We wanted to give people an opportunity to reminisce about John O’Quinn, the legendary personal injury attorney, who apparently died this morning in a car accident. The Houston Chronicle reports:
Prominent Houston attorney John O’Quinn was one of two men who died this morning when their SUV slammed into a large tree on Allen Parkway after the driver apparently lost control, police said. …
It wasn’t immediately clear whether O’Quinn or the other, still-unidentified victim was driving.
O’Quinn is a huge name in Texas and around the country. He made his mark in PI work:
O’Quinn, who made his fortune largely in personal injury cases, most notably in successful breast implant cases in the early 1990s, was a local philantrhopist. He gave money to the Harris County Children’s Assessment Center, the Houston Council on Alcohol and Drugs and various Texas Medical Center institutions including St. Luke’s Hospital, which has a tower bearing his name.
Today we resume our series of open threads about small law firms focused on different areas of practice. For background on the series, see this post.
We’ve received lots of positive feedback on the series. Here are some representatives comments from the last thread, on insurance law:
54 – This is a GREAT GREAT GREAT thread – please do more. I’d be interested in seeing threads on immigration practice, real estate practice, prosecution and public defense (state/municipal, not federal – reality check here – the DOJ is not an option for 99% of attorneys).
86 – [K]eep open threads on small law like this coming! They’re informative for everyone, whether or not they are interested or not in working in such an area.
94 – This is a good thread. (I can’t believe it.) Thanks to the veterans who are providing substantive info and advice.
Our latest practice area for focus: PERSONAL INJURY LAW.
If this subject interests you, read more after the jump.
UPDATE / CORRECTION: After we noticed comments 34 and 41, we reached out to Loyola Law School for clarification. A Loyola spokesperson confirmed that the Chicago Tribune made an error: Loyola has renamed its main building for Philip Corboy, but NOT the school itself. For a correct account of what has taken place, see the law school’s press release.
We regret our replication of the Chicago Tribune’s error. Thanks to our commenters for bringing the mistake to our attention.
FURTHER UPDATE: The Tribune has corrected its story, but without noting the fact that it was corrected. Most publications, such as the New York Times and Slate, will note substantial corrections after they are made. Here at Above the Law, we will also explicitly note corrections that go to matters of substance (as opposed to, say, typographical errors).
We mentioned this already in Morning Docket, but the decision by Loyola – Chicago bears further discussion. We know that the overall economy has made things difficult on law schools. Tuition keeps going up, despite nearly record numbers of new applicants. So one should applaud a law school for getting a major boost to its endowment.
Loyola – Chicago received a huge gift, so massive that the school has decided to change its name its main building name in honor of the donor. The Chicago Tribune reports:
Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law will be renamed the Philip H. Corboy Law Center after the noted alumnus and prominent personal injury attorney who donated the largest single gift in the law school’s history, it will be announce Monday.
Some might argue that a decrease in the confusing proliferation of law schools named after St. Ignatius Loyola — we already have Loyola of Chicago, Loyola of Los Angeles, and Loyola of New Orleans — is a good thing. But was going with Philip Corboy the right move? Wasn’t Henry Walpole available?
More details after the jump.
Some class action settlements are highly questionable. Think of a case where, say, the victimized consumers get a stupid coupon, so they can purchase even more goods or services from the company that victimized them — while the lawyers representing the plaintiffs walk away with a big payday.
One man is out to change all that. Ted Frank — lawyer and blogger extraordinaire, from Overlawyered and Point of Law (and also Above the Law) — has left his perch as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He’s starting a new public interest law firm that specializes in pro bono representation of consumers unhappy with class action settlements. Ted is already handling two class actions in California.
We caught up with Ted to discuss his new gig. Read more, after the jump.
Our colleagues over at sister site Fashionista aren’t alone. Lawyers also get worked up over shoes.
Some, like former Enron prosecutor Kathryn Ruemmler, show up to court in four-inch pink stiletto spikes. Others hate on commuter shoes and Crocs. Attorneys have strong opinions about attire, and that extends to footwear.
So we can’t say we’re completely surprised by a motion recently filed by plaintiffs’ counsel in the case of Lenkersdorf v. Sorrentino, now pending in Florida state court.
Motion to Compel Defense Counsel to Wear Appropriate Shoes at Trial — we kid you not — after the jump.
There is a great profile in the Boston Magazine about attorney James Sokolove, a guy that advertises his legal services on T.V. so often I just assumed he didn’t actually exist.
Apparently, he does exist, but his legal services don’t, at least not in the traditional sense:
Despite his prodigious success and his omnipresent image as a bulldog attorney, Sokolove hasn’t seen the inside of a courtroom in nearly three decades. Truth be told, he’s argued only one case before a jury; it was back in the early 1970s, and he lost. It wasn’t tenacious lawyering that allowed Sokolove to build a legal empire, but rather his prowess as a businessman and an innovator. He and his staff of 80 don’t try cases; instead they connect prospective clients to other lawyers, who pay Sokolove a cut of their fees for ginning up business.
Sweet. The only thing better then an unabashed “ambulance chaser” is an unabashed ambulance chaser who doesn’t know where the courthouse is located.
But after the jump, what’s really fascinating is that this guy really does have a system.
[UPDATE on 04.03.09:Case dismissed.]
Paralegal-ing is a rough gig. Paralegals tend to get the legal drudgery similar to that done by first year associates, without the six-figure paycheck. And if you’re a paralegal for Richard Laminack, a titan of the Texas plaintiffs’ bar, you may also be asked to receive unwanted advances, fellate expert witnesses, and help defraud clients.
