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  • 04 Mar 2008 at 4:10 PM
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Nationwide Layoff Watch: An Update on Dechert

Dechert LLP logo Dechert Price Rhoads Above the Law blog.jpgWith apologies for the delay, here’s our promised update on the situation over at Dechert LLP.
As we mentioned last Friday, back in this post (and its multiple updates), it looked like Dechert laid off 13 lawyers in its Finance and Real Estate practice (“FRE”). Then firm chairman Barton Winokur sent out this message, late on Friday afternoon:

Due to the major shift in market conditions affecting client demands in our Finance and Real Estate practice area, we currently do not have sufficient work for all the associates in FRE. As a consequence, we have told 13 associates in the U.S. FRE group that we see no demand for them in that group in the foreseeable future. However, due to increased and substantial demand in other practice areas, we will be offering those lawyers the opportunity to work in those other groups.

We think we’ve gotten to the bottom of what happened to the Dechert 13. And we’ve picked up a few other tidbits about the situation over there.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: An Update on Dechert”

Tired of being motherf**king taped on your motherf**king plane? Then file a lawsuit over it — and win millions of dollars. From the AP:

The owner of a air charter service was ordered to pay attorney Mark Geragos and an associate several million dollars for ordering the secret videotaping of Michael Jackson and the lawyers as they flew with the pop star to his surrender on molestation charges in 2003.

According to court papers obtained Monday, Superior Court Judge Soussan G. Bruguera ordered XtraJet owner Jeffrey Borer and his company to pay Geragos at least $10 million and possibly up to $18 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Geragos’ colleague Pat Harris was awarded between $1.25 million and $2.25 million in damages.

Wow. That’s a helluva lot of cash for being videotaped. With your clothes on.
Lawyers Awarded Millions in Suit Over Michael Jackson Taping on Plane [AP via]

Soup Nazi No Soup For You No Minority Scholarships Above the Law Blog.jpgThe tipsters at Kirkland & Ellis who have complained about the gay cocktail party and the diversity networking forums would welcome this news, which comes from our home state. Reports Charles Toutant in the New Jersey Law Journal (subscription):

Seton Hall University School of Law has suspended its “Partners in Excellence” minority scholarship program while it considers whether it can make the selection process race-neutral, as federal regulators demand that it be.

The school has also entered an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to ensure that an annual job fair, run by local law firms but promoted by the school, is not restricted to minority students.

The actions are the result of a departmental investigation in response to a 2003 complaint that the minority programs are discriminatory. The grievant, David Wilson, a white Brooklyn Law School graduate looking for a job, came across promotions of the job fair and scholarship program online. He reported to the Department of Education that the job fair was exclusively for minority students and that the law school’s Partners in Excellence program preferred minority students.

More details about the programs appear in the full article (subscription). The tipster who sent this our way predicts: “[T]his will undoubtedly be a comments clusterf**k. Let the closet racists be heard!”
What do you think of minority-only scholarships and job fairs within the legal profession? Sound off in the comments, or take our poll, which appears below.
We could break this down into a series of more targeted questions — e.g., scholarships vs. job fairs? which minorities deserve preferential treatment? — but we’re not Gallup. So here’s a rather broad question, designed to take the temperature of the ATL readership on a very general level.

Under Federal Scrutiny, Seton Hall Puts Minority Scholarships on Hold [New Jersey Law Journal]

Sports and the Law 3 Above the Law blog.jpgOn Friday, February 22, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P. (“MLBAM”) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (“MLBPA”) filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court (No. 07-1099), seeking to overturn the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that the first amendment protects free use of baseball players’ names and statistics in fantasy sports games. MLBAM and the MLBPA both contend that the Eighth Circuit’s ruling fails to properly balance important concerns about state-law publicity rights against first amendment interests.
The original case, C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P., emerged from a change in MLBPA policy regarding the licensing of player names to fantasy sports businesses. The district-court plaintiff, C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. (“CBC”), for over ten years had licensed directly from the MLBPA major league baseball player names for use in fantasy sports contests. Then, in 2005, the MLBPA decided not to renew CBC’s license—instead granting an exclusive right to use baseball players’ names to MLBAM “for exploitation via all interactive media.” MLBAM thereafter launched its own fantasy baseball contest on its website and refused to grant a sublicense to CBC. This led CBC to file suit.
CBC originally filed suit in the District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, which granted it summary judgment, holding that CBC’s fantasy games did not infringe on any state-law publicity rights that belonged to major league baseball players. The Eighth Circuit affirmed on other grounds, finding that while CBC was indeed infringing on major league baseball players’ publicity rights, CBC’s “first amendment rights in offering its fantasy baseball products supersedes the players’ rights of publicity.” The Eighth Circuit based its ruling on three factors: (1) fantasy baseball statistics are already in the public domain; (2) major league baseball players are already “rewarded, and handsomely;” and (3) there is no danger that any consumers would be misled into believing the use of players’ names represents a product endorsement.
Discussion picks up, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Supreme Court Might Hear Dispute Over Fantasy Sports Property Rights”

  • 04 Mar 2008 at 11:20 AM
  • Uncategorized

What’s Going on at Penn Law?

