Ed. note:Matt Kaiser founded The Kaiser Law Firm PLLC, a white-collar boutique in Washington, D.C., and will now be writing a weekly column for us about white-collar practice and his adventures in building a law firm. Matt previously covered the Supreme Court for us. This is the second installment of his new column.
Suppose you’re a fourth-year associate in a litigation department in a large firm on one of the coasts. You’ve worked on a lot of different matters — you’ve done document review for commercial litigation. You put together a privilege log for some patent litigation (who says patent litigation is specialized?). You waded through documents in an FCPA case. You even got to do some deposition digesting for a reinsurance lawsuit!
You really liked your work on the FCPA document review. You noticed that the documents related to a foreign country, which sounded exotic. You could sit in your office, staring at the brick wall on the other side of the alley, and imagine that you were an extra in Casablanca, with a view toward how the world really works overseas.
Perhaps most importantly, you loved how your friends from law school reacted when you told them you were working on an FCPA matter. Cocktail parties became more interesting when people thought of you as a white-collar criminal defense lawyer, rather than the reinsurance guy. You resolved that you’d do more white-collar work and perhaps make this noble practice area the focus of your career.
For those too young to remember, allow me to explain. It wasn’t until Ryan White that Ronald Reagan even knew what AIDS was. The sick kid from Indiana prompted President Reagan to, in one of his famous fireside chats, declare war on the disease. That war was won two years later with an armistice signed in Paris by emissaries from both warring nations. Anyway, that’s why we have parades all the time now.
Fast forward, like, 70 years, and we arrive at last week. A larcenous little leukemia survivor stole our collective hearts with a day of make-believe so unbelievably rich, the Muppet Babies have considered filing a copyright lawsuit. The child, with a real name no one cares about and the fake name “Batkid,” was allowed to run around the entire city of San Francisco while denizens of that city (mostly homeless bums) pretended that he was a superhero. He rescued a damsel in distress, helped to arrest the Riddler, and finished the day off by murdering the Penguin in cold blood. JKJKJK. The Penguin plot line had something to do with the San Francisco Giants mascot.
Anyway, the sickly little scamp had a helluva day and made everyone feel like a million bucks. All because of pretend.
And no one pretended harder than the U.S. Attorney’s Office….
The ongoing legal fight, in which a bunch of US tech and internet companies — namely Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and LinkedIn — are suing the US government, claiming a First Amendment right to publish some details on the number of requests they get from the NSA under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, as well as the number of users impacted by those requests, is getting ever weirder. The government had filed its response back at the end of September. And, you might notice, large portions of it are totally redacted. For example, here is page 13 of the document (though, numbered page 8):
* “What about devil worshippers?” Justice Scalia may think Satan’s gotten “wilier,” but that doesn’t mean his supporters don’t deserve religious representation in their public meetings. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Speaker of the House John Boehner says that if the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passes, tons of lawsuits will be filed — except that hasn’t happened in states with similar laws. Oopsie… [Reuters]
* Judge Shira Scheindlin isn’t going to just sit there and allow herself to be kicked off the stop and frisk case. In a rare move, she asked the Second Circuit to reverse its ruling and reinstate her. Go girl! [Reuters]
* Quinn Emanuel is welcoming a frequent firm-hopper (from Sidley to Clifford Chance to Cleary Gottlieb) into its ranks in D.C. to join Weil defectors Mike Lyle and Eric Lyttle. Best of luck! [Am Law Daily]
* Gibson Dunn scooped up Scott Hammond, a longtime leader of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Query just how large the dangling carrot at the end of the firm’s stick was. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Let’s get ready to rumble! Senate Democrats are threatening to go “nuclear” on existing filibuster rules if Senate Republicans decide to band together to block Patricia Millett’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit. [New York Times]
* AMR Corp. and US Airways are reportedly trying to broker a deal with the Department of Justice that would allow the airlines’ merger to go through. And this is the room full of people who care. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* Proskauer Rose and the zombie corpse of Dewey & LeBoeuf received a Halloween treat from Judge Martin Glenn in the MF Global case. The firms will each be receiving a combined $9 million for their work. [Am Law Daily]
