Reality TV

19 Recordings, the entity that enters into record deals with the recording artists who win American Idol, has sued Sony Music for allegedly stealing millions of dollars after underpaying the company in terms of royalties. The 33-page complaint, available after the jump, opens with a list of American Idol success stories and then documents in detail how Sony Music reportedly stole millions from them. 

According to the suit, Sony misclassified streaming music sales to pay 19 Recordings less than what the company was owed.  Another claim is that Sony was supposed to obtain approval from 19 Recordings after a certain ceiling cost for advertising was reached, but Sony failed to seek that approval before spending 19 Recordings’ royalties without its consent. The remaining allegations similarly claimed underpayment for royalties, improper passing of expenses on 19 Recordings, not allowing 19 Recordings to audit all of Sony’s books, and claims related to royalties for individual artists.

Interestingly, 19 Recordings filed in federal court. 19 Recordings is the little guy in this action — with the backing of name brand stars — and it seems that the company might fare better in state court.  The suit comes just after Season 13 of the show premiered on Fox.  The suit seeks $7 million in damages and $3 million in prejudgment interest.

Keep reading to see the complaint…

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Andi Dorfman

* If your firm has not yet given in to the demands of corporate clients for more reasonable billing structures, please be aware that a) your firm is behind the times, and b) you better be prepared to get your white shoes scuffed. [Boston Globe]

* Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the fairest firm of them all? According to the 2014 Acritas Brand Index survey, Skadden is the firm on everyone’s mind — for the third year in a row. They must be doing something right. Congrats! [Am Law Daily]

* Part of this former staff attorney’s discrimination suit against Quinn Emanuel was dismissed, but as our editor, Elie Mystal, mused when he first heard of this case, it’s likely “the only color Quinn cares about is green.” [New York Law Journal]

* Trendspotting: Because fast-growing technology equals fast-growing money when it comes to the law, LeClairRyan is the first second firm in the U.S. to open up a drone practice group. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

UPDATE (1:00 p.m.): Actually, Kramer Levin launched its Unmanned Aircraft Systems Practice Group back in December 2013, as noted by the ABA Journal and Bloomberg News.

* Bachelorette-in-waiting Andi Dorfman was granted an unpaid leave of absence from her job as an ADA to star in this summer’s edition of the reality show. We guess her boss gave her career a rose. [Daily Report]

Teresa and Joe Giudice

Ed. note: Please welcome Jenny M. Brandt, who will be covering celebrities and the law. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.

Real Housewives of New Jersey table-turner Teresa Giudice was indicted with her husband for a slew of charges including mail fraud, wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and making false statements on a mortgage application.  Giudice has filed for a separate trial from her husband, Joe. The motion, available via PACER, reveals interesting details about the alleged fraud…

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As 2013 draws to a close, let’s look back at the 10 biggest stories in the legal profession over the past year. This is an annual tradition here at Above the Law, which we’ve done in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. We’ll fire up the old Google Analytics machine to get data on our most popular posts, based on pageviews, and share the results with you.

Before turning to specific stories, let’s look at the top general discussion topics here at ATL. For 2013, our most trafficked category page was Biglaw, which bumped Law Schools out of the top spot — a spot that Law Schools held from 2010 through 2012. Now that the word is out about the perils of getting a law degree, leading to plummeting applications, perhaps it’s time to move on from the “don’t go to law school” narrative.

After Biglaw and Law Schools, our third most-popular category page was, as usual, Bonuses. This wasn’t a terribly exciting year for bonuses — there were no spring bonuses, and Cravath and its many followers paid out the same bonuses as last year — but people still want to know the score.

Our fourth most-popular category page was small law firms. Small firms, including boutiques, are an area of increasing focus and readership for us — and also where many of the job opportunities are these days.

Moving on from the topic pages, what were the 10 most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2013?