University of Pennsylvania Law School Penn Law Above the Law blog.jpgLast year, the WSJ Law Blog posed this question: “Are law students emotional wrecks?” Their post generated hundreds of comments.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that some law students have, in modern parlance, “issues.” The stress of law school may have a tendency to trigger meltdowns. See, e.g., here (University of Alabama law student who gave a strange speech in class), here (Indiana University law student who shot up his casebooks), and here (University of Arizona law student accused of kidnapping her ex-boyfriend).
One of last year’s more memorable incidents was this one, involving a student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School who riddled his neighbors’ apartment door with bullets. Now we return to U. Penn — where we recently spoke, and where the students struck us as happy and well-adjusted — thanks to this Daily Pennsylvanian article:

Security has been increased around the Law School over the past several days in response to a student who has exhibited signs of unstable behavior. The student is being placed on involuntary leave….

The student had caused administrators concern because of an incident that happened at the Law School. It was then discovered that he had taken himself off of his psychiatric medication about a month ago, according to two Penn Law employees who were briefed on the situation and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose this information. However, they were not told the specifics of the initial incident.

A tipster there tells us:

The Penn Law students have not received ANY formal communication about this, and the students are generally very upset that 1) we weren’t told anything and 2) the first communication came from the undergraduate newspaper.

We’ll keep you posted. If you have info to share, please email us. If you comment on this post, please do not mention any individuals by name, consistent with ATL’s standard operating procedure.
Based on past precedent, we’d expect Dean Fitts to send out some vague email offering blanket reassurances, but declining to say more due to federal privacy law. That seems to be par for the course for these incidents.
Student prompts security increase [Daily Pennsylvanian]
Related: Law student arrested for firing at neighbors

vacation Miami South Beach Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe received quite a few tips and comments after posting yesterday’s table of clerkship bonuses, so we have updated the table (four times) to reflect new information on Arnold & Porter, Covington & Burling, King & Spalding, Patterson Belknap, Wilson Sonsini, Debevoise, Katten Muchin, and Munger Tolles. We also updated the running table of maternity leave policies (mirrored here) yesterday. Please let us know if your firm’s information is out of date or missing.
Today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey continues our exploration of perks and benefits by investigating the often overlooked subject of vacation time.
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.

Pfizer Warner Lambert Rezulin Above the Law blog.jpg* Two new SCOTUS rulings: some obscure-sounding tax decision, and a 4-4 ruling in a case against Pfizer, which leaves intact a Second Circuit decision allowing suits over the company’s Rezulin diabetes treatment to go forward. [SCOTUSblog; New York Times]
* California Supreme Court to hear case on gay marriage ban. (Judge Janice Rogers Brown, look at all the fun you’re missing out on — this is much sexier than all those D.C. Circuit admin cases.) [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* Bernie Kerik got some lovin’ from book publisher Judith Regan. Her lawyers, not so much — which is why they’re suing her for unpaid fees. [Reuters]
* Judge Mark Filip, formerly of the N.D. Ill., confirmed as Mukasey’s #2 at the DOJ. [Chicago Tribune and Washington Post, via How Appealing]
* Musical chairs: Bill Ohlemeyer, the in-house lawyer who has overseen tobacco litigation for Altria for almost a decade, is joining Boies, Schiller & Flexner. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Suing Al Gore for “the fraud of global warming”? Good luck with that. [Business & Media Institute via Drudge]

hacker computer hacking Above the Law blog.jpgThe source who sent this nominee our way wrote: “Combo of sex, jealousy, and hacking. Just another day in the WV bar.” From the Charleston Gazette:

A Charleston lawyer could be suspended from the State Bar after admitting that he accessed another law firm’s computer system because he suspected his wife was having an affair.

According to a brief filed with the state Supreme Court by the Bar’s Lawyer Disciplinary Board, Michael P. Markins repeatedly accessed e-mail accounts at Offutt, Fisher and Nord, where his wife, Andrea N. Markins, worked as an associate.

Between November 2003 and March 2006, Markins logged on to OFN’s system more than 150 times, the brief states. At the time, he worked for the law firm Huddleston Bolen LLP.

Is this really that bad? We can think of worse ways to act upon a suspicion your wife is cheating on you. E.g., this.

