Clawback provisions

Last month, we provided you with detailed information about how much various former partners of Dewey & LeBoeuf earned in the last two years of the firm’s existence. We also reported on how much these partners were each being asked to pay into the “Partner Contribution Plan,” a global settlement that would provide these partners with releases from future Dewey-related liability.

At the time of that report, we didn’t know which partners decided to sign up for the PCP and which ones declined the offer. But now we do, thanks to a recent bankruptcy court filing by Dewey.

Dewey want to know the skinny? Of course we do….

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An ethical duty?

* Are you ready for some Supreme gossip? In remarks delivered at Colorado Law, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted that the Defense of Marriage Act would be argued “toward the end of the current term.” [CBS News]

* Dewey’s version of trying to curry favor for the proposed $72M partner settlement? Filing a deposition transcript noting that others could’ve also been blamed for D&L’s downfall, but weren’t due to time constraints. Gee, thanks. [Am Law Daily]

* Novak Druce + Quigg and Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz will merge to form Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg, the 7th largest IP firm in the U.S. Guess seven name partners was a bit much. [Delaware Law Weekly]

* Michael McShane was nominated by President Obama to fill a judgeship in Oregon. If confirmed, he’d be one of the few openly gay judges on the federal bench, which, of course, would be fabulous. [Oregonian]

* The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession wants the ABA to amend the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to include a duty to promote diversity. Because we clearly need a rule on that. [National Law Journal]

* Cindy Garcia, an actress from “Innocence of Muslims,” is suing, claiming that she was duped into the role under false pretenses. She wants the film removed from YouTube. Everyone else does, too, lady. [Bloomberg]

* A judge refused to issue an injunction against the California ban on foie gras, instead allowing a suit on the same topic to move forward. Oh mon dieu, judge, think of all the poor Francophiles! [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Joshua Morse III, former dean of Mississippi Law who defied segregation, RIP. [New York Times]

Cecily A. Dumas

Even though these individuals had the title of partner, they were not partners in the true sense and therefore are not subject to partner clawback claims. They shared in the downside, but they didn’t share in the upside.

Cecily Dumas, a partner at Dumas & Clark, commenting on claims made by a group of former non-equity partners at Howrey whom she now represents in the defunct firm’s bankruptcy proceedings.

(Want to see the list of ex-Howrey non-equity partners that are bringing forth these claims? Let’s take a look….)

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William Baer

* “We’re all from the Ivy League. That seems to be more relevant than what faith we are.” SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas really knows how to make Article III Groupie’s heart sing. [New York Times]

* Dewey know why this failed firm’s bankruptcy team is cutting special deals with the former D&Lers who worked on the sale of the Dodgers? Like all things Biglaw, it all circles back to money. [WSJ Law Blog]

* What in William Baer’s past might lead the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a closed meeting on his candidacy to lead the DOJ’s Antitrust Division? [Blog of Legal Times]

* In a heartwarming pro bono project, Proskauer Rose will be representing NYC in its attempts to evict an elderly newsstand operator from his kiosk in Greenwich Village. It really brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it? [New York Post]

* Jerry Sandusky will be sentenced on October 9, and prosecutors are asking that he be classified as a sexually violent predator. Boy, that’ll be a fun title to have while he’s in jail for the rest of his life. [Bloomberg]

* “[A]t present, the large majority of law graduates — perhaps 80 percent — end up worse off after going to law school that they were before they enrolled.” Paul Campos is so cheerful in his book. [National Law Journal]

Kate Middleton

* Come on, people, Dewey really think that it’s fair that these proposed partnership clawback settlements blame only us for the firm’s implosion? The Steves and ex-CFO Joel Sanders don’t think so. [Bloomberg]

* “[E]ven if partners’ capital contributions were used to repay Dewey’s indebtedness—so what?” Well, that’s certainly one way to defend a suit alleging Citibank’s participation in a Ponzi-like scheme. [Am Law Daily]

* A $280K bonus sure seems nice, but do all Supreme Court clerks choose life in Biglaw once they’ve completed their stints at the high court? As it turns out, the answer is no — some view the money as “golden handcuffs.” [Wall Street Journal]

* Because nobody can ogle these crown jewels except Prince William: the royals’ potential suit against Closer magazine over topless pics of Kate Middleton has turned into full-blown privacy proceeding. [New York Times]

* If you’re struggling in law school, it may be wise to take some advice from those who’ve been there before you, like SullCrom’s Rodge Cohen, or the Ninth Circuit’s Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. [National Law Journal]

Isn’t Jewel v. Boxer a great case name? Doesn’t it sound like one of the classics of the 1L curriculum, right up there with Pierson v. Post, Hawkins v. McGee, and International Shoe?

It is definitely a case that lawyers ought to know. This appellate decision, handed down by a California court in 1984, remains the leading case on how to divvy up attorneys’ fees generated by cases that were still in progress at the time of a law firm’s dissolution. Dewey care about this case? Absolutely.

But Jewel might not maintain its status as the key precedent on so-called “unfinished business,” at least if one judge has anything to say about it. Check out an interesting ruling that just came down from the Southern District of New York, arising out of one of the biggest Biglaw bankruptcies of recent years….

