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Ted Stevens Sen Ted Stevens R Alaska.jpgWell, kinda breaking — the news came out in the past hour. See links below. A DOJ press conference will take place later this afternoon.
For all of you trivia buffs, Senator Stevens is the longest-serving Republican Senator. He’s also, as noted by the AP, “a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood.”
Sen. Stevens indicted: 7 false statements counts [AP]
Sen. Ted Stevens Indicted in Alaska Corruption Probe [Washington Post]
Alaska Senator Is Indicted on Corruption Charges [New York Times]

ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol small.jpgYesterday we announced that the new editor of Above the Law will be picked by the readership, through a “reality blogging” competition called ATL Idol. We also introduced you to the six finalists.
The contest has received shout-outs from Dan Solove, over at Concurring Opinions, and Ann Althouse, over at Althouse (who is one of our celebrity judges — but NOT Paula, mind you). Please do what you can to spread the word. If more people vote in the contest, the result is more likely to be “accurate” (in terms of generating a deserving winner).
The tasks the bloggers will be asked to tackle will vary over the three weeks of the contest. Here’s an outline of what to expect this week.
In the first week of competition, the aspiring ATL Idols will write three posts (not counting yesterday’s short bios). Two are what we’re calling “freestyle” posts, but they’re not completely free. One must be a humorous, “___ of the Day” post — e.g., Lawyer, Lawsuit, or Judge of the Day — and one must be more serious or substantive.
The freestyle posts will be published today and Thursday. Contestants can choose the order in which to do the posts — e.g., humorous today and substantive on Thursday, or vice versa — but must do one of each during the week (i.e., not two humorous posts or two serious posts).
On Wednesday, we’re conducting what we’re calling a “head-to-head” round. We’ll publish the contestants’ different takes on the same story (actually, a pair of comparable stories — the contestants can choose). The head-to-head round is designed to show how the bloggers all tackle the same or similar stories, to eliminate any advantage one might derive from an extra-juicy set of facts.
The head-to-head round will be judged by ATL Idol’s distinguished panel of judges:

  • Ann Althouse, Robert W. & Irma M. Arthur-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and author of her eponymous blog, Althouse;
  • Tom Goldstein, head of the D.C. litigation practice and co-head of the firm-wide Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump, and founder of SCOTUSblog; and
  • Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate (where she blogged at Convictions), author of two books, and a contributor to the New York Times and the Washington Post (among many other publications).
    On Thursday, we’ll publish the other half of the bloggers’ freestyle posts. Also on Thursday, the judges will write up their reviews of the head-to-head round, and send them in to us.
    On Friday, we will post the judges’ reviews of the bloggers. These expert reviews are designed to guide and inform the electorate. But just like on Idol, the people decide who stays and who goes. The opinions of the judges are merely advisory.
    Also on Friday, after posting the panel reviews, we will open the reader polls. The polls will be kept open over the weekend (exact closing time to be announced). The bottom two contestants will be eliminated, and the four remaining contestants will move on.
    So that’s what we have in store for you. The first of the freestyle posts will be going up this afternoon. Thanks for reading!
    Earlier: Welcome to… ATL Idol!
    ATL Idol: Meet the Finalists

  • Not too long ago, a curious reader emailed us:

    What are your thoughts on LLM degrees for U.S. law students? I’m considering an LLM program in Intellectual Property, to gain more experience and make myself more desirable for law firms. Do you have any advice whether this is a good idea or not?

    We aren’t experts in the IP field. But as it turns out, the value of LLM degrees was the subject of a prior open thread, back in January. It was more focused on LLMs in tax, but there was some discussion of intellectual property:

    diploma degree LLM degree cap diploma Above the Law blog.jpg“What if I want to teach? Can an LLM – but not in tax, probably in IP – help me?”

    “[I] hear G.W. has a killer LLM in IP Law if you are interested in IP matters.”

    “The down shot of an LLM in IP, especially if you are into patents, is that it is generally more advisable to spend the money you are considering on an LLM in IP on a Master’s or PhD in a science discipline instead.”

    “An LLM will not help you get a job in IP. Period.”

