David Boies

It’s time for a brief postscript on one of this month’s juicier (and well-trafficked) stories: the dismissal of three women associates from litigation powerhouse Boies Schiller. We have a few additional tidbits that we can share with you.

But this is probably the last story we’ll be doing on this drama, since we don’t expect anything else to emerge. One piece of information we’ve received is that the associates were offered severance pay — “very generous” severance, in the words of one source — but had to release any claims against the firm in exchange. All three took the deal, including the expectant mother. So don’t expect any “Aaron Charney for pregnant women”-type lawsuits.

What other details can we reveal about the situation?

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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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* Dahlia Lithwick wonders: Is Justice Ginsburg “The Mother of All Grizzlies”? [Slate]

* Five ways to write like David Boies and Ted Olson. [Legal Writing Pro (PDF)]

* Speaking of legal writing, do you share our love of corny Bluebook jokes? If so, read this. [Laws for Attorneys]

* And speaking of gays, and litigation, and people named Olson, Judge John Olson — a bankruptcy judge in Florida — just issued a saucy order, denying a recusal motion based on the fact that the judge’s fiancé (male) works for the firm representing the plaintiff. [South Florida Lawyers]

* Professor Stephen Bainbridge on summer associate programs: “When I was a kid, we didn’t get any stinking $150 cab rides.” [Professor Bainbridge]

* Vivia Chen doesn’t have much sympathy for the now openly gay Ken Mehlman. [The Careerist]

* Thanks to the kind folks at Abbey Spanier for making Above the Law their recommended blog of the week. [Twitter]

People are talking about an interesting Slate article entitled “Leaving Big Law Behind: The many frustrations that cause well-paid lawyers to hang out their own shingles.” It’s currently the most-read piece on the site. But it’s actually quite similar, even down to some of the sources, to an article that appeared a few days earlier in Crain’s New York Business:

A lawyer’s hourly billing rate used to be a badge of pride — the higher the number, the more valuable (and supposedly brilliant) the lawyer. But over the past 18 months, a strange phenomenon has been sweeping the legal arena: Partners at major law firms are quitting because they want to be able to charge less for their services.

This is, of course, not a new development. Kash and I wrote about it in a December 2009 cover story for Washingtonian magazine, in which we interviewed a former member of the $1,000-an-hour club who left a large law firm and started his own shop so he could offer clients better value. But all the recent coverage — in Crain’s, Slate, and elsewhere — suggests that the trend is picking up steam.

Which kinds of lawyers are leaving Biglaw to hang up their own shingles? Why are they doing it? And how’s it going for them?

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If you haven’t already done so, check out Vivia Chen’s series of interviews with hiring partners over at The Careerist. They’re fun and interesting reads. (Our favorite was her unintentionally hilarious interview of Steven Glaser of Skadden.)

Recently Chen sat down with Alan Vickery of litigation powerhouse Boies Schiller (which scored a major victory in the Prop 8 case). Here’s how Vickery described the Boies lawyer:

What’s typical is the diversity of personality and style at the firm. David [Boies] has a broad scope of interests and abilities; he sends a strong signal that individualism is tolerated and encouraged. For instance, there’s lots of support for our work on Prop 8 [where the firm is arguing against the ban on gay marriage in California], but there are also lots of Federalist Society members here.

(Well, in fairness to the Fed Soc, many of its members are libertarian rather than social conservatives, and as such sympathetic to gay marriage — at least as a policy matter, if not necessarily a matter of constitutional law.)

Who are your competitors in the hiring game?

The usual suspects: Wachtell, Davis Polk, Cravath. And if they’re looking for a [litigation] boutique, it’d be Susman Godfrey, Williams & Connolly, or Quinn Emanuel.

Speaking of the competition, Vickery got in a good dig at Davis Polk….

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Today Chief Judge Vaughn Walker (N.D. Cal.) issued his ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the constitutional challenge to Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage. The case was famously brought by Ted Olson and David Boies, two of the nation’s top lawyers (who previously faced off in Bush v. Gore, on opposite sides of the case). We first learned of the news at 4:35 PM today (via Chris Rovzar of New York magazine).

In his 136-page ruling, Chief Judge Walker — a Bush I appointee to the federal bench who is generally viewed as a moderate, not some crazy San Francisco liberal — ruled that Prop 8 is “unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses.” Accordingly, he “order[ed] entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement.”

A permanent injunction? Expect Prop 8 proponents to turn to a higher court in 3, 2, 1…. But is the famously left-leaning Ninth Circuit going to be much help?

For excerpts from the opinion and more links, see below….

UPDATE: This post has been revised extensively since it was first published.

Note especially the update near the end of this post regarding Judge Walker’s STAYING THE ENTRY OF JUDGMENT.

We have also added a READER POLL, after the jump.

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This is the photo we gave you for our latest caption contest — a picture of David Boies and Ted Olson, adversaries turned allies, sharing a hug.

You voted on eight clever captions. Which one won?

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Earlier this week, we solicited funny captions for this photo (a great image for the July 4th weekend, given all the American flags):

You responded with around 70 comments. This was a smaller-than-usual number of nominees, but they were of high quality. There were about 25 or so that we saw as worthy contenders. Alas, to make the contest workable, we winnowed the entries down to a shortlist of eight.

Check them out and vote — warning: some crude / juvenile humor ahead (if you can’t handle it, stop reading now) — after the jump.

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I thought that the last 30 minutes of Ted’s rebuttal was the best 30 minutes I’ve seen in five decades of practicing law.

David Boies, discussing the closing argument of his adversary-turned-ally, Ted Olson, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (aka the Proposition 8 case).

Sherry Netherland hotel condominium.jpgIn between Christmas and New Year’s, while most of us were stuffing our faces, celebrated litigator David Boies was stuffing his own stocking — with a magnificent New York apartment. Last year was a good one for Boies Schiller associates, at least based on their bonuses. And it probably was a good one for their boss, at least based on his latest real estate purchase.

There’s no need for Boies to feel guilty, though, since it seems he got a bargain. From Bloomberg:

David Boies, the antitrust lawyer who took on Microsoft Corp. and represented Al Gore in the contested U.S. presidential election of 2000, bought a seven room apartment overlooking New York’s Central Park for $7.75 million after the price was reduced by more than 20 percent.

Boies, chairman and founder of New York-based law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, purchased a two-bedroom unit at the Sherry-Netherland hotel on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, according to city property records. The original asking price was $9.95 million, according to listing service StreetEasy.com.

More details, plus photos of the fabulous pad, after the jump.

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The legendary litigator snaps up an $8 million apartment.

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