Screw-Ups

Say Cheese!

This year Sidley Austin gave out very good, but not ridiculously good, associate bonuses. Alas, Brian Schroeder was not there to enjoy them.

As you may recall, Schroeder is the 27-year-old Harvard Law School graduate who set fire to a memorial housing the remains of unidentified 9/11 victims, on Halloween 2009. Schroeder then did the right thing and turned himself in to the authorities. Shortly thereafter, Sidley — where Schroeder was headed, after a deferral to do public interest work — rescinded his job offer.

Yesterday afternoon, Schroeder pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with the fire he set (more specifically, charges of burglary, criminal mischief and cemetery desecration). He accepted full responsibility for his actions and apologized for them.

What led the handsome Harvard grad — described by ATL sources as “a good guy” and “really smart,” albeit “a little strange” — to set the blaze? One word: alcohol. Schroeder testified that he couldn’t even remember setting the fire, but admitted to a hard-partying Halloween: “I drank many alcoholic beverages.”

So what kind of sentence is Brian Schroeder getting? One that isn’t pleasing prosecutors….

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Maybe Demi Moore - and Ashton Kutcher, not Michael Douglas - will play them in the movie.

Last week, we started hearing about an amazing email making the rounds. In this email message, a male associate at a large law firm allegedly described, in excruciating detail, a supposed sexual encounter with a married female partner at the firm.

Apparently the raunchy email was making like an STD and going viral within the firm. Concerned about this development, the firm tried to crack down on dissemination by distributing a hard-copy memorandum to lawyers and staff, warning them about recent “spam” containing inappropriate language that was being circulated between several firm email accounts. Memo recipients were directed not to forward the “spam” if they received it, and they were also told not to disseminate the paper memo warning of the “spam.”

Meanwhile, the firm’s information-technology team was frantically trying to put the horse back in the barn. Members of the firm’s IT department were working overtime to locate and delete all copies of the email that they could find.

Alas, they didn’t work fast enough. The sexually explicit message — WARNING: stop reading here if such talk might offend you — finally found its blessed way to the Above the Law inbox….

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What should a law student do when somebody steals his lunch? Lunch thieves are notoriously hungry; they have no shame when it comes to satisfying their need for other people’s food. And they are sneaky little people, always ready to take your well-prepared sandwich within minutes (or, you know, hours and hours) after you leave it in a communal refrigerator.

So what can law students do against such reckless hate? At Michigan Law, two years ago, the victim of this dastardly crime took to the student listserve and proceeded to excoriate the anonymous person who stole his lunch.

At Boston University Law School, the victim decided against hiding behind a computer screen. Instead he left a note, a really angry note, promising immediate punishment to the lunch thief — by his hand or the hands of fate…

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Well, this is not going to make Bingham McCutchen partners happy. A judge today ruled that the marital agreement between Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and wife Jamie McCourt is invalid — and therefore Frank might not have sole ownership of the Dodgers.

We wrote about Bingham’s boo-boo back in September. Some copies of the postnuptial agreement use the word “inclusive” in a way that would have given Frank sole ownership, while others use the word “exclusive,” which would have made Jamie a co-owner.

Bingham’s agreement may have been thrown out by the court, but don’t think for a second that Frank McCourt is done fighting for sole control of the team…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Drafting Fail: Court Rules Jamie McCourt Owns A Piece of the L.A. Dodgers”

Those of you who have been in the legal profession long enough remember the tale of Jonas Blank. While working as a summer associate at Skadden, he inadvertently sent an irreverent email, intended for a single friend, to the firm’s entire underwriting group (partners included). Whoops.

But the firm was forgiving of young Jonas. He received a full-time offer at Skadden, and he worked there for several years before moving on to Richards, Kibbe & Orbe, a well-regarded boutique (where he still works).

It makes sense that Skadden forgave Jonas. Partners in glass towers should not throw stones….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skadden Partner Accidentally Emails Confidential Evaluations to Entire Department”

I don’t know how the New York Law Journal managed to get through this entire story without mentioning Above the Law. But we’ll deal with that later. For now, let’s talk about the New York Board of Law Examiners (BOLE) finally admitting that the results for the July 2010 bar exam were in fact accidentally released on Friday afternoon. According to the report, the list of bar passers was accidentally published while they were preparing to allow individual bar exam takers to look up their results using their BOLE IDs.

It’s a point I made in the comments on this post. Once the list was out on Above the Law, there was no reason for NY BOLE to keep it a secret, so they made the full list available for public viewing on Saturday — a good three or four days before they intended to do so.