    “An LLM in IP isn’t going to help a wannabe patent litigator get a patent litigation job just like being a patent litigator will never make you a real patent attorney . . . unless you actually have a hard science background and can sit for the patent bar.”

    Those thoughts were fairly general. We asked our source for more information about his specific circumstances:

    I am a rising 3L at mid-30s school, and I’m in the middle of my class. My grades are improving, and I’m involved in extracurriculars like law journal and student organizations, but I still haven’t been able to get any attention from firms at OCI. My interests are trademark and copyright law, and I have considered getting an LLM IP to make myself more attractive to employers.

    I’m wondering: What are the top IP LLM programs? Does someone with in my situation have a shot at being admitted to a top program? Would it even be worth it in the long term?

    If you have information or opinions responsive to these questions, or if you have views on the value of LLM degrees in the IP world more generally, please share in the comments. Thanks.
    Earlier: The Value of an LLM Degree: Open Thread


    Several of you brought this sad news to our attention, including one tipster who wrote: “It’s gone! And I had a friggin bingo to put down.”
    But we were already aware of the demise of Scrabulous. When we tried to access our games this morning, we received this message: “Scrabulous is disabled for US and Canadian users until further notice. If you would like to stay informed about developments in this matter, please click here.”
    Sigh. Those pesky intellectual-property laws….
    P.S. Kash is lucky. She reports that she still has Scrabulous access over in Hong Kong.
    Scrabulous disabled Facebook users US Canada.jpg
    Earlier: More Facebook Lawsuits: Hasbro Doesn’t Think Scrabulous Is Fabulous
    (Threatened) Lawsuit of the Day: How Do You Spell ‘Infringement’?

    chhotu.jpgA court in the Indian state of Bihar is putting a dog on trial. It’s not the first time “Chhotu” has been in trouble with the law. He was sentenced to death in 2003, but he must have a good lawyer, as he managed to get out of the death penalty.
    Here’s the tale of doggy-style justice from BBC News:

    “The court was compelled to issue a summons to the dog since the police found that it was a threat to peace and feared that it might create a law and order problem,” district official Rajiv Ranjan said.
    In court Chhotu appeared to have been on best behaviour.
    “Despite the presence of so many people in the courtroom the dog did not bite or bark at anyone,” the canine’s lawyer Dilip Kumar Deepak said in defence of his client.
    The case continues and Chhotu has been ordered to appear in court again on 5 August, together with his owner, childless widow, Rajkumari Devi.

    Prepare yourself for obligatory terrible dog-related joke…
    It sounds like the case is all bark and no bite.
    Dog in court for breaching peace [BBC News]

    Kohlberg Kravis Roberts KKR.jpg* Law firms in on KKR offering. [Am Law Daily]
    * PETA wants military to stop using animals in medical training. [CNN]
    * Congress boldly agrees to ban toxins in toys. [Washington Post]
    * Hamdan trial tests military commission system. [New York Times]
    * Bush approves execution of Army private. [AP]
    * L.A. city council considers limited ban on fast food. [MSNBC]
    * L.A. lawyer Pierce O’Donnell indicted on political money laundering (and he responds). [LA Observed; Pierce O'Donnell Public Justice Blog]

    Asia Asian law blogger blawg Above the Law blog.jpg[Ed. note / Disclosure: Please note that this post is authored not by the Asia Corporate Lawyers but by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting, sponsor of the Asia Chronicles and an ATL advertiser. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years.]
    This week, we are going to very briefly discuss the state of the market for major law firms in Asia, with a focus on M&A, and with our usual slant towards Hong Kong / China (as that is where the majority of the hiring is taking place these days). In future editions of the Asia Chronicles, we plan to eventually devote an article to all the major practice areas in Asia, as well as each major Asia market generally (e.g., Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore and Hong Kong).
    Notwithstanding the global economic slowdown, most of our U.S. associate friends in Asia remain busy. Some, including the authors of prior installments of the Asia Chronicles, are as busy as ever. They are so slammed, in fact, that these poor writers don’t have time to pen the Asia Chronicles this week (as well as some of the past several weeks — or do their laundry, for that matter). But that is another story for another day, when we focus more on quality of life for U.S. associates in Asia.
    So while we are authoring this week’s edition of the Chronicles, as an emergency fill-in, we thought it best to provide our readers with some very basic information and facts about the topic at hand.
    A number of U.S. and British firms in Asia, especially in Hong Kong / China, are actively building up their M&A practices. This is no surprise when considering current and projected market conditions. In fact, a survey just completed this month by Simmons & Simmons of 200 CEOs and CFOs of leading companies in the Asia Pacific region shows that 91% of the respondents believe that the level of M&A activity will increase or remain the same over the next twelve months, with over two-thirds of respondents believing M&A activity across the Asia-Pacific region will increase over that time frame, and with 87% of respondents believing that there will be increased M&A activity in China in the next twelve months.
    Read more, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Focus on M&A”

    ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol small.jpgEarlier today, we announced that the new editor of Above the Law was going to be picked by you, the readers of the site, through a “reality blogging” competition. We provided some initial information about the contest over here.
    We urged you to check back later in the day for the contestants’ bios. “Later” is now; the short intro posts of the competitors are finally available. We apologize for the delay.
    Check out the six contestants’ capsule biographies, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Idol: Meet the Finalists”

    mich law catfight copy.jpgWhen you’ve been wronged, there’s a part of you that wants the whole world to know. Maybe you think exposing the evildoer’s misdeeds will bring solace, revenge, sympathy… But more often than not, it brings scorn. People just don’t like tattletales.
    Several tipsters sent along such an exchange from the University of Michigan’s law school list-serv. Here’s the catfight one law student sent out to the list-serv with the subject line, “not sure how to handle this:”

    On Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 11:22 PM, TATTLETALE wrote:
    EVILDOER,
    Listen, I tried to be nice and understanding about all this but now it’s just ridiculous! I did you a favor and now I’ve been stuck hounding you for my phone for months and months as if you’re doing ME the favor! I bought that phone for $120, so either send me a check for that amount or return the phone ASAP…
    I’m not going to lecture you about how this is no way to treat a law school class mate and definately [sic] no way to start making your reputation in the legal community — hopefully you realize all that. Just return the phone or the money so I can finally forget about this after half a year!
    -TATTLETALE
    ————————————————————————————
    Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 08:01:52 +0200
    From: EVILDOER
    Subject: Re: phone
    To: TATTLETALE
    You f***ing nasty b****,
    My sister is gonna give you a f***ing check that you can f***ing hold onto until I come back from rome.
    EVILDOER
    On Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 7:54 AM, EVILDOER wrote:
    I AM INF ***ING ROME YOU STUPID W****. I SAID I WILL MAIL IT TO YOU ONCE I
    GET BACK. NO REASON TO BE A F***ING B****.

    Is bar exam stress driving Michigan students over the edge?
    Full exchange (warning: unredacted profanity), plus a bevy of responses, after the jump.
    (We’ve redacted identities — and appreciate your protecting anonymity in the comments. Thanks.)

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘How To Handle This?’
    (By not sending out over the law school list-serv?)

    nick thompson.jpgUltimate fighting isn’t exactly a sport that’s on our radar. Also known as mixed martial arts, it involves a cage and a lot of grappling, kicking, and punching. Apparently, it has a rapidly growing fan base; a recent Rolling Stone article called it “the next Nascar” and “boxing’s replacement.”
    Last year, the Minnesota City Pages wrote a profile of mixed martial arts fighting champ and University of Minnesota law school student, Nick Thompson. A tipster sent us a link to one of Thompson’s recent bouts. Based on this Sports Illustrated article, it sounds like it was more of a rout than a bout:

    If nothing else, Shields’ 63-second destruction of Nick Thompson, a quality welterweight with 12 consecutive wins under his belt coming into Saturday, should give Shields enough gravitas that he’s brought into the discussion of top 170-pound fighters in the game…
    Included in the 29-year-old San Franciscan’s tally is Saturday’s domination of Thompson (36-10-1), which saw Shields land an early takedown, move to mount and lock in a one-armed guillotine from the top…
    “I think I’m one of the best in the world, and Jake treated me like a little kid out there,” said Thompson, a law school graduate who faces the bar exam next week. “That’s the best mount I’ve ever felt.”

