Coudert Brothers

The remnants of the Grateful Dead (Furthur) came to town last week. I was unable to attend, as I was putting on a five-hour benefit show the next day, and I knew a party the night before would not be good for me. Well, the band only got part way into the second set before stopping the show due to “weather.” Granted, there were thunderstorms about, as a cold front was finally lifting the oppressive heat wave of July 2013. But no rain was reported at the venue, and no “weather” ever materialized. Putting on my foil-hat character for a bit tells me that Bobby is still not well, or recovered enough from his bout with something or other earlier this summer. YouTube the clip of “Bob Weir falling” and see for yourself. It is not only sad to see a legend in the throes of some sort of addiction, but it is frustrating as a fan — to pay good money for a show, only to have to leave early because one of the stars couldn’t keep it together.

I have written before about mental illness in the profession, but a more insidious and pervasive issue is alcohol and drug dependency. Everyone who uses has their own story and background about how they got into alcohol or drug use, but I want to focus on the atmosphere in the legal profession: that you cannot have a gathering of attorneys without letting the booze flow. Beginning as a summer associate, and on through your career, wherever you end up, alcoholic beverages, and to a lesser extent drugs, become an omnipresent factor in your daily life. I am not here to preach or judge, just to offer a cautionary tale.

It might also have to do with the fact the we are boring as hell when in a group, and the only way to loosen up is to imbibe….

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* Who will represent General David Petraeus as he continues to battle the fallout from his scandalous affair with Paula Broadwell? None other than Williams & Connolly partner Robert Barnett, a lawyer for Washington, D.C.’s most elite. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Just in case you weren’t somehow aware, it costs quite a pretty penny to make bankrupt Biglaw firms go away. For example, more than 40 firms have paid off Brobeck, Coudert, Heller, Howrey, and Thelen with settlements of more than $35.5M. [Am Law Daily]

* Hostess and the striking Bakers’ Union have agreed to go to mediation to prevent the company’s wind down. Judge Drain should force feed them delicious Ding Dongs to make them see the error of their ways. [Wall Street Journal]

* “Even without a so-called affirmative-action ban, law schools aren’t doing great in terms of diversity.” That’s probably why admissions officers are so worried about the verdict in Fisher v. Texas. [National Law Journal]

* For the last time, going to law school isn’t the solution for having no idea what you want to do with your life after college. And you don’t need a JD/MBA, either. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Sometimes, when people from LSAC deny you extra time on the LSAT, you sit back and deal with it. Other times, you sue their pants off because your dad is a power litigator — and then you settle. [New York Post]

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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* “I’ve been a restaurant waitress, a hotel hostess, a car parker, a nurse’s aide, a maid in a motel, a bookkeeper and a researcher.” This SCOTUS wife was well-prepared to give a graduation speech at New England Law. [Huffington Post]

* Sniffling over lost profits is the best way to get a court to take your side. Biglaw firms have asked the Second Circuit to consider reversing a decision in the Coudert Brothers “unfinished business” clawback case. [Legal Intelligencer]

* James Holmes, the alleged Aurora movie theater gunman, is being evicted from his apartment. Guess he didn’t know — or care — that booby-trapping the place with bombs would be against the terms of his lease. [Denver Post]

* The ABA has created a task force to study the future of legal education, and its work is expected to completed in 2014. ::rolleyes:: Oh, good thing they’re not in any kind of a hurry — there’s no need to rush. [ABA Journal]

* Indiana Tech, the little law school that nobody wants could, has hired its first faculty members. Thus far, the school has poached law professors from from West Virginia, Florida A&M, and Northern Illinois. [JD Journal]

* When divorces get weird: is this lawyer’s soon-to-be ex-wife hacking into his law firm email account and planning to publish privileged communications online? Yep, this is in Texas. [Unfair Park / Dallas Observer]

* Breast-feeding porn: yup, that’s a thing, so start Googling. A New Jersey mother is suing an Iowa production company after an instructional video she appeared in was spliced to create pornography. [Boston Globe]

* If someone from your school newspaper asks you for a quote about oral sex, and then you’re quoted in the subsequent article, you’re probably not going to win your invasion of privacy lawsuit. [National Law Journal]

“I kept asking Clarence why our world seemed to be collapsing and things seemed to be getting so sh*tty. And he’d say, ‘That’s the way it goes, but don’t forget, it goes the other way too.’ That’s the way [life] is… Usually, that’s the way it goes, but every once in awhile, it goes the other way too.” Alabama Worley, True Romance.

Someone wrote in recently that “it was about time that I was giving honest appraisals of real life,” or something to that effect. Obviously, I can’t sit here and name names from my past or current positions. But after thinking it through, I decided to give an assessment of how I landed here in-house, inclusive of as much truth as is prudent. Keep in mind that this post is in two parts, and due to space constraints, I simply can’t give all the details and dirty little secrets….

