Partner Issues

Clean-up efforts are underway at Dewey & LeBoeuf — and we’re not talking about the work of the janitors (at least not the ones who were allegedly stiffed on $300,000). Rather, we’re talking about the work being done by Dewey as debtor, aided by its high-priced advisory team, to put its affairs in order and to maximize the recovery for its creditors.

One of the biggest messes: how to deal with the firm’s hundreds of former partners. Dewey’s lead lawyer, Albert Togut of Togut Segal & Segal, has already made clear his plans to seek some funds from them.

In a conference call yesterday afternoon, Dewey’s bankruptcy advisers informed ex-partners about the contours of a possible global settlement….

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Parenting can be an extremely difficult task, but an even more difficult task is proper helicopter parenting. It’s got to be an intense job to keep an eye on your child’s every move, day and night, wherever he may roam. In fact, some people have started to call these people lawnmower parents — after all, why choose to hover overhead when you can destructively mow down all obstacles that you perceive to be in your child’s way on the road to success?

Today, we’ve got a story about an attractive California couple who stand accused of being textbook examples of the worst kind of lawnmower parents, and they just so happen to both be lawyers. Daddy is (or was) a securities litigation partner at a midsize firm, and Mommy is a graduate of top law school. Trust us when we say that you do not want to mess with their kid, because you may wind up facing drug charges….

Please note the UPDATE at the end of this post.

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* It’s not just media groups that are urging the Supreme Court to allow live coverage of the announcement of the ACA decision. Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee have joined the club. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Dewey know whether this failed firm’s former partners will be settling their claims any time soon? Team Togut hopes to reach a deal in the next six weeks, and claims that cooperation will absolve D&L’s deserters of all future liability. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* From Biglaw to the big house: former Sullivan & Cromwell partner John O’Brien, who is serving time for tax evasion charges, has been suspended from practicing law in New York. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* A Stradling Yocca partner and his wife, a Boalt Hall graduate, stand accused of planting drugs on a school volunteer who supervised their son. Looks like the only thing they’re straddling now is jail time. [OC Register]

* Dharun Ravi was released early from jail yesterday after completing a little more than half of his 30-day sentence. Funny how bad behavior got him into the slammer, but good behavior got him out of it. [CNN]

* “Why would somebody so smart do something so stupid?” Kenneth Kratz, the sexting DA from Wisconsin, claims that the answer to that question is an addiction to sex and prescription drugs. [Herald Times Reporter]

* Jay-Z’s got 99 problems and this bitch is one. He’s been accused by Patrick White of plagiarizing parts of his own best-selling memoir, “Decoded,” and slapped with a copyright infringement suit. [New York Daily News]

It has been a few days since our last detailed story about the largest law firm bankruptcy in history. So let’s check in on the Chapter 11 proceedings of Dewey & LeBoeuf, currently pending in bankruptcy court for the Southern District of New York.

There have been a few recent developments. For example, as we mentioned in Morning Docket, Dewey is being counseled in bankruptcy by some pretty pricey advisers.

How expensive are we talking?

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Ed. note: This is the second column by our newest writer, Anonymous Partner. In case you missed his first post, check it out here.

If “Partner” is your only or most important title, quite frankly you are missing out. For me, it’s “Dad,” as my little man likes to say, or simply “Daddy,” to my little princess. Before you freak out about how not everyone wants children and the world is overpopulated — relax. Father’s Day just went by, and it just simply is not the time for anything other than celebrating fatherhood.

None of us would be here without a father, and I submit that each of us has been shaped by our father, whether he was a model dad, an absent one, or simply some squiggly molecules in a petri dish. For those blessed to have had an engaged father, the goal is to emulate and if possible surpass his example, while those who went without should work that much harder to make sure that their own children have something other than the pain of absence to carry with them. Biglaw partners are acutely aware of the value of time, and most that I have met wish they had more of it to give to their children.

Of course, being a dad in Biglaw means sacrifice — the financial and professional rewards come at a cost….

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According to George Will, “Pessimism has its pleasures. Ninety percent of the time you’re right, and ten percent of the time you’re delighted to be wrong.”

That’s how I go through life.

What made me a pessimist? Nature or nurture, perhaps? (Should I blame my parents’ genes or their parenting skills?) Decades defending litigation, which forced me perpetually into a defensive crouch? (If that’s the reason, then plaintiffs’ lawyers must be optimists.) Or my preferred explanation: Keen observation of reality, coupled with endless experience, naturally breeds pessimism.

