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Richard M. Daley

* Those big phonies on the parole board denied Mark David Chapman again. [New York Post]

* Mayor Bloomberg does not believe consistency with regard to the First Amendment is the hobgoblin of little men minds. [Wall Street Journal]

* BP magnanimously shares blame for oil spill. Apparently, greed is not always good. [Business Week]

* HP sues former CEO to protect trade secrets. Secrets like how to expense a mistress.[Washington Post]

* Judge Royce Lamberth (D.D.C.) rejected the government’s argument that a “parade of horribles” would result from his preliminary injunction against some funding of stem cell research. He refused to address the possibility of a “chorus line of fuglies.” [Associated Press]

* Chicago “Mayor for Life” and noted bar exam failure, Richard M. Daley, will not run for re-election. [New York Times]

* Jewish fanny pack enthusiast who arrested Mel Gibson sues the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. [Los Angeles Times]

The last two New York Attorneys General have become wildly famous. Everybody knows who Eliot Spitzer is, mostly for the wrong reasons. Before he became Governor Client Number 9, Eliot Spitzer attained the title “Sheriff of Wall Street.” Meanwhile, the current NYAG Andrew Cuomo was already famous because of his father. As AG, Cuomo has continued Spitzer’s legacy of asserting jurisdiction over anything that will help him run for Governor. The plan seems to be working, and Cuomo is the prohibitive favorite to become the next New York Governor.

Which means New Yorkers need to elect another attorney general. Unfortunately, nobody is paying attention to the Democratic primary (next Tuesday) where the winner will most likely be a shoe in for the job of top lawyer in New York. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 77% of registered Democrats have no idea who they’re going to vote for. More embarrassingly, 8% of respondents to an open-ended question about who they will vote for said they were going to vote for a person who is not actually running for NYAG. That’s double the 4% support “frontrunner” Kathleen Rice received.

Arguably, it’s the most important AG job in the country, the election is a week away, and 85% of the potential voters haven’t made up their mind or don’t know who is in the race. Think about that the next time somebody complains about “regulation” of Wall Street. I can’t blame Jamie Dimon if he’s not thrilled about listening to an AG who was elected by five guys who thought it would be a funny to show up and Ice election day workers.

So, as a public service to all the Above the Law readers who might actually have to deal with the NYAG, I’m liveblogging tonight’s Attorney General debate. Please check it out, I’m trying to be helpful…

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Ed. note: Later tonight, Elie will be liveblogging tonight’s New York Attorney General debate. With the primary a week away, it’s time to finally start paying attention to the men and women who want to be the top lawyer in New York State. Check back around 7:00 PM to get to know the potential AGs. Yes, you can leave your socks on.

* If only associates were as reliable as dogs. [What About Clients?]

* Fee fight! “Crusading attorney” Larry Klayman goes at it with his former client, Washington Times editorial-page editor Richard Minter. [Politico]

* Can a grassroots movement save net neutrality? If you have your own website, consider joining the party. [MoveOn.org]

* Have you been wondering what the hell is up with Google today? Well, it could be just the beginning of Google weirdness this week. [Gawker]

* Speaking of Google… it’s taking another step towards becoming a country unto itself, by poaching a former top State Department official. [Foreign Policy]

* It is fun to think about whether or not your law professor could last one day as a Biglaw partner. [Laws for Attorneys]

* Shana Tova, from Above the Law and Blawg Review. [Likelihood of Confusion via Blawg Review]

Don’t panic, you’re in the right place. This is a Small Law column on ATL — a non-sequitur to top all non-sequiturs.

This isn’t the first time Above the Law has delved into the world of small law firms, but now we’re going to attack it regularly and with passion. This column will appear on Mondays (appearing today due to the holiday) and Thursdays, as a catalyst for discussion of life in Small Law – the commonalities, the salaries, the benefits, the pitfalls, etc.

