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You’re tired of him. I’m tired of him. Even Juggalo is tired of him.

I get it. Believe me, if Liam Neeson’s second cousin’s dogwalker so much as had gotten a parking ticket this week, I would have snapped that juicy news item up for Fame Brief. But alas, as your faithful celebrity news correspondent, I must deliver to you yet another Charlie Sheen post. Last one, I promise.*

In an inevitable move to cash-in on his enhanced celebrity, Charlie applied for trademarks on 22 of his now-passé catchphrases, including Adonis DNA, Tiger Blood, Rock Star from Mars and other mania-induced gems. Luckily still available: SmallLaw Total Bitchin’ Rock Star from Mars….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fame Brief: Charlie Sheen Bi-Winning™ Crap Merchandise Coming Soon?”

[Partner David] Cowling and the very intoxicated summer student began to dance in a sexually explicit manner. The student’s arms were around Cowling’s neck and his hands were on her waist and buttocks. While dancing, Cowling placed his hand on the student’s breast. Shortly thereafter, the summer student fell to the floor. She was assisted to her feet by Cowling and others. The summer student then went to the washroom where she vomited over her hair, body and clothes

– Canadian lawyer Sarah Diebel, in the statement of defense she filed in opposition to a defamation lawsuit by David Cowling, a former partner at the Canadian law firm of Mathews Dinsdale & Clarke.

(Cowling sued Diebel and another former associate, Adrian Jakibchuk, for defamation, alleging that their statements about a wild party in January 2009 defamed him. We covered Cowling’s defamation lawsuit here. Earlier this week, Jakibchuk sued Mathews Dinsdale for wrongful termination, bringing the firm’s “night of debauchery” back into the news.)

Let’s all take a deep breath. Associate bonus season, which usually wraps up sometime in January, looks like it’s been extended well into April. This is just more proof that Biglaw firms don’t actually collude. No rational business person would want to be making decisions in April 2011 about how much to pay employees for 2010 performance.

For those trying to keep score, there seem to be the following categories of firms (roughly using a letter-grade system):

A – Firms that are paying Cravath-level spring bonuses in all offices. (Example: Cravath.) [FN1]
B – Firms that are paying Sullivan & Cromwell-level spring bonuses in all offices. (Example: S&C.)
C – Firms that are paying spring bonuses in New York but not elsewhere, like California or D.C.. (Example: Read more below.)
D – Firms that are not paying spring bonuses because their year-end bonuses beat the Cravath year-end bonuses, and they’re hoping their associates can’t add. (Example: CHECK YOU QUINN EMANUEL.)
F – Firms that are not paying spring bonuses and invite disgruntled associates to S some D if they don’t like it. (Example: Jones “We can still hear all the poors who live inside your black box” Day.)

Right now, we want to focus on Group C. Group B gets a pass because they started the spring bonus phenomenon and goddamnit we’re going to respect that. Partners at firms in Groups D & F will have to examine their own motives for why they want their associates to secretly hate them.

But Group C is weird. Why create inter-office jealousy and rage when most top firms are paying spring bonuses in all of their offices? Why look that desperate to save a little bit of money?

And you can’t spell “Weird Cost-Cutting” without White & Case

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Former Michigan prosecutor Andrew Shirvell might be gone from the Michigan attorney general’s office, but he has not been forgotten. Shirvell, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality, has just been hit with a lawsuit — by Chris Armstrong, the ex-president of the University of Michigan student body.

Armstrong is suing Shirvell in Michigan state court for stalking, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and abuse of process. His lawsuit seeks more than $25,000 in compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages and injunctive relief (to enjoin Shirvell from, well, being such a creep).

As you may recall, Shirvell seemed obsessed with the young, beauteous, and openly gay Armstrong, devoting an entire blog to criticism of Armstrong and following Armstrong around, day and night. As explained by Armstrong’s lawyer, Deborah Gordon, Shirvell demonstrated a “bizarre personal obsession” with Armstrong, reflected in numerous blog and Facebook postings in which Shirvell asserted that Armstrong was advancing a “radical homosexual agenda.” [FN1]

Let’s take a closer look at the complaint….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Chris Armstrong v. Andrew Shirvell”

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Inside Straight, Above the Law’s column for in-house counsel, written by Mark Herrmann.

Managing people at big law firms is easy: You don’t!

First, you don’t have anyone to manage. As an associate, you have a secretary. That’s it. And you share your secretary with other people, so you have only limited responsibility for giving annual reviews.

As a typical partner, you also don’t have to manage anyone. You still have a shared secretary. And you’re asked to complete associate evaluation forms once every year, which you dutifully do. Some other poor clown is stuck with the job of reading to associates the results of the review forms and saying, “I can’t really answer your follow-up questions, because none of these comments are mine.” Unless you’re responsible for some unusual duty — evaluating contract attorneys, or legal assistants, or some such thing — a partner at a law firm doesn’t manage people at all. (Chatting with an associate about an upcoming meeting or event, or discussing the contents of a brief, constitutes either doing work or being human. It doesn’t count as personnel management.)

Second, “career paths” at law firms are no secret. The “career path” (such as it is) for a secretary at a law firm is fairly obvious, so your secretary won’t ask much about it. And the career paths for lawyers are obvious, too. If you’re an associate, work hard and do good work, and you’ll be a partner some day. (I’m not passing judgment on whether this path is realistic or not; I’m saying only that, to the extent that it exists, everyone knows what the path is.) If you’re a partner, your career path is equally obvious: Work harder, and do better work, and bring in clients, and you’ll be even richer and more important some day.

