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Marc Dann.jpgMarc Dann has had a rough tenure as Ohio’s attorney general. When the media start crafting timelines of your troubles, the end may well be nigh. One of Dann’s biggest problems seems to be judgment calls. Such as when choosing staff members. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a write-up on this stellar Dann staffer:

One of Attorney General Marc Dann’s top managers, who is accused of sexual harassment, has a history of problems with cars and alcohol, including a drunken driving arrest months before he was hired and a smashed state car after.

Dann knew about the arrest because, according to State Highway Patrol records, he was the one who picked Anthony Gutierrez up at 2:30 in the morning at the Canfield post after Gutierrez blew a .149 on a blood-alcohol test nearly twice the legal limit.

Aren’t staffers supposed to be the ones picking their drunk bosses up, and not the other way around?

Super cool SUV.jpg

Reflecting another poor hiring decision, Dann had to discipline his communications director for sending a "profane, abusive e-mail to a co-worker." His COMMUNICATIONS director.

The list of poor staffing choices goes on.

Dann's staff is not entirely to blame for his troubles. From the timeline:

June 2007: Dann, standing on a street in an upper-middle class neighborhood, spots a reporter who had written a story he didn’t like. Dann says, “Hey Steve, write this down: Go (expletive) yourself!”

Maybe Dann’s communications director suggested that.

Dann picked up his aide after DUI arrest [The Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Timeline of Marc Dann’s troubles [Dayton Daily News]

Kashmir Hill Kash Hill hot hottie Associate Editor Above the Law blog.jpgSome of you have already noticed this on Above the Law’s snazzy new site credits page. But for those of you haven’t, we bring you news of a promotion. Say hello to ATL’s terrifically talented new associate editor, Kashmir Hill!
Kash has been a frequent guest contributor to these pages for several weeks now. Her witty and well-written work has been praised by many of you (and you’re a tough crowd). So we are delighted to bring her on as a permanent addition to the crew.
(Also, she promised us a photo with more skin in exchange for a promotion — and delivered. See photo at right.)
Please join me in welcoming Kashmir Hill as ATL’s new associate editor. Kash, we’re thrilled to have you!
Kash In On ATL
Above the Law: About Us

New York Times reporter Anemona Hartocollis, who has the best byline since her colleague Jennifer 8. Lee, seems to have the “urban insanity” beat at the NYT. She covers acrimonious legal disputes between lawyers and their neighbors:

Ansonia building Ansonia hotel Upper West Side Above the Law blog.jpgThe war over secondhand smoke at the Ansonia has ended. A couple at the Ansonia, a historic Upper West Side apartment building, who had sued a neighbor over her wafting cigarette smoke have agreed to settle their lawsuit, one of the plaintiffs said on Monday.

The plaintiffs — Jonathan Selbin and his wife, Jenny, both lawyers — had sued their fourth-floor neighbor, Galila Huff, claiming that smoke seeping from her condo into the common hallway was jeopardizing the health of the Selbins’ young son.

Mr. Selbin confirmed the settlement and said Ms. Huff had agreed to take steps to minimize the spread of her smoke. After news of the suit was reported in February, the manufacturer of an air-cleaning system came forward to offer free equipment to Ms. Huff and the Selbins.

(We’ve had secondhand smoke problems with neighbors ourselves, so we’re siding with the Selbins on this. We hope these smoke-containment measures succeed.)
And Hartocollis covers mass transit meltdowns of lawyers, too:

[Train passenger John Clifford] asked the passengers to keep it down, but the chatter continued. In March 2007, Mr. Clifford had had enough. He shouted an obscenity at a passenger talking on his cellphone and slapped the hand of another, and was arrested. On Tuesday, he found himself in Manhattan Criminal Court, telling his tale.

“I stand up for my right to be let alone,” Mr. Clifford, a retired New York City police sergeant, declared from the witness stand at his nonjury trial on charges including harassment and assault….

Although he seemed like a perfect client for a civil rights lawyer, he chose to represent himself. He has a law degree….

Outside court, he compared himself to Rosa Parks, fighting for his right to sit where he wanted in peace.