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Kim Kardashian

* Apparently spring bonuses don’t make the Biglaw world go ’round after all. The annual Am Law midlevel survey is out, and satisfaction levels are up across the board. Maybe they’re happy to still be employed. [American Lawyer]

* When Dewey get to retire this used up, old D&L pun? Probably around the same time as that Howrey joke — never. Oh, and the firm asked a bankruptcy judge to approve its $70M partner “clawback” plan. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Oh mon dieu, it’s time for some law firm merger mania! DLA Piper, the second-largest Biglaw behemoth, proposed to French firm Frieh Bouhenic, and of course, the corporate boutique said “oui.” [Legal Week]

* Judicial efficiency: Judge Robert Hinkle says he’ll block Florida’s regulations on voter registration groups just as soon as an appeals court boots the state’s arguments. [Bloomberg]

* Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. will step down as judge in the George Zimmerman case after using “disparaging” language in a bail order. Zimmerman’s probably hoping that the third judge will be the charm for him. [CNN]

* Kim Kardashian settled her suit against The Gap over the company’s use of a look-alike actress in an Old Navy commercial. Sigh. She’ll keep getting paid, no matter what we do. [Hollywood, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]

A Shirvell Photoshopportunity?

* “I don’t think I should have to pay anything back, because I wasn’t part of the management that drove the firm into the ground.” Dewey know when it’s time to stop complaining, pay up, shut up, and move on? [DealBook / New York Times]

* Good news, everyone! According to the Citi Midyear Report, based on the first half of 2012, Biglaw firms may have trouble matching last year’s single-digit profit growth. You thought the worst was over? How embarrassing for you. [Am Law Daily]

* Apparently Andrew Shirvell didn’t do a very good job questioning himself on the stand, because the former Michigan AAG now has to shell out $4.5M in damages for defaming Chris Armstrong. [Detroit Free Press]

* Six of one, half a dozen of the other: Barry Bonds’s lawyers filed a reply brief in their appeal of his obstruction conviction, arguing that his statements were truthful but nonresponsive, as opposed to being misleading. [AP]

* “We’re crazy about sex in the United States. I call it ‘sexophrenia.’” The Millionaire Madam’s attorney had a nutty yesterday after a judge refused to dismiss a prostitution charge against his client. [New York Daily News]

* The opposite of a fluffer? Los Angeles officials seeking to enforce the city’s new adult film condom law are beginning a search for medical professionals to inspect porn shoots for compliance. [Los Angeles Times]

Today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for former partners of the bankrupt Dewey & LeBoeuf law firm to sign up for the “Partner Contribution Plan.” Under the terms of the Plan, which in its latest iteration seeks $90.4 million in “clawbacks” from ex-partners, participating partners would contribute specified amounts to the Dewey bankruptcy estate in exchange for releases from future liability (to the Dewey estate, to other participating partners, and to Dewey lenders, thanks to recent revisions to the PCP).

When talk of the Plan first surfaced, I opined that “[s]uch a deal sounds reasonable in principle.” I later observed that even if the PCP might not be perfect, “[i]f you’re a productive partner, happily ensconced at a new and stable firm, and just want to forget the D&L debacle and return to serving your clients, this deal may Dewey the trick.”

But now, after numerous revisions to the Plan, seemingly endless extensions of the deadline to join, and a still-insufficient amount of participation, I’m beginning to think that maybe it just won’t fly — and Dewey should just be allowed to die, i.e., slip into a straight-up liquidation. Perhaps Dewey’s bankruptcy advisers should stop trying to flog a product that nobody seems interested in buying.

UPDATE (4:35 PM): It looks like the Dewey estate’s perseverance has paid off. The $50 million participation threshold has been reached.

Here’s one good thing about the Partner Contribution Plan: thanks to the PCP, we now have detailed information about how much each of Dewey’s partners received from the firm in 2011 and 2012. And yes, we’re willing to share the data for the top earners with you, in spreadsheet form.

Some people are big believers in the virtues of black-box compensation. But here at Above the Law, we’re all about transparency….

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* Dewey have some false expectations of success for this partner settlement agreement? Only one in four affected partners have signed on the dotted line, but advisers think the plan will win bankruptcy court approval. [Am Law Daily]

* “There comes a point where the prospects of substantially increasing your income just outweigh everything else.” Even on his $168K salary, this appellate judge wasn’t rich in New York City, so he quit his job. [New York Law Journal]

* The middle class needs lawyers, and unemployed law school graduates need jobs. The solution for both problems seems pretty obvious, but starting a firm still costs money, no matter how “prudent” you are. [National Law Journal]

* “This is a time when law schools are trying to look carefully at their expenses and not add to them.” New York’s new pro bono initiative may come at a cost for law schools, too. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Much to Great Britain’s dismay, Ecuador has announced that it will grant political asylum to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks fame. Sucks for Ecuador, because Assange is known to not flush the toilet. [New York Times]

* A smooth criminal gets a break: Michael Jackson’s father dropped a wrongful death suit against Dr. Conrad Murray. It probably would’ve been helpful if his attorneys could actually practice in California. [Washington Post]

* Did Lindsay Lohan’s lawyers plagiarize documents from internet websites in their defamation filings against Pitbull? You can deny it all you want, but his lawyer is out for blood and sanctions. [New York Daily News]

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