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Jonny Lee Miller Eli Stone Angelina Jolie Above the Law blog.jpg* A shout-out to the Elect on TV tonight. The lawyer protagonist of the new ABC drama, “Eli Stone” — portrayed by Jonny Lee Miller (pictured), an ex-husband of Angelina Jolie — is supposedly a former law clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. [New York Times]
* A novel approach to the legal job hunt: build your own website, then advertise it in the ABA Journal. If Loyola 2L doesn’t have a job lined up already — although rumor has it that he does, which may explain his “retirement” from blogging — here’s something for him to consider. [3L for Hire and ABA Journal, via WSJ Law Blog]
* More proof that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is a wannabe Eliot Spitzer. [DealBreaker]
* Lawyerly lairs: Tunisia. [flickr]

Hilton Fuller Judge Hilton Fuller Brian Nichols Above the Law blog.jpgThis has been all over the news. We like the ABA Journal’s version, ’cause it’s the crispest:

The Atlanta judge overseeing the prosecution of alleged courthouse shooter Brian Nichols has stepped aside from the case after he was quoted [in a New Yorker article] as saying, “Everyone in the world knows he did it.”

The New Yorker piece was by one of our idols, prosecutor-turned-writer Jeffrey Toobin (who launched our blogging career, with this Talk of the Town piece). Judge Fuller and Jeff Toobin were interviewed by the Fulton County Daily Report about the controversy:

“I had a specific agreement with Toobin,” said Fuller on Tuesday, before announcing his recusal. “Our conversation was to be on background only, and there would be no direct quotations or attributions, unless they were floated by me first.”

Not so, said Toobin, reached in New York. “I don’t know what to say,” he said. “I mean, it was clearly for attribution; we even had a New Yorker fact-checker call and confirm it. … I have great respect for Judge Fuller, but that was not at all my understanding.”

We’re with the meticulous Toobin on this one. In fact, we share the suspicion of one of the correspondents who wrote us about this story: Was Judge Fuller’s indiscretion intentional? Was it his way of getting out from under a long and complex nightmare of a case?
Judge Recuses From Courthouse Shooting Case Due to New Yorker Quotes [ABA Journal]
Judge Fuller recuses from Nichols case [Fulton County Daily Report]
Judge in Courthouse Shooting Case Steps Down [New York Times]
Death in Georgia [The New Yorker]
New Yorker Quote Leads to Atlanta Judge Recusal [WSJ Law Blog]

Our friends at the ABA Journal are working on an interesting piece about associates getting “pigeonholed” at their law firms. They’re looking for some sources, opinions, and ideas. We’re hoping that you can help.
Some background, from Richard Acello, the reporter on the story:

By pigeonholing, we mean the tendency of an associate to get locked into a practice area — depending on what the firm does — because he/she was assigned to a lawyer or group upon joining the firm. So let’s say it was an intellectual property firm, and the associate does all patent prosecutions. (We can probably think of similar specialty/subspecialty examples in other practices.)

How does the associate branch out? After all, they probably don’t want to rock the boat or have partners think they’re unhappy, especially when compared to other associates who, say, have happily accepted being pigeonholed.

Who should be responsible for this? Should the firm have a built in way to make sure associates get a variety of work, or should it be the associate’s responsibility to speak up?

These are all excellent questions. If you have some thoughts, please opine in the comments (and provide some descriptive information in your signature if possible — e.g., “IP associate at East Coast law firm”). You can also contact reporter Rich Acello directly, via email, by clicking here. Thanks.

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgToday brings us bonus and salary news from DLA Piper, the biggest of all Biglaws. Back in November, the firm was crowned by the National Law Journal as the nation’s largest law firm (with a whopping 3,623 attorneys).
DLA Piper may be the biggest — but not when it comes to bonuses. From a disgruntled tipster:

It’s official: no special bonuses for DLA Piper’s New York office. But first year associates in our secondary offices got raise to a $160,000 start. I attach the chart. [Ed. note: It's after the jump.]

The firm did it in a very slimy way with no official announcement, just individual notices of bonuses. Pretty funny after last year’s heralded promises to stay with the New York market… I guess Frank and Lee thought: “never mind.”

So was DLA Piper managing expectations when it issued a somewhat gloomy email earlier in the month? From a few weeks ago (around January 8):

I’m an associate at DLA Piper and we got a firmwide email discussing the firm’s 2007 finances and applauding us all on a job well done. They exceeded expectations and last year’s totals. However, the email closes with this paragraph:

“While we are pleased with the results for 2007, we approach 2008 with caution, given the uncertain economic outlook. We intend to be conservative in both our budgeting for 2008 and in our financial management.”