Um, yeah.
So city living can be frustrating for some lawyers (as ATL commenters in non-urban areas love pointing out, in the geographical pissing matches that periodically erupt here). But hey, things could be worse — at least these lawyers haven’t mysteriously disappeared.
Is New York City becoming the Bermuda Triangle of Biglaw? That’s the subject of our latest column for the New York Observer.
The Case of the Disappearing Lawyers [New York Observer]
A Noisy Train, a Fed-Up Rider and a Day in Court [New York Times]
Upper West Side Couple Settles Suit Over a Neighbor’s Smoke [New York Times]


  • 11 Apr 2008 at 1:00 PM

Job of the Week

Here is the latest Job of the Week, brought to you by Lateral Link. Since overseas markets continue to be strong, we’re offering up another unique international opportunity for a U.S.-trained lawyer, this week in Asia.
Position: Associate (Asia)
Description: Top-tier international law firm seeks U.S.-qualified mid-level candidates (3-5 years) with solid U.S. registered and/or unregistered equity and debt capital markets or private and public M&A and private equity experience, for the firm’s Hong Kong and Shanghai offices.
Company Description: This firm has an extraordinary reputation in Hong Kong and onshore – they routinely advise on billion-dollar deals, and their clients include Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Credit Suisse. It is one of the world’s largest firms, with over 2500 attorneys working in 26 offices across 15 countries, and it is offering candidates increased New York scale salary and excellent expat benefits. This is a unique opportunity as Mandarin language capability is not required. Qualified candidates should have strong academics and solid law firm experience.
For more information, please see job # 8566 and job # 8567 over at Lateral Link.
Earlier: Prior Job of the Week listings (scroll down)

US News World Report small cover 2009 law school rankings ratings Above the Law blog.jpgJust a quick reminder about an interesting event, previously mentioned in these pages, which is taking place in a few hours. The ABA Journal, which just profiled U.S. News “rankings czar” Bob Morse, is hosting a live chat with him this afternoon. From Edward Adams of the ABA Journal:

Morse will be taking questions from the public on ABAJournal.com on Friday, April 11, from 3 to 4 p.m. ET. We hope you and your readers will participate.

More from the Journal:

Robert Morse, the man who created the law school rankings for U.S. News, offers an olive branch to law school deans who have long complained about the effect of the rankings on legal education. “Deans are welcome to call me or come by my office in Washington,” Morse says. “I want to work with them to improve the rankings.”

Some deans and former deans think they should engage the magazine, rather than just complain about it. “I think rankings need to be changed, and the only way that will happen is if law school deans sit down with Bob Morse for honest discussion,” says Nancy Rapoport, who resigned as dean of the University of Houston Law Center after her school dropped almost 20 points in the rankings. “I would attend a meeting like that without hesitation.”

So unhappy law school deans, here’s your chance. You can already submit “questions” — defined in academia as rambling screeds, concluded with “and what do you think of all this?” — by clicking here. Or just visit the ABA Journal’s home page at 3 PM Eastern time.
Additional links about the U.S. News rankings not mentioned in our earlier coverage, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Unhappy About the Law School Rankings of U.S. News? Let ‘Em Know!”

James Ho James C Ho Jim Ho Above the Law blog.jpgCongratulations to our old friend James Ho. The good news first surfaced on Sophistic Miltonian Serbonian Blog:

A quiet trickle of a rumor last week was that James C. Ho, currently of counsel with Gibson Dunn and a former law clerk to Justice Thomas at SCOTUS, has been tapped to serve as the next Solicitor General of Texas. If this is true, Texas will be in very capable hands as Jim Ho is certainly one of the best appellate lawyers in the state (and the country for that matter), and has demonstrated great and valuable political savvy on the national stage as well.

Moreover, it is interesting to note that, now, three of the four solicitors general have clerked for SCOTUS (Greg Coleman-Justice Thomas; Ted Cruz-the late Chief Rehnquist; and Jim Ho-Justice Thomas). A SCOTUS clerkship now appears to be a prerequisite to the post, which makes eminent sense because one of the OSG’s main functions is to represent the State before SCOTUS-a job we have noted current General Cruz has done extremely well.

That preliminary report appeared on Tuesday; the news is now confirmed. Here are press releases from the Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, both praising Ho for his past achievements, and wishing him well in his latest endeavor.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Jim Ho Replaces Ted Cruz as Texas SG”

hamster_in_cage.jpgWe’re not considering a spin-off blog on animals and the law. But maybe we should given the amount of reporting we’ve done on our furry friends recently, including a lascivious wombat, a hedgehog as a weapon, and a dog in mortal peril. Now, we’ve got a diseased hamster to add to the mix:

A Whitman woman whose husband died less than a month after receiving a tainted liver transplant says a diseased hamster purchased at PetSmart is to blame for her premature widowhood.
Nancy Magee, 51, is suing the Phoenix-based pet industry giant for negligence.
Businessman Thomas J. Magee was 54 in 2005 when he was one of three people who died after receiving organs donated by a woman who had contracted lynphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) from a sickly hamster she bought on March 19, 2005, at a PetSmart store in Warwick, R.I., according to Nancy Magee’s complaint in U.S. District Court.

