Latest Stories

* Bush commutes Libby’s sentence! [CNN] [NY Times]
* Wrestler Benoit’s doctor charged with drug distribution. [MSNBC]
* Botched execution leads to lawsuit in Ohio. [CNN] [Toledo Blade]
* Prosecution loses request to prosecute Gitmo prisoner before Military Commission. [MSNBC]
* Anonymous Philadelphia food critic could be unmasked by way of deposition. [CNN]

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Well, that was fast.
Smile, Scooter! President George W. Bush has just commuted your sentence!
The President wiped away Libby’s prison term, but the $250,000 fine will stand.
Here’s the grant of executive clemency and the President’s statement, which reads in part:

I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.
My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.
The Constitution gives the President the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted. It is my judgment that a commutation of the prison term in Mr. Libby’s case is an appropriate exercise of this power.

Is Lady Justice weeping, or doing the wave? Here’s an open thread for comment and debate.

* Judge Robert Bork (in seersucker and a cane) dishes on Richard Nixon and the trouble with modern martinis in an interview with Judge A. Raymond Randolph. [The Federalist Society]
* Evolution: not a cure for the uglies. [Newsweek]
* Married couples would now rather “share chores” than procreate. [AP]
* Starburst Fruit Chews: “Dangerously Chewy” for this Michigan woman. [FOX News]

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The sultry July weather has us pondering the extreme measures people take to beat the heat. We thought we’d do a poll to find out where ATL readers stand on a few burning summer fashion questions.
What’s acceptable at your workplace (and in your closet)?
These questions are for the gentlmen; we’ll have some questions for the ladies tomorrow.

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In today’s New York Times, Adam Liptak writes about a new website that’s a kind of Zagat-type guide to lawyers. (The full article is behind the TimesSelect barricade, but you can read it for free here.)
The site,, allows people to look up lawyers by specialty and zip code and see ranked lists of possibilities — and it allows lawyers to add information to their own profiles that may raise their rankings. And some attorneys have figured out how to manipulate the system:

[T]he suit is full of examples of curiosities and anomalies in the ratings. The dean of the Stanford Law School had a lower rating than a lawyer convicted of helping terrorists. One lawyer, the suit said, raised his rating by listing a softball award.
Avvo conceded that lawyers could temporarily raise their ratings with silly prizes but said its staff manually checked awards not already in its database. Any bump for a spelling bee championship will be short-lived, Avvo said.
My rating rose from 6.4 to 7.4, or “very good,” after I punched in a couple of degrees and a law review article, lifting me past not only the dead lawyer but also the initial rankings of Supreme Court Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, before the site stopped ranking them by number. It did not look hard to game the rankings.

Sounds like firms can go ahead and chalk up hundreds of hours of lost billing to lawyers logging on to the site and trying to get their rating past Adam Liptak’s. (E-mail us if your rating is particularly outstanding — or awful.)

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All eyes turn toward President George W. Bush today, as a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit (Sentelle, Henderson, and Tatel) denied Scooter Libby’s request to stay out of an orange jumpsuit while he appeals his conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Today’s decision further increases pressure on President Bush to pardon or commute the sentence of the 56-year-old lawyer who was Cheney’s right-hand man and an architect of the administration’s national security policies. The White House repeatedly has said that Bush is not intervening in the case, at least not yet, but many conservatives have been urging Bush to grant Libby some form of reprieve.

We’re sure it’s occurred to the White House that there’s a major holiday coming up. Whatever Bush decides to do, he should announce it tomorrow around 5:00 pm. That way it’ll be old news by the time Chuck Schumer pops up on Meet the Press this weekend.

Aaron Charney.jpgLEWW is ashamed to admit that we have not followed the Charney versus Sullivan & Cromwell lawsuit with the attention it so richly deserves. Fortunately, there are other bloggers who’ve got you (and us) covered regarding coverage and analysis of this complex affair in Lat’s absence.
Keeping Up With Jonas has a nice capsule summary of the three orders issued by Judge Fried in the matter yesterday, with links to the orders.
And Professor Art Leonard has this more detailed write-up.
Judge Fried denied without explanation a motion by Gera Grinberg’s attorney to have Grinberg’s deposition transcripts unsealed. Writes Leonard:

Attorney Grinberg worked closely with Aaron Charney as a fellow associate at S&C on a variety of client matters, and their close working relationship seems to have sparked the incidents upon which Charney bases his lawsuit. Grinberg was present at the meeting between Charney and S&C partners Vince DiBlasi and David Braff on January 31, the day before S&C discharged and sued Charney.

There is considerable dispute between Charney and S&C about what was said at that meeting, with Charney claiming that the only written record, which would back up his account, was made by Grinberg, who then turned his notes over to his attorney at that time for safekeeping. Charney has alleged that the Grinberg notes were improperly destroyed as part of a conspiracy between S&C and Edward Gallion, a lawyer S&C had retained to represent Grinberg. Amidst the skirmishing over motions to dismiss, Grinberg submitted to a deposition focused on what occurred at that meeting, but the transcript of the deposition has been sealed, and S&C’s lawyers criticized Charney for relying on and referring to that testimony in his amended complaint.

Leonard also reports that Grinberg, who was placed on paid leave by S&C, is no longer listed on the firm website.

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A reader e-mails:

please do a post of shearman’s pathetic clerkship bonus, currently at $15,000!!!!!!!

