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Bill Lerach William Learch William S Learch Above the Law blog.jpgAs we mentioned in passing yesterday, infamous plaintiffs’ lawyer William Learch will be pleading to a federal conspiracy charge, related to his involvement in Milberg Weiss’s secret scheme to make payments to name plaintiffs in class-action cases. Under the deal that was so skillfully cut by Lerach’s lawyer, John Keker of Keker & Van Nest, Lerach will cough up $8 million in forfeiture and fines and serve one to two years in federal prison.
Is Bill Lerach getting off easy? Quite possibly. But a judge still has to sign off on the deal.
Not surprisingly, Lerach spread his cash around liberally among several Democratic candidates for president. But his favorite was fellow plaintiffs’ lawyer John Edwards. From Ben Smith over at Politico:

Edwards and Biden each gave away money from Lerach; no word yet on whether Hillary will give back the money he gave her 2006 Senate campaign.

Edwards, though, is particularly tied to him. Though he’s giving away the $4,600 from Lerach, Lerach is also listed as a bundler, and employees of the lawyer’s firm are his third-largest group of donors, mostly giving in the first quarter.

If we had to choose between disgraced Democratic fundraisers, we’d pick Norman Hsu over Bill Lerach any day. That Hsu is so cute — he looks like a Treasure Troll! And he didn’t intend to skip out on court the other day. He was “sick and confused,” you see, and “may have thought he was boarding a Bay Area Rapid Transit train when he instead caught an Amtrak train heading out of the state.”
The Lerach Case [Politico]
Fortunes Darken for Lawyer Melvyn Weiss [New York Sun]
Bill Lerach Agrees to Plead Guilty [WSJ Law Blog]
Is Bill Lerach Getting Off Easy? [WSJ Law Blog]
Hsu Didn’t Intend To Skip Court, Spokesman Says []

law clerk judicial clerkship Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLast week we asked, “What’s going on with clerkship salaries and benefits?” Now we have some answers.
Yesterday the Judicial Conference issued a press release that discussed law clerk salaries, among many other subjects. Here are the money (haha) quotes:

The Conference today also voted to continue implementing its cost-containment program by adopting a series of recommendations relating to law clerks and the Judiciary’s Court Personnel System in general….

[T]he Conference agreed that each judge will be limited to one career law clerk. Those 291 career law clerks now in chambers where more than one career law clerk is employed will be able to retain their career status in those chambers, with the assent of their judge, or with another judge if their judge dies, retires, resigns or is otherwise unable to retain a law clerk. Most federal law clerks are “term” clerks and typically serve one or two years. “Career” law clerks are expected to serve four or more years. This new policy limits a term law clerk’s term of employment to no more than four years, to be applied prospectively for current term law clerks. Another step replaces law clerk salary matching with a system aimed at achieving salary parity between those law clerks who gain their work experience within the Judiciary and those who gain their experience outside the Judiciary.

For those of you who might be interested in this subject — e.g., people interviewing for clerkships this week — additional commentary appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Clerk Salaries and Benefits: Thus Spake the Judicial Conference”

backpack awareness day Georgetown University Law Center AboveTheLaw.jpgYou don’t have to take our word for it. Just attend “Backpack Awareness Day” at Georgetown:

Backpack Awareness Day
Join us in the Chapel Area
1:30-3:30 p.m.
September 20th

Tips to Prevent Back Problems:

- Wear both straps to distribute the weight evenly

- Wear the backpack resting evenly over the middle of the back. The backpack should not extend below the low back

- Adjust the straps so they are not too loose but still allow for free arm movement and ease in putting on and taking off the backpack

- Carry only those items needed for the day with the heaviest items closest to the back

- When selecting a backpack, choose one with

- A padded back
- Hip and chest belts
- Multiple compartments
- Reflective material to enhance visibility at night

Who knew that wearing a backpack could be so hard?
As weird Georgetown Law events go, Backpack Awareness Day isn’t as much fun as GULC’s yearly 1L moustache contest. That competition, which “renders the male 1L population even more unattractive than usual during finals period,” features “a dog show-style competition, kegs, professors judging, drunk spectators, 2L interlopers, and a Burt Reynolds commemorative plate for winner.”
But if you’re desperate for a way to procrastinate, perhaps Backpack Awareness Day will do the trick.
Moustache Law [official website]

Kid Nation small CBS Above the Law blog.jpgIt’s a subject of tremendous importance, since it has a major effect on the day-to-day lives of associates, but it doesn’t get talked about as much as one might expect. So to everyone going through the fall recruiting process right now, don’t be afraid to ask:

How does the law firm assign work?

