Reality TV

Season 3 of The Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) premiered this week on Bravo. Why, you might ask, are we covering a reality show that features more catfighting and hair pulling than a prize-off between Kenneth Kratz and Jack Camp?

Because the new season brought with it a new cast member who is not only a southern belle, but is also the managing partner of her very own boutique tiny law firm.  She describes herself as fabulous, fierce, and beautiful. She’s even been nominated as one of Atlanta’s Top 100 Black Women of Influence for 2010.

Most importantly, she knows she can have it all.

Meet Phaedra Parks, a graduate of Wesleyan College, University of Georgia School of Law, and an entertainment Super Lawyer! To listen to Phaedra, you’d think she was a direct descendant of Johnny Cochran. He’s the one who told her to hang out her own shingle — though it’s unclear if Cochran was suffering the effects of his fatal brain tumor when he made this suggestion…

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We’ve already titillated you with an interview of one of the Apprentice contestants, former Clifford Chance associate James Weir. Now we’ll get our first look at the rest of the contestants on tonight’s premiere of The Apprentice, which this season is built around a recession theme (and stocked with a number of layoff victims, including laid-off lawyers).

Click on the liveblog below to experience the glory and majesty of Donald Trump, Donald Trump’s hair, and the recession-aided desperation of strangers.

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The new season of The Apprentice: Recession Edition premieres tomorrow night on NBC, and if you weren’t planning on watching it because it’s the 87th season and nobody cares, you just might want to reverse course. No fewer than five unemployed lawyers — cupcake-wielding Brandy, ex-beauty queen Nicole, fashion-obsessed Mahsa, old person Clint, and Prince Harry-lookalike James — are competing to be Donald Trump’s main minion this season. Above the Law scored an advance interview with one of them.

James Weir, 31, was a second-year litigator in Clifford Chance’s New York office before getting laid off because of the economy back in October 2008.  Unable to find work, this Duke undergrad and ’06 Georgetown Law grad became a “couch surfer” (according to his Apprentice bio), brazenly unafraid of bedbugs (I asked), who spent his time applying for jobs, watching a lot of Netflix Instantly Viewable, and learning to stain furniture (presumably on purpose).

In our brief interview, James reveals ATL’s role in his casting (!!), shares the two things he wishes he said on air, and tells us what his mom really thinks about all of this…

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Ed. note: Welcome to ATL’s new column, Fame Brief. Since Kash has left the building, Marin, ATL’s other lady-in-waiting, will be picking up her celebrity beat and filling you in on the latest celebrity legal shenanigans. Before you fall over yourself to post an annoying comment about how this blog be sinking or how nobody cares about celebrities, consider that our celebrity posts are some of the most popular ones on here. So SOMEBODY out there cares about celebrities….

When I got my first credit card, my dad was afraid I’d go hog wild and buy a suit of armor, sconces, breast implants, decorative fireplace accessories, a foosball table, IVF treatments, a boat and a monstrous “Tuscan villa” McMansion in Towaco, NJ. But at least I’m making payments on these purchases, unlike Joe and Teresa Giudice of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, who filed for Chapter 7 back in October 2009….

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Some Italian-Americans from New Jersey end up handing down the law. E.g., Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito.

And some Italian-Americans from New Jersey end up getting in trouble with the law. E.g., Snooki, the pint-sized, gallon-breasted breakout star of MTV’s popular Jersey Shore reality TV show.

According to TMZ, Snooki — a.k.a. Nicole Polizzi — was arrested earlier today in Seaside Heights, NJ. What was her alleged offense?

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Earlier this week, we told you to look out for a former Clifford Chance associate — Georgetown Law grad James Weir — on the upcoming recession-inspired edition of “The Apprentice.” We lamented that Donald Trump was providing work to only one unemployed lawyer.

Shortly thereafter, we found out that the Donald had in fact been more gracious than that to the legal profession. He has given work to at least two down-and-out legal eagles. A tipster wrote:

Saw your post about the former Clifford Chance attorney who was cast for this upcoming season of the Apprentice and wanted to let you know there is also a recent Brooklyn Law grad named Mahsa Saiedi-Azcuy on the show. She graduated in 2009 and was actually hired by the Brooklyn DA, uncertain as to her current employment status though.

