Politics

Barack Obama Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.jpg[Ed. note: Today we bring you some "news you can use": a practical look at how political choices might affect your personal finances. This post is by Ted Frank, who blogs at Overlawyered.com and PointofLaw.com, and who has guest edited ATL in the past. Take it away, Ted.]
BigLaw lawyers love Obama. If one searches by law firm various databases on-line for campaign contributions, one sees an overwhelming sea of blue, and most of it to Obama.
But how will Obama affect BigLaw wallets? On Above the Law, we regularly see commenters threaten to abandon law firms for falling $5,000/year short of market. I therefore thought it worthwhile to examine the effects of Obama’s tax and spending plans on take-home pay.
We all know that Obama wants to end the Bush tax cuts. That is a 3% bump across the board to the bad old days when associates faced a marginal federal tax rate of 36%.
But the real hidden tax is that Obama plans to end the social-security tax cap. Right now, you may notice, sometime during the summer or early fall, your take-home pay suddenly goes up because they stop deducting FICA. Current law caps social security taxes: in 2008, the cap is at $102,000. Obama proposes to abolish this. That mid-summer bump will be no more: add about several thousand dollars to your annual tax bill.
But social-security taxes are not only on employees. The government also charges 6.2% to employers that you never see on your W-2s. But rest assured the partners see this, and will notice that the expense of keeping an associate has risen several thousand dollars a year when FICA taxes double and triple. Will they swallow that additional expense, or take it out of your bonus?
Find out, after the jump (or click here).

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Obama, BigLaw, and Taxes
(Or: Obama = $34,000 Paycut)”

Draft Lessig Change Congress Professor Lawrence Lessig Larry Lessig Above the Law blog.jpgThe stereotypical law professor might be viewed as too disengaged from the “real world” to be a good politician. But as Barack Obama shows, it’s quite possible to move from legal academia into political life.
Now another prominent young law prof — who, by the way, is an outspoken Obama supporter — is contemplating Congress. From a Stanford Law School source:

Larry Lessig is considering a congressional run to replace Tom Lantos. Seems to have sparked a lot of energy and attention here on campus and in the Silicon Valley the last day or two.

No discussion yet about what happens to his Con Law class if he decides to run.

As Professor Lessig recently told the WSJ Law Blog, he wants to change the political process, primarily by reducing the influence of money and lobbyists on policy decisions. And what better way to reform the system than from within?
If you’re interested in expressing support for Professor Lessig, check out the links collected below. The Draft Lessig Facebook group already has over 3,000 members — but surely they’d welcome more.
Lessig ’08 [official website]
Draft Lessig – Change Congress
Draft Lessig for Congress [Facebook]
Law Blog Q&A With Lawrence Lessig [WSJ Law Blog]

* House Democrats oppose Senate spy bill’s telecom immunity. [Washington Post]
* Justice Scalia approves of “so-called torture” under some circumstances. [MSNBC]
* Just a few months later, Senate committee gets around to admonishing Sen. Craig. [CNN]
* Clemens and McNamee go head to head before Congress. [ESPN]
* City’s scantily clad cowboy sues candy-coated counterpart. [WSJ Law Blog]

William and Mary Marshall Wythe School of Law Above the Law blog.jpgWe love internecine warfare at law schools and in other academic settings. As the old saying goes — our cursory Googling doesn’t immediately generate the exact wording or source, so we’ll paraphrase — fights in academia are so vicious because the stakes are so small.

As Hillary and Barack do battle in Virginia today, so too do administrators at William and Mary. From a tipster at William & Mary School of Law (interesting factoid: it’s one of the oldest law schools in the country):

Today the William and Mary Board of Visitors decided not to renew William and Mary President Gene Nichol’s contract. Nichols sent out a pretty amazing email to all students about his resignation, and Michael Powell, former FCC Chairman and Rector of W&M, sent a response. Needless to say, people are talking of nothing else today.

To make the story even better, the law school dean, Taylor Reveley, is now serving as President of W&M. Nichols is joining the law school staff, where his wife is also a professor.

Check out the messages — Gene Nichol’s defiant departure email, claiming he was ousted due to ideological reasons, and Michael Powell’s steadfast denial that the non-renewal was based on ideology — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Turmoil at William & Mary – Law School Dean Takes Over as President”

Barack Obama small Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.JPGFrom a politically-minded tipster:

Can we get a thread to find out how Barack Obama was as a law professor at Chicago? It would be perfect for the election season. Not to mention that I really want to know what he was like in the classroom.

Not that many people on Above the Law could probably help with this one, but I’d love to hear any reports of Hillary Clinton at Arkansas too. She did teach a few classes back in the 70s…

Thanks! My whole family of lawyers love your blog!

