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Noel Hillman Noel L Hillman Noel Lawrence Hillman Noel Laurence Hillman judge Above the Law.jpgBack in December, we suggested that Judge Noel Hillman (D.N.J.) was probably going to be nominated to the Third Circuit. We wrote: “[N]ominating Judge Hillman to the court of appeals actually makes political sense for the White House — especially in its current, weakened state…. Picking a nominee who made it through the Senate just a few months ago would be a shrewd move. Since the two New Jersey senators supported Hillman for the district court, it would be awkward for them to oppose him for the circuit court now.”
But things appear to have changed. From the Newark Star-Ledger:

In an abrupt about-face, President Bush has decided against nominating Noel Hillman, a veteran prosecutor and now federal judge in Camden, to the seat on the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that was held by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr….

Hillman confirmed the news. He said the speculation about his possible elevation to the court of appeals was “flattering,” adding he now has “every confidence that our president will choose someone for the current vacancy worthy of his trust, worthy of the position, and worthy of Senate confirmation.”

Some questions for our readers:

1. What’s behind the White House’s change of heart? Was it, as suggested by the Star-Ledger, concern “that Hillman’s Senate confirmation hearing could become an inquisition into the behind-the-scenes operations of the Justice Department”? Or is there something more here, perhaps specific to Judge Hillman?

(If the White House is worried about Hillman hearings turning into another fishing expedition into the DOJ, we can hardly blame them. After all, look at all the dirty laundry that got aired when former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified yesterday. What a mess!)

2. Now that Judge Hillman is out of the running, who is likely to get the nod?

Please send us your tips by email (subject line: “Third Circuit”). Thanks.
The Auditor [Newark Star-Ledger via NJ.com]
President Intervened in Dispute Over Eavesdropping [New York Times]
Earlier: A Third Circuit Update

Ropes Gray LLP Above the Law blog.jpgThat’s what we’re hearing in the comments. And by email, too:

Ropes in Boston has bumped to $160K for 1st years, $170K for 2nd years, $185 for 3rd years, etc.

Don’t know more, because they’ve told people not to send out the memo, but I suspect you can find out the rest :-)

According to this comment, the alleged Ropes raise also extends to the firm’s non-New York offices: Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.
Now, we don’t consider this confirmed. All we have our some anonymous comments, and an email from a source who isn’t at Ropes. We also don’ t have a memo.
If you have a copy of the alleged memo, please feel free to post it in the comments. That wouldn’t qualify as “send[ing] out” the memo, would it?
Update: The Ropes & Gray pay raise memo, which someone posted in the comments, has been authenticated for us by a source at the firm. So treat this news as confirmed.

* It may be a “slim majority”, but it’s a lot better than the other two branches are doing. [Gallup via How Appealing]
* Sweet score. [CNN]
* Pakistan judicial madness resumes. [Jurist]
* Can the Pennsylvania Supreme Court make Paterno retire? Cause, man, I gotta tell ya, it’s time. [Harrisburg Patriot-News via How Appealing]
* Gonzales throws McNulty under the bus. [Jurist]

State of Louisiana seal New Orleans Above the Law blog.jpgDisorder in the court, disorder in the court! From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

St. Tammany Parish deputies took two defense attorneys into custody on contempt of court accusations Monday after they got into a fight at the parish courthouse in Covington, Sheriff Jack Strain confirmed.

Michael Fawer of Covington and his brother-in-law, Joseph Bartels of New Orleans, tussled outside state Judge Raymond Childress’ third-floor courtroom at about 10:30 a.m. As a result, the judge ordered both men held, Strain said.

Fawer, 71, claimed Bartels made a profane reference to his religion, and Bartels, 56, claimed Fawer injured his neck.