It may be nothing… but I feel like they are bracing us for something, whether it’s crappy bonuses or no pay increase. Good times!

Today’s bonus and salary memo, plus the firm-wide salary chart, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: DLA Piper”

Norman Schoenfeld Allen Overy LLP Above the Law blog.jpgBack in December — around the holidays, so many of you may have missed it — we wrote about Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy. It’s a lawsuit brought by Norman Schoenfeld, an observant Jewish lawyer who once worked in the New York office of Allen & Overy. Schoenfeld claims, among other things, that A&O discriminated and retaliated against him as a result of his observing the Sabbath.
Since then, we’ve received many requests for updates. This message is representative:

“Is there any news on this lawsuit? As a Sabbath observant 2L, this is of interest to me and many of my friends. A post on ATL providing an update would be appreciated. Love the site. Thanks.”

We’re not aware of any procedural developments in the case. And we sadly didn’t receive much in response to our request for firsthand information about Norman Schoenfeld or Allen & Overy in New York. Here’s the most interesting tip we received — some opinions from an A&O associate:

“That this suit goes on is beyond anyone here at A&O. I did not know this Schoenfeld guy much for the five minutes he worked here and don’t know if his complaint has merit. I will say this though: associates don’t want to work with Mark Wojciechowski and are asking not to work with him.”

“He told A&O he was bringing associates from Mayer Brown; MB associates refused to come work with him. Better to stay on a sinking ship like MB NY than work for a nightmare like Mark Woj….”

“No one can understand how firm management let this happen (rumor is that A&O already fired their first outside counsel). Recruitment of NY lawyers is badly affected and we just wait to see how much this costs the firm in damages (and associates of course since all s**t gets passed down – you know the partners won’t take the hit in their pocket).”

We contacted the firm for comment, but they didn’t have anything to add.
If you have any firsthand information to pass along about the events in question, please email us. Thanks.
Complaint: Norman Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy (PDF)
Earlier: Lawsuit of the Day: The Jewish Version of Charney v. S&C?

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgA little follow-up on Kaye Scholer, whose bonus memo we posted back in November. From a source at the firm:

Just found out that despite the memo sent to associates last year, Kaye Scholer has decided to tie the special bonus to hours. Requiring 2200 hours to receive the special bonus.

There was no mention of this hours requirement in the original memo. Of course, it was designed to appear that Kaye Scholer was paying market when they had no intention of doing so.

But in fairness to the firm, they did leave themselves with some wiggle room, stating that special bonuses would be paid on a “discretionary” basis. It just seems that 2200 was the magic number required to trigger the exercise of said discretion.
Some associates aren’t happy about how that requirement was communicated (or not communicated, as the case may be). One associate claims that managing partner Barry Wilner, at a meeting held last year to discuss the bonus situation, did not disclose that 2200 hours would be the cutoff. As a result, “[a]ll the associates had to go on were rumors, which caused many associates to scramble at the last minute to achieve what they thought would be a sufficient amount of hours…. I’m not so much concerned about the amounts involved as much as I am concerned about the lack of information that floats through this firm.”
Two other bizarre bits of news about Kaye Scholer — involving “a giant Care Bear” and a roller derby queen named “She Raw,” which would seem to take the firm to Venable-level heights of weirdness — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Kaye Scholer Bonus Follow-Up
(And Other Random Tidbits About the Firm)”

Sports and the Law Above the Law blog.jpg[Ed. note: As you may recall, last month we solicited applications for the position of ATL's sports columnist. We thank the many fine applicants who threw their hats into the ring.
Today we're pleased to introduce you to this site's new sportswriter: Marc Edelman, a sports lawyer and law professor. You can reach him directly by email (click here). And now, without further ado, we turn the floor over to Professor Edelman.]
As a young boy, I remember sitting with my father watching Super Bowl XXI. In that game, New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms completed 22-of-25 passes for 268 yards, leading my hometown G-Men to a 39-20 victory over John Elway’s Denver Broncos. At that moment, I knew that I would one day work in sports.
Flash forward 21 years. The Giants are back in the Super Bowl. Their then-famous center Bart Oates is now a practicing attorney, and I recently was named as a professor of sports law at New York Law School, Seton Hall University, and Manhattanville College. I am also the new sports columnist at Above the Law.
In the coming weeks, my column Sports and the Law will focus on issues involving the legal aspects of sports, including moral issues, labor policy, and antitrust policy (or lack thereof). This column will also discuss how lawyers can find jobs in the sports field.
Read the first column, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Meet Marc Edelman
(and John Montgomery Ward)”