If you have any anecdotes about Professor Obama to share — we’ve heard a few, but they were given to us off the record, so we can’t use them — please dish in the comments, or email us.
If you’re hoping to have a class with Professor Obama in the future, you may be out of luck. As Lawrence Hurley of the Daily Journal reports, “the man who could be the next president of the United States is still listed as a member of the faculty” on the University of Chicago website — but as his faculty profile notes, he “is currently a candidate for the office of President of the United States.”
That U. Chicago profile, by the way, lists the candidate’s personal AOL email address. Add him to your AIM buddy list! But don’t be surprised if he’s not online much these days — he’s kind of busy right now.
Obama Keeps His Teaching Options Open [Washington Briefs]
Office Hours with Professor Obama? [WSJ Law Blog]
Barack Obama: Senior Lecturer in Law [University of Chicago Law School]
“I Got a Crush…On Obama” By Obama Girl [YouTube]

* The NYT’s official statement on L’Affaire Berenson. [Starkman & Associates]
* A slew of law school hypotheticals about sex with and between minors, triggered by Carl Stanley McGee, our Lawyer of the Day. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Second runner-up for Lawyer of the Day? And a punitive damages award of $33 million. Ouch. [How Appealing]
* Man saves dog; law student saves man. Congratulations to GW’s Jason Coates, our Law Student of the Day! [GW Hatchet]
* “Derek Jeter has romanced Mariah Carey, squired Jessica Biel, sweet-talked Scarlett Johansson — and now he’s made it to first base with the state taxman.” [TaxProf Blog]
* Wow, this is wild. Has Gary Crossen, a former federal prosecutor and partner at Foley Hoag, read too many John Grisham novels? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Speaking of white-collar criminal defense lawyers, more business may be headed their way, courtesy of Andrew Cuomo. [DealBreaker]
* You’ve got… male? [Reuters]
* Are you a Disgruntled Republican? Join the club — or buy a mug. [Zazzle]

Mitt Romney Governor Mitt Romney Above the Law blog.jpgFormer Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney — a proud graduate of Harvard Law School, and the Sullivan & Cromwell of presidential candidates — is suspending his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. See links below.
Today is shaping up to be a bad day for HLS grads in Massachusetts state government.
GOP sources: Romney to suspend campaign [CNN]
Romney to Quit Race [The Page / Time.com]

Carl McGee Carl Stanley McGee Governor Deval Patrick Above the Law blog.jpgThe day is still young, but we already have our Lawyer of the Day — and we doubt that anyone we hear about later today can steal this honor away from him. Via the Boston Globe:

A top official in the [Gov. Deval] Patrick administration has been placed on unpaid leave because he was arrested in Florida and charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old male in a steam room at a $500-a-night Gulf Coast resort.

Carl Stanley McGee, 38, assistant secretary for policy and planning, is scheduled to be arraigned next week for sexual battery in Lee County, Fla…. According to police reports, McGee was arrested Dec. 28 and accused of performing oral sex on the 15-year-old, who was a guest at The Gasparilla Inn & Club, a 95-year-old hotel and championship golf course in Boca Grande.

As they like to say up in Massachusetts, “Thar he blows.”

McGee, a former Rhodes scholar and Harvard Law School graduate, was previously a corporate lawyer at the law firm WilmerHale. He was instrumental in the movement seeking to defeat efforts to overturn legalization of same-sex marriage, serving as director of the civic and business outreach efforts of the advocacy group MassEquality.

A year after same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts in May 2004, McGee’s wedding to John Finley IV was highlighted in the “Vows” section of The New York Times….

Known for his shock of platinum hair, McGee was named one of The Boston Globe’s 25 most stylish Bostonians in November. In the article, he described his style as “traditional, but it’s also subversive and ironic.”

“Traditional,” but “subversive.” Sort of like married men engaging in steam-room hook-ups?
Good thing Carl McGee isn’t running for office. We’re reminded of the famous quotation by former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, who once boasted that he couldn’t lose an upcoming election unless he was “caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.”
Update: Just a reminder that these are obviously mere allegations. Sources mentioned in the Globe article said they “were stunned by the news of McGee’s arrest and said they do not believe the charges.” One colleague of McGee told the paper, “I know it didn’t happen.”
Further Update: Best comment thus far, from an observant, Spanish-speaking reader: “He was arrested for blowing a 15 year old in… huhuhuh… Boca Grande…”
Key aide to Patrick accused of sex assault [Boston Globe]
John Finley IV and Stan McGee [New York Times]

Barack Obama small Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.JPGThat’s the subject of our column in this week’s New York Observer.
Today, of course, is Super Tuesday. And based on early returns, it appears that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is having a sensational evening. Maybe this could have been predicted, based on how many lawyers we spoke with tried to claim that their own firms were the Biglaw version of Barack — and how many lawyers tried to avoid having their firms tagged as Hillary.
You can read the full column, in which we pick the Biglaw embodiments of everyone from Hillary Clinton to Ron Paul, by clicking here.
Update (1:00 AM): First, it seems that the early returns may have been misleading. Barack Obama had a strong evening, but not a “sensational” one (since he lost California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts).
Second, we have some egg on our face with respect to Mike Huckabee, whom we treat dismissively in the column. We reported and wrote the piece well before Huckabee won a surprisingly high number of states tonight.
N.Y. Law Firms Wanna be Just Like Obama [New York Observer]

Barack Obama small Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.JPGThat’s the subject of our column in this week’s New York Observer.
Today, of course, is Super Tuesday. And based on early returns, it appears that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is having a sensational evening. Maybe this could have been predicted, based on how many lawyers we spoke with tried to claim that their own firms were the Biglaw version of Barack — and how many lawyers tried to avoid having their firms tagged as Hillary.
You can read the full column, in which we pick the Biglaw embodiments of everyone from Hillary Clinton to Ron Paul, by clicking here.
Update (1:00 AM): First, it seems that the early returns may have been misleading. Barack Obama had a strong evening, but not a “sensational” one (since he lost California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts).
Second, we have some egg on our face with respect to Mike Huckabee, whom we treat dismissively in the column. We reported and wrote the piece well before Huckabee won a surprisingly high number of states tonight.
N.Y. Law Firms Wanna be Just Like Obama [New York Observer]

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