* Twitter is facing a $125 million fraud suit filed by two financial firms claiming that the social media giant had them organize a private sale of shares and then canceled it. #OhShiat #LawyerUp [Businessweek]
* She’s got the right to remain topless: Holly Van Voast, the photographer famous for roaming the streets of New York with breasts bared, settled a lawsuit against the city for $40,000. [New York Daily News]
* How Jamie Dimon (and Stephen Cutler and Rodge Cohen) reached JPMorgan Chase’s tentative $13 billion settlement with Eric Holder and the Department of Justice. [DealBook / New York Times; Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* Congratulations to all the New Jersey couples who got married since midnight, in the wake of the state supreme court’s decision not to stay a lower-court ruling in favor of marriage equality. [Newark Star-Ledger]
* Lawyers aren’t the only folks who know how to overbill; defense contractors do too, according to federal prosecutors who allege that a company provided prostitutes and kickbacks to Navy personnel. [Washington Post via The BLT]
* Judge Oing, this really isn’t that hard. Here’s a draft opinion for you in the long-running litigation between Macy’s and J.C. Penney over the right to sell Martha Stewart merchandise (by James Stewart, no relation to Martha). [New York Times]
* If you’d like to run with the bulls without schlepping to Spain, former lawyers Rob Dickens and Brad Scudder can help. Presumably their legal training helped them draft ironclad waivers. [BuzzFeed]
* Lawyers from the DOJ are literally begging judges to stay their litigation cases because they’re not allowed to work unless it’s an emergency. How very lucky for U.S. Air. [Blog of Legal Times]
* FYI, the IRS wants to further screw victims of layoffs. If you were recently laid off and received a severance package from your firm, this is a SCOTUS case you’ll want to follow this Term. [Reuters]
* Which Biglaw firm has the best brand in the world? We’ll give you a hint: it’s not the new top dog on the Am Law Global 100 (and that glorious firm didn’t even finish in second place). We’ll have more on this later. [Am Law Daily]
* Yet another Biglaw firm just elected its first woman chair ever. Congratulations to Jami Wintz McKeon, the power litigatrix who will lead Morgan Lewis to great success in the coming years. [Am Law Daily]
* Some corporate “girl on girl action”: ex-employees of the National Association of Professional Women are now suing the organization over a female manager’s sexual harassment. [DealBook / New York Times]
* New Jersey’s AG is desperately trying to delay the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses after a trial judge’s ruling last week. At this point, the Garden State’s arguments are just livin’ on a prayer. [Bloomberg]
* With a government shutdown looming, the Supreme Court will likely go about business as usual. In fact, Justice Alito is rolling his eyes at the mere concept of closing the Court’s doors as we speak. [SCOTUSblog]
* But in the meantime, both the Department of Justice and the federal judiciary are hunkering down and waiting for the collapse of law and order thanks to all of our petulant politicians in Washington, D.C. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Justice Scalia thinks the NSA’s surveillance programs may come before SCOTUS for an examination of a “right of privacy that comes from penumbras and emanations, blah blah blah, garbage.” [Associated Press]
* Perhaps it’s due to the “hangover from the collapse of the markets in 2008,” but white-collar defense practices are on the rise in Biglaw, and the firms’ leaders could not be happier. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
* Another law school ranking just means there’s another way for Yale to whoop Harvard’s ass. Now we know that Lat’s alma mater is slightly better at producing law deans than Elie’s. [National Law Journal]
* A motion to dismiss has been filed, and now Jill Kelley, the Florida socialite who assisted in bringing about the end of General David Petraeus’s career in the CIA, is watching her legal case unravel. [CNN]
* As previously discussed, Morgan Lewis partner Leslie Caldwell hopes to take over where Lanny Breuer left off at the DOJ Criminal Division. Her nomination was formally announced this afternoon. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Judge Scheindlin doesn’t want to end stop-and-frisk in New York City, she wants to end racial profiling, so you can’t have a stay pending your appeal to the Second Circuit, Mayor Bloomberg. [New York Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* Dewey know which companies were the latest to be sued by the failed firm’s liquidation trustee to recover funds paid out in the days before it went under? Yes, and Dial Car is really pissed off. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* Let’s face the facts: no one’s goal