Politics

Barack Obama Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.jpgIt’s been a tough week for Camp Obama. We’ve learned that it is not cool to compare Sarah Palin to a pig, but empowering to compare her to a pit bull. But this news should brighten their day, and prove everybody’s suspicions about liberal bias at the nation’s top law schools.
According to the Huffington Post, 635 law professors have contributed to the one of the presidential nominees, with a whopping 95 percent of those contributions going to Obama. Paul Caron at TaxProf Blog has the full breakdown here.
You can’t get 95 percent of law professors to agree on the definition of the word “law.”
Does Obama have a secret plan to raise the salaries of law profs or lower the cost of white poster-board seating charts? At 95 percent, you’d expect Obama to have promised something very specific that is important to academia, and since the only important thing in academia is how much b.s. class-time they have to put in while they struggle to publish enough to make tenure, I don’t know what Obama could have offered them.
Did Obama somehow meet all of them while he was a professor?
Maybe it’s not surprising for the Democratic nominee to garner broad support from law professors. But I’ve got to think that 95% of any subset of the legal profession thinking the same way is unprecedented and slightly frightening.
But I don’t know what it means.
Law Prof Presidential Campaign Contributions: 95% to Obama, 5% to McCain [TaxProf Blog]

ashwin madia nyu congress marine.jpgOnce you get into a top law school, staying on the Biglaw course requires determination, talent and a clear headed focus on your goals. Getting out of Biglaw requires all the same strengths, mixed with a little bit of crazy.
J. Ashwin Madia has been a law firm associate and a Marine, and now he’s running for Congress. But like so many of us his journey started in the relative safety of a top law school. The friends of his from NYU Law might know him better as Jigar. Madia starting using his middle names when he joined the Marines.
The few Marines I’ve met all talk about a desire to give back to the community and Madia is no different:

My parents came to this country with $19 between them, and they bought an $11 bottle of champagne and they started with $8 in this country. So this was a small way to give something back.

Where Madia is different is that his post-bar trip was disturbingly similar to boot camp, insofar as he had to go to boot camp.

The marines are kind of unique in that if you fly a plane or drive a tank or are a lawyer, you all go through the same training. It was funny, after I took the bar exam I had 8 months of crawling around in the mud and shooting a machine gun and learning martial arts and learning how to be a rifle platoon commander.

Madia helped the Iraqi government formulate their legal system, focusing on getting suspected terrorists competent defense lawyers, fair trials, and if guilty, speedy incarceration.
He has also had more traditional legal jobs. After his tour with the in the Marine corps, Madia went back to Minnesota (where he is from) to work at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi in their IP department.

But, you know, sometimes I would look out of the window there and just think of other things I could be doing.

More about Ashwin Madia and his G.I. Joe advice to Biglaw associates after the break.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What Can You Do With A Law Degree?
Join The Marines and Run For Congress “

Arthur Culvahouse, chairman of O’Melveny & Myers, was in charge of vetting Sarah Palin and has been taking some heat.

But Culvahouse has more to worry about than the National Enquirer. Culvahouse is locked in a high-stakes political battle to keep his chairmanship at O’Melveny. O’Melveny’s policy committee, which recommends the chairperson subject to ratification by the full partnership, failed to select a clear winner over the past few weeks.

So now the sharks are circling….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “McCain Veep Vetter Culvahouse Tries to Hang On”

