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wesley snipes above the law above the law atl atl.GIFAnd aficionados of direct-to-video movies rejoice. UPI reports:

Hollywood actor Wesley Snipes will avoid any time in jail on tax fraud charges as part of a recent settlement with the Internal Revenue Service.

The 44-year-old star of the “Blade” film trilogy had been wanted in connection with his attempt to claim $12 million in tax refunds in 1996 and 1997, but worked out a deal that helped him avoid jail while setting up a payment plan, Daily Variety said.

So if you were hoping to hear about Snipes demonstrating his martial arts abilities on Bernie Ebbers, Jeff Skilling, and Walter Forbes, we’re sorry to disappoint you.
(But Snipes getting off without a prison sentence shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Or at least it doesn’t to Ted Frank, who predicted as much last month.)
Snipes Avoids Jail Time with IRS Settlement [UPI]
Snipes Settles with IRS [Variety]
Snipes Settles Tax Fraud Charges, Will Avoid Jail Time [TaxProf Blog]
Earlier: White Men Can’t Jump — But They Can Nab You for Tax Evasion

new jersey strong survive above the law atl.JPGIn the wake of the Dewey/Orrick and Thelen Reid/Brown Raysman announcements, here’s news of yet another law firm merger. But this one is a bit smaller than the last two:

One of New Jersey’s oldest and largest firms, Pitney Hardin, is merging with Connecticut’s biggest, Day, Berry & Howard, to create a 395-lawyer power with branches ranging from Boston to Washington, D.C.

The new firm, to be known as Day Pitney, will come into being at year end.

The amalgamation reflects both firms’ need to compete in a market that is becoming increasingly regional, in which practices restricted to individual states can no longer thrive. It mirrors similar moves by McCarter & English, which has joined with practices in Hartford and Boston.

One of you wasn’t so sure Above the Law would deign to cover this:

It’s not really so newsworthy for your site, because New Jersey and Connecticut firms can never really be Big Firms, no matter how many people they stick in their New York offices, and even if they hold hands together to become a larger firm. But as an alum of one of the two firms, I was moved and figured you should know.

But we HAVE written about the merger, because we DO care (and we hail from the Garden State). We’re just a little late, that’s all — the news broke on Wednesday.
To atone for our tardiness, we pass along an insider’s detailed analysis of the Day Berry/Pitney Hardin merger. Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Merger Mania: Pitney Hardin, Day Berry”

* Great, now Chuck Norris is a blogger. I quit. [World Net]
* Melvin and Howard 2: This Time, It’s in Federal Court [MSNBC]
* Some people are born federalists. [MSNBC]
* Wonder what happens to all that March Madness pool money? [TaxProf]
* When high school meets intellectual property. [AP]

tube metal sheet tube above the law above the law above the law atl atl atl.jpgMove over, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer. There’s a new “Tube” case on the block.
YouTube is being sued — but not by a company asserting a copyright claim. From the AP:

A company that shut down its Web site because it was overwhelmed by millions of people looking for YouTube has sued the online video-sharing portal.

Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corp. said the cost of hosting its Web site — utube.com — has grown significantly in the last two months. “We’ve had to move our site five times in an effort to stay ahead of the youtube.com visitors,” said Ralph Girkins, Universal Tube’s president.

The lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court, asks that YouTube Inc. stop using the youtube.com or pay Universal Tube’s cost for creating a new domain. It did not specify damages.

So Universal Tube, seller of used tube-making machines, expects YouTube, about to be acquired by Google for $1.65 billion, to relinquish one of the most well-trafficked web addresses on the internet? We don’t think so. They would much rather pay Universal Tube the $8.99 it would cost to register a new domain name at GoDaddy.com.
We haven’t read the complaint, and we profess no expertise in this area of law. But the lawsuit strikes us as… odd. What’s the cause of action here? It doesn’t seem like a conventional trademark or cybersquatting case, since presumably (1) YouTube has a valid trademark in YouTube, and (2) it properly occupies the domain name YouTube.com. If you’re familiar with this case, please enlighten us, in the comments or by email.
Update: Check out this enlightening comment, which addresses some of our questions.
One more thing. Why doesn’t Universal Tube make lemonade out of these cyber-lemons? Again from the AP:

The confusion took off a couple of months ago, [company president Ralph] Girkins said. The company, with just 17 employees, got 68 million hits on its site in August, making it one of the most popular manufacturing Web sites.

