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

First, a shameless plug; then, back to business.

The plug: I’ll be giving my “book talk” about The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law in several locations in the next couple of weeks, including in a conference room at Skadden and in auditoriums at the law schools of Northwestern and Indiana University. If you have a group that might be interested in the talk, please contact me. We’ll sneak you into one of the upcoming talks, and you can decide whether my spiel would actually fit your occasion.

Now, the business. And it’s real business this time around — a business issue that has caught the attention of an awful lot of in-house counsel. The issue has to do with the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s deliberations over whether to alter corporate disclosures about loss contingencies. (Sorry, guys. No pictures of naked Canadian judges after the jump here. You’ve gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, or vice versa.)

Here’s the backstory: Investors legitimately want to know whether companies are about to lose a ton of money in litigation. So investors want companies to make fulsome disclosures about their “loss contingencies,” which picks up a lot of territory, including pending or threatened litigation.

Companies, on the other hand, are reluctant to disclose publicly that they anticipate losing a lawsuit. If companies were to make that type of disclosure, their litigation opponent would be energized and the settlement value of the case would skyrocket….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: FAS 5 Fracas”

* Hawaii state legislators have approved civil unions for same-sex couples. Tiny gay couples… [Reuters]

* Louisiana applies special penalties to those who are convicted of soliciting oral or anal sex, under the Crimes Against Nature law. Kirk Cameron and this Kiwi fella seem to disagree with Louisiana on just how unnatural oral sex is. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Mel Gibson certainly didn’t help the movement to “naturalize” oral sex in his burn down the house and blow me tirade. [Los Angeles Times]

* Borders declared bankruptcy because America’s favorite book is magazines. [Bloomberg]

* Texas plans to slash legal aid for the poor; move remaining services to basement of Alamo. [Houston Chronicle]

* Yesterday, The Cooch made his case against Obamacare to the House Judiciary Committee. [Legal Newsline]

* “She shed some tears for his victims, then keel-hauled the black-hearted buccaneer.” [New York Post]

* Sewanee is not the Stanford of the South. [New York Times]

Usually I’m happy to stand with law students against the slings and arrows of outrageous law school administration.

But not this time. This time, instead of a noble law student fighting the good fight, I see an annoying whiner who wants law school to be about teddy bears and rainbows.

A student at the University of Miami School of Law is trying to get the student body to adopt a “Student Bill of Rights.” The proposal lists a number of things that “shall not be violated.” Even though I agree with some of these points, codifying them as “rights” makes me flaccid. We’re talking about law school, not summer camp. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s not supposed to be fair.

We can condemn law schools until the cows come home for inducing students to sign up under false pretenses. But once you matriculate, law schools turn into the warden from Shawshank Redemption: “Put your trust in the Lord; your ass belongs to me.”

As a law student, you don’t have any rights….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Miami Law Student Wants a ‘Student Bill of Rights.’ Really?

Halle Berry

* The California Supremes have agreed to tackle the Prop 8 standing question. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* Musical chairs: veteran litigator Thomas Wiegand leaves Winston & Strawn and joins his good friend Steve Molo at MoloLamken. [Am Law Daily]

* A report on the appellate proceedings in the Drew Peterson case. [Chicago Tribune]

* Halle Berry’s baby daddy goes to court. [Radar Online]

* Fellowships for Aspiring Law Professors (2011 Edition). [TaxProf Blog]

* What explains the gender imbalance among Wikipedia editors? Legal bloggers have some thoughts. [Infamy or Praise]

Yesterday we reported on talks last week between Jones Day and key partners in the construction group of Howrey. It appears that the talks have borne fruit.

As reported yesterday by the Daily Journal (subscription), a group of seven Howrey partners — led by prominent construction lawyer Steve O’Neal, former chairman of the now-defunct Thelen law firm — left Howrey this week for Jones Day. The move was confirmed yesterday by Robert Mittelstaedt, the partner in charge of Jones Day’s San Francisco office.

Who are the departing construction-law partners? And which other partners might be leaving Howrey’s California offices?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Howrey Met Your Mother (Then Lost Her to Another Firm)”

This Valentine’s Day week, we express love for… our advertisers on Above the Law:

If you’re interested in advertising on Above the Law or any other site in the Breaking Media network, please download our media kits, or email Thanks!