ATL does not have a heart of stone. We are sympathetic to the woman and her loss. We just don’t dig the logic in placing the blame with PetSmart. Unless the logic is that a pet store has deeper pockets than a hospital.
Forget PetSmart. That sickly hamster better be behind bars.
Widow sues PetSmart in transplant death [The Boston Herald]

In case you hadn’t noticed, earlier this week we launched AboveTheLaw 2.0 — a redesigned, retooled version of ATL, the legal tabloid site you’ve come to know and love. There have been a few technological hiccups associated with the relaunch — e.g., most of yesterday — and there will surely be more in the days (and weeks) ahead. But we will muddle through. Thanks again for your continued patience.
On the question of design, opinions will differ, as they always will on matters aesthetic (and more on that later). But on an objective level, the new site offers several cool new features not available on the old site:
1. Community Section: This is ATL’s version of a message board. Annoyed that we haven’t yet used your idea for an open thread? Start up the thread yourself! The Community section is open to any readers who wish to post discussion topics of their choosing. To access this part of the site, just click on the “Community” box in the upper right-hand corner (or click here). [FN1]
2. Past Precedents: One of the problems with a blog-style, purely chronological format is that the newest post always goes above the old, regardless of relative importance — and when a post scrolls off the ATL front page, it’s sometimes as if it never existed. So in the “Past Precedents” box on the front page, we draw your attention to recent notable stories and classic ATL items that no longer grace the main page.
3. Comment Capabilities: If you want to take ownership of your most witty or insightful comments, now you can, by registering for a commenter username and password. This is how internet celebrities are born! E.g., Loyola 2L.
But if you prefer to comment anonymously, you can still do that, just as you could on the old site. Simply click on the “Comment as a guest” link, and have at it.
(One minor note: the byline for guest commenters will always read “guest.” So if the humor of your comment inheres in the byline, you need to incorporate that into the body of your comment — which you can easily do by “signing” your comment inside the box provided for comment text.)
4. Hot Topics: Self-explanatory. Certain popular or noteworthy subjects discussed on ATL will be highlighted in the “Hot Topics” band at the top of the page.
And now, the promised word on design. Although some of us are nostalgic for the old design, which had a certain amateurish charm — we kinda miss the demonic-looking judge of the old site logo — we’ve been told that there’s no turning back. The new design — by the professionals over at Concentric Studio, who redesigned our sister sites, Dealbreaker and Fashionista — is here to stay. (But a few tweaks may be made here and there; feel free to offer constructive criticism, in the comments to this post, or in this Community thread.)
Nevertheless, just out of curiosity — because we’ve received both rants and raves, and don’t know whether the emails and comments are representative of the readership as a whole — please take our poll:


We hope that you enjoy the new look and features of the revamped ATL. We’ll continue to work hard to make it, in terms of both form and content, a delightful site, informative and entertaining at the same time. Welcome!
[FN1] Please note that we will moderate the Community section, just as we moderate comments on regular posts, primarily to remove spam and other problematic material. Unfortunately, due to%2

hutz.jpgEntertainment Weekly has just generated 15 Legal Eagles We’d Hire: a list of the on-screen attorneys they would like to have as counsel. To save you the trouble of clicking through EW’s annoying slideshow format, here’s the breakdown:

1. Atticus Finch / Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird
2. Perry Mason / Raymond Burr, Perry Mason
3. Vincent Gambini / Joe Pesci, My Cousin Vinny
4. Lt. Daniel Kaffee / Tom Cruise, A Few Good Men
5. Ally McBeal / Calista Flockhart, Ally McBeal
6. Denny Crane / William Shatner, Boston Legal
7. Henry Drummond / Spencer Tracy, Inherit the Wind
8. Jack McCoy / Sam Waterson, Law & Order
9. Victor Sifuentes / Jimmy Smits, L.A. Law
10. Fred Gailey / John Payne, Miracle on 34th Street
11. Miles Massey / George Clooney, Intolerable Cruelty
12. Joe Miller / Denzel Washington, Philadelphia
13. Jake Tyler Brigance / Matthew McConaughey, A Time to Kill
14. Frank Galvin / Paul Newman, The Verdict
15. Lionel Hutz / Phil Hartman, The Simpsons