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I’ve watched Dewey’s collapse only from a distance, as have most lawyers. And I’m no student of law firm finances or management. But this struck me as I read the news:

Dewey: 2012.
Howrey: 2011.
Thelen: 2009.
Heller: 2008.
Coudert: 2006.
Brobeck: 2003.

And I’m probably overlooking other recent collapses of prominent firms, since I cobbled together that list from the names that came to mind unprompted.

This history suggests that another large, well-respected firm will collapse next year, and it’s a near certainty that a firm will collapse within the next two years. Who will it be?

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A Biglaw firm gets screwed...

* Dewey have some novel issues for our bankruptcy lawyers, or what? As we noted last night, now that D&L has filed for Chapter 11, they’ll have to deal with bank debt, and bondholders, and possible criminal proceedings, oh my! [New York Law Journal]

* And did we mention that Dewey’s defectors and their new firms might get screwed out of millions thanks to the recent Coudert decision? You really should’ve tried to finish up your business before the firm flopped. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Our SCOTUS justices’ summer plans don’t include debating the results of their landmark health care and immigration cases. They’ll be off to fabulous destinations to teach by the first week of July. [Associated Press]

* A federal judge in Brooklyn doesn’t like what seems to be happening in the “game of grams” when it comes to mandatory minimum drug sentencing. Perhaps the DOJ will heed his call for reform. [New York Times]

* Facebook’s IPO was an epic fail, but it’s been great business for plaintiffs lawyers. Twelve securities class action firms are gathering leads and getting ready to sue, and two have already sued. [National Law Journal]

* This wasn’t exactly well planned: if you’re involved in state politics, it’s probably not a good idea to fake a legal internship with a state representative so that you can graduate from law school. [Concord Monitor]

* In happier news, a New York Law School graduate walked across the stage to receive her diploma with the help of her seeing-eye dog. The pooch hasn’t lifted a leg on her law degree… yet. [New York Daily News]

... and so do folks down under.

* “Brothels are never going to be a vote winner.” But even so, if you’re looking to get it in down under, a plan to build Australia’s largest cathouse may soon gain approval if lawyers are able to do their work quick and dirty. [Bloomberg]

* Thanks to this case, stupid teenagers in New Jersey who send texts to others that they know are driving can now revel in the fact that they can’t be held liable for injuries that may occur thanks to careless driving. [New Jersey Law Journal]

* Dewey get the chance to reap revenge against all of the partners who defected? Only in bankruptcy clawback suits. Many are keeping an eye on the Coudert and Thelen Chapter 11 cases to see if they’ll have to pay up. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* “People have bigger concerns on their mind than whether Elizabeth Warren is 1/32 Cherokee.” Well, Scott Brown isn’t most people. He wants all of her job records from her career as a law professor. [Washington Wire / Wall Street Journal]

* “We are not anti-gay, we are pro-marriage.” I don’t think “pro-marriage” means what you think it means. Last night, North Carolina voters passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state. [CNN]

* Mike McQueary is filing a whistleblower lawsuit against Penn State. Hate to say it, but that’s definitely not the first time Penn State’s seen a lawsuit over something being blown in the locker room. [Centre Daily Times]

* Washington University in St. Louis Law is launching an online LL.M. program for foreign lawyers for the low, low price of $48K. The exchange rate surely can’t be good enough for that to be worth it. [New York Times]

* Joran van der Sloot will likely be extradited to the United States from Peru this summer. His lawyer, Maximo Altez, isn’t a fan, because he thinks that we’ll charge his client with murder. America, f**k yeah! [ABC News]

* Oh, of course a member of the Village People’s claim just had to be the test case for 35-year copyright transfer termination. Well, kudos to you, Mr. Motorcycle Cop. You’re a real “Macho Man.” [Bloomberg]

When Hitler came to power in January 1933, more than half of Berlin’s 3,400 lawyers were of Jewish origin. All of them, alongside the thousands of other Jews practising law throughout the rest of Germany, were forced to re-apply for admission to the national bar. At which point, only German-Jewish lawyers who had qualified before 1914, or who had fought at the front line in the First World War, were granted the right to continue in their profession. And in November 1938, even this select group was banned from practising. Many German-Jewish lawyers would subsequently be murdered in concentration camps. Others managed to flee to the U.S., where some, like the late Coudert Brothers lawyer Ernst Stiefel, eventually re-qualified as U.S. attorneys.

I learnt about Stiefel — who, before being admitted in the States, completed spells as a chauffeur, busboy, and dishwasher in New York, having undergone a period of internment as an “enemy alien” in the U.K. — from an excellent pamphlet produced by the German Federal Bar and the American Bar Association, “Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich,” that I happened upon last week in the reception room of the English Law Society’s office in Brussels. I was there to listen to the English legal representative body’s arguments against a proposal for a new single Europe-wide contract law, having spent the first part of the day listening to the E.U.’s arguments in favour of the plan.

At face value, a single European contract law is about exciting as, well, Brussels (imagine an Eiffel Tower-less Paris without the joie de vivre, or a diluted Euro-version of Washington, D.C.)….

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