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

I live near Wellesley, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb usually described with words like “leafy” and “tony.” (I get “leafy,” but I’ve never really figured out “tony.”) Think soccer moms in yoga pants and BMW SUVs. On the edge of town, where it is less leafy and tony, there is a small tailor shop. The owners are immigrants; English is not their first language. This is clear from the computer-printed signs on their windows and walls. My favorite sign is the one behind the register:


(Unnecessary quotation marks and extra exclamation point included.) I’m not exactly sure what they were trying to say. Maybe expensive wasn’t the word they were going for. Good? Chic? Tony? I don’t know. But the amusing phrase has stuck with me, and with many of my neighbors. I’m not even sure of the name of the shop, but everyone knows what I mean when I mention the sign. It’s a tailor-shop meme.

And a good one. In fact, I’d like to see small-firm lawyers make a similar sign and tape it to their mirrors. (Yeah, I know. I’m not a mirror-message taper either. But indulge me here.) Because the tailor-shop meme might remind them not to make the single biggest mistake that small-firm lawyers usually make: pricing their services too low….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Firms, Big Lawyers: Have You Gotten Stupider?”

Tipsters report that O’Melveny & Myers has announced its bonuses. Tipsters are underwhelmed. Tipsters in California are starting to ask: “What about our spring bonuses?”

As we mentioned last night, spring bonuses are sweeping the nation. We’re actually working on a spring bonus update (pending confirmation of a few things). If you have information and memos about your firm’s spring bonuses, please send them to

We’re starting to worry that California might be left out in the cold. Last week, Morrison & Foerster announced it was still “monitoring” the New York market. Today we have news that O’Melveny is doing the same.

Guys, read Above the Law. The major New York dominoes have fallen. California associates read Above the Law, and they’re waiting for you to get with the program…

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Two dates, including one on Valentine's Day, fell flat.

Given the track record of Above the Law’s lawyer-matchmaking series, some may think we should change the name of the series to the Courtship Misconnection.

In one of our first Washington, D.C. couplings, on Superbowl Sunday, a male lawyer fumbled his date with a “disarmingly feisty and unabashedly vivacious” female associate. (Beware the women who self-describe as “feisty,” says Slate.) Undeterred, I’ve continued to set up dates in the nation’s capital.

I sent two Biglaw types to Solly’s on U Street last week — a late 20s female Donkey who wanted a trunk and an early-thirties male Elephant who requested ass. If not a lawyer, she said she’d be a cage fighter, and he said he’d be a writer. I thought I had an excellent “opposites attract” formula. I was wrong.

She described the date as a “pretty lackluster affair” and he said no “love connection was made.” “You are no Patti Stanger,” female Donkey wrote me (a little bitterly). Boring dates may be even worse than disastrous ones.

Luckily, the other two dates recounted here were more entertaining. One, because it was a blind date on Valentine’s Day, and the other because it’s our first occurrence of Courtship Connection leading to a lawyer’s pants being torn off…

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They had to know. But the attitude was sort of, ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.’

Bernard Madoff, speaking about the banks and hedge funds that invested in his Ponzi scheme, in his first for-publication interview since his December 2008 arrest (via Dealbreaker).

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.

I’ve always been awestruck by tax lawyers. They are the dudes.

As a transactional attorney, you can’t make a move without a tax guy. M&A is based on IRS consequences. It’s the tax guy who hands you a chart with boxes and arrows, holding companies and off-shore limited partnerships buying and selling and re-selling and issuing and repurchasing and spinning off. Everything starts there.

Tax lawyers do stuff no one else would attempt. They swagger out the door at 5 pm.

“Don’t start with me. I’m in tax.”

Way back when, I took an advanced tax course in law school – to see if I could roll with the gangstas. I even took it the wrong semester, so instead of JD students, it was tax LLMs snickering at my desperation. I received my lowest grade ever. I also discovered tax law is like higher mathematics: there is no big picture. Tax is not intuitive or guided by overarching principle; it’s a mess of staggering, intimidating complication.

What I’ve come to realize lately, as a therapist working with tax lawyers, is that these seemingly unapproachable superstars are human. And being “the expert” can exact a toll….

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Gerald Ung (left) and Eddie DiDonato (right)

Judging from the comments section of our last story about Gerald Ung — which is still active, like a volcano — many of you are still interested in talking about the Temple Law student shooter. Even though Ung was quickly acquitted of all charges arising out of the January 2010 shooting of Edward DiDonato Jr., the trial goes on — in the court of public opinion.

We’ve selected a handful of stories from the avalanche of news and blogosphere coverage that we believe merit your attention. You can check them out — one of them reveals what Gerald Ung’s future plans are, while another has the reaction to the verdict of Eddie DiDonato’s father, a prominent partner at Fox Rothschild — after the jump.

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