It might not sound very sexy. But the assignment system employed by a law firm might determine whether you’re staying until midnight every night while the guy next door, who’s getting the same paycheck — and maybe even the same bonus, if you’re at a firm with lockstep bonuses — is leaving every day at 6 p.m.
There are many different ways that firms can handle the issue of assigning work. Some have an assigning partner (or partners); some have a non-lawyer administrator who makes assignments; some have a “free market” system. Sometimes assignments and hours are tracked by computer, and sometimes they’re not.
Please discuss the subject in the comments. To get the ball rolling, we reprint a recent memo from Bingham McCutchen that lays out their approach to the issue. You can check it out after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Thread: What’s Your Firm’s Assignment System?”

Michael Mukasey Chief Judge Michael B Mukasey SDNY Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve done relatively little about the nomination of former judge Michael Mukasey to serve as attorney general. While the WSJ Law Blog was dredging up his third-grade book reports — okay, not quite, but some college newspaper articles that he may or may not have written — we didn’t have much. But now we’d like to atone for that, with a piece we just did for the New York Observer.
We speculate that Michael Mukasey might be in D.C. longer than he might expect, especially if his good friend Rudy Giuliani wins the presidency (and possibly even if fellow New Yorker Hillary Clinton does). We discuss how he might have come to be picked as AG, despite not being a D.C. denizen like Ted Olson, Laurence Silberman, or George Terwilliger:

Mr. Mukasey was simply more of a known quantity to the White House than the typical Beltway outsider. The White House staff includes three former assistant U.S. attorneys from Manhattan, as well as other ex-New York lawyers who regularly practiced before Mukasey as a judge. Among the New Yorkers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Mukasey enjoyed great respect, and was viewed as ideologically acceptable too, especially on war on terror issues.

The rest of the piece, including a discussion of what might be called the Curse of the Southern District (from President Bush’s point of view), is available here.
Mr. Mukasey Goes to Washington [New York Observer]
An Old Friend Joins Giuliani in a Spotlight [New York Times]

* O.J.’s really just pulling all of these stunts so that he can make it up to the Goldmans. [CNN]
* Jury hung for the moment in Spector trial; judge might send them back in to consider manslaughter instead. [BBC]
* To catch a predator-catcher. [Athens Banner-Herald]
* She needs to undergo some tests for crazy. [CNN]
* I say once you get old enough to play with it, it’s your call. [WSJ Law Blog]

Managhan Kortum Managhan Law Firm Above the Law blog.jpgIn case you missed this story from last week, here’s a recap. Earlier this month, a plaintiffs’ lawyer in Montana by the name of William Managhan sent out the following email, to the entire Montana Trial Lawyers Association:

From: William L. Managhan
To: Montana Trial Lawyers
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2007 6:32 PM
Subject: [mtla_members_all] Firm Name Change

Managhan & Kortum-Managhan Law Firm will no longer be known as such. The name is returning to Managhan Law Firm as Santana Kortum-Managhan is leaving the firm. Turns out that she was having sex with Tim McKeon of Anaconda while attending MMLP hearings in Helena.

Call me silly but I no longer fill [sic] comfortable with her as my law partner or wife. Some will think this is an inappropriate announcement, but considering the small legal community in our state, I might as well preempt the roomer mill [sic]. Please address communication to William L. Managhan through Managhan Law Firm.

