I’ve said before that I think that parents need to teach their kids coping mechanisms to deal with bullying from their peers. But it might be foolhardy to expect Baby Boomer parents to instill any kind of internal strength in their children.
Instead, it’s much more likely that the only thing kids these days will learn from their parents will be how to sue those who annoy them. At least, that’s the message one Houston man is teaching his daughter. After a group of middle-school girls apparently posted some nasty comments about his daughter on YouTube, the father — who is also an attorney — sent the girls a cease-and-desist letter. When he didn’t receive a response to the letter, he sued the mean girls for defamation.
For those playing along at home: mean middle-school girls bully other girl, so father uses the law to bully middle-school girls. The only satisfactory ending to this story would be if the fathers of the three defendant girls went over to the lawyer’s house and hoisted him on a flagpole by his underwear….
It has been said that one has truly arrived as a small-firm superstar when he appears in this column. Who said that? Someone, I am sure. While I simply cannot confer that honor to all small-firm attorneys, there is a second place honor: a feature in the New York Times. Martin Singer — the “guard dog” to Hollywood royalty, and founder of the small firm Lavely & Singer — is one of these superstars.
Singer’s client list includes some major starpower: Charlie Sheen, Jeremy Piven (remember when Ari Gold had mercury poisoning?), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Harry Reid, Quentin Tarantino, and (gasp) Sylvester Stallone. Through these relationships, Singer has developed a niche that anyone would want to scratch: “shielding stars and their adjuncts from annoyance.”
While Singer’s firm specializes in all things entertainment, “[n]othing gets Mr. Singer going like a whiff of defamation.” And when he gets going, he does what has made him famous: “kill, or at least maim, unflattering stories that have yet to surface.” Some attorneys do not believe the hype about Singer’s ability to kill said stories (e.g., noted First Amendment lawyer Martin Garbus, who described Singer as a “blowhard”). But Hollywood publicists are convinced that Singer is the man to call when a story breaks about their clients’ love child or sex tape.
Do not be fooled by the glitz and glamour associated with representing celebrities. After the jump, see how Lavely & Singer is like many other successful small firms….
Here’s a quick update on a past Lawsuit of the Day. Last month, Chris Armstrong, the openly gay ex-president of the University of Michigan student body, sued Andrew Shirvell, the former Michigan assistant attorney general and outspoken opponent of homosexuality. As you may recall, Shirvell criticized Armstrong in a blog called Chris Armstrong Watch, making allegations that according to Armstrong were false, and Shirvell also followed Armstrong around Ann Arbor. So Armstrong sued Shirvell for stalking, invasion of privacy, and defamation (among other claims).
Now Andrew Shirvell is firing back. Last week, Shirvell, proceeding pro se [FN1], moved to dismiss Chris Armstrong’s lawsuit.
Not surprisingly, Shirvell claimed in his motion to be a victim: “Plaintiff’s course of conduct was politically motivated and intended to make an example out of Defendant in order to deter others from criticizing Plaintiff’s homosexual activist agenda.” More specifically, Shirvell argued that certain counts of the Armstrong complaint fail to state claims upon which relief can be granted, that Shirvell’s criticism of Armstrong was protected by the First Amendment, and that Shirvell never had direct contact with Armstrong (e.g., by email or by phone).
Toronto partner David Cowling, exonerated booty dancer
Back in January 2009, a moot court after-party hosted by Mathews, Dinsdale & Clarke got wild enough to spark allegations of sexual harassment. Canadians do know how to party, eh? The “night of debauchery” has haunted David Cowling ever since; he was one of the partners accused of getting overly friendly with female associates and law students, while gettin’ jiggy.
He says that an internal law firm investigation cleared him of charges of inappropriate dance floor behavior, but that the firm refused to make that public, leading to rumors continuing to swirl in his work and social communities in Toronto. Oh, and have we mentioned that David Cowling specializes in labor and employment law? “If I were a personal injury lawyer, sexual harassment rumors would not be such a bad mark on my professional reputation,” says Cowling.