We look forward to this match-up: Woman vs. Man. Brooklyn Law vs. Georgetown Law. DA’s Office vs. Biglaw.

Plus, Saiedi-Azcuy is hot…

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Donald Trump knows what it is to be down but not out. We’ve lost track of how many times he’s filed for bankruptcy. But he is a phoenix, who always arises from the Chapter 11 ashes, his flaming reddish hair unruffled.

Now Trump wants to offer the same opportunity to other high-flyers who were knocked down by the recession. The upcoming season of “The Apprentice” has a cast of those left jobless in the recent economic collapse.

When they were casting for the show, the producers reached out to Above the Law in the hopes of nailing down a laid-off lawyer for the cast.

The show was taped this summer. And it appears they found themselves a shiny, new laid-off legal eagle (UPDATE on July 23: Two of them, actually.) The producers haven’t released the official cast list yet, but our tipsters recognized one of the contestants in an ad plugging the show (via Popwatch):

So who is the lawyer, and what does his résumé look like?

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Going on game shows offers up the possibility of great reward or eternal humiliation in the form of YouTube’s infinite archives. An Oregon lawyer by the name of Paul Galm experienced the latter, when he appeared on “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” in 2006. (This is admittedly old, but sometimes we like to exhume Internet classics.)

Galm started off by telling Meredith Viera about how he and his wife — both attorneys — quit their jobs and blew their savings traveling around the world, and how he was appearing on WWTBAM hoping to get his nest egg back. Instead, he epically wound up with egg on his face:

Says the tipster who sent it along: “This guy must have gone to a TTT.”

Well, we did a little research. As it turns out, Paul Galm went to a top ten law school.

Which prestigious institution popped him out, and where is he now?

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Real Housewives of New Jersey son Albie Manzo may be slow, but he’s determined. He flunked out of Seton Hall law school, but he still wants his law degree, and met with a lawyer in the show’s last episode to figure out how he can get it.

Manzo says that the culprit behind his poor law school performance — reflected in his GPA of 1.9 — is a learning disability that causes him to take three times as long as normal people to absorb information. Some may question whether LDs and JDs go together. Said one ATL commenter:

If he has a learning disability, he really shouldn’t be a lawyer. It takes him three times as long to absorb information? Are clients going to be ok with paying him three times as much to get something done? The legal professions is a skilled profession and requires a certain amount of intellect. If one doesn’t have the required intelligence, then it is not right for them… it would be like making exceptions and giving special treatment so ugly people can be supermodels.

But his mom told him he should go for it anyway, become an attorney, “and show Seton Hall the mistake they made.” In the show’s last episode, Manzo met with a lawyer who told him he needs a letter from the school attesting to the fact that they made a mistake. Otherwise, Manzo has to wait two years to reapply to law school….

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It’s not every day that we see a Biglaw associate on the cover of a celebrity gossip magazine. So we were a bit shocked when a tipster sent along the scanned image (right) of last week’s In Touch magazine, with this message:

The guy identified as “Ali’s new guy” in this week’s Intouch weekly (and pictured on the cover) is a Skadden associate — and I think a fairly well-regarded one at that.

Ali, of course, is the current star of The Bachelorette. Background from our resident celeb gossip expert Marin:

This season stars Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky, an unemployed 25-year-old who quit her job at Facebook and moved back in with her parents to be on the show. Fans of the series will recall that Ali was a castoff from last season’s Bachelor, where she endeared herself to fans by wearing low-cut dresses, crying frequently, and vaguely resembling a poor man’s Reese Witherspoon as seen in dim light through cataracts. Anyhow, she’s back this season and more determined than ever to find love with one of 25 white bachelors, not including the one Hispanic dude, Roberto.

The Skadden Arps associate is not one of the two lawyers who was competing for her hand on the show. So this story would ruin the season, if true. Who is this associate?

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