via Forbes]
Highest Paid Corporate Lawyers – 2001 [Forbes]
Sheila L. Birnbaum [Skadden]

Earlier: ATL Practice Pointer: When Emailing Super-Sensitive Settlement Information, Double Check the Recipient List
Separated at Birth: Sheila Birnbaum and Harold Koh?

Jerry Clements Jerry K Clements Locke Liddell Sapp Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgHere is an update / correction to last week’s post about associate compensation at Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell. From Tex Parte Blog (via Sophistic Miltonian Serbonian Blog):

Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell wants to make it clear that the firm has a single associate pay system, says Jerry Clements [pictured], chairwoman of the 721-lawyer firm that formed with the October 2007 merger of Texas’ Locke Liddell & Sapp and Chicago-based Lord, Bissell & Brook. Clements says she did send a 2008 compensation memo to former Locke Liddell associates on Feb. 5, but she also had sent one in late December 2007 to former Lord, Bissell associates.

“There is clearly one structure that applies to everybody,” she says, noting that the firm’s management is in the process of integrating the two associate compensation systems. “The thought that folks would think that we would have two different compensation structures within one firm would be a little bit amazing to me,” says Clements, a partner in Austin.

Clements says the firm sent two memos because Lord, Bissell associates were accustomed to receiving a salary memo in December, and Locke Liddell associates usually received one by early February. Clements says the February memo addressed to “Legacy LLS associates” was more detailed, however, because management had settled on a new deferred-compensation component by then. “What’s causing the blog upset is that the Lord memo did not include the deferred compensation piece because we had not decided on it yet,” says Clements, referring to a Feb. 12 posting on the Above the Law blog. Since Feb. 5, management has been tweaking the associate compensation system, Clements says. The firm sent an updated compensation memo to all 285 associates on Feb. 14, spokeswoman Julie Gilbert says. She declines to provide a copy, saying it’s confidential.

If you have a copy, send it our way, and we’ll post it. Thanks.
Locke Lord clarifies it is indeed a big tent [Sophistic Miltonian Serbonian Blog]
One for all [Tex Parte Blog]

Many ATL readers have a weakness for obscure debates about punctuation, grammar, usage, and style. See, e.g., here, here, and here. It makes sense; after all, lawyers are paid to worry about such things as proper comma placement.
So we weren’t surprised when several of you drew our attention to this interesting New York Times article, all about the semicolon. The piece, currently at the top of the Most Emailed Articles list, has a legal angle:

People have lost fortunes and even been put to death because of imprecise punctuation involving semicolons in legal papers. In 2004, a court in San Francisco rejected a conservative group’s challenge to a statute allowing gay marriage because the operative phrases were separated incorrectly by a semicolon instead of by the proper conjunction.

According to the Times, “whatever one’s personal feelings about semicolons, some people don’t use them because they never learned how.” Are you a member of that group?


Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location [New York Times]

supreme court construction SCOTUS small Above the Law blog.jpg* Federal judge shuts down website devoted to posting leaked information and documents. We no likee. [New York Times]
* SCOTUS won’t hear wiretapping case. [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* But they have picked up another case on the exclusionary rule. [New York Times]
* Government rebuttals in L’Affaire Scruggs. [WSJ Law Blog]
* A look at the colorful ex-spymaster under scrutiny in the CIA tapes inquiry. [New York Times]
* If you’ve been savaged by anonymous commenters on a blog or message board, don’t take it personally; it’s just something about the internets. (Also, note the nice shout-out to law prof Dan Solove.) [CNN]
* Ten consecutive victories for Obama over Clinton. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* “The Obama Delusion.” [Washington Post]

Robert Somma Bankruptcy Judge Robert Somma Above the Law blog.jpgOr at least his robes. A quick update on a recent Judge of the Day, from Robert Ambrogi over at Legal Blog Watch:

By all accounts, Robert Somma had been a top-notch U.S. bankruptcy judge since his appointment to the bench in 2004 and a top-notch bankruptcy practitioner for many years before that. The sense of many in the Boston area is that the 63-year-old’s retirement Friday from his $158,000-a-year bench seat is a tragedy….

A footnote to this story is that a legal-blogger may have contributed to the judge’s decision to resign.