As an outside lawyer, my pessimism meant that I presumptively expected the worst (or, at a minimum, the least) from colleagues, opposing counsel, clients, and courts. Those folks generally performed precisely to my expectation, reinforcing my pessimism.

As an in-house lawyer, how does pessimism infuse life?

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A real 'Lewis' Vuitton?

* “At the Supreme Court, those who know, don’t talk. And those who talk, don’t know.” If that’s the case, then there must be a lot of people who “don’t know” — it’s rumored that the Court’s decision on Obamacare will be released today. [CNN]

* Dewey know what kind of news this week’s conference call will bring for the failed firm’s former partners? On Tuesday afternoon, we might get some information on the status of a global partner contribution plan. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Guys in my high school ambassadorial nominations pool used to have extramarital affairs with WSJ reporters all the time, it was no big deal. Obama still supports Brett McGurk, despite his racy emails. [Reuters]

* The $64,000 question in the Jerry Sandusky case: will the allegedly histrionic former football coach take the stand to testify in his own defense? He should, because apparently it’s his “only shot.” [Legal Intelligencer]

* Looks like Facebook decided to initiate the use of a proverbial “dislike” button when the company pointed the finger at NASDAQ in defense against dozens of lawsuits over its incredibly glitchy IPO. [New York Daily News]

* It’s actually possible to have an “offensive personality” as a matter of law: former prosecutor Kenneth “I Am the Prize” Kratz will plead no contest to six ethics violations for his sordid sexting scandal. [Associated Press]

* “Careful … that is a Lewis [sic] Vuitton.” It seems that at least one federal judge in Manhattan holds comedic value to a higher standard than our favorite fashion house’s trademark infringement claims. [Chicago Tribune]

* Loose lips may sometimes sink ships, but not all gossip is bad. After all, without gossip, your ATL editors wouldn’t be able to bring you some of the juiciest stories out there in the legal world. [New York Times]

A not-so-little house on the prairie. It looks like a Wright, right?

Are you having a difficult time finding a position in the depressed legal job market? Maybe you need to think about relocating. Have you considered moving to Iowa? As noted by Vivia Chen over at The Careerist, the “Life Changing” state is experiencing a lawyer shortage.

Lawyer jobs and husks of corn aren’t all that Iowa has to offer. The state also has a reasonable cost of living, including some very well-priced real estate.

Take the Iowa home of a former partner Biglaw partner and former general counsel to a major media company. This lovely residence is currently on the market for a surprisingly modest sum….

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How would you like to be pursued by the Angel of Death? It doesn’t sound like much fun, right?

But it’s the latest plague to be visited upon certain former leaders of the now-bankrupt law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf. Former D&L partner Henry C. Bunsow — nicknamed the Angel of Death by Alison Frankel of Thomson Reuters, due to his status as an ex-partner of three failed firms (Brobeck, Howrey, and Dewey) — has sued former leaders of Dewey, alleging that they misrepresented the firm’s finances.

Let’s learn about his allegations, as well as catch up on the latest wranglings in the Dewey bankruptcy case….

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Last week, I headed downtown to meet with Stephen A. Weiss and Eric Jaso, partners at the Seeger Weiss litigation boutique. Weiss co-founded the firm with Christopher Seeger in 1999. Jaso, who just joined the firm from Stone & Magnanini, is a friend and former colleague of mine from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They kindly agreed to be interviewed about what it’s like to work at an elite, plaintiff-side litigation firm.

Here at Above the Law, we’ve always had strong coverage of the large, defense-oriented firms that collectively constitute Biglaw. In the past few years, however, we have dramatically expanded our offerings related to smaller law firms. We currently have three columnists — Brian Tannebaum, Tom Wallerstein, and Valerie Katz — writing in this space, in addition to the small-firm coverage generated by our other writers.

Consistent with this editorial expansion, I was eager to meet with Weiss and Jaso and hear about Seeger Weiss (which is relatively large for a plaintiffs’ firm, but small compared to a Biglaw firm). I’ve always wondered why more law school graduates don’t go into plaintiffs’ work and why we don’t hear about this side of practice as much. It can represent a chance to do well while also doing good, by vindicating victims’ rights or blowing the whistle on misconduct — especially in the qui tam practice area, a focus of Seeger Weiss.

Here’s what Weiss and Jaso had to say….

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