So he filed a libel suit against Adrian Jakibchuk and Sarah Diebel, the two associates who accused him of doing the really funky chicken on the dance floor. Apparently, they don’t study the Barbara Streisand effect in Canadian law schools. That got the allegations splashed across Canadian newspapers and here at ATL.
But now he’s got his name cleared, with a public statement from his prior firm, along with a seven-figurish settlement. He started a new firm and dropped his lawsuit against his accusers, and has a few things to say about his side of the story.
So say you’re the law student who supposedly got felt up by a partner on the dance floor, and his lawyer calls you up in the middle of exam week to talk about it. Yeah, that’s awkward. And Cowling sent along the transcript…
Our buddy, the Honorable Alex Kozinski, is on a roll. On Monday, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit benchslapped a pair of wealthy, persistently annoying and mildly famous identical twins.
The same day, he gave a lecture at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University School of Law, where he declared the Internet has killed the First Amendment, or at least made it an anachronism. Heavy stuff.
More on what the judge said about the web’s effect on unsuppressable free speech, journalism and scumbag bloggers, after the jump.
Remember Lawrence Connell, the professor at Widener Law School who got in trouble for coming up with teaching hypotheticals in which he killed Dean Linda Ammons? Well, perhaps Professor Connell wishes the dean’s death was more than hypothetical.
Apparently Professor Connell wants to slay Dean Ammons — in a court of law. He has sued the dean for defamation.
[Partner David] Cowling and the very intoxicated summer student began to dance in a sexually explicit manner. The student’s arms were around Cowling’s neck and his hands were on her waist and buttocks. While dancing, Cowling placed his hand on the student’s breast. Shortly thereafter, the summer student fell to the floor. She was assisted to her feet by Cowling and others. The summer student then went to the washroom where she vomited over her hair, body and clothes
(Cowling sued Diebel and another former associate, Adrian Jakibchuk, for defamation, alleging that their statements about a wild party in January 2009 defamed him. We covered Cowling’s defamation lawsuit here. Earlier this week, Jakibchuk sued Mathews Dinsdale for wrongful termination, bringing the firm’s “night of debauchery” back into the news.)
Former Michigan prosecutor Andrew Shirvell might be gone from the Michigan attorney general’s office, but he has not been forgotten. Shirvell, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality, has just been hit with a lawsuit — by Chris Armstrong, the ex-president of the University of Michigan student body.
Armstrong is suing Shirvell in Michigan state court for stalking, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and abuse of process. His lawsuit seeks more than $25,000 in compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages and injunctive relief (to enjoin Shirvell from, well, being such a creep).
As you may recall, Shirvell seemed obsessed with the young, beauteous, and openly gay Armstrong, devoting an entire blog to criticism of Armstrong and following Armstrong around, day and night. As explained by Armstrong’s lawyer, Deborah Gordon, Shirvell demonstrated a “bizarre personal obsession” with Armstrong, reflected in numerous blog and Facebook postings in which Shirvell asserted that Armstrong was advancing a “radical homosexual agenda.” [FN1]
* Sorry Wisconsin, but Judge Sumi’s going on vacation, so you can take your bargaining rights and stick ‘em where the sun don’t shine. Man, I hope she’s going to a place where the sun does shine. [Wisconsin State Journal]
* An NBA referee is suing a sportswriter over a tweet made during a Timberwolves/Rockets game. Seriously? You can’t call a foul just because someone hurt your feelings. [St. Paul Pioneer Press]
* Quinnipiac Law: where being convicted of fraud is a pre-req for employment as the registrar. I guess they must have a work from home option, since Mary Ellen Durso is under house arrest. [Hartford Courant]
* Should all buildings that were damaged in the September 11th attacks be declared landmarks? Probably not — after all, Century 21 was damaged, and that’s just a landmark for crappy couture. [Reuters]
Capturing Somali pirates.
* Arr, me matey. Five Somali pirates were forced to walk the plank. Okay, not really, but it was the first time in 190 years that a U.S. jury convicted a defendant of the peg-legged kind of piracy. [CNN Justice]
* Because common sense is hard for some lawyers, you probably shouldn’t advise your clients to break into their foreclosed homes. You probably shouldn’t break in on their behalf, either. [ABA Journal]
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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