No, not us! By the time we got to the story, it had been all over the news. Also, for the record, we fully support transvestism.
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Cross-Dressing Judge Hangs Up His Heels”

* A user’s guide to the snazzy new version of our sibling site, DealBreaker. The redesigned ATL, which will make its debut sometime in the next few weeks, will look similar. [DealBreaker]
* “There is basically a large sector of white workers with arts majors” — e.g., marriage counselors, therapists, and lawyers — “that would otherwise be unemployed were it not for the high rate of divorce.” [Stuff White People Like]
* Lawyers and law professors are suckers for rankings — like the Top 30 Law Prof Blogs, ranked by both visitors and page views. [TaxProf Blog]
* Speaking of law-prof bloggers, here is Ann Althouse’s photo essay about her experience voting today in Wisconsin. [Althouse]
* Oh, in case you’re wondering, she’s voting for Obama. [Instapundit]
* Seeing as we’re in Chicago this week — the ATL “happy hour” is tomorrow night, details here — we thought we’d give a shout-out to John Marshall Law School. From a tipster:

Since you’re in Chicago, I thought it might be appropriate to promote some Chicago schools while slamming Harvard.

John Marshall just got back from a national competition in Harvard and swept! They took first AND second place.

Congratulations to the JMLS Animal Law Society on its victory. You guys are animals in the courtroom!
Winners of the 2008 National Animal Advocacy Competitions [Lewis & Clark Law School]

burka burqa burkha burqha Dubai Doha UAE Qatar Above the Law blog.jpgSome time ago, we received this request by email:

Is there any way to do a posting or open thread about what COLA biglaw firms are handing out overseas? Specifically, I was interested in what associates are getting to go to Dubai.

At the time, we viewed the topic as rather obscure, of interest to just a handful of people. Why not do an open thread on, say, lawyers in Burkina Faso? (No offense to Burkina Faso.)
But maybe we underestimated the allure of the Middle East — which will, thanks to gushing oil revenues, own most of the U.S. soon anyway. On Sunday, we heard this from a tipster at Latham & Watkins:

Here’s an email that went out to the firm today [about LW opening offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha]. Why Sunday? No idea, but rumors were going around about it, so they probably wanted to make an announcement before it leaked out. [Update: A tipster tells us, "Sunday is the first day of the work week in Dubai. Friday is the day of rest, so the weekend is Fri-Sat, not Sat-Sun."]

Apparently, some Latham corporate associates have been asked if they would go to these new offices for a certain period of time. I have no details, but I hear they are getting handsome benefits and bonuses to go there. With domestic corporate/finance work slow, this is an opportunity for the firm to shore itself up by moving people there from slower offices.

And Latham isn’t the first major law firm to venture into the region in 2008. Late last month, Dewey & LeBoeuf announced the opening of a full-service Dubai office.
Check out the Latham memo, after the jump. And if you’d like to talk about legal job opportunities in the Middle East, please treat the comments to this post as an open thread (because who knows when we’ll post again about this part of the world). Thanks.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Latham and Dewey Do… Dubai?
(And an open thread on Middle East opportunities.)”

bodybuilder weightlifter bodybuilding weightlifting Above the Law blog.jpgAn excerpt from an ad in the “legal jobs” section of the Denver craigslist:

The ideal candidate would be admitted to practice Colorado State Bar, and have at least 4 to 7 years experience. Experienced professional demeanor in client contact both in person and on the telephone is a must. Ability to work and adapt in a fast-paced environment is crucial. The candidate should have a very high level of proficiency with MS Word, Outlook, and Excel. Experience with TABS billing software is a plus. Must be able to lift up to 25 lbs. Compensation is commensurate with experience.

Are we witnessing the start of a trend, as the market for legal talent shifts from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market? This isn’t the first law firm advertisement we’ve seen requiring the ability to engage in heavy lifting (quite literally). See also this ad (applicants must have the ability to “carry[] loads of up to 35 pounds”).
Associate for Litigation Group [Denver craigslist]
Earlier: Definitely Not the Job of the Week

baby lawyer attorney Above the Law blog.jpgYesterday, we posted some preliminary results from last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on leave and part-time arrangements. Today, we’re going to get a little bit deeper into the maternity leave data.
We now have more than 600 responses, and roughly three-fifths of respondents have reported that their firms offer twelve weeks of paid maternity leave. Another 17% of respondents are at firms that have adopted an eighteen-week leave policy. Since some of you have been clamoring for charts (and others have been less enthusiastic), a chart showing the overall breakdown of responses is here.
Of course, the number of responses and the number of firms are different animals, so today we’re going to start a running table of firms’ paid maternity leave policies. Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Survey Results: Maternity Leave”

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