Kwame Kilpatrick Mayor Kwame M Kilpatrick Above the Law blog.jpgSadly, I don’t own a Kevlar vest. If I did, I would be coming to you live from Detroit today, because it appears that today is the day that they finally remove Kwame Kilpatrick’s feeding tube.
Mayor Kilpatrick has become an embarrassment to his city, a nearly impossible task given that he represents Detroit. Kilpatrick had an affair with his chief-of-staff, lied about it under oath, and allegedly paid off a police officer to keep it quiet. If Michigan could beat Utah, perhaps Kilpatrick could have flown under the radar, but in this charged political climate the mere appearance of gross incompetence and corruption is enough to get a man in trouble.
The fact that Kilpatrick has held onto his job for this long is a testament to the people of Detroit and their utter hopelessness.
At 10:00 a.m. eastern time, Judge Robert Ziolkowski will rule on whether Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has the authority to fire the embattled mayor. That ruling should set up a very interesting 2:00 p.m. hearing on the mayor’s sexual perjury case. Reports are flying that Kilpatrick will take a deal prior to the latter hearing, in order to avoid jail time.
Most observers believe that Granholm does have the authority to remove Kilpatrick from office under established principles of Michigan law. Kilpatrick’s main defense appears to be that he doesn’t have time to mount a credible defense. The man is busy trying to stay out of jail, how can he possibly focus on serving the citizens of Detroit?
Complicating Kilpatrick’s defense are five lawyers that Kilpatrick wanted to testify on his behalf. They will not, apparently because they enjoy being lawyers and are afraid of losing their law licenses by associating in any way with Kilpatrick.
Granholm has already scheduled an ouster hearing for Wednesday.
Hearings loom as plea talks stumble [Detroit News]
Stakes high today in Kilpatrick legal drama [Detroit Free Press]
Earlier: Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Indicted

Sarah Palin Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hottie.jpgAccording to the New York Times, John McCain has tapped Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Appeal to disaffected Clinton voters? Trying to lock up the Mike Gravel fan base?
Update: Although Governor Palin is not a lawyer, there have already been several legal issues mentioned with regard to her candidacy. Just last month, her own state legislature opened an investigation into allegations that she tried to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from his state trooper job
Law professor Ann Althouse has already gone on record with a furry opinion about Palin’s credentials.
Without a professional legal background to pontificate on (compare Joe Biden), we here at ATL will continue to scour our sources to bring you the latest on Palin’s positions about the things that matter to lawyers, big and small. Anyone know her views on SCOTUS nominations?
McCain Chooses Palin as Running Mate [New York Times]
Alaska’s Palin Faces Probe [Wall Street Journal]

cleary associate helps obama.jpgAm Law Daily highlights the work of James Clark, a fifth-year at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, who took a two-month unpaid leave to volunteer for the Obama campaign in Pennsylvania.

Clark was a community organizer for three different townships in Bucks County, a county Hillary Clinton carried with over 60 percent of the vote. He felt that his Cleary litigation experience helped him in his campaign stint organizing local volunteers: “Volunteers are kind of like junior associates in that you have to clearly articulate what needs to be done so that everyone is on the same page.”

Also don’t make any sudden movements. Be firm, yet gentle.

Clark credits Cleary for allowing him the opportunity to work in rural Pennsylvania….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cleary Associate Fought for Lost Cause in PA”

secrete service west wing.jpgAuthorities are investigating whether men threatened to kill Senator Barack Obama, or if they were just trying to get a date with Jodie Foster. Either way, U.S. Attorney Troy Eid is certain that the potentially meth-addled gunmen posed no credible threat to Obama or the Democratic National Convention.
We have explored the colossal idiocy of making threats against the President before. However, in a news flash to, you know, Germans, Obama is not the president yet. He is not even the nominee of a major party.
What he is, is a “major candidate” and 18 U.S.C. § 3056, authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to grant him Secret Service protection and all the other trappings of “dude, not to be messed with.”
Obama has received protection for well over a year, earlier than any other presidential candidate in history.
So, here’s an important safety tip: don’t threaten to harm Obama or McCain or Bob Barr or whomever. Register your displeasure in the traditional way, anonymous comments on various blogs that showcase your cutting wit and deep respect for democracy. The Secret Service doesn’t have a sense of humor.
U.S. attorney ‘confident’ Obama not threatened [Rocky Mountain News]

Philip Berg Philip J Berg Barack Obama lawsuit.jpgAlthough Barack Obama is just days away from accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination (acceptance song speculation here), some Hillary Clinton supporters refuse to give up. From the Philadelphia Daily News:

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has faced so many false rumors about his family history that it has put his birth certificate on the Internet: he was born in Honolulu, nearly two years after Hawaii became a state, making Obama a U.S. citizen by birth.