I believe that, like Biglaw, there is a certain shared culture in Small Law, one that’s part of a growing but still-fragmented dialogue in the blogosphere. It’s our hope that, in time, this column becomes a lighting rod for those who are working in Small Law — and those who want to work in Small Law. And, of course, Biglaw attorneys are welcome to stop by and express their obvious jealousy in the comments.

So who am I, and what are my qualifications? Let the judging begin…

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Today’s New York Times has a meaty and interesting front-page article about political ideology and Supreme Court clerk hiring. The piece, written by SCOTUS correspondent Adam Liptak, reminded us a lot of one that Liptak wrote last year (which we discussed here). But since there’s no such thing as too much talk about The Elect, let’s dig into it.

(By the way, speaking of Supreme Court clerk hiring, we’re working on an update that should come out soon. If you’re aware of a clerk hire that wasn’t included in our last write-up, listing both OT 2010 and OT 2011 clerks, please email us (subject line: “SCOTUS clerk hiring”). Thanks.)

Liptak begins by discussing the fabulosity that is a SCOTUS clerkship:

Each year, 36 young lawyers obtain the most coveted credential in American law: a Supreme Court clerkship. Clerking for a justice is a glittering capstone on a résumé that almost always includes outstanding grades at a top law school, service on a law review and a prestigious clerkship with a federal appeals court judge.

One could quibble with the number of 36, but we’ll get to that later. Let’s focus on the main point of the piece, the growing politicization of high-court clerk hiring….

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Do you know which firms are described by their summer associates in the blurbs below? Check out how each firm fared in our 2010 Summer Associate Survey by clicking on each firm below, or by visiting the Career Center homepage and searching by name for the firm you are curious about.

  • Summer associates at this firm rave about its “laid back” work environment and the “fantastic” people they get to work with. Things are so laid back at this firm that summer associates were brave enough to force a couple of attorneys to chug bottles of Smirnoff Ice.
  • Bravery is also a required trait of the summer associates at this firm, where feeling lost during the summer program takes new meaning. Between mock trial competitions and hikes of active volcanoes, boring is definitely not an adjective used by the summer associates surveyed here.
  • Work assignments given to summer associates at this firm range from “big-name client” projects to pro bono work. When they aren’t busy in the office, summer associates were busy golfing, rafting, and gallivanting around the city of Austin during a firm retreat. 
  • While the hours may be “long,” summer associates at this firm still describe its culture as “laid-back.” Plus summer associates do not have to worry about bringing money for lunch, since they get to attend an unlimited number of free lunches.
  • This firm received high marks from its summer associates for providing “real” assignments as well as firm-sponsored volunteer opportunities — but summers also warn that it can get “ridiculously busy” at times. It’s not all work here, though, as summer associates still have time to attend baseball game, dinners, and Friday happy hours.

For information on summer programs and associate life at all the top firms, visit the Career Center.

Am I correct in asserting that Jimmy Smits has had more judicial experience than Elena Kagan?

Dahlia Lithwick, opining on Jimmy Smits’s new show Outlaw. On the show, Smits plays a Supreme Court justice who steps down to “fight for change in the legal system,” because as we all know, SCOTUS justices are so powerless.

Please note: people get Academy Awards for acting like they can talk to dead people.

Full disclosure: I belong to the South Park school of thought, which says that claiming you can speak to dead people makes you a candidate for Biggest Douche in the Universe. Even my priest, who believes that the will of an omniscient and all-powerful being can be easily flummoxed by a thin film of latex, doesn’t believe that he has a direct line of communication with the dead.

One would think that telling a client you are “channeling” his dead wife would violate multiple rules of legal ethics. But not so in Arizona. Nope, in Arizona you can get away with this, reports the ABA Journal:

[Lawyer Charna Johnson] began representing the client during his divorce proceedings in 1999. The client’s wife committed suicide the following year, and Johnson later co-represented him in probate proceedings.

Johnson and the client both testified that they genuinely believed the client’s wife was within Johnson. Two witnesses agreed. The client felt his wife had come back to heal some of the damage from her prescription drug use.

