Welcome to the latest post in our recent series on the 2008 National Convention of the American Constitution Society. We attended lots of excellent events as part of the conference. Prior posts appear here and here.
One of our favorite events was the Saturday lunch panel, “Covering the Court.” It was moderated by Thomas Goldstein, of Akin Gump and SCOTUSblog fame, and featured the following distinguished members of the Supreme Court press corps:
Robert Barnes, of the Washington Post;
Linda Greenhouse, of the New York Times;
Dahlia Lithwick, of Slate; and
Tony Mauro, of the Legal Times.
For the Court-watchers among you, a detailed write-up is available below the fold.
Apologies for the downtime. We were off being interviewed by CNN Headline News about the controversy surrounding Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit. We’ll post a link to the interview if and when it becomes available.
Speaking of Chief Judge Kozinski, here’s the latest news:
The 9th Circuit judge, who posted sexually explicit material on his own site, according to a Los Angeles Times story yesterday, has just released this statement:
I have asked the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit to take steps pursuant to Rule 26, of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and Disability, and to initiate proceedings concerning the article that appeared in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times. I will cooperate fully in any investigation.
This may not happen to men, but many a woman has put on an outfit and discovered later that it is more sheer than she realized in the dim light of her home. In sunlight, or in an office’s bright fluorescent glow, the underthings suddenly become visible — if one is lucky enough to be wearing underthings. Usually, a good friend will point this out to the inadvertently scandalously-clad woman.
A reader sent us an excerpt from a recent deposition transcript, currently making the rounds by email, which apparently captures an occurrence of just this sort. It seems that the not-to-be-named lawyer, aka “Ms. B” (pictured), did not have a good friend to point out the sheerness of her attire.
Instead, an expert witness did so, at the end of a long deposition. Then “Ms. G,” counsel to the witness, echoed her client’s concerns.
The exchange got a little testy. Check out the depo transcript, after the jump.
Like so many ATL Lawyers of the Day that have been honored before him, Gerald Hamelburg falls into the camp of attorneys who practice the law but don’t respect it. Hamelburg has gotten caught up in a “disabled placard abuser” sting.
A similar scam was run in this episode of Desperate Housewives. Gaby Solis (Eva Longoria) takes advantage of her husband Carlos’s blindness to get a disabled parking sticker and score sweet parking spots.
But Hamelburg had it even better — he got to park for free, too. From the Boston Globe:
He lives in one of Wellesley’s most exclusive neighborhoods, owns a $1.8 million Nantucket vacation home, and has a small fleet of luxury cars at his disposal. But when Gerald Hamelburg drives downtown, he doesn’t like to pay his way, according to investigators with the state inspector general’s office.
The Boston lawyer, they say, uses his deceased mother’s handicapped placard to park his Mercedes convertible, free of charge, at meters near the High Street firm that bears his name…
According to an investigator’s report, Hamelburg seemed unclear about what he had done wrong.
“He denied that he was ‘displaying’ the placard,” wrote the investigator, who videotaped this week’s exchange, “and stated that it was merely ‘hanging there.’ He questioned why he was being sanctioned for the use this time, saying that he had used it ‘half a dozen times’ before that and ‘no one’ had ever had an issue with his use of the placard before. [The trooper] asked him why he believed that was an appropriate defense to his having committed a serious violation by using the placard illegally. Hamelburg had no response to his question.”
Not the most impressive defense skills there. We assume that this is his law firm: Greenbaum, Nagel, Fisher and Hamelburg, though he gets no love (or bio write-up) on their website. The Massachusetts crackdown turned up hundred of placard abusers, and Hamelburg wasn’t the only attorney among them: “Among the worst violators were a state lawyer and his wife.”
This may sound cold-hearted, but we can’t help wondering: We understand the disabled getting premium parking spots close to building entrances, but why do they score free parking, too? Disabled placard abusers targeted [Boston Globe]
In the wake of a former Harvard Law Review president securing the Democratic nomination for United States president, it’s timely to do an update on the Harvard Law Review Note controversy (or Statue-Gate, as Glenn Reynolds dubbed it). If you haven’t been following the story, background appears here, here, and here.
Whenever a leader stumbles, bloggers swarm. The mini-scandal at America’s top law review has spawned a cottage industry of blogs. First there was a blog claiming to be written by Note author Phil Telfeyan, Do the Right Thing at Every Moment. It was under password protection for a time, but it’s once again open to all. And now there are at least two other blogs dedicated to covering perceived scholarly lapses at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Law Review, Harvard Clown School and Harvard Law Review Review (both via Prettier Than Napoleon).
There have been all sorts of rumors going around about Phil Telfeyan, his Note, and the blog dedicated to the Note (which may or may not be his). We made an effort to get to the bottom of some of them, talking to people with firsthand knowledge of the situation, including current and former HLR editors. We didn’t find out everything we wanted to know, but we learned a few new things.
If you’re curious — some of you may be tired of this story, and we don’t blame you — you can read more below the fold.
Time flies. It’s hard to believe, but Above the Law turns two this summer. We started writing for ATL in July 2006, and the site went live in August 2006.
We’re happy to report that things are going swimmingly — so swimmingly, in fact, that we’d like to (and need to) hire another full-time writer. Law firms are firing, but ATL is hiring. This gig may not pay $160K, but we guarantee it’s more fun than document review or due diligence.
This is a full-time position. The pay is quite competitive for a media/journalism job, and standard benefits — health insurance, a 401(k), abuse from anonymous commenters — are included. If you’re looking to transition from law into the writing life, this is an excellent opportunity.