More discussion, including accounts of our telephone conversations with Bobbi Bonnington and Tim of Anaconda, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Update on the Managhan Law Firm (aka ‘My Wife Is Sleeping Around and That’s Why We’re No Longer Law Partners’)”

* A Manhattan hedge fund manager — who would grunt loudly, cry out “Great song!”, and yell “You go, girl” during a spin class at Equinox — was thrown into a wall. And wonders why. (The alleged assault is being prosecuted as a misdemeanor, which he’s unhappy about.) [DealBreaker]
* Speaking of pain, owww. What kind of anesthesia do they use for that? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Between Lerach and a hard place: prison. [The Recorder; New York Times]
* Before writing The Nine, Jeff Toobin tried his hand at fiction writing — but that didn’t go so well. [SCOTUSblog]

100 dollar bill Abovethelaw Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGPro bono work is near and dear to your hearts. When we posted an open thread on the subject last month, it generated a slew of comments. Like this one:

I was actually told by the partner I worked for at my firm, in no uncertain words … “If you have time to spend on matters that firm isn’t collecting fees for, then you have time that I can be giving you more work that you should be collecting fees for.” And that was my official talk on our “pro bono policy.”

Well, who says that fee-earning work and pro bono work are mutually exclusive? From the Seattle Times:

Lawyers at Davis Wright Tremaine didn’t charge a parent group for seven years of work on a U.S. Supreme Court case against Seattle Public Schools: They took the case pro bono.

But now that the firm is trying to collect $1.8 million in legal fees from the school district, several national legal experts say the term — technically, “pro bono publico,” meaning “for the public good” — may no longer apply.

The firm’s effort has put a local lens on a national debate: If attorneys get paid for pro bono work, is it still pro bono?

The full article, which lays out both sides of the argument, is quite interesting. You can check it out here.
Some argue that financially strapped school districts shouldn’t have to shell out millions of dollars to line the pockets of law firms. But others argue that making them pay fees will discourage them from violating rights in the future (and that the law firms can donate the fees to charity). Thoughts?
Billing in “pro bono” cases is fodder for ethics debate [Seattle Times]
Earlier: Biglaw Perk Watch: Pro Bono Work

Here’s a twist on clerkship bonus news, from a reader:

With all the talk about rising bonuses for domestic clerkships, I was wondering if any firms were extending bonuses for foreign clerkships. I am clerking at a major foreign supreme court in a common law country and my BigLaw firm says it only offers bonuses for US or Canadian clerkships.

So, does anyone know if firms that provide bonuses for foreign clerkships? We’re not really aware of any. But if anyone can help out this reader, please pass along info in the comments.

Kiehls Sullivan Cromwell Aaron Charney Above the Law blog.jpgIn response to yesterday’s quick post on the Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell litigation, a tipster sent us this:

I don’t have any information on the case, but thought you might be interested in this minor tidbit on Sullivan & Cromwell.

The Lavender Law conference (the annual GLBT CLE fest) was in Chicago last weekend. S&C did not send anyone for the conference itself, as far as I know, but they flew in several associates just for the closing ceremonies.

They also offered the nicest swag of any firm: gift sets of Kiehl’s products. Seems they are trying to repair some damage with the gay community, even if it’s only through cosmetics.

“Only” through cosmetics? Kiehl’s products are no ordinary cosmetics. S&C is shrewd: they know the way to our hearts is through our pores.
Sure, that Aaron Charney might seem cute and well-meaning. But who wouldn’t kick him to the curb for a lifetime supply of Facial Fuel?
Correction: According to various commenters, Sullivan & Cromwell personnel were present for the job fair as well. “S&C was front-and-center at Lav Law. A friend of mine called me from the fair to tell me how pallid and haggard they looked.”
Kiehl’s [official website]

Ernie Chambers Omaha Nebraska senator suing God Above the Law blog.jpgIt’s me, Ernie — Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers. And I’m suing your divine ass! From the AP:

The defendant in a state senator’s lawsuit is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still. He can be sued in Douglas County, the legislator claims, because He’s everywhere.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers sued God last week. Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, Chambers says he’s trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody.

Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.”

And he pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda, and microwaved a few pooches. Jonathan Lee Riches, holla!
What relief is Chambers seeking? The WSJ Law Blog reports:

The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against God, ordering him to cease certain harmful activities. Chambers asked the court to waive personal-service requirement. Because God is omniscient, he argues, he will have actual knowledge of the action.

And you thought the $54 million pants lawsuit was crazy. If God’s deposition ends up being taken, can someone ask him about the proper construction of this contractual provision?
P.S. Props to the AP reporter who conferred a Jesus-like halo upon Senator Chambers. You win the prize for Most Creative Use of an Electric Fan as a Background Element.
[AP via WSJ Law Blog]

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