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Mary Kate Olsen Above the Law blog.jpg* A PSA for Blackberry Pearl users on the T-Mobile network. Also, Theresa sounds deliciously evil. [PrawfsBlawg]
* “Senator Obama, we knew Jack Kennedy, and you, Senator, are–well, dude, you were two-years-old….” [What About Clients?]
* “Lessons from Mary-Kategate: Why Lawyers Should Not Engage in Media Relations.” And we agree wholeheartedly with this statement: “the ability to get under powerful people’s skin. If ever there was a talent valued among tabloid journalists, that’s got to be it.” [Starkman & Associates]
* DLA Piper to launch an in-house version of Facebook. But can you play Scrabulous on it? [Legal Blog Watch]
* It’s hard out here in a courtroom for a pimp, proceeding pro se. [11Alive.com]
* Oregon Supreme Court puts kibosh on unkindest cut. [Blogonaut]
* Blawg Review #144, with a Lord of the Rings theme. [Cyberlaw Central via Blawg Review]

Georgetown University Law School Georgetown Law School GULC Above the Law blog.jpgGeorgetown is an excellent law school — “T14″ (top 14), as some like to say — with many things going for it. Supreme Court justices love to visit. Students get to take classes like The Law of 24. The diva-licious Nina Totenberg speaks at commencement.
Perhaps most importantly, at least to readers of ATL, Georgetown grads land excellent jobs. Not surprisingly, in a recent poll, a majority of respondents said they’d need $100,000 to turn down 14th-ranked Georgetown in favor of, say, 51st-ranked Arizona State (maybe ’cause they’d like to be separated from Kumari Fulbright by multiple states).
But GULC isn’t perfect. Mistakes get made — mistakes that could, say, compromise your personally identifiable information (and mess with your credit score). From several tipsters:

“You might want to post this so anyone who graduated during this time but didn’t get the e-mail knows about the stolen identities.”

“I got this warning this morning. Evidently, not everyone is affected, as students next to me in class have not received the email. Just thought I’d forward this along to show the problems at American could be worse – at least their identities aren’t at risk.”

View the email, after the jump.
Update: We have also posted a follow-up to the original message.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Public Service Announcement: Attention Georgetown Grads – Are You the Victim of Identity Theft?”

Pinoy Power Filipino Power Nena Ruiz Above the Law blog.jpgUnlike yesterday — and by the way, we’ll keep the reader poll open for a few more hours — today we have no difficulty picking our Lawyer of the Day. Hollywood lawyer James Jackson maltreated his Filipino maid. We do not like it when you mess with our peeps.
From the AP (via Law.com):

A former Hollywood studio attorney and his wife were sentenced Monday for abusive treatment of their Filipino maid in a case federal prosecutors said “amounts to modern-day slavery.”

James Jackson, the former vice president of legal affairs at Sony Pictures, was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine. His wife, Elizabeth, was sentenced to three years in prison after her attorneys unsuccessfully pleaded for her to receive home detention.

These Hollywood types are ruthless (we’ve watched “Entourage”). Studio lawyers make Biglaw partners look like social workers. Consider the treatment alleged by the former maid in her civil suit against the couple:

[Former maid Nena] Ruiz claimed in her civil lawsuit that Elizabeth Jackson regularly slapped her and pulled her hair. She also said she was forced to sleep on a dog bed and was given three-day-old food to eat even as she was expected to clean and provide fresh fruit to the Jacksons’ pets. The Jacksons only paid her $300 for her work….

See? Studio lawyers are meaner than law firm partners. At least associates get paid $160K for their suffering.
Happily, Nena Ruiz ultimately made out quite well. She was awarded $825,000 in damages by the jury that heard her case.
P.S. In fairness to Mr. Jackson, it appears that much of the abuse was perpetrated by his wife. In her allocution, Elizabeth Jackson told the court: “In my life I have always tried and strived to do the right thing. I failed in this case.” Um, yeah.
P.P.S. A tipster observes: “Is it just me, or have these modern-day slavery stories been popping up a lot lately? See here.”
Former Sony Pictures Lawyer and Wife Sentenced in Forced Labor of Filipino Maid [AP via Law.com]
Hollywood couple sentenced in Filipino maid ‘slave’ case [AFP via Philippine Inquirer]
In Pictures: Long Island Slaver Family On Facebook [Gawker]