The American Lawyer reports on paralegal Angela Robinson’s complaint (PDF), filed against Laminack and the two firms at which she worked for him. (We have to wonder why she followed him to the second firm despite the workplace horrors. Cf. Anita Hill.)
Here’s a choice excerpt, available in full after the jump:
That is certainly above and beyond the paralegal call of duty.
The website of Laminack, Pirtle & Martines says that it’s their “honor and priveledge [sic]” to represent clients. And defraud them? According to Robinson’s complaint, Laminack “ordered checks on non-existent medical records for Fen-Phen clients and then docked the cost of the records checks from the clients’ settlement shares.”
(What is it with Fen-Phen lawyers and cheating clients? The WSJ Law Blog had extensive coverage of the Kentucky attorneys accused of bilking their Fen-Phen clients out of millions.)
Robinson put up with the sexual harassment for years; she alleges she was terminated when she confronted Laminack about the Fen-Phen scheme. She wants $55,000 for wrongful termination and back pay. A longer version of the salacious bits of her complaint, after the jump.
In today’s Morning Docket, we wondered about what Milberg Weiss’s new name would be, now that Mel Weiss is on his way to becoming a convicted felon. The answer came more quickly than expected. From the WSJ Law Blog:
The firm formerly known as Milberg Weiss Bershad & Shulman LLP, then Milberg Weiss Bershad LLP, then Milberg Weiss LLP, will now be known just as Milberg LLP. According to a Milberg insider, the name change was announced at a staff meeting this morning, at which Mel Weiss gave a speech talking about the accomplishments of the firm. The audience reportedly applauded…..
“Hey everyone, I’m going to prison for 18 to 33 months. Give me a big hand!”
The WSJ reported this morning that Mel Weiss has struck a deal to agree to plead guilty in a case alleging improper kickbacks. Other former name partners David Bershad and Steven Schulman had previously pleaded guilty in the case.
As recently mentioned in these pages, the internal slogan of the post-merger Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell is “One Firm, One Future.”
Some firms, however, take the opposite view. We’ve just discovered a Southern California boutique whose motto might as well be “Two Firms for the Price of One.” Or maybe “Corporate Work and Plaintiffs’ Work: Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together.” A tipster tells us:
My friend just interviewed at a place called Zuber & Taillieu in Los Angeles. You know, Olivier Taillieu — the guy who filed suit on behalf of the frat boys from Borat….
Ah yes, we do recall. Look back at this post. Engaging in Gallion & Spielvogel-esque self-promotion, Olivier Taillieu described himself as follows: “[Olivier clerked] for the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, one of the most prestigious and sought-after clerkships in the country. Following his clerkships, he entered private practice as a litigator in the Intellectual Property and Technology Department in the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, one of the top 15 law firms in the country as ranked by revenue by The American Lawyer.”
Back to our source:
Well, get this. What that firm doesn’t announce on their “corporate” website is that they have an evil twin: a plaintiffs’ side alter ego, called ZT Personal Injury Law Group. Exact same attorneys, but this time, you can call them at 1-866-SUE-2-WIN. Pay particular attention to the language about penises and vaginas on the firm’s Child Molestation page.
It looks like this “O’Melveny spinoff” isn’t doing QUITE the same caliber work as they’d have you believe…
Indeed. We checked out that “Child Molestation Law” page, which features such lovely words as “vagina,” “rectum,” and “penile penetration” — not your standard law firm website fare. Here’s an excerpt:
If someone you know is a victim of sexual abuse, contact one of our child molestation attorneys today to find out what ZT Personal Injury Law Group can do for you. We offer a FREE consultation, and we don’t get paid unless you win!
Last week, our friends over at the WSJ Law Blog asked: “Why do ‘trial lawyers’ have such a bad name?”
One possible answer: Because they abandon their brides at the altar. From the Miami Herald:
Walk-away groom: Jim Ferraro, multimillionaire trial lawyer.
Ferraro, set to marry prominent real estate broker Patricia Delinois on Friday in a formal ceremony at Fisher Island’s Vanderbilt Mansion, jilted her — at the altar — as they were about to exchange vows before 75 to 80 guests….
After five years of dating, the couple were to finally tie the knot. But, says Ferraro: ‘When it was time to say `I do,’ I just said, ‘I love her but I just can’t do this.’ ” He walked away, flanked by sons James, 21, Andrew, 18, and daughter Alexis, 14.
The audience gasped. Delinois’ sister, Ingrid Long, told off Ferraro — loudly. Some say she yelled, ”You dog!” Not so, Long says. “I called him a snake. I think I even called him a few other things. I was trying very hard not to curse, but I think a few curse words came out.”
Says Ferraro: “It was dramatic.”
Trial lawyers can be such drama queens. Maybe they get addicted to making audiences gasp — you know, that whole “Perry Mason” thing. It appears that finances weren’t behind the cancellation:
The issue, [Ferraro] says, was not money. ”We did have a prenup.” She is CEO of Century 21 Premier Elite Realty. He has law offices in Miami and Cleveland, owns the Cleveland Gladiators arena football team, has a private jet, and built a 21,000-square-foot compound in Martha’s Vineyard — with 14 bedrooms, tennis court, basketball court, nine-hole putting green, movie theater, and weight and cardio gyms.
This time, Ferraro figures, their romance is done for good. “She probably doesn’t ever want to talk to me again.”
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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