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bingo Above the Law.jpg* This, this, and this from How Appealing on the race in public schools cases argued before the Supreme Court yesterday.
* And for the second straight day, someone blames their crime on bingo. [CNN]
* A “temporary” solution for being burned out on biglaw. [WSJ Law Blog]
* I guess this is kinda like the flip-side of using someone as a human shield. [CNN]
* Always get it in writing, especially when it comes to constitutions. [Jurist]

Taco Bell restaurant franchise Above the Law.jpgDon’t say we didn’t warn you.
Investigations are underway — and lawsuits can’t be far behind. And when the plaintiffs are ready to file suit, they can turn to law firms that actually specialize in E. coli litigation.
Take, for example, Marler Clark, which touts itself as “the nation’s foremost law firm with a practice dedicated to representing victims of food poisoning.” They run the E. coli Blog, which charts outbreaks of the bacteria and litigation related thereto. Who knew?
E. coli in N.J. is linked to Taco Bell [Associated Press]
E. Coli Outbreak Hits L.I.; 8 Taco Bells Closed [CBS/AP]
Taco Bell E. coli Update [E. coli Blog]
Marler Clark [law firm website]
Marler Clark Makes Hay Out of Tainted Spinach [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: It’s Not Just Burger King

Capitol building Above the Law Legal Blog 2.JPGVia Howard Bashman, we learned of the cancellation of tomorrow’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. This piqued our curiosity: What was the hearing for, and why was it canceled?
So we did a little poking around. We learned that the SJC was planning to hold confirmation hearings for an “unspecified handful of district court nominees.” But since these nominations “were going nowhere fast,” in the final week of the 109th Congress, the cancellation is really “no big deal.”
Meanwhile, in other nomination-related news, Sean Rushton — executive director of the Committee for Justice, which crosses swords with Nan Aron “promotes constitutionalist judicial nominees” — is stepping down. He’s leaving for a position with the Bush Administration.
Rushton will be replaced by Curt Levey, who has served as CFJ’s general counsel since the summer of 2005 (and who also blogs over at ConfirmThem, an excellent source of nomination news and gossip). Congratulations to Curt on his new position!
NOTICE OF COMMITTEE HEARING CANCELLATION [Senate Judiciary Committee via How Appealing]
Changes at CFJ [Confirm Them]
CFJ Announces Curt Levey as Executive Director [Committee for Justice]

* For those of you who prefer oral, a new service. For free. [Robert Ambrogi’s Lawsites]
* If you’ve never believed in God, now is the time to believe in Judgment Day. [The Notion]
* The very funny and talented Melissa Lafsky, aka Opinionista, will now be writing for Eat the Press, the HuffPo fiefdom of another lawyer-turned-writer, Rachel Sklar. We wish Melissa well! [Eat the Press / Huffington Post]
(And may we note Melissa’s passing resemblance to hot SVU detective, and genetically blessed daughter of Jayne Mansfield, Mariska Hargitay.)
* A consumer takes on a computer behometh. Today a kiosk, tomorrow the fame and fortune of the “Dude, you’re getting a Dell!” guy. [Newark Star-Ledger]

In response to this post — about the low partnership rate for minority lawyers at large law firms, the subject of a recent New York Times piece — an ATL commenter wrote:

[UCLA law professor Richard] Sander relies too heavily upon grades as predictors of law firm performance. All of us know scores of brilliant law students who turn out to be terrible lawyers — because they lack social skills, common sense, etc. These people go on to become law professors.

If you’d like to read an entire article devoted to this rather banal proposition — namely, that partnership decisions aren’t based on how well a lawyer did back in law school — click here.*
So Jonathan Glater’s Week in Review piece may not be terribly interesting or amusing. But check out some of the reader comments on Adam Liptak’s original article; a few are real winners. Like this one:

I am sixty years old, and have gone to Law School with Blacks and think the proiblem is simple.

Blacks have lower standards for being accepted at law schools…. Then, while in Law School, my impression was that less was expected oif [sic] Black students while in Law School. Finally, when they are recruited, they are recruited to fill a quota or some diversity goal at the firm or company.

Blacks for a variety of reasons have not had the cultural background to develop as fully as they one day will….