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* Another lawyer is going on The Bachelor! This time it’s Andi (pictured), a Wake Forest Law grad who is described as a federal prosecutor (though other sources say she works at the district attorney’s office). She says she got a murder conviction in 8 minutes, which is impressive for someone who graduated last year. Like, hard-to-believe impressive. Well, now she’ll be trading in all that self-respect for roses and 15 minutes of reality TV fame. [Huffington Post]

* The law of underground trespassing — when drilling sends contaminants into neighboring land. “I poison your milkshake. I poison it up!” [Breaking Energy]

* At least a couple readers have had a bad exam experience already this term. Here’s how to deal with it. The advice is pretty good except for advising you to avoid alcohol. Alcohol is always the answer. [Law School Toolbox]

* It’s time to start making moves to improve your long-term quality of life. [Law and More]

* Kevin Underhill of Lowering the Bar has a new book about all the stupid laws on the books out there. It’s called The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance. [Lowering the Bar]

* When you hear about the similarities between Obamacare and the Heritage Foundation plan from the old days, recognize you’re getting spun. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Trying to balance out religious symbols in public spaces for the holidays is dumb. All you need is the Festivus pole. Lest you forget the story of Festivus, there’s a video embedded beyond the jump…. [PrawfsBlawg]

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Well la dee da! Future lawyers of America, welcome to the show. She’s not a lawyer yet, so don’t hate her; root for her to win this….

Drew Carey, host of The Price Is Right, upon learning that contestant Monique Boyce is a Georgetown law student (around 19:10 in the video). Congratulations to Monique on winning the Showcase Showdown!

Andrew Kravis, recent Columbia Law School grad and new millionaire.

Congratulations to Andrew Kravis. He graduated from Columbia Law School this past May, but he’s already earned enough money to pay off all his student loans.

And no, he doesn’t work at a hedge fund or private equity firm. He doesn’t even work in Biglaw. He’s a public interest lawyer, about to start a fellowship at Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization working for LGBT civil rights. He was honored upon graduating from CLS as one of two students “who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the furtherance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.”

So how did this outstanding do-gooder also do so well? How did he earn enough money to pay off all his student loans, and then some — a cool $2.6 million, to be exact?

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It looks like this ‘real’ housewife needs to get a real lawyer.

* The debt “vultures” are still circling Argentina’s carcass, but later this month, the justices of the Supreme Court will convene to decide whether or not they’ll take up the country’s bond case. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Judge Robert Wilkins managed to sail through his D.C. Circuit confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee with great ease, but let’s see what happens when he gets to the full Senate. [Blog of Legal Times]

* An in-house attorney in Pennsylvania was suspended from the practice of law for six months because he attached a camera to his shoe to secretly film up women’s skirts. What a classy dude. [Legal Intelligencer (sub. req.)]

* Massive open online courses are trending in the world of higher education, and some law schools — e.g., Harvard and Northwestern — decided to get on the bandwagon while the getting’s good. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* “I’m prepared to drop everything and go to law school,” says the man appealing his age discrimination suit against Baylor Law School because his GPA predates grade inflation. [Texas Lawyer (sub. req.)]

* The man who represented cast members of the Real Housewives of New Jersey was arrested for the unauthorized practice of law. We bet these “reality” TV stars wish they had a real lawyer. [Bergen Record]

TV Guide released its annual list of television salaries and, once again, the top spot belongs to Judge Judy.

Someone needs to resolve the nation’s disputes over dogs taking dumps in the neighbor’s lawn. We need her on that wall.

America’s most trusted jurist has the highest-rated show in syndication, so a hefty salary isn’t really surprising.

What is surprising is just how much Judge Judy blows away the competition in the salary market. A-List TV personalities on flagship network programs are begging for table scraps compared to her haul.

Meanwhile, another TV jurist has slipped off the highest paid list…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The $47 Million Dollar Law Degree: Judge Judy Is America’s Highest-Paid TV Star”

* Chess match becomes eight-hour police standoff. Sure, that makes sense. [Lowering the Bar]

* A roundup of the worst courtroom jokes of all time. The decision to kick off Roe v. Wade with a sexist joke was so “meta.” [Salon]

* Order some fine wines from Barrister Winery, founded by two lawyers who bought a home wine-making kit and turned it into their business. [Barrister Winery]

* A Brooklyn ADA is not fired for calling hookers from his office phone. Charlie Hynes runs a tight ship over there. [Brooklyn Magazine]

* A new study suggests that smartphones may make you meeker. The flaw with the study is that someone with a desktop doesn’t walk away and “take the initiative” because they’re more gung ho, but because desktops are not as cool as sitting around and playing Temple Run on your smartphone. [The Careerist]

* Simon Lazarus, Senior Counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center, says that libertarianism has taken over the Supreme Court. I won’t believe it until they hand down a ruling about returning to the gold standard. [The New Republic]

* Teresa and Joe from The Real Housewives of New Jersey “charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud in a 39-count indictment.” Teresa’s reaction to the news after the jump…

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