Clare Lenore Stoudt, a 35-year-old mother of five, was found dead in her home over the weekend. Stoudt was a tax associate at Pillsbury Winthrop. According to the ABA Journal, authorities believe that Stoudt may have been the victim of a murder-suicide:
The father of her three youngest children, Reginald Van Graves, 49, also was found apparently shot to death in the Howard County home, and a gun was in the vicinity, authorities say. A custody case over the three children, aged 2, 5 and 7, had begun less than a week earlier in Howard County Circuit Court.
The Howard County Times reports that police say the deaths may have been a murder-suicide. Autopsies have not yet been completed, however, and the investigation has not concluded.
Christine Kearns, managing partner for Pillsbury’s D.C. office, released the following statement for the firm….
A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the decision by Philip Markoff, aka the Craigslist Killer, to take his own life. Today we’re seeing another version of that kind of thinking — less high-profile, less fatal, but still pretty harrowing.
The Dallas Morning News reports that a Texas man slashed his own throat — in the courtroom — after receiving a 40-year sentence for assault:
Marcial Michael Anguiano pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for cutting his niece with a butcher knife. After state District Judge Larry Mitchell announced Anguiano’s sentence, Anguiano cut himself with a razor blade.
“As soon as the judge sentenced him, I saw him do something with his right arm,” said Anguiano’s defense attorney, Juan Sanchez. “I turned and he cut himself with something he had brought into the courtroom.”
After Markoff offed himself, Professor Douglas Berman wrote on his blog, Sentencing Law and Policy, that from a utilitarian perspective we should be happy about Markoff’s suicide. But here Anguiano’s self-mutilation was a disaster, from a utilitarian point of view, for the state of Texas…
Here’s an interesting issue for the pro-death penalty crowd: If killing violent offenders passes as justice, are they happy when a violent offender kills himself? That’s the question being bandied about the blogosphere in the wake of Philip Markoff’s apparent suicide.
Markoff was in jail awaiting trial as the “Craigslist Killer.” He allegedly murdered Julissa Brisman after meeting her on Craigslist.
[A]ssuming he was guilty, my first reaction here is to be pleased. By killing himself, Markoff saved a lot of time, money and energy for those who would be tasked with prosecuting and defending him. And the family of his victim would, I hope, get some measure of closure from Markoff’s death.
Actually, the family of the victim does not seem at all pleased by Markoff’s apparent suicide…
There was unhappy news out of Chicago last week. Stewart Dolin, an M&A partner at Reed Smith, was struck and killed by a train on Thursday. According to the Chicago Tribune, the coroner has ruled the death a suicide.
Dolin was the co-chair of Reed Smith’s corporate and securities practice. He lived in Glencoe, north of Chicago, and was hit by a northbound train at a Blue Line station in the Loop at 1:45 p.m.
When suicides happen, many firms will turn the person’s website bio into a temporary “in memoriam” page, but Dolin’s bio has been removed. A firm spokesman tells us: “After conferring with the family we kept our communication memorializing Stu internal.”
The managing partner in the Chicago office has issued a statement about Dolin’s death.
How big of a problem is suicide on law school campuses? Recently, a suicide tragedy affected the UNC Law community. In December, a student at Michigan Law took his own life. And there have been sad and high-profile suicides in Biglaw too.
It’s impossible to assess the precise role the recession may have played in these recent tragedies. It’s a little too easy to blame everything on a shaky economy and uncertain job prospects. The thoughts that flash through the head of a person about to take his or her own life are deeply complicated .
The old platitudes — e.g., “if you are feeling overwhelmed, get help” — seem meaningless in the face of actual death.
It appears that some law school and university communities are taking more aggressive steps towards suicide prevention. At NYU and Cornell, officials are trying to limit access to potential suicide points on campus.
Are these steps necessary? More to the point, will these steps be effective?
Ed. note: This post is written by Will Meyerhofer, a Biglaw attorney turned psychotherapist, whom we profiled last week. A former Sullivan & Cromwell associate, he holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work. He blogs at The People’s Therapist. Last October, a law school placement director friend of mine forwarded me an email with a juicy piece of big law gossip. A former associate at Sullivan & Cromwell had offed himself. He was 39.
The body was discovered beneath a highway bridge in Toronto. A few days earlier, it was revealed that since the mid-90′s, he and a co-conspirator made ten million dollars on an insider trading scheme. He’d stolen insider information from S&C, arriving early in the morning to dig through waste baskets, rifle through partners’ desks, and employ temporary word-processor codes to break into the computer system.
“You can’t make this shit up,” was my friend’s comment. “Wasn’t he from around your time?”
It took a minute to locate the face. Gil Cornblum. Jewish, a bit pudgy, with big round glasses. Gil, in that ridiculous little office two doors down from mine.
What was Gil like? Mild-mannered, pleasant, always smiling.
I should have known something was wrong.
John Mason Mings, an IP partner in the Houston office of Baker & Hostetler, committed suicide on Monday. AmLaw Daily reports on the 45-year-old lawyer’s death:
Witnesses observed Mings sitting by himself on the waters edge early Monday afternoon. Police called to the scene found Mings laying partially in the water, dead from a single gunshot wound to the head.
His firm bio remains available, though it includes an “In Memoriam” message. The Duke Law grad had formerly been a partner at Fulbright & Jaworski, before joining Baker in December 2008.
As AmLaw Daily notes, depression is a serious problem for lawyers:
A recent study found that depression among attorneys is on the rise, coinciding with increasingly bleak economic forecasts.
One expert has claimed that the typical personality traits and training of lawyers often prevents them from seeking treatment for emotional problems and substance abuse, which in turn leads to higher rates of depression in the profession. The American Bar Association has found that suicide among lawyers occurs two to six times more than among the general population.
Another recent suicide led the WSJ Law Blog to write a post today on technology, social isolation, and suicide.
In yesterday’s post regarding the tragedy that left a Howrey associate, Elizabeth Fontaine (pictured), and three of her family members dead, we promised to keep you posted on new developments. We now bring you this update, from the Orange County Register:
Sheriff’s investigators believe they know how four people, including two young sisters, died in a bloody heap Monday inside a million-dollar home in Talega.
Grandmother Bonnie Hoult, 67, fired the gun that killed her daughter and grandchildren before turning the .357 magnum on herself, a senior homicide investigator told the Register, citing the department’s prevailing theory behind the killings that rocked a gated community.
He said her daughter Elizabeth Fontaine, 38, appeared to have been a willing participant in the killings, with both she and her mother choosing death for themselves and the girls instead of allowing the sisters to be sent temporarily into the custody of a sister of their father.
More about these modern-day Medeas, after the jump.
Tragedy struck the Irvine, CA, and Houston offices of Howrey earlier this week. The ABA Journal reports:
A Howrey intellectual property lawyer was found dead along with her daughters and mother Monday in an apparent murder-suicide.
Associate Elizabeth Fontaine, her two daughters and her mother were killed on the same day that a California judge gave temporary custody of the girls to an aunt, according to the Los Angeles Times’ L.A. Now blog and the Associated Press. Authorities are conducting forensics tests to determine who pulled the trigger.
Howrey confirmed that Elizabeth Fontaine was a Howrey employee in a firm-wide email yesterday. The email, plus AN UPDATE, after the jump.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
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