If New York Law Journal reporter Joel Stashenko and/or his editor actually paid attention to the world around them, they could have had some fun comparing the BOLE statements published on Above the Law on Friday with the ones from BOLE today. Let’s play “spot the horribly mismanaged press policy,” at the expense of NY BOLE….

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Okay, July New York Bar Exam takers, we don’t know much — but here’s what we know.

For about an hour, the results of the New York Bar Exam appeared on the official site of the New York Board of Law Examiners (NY BOLE). This was a surprise. Results aren’t expected to be released until next week.

And the results appeared legit to me…

UPDATE: We’ve got statements from the New York Board of Law Examiners now, and we have a screen grab…

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It doesn't help that Rich Whitney kind of looks like a Rich Whitey.

Sometimes, typos matter — a lot. We’ve seen typos get law firms into all kinds of trouble. And now a typo might ruin the already slim gubernatorial chances of a Green Party candidate.

Running on the Green Party line, Rich Whitney wasn’t likely to become the next Governor of Illinois anyway. But an error at the Chicago Board of Elections will cause Whitney’s name to be misspelled as “Whitey” on some touch screen ballots this November. Of the 23 wards affected by this typo, half of them are in largely African-American districts. And the error cannot not be fixed in time for Election Day.

So yeah, black people in Chicago will be able to vote for “Rich Whitey” this fall.

You remember that scene in Die Hard With a Vengeance where Bruce Willis has to stand in the middle of Harlem while wearing an offensive sandwich board? Things are going to turn out marginally better for Rich Whitney, but clearly Whitney would have been better off changing his last name to “not the whiteman’s bitch.” Or even “Kill Whitey,” as Juggalo Law suggests…

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It’s actually not the divorce of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the divorce of real estate mogul Frank McCourt and his wife, Jamie. Some call it the Dodger Divorce, however, since this bitter litigation could determine the fate of the storied baseball team — an asset worth hundreds of millions.

The couple is fighting over ownership of the Dodgers in a Los Angeles courtroom, aided by a long list of leading litigators. Frank McCourt is represented by Stephen Susman of Susman Godfrey, among others, and Jamie McCourt’s legal team is led by David Boies of Boies Schiller. (For a more complete listing of the lawyers involved, see here.)

But right now Susman and Boies aren’t the lawyers in the limelight. Rather, all eyes are focused on attorneys from Bingham McCutchen. The Boston Globe reports:

The high-powered firm is suddenly at the center of the drama because of work done by its lawyers. At issue is the wording of a document signed by both McCourts six years ago. According to media reports, three copies of the marital property agreement use the word “inclusive,” which would make Frank McCourt the sole owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and three copies say “exclusive,” which would make Jamie McCourt the co-owner of the venerable Major League Baseball franchise.

This is not the first time we’ve covered how a tiny difference in language — just two little characters, “in” as opposed to “ex” — could mean millions. Remember the single-digit error that could cost a real estate company tens of millions? See also the $900,000 comma and the $40,000 missing “L.”

Yikes. This is such stuff as lawyers’ bad dreams are made of. Law truly is a game of inches. (When bloggers make typos, commenters make fun of us; when lawyers make typos, people die lose money — sometimes lots and lots of it.)

The lead lawyer from Bingham McCutchen, Larry Silverstein — no relation to the World Trade Center real estate developer, as far as we know — admits that he messed up in preparing the marital property agreement (MPA)….

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Gone baby gone.

Protip: Don’t look up the Wikipedia entry for foreskin. Don’t do it even if you have to write a post about a baby who was given a circumcision against his parents’ wishes. Vera Delgado, the baby’s mother, had left the hospital to shower and get a change of clothes. Just long enough for Nurse Ratched and the gang to do the do. Delgado’s lawyer, Spencer Aronfeld, summed up the understandable reaction:

“It was horrific, quite frankly,” said Aronfeld. “The parents were very explicit they did not want him circumcised, and [the hospital] had asked the parents repeatedly.”

Since announcing Delgado would sue, Aronfeld said he has received countless supportive e-mail messages and seen social network postings from so-called “intactivists” who oppose circumcision.

“People who are passionate about not circumcising their children are sending me Facebook messages, like, “I love you. You are my hero!”

So the mother is suing the hospital. Of course (not of course), we all remember from law school (from Google) that Benjamin Cardozo wrote the seminal opinion in which an unwanted surgical procedure was legally classified as battery. And that’s exactly what the mother is suing the hospital for. All fine and well. Somebody messed up, and “Oops!” isn’t going to cut it.

But it’s not the dollar amount of $1 million that jumps out from the story….

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