Yeah, that’s perfectly cool in ‘Zona. Remember, this is the state where Bryan Cave lawyers conducted an exorcism. Obviously they’re down with the supernatural in Arizona, so long as the spirits are American-born.

But still, having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a client is a no-no. Luckily for Charna Johnson, the client’s dead wife apparently no longer wanted to have sex with the client. Whew. Johnson really dodged a bullet there…

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As you’ve probably heard, last week Las Vegas cops arrested partying hag Paris Hilton for cocaine possession, after pulling her over in a Cadillac Escalade that was trailing marijuana smoke. And as you’ve probably also heard, the police would have never found the coke in the first place if Paris hadn’t been such a vain twit:

According to Sgt. John Sheahan, while police were questioning Waits, Hilton, who was in police custody inside the Wynn Las Vegas, allegedly reached inside her purse for “a tube of lip balm. At the same time, says Sheahan, a bindle of cocaine in a plastic bag came out of her purse” in plain view of police in the room.

Paris shrewdly floated several excuses – that the purse wasn’t hers and that she had no idea that the coke was in there, or that she had seen the coke in there, but mistook it for gum* – before settling on the airtight alibi that the purse was in fact hers but she had loaned it to a “friend” who left coke in there. Throw the kitchen sink at the police and see what sticks, that’s what I always say….

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No, we’re not talking about that David J. Stern, the lawyer turned NBA commissioner. We’re talking about David J. Stern of Plantation, Florida, a leading lawyer to banks and financial services companies in mortgage-related and foreclosure proceedings.

Over the holiday weekend, the New York Times ran a lengthy article, by Gretchen Morgenson and Geraldine Fabrikant, focused on Florida’s new foreclosures-only courts. Florida’s court system has been so overwhelmed by foreclosure proceedings that the state earlier this year set aside $9.6 million to establish foreclosures-focused courts around the state, presided over by retired judges.

One of the major players in the new court system is David J. Stern, whom the Times describes as “[t]he lawyer most closely identified with Florida’s foreclosure morass.” And for his troubles, this “mystery man within the foreclosure world” has been richly rewarded — very richly rewarded.

Stern went to a fourth-tier law school, but financially he’s running circles around all those Stanford and NYU law grads who wound up as Biglaw partners. His inspiring story shows that, in the end, success in the law is not about where you went to school, but what you’re capable of doing.

Even if you graduated from a non-top-tier law school, if you’re aggressive and smart and entrepreneurial, you can do quite well for yourself. Let’s take a look at David Stern….

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I hope all of you had a fine long weekend. I also hope at least some of you have some skills at building infrastructure.

But maybe you have some legal skills. If you do, the market for your talents is ever-so-slightly recovering. The latest jobs report shows that the American economy stinks as a whole, but less so for lawyers. Am Law Daily reports:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly employment report for August was released early Friday and the news was still a bit glum overall — the U.S. economy lost a total of 54,000 jobs. But the news for lawyers and legal industry employees was a bit brighter.

The legal sector handed out 1,000 jobs last month, marking the second straight month of improved numbers for the industry.

Yay! Let’s welcome these new people to the party…

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Call me Juggalo Law. In spite of my functional illiteracy and a penchant for juvenile name-calling, I finished second in the Morning Docket writer competition. I could call myself one of the “winners” of the competition, but your favorite No Fear t-shirt is right when it says I’m merely the first loser. Before my star turn here at the only blawg that matters, I graduated from a fairly respectable law school (check you Cooley Rankings) and found a legal economy not quite down with the clown. For that reason, I am currently working as a contract attorney. For those of you unfamiliar with the world of contract attorneys, picture Biglaw. Now strip away all bottles, models, pride, and pay.

My job here at Above the Law is pretty simple. Alternating weeks with the talented Ms. Dockette, it is my duty to find the most relevant and interesting legal news and come up with pithy bon mots that would get Bruce Vilanch hot. Along the way, maybe we’ll all learn something. Perhaps we’ll all learn how magnets work.

Let’s do this…

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