    Even though Thompson lost, we’re still impressed that he’s fighting in cage matches the week before the bar exam — guess he’s not very anxious about the test. On the other hand, who wouldn’t take a break from studying for “the best mount” ever?
    Meet Minnesota’s Other World Champion [Minnesota City Pages]
    Lawler’s sequel victory highlights epic night of EliteXC championships [Sports Illustrated]

    ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol medium.jpg
    Six lawyers, currently or formerly at large law firms, hoping to make the jump to the writing life (read: working in pajamas). One leading legal tabloid, in need of its next lead editor. A mass of angry anonymous commenters, looking for someone new with whom to have a love-hate relationship.
    “THIS…. is ATL Idol.”
    It’s a reality-show-style competition, in which site readers will pick the new editor in chief of AboveTheLaw.com — the recipient of some 3 million page views a month, described by the Washington Post as “a must-read legal blog.” We believe it to be the first time that a full-time blogging gig — one with a salary you can live on, health insurance, and even a 401(k) — has been awarded through a “reality blogging” contest.
    Back in May, we posted a help wanted ad for a new full-time writer here at Above the Law. Over the weeks that followed, we received a slew of excellent applications. We also located additional prospects through personal networking. All in all, we probably considered almost 100 talented candidates.
    We narrowed the list down to six highly impressive finalists. But we found the prospect of choosing just one of them to be agonizing.
    So we’ve decided to outsource this task to you, the readership of Above the Law. Over the next three weeks, the finalists will blog on ATL, for your consideration. Just as they would on a true reality TV show, the “assignments” will vary from week to week (details about them to follow).
    Each Friday, we will open the polls, allowing you to vote for your favorite — the blogger you’d like to see take the helm at this venerable legal tabloid. At the end of week one, the bottom two out of six finalists — the pair of contestants with the fewest votes — will be eliminated. Next week, the reader vote will take four finalists down to two. In the third and final week, the two finalists will go head to head, in a legal blogging deathmatch. Your votes will determine the winner, Above the Law’s new leader.
    ATL readers are an opinionated bunch, so we expect you to have strong views about the contestants (which you should feel free to share in the comments). But to those of you who need more guidance when voting, fear not. Just like American Idol, ATL Idol will provide you with three “celebrity judges,” to offer their expert opinions of the contestants’ blogging, and to inform and guide the electorate.
    Our judges, who are all leading legal bloggers in their own right, need no introduction. But we’ll introduce them anyway, briefly. They are (in alphabetical order):

  • Ann Althouse, Robert W. & Irma M. Arthur-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and author of her eponymous blog, Althouse;
  • Tom Goldstein, head of the D.C. litigation practice and co-head of the firm-wide Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump, and founder of SCOTUSblog; and
  • Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate (where she blogged at Convictions), author of two books, and a contributor to the New York Times and the Washington Post (among many other publications).
    Our impressive panel is well-balanced, featuring representatives from three major groups of legal bloggers: one law professor, one practicing lawyer, and one professional journalist. We’ll leave it to you to decide — perhaps based on how caustic their commentary is — who’s Simon, who’s Randy, and who’s Paula.
    Update: Professor Althouse emphatically rejects any suggestion that she’ll be the Paula Abdul of this contest. This is just as well; when we invited Dahlia Lithwick to serve as a judge, she called “dibs” on Paula.
    Check back later today, when we’ll post brief bios of the six finalists. And check back throughout this week – and, of course, over the next three weeks – to figure out which writers you love, and which you’d leave. The identity of ATL’s next editor rests in your hands.
    We’re expecting this contest to be fun and exciting. Please spread the word to your friends and colleagues. And once the polls are open, we pass along to you the exhortation of Ryan Seacrest: “America, don’t forget to vote!”
    Update: The bios of the finalists are now posted over here.
    Earlier: Help Wanted: ATL Seeks A New Writer

  • dont-go-pleez.jpgIn today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, it’s time to focus on time off.
    ATL has previously reported on firms trimming the length of their summer programs, in part because of economic doldrums, but also at least purportedly in part because of vacation cycles.
    As one firm’s managing partner put it: “We believe that the August vacation season for our attorneys is simply not a period that is conducive to a positive Summer Associate experience.”
    So, it being “vacation season,” are you taking any?
    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.

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