Those Blacks — with whom we are quite familiar, since we went to Law School with them — just don’t have the “cultural background” to succeed in Biglaw. Clients and judges have such a hard time understanding Ebonics….**
* Yes, we’re being a bit glib. There’s an issue of causation versus correlation here. Obviously partners aren’t picked because they did well back in law school (which is the straw man that Glater’s piece knocks down).
But law school performance may correlate with certain skills that ARE the basis for partnership decisions. Professor Sander cites research showing a correlation between law school grades and how long lawyers remain at a firm. This in turn correlates with how many lawyers make partner, given the usual “up or out” system at most big firms. (But ATL is not the ideal forum for getting down into the academic weeds on this subject, so we will stop here.)
** We are NOT saying that anyone who subscribes to Professor Sander’s theory — which is supported by a wealth of research and data — is “racist.” We just think this particular commenter expressed himself rather inelegantly, that’s all.
Straight ‘A’ Student? Good Luck Making Partner [New York Times]
Lawyers Debate Why Blacks Lag at Major Firms [New York Times]
Earlier: How Long Will It Take…

musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFLaw Firm Mergers:
* One of Seattle’s top firms, Davis Wright Tremaine, is acquiring D.C-based Cole, Raywid & Braverman, a telecom boutique with 35 lawyers. The acquisition will be effective on January 1.
Lateral Moves:
* Intellectual property/M&A lawyer Leonard Jacoby, to Cleary Gottlieb, from Wilson Sonsini. Jacoby’s practice focuses on IP issues related to mergers and acquisitions — a nice speciality to be in these days.
* IP lawyers David Bloch and Becky Troutman, to Winston & Strawn, from McDermott, Will & Emery and Thelen Reid & Priest, respectively.
(Thelen Reid, you’ll recall, is merging with Brown Raysman.)
New Partners:
* Kirkland & Ellis, which was recently named “USA Law Firm of the Year” by Chambers & Partners — congratulations! — has named 64 (!) new partners. Names here.
(We’re guessing that most, if not all, are non-equity partners.)
* Preston Gates & Ellis — the “Gates” in the firm name is Bill Gates’s dad — has named 15 new partners. Names here.
(One of them, the brilliant Theodore Angelis, is a law school classmate of ours. Congrats, Theo!)
* Milbank Tweed has named six new partners. Names here.
Davis Wright, Cole Raywid Set to Merge [Legal Times]
NY Partner Switches Firms [NYLawyer.com]
NY Associates Making Partner [NYLawyer.com]
Left-Coast Lawyers On the Move [NYLawyer.com]
Kirkland & Ellis LLP Appoints 64 New Partners [Kirkland & Ellis]
Preston Gates & Ellis LLP Names 15 New Partners [Preston Gates & Ellis]
Milbank Elects Six Attorneys to Partnership [Milbank Tweed]

letter writing.jpgIt has been forever since the last edition of Advice for the Lawlame. In this feature, we take a question submitted to one of NYLawyer.com’s popular advice columns, such as “Advice for the Lawlorn,” and offer our own unique take.
Here’s the condensed version of today’s question:

I am a mentor in my firm to a couple of younger lawyers. My problem is that one talks to me too much about personal issues.

A sticky situation. When you’re a partner, she’s an associate, and you’re having conversations about that “not-so-fresh feeling,” you know it’s time to redefine the parameters of your relationship.
The complete version of this question, plus our “advice” — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Advice for the Lawlame: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”

William Wilkins William W Wilkins Jr Billy Wilkins.JPGLast week was a busy one in legal news, so we apologize for our tardiness in bringing you this news. As first reported at the South Carolina Appellate Law Blog, and later picked up by The State, Chief Judge William Wilkins is retiring as chief judge of the Fourth Circuit.

William “Billy” Wilkins of Greenville is stepping down as chief judge of the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a position he has held since 2003….

Wilkins, 64, in a prepared statement Thursday afternoon said he had notified President Bush of his decision to step down effective July 1, 2007.

“It’s time to move on,” he said.

The obvious questions. First, who will replace him as Chief Judge?

Under federal seniority rules, his successor would be Karen Williams of Orangeburg, who would become the first woman to hold that position in the circuit. Williams, 55, is the next senior judge younger than 65.

Karen Williams Karen J Williams Above the Law.jpgJudge Williams, you may recall, is a judicial hottie, described by the New York Times as “a tall, slender woman with delicate features and a regal carriage.” Rumored to have both a private plane and a personal shopper, the stylish Judge Williams is known around her hometown of Orangeburg as “Miss Karen.”
(Yes, she’s married. But as a fellow South Carolina native explains, “the first thing one must learn about Orangeburg is that every woman is referred to as Miss,” regardless of her marital status.)
And who might be nominated to the Fourth Circuit to fill the new vacancy on the court? Some speculation appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chief Judge Wilkins Makes Way for “Miss Karen””

stack of bills cash money.jpgChristmas is just three short weeks away. Biglaw partners are making their lists, checking them twice, and doling out cash to all associates who are nice.
But no big bonus news has broken yet. We’ve stopped by the message boards, and they’re relatively quiet. There is a rumor going around that a top five firm has made an announcement, but nobody has seen a memo. Nor has the firm in question been named. So we have our doubts.
For those of you waiting to hear about the gargantuan bonuses of investment bankers, so you can be filled with feelings of inferiority and self-loathing, there has been no news on that front either. For our big brother’s latest coverage of Wall Street bonuses, click here.
We reiterate our request for news and gossip about law firm associate bonuses. Please send your tips to us by email (tips AT abovethelaw DOT com, subject line: “Associate Bonus Watch”).
(To those of you who are especially paranoid about getting in trouble for leaking information to us, here’s an alternative, “Deep Throat” approach. If you have info to share, send us an email from your non-work account, with a telephone number where you can be reached. Then we’ll call you to get the scoop. There will be no record of our conversation, and nobody will know what we discussed — with the possible exception of the NSA.)
Bonuses ARE out… but… [Infirmation]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of bonuses (scroll down)