And you thought you didn’t get along with your brother-in-law. Well, at least these guys are zealous advocates.
A little more about this incident, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyers of the Day: Michael Fawer and Joseph Bartels”

* Suing for a D…it was bad enough when it was related to a leaf project, but worse when emanating the stench of entitlement, parental involvement and opportunism. Plus, his coach would have told him to just walk it off. [Charlotte Observer]
* Humane is drowning a kitten straight out of its mother’s womb. [St. Petersburg Times]
* Patricia Cornwell, author of those superb forensic procedurals, sues for libel (which has nothing to do with this). [News 24]
* Coke is not the most recognized brand in the world for nothing. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
* Pot and manic-depression, the classic chicken-and-egg conundrum…the poor photo choice, however, might have you assume this young lawyer had fallen off the Tate’s roof in a drunken stupor. [Evening Standard]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWe now bring you… a pair of non-announcement announcements on the associate pay raise front. They’re from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and DLA Piper.
As our tipster noted, Pillsbury Winthrop practically “threatens” its associates with a pay raise. Here’s an excerpt from their memo (emphasis added):

We want to take the time to thoughtfully consider your views and take into account your concerns, which we share, regarding the need to stay competitive, together with the implicit work-life balance impact of additional salary increases.

In other words: “Be careful what you wish for; you might just get it.”
The full text of the Pillsbury memo, plus a similar “hold your horses” memo from DLA Piper, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: In a Holding Pattern?”

Alex Kozinski.jpgDespite his recent public criticism of blogs, we’ve always viewed that colorful legal genius, Judge Alex Kozinski, as a great friend of blogging.
Judge Kozinski’s nomination of himself as a “judicial hottie” played a crucial role in the development of our original blog, Underneath Their Robes. And he has been a supporter of our blogging over the years. Even his criticism of us has been constructive and well-intentioned (even if harsh).
But if Judge Kozinski has soured on blogging, perhaps it is showing through in his jurisprudence. Check out today’s decision by the Ninth Circuit in Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com (PDF).
We haven’t finished reading the opinions just yet. But based on Robert Loblaw’s this write-up, which provides a helpful summary and pellucid analysis, the decision doesn’t look like good news for bloggers — or any other websites that host user-generated content.
Sigh. This whole “blogging” thing ain’t as much fun as it used to be.
Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, LLC
[U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (PDF)]
Important Ninth Circuit Decision on Websites’ Legal Immunity under the CDA [Decision of the Day]
Earlier: Kozinski On Blogs: “Hateful Things”

Edward Tuddenham Sarah Cleveland townhouse townhome mansion Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve been so focused on nationwide associate pay raises that we’ve been neglecting New York City — where lawyers have always earned top dollar. And where they enjoy real estate spoils reflecting their high compensation, which we regularly profile for Lawyerly Lairs.
One of our favorite sources of real estate porn in the deliciously gossipy New York Observer. Here are a few recent “Manhattan Transfers” items, all of which involve lawyers:
1. Crusading Lawyer Inks Sweet $2.4 M. Deal for Harlem Townhouse

The Erin Brockovich of big-sugar class-action lawsuits has bought a stately 108-year-old townhouse on West 137th Street (at right), a leafy block near Harlem’s Strivers Row.

Lawyer Edward Tuddenham and his wife, Sarah Cleveland, a University of Texas law professor, paid $2.4 million for the five-level townhouse.

Moral of the story: If you’re a law professor with dreams of a million-dollar home, you need to marry well. Or be Feldsuk.
In addition to having a million-dollar home, Professor Cleveland is also highly attractive, a former Rhodes Scholar, and a former Supreme Court clerk (for Justice Blackmun). Could a life be any more charmed? (Although that Manhattan-Austin commute is probably a real pain…)
Update: Per this comment, and as confirmed by this press release, Professor Cleveland — who is “a fantastic teacher,” we’re told — has been snapped up by Columbia. Very nice.
2. Saint David’s Buys Headmaster Two Philip Johnson Condos for $2.99 M
The Saint David’s School, an all-boys prep school, just purchased two adjacent condos for a total of almost $3 million. These apartments will be the home of their headmaster. Who says schoolteachers can’t live well?
One of the principals in this deal is a lawyer: Willkie Farr & Gallagher partner Xavier Dieux is selling one of the two units. Presumably Mr. Dieux is trading up; he was probably living below his means in his condo at the Metropolitan.
3. Davis Polk Stays At Home
This item, reporting on Davis Polk & Wardwell’s 650,000-square-foot renewal at 450 Lexington Avenue, concerns commercial rather than residential real estate. So it may lie slightly beyond the jurisdiction of Lawyerly Lairs.
But it is interesting to see how Davis Polk is perceived by the outside world. The Observer refers to DPW as “cultivat[ing] its reputation as the Cravath, Swaine & Moore for happy people.”
Is that view of DPW accurate? Feel free to debate in the comments.

Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin Hachigian LLP Above the Law blog.JPGIf you graduated from law school before or during the tech boom of the late 1990′s, you may recall how an elite boutique named Gunderson Dettmer led the charge on associate pay raises. As noted here:

In 1999, a Silicon Valley firm named Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, shook the legal community by offering new associates a starting salary of $125,000 with a guaranteed bonus of $20,000. This represented a 25 percent increase in the average base salary and even more for the total compensation package. Other firms in major cities around the country were forced to follow Gunderson’s lead and annual salaries increased by about 30 percent between 1999 and 2000. New associates reaped the benefits.

The firm is considerably bigger today. And it didn’t lead this latest round of pay raises; Orrick deserves credit for that.
But Gunderson Dettmer is definitely keeping up. Moreover, as a source at the firm notes, “Thankfully it appears that we didn’t take the underhanded bonus-cutting route that Wilson Sonsini and Heller Ehrman did.”
Check out the memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “West Coast Pay Raise Watch: Don’t Forget Gunderson Dettmer”

Irell Manella LLP Elite CA Law Firm Above the Law Blog.JPG
The website of Irell & Manella touts the firm as “An Elite CA Law Firm.”
Immodest? Perhaps. But true, insofar as Irell pays its associates as “an elite CA law firm” should.
The Irell & Manella pay raise memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “West Coast Pay Raise Watch: Irell & Manella”

Elizabeth Halverson Judge Elizabeth Halverson.jpgState court judges are like bratty kids, or pets that aren’t housebroken. You can’t take them anywhere.
Because they’ve probably already been banned from where you were planning to take them. Even if the place in question is the courthouse.
Consider the Honorable Elizabeth Halverson (at right). From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The District Court chief judge on Thursday banned District Judge Elizabeth Halverson from the county courthouse.

In an administrative order, Chief Judge Kathy Hardcastle said Halverson jeopardized security at the courthouse this week by bringing her own two bodyguards into the courthouse and allowing them to bypass security checks.

As for why Judge Halverson needs two (2) bodyguards — and no, we won’t make the obvious joke — there’s quite a backstory, full of juicy judicial infighting. You can read all about it here.
Fred Axley Judge Fred Axley Above the Law blog.jpgAnd Judge Halverson isn’t the only state judge getting banned from public places these days. Meet the Honorable Fred Axley.
From the Legal Reader:

A Memphis judge is banned from a Florida resort. He is accused of sexually harassing an employee. Eyewitness News Everywhere uncovered this is not the first time Criminal Court Judge Fred Axley has been accused of sexual harassment….

Now he has been banned from a resort in Destin, FL, after an employee there says he sexually harassed her last week….

When we called the resort, an employee who asked not to be named, told us Axley had propositioned a massage therapist there for oral sex.

We commend the resort employee for having the courage to turn down the judge (and report him). Because saying “no” to a judge isn’t easy — even if the request involves sucking his gavel.
You can read more about Judge Axley’s history of alleged harassment, including incidents that led his law clerks to file lawsuits, by clicking here.
Judge Halverson banned from courthouse [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
Memphis Judge Banned From Florida Resort For Harassment [Legal Reader]

Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe LLP Above the Law blog.JPGHere is a memo that some of you have been waiting for, with an eagerness more typical of teenage boys expecting Spiderman 3. It’s an outline of the associate bonus program for Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, in all of its complex glory.
The memo is rather lengthy. We thought about taking screenshots of each page, but that would have been too time-consuming. So we just cut and pasted the text instead.
Some of the formatting was lost as a result (as well as the pretty green “O” at the top of each page in the original). But the substance of the memo is all there.
If you’re interested, you can check it out after the jump

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