Markins told investigators that he initially read the e-mails of his wife and another OFN lawyer because he suspected an affair. But he then began reading other lawyers’ e-mails out of “selfish curiosity,” the brief states….

In addition, Markins’ firm and OFN were representing clients on different sides of a mass litigation involving a flood while he was electronically snooping.

Okay, that might be problematic. Normally, though, we’d view excessive snoopiness as a venial rather than mortal sin. After all, curiosity and initiative are desirable qualities in a lawyer.
P.S. Our tipster is from West Virginia, so they’re allowed to poke fun at the West Virginia bar in this manner.
Lawyer admits computer breach [Charleston Gazette]

* So what if they’re laying off — or, at the very least, reshuffling — some of their lawyers? At least Dechert is supportive of its bloggers. [Drug and Device Law]
* Blog politics makes for strange bedfellows. Have Anthony Ciolli of AutoAdmit and the bloggers of Feministe found common ground? [Legal Satyricon]
* This could be fun if you’re sufficiently drunk: PowerPoint karaoke. [TaxProf Blog]
* Justice, Iranian style. [Res ipsa loquitur / Jonathan Turley]
* Carolyn Elefant and Dan Markel opine upon our recent Facebook woes. [Legal Blog Watch; PrawfsBlawg]
* Blawg Review #149. [Antitrust Review via Blawg Review]

New York University Law School NYU Law School Above the Law.JPGEmail screw-ups and law school listserves have provided us with tons of material in the past. Today’s cautionary tale comes to us from NYU Law School:

“Reply all” has its pitfalls, but so does the “reply to” address. Yikes!

[This student] was replying to an email from the professor sent out after the semester was over. The prof had sent the email via a listserver, so even if you just hit “reply” instead of “reply all,” everyone’s going to see it. The very same pitfall with the very same listserve caused a smart kid to broadcast an email griping because he had too many circuit court clerkship interviews one day.

And here’s the email that was sent to the listserv:

Prof. [xxxx],

I am writing to inquire about my grade in last semester’s [xxxx] class. I turned in the exam feeling that I had under-represented what I actually learned, but I was still somewhat surprised to recieve a C in the course. If you get a chance (and it is appropriate), could you tell me if the grade was purely the result of a sub-par exam or if other factors were included?

Thank you,

By the way, this is not very skillful grade-grubbing. An email is too easily ignored, and it lacks emotional force. If you want to grade grub, set up an appointment with your professor, and do it in person.
Let them see you, in the flesh — and with tears in your eyes. Make them fully understand how they’ve shattered your dreams of a Vault 10 law firm job or a feeder-judge clerkship — unless, of course, they revisit their prior determination, and give you a grade that more accurately reflects your true abilities….

We have not forgotten last week’s promise of an ATL caption contest. To refresh your recollection, here’s the photo:
Greenberg Traurig lawyers blackout Miami Above the Law Blog.jpg
Here’s the actual caption:

Lawyers, from the left, Alan Lash, Justin Fienberg, and Alex Mendez, not lawyer, working on a project at Greenberg Traurig, on 27th floor of 1221 Brickell, went to lunch and found the building out of power.

Check out the suggested alternative captions, and vote for your favorite, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Caption Contest Nominees: The South Florida Blackout”

opportunity knocks knocking on heaven's door Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog.jpgA suggestion for a discussion topic, from the ATL mailbag:

I searched through the archives for a thread on this, but couldn’t find anything. As a second year law student headed to NYC Biglaw after graduation, I’m already assuming that I will work for the firm I start with for no more than three or four years. The idea of being a Biglaw partner does not sound like the life for me.

What really interests me is the possibility of moving to the business world to work for a big bank or a Fortune 500 company. Yet the qualifications and legal experience that an associate needs to get to make that sort of move are still very vague to me. It is a topic that I would be afraid to talk about at my firm as well.

So I was hoping you could start an open thread where people talk about their experience in moving from Big Law to Big Business, and how young associates should go about making the move. I hope this topic can be discussed on abovethelaw soon. Thanks.

We’re happy to oblige; here’s the requested open thread. Our general advice — which is, we admit, pretty obvious — would be: get your clients to like you as much as possible. Many of the lawyers we’ve known who have made the transition from law to business jumped over to a client who loved working with them. Some went to work for the client in a legal capacity, then moved over to the business side later; others went over directly to the business side.
In addition, to the (very persistent) commenter(s) seeking a place to talk about MBA degrees in Biglaw — special bonuses for business degree holders, enhanced job prospects, seniority credit, etc. — feel free to chime in as well.
(We previously posted an open thread on MBAs and Biglaw. But that was back in August 2007, so we figure it’s okay to revisit the subject now.)
Earlier: In Biglaw, Does It Pay To Have An MBA?

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