Okay, you got our attention with the seven exclamation points.
Lat posted a clerkship bonus List o’ Shame last week that featured the top firms below the new standard of $50k:
1. Wachtell ($0)
8. Latham ($35k) [see update on Latham here]
10. Kirkland ($35k)
11. Covington ($35k outside NY)
14. Wilmer ($35k)
15. Shearman ($15k)
16. Sidley ($35k)
17. Williams & Connolly ($25k)
18. Gibson ($35k)
19. Arnold ($15k $35k)
20. OMM ($35k)
22. Jones Day ($35k)
23. MoFo ($35k)
24. Hogan ($35k)
25. Ropes & Gray ($35K outside NY but $70K for 2yr clerkship)
Shearman has really separated itself from the pack — and not in a good way. Again, the list above is itself a list of shame, so that $15k is really eye-catching. What gives?
Administrative note: The power just went out in our “office,” so in the grand tradition of ATL office hours, we’re hanging out at the Panera Bread in Greystone, Alabama. We trust we’ll be swamped with visitors soon!

Yet another article on unhappy lawyers: This time it’s from the UK, where it seems the legal profession has lost its “lustre.”

Nearly a quarter of you want to quit. In a desperately competitive recruitment market, that’s just about the last thing law firm managers need to hear.
Shocking? Yes. Not many apparently sought-after professions have a quarter of their members wanting to quit. The whole issue of work-life balance has now, surely, reached a tipping point – and not just for overworked associates who are looking for a way out.
Thirty one per cent of associates would like to leave the law; 20 per cent of partners would happily quit; 22 per cent of barristers fancy a change; and a hefty 29 per cent of in-house counsel would like a life outside the law.

There’s more on the survey from the Financial Times, which notes that UK salaries have gone up by 15 percent or more recently.
Meanwhile, in India, young lawyers are disillusioned by a cumbersome litigation system, with its “interminable procedural delays” and outright drudgery: “Many young lawyers complained that they only ended up carrying briefs for the senior counsels during their stint.”
Lawyers bitching about their jobs: the universal language.

question mark Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAre WilmerHale summer associates missing out on the salary bump? Wilmer recently raised first-year salaries to $160,000, and you’d think the firm’s summers would be earning that salary as well. But maybe not. Here’s a disgruntled e-mail from a current WilmerHale summer:

I hope that this is tip-worthy – because it certainly is a topic of hot discussion amongst the Boston summers I know, and I’m curious what is going on at other firms… So here goes:

So I am a summer associate at WilmerHale in Boston. And as abovethelaw knows, after the big, drawn out jumping-of-Boston-firms to match Ropes at 160,000, Wilmer finally caved and went up as well. Now, for whatever reason, the general consensus among the summers is that we’ve been led to believe that the salary hike for associates applies to the weekly rate that summers are paid as well (meaning we should be getting 3100 per week). Wilmer said that the salary raise was effective June 1st.

Lo, however, the WilmerHale Boston summers have received 2 paychecks since then, and both have continued paying the 2800 a week.

More analysis from our WilmerHale contact, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “WilmerHale Summers: “Where’s Our Raise?””

There are words you hope never to have to use in a legal representation, and surely many of them involve attire for the nether regions. To “thong” and “codpiece,” we can certainly add “diaper.” The attorney for Lisa Nowak, the country’s most notorious amorous astronaut, had to do just that, however, as he denied one of the most salacious tidbits of that sordid scandal:

“The biggest lie in this preposterous tale that has been told is that my client drove from Houston, Texas, to Orlando, Florida, nonstop, wearing a diaper,” Donald Lykkebak said after filing motions to suppress evidence in Nowak’s criminal case. “That is an absolute fabrication.”
There were toddler-size diapers in her car when she was arrested, but they were several years old, Lykkebak said. Nowak and her family had used them when Houston was evacuated in 2005 during Hurricane Rita, he said. Lykkebak didn’t say why he waited until now to dispute the police report.

So when he said that “Nowak and her family had used them,” did he mean that they had really, like, used them? We’re still confused, but in any event, our heart goes out to Mr. Lykkebak for even having to address this.

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Two attorneys were reportedly kidnapped after leaving a nightclub in Atlanta Saturday night. They were found unharmed after one wrote a text message to his brother.

David Deganian, 26, and a friend, Herman Hoying, 28, stayed behind to pay a bar tab as everyone started to leave around 2:30 a.m., Arman Deganian said.
But David Deganian and Hoying never made it to the house. The truck they had arrived in was missing when Arman Deganian went out to look for his brother after receiving the text message.
Atlanta police issued a news release saying the two men were missing.
But by Sunday afternoon, Atlanta police had two men in custody. They were arrested in a store in southwest Atlanta when police say they used a credit card from one of the missing men, Arman Deganian said.

Text messages: Literally life-saving!
You wouldn’t think it from the image shown here, but Herman Hoying (the one on the left) is an associate at King & Spalding, the venerable Atlanta firm. Check out the picture on the firm’s site — Herman cleans up well!
We wonder: How much ransom would K&S have paid to get Hoying back?
Update: Herman Hoying has a nice comment below:

I want to acknowledge the amazing work of both the Atlanta Police Department and SunTrust Bank, who worked together to quite literally save our lives. They did amazing work.

We’re glad everyone is safe.

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