Sixty-eight million hits a month? People would KILL for traffic like that. Why not slap up a few paid third-party advertisements on UTube.com, to monetize some of that monster traffic, and use the ad revenues to beef up your capacity? Or cover UTube.com almost entirely with ads, move the operations of Universal Tube to an entirely separate website, and put up a prominent link on UTube.com referring confused customers to your new site?
Just wondering…
Ohio Company Utube.com Sues YouTube [Associated Press via WSJ Law Blog]

* If it’s about avoiding an intimidating environment, there should be a “No Hot People” rule. What’s wrong with grunting if it doesn’t involve intermittent moaning? [Althouse (prior ATL post here)]
* Professor Le comments on a recent Northwestern University study of different ethnic groups’ views of affirmative action. Sometimes things are black and white. Or Asian and Hispanic. More or less. [C.N. Le: The Man, the Myth, the Blog]
* My advice for post-exam conferences if you’ve bombed the exam: Wear something tight, or learn to cry on cue. (No hate-mail, please… this is gender-neutral advice. And a joke.) [PrawfsBlawg]
* Disclaimer: Rape is never funny. But here, it provides the context for the all-too-frequent absurdity of classroom dialogue and the unfortunate extension of said absurdity into the real world legal system. [Quizlaw]
* It’s not like she mooned the President. Geez. [AP via MSNBC]

bono above the law above the law above the law atl atl atl.JPGNamely, a nation in which U2 can pay zero in taxes on its songwriting royalties.
But he’s certainly getting closer. From Slate (via TaxProf Blog):

A familiar paradox about leftist celebrities in the entertainment industry is that their embrace of progressivism almost never includes a wholehearted embrace of progressive taxation, i.e., the principle that the richer you get, the larger the percentage of your income you ought to pay in taxes.

The latest example is U2′s Bono, a committed and unusually sophisticated anti-poverty crusader, who is taking surprisingly little heat for the decision by his band, U2, to relocate its music-publishing business from Ireland to the Netherlands in order to shelter its songwriting royalties from taxation.

The difference in taxation regimes is worth millions to Bono and his bandmates:

After Ireland said it would scrap a break that lets musicians and artists avoid paying taxes on royalties, Bono and his U2 bandmates earlier this year moved their music publishing company to the Netherlands. The Dublin group, which Forbes estimates earned $110 million in 2005, will pay about 5 percent tax on their royalties, less than half the Irish rate.

But, just as there is with pretty much every legal and policy issue, there’s a counterargument. Check out some of the comments over at TaxProf Blog:

“The fallacy in the argument that Bono is a hypocrite for avoiding Irish income taxes is the assumption that the Irish government can do more good with the money than Bono can.”

“The subtext — political progressives should leave tax dollars on the table, rather than take advantage of planning opportunities?”

Okay, that’s more than enough substance for an ATL post. Did we tell you about our Bono sighting in New York a few weeks ago? It was the highlight of the hour-and-a-half we spent waiting for a table at The Spotted Pig (which was shorter than the two-hour wait we were quoted, and worth it).
Bono, of course, did not have to wait for a table. And we’re fine with that. We love celebrities!!!
Bono, Tax Avoider [Slate]
Slate: Bono, Tax Avoider; The Hypocrisy of U2 [TaxProf Blog]
Bono, Preacher on Poverty, Tarnishes Halo With Irish Tax Move [Bloomberg]

musical chairs above the law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFToday’s big move is from the government to the private sector:
* Renowned Enron prosecutor Sean Berkowitz, to the Chicago office of Latham & Watkins. The much-anticipated move took place after the young legal superstar was wooed by many other top firms. Berkowitz will be an equity partner at Latham, where profits per partner clock in at $1.6 million — at least ten times what he earned as an AUSA.
(Berkowitz, you may recall, was dating financial reporter Bethany McLean, who covered the Enron trial for Fortune magazine. Anyone know whether they are still an item — and if so, how serious? Partner profits are great for buying engagement rings.)
The boom in white-collar criminal prosecutions has created lots of job opportunities for government lawyers. Another notable move: former SEC lawyer David Mittelman, headed for the San Francisco office of Reed Smith.
New Partners:
* Cleary Gottlieb, aka Clearly Goatlips — we hadn’t heard that one before, it’s a good one — names eight new partners and six new counsel. No word on whether a swimming test was required.
Here’s the firm’s press release. See if you know any of these soon-to-be millionaires.
Lateral Moves:
* Patent prosecutrix Margaret Brivanlou, to King & Spalding (NY), from Jones Day. (She joined Jones Day when it gobbled up much of what had been IP boutique Pennie & Edmonds.)
* Litigator Daniel Murdock, to Fulbright & Jaworski (NY), from Winston & Strawn (where he formerly chaired the New York litigation practice).
New Firm:
* Charles Ross, former head of the white-collar practice at Herrick Feinstein, has left to start his own firm. Charles A. Ross & Associates will handle criminal defense and some civil cases. Ross is also a former law partner of the Diddy-defending Benjmain Brafman, go-to guy for celebrities with legal problems.
Cleary Gottlieb Announces 14 New Partners and Counsel Worldwide [Cleary Gottlieb]
Enron Prosecutor Berkowitz Joins Latham & Watkins [WSJ Law Blog]
Firm Nabs SEC Attorney [NYLawyer.com]