Nothing to it. Everyone knows the game, so managing people is a no-brainer. No muss, no fuss, and (if you’re like me) you don’t even notice that you’re not managing people. You might even deceive yourself into thinking that you are.

Would that it were so easy in-house….

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At the start of this contest, Latham & Watkins was the reigning coolest law firm in the land. But the defending champions were bounced in the first round.

The votes have been tallied, and we have a new champion. The Coolest Law Firm in the land, according to you, the readers of Above the Law, is Davis Polk. DPW crushed Sullivan & Cromwell in the final vote. It was a good run for S&C, but I guess people who aren’t attractive enough to work at Davis Polk want what they can’t have. It’s kind of like high school.

Actually, it’s a pretty big week for DPW. Not only did they win the tournament, the firm is now under new management!

Who is Davis Polk’s new leader?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March Madness: The Coolest Law Firm Is…”

Jeff Skilling

* Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s appeal was denied by the Fifth Circuit. While he remains the smartest guy in the room, the room consists of him and a half-wit cellmate whose only discernible talent is making Prune-o. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Bruce Fein, an attorney who worked on Clinton’s impeachment and called for Bush’s impeachment as well, has drafted articles of impeachment for Barack Obama. His high crime and misdemeanor? Time theft. [Politico]

* An Ohio man has been charged with a misdemeanor for barking at a police dog. When asked why he was barking at the female dog, the man calmly replied, “Bitch owes me money.” [CBS News]

Raj Rajaratnam

* The government rested its case in the Raj Rajaratnam trial yesterday. Of additional note is the fact that Rajabba sits ten feet behind his defense table, partially obstructed from the jury box. You can’t completely block Rajabba from view. You can only wish to contain him. [New York Times]

* The government has warned attorneys for former Madoff employees not to use money that might be associated with Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. That includes, for their own health, any ass pennies. [ABA Journal]

* The Fourth Circuit rules in favor of a pundit-professor, in a case about the free speech rights of faculty members at public universities. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Charlie Sheen is trying to trademark his catchphrases now. He’s overexposed like a frostbitten penis — is there anything funny left to say about him at this point? (We might try; check in later.) [Forbes]

Wow, it’s like White & Case’s attempt to glom on to the spring bonus trend just ticked off these other firms. First Sidley and now Morrison & Foerster have come out with real spring bonus announcements, detailing the amount of money associates can expect to get paid.

We’re running off to the We Know What You Should Do This Summer filming, so we can’t give you the full MoFo treatment. But it’s not that shocking that since O’Melveny, Latham and Gibson went with spring bonuses, MoFo kind of had to step up.

Congrats, MoFos. As one tipster put it, “Tell those bitches at GDC that Mofo makes it rain in Cali… Twenty grand, man. Plus, they gave Dude a beeper.”

Read the full memo below.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Morrison & Foerster Matches Spring Bonuses”

Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld

* We previously reported that Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, daughter of Yale law professors Amy “Tiger Mother” Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, had decided to go to Harvard. But on her blog, the Tiger Daughter reports that she is “seriously considering” both Harvard and Yale. (I’ve posted a comment arguing for Harvard.) [New Tiger in Town]

* Wall Street women are different from Biglaw women. Do you know a female partner who would let you do jello shots off of her stomach and chest? (Remember, this story turned out to be fiction.) [Dealbreaker]

* Are you a gamer? If so, you might be a class member in this (perhaps dubious) lawsuit. [Constitutional Daily]

* Are you engaged in illegal downloading of gay porn? If so, you might be in trouble. This is why I happily pay for my porn iTunes songs — illegal downloading isn’t worth the risk (especially for current or future lawyers). [XBIZ; TorrentFreak]

* Wow — or should I say, ShamWow? These are quite salacious allegations. [Jezebel]

* This morning’s column from The People’s Therapist has Phish phans phoaming at the mouth. [Phish Phantasy Tour]

* This is from a week ago, but quite interesting: the top law professor blogs, ranked by traffic. [TaxProf Blog]

* Not sure there’s anything interesting to say about the MPRE, but in case you’re wondering, the latest scores came out (as several readers mentioned to us, by email). You can discuss in the comments to this post if you like. [MPRE Services]

Check out the latest offerings in Sponsored Content:

And now, thanks to this week’s advertisers on Above the Law….

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Honestly, I don’t understand why people hate jury duty so much. What’s the big deal? You don’t have to go to work. You can sit down and read stuff on your iPad or play Angry Birds. Then you go home. How is this a hardship to be avoided at all costs?

And if you are extremely lucky, you get to be a part of the justice system. What kind of fairweather citizen is too busy to participate in justice?

Well, not everybody appreciates the awesome responsibility of jury duty. Today we’ve got two stories of people trying to shirk their civic responsibilities — unsuccessfully…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How (Not) To Get Out of Jury Duty”

Well, Sidley Austin turned that around more quickly than I thought. Last night I pointed out that any further delay from Sidley Austin regarding spring bonuses would just be causing pain and anguish for Sidley associates for no reason. The firm was going to have to match anyway, so why drag it out?

Well, today Sidley matched the Cravath scale for spring bonuses. Yeah, unlike White & Case, Sidley told people how much they’d be getting (subject to an hours requirement). The money will be paid on April 29.

Sidley Austin associates we’ve spoken to are satisfied. One tipster reports: “Sidley spit the bit on this like Kansas in the tournament. But at least we’re not getting bounced out of the competition entirely.”

Wow, I guess like the VCU Rams, Sidley associates are just happy to be here….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Sidley Austin Matches on Spring Bonuses”

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