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* BP has its granny panties in a bunch over Transocean’s liability for the oil spill. So they’re suing. [Bloomberg]

* Major League Baseball sought to take over the Dodgers from Frank McCourt yesterday. Your move, Wilpon. [Los Angeles Times]

* Tax Lady Roni DEUTCH may be thrown in jail. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in this video, but definitely wait for the thrown dog. [ABA Journal]

* Juvenile killers are hoping to reach the Supreme Court in an effort to overturn their life sentences. If their cases make it that far, they’ll undoubtedly find a certain justice who only cares about inferior MP3 players and Emilio Estefan. [New York Times]

* Something called the Second Amendment Foundation has sued Massachusetts over their law forbidding legal immigrants from owning handguns. Crocodile Dundee didn’t need a handgun. [Fox News Latino]

The law firm of Vinson & Elkins, one of Texas’s top shops, once represented Enron. I was reminded of this fact in trying to write up V&E’s bonus news (year-end bonuses and spring bonuses, which the firm just announced). Lawyers at Vinson & Elkins seem to thrive on complexity — in the service of hiding what’s really going on with respect to money matters.

Trying to get a grasp on the V&E compensation system gave me a splitting headache. Unfortunately, because the firm plays such an important role in setting compensation for the Texas legal market, attention must be paid.

So let’s discuss the just-announced V&E spring bonuses, as well as the 2010 year-end bonuses that were announced in January 2011, and try to figure out what the heck is going on down there….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Vinson & Elkins Gives Me A Headache Takes Spring Bonuses to Texas”

* I thought the four magic words for women lawyers were: “you still have time,” but apparently this is what they need to hear. [Forbes/She Negotiates via Legal Blog Watch]

* Samuel Alito’s mere existence is making it difficult for women to protect their reproductive rights. [Slate]

* Taco Bell presses its advantage and is now looking for an apology. Look, I thought the lawsuit against the company was stupid, but they sell food for 89 cents, it’s not unbelievably offensive that somebody would question its ingredients. [WSJ Law Blog]

* After a contentious process, Case Western Reserve Law has a new dean. Can I make a suggestion? Drop the “Western” and certainly the “Reserve” from your name. Just “Case,” it’s cleaner. I promise there’s a plus ten rankings bump in this for you. [Crain's Cleveland Business]

* Un-damage my rep. Say you’ll pay me some fees. Un-do the hurt that I did when I embarrassed myself on reality t.v. [ABA Journal]

* Women represent the fastest growing prison population. Apparently, the Chained Heat movies were total bullcrap. [National Geographic]

* Thanks to the Paul Clement’s defense of DOMA, all King & Spalding employees are barred from supporting the Respect for Marriage Act which overturn DOMA. Hopefully John Grisham will write a screenplay called Philadelphia 2 starring Tom Cruise as a closeted K&S attorney who is trying to escape from the firm. [MetroWeekly]


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You'll bump into more black people at the Indiana State Fair than you will at the Indy Law atrium.

If you had told me at the beginning of the week that something happening at Indiana School of Law – Indianapolis would turn into a three-day Above the Law story, I would have said, “No dude, I’m not going to race-bait the Jews during Passover.”

But it turns out that my powers of racial inflammation were not needed for this Indy Law story. A student writing as “Invisible Man” managed to stoke racial passions at the school simply by finding reverse racism where few others could: in the banners hanging in the law school’s atrium. Indy Law Dean Gary Roberts found the student’s objection essentially incomprehensible, but we haven’t actually seen the law school atrium, to judge for ourselves just how oppressive these banners of black people might be to the white students that make up 80% of the Indy Law student body.

Until now. Finally, tipsters send us photos of the atrium banners, to put this whole controversy into perspective. I hope you brought your magnifying glasses to work today…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Finally! Pictures of the Unwelcoming African-Americans at Indy Law”

[Lawyer Dennis] Gingold claims to have billed an astonishing 48,772 hours on this case—which works out to almost 9.5 hours a day, every day without a single day off, between November 4, 1995, and December 7, 2009. This includes a seven-year stretch where Mr. Gingold billed 28,230 hours—an average of eleven hours a day, every day seven days a week without a single day off.

As anyone who has had to keep billing records knows, it is rare for ten hours of billing to take only ten hours: there are bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, meal breaks, interruptions, and so forth. There are legendary accounts of tireless attorneys who forgo family and leisure; work on little sleep; and are able to regularly bill 3000 hours a year, but they are few and far between. Perhaps Mr. Gingold is one of these exceptional individuals, so far above average that he can routinely bill 4000 hours a year without loss of productivity or health, but this proposition merits scrutiny.

Ted Frank, founder of the Center for Class Action Fairness, in a brief objecting to the proposed $3.4 billion, taxpayer-funded Cobell Indian trust settlement. The settlement includes a fee request in which solo practitioner Dennis Gingold claims to have billed over 28,000 hours in seven years — at his hourly rate of $925 an hour.

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

Funny story: One day during my third year of law school, I overslept and missed an important session of my Sales class. The problem is, when I tried to get the notes for the class, the only one who had … pardon me? Yes, Sales. No, not UCC Sales. “Sales.” As in “How to Market and Sell Your Legal Services.” … So, anyway, the only one who had the notes … what’s that? You didn’t? Seriously? So how were you supposed to learn how to sell your services as a lawyer?