supreme court 2006.jpgYou may recall our recent Above the Law reader polls for Most Favorite Supreme Court Justice and Least Favorite Supreme Court Justice. The results of those polls are available here and here, respectively.
One of you had an interesting suggestion: Combine the results of the two polls to generate “net popularity scores” for the justices. These scores, combining measures of how much each justice is liked and disliked, could be viewed as measuring “overall” popularity.
We thought it would be interesting to see the results, so we went ahead and did this. We took the percentage of the vote each justice received in the “Most Favorite” poll, then subtracted from it the percentage of the vote received in the “Least Favorite” poll. We labeled the result the justice’s “Net Popularity Score” (NPS).
Here are the results of this number-crunching, with the justices ranked by NPS, from highest to lowest:
net popularity score 2.jpg
A few quick thoughts:
1. The rankings strike us as decent measures of overall popularity. Two of the top three finishers are favorites of their respective ideological wings. Justice Scalia, a cult figure among conservatives, comes in first; Justice Stevens, a hero of the liberals, places third.
2. The Chief is like Sara Lee: Nobody doesn’t like him. He got zero percent of the votes in the “Least Favorite” poll (just 24 votes out of 6,290). And, presumably due to his good looks and great resume — since he doesn’t have many opinions to be judged by yet — he won 16 percent of the “Most Favorite” vote. This gave him an NPS of 16, almost enough to beat Nino.
3. The next three justices — Justices Breyer, Thomas, and Alito — have net popularity scores close to zero. This makes sense too: as jurists, they don’t excite grand passion (even if Justice Thomas, prior to his confirmation, was a controversial figure).
4. Justice Alito, a fairly low-key personality, earns a “perfect” score of zero. Two percent of voters picked him as their favorite; two percent picked him as their least favorite. He’s like The Justice Who Wasn’t There (although, in fairness to Justice Alito, he’s too new to the bench to have made many enemies or fans).
5. Three justices have negative net popularity scores: Justices Kennedy, Souter, and Ginsburg. Their negative scores may have been affected by the fact that the voter pool in the “Least Favorite Justice” pool skewed to the right (thanks in large part to an Instapundit link).
6. As for why Justice Ginsburg attracted such a high percentage of the “least favorite” votes, Ann Althouse — and her commenters — have some interesting thoughts on the matter.
Earlier: ATL Poll Results: Your LEAST Favorite Supreme Court Justice
ATL Poll Results: Your Favorite Supreme Court Justice

beggar with dog.jpgThis is the continuation of an interview horror story that we started earlier. You can read the prior installment here.
When we last left our hero, an applicant for a lateral position at a top Silicon Valley law firm, he had just said a bunch of completely boneheaded things at an interview lunch with two associates. Here’s what happened next:

[C]omfortable with our friendliness, the interviewee asked us whether he should make follow-up contact with the four other Biglaw firms who had interviewed him last month.

Obviously, this question is wrong on so many levels:

1. He’s asking us advice about getting a job with competitors;
2. He’s just informed us that four other BigLaws have passed on him;
3. Those other firms passed on him probably because he acted like this with their interviewers as well, thus showing an inability to learn from his mistakes; and
4. He didn’t have the judgment to realize points 1 through 3.

My friend, a far kinder person than I, attempted to formulate an answer. I told him firmly that he should not, and headed to the restroom.

Frighteningly enough, this isn’t the end of the story. It gets even worse:

When I returned to the table, my friend was repeatedly telling the candidate, “I’m sorry about your situation. I’m really really sorry.” After we drove back to the office and the candidate left, my friend pulled me aside and freaked out.

Apparently, while I was in the restroom, my friend was trying to console the candidate, telling him that it sounded like he got a raw deal. The candidate replied: “Well, YOU can make it right. Please give me a job. Please! Please!”

He literally begged for a position. My friend was trying to calm him down when I returned to the table.

Then Sally Struthers showed up and told the two associates: “All it takes to redeem this associate from a life of public-interest law poverty is $150,000 a year. For the cost of just two venti caramel frappuccinos, you could pay his dry cleaning bill for a day. Your decision about whether to give this applicant a good write-up could determine his tax bracket for the year. Please act now!”
Surprisingly enough, this story has a happy ending:

According to the state bar website, the candidate eventually did get a position at a decent MidLaw. Thus, if there is a silver lining to this, it’s that even begging, pathetic schmos can get hired somewhere so long as they passed the Bar.