The time has come, and the crowning of ATL’s Lawyer of the Year and Second Favorite Blog After ATL, both of which are sponsored by ATL and Lateral Link, is at last upon us.
In all, a whopping 4,186 votes were cast, with 2,683 of you voting for Lawyer of the Year and 1,503 weighing in on which blog you like second-most after this one. Find out how it all turned out after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Survey Results: And The Winners Are . . .”

* New accounting rules for M&A. [DealBook]
* Lilly contemplates $1 billion payment to settle civil and criminal investigations relating to its marketing of Zyprexa. [New York Times]
* NYPD officer accused of pimping child. [MSNBC]
* Ex-priest jailed for murder via exorcism. [CNN]
* Indiana man arrested for making his own crosswalk. [The Indy Channel]
* Nader takes steps toward another run for the presidency in 2008. [Bloomberg]

Brianne Gorod Justice Stephen Breyer Above the Law blog.jpgWe bring you an addendum to Monday’s post about the latest in Supreme Court clerk hiring. And we’re pleasantly surprised to see that we have this news before Wikipedia.
Recently hired to clerk for Justice Stephen G. Breyer in October Term 2008: Brianne Gorod, currently in the D.C. office of O’Melveny & Myers. Gorod is a 2005 Yale Law grad and a former clerk to the judicial tag team of Jed S. Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.) and Robert A. Katzmann (2d Cir.).
Those who obsessively follows SCOTUS clerk hiring know that Judges Rakoff and Katzmann have jointly sent clerks to the Court before. But contrary to some rumors, they’re not always a “package deal” when it comes to hiring (although there is a significant degree of overlap among their current and former clerks).
Judge Katzmann prefers to hire individuals who have clerked on the district court (or have some other kind of post-law school work experience), so he regularly turns to Judge Rakoff, for whom he has a great deal of respect, as a source of clerkly talent. Judge Katzmann sometimes also helps promising applicants to his own chambers to secure interviews with Judge Rakoff. Conversely, Judge Rakoff also refers and sends clerks to Judge Katzmann, as well as to other Second Circuit judges, and he has also hired some clerks after Second Circuit clerkships. In short, both judges think it’s valuable for people to have both district and circuit clerkship experiences, and they try to help make that happen for their clerks. But they don’t hire 100 percent of their clerks jointly.
The current tally of OT 2008 SCOTUS clerks, with Brianne Gorod added, appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Justice Breyer’s Final Hire
(And a Digression on Judges Katzmann and Rakoff)”

* Think of this as a compendium of Lawyers and Judges of the Day. [Legal Blog Watch]
* Speaking of judges who do embarrassing things, a Canadian judge insisted that an HIV-positive witness testify while wearing a mask. The judge also “moved the case to a bigger courtroom in order to create more distance between the witness and the bench.” [Toronto Star]
* D.C. power lawyer Robert Bennett has a new memoir coming out — plus a really cute dog! [Washingtonian]
* News you can use, with Super Bowl parties looming: double-dipping in a communal bowl of dip really is gross. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Federal judges to apply their judicial skills to reviewing submissions in the ACS’s Richard D. Cudahy Writing Competition. Deadline is February 15; contest details here. [ACS Blog]

Any trial judge with the Gall to benchslap the Supreme Court has a serious set of cojones.
Accordingly, Judge Richard Kopf (D. Neb.) — who sent beer to Professor Doug Berman, as recently noted — is our Judge of the Day. See links collected below.
We agree with Tony Mauro: Judge Kopf’s irreverent “top 10″ list of lessons learned from the high court’s sentencing jurisprudence is “a provocative jaw-dropper that may get Kopf scratched off the holiday card list at the Supreme Court.”
Judge Kopf’s “Top Ten” take on SCOTUS sentencing work [Sentencing Law and Policy]
The Top Ten Things I Learned from Apprendi, Blakely, Booker, Rita, Kimbrough, and Gall (PDF) [Sentencing Law and Policy]
Federal Judge’s ‘Top 10′ List Takes On Supreme Court’s Sentencing Decisions [Legal Times]
Richard G. Kopf bio [Federal Judicial Center]

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