Thacher Proffitt Wood LLP Above the Law blog.jpgBack in November, we broke the news that, barring a “substantial improvement” in market conditions, the law firm of Thacher Proffitt & Wood would resort to lawyer layoffs in January. The firm is a major player in structured finance and real estate, two practice areas that have been hard hit by the credit crunch.
January is now here — and, in fact, almost over. We were reminded of this last week, when we saw this article in the New York Sun about law firm layoffs, mentioning Thacher Proffitt:

Earlier this month, Manhattan-based Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft laid off 35 lawyers, 26 of them in New York City, and late last year, Thatcher Proffitt & Wood cut 50 associates’ jobs. The cuts have spurred other firms to follow suit, experts said.

Was the statement accurate, insofar as it suggests or implies that TPW laid off fifty (50) associates? We followed up with Thacher, which issued this statement, through a spokesperson:

As described in our November 27, 2007 official statement, we notified 24 associates in the Structured Finance and Real Estate Practice Groups that if there was no substantial improvement in the market, it was near certain that economic layoffs would take effect in January 2008. As of today, 99% of the 24 associates have accepted a package which compensates them through the end of March 2008, and many have already found new positions. To clarify recent media reports, these events occurred ahead of our initial plan to commence layoffs. [Ed. note: Maybe it should be 96% of the 24 associates -- 23/24 = 95.8%. But who knows... maybe one person is still working part-time for TPW?]

In addition, we offered our first-year associates in the Structured Finance and Real Estate Practice Groups a four-month severance package, should they volunteer to leave the firm. Again, referring to our original statement, the first-year associates’ offer remains strictly voluntary; they are under no obligation to accept it. We do feel it’s in their best interest to explore other opportunities, since we are concerned that we will not be able to provide them with the best work experience at this formative stage of their careers. A group of first-year associates has voluntarily accepted this package.

Finally, we would like to acknowledge the goodwill of those in the business and legal communities who have expressed interest in our associates and have helped to place them in new positions. Although these decisions were difficult for our firm, we are confident that our approach kept our associates’ interests in mind and also mitigated our business risks.

We construed this as a statement that the firm did not have to resort to layoffs (as originally planned). We followed up with TPW, and they confirmed this understanding: “Up to this point, departures have been voluntary.” [FN1]
But should TPW associates start dancing in the hallways? Not yet. When we asked if this meant the firm had ruled out layoffs going forward, Thacher was noncommittal: “We cannot speculate on future market conditions and the potential impact on our attorney population.”
So stay tuned. In other TPW news, it’s not just associates who are leaving. Partner V. Gerard (“Jerry”) Comizio, a prominent banking and financial services lawyer here in D.C., just left Thacher to join Paul Hastings (see this press release). When a firm is going through tough times, partner defections are to be expected (although they’re unwelcome news, since rainmaker departures only exacerbate the problem of insufficient business to go around).
[FN1] We realize, of course, that if you “voluntarily” depart after being told you’ll probably be laid off if you stay, it’s not completely “voluntary.” A cynic must suggest that it’s like “voluntarily” giving the mugger your wallet after being told you’ll be shot if you don’t. But, on a hyper-technical level, we wouldn’t consider these departures “true” layoffs. People can always wait for the ax to fall — like the one apparent holdout among the 24 associates.
Fearing Recession, Law Firms Tighten Belts [New York Sun]
Pinup’s Naked Justice: Keeps Lawyer Job [New York Post]
Paul Hastings Bolsters Bank Regulatory Practice with the Addition of V. Gerard Comizio to the Washington, D.C. Office [Paul Hastings (press release)]
Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Thacher Proffitt Announces Likely Future Layoffs

Legal%20Eagle%20Wedding%20Watch%20NYT%20wedding%20announcements%20Above%20the%20Law.jpgOur favorite bride this week is one we don’t get to write about. Rachel Berkowitz is a professional organizer who “helps individuals and businesses to organize closets, filing systems and offices and to move and pack.” And if you’re not a little bit turned on by that, we want to see your underwear drawer.
On the legal-eagle front, three Fordham JDs (at least) and a Sunday school teacher make this our first Catholic-themed week here at LEWW.
The contenders:

1. Sandra Zucker and Joshua Bennett
2. Mari-Claudia Jiménez and Steven Coffey
3. Laura Brown and Brian Vogt

More about these couples, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 1.27: Church of Your Heart”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgBefore the New Year, associates in the New York office of Morrison & Foerster received their bonus news. Now it’s time for their colleagues outside of NYC to collect their cash.
In addition to the firm’s “standard productivity bonuses under the published 2007 compensation program,” MoFo is paying out (1) “a one-time bonus” (it sounds “special” to us), ranging from $10,000 – $20,000, to associates and certain of counsel who met or exceeded their hours requirements, and (2) merit bonuses, for “exemplary lawyering and exceptional teamwork,” ranging from $15,000 – $30,000.
Full memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Morrison & Foerster (non-New York)”

Barack Obama Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.jpgTime is running out on this month’s ATL Lawyer of the Year and Second Favorite Blog After ATL polls, both sponsored by ATL and Lateral Link.
So far, we’re up to just over 2,600 votes for Lawyer of the Year, and Wall Street Journal pick Loyola 2L is still going strong. Meanwhile, Barack Obama has a roughly 2.5 to 1 lead over Hillary Clinton, and Alberto Gonzales is stamping out civil rights stomping on music rights attorney Ray Beckerman . . . but pretty much nobody else.
On the blogging front, the Wall Street Journal remains the blog to beat, while Above The Law is still in second place and Volokh Conspiracy is on track for third, having opened up a hefty lead over Patently-O and SCOTUSblog. Write-in candidate Ms. JD has overpowered Overlawyered, and Likelihood of Confusion has turned the tables on Professor Bainbridge and is now closing in on Skadden Insider.
We’ll post the final results on Thursday.
But while you’re voting for the champions above, are you also voting with your feet at work? In last month’s ATL / Lateral Link job survey about 20% of you responded that you were considering leaving your current firms once you received your bonus. But that was before many of you knew what your bonuses were going to be.
So last week, we asked you whether your job searches were indeed underway. Find out if the answers changed after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Survey Results: Polls, Bloggers and Job Searches”

* Resignation in Detroit text-message scandal (previously discussed here). [Detroit News]
* A proud American tradition unknown in the rest of the world: bail for profit. [New York Times]
* Legal luminaries at the SOTU. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Trial begins in alleged microwaving of infant. [CNN]
* TRO against Patriots’ Moss extended until after Super Bowl. [SI]
* Mortgage crisis may affect litigation departments. [WSJ Law Blog]
* U.S. jails Colombian FARC leader. [BBC]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWe don’t really have any major bonus news to pass along. Here are a few items following up on previously reported developments:
1. Latham & Watkins: On Friday we reported on the LW bonuses, which were well-received by associates. We now have more detailed information, which appears after the jump.
2. McDermott Will & Emery: We wrote here about their decision to issue supplemental bonuses. Those bonuses have now been paid, and people are happy. More details after the jump.
3. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft: As previously reported, the bonus situation over there is rather vague. An addendum, also after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Some Updates”

laptop computer web surfer Above the Law.jpgRemember MacGate, at American University’s Washington College of Law? It was resolved. But technology problems persist at WCL:

Date: January 28, 2008 2:34:20 PM EST
Subject: Wireless at WCL

Dear Student Body:

The following problems have been discovered with the WCL network:

1. All access points in room 101 were either turned off, or nonfunctional for the past two years.

2. All access points on the 5th floor were located in elevator shafts, or other places where they did not provide coverage.

3. Certain points on the 6th floor were assigned the wrong IP address,and so did not provide access.

The Technology department is working to address these problems. If you continue to experience problems with the internet, please inform the Student Services Committee at [xxxx]. You can also file an online trouble ticket, when you find yourself in an area with internet access, at [xxxx].

Regards,
Student Services Committee

At first we thought this was satirical, but we were assured that it’s not: “This is for real — we got it from the SBA today. Our wireless has been terrible recently.”
Your friends at ATL obviously want you to have wireless access in class. But we realize that some professors contend that internet access in classrooms is an impediment to instruction.