Earlier: Interview Horror Stories: Don’t Make Him Beg (Part 1)

no swimming sign no diving Aquagirl Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgIf you haven’t already done so, we recommend that you read this article (and not just ’cause we’re featured in it). It’s entitled Scuttlebutt Central, by Stephanie Francis Ward, and it’s from the November 2006 issue of the ABA Journal.
The piece is a fun and interesting read; check it out for yourself. We’ll just comment on one passage that caught our eye:

A Washington, D.C., corporate associate who asked to remain anonymous admits to reading legal gossip blogs daily — a habit he says isn’t unusual among his peers.

“There’s an allure of some of these stories — like the summer associate in New York who took off her clothes and jumped into the Hudson River — so there’s sort of a universal appeal,” he says.

Allow us to supplement the record. According to various reports, the summer associate in question was at the venerable firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. The incident took place at a charity benefit held at the Chelsea Piers sports and entertainment complex. It turned out to be a fairly big deal because the SA had to be fished out of the river (either by the Coast Guard or an NYPD police boat).
We’re not sure if she ended up getting an offer. But given what a summer associate has to do NOT to get an offer — e.g., first- or second-degree murder (manslaughter, no big deal) — we wouldn’t be surprised if she did.
More juicy details here and here.
Scuttlebutt Central: Legal gossip blogs appeal to a nation of associates hungry for the local scoop [ABA Journal]
Summer Stories [What's Up With Wake Law?]
Summer Associates [CU bLAWg]

legal eagle wedding watch david lat above the law legal blog law blog david lat david lat atl.JPGOn the heels of the robust lawyer wedding market over October 21-22, last weekend delivered another bumper crop of attorney nuptials. We picked three couples to write about, per our standard procedure. But there were many others that would have been equally suitable for review.
Three of the wedding announcements that we almost wrote about illustrate an interesting trend: mentioning past employment positions. Typically this is done only if the former post is a big deal — e.g., a Supreme Court clerkship, an ambassadorship, etc. But in three announcements — Lucy Fowler and Travis Glasson, Liora Powers and Steven Spiess, and Robyn Sorid and Joshua Ufberg — past jobs of the bride were mentioned, despite not being exceptionally notable.
(Fowler, Powers, and Sorid were, respectively, former associates at Foley Hoag, Schulte Roth & Zabel, and Paul Weiss. These are all prestigious gigs; but none is on the level of a SCOTUS clerkship or an ambassadorship.)
Sorry for the digression; on to the business at hand. Here are the couples in contention this week:

1. Leanne Abrams, Brandon Bortner

2. Aileen McGrath, Jason Gillenwater

3. Marjorie Zauderer, David Griffel

Ratings and reviews appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch: October 29, 2006″

beggar with dog.jpgAnother interview horror story from the West Coast (just like our last two). And this one is a real gem. Here you go:

Back when I was a junior associate at a BigLaw in Silicon Valley, a colleague of mine grabbed me to take a candidate to an interview lunch. My colleague had heard through the alumni grapevine that this candidate was, well, a character.

Now, this was during the Tech Bubble Burst, when certain BigLaws were laying off associates but calling it “thinning the herd.” The candidate was from one of those firms, which usually would’ve been a death knell. But apparently he did well enough with my other colleagues that they gave him a lukewarm approval, and he had a pretty good resume.

Generally, I try to be friendly during interviews — candidates tend to let down their guard that way. It’s a good thing that I was.

After engaging in small talk, I mentioned that he had a lot of case management and motion experience for a junior associate according to his resume. Instead of hitting that soft pitch out of the park, he proceeded to tell my friend and me that his firm stuck him with a “dinosaur of a partner” that the firm didn’t know what to do with. This partner let him run with the case because it was pro bono and he “didn’t really care what happened.”

Things went really downhill from there. My friend asked him if he knew one of her friends that worked at the candidate’s current firm. He informed us that he didn’t because he kept mostly to himself at lunch.

Over the next hour, he proceeded to tell us that a certain partner at his firm was “a bitch,” that other associates stole his books, that he could take as long as he wanted for lunch because no one would miss him, and that he was leaving his current firm because he “didn’t have a future there.” My friend and I were stunned, feeling a mixture of pity and horror.

Pretty awful, eh? But it actually gets worse, and worse still.
Check back in later today, for the sequel to this sorry tale (wherein the meaning of the post title will be made clear).
Update: You can read the sequel by clicking here.
(Have an interview horror story of your own that you’d like to share? Please send it to us, by email. We will keep you anonymous, unless you request otherwise.)

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