Melinda Harmon Judge Melinda Harmon Above the Law.jpgPeople pay attention to a judge’s reversal rate — how often that jurist gets reversed by a higher court. And a high reversal rate is usually regarded as “not a good thing.”
But we kinda admire judges who aren’t overly concerned with their reversal rate. We respect judges who are willing to go out on a limb, who aren’t afraid to take the law in new and interesting directions — no matter what the folks upstairs might think. Such judges play a key role in the evolution and clarification of the law.*
Some of you might criticize such an envelope-pushing approach to judging as improper, even “lawless.” But here at ATL, we call it entertaining!
Meet Judge Melinda Harmon (S.D. Tex.). She’s the trial judge responsible for the jury instructions in the Arthur Andersen prosecution, which the Supreme Court didn’t like so much. And now she’s handed down another interesting ruling:

In a decision that she conceded flies in the face of previous rulings by other courts, a federal judge in Houston has ordered the law firm of William S. Lerach, a leading class-action lawyer, to pay the legal fees and costs of a company he sued.

The company, Alliance Capital, a money management firm, was sued by Mr. Lerach’s firm as part of a large Enron class-action case. The lawsuit argued that Alliance should be held responsible for the Enron fraud because an Alliance official was also a director of Enron.

The federal rules permit awards of fees and costs. But these are usually paid by the parties, NOT by their law firms.
More about this groundbreaking ruling, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Melinda Harmon”

Orrin Hatch Orrin G Hatch Orrin Grant Hatch Above the Law.jpgThe Legal Times is wondering about the Senate committee plans of Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). They speculate that he might take over the Antitrust Subcommittee of the judiciary panel.
But as we previously reported, Hatch is actually leaving the Senate Judiciary Committee altogether. And now other sources, from the mainstream media, are repeating what we told you last week.
Update (12/14/06): Actually, this did not come to pass. Senator Hatch ended up staying on Judiciary.
As for the second big SJC story we wrote about on Friday, concerning a possible investigation into the DOJ’s Civil Rights division, we expect to have more details in the near future. So check back again soon.
Hatching a Plan?: Hatch Looking for a Committee to Lead [Legal Times]
Earmaking Kansas [American Spectator]
Assessing Roberts’ re-election prospects [Lawrence Journal-World, Lawrence, KS]
Earlier: Juicy News from the Senate Judiciary Committee

supreme court hallway.jpgIn about fifteen minutes, the Supreme Court will start hearing oral argument in two big-ticket cases about the use of race as a factor in assigning students to public schools. One case comes from Louisville, Kentucky, and the other from Seattle, Washington.
Expect a packed courtroom — the cases are sexy enough to merit same-day audio — and some less-than-stellar advocacy. From Tony Mauro of the Legal Times:

[T]he suspense will [also] focus on Teddy Gordon, the Louisville solo practitioner who will argue against using race. His nine-page merits brief was attacked as “extremely weak” by Columbia Law School professor Michael Dorf, a former clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy who wondered in a Findlaw column why Gordon should be allowed to “waste everybody’s time” at argument.

The Court may feel the same way. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who sides with Gordon, asked for 10 minutes of Gordon’s half-hour argument time. The Court gave Clement 15 instead, an unusual move. Top practitioners could not persuade Gordon, who has handled the case since 1999, to step aside.

Ouch. At that point, Gordon should have taken the hint. But then again, he can’t be blamed for wanting to tell his grandkids that he once argued before the SCOTUS.

[A spokeswoman for Gordon] acknowledges that he “has never been inside the [Supreme Court] building,” but adds that he did buy a suit for the occasion “from the famous French designer Jacques Penney.”

If that was a joke, it wasn’t funny.
(Yes, we know that David Boies used to wear Sears suits to court — which is almost as bad as wearing J.C. Penney. But that’s David Boies.)
Schoolyard Bullies: Landmark Race Cases Come Before High Court [Legal Times]
Chief Justice Roberts Advocates the Passive Virtues, Even as the Supreme Court’s Docket Reveals their Subtle Vices [FindLaw]
Schools argument 12/4/06: Could this be “Brown III”? [SCOTUSblog]

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