But that hasn’t stopped Montgomery County lawyer Philip J. Berg from challenging Obama’s qualifications to be president.

Berg, a Hillary Clinton supporter, announced he’s filing a federal lawsuit today, claiming that Obama lost his citizenship when his mother relocated the family to Indonesia when Barack was a boy.

Under the law, however, moving to a foreign country does not negate an American’s citizenship.

Bad enough for Rule 11? In Berg’s defense — or maybe not — he makes other claims, too (e.g., that Obama was actually born in Kenya). You can check out the full complaint by clicking here.
Raining on Barack’s Parade [Philadelphia Daily News (fourth item)]
Berg v. Obama: Complaint (PDF)

Barack Obama Joe Biden Democratic presidential ticket 2008.jpgIn a text message sent out at around 3 a.m. today, Senator Barack Obama announced his running mate: Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., of Delaware.
Lawyers should be happy with Obama’s veep pick. There are lots of legal angles to Senator Biden:

  • like Obama (Harvard Law ’91), Joe Biden is a lawyer by training (Syracuse Law ’68);
  • he practiced law in Wilmington, Delaware, for a few years (before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, at age 29);
  • since 1991, he’s taught a seminar in constitutional law at Widener University School of Law; and
  • he’s a longtime member, and former chairman (1987-1995), of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Legal background aside, are you happy with Joe Biden as Obama’s VP nominee? Sound off, in the comments.
Biography: Joe Biden [Senator Joe Biden (official website)]
Obama chooses Sen. Joe Biden to be running mate [CNN]

Barack Obama Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.jpg[Ed. note: Ted Frank's posts analyzing presidential candidate Barack Obama's tax plan, available here and here, were some of the most popular in ATL history. They generated over 900 comments and thousands of pageviews. Because there have been some developments on this front since February, when Ted Frank first issued his analysis, we requested an update; he kindly obliged.]
Above the Law’s Fearless Leader David Lat asked me to update my earlier posts on Obama’s tax plan. As you recall, Obama made a series of promises of “fixing” the tax code, mostly on the backs of investors and the upper middle-class — like Biglaw associates.
I ran a spreadsheet that showed that, with reasonable assumptions, those tax increases would have the same effect on associate after-tax income as a New York law firm cutting salaries by $34,000, but permitted one to change the assumptions if you disagreed with the assumptions I made. I made no endorsements, noting that, Thomas “no relation” Frank notwithstanding, taxes and economic issues were not the only reason to vote for a presidential candidate. (Still, commenters’ reactions can best be described by Tyler Cowen’s description of “Obama insecurity“: “For some people no comment on Obama, other than the purely laudatory, is anything other than a hackish right-wing attempt to forge an alliance of lies with Karl Rove and his ilk.”)
Since then, Obama’s two top economic advisors have posted a Wall Street Journal editorial and a website giving somewhat more detail to the Obama tax plan. David asked me to update my post.
1. The most notable change is Obama’s social security tax plan. Recall that his original promise was to simply lift the cap, changing the system from a pay-in to income-redistribution — something that would have cost law firm associates thousands or tens of thousands and raised marginal tax rates to nearly 60%. When Hillary Clinton started hitting him hard about it, he backed off his original plan to make social security taxes uniform and said he might (but might not) add a “doughnut-hole” between $97,000 and $150,000 or $200,000 or $250,000.
Now that Obama has clinched the nomination and is pretending to be a centrist for the general election, after the Wall Street Journal hit him hard about it, Obama pushed everything he promised in the primaries overboard. First, he said he would raise taxes not the full 12.4%, but just “2 to 4%” — so much for making Warren Buffett pay the same rate as his secretary. The latest is that Obama will avoid any tax changes in social security until 2019, i.e., punting the problem into President Jindal’s lap. So zero out the social security tax increases, unless Obama changes his mind for a fourth time. (People at my high school backed off of plans for trillion-dollar tax increases when faced with outrage from Above the Law commenters all the time. It was no big deal.)
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Obama Tax Plan
(Or: Ted Frank’s What’s the Matter with Manhattan?)”

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