* Where do broken hearts Lawyers for Fred go? Into the open arms of Mitt Romney, who just picked up an impressive group of conservative legal eagles. [Mitt Romney]
* We previously linked to transcripts of the Kumari Fulbright 911 tapes, but now you can listen to them yourself (click here, then scroll down to the italicized link). Says a tipster: “The screams must have been pretty loud if that many people could hear them from their homes and from the street.” [Arizona Daily Star]
* Sangria is illegal in Virginia, so restaurants there serve “a bowdlerized version of the drink.” Ted Frank wonders: “[W]hen is someone going to bring a consumer class action against the Spanish restaurants serving faux sangrias without warning customers?” [Overlawyered via WSJ Law Blog]
* Is IP law sexy? Not to this “curvy,” aspiring actress. [New York Post; Ropes & Gray]
* Speaking of sexy, do you have a crush on Hillary? This kid does. [YouTube via Blogonaut]
P.S. Some of these items are a little stale (from last week). As we just mentioned, we’re clearing a backlog of items we’ve been meaning to write about.
Update: In response to this comment — no, we’re not done for the day. More posts to come.

vote ballot Above the Law blog.jpgLast week was a busy one in terms of bonus news. In addition, we were prevented from publishing as much as we wanted by technical difficulties (which lie outside the jurisdiction of your undersigned blogger, a mere writer and not a tech person).
Our recent neglect of the “misbehaving lawyers” beat has given rise to a backlog of possible Lawyers of the Day. We’ve decided to clear the backlog by tossing out five nominees and having you vote on who should get the honor.
Click on each lawyer’s name to read more about their alleged misadventures. Then vote on who should be our Lawyer of the Day.
1. Todd Paris: This North Carolina lawyer was held in contempt after a judge caught him reading Maxim [quasi-NSFW] in court. “When [Judge Kevin] Eddinger gave Paris a chance to respond he apologized and ‘stated in his view the magazine was not pornography, was available at local stores and that he did not intend contempt,’ the [contempt] order said.”
2. Beth Modica: “A former suburban prosecutor and PTA president had sex with two underage boys, joined many other teens in booze and pot parties and kept it all a secret from her police chief husband, officials said Tuesday. Beth Modica, 44, was indicted on 35 counts alleging statutory rape, criminal sex acts, sex abuse and endangering children. Wearing an olive-gray suit and handcuffs, she pleaded not guilty at her arraignment in Rockland County Court and was ordered held on $75,000 bail.”
3. Mikal Hanson: “Pierre police early Thursday morning arrested an assistant U.S. attorney, who is accused of drunken driving and speeding. Mikal Hanson, 52, an assistant U.S. attorney in Sioux Falls, was stopped by police shortly before 1 a.m. for speeding, said Pierre Police Chief Elton Blemaster. The arresting officer could smell alcohol on Hanson and asked him to perform field sobriety tests, Blemaster said. ‘Mr. Hanson didn’t complete them as instructed,’ he said.”
4. Canadian Senator Mobina Jaffer: “Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer is under investigation by the Law Society of British Columbia for allegedly overbilling one of her legal clients, including charging for 30 hours of work in a single day…. Jaffer has been called before the law society to account for more than $6 million in legal bills charged to her former client, a Catholic missionary order known as the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.”
5. Jay Grodner: From the Chicago Tribune (via Blackfive.net):

Jay Grodner, the Chicago lawyer who keyed a Marine’s car in anger because the car had military plates and a Marine insignia, finally got his day in court last week. Grodner pleaded guilty in a Chicago courtroom packed with former Marines. They came to support Marine Sgt. Michael McNulty, whose car Grodner defaced in December, but who couldn’t attend because he’s preparing for his second tour in Iraq….

“You caused damage to this young Marine sergeant’s car because you were offended by his Marine Corps license plates,” said Judge [William] O’Malley….

“That’s because there is a little principle that the Marine Corps has had since 1775,” the judge continued. “When they fought and lost their lives so that people like you could enjoy the freedom of this country. It is a little proverb that we follow: “No Marine is left behind.

“So Sgt. McNulty couldn’t be here. But other Marines showed up in his stead. Take him away,” said the judge and former Marine.

So those are the five contestants. Here’s the poll:

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