We can’t believe that Ally McBeal ranked higher than Jack McCoy. That show was canceled, while Law & Order lives on like the Energizer Bunny.
Some Hollywood legal-types ATL would add to the list:

– Reese Witherspoon, in Legally Blonde;
– Richard Gere, for Chicago and Primal Fear;
– Julia Roberts, as paralegal in Erin Brockovich, and a law student in the Pelican Brief;
– Michelle Pfeiffer, in I Am Sam;
– Jim Carrey, in Liar, Liar; and, most importantly,
– Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino, as good lawyer vs. evil Satan lawyer, in The Devil’s Advocate

That is not a scientific list, just the result of rigorous ATL brainstorming and some Google searching.
Who are your favorite on-screen attorneys? We encourage you to list your top five, in the comments.
Best TV/Movie Lawyers: 15 Legal Eagles We’d Hire [Entertainment Weekly]

Brooks.jpgATL honored a California trial judge, James M. Brooks, with Judge of the Day last June, when an appeals court ordered a new trial after he created a “circus-like atmosphere” in the original one. On Monday, the California Commission on Judicial Performance gave him the smackdown, issuing a decision and order imposing public admonishment [PDF].
ATL can’t help but be part of the humiliation. These are some of the hilarious awful things he did during the trial in question, which are listed as reasons for the admonishment:

1. “Overruled” Signs
2. The Twilight Zone
3. Comments During the Reading of Stevenson Deposition/ Litton Examination
4. Soccer Cards

The court order is not allowing us to copy text, and we don’t have a court reporter on staff to transcribe. To sum up, Judge Brooks was overseeing an employment discrimination suit, and spent a good amount of the trial exchanging jokes with the defense attorney. He made a hand-lettered “Overruled” sign for overruling the plaintiff attorney’s objections. The defense attorney later provided him with a better one.
Brooks let the defense attorney mock the plaintiff’s testimony by singing the Twilight Zone theme song, apparently off-key, and started using a soccer system of “red cards” to censure attorney behavior.
Judge Brooks, you are officially publicly admonished. But we must say, you sound like a fun guy!
JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE COMMISSION ISSUES PUBLIC ADMONISHMENT OF JUDGE JAMES M. BROOKS [PDF]
Decision and Order Imposing Public Admonishment [PDF]

  • 09 Apr 2008 at 11:55 PM

Non-Sequiturs: 04.09.08

Absolut World Absolut Vodka Mexico ad advertisement.jpg* Remember that New York Times bullying article? Walter Olson calls bulls**t (at least in part). [Overlawyered]
* Professor Orin Kerr wonders, with respect to part-time arrangements in Biglaw: “Is part-time the new full-time?” [Convictions / Slate]
* Lawyers: an opinionated bunch, and fond of the bottle. So surely some of you will have views on the propriety of this Absolut Vodka ad. [AP]
* UK Judge: Being someone’s Facebook friend isn’t like real friendship. [TechDirt]
P.S. We take Facebook friendship very seriously. Feel free to add us, or join the ATL Facebook group.

Sonnenschein Nath Rosenthal Above the Law blog.jpgEarlier today, in the wake of yesterday’s post about troubles in the Charlotte office of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, firm chairman Elliott Portnoy sent around an irate email:

From: Portnoy, Elliott I.
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 12:40 PM
To: #Attorneys-All
Subject: Rumors Regarding Charlotte and Summer Program

Many of you have recently heard claims regarding our Charlotte office that have emanated from certain blogs frequented by law students. I write today to let you know the facts, not rumor or speculation. Firmwide, we will have more than 50 Summer Associates joining us over the coming few months, and we plan to have 24 first-years joining us this Fall across the firm.

First, this fine website, while certainly “frequented by law students,” is also read by many other folks – e.g., law professors; associates, partners, and recruiting personnel at top law firms; in-house and government lawyers; law clerks and judges; and legal reporters and PR professionals.
Second, Portnoy attempts to draw a distinction between “facts” and “rumor.” But the core of what we reported – namely, that the firm has rescinded offers of summer and full-time employment in its Charlotte office – is a fact, acknowledged by Portnoy later on in his message.
Read the rest of that email message, with our running commentary, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Still More on Sonnenschein: Portnoy’s Complaints”

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