If you’d like to apply, please email us (subject line: “New Writer Application”). Please describe yourself and your background, and explain why you’d be a great addition to ATL. If you have a particular vision for the site or ideas for new features, do share. Feel free to include a résumé, a writing sample, a link to your own blog (if you have one), or any other information you think might be relevant to evaluation of your application.
We will take applications through Friday, June 6 (and will probably throw in another plug for this next week). Thanks for your interest; we look forward to hearing from you.
Back in December, we conducted a survey focusing on how busy those of you who work for large law firms were. The results were somewhat comforting. A majority of you said work at your firms was not slow, and 78 percent of you said you weren’t afraid of losing your job.
That was about seven months ago. Have times changed? In addition to all the recent law-firm layoffs, here is some anecdotal evidence that they have:
Given the hard economic times, you guys should do a story about associates that have no work. And I’m not talking about light billable hours, but NO WORK.
I work for [a large firm] and I’m currently relegated to surfing the internet, reading ATL, and looking for new incarnations of ceiling cat. I’ve begged and pleaded with partners to give me work, but to no avail.
I’d be curious what other associates around the country who are slow are doing to drum up work or, better yet, kill time.
Have any suggestions for this frustrated reader? This person already knows about legal blogs as a procrastination aid. Given the uncertain economy, online shopping binges probably aren’t smart. IM’ing with friends at other firms is fun, but not everyone has that option.
If you know of other ways to pass the non-billable time — and please, safe-for-work proposals only — feel free to share them in the comments. Thanks.
These aren’t the best of times for Biglaw, in case you hadn’t noticed. The most recent evidence: staff and lawyer layoffs at Sonnenschein, news that we broke last night (and might write more about, so feel free to email us with info).
But here is a tiny sliver of good news. In response to our open call for information about delayed start dates for incoming associates, which some law firms have been using to reduce expenses, we received very little.
First, we learned that DLA Piper has instituted a nationwide start date of October 1. This isn’t terribly exciting, since October 1 isn’t that late. Other firms that have announced delayed start dates have gone for late October or even January.
The change also doesn’t appear to be economically motivated. From DLA spokesperson Jason Costa:
The changes were made to provide a uniform start date across all our offices. The new collective date allows us to have a uniform orientation process. We think it will also be good for the associates, since the shared start date will probably lead to a tighter knit class.
Our tipsters mentioned the availability of pay advances if needed, which Costa confirmed: “We are more than happy to give pay advances to any incoming associates who had planned to start earlier than October, and who may need the extra cash.”
Second, we received more details about Pillsbury Winthrop, which previously said it was spacing out start dates “over several months.”
Read the rest, after the jump.
We heard through the grapevine that Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit gave ATL a shout out during a Federalist Society lunch earlier this month. According to our tipsters, “his biggest advice to any summer associates in the audience was ‘don’t show up on David Lat’s blog, Above the Law.'”
Well, the first summer associate tale of 2008 has made its way into our tips inbox from Atlanta. A summer associate at Alston & Bird decided to share his quirky sense of humor and alter ego with the rest of his summer class. Our tipster explains:
[This e-mail] was sent by an Alston & Bird summer… (as his cross-dressing alter-ego Divljan Shatterhand Steele) to the entire Atlanta summer class. The email, besides being super weird, is pretty innocuous. However, the pictures on his Facebook account could give him some serious trouble — besides the multiple pictures of him dressed in drag as his alter-ego, there is a picture of a pie with a gummy-bear swastika…
Needless to say, the email has already been widely circulated. A&B has a progressive reputation, but this might be a bit much. Given the current state of the market, Alston might be regretting hiring such a huge summer class (look at the recipient list, which likely only includes the summers who are working the first half) in Atlanta. This guy isn’t doing himself any favors.
The bizarre e-mail, involving tarot cards and multiple personalities, is available after the jump. If you’ve been wondering about the history of neckties, you’ll definitely want to check it out.
We have redacted the SA’s name and ask that you not identify the person in the comments. Feel free to refer to him as “Divljan” only. Thanks.
Some people question whether large law firms do enough to make the world a better place. These people wonder: Are Biglaw partners letting Third World babies die, just so they can enjoy their Ferraris?
Or is the “Baby vs. Ferrari” choice a false dichotomy? Here’s another way of looking at it. Lawyers at large law firms, by providing top-notch legal services to large corporations — corporations owned not just by fat cats but also by ordinary Americans, through mutual funds and similar investment vehicles — create value that otherwise would not exist. Some of this surplus value makes its way into the pockets of partners (and their Ferrari dealers). But some of it makes its way to charitable causes (as well as federal and state government coffers, in the form of tax revenue).
Last week we commended the firms of Dewey & LeBoeuf and Heller Ehrman for their generous donations in support of China earthquake relief efforts. And it seems that supporting relief organizations, just like raising associate salaries, may be contagious within Biglaw.
Several other leading law firms have donated to support China earthquake relief efforts (and a number of these firms, including Orrick and Weil, acted within a few hours of last week’s ATL post). Here are some that we know of:
We commend the foregoing firms and their employees for their generosity. If your firm has taken action and isn’t mentioned above, feel free to post a shout-out in the comments.
For those of you who are curious — perhaps your firm would like to start a similar initiative, and you’d like to lift some language for the announcement — the Orrick and Weil memos appear after the jump.
Almost 2,000 votes were cast in the first round of our poll for the best legally-themed race horse name. We’ve winnowed the full field of 20 horses down to the top ten.
Now we’re in the final round. The polls will remain open through the Memorial Day weekend. Let the race begin!
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.