Turns out my story, which was going to be hysterical, was also completely fabricated. Like you, I didn’t learn a damned thing about sales in law school. But at the time (the early nineties), that seemed OK. It’s a profession, you see. Sales is for commerce. Lawyers aren’t in commerce; we’re in a vocation.

Yeah, right.

As the practice of law careens away from its eighteenth-century traditions, where clients just find you, lawyers today (and especially small-firm lawyers) need to rely on sales skills to bring in business. Since we didn’t learn these in law school, we have to rely on our natural sales ability. Unfortunately, lawyers tend not to have any.

In fact, as a group, we suck at sales. But the reason we suck will probably surprise you.…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Firms, Big Lawyers: Why Lawyers Suck at Sales”

Tyler Clementi (left) and Dharun Ravi (right)

They really threw the book at this kid.

Last September, Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, surreptitiously recorded and then broadcast footage of Clementi hooking up in his room with another man.

Clementi’s death touched off an important national conversation about the bullying of gay teens and the need to reach out to them so they don’t feel so isolated. If anything good can come from Clementi’s suicide, it will be to make people commit to helping gays and lesbians as they struggle through adolescence and young adulthood in sometimes hostile communities.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Tyler Clementi will be the only martyr for this cause. No, there are some people hellbent on making sure that another young life is effectively ruined, and some of those people work for the state of New Jersey.

Charges flowed out of the grand jury today for Clementi’s roommate and “tormentor,” Ravi. Based on the allegations in the indictment, you’d think Ravi had been running for the Republican nomination for President instead of acting like an 18-year-old college freshman…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Tyler Clementi’s Roommate, Dharun Ravi, Indicted on 15 Counts”

The Jones Street townhouses. Number 20 has the purple door.


As small-firm columnist Valerie Katz previously discussed, some partners at small law firms are worth big bucks. The only practicing lawyer in the Forbes 400 is a small-firm attorney, in fact.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some partners at small firms have big and beautiful wives homes. The New York Times recently featured one such lawyerly lair: a magnificent townhouse in Manhattan’s coveted West Village neighborhood, now on the market for almost $7.5 million.

The owner of this house once worked at a large law firm and is now a partner in a small law firm. Which firms?

Find out — and ogle photos of the palatial spread — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: An Attorney’s $7.5 Million Townhouse”

It’s been a while since I graduated from college, but isn’t there something special about this particular day on the calendar? I just can’t quite remember what’s so important about 4/20.

Well, according to this fun little headline, I’m not the only one with memory problems today: AFROMAN SUED ON 4/20: ‘Because I Got High’ Singer Sued For Forgetting About A Concert Date.

Ha ha. Let’s check out this “complaint” below. And if you don’t know who Afroman is, you’re in for a treat…

CORRECTION (1:30 PM): I initially thought this lawsuit was a joke. But according to Claudia Lyster, marketing manager for the two law firms bringing the action, “I want to assure you the lawsuit filed against Afroman this morning in Franklin County Municipal Court is very real. Here is a time-stamped copy of the Complaint.”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading Fake Lawsuit of the Day: It’s 4.20!”

Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

Every guy with a family feels the urge to pack a bag, get in the car, and drive. At least, sometimes.

A client told me that – a straight guy with kids. I don’t think it’s a straight thing, though. It might not be a guy thing, either. It can be a lawyer thing. Any lawyer with loans experiences the impulse to hit the highway.

When you’re “The Provider,” you do constant battle with the itch to hightail it out of town.

Who’s “The Provider”? It’s someone you morph into. A character from an Updike novel… or maybe it’s Cheever. Maybe it’s Mad Men. You become a cliché from 1950’s or early 60’s tv shows: Dad, who arrives home, pecks the wife on the cheek, tousles the kids’ hair, then collapses into a La-Z-Boy and reads the paper while the golden retriever fetches the bedroom slippers.

Except it sucks bad enough that you’re feeling the urge to pack a bag, get in the car and drive….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Provider”

* The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a lawsuit asking courts to force major companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sotomayor spent the entire oral argument asking attorneys how she could fit more Miami Sound Machine on her Zune. [New York Times]

* Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who can be seen every Thursday night on 30 Rock playing Kenneth the Page, shares none of Jan Brewer’s qualms about a “birther bill.” [Politico]

* The Ecuadorean Slapfight (also the name of my ska band in high school) between Patton Boggs, Gibson Dunn, and Chevron was squashed by a judge yesterday. [Reuters]

* Baker Hostetler is balling out of control on L’Affaire Madoff. [WSJ Law Blog]

Judge Vaughn Walker

* Tiger Blogger Vivia Chen wants white guys to be hunted like animals. [The Careerist]

* A copyright troll has found a way to exact a toll without actually owning any copyrights. No word yet on whether anyone has gained entrance into the boy’s hole. [Wired via ABA Journal]

* Alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning is being transferred to another prison. Julian Assange celebrated the news by going dancing. [Fox News]

* Sponsors of Proposition 8 are mad that retired judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over Prop 8’s defeat in court, is giving lectures around the country that feature a three-minute clip of the trial. They say the video should remain in the closet. Or a desk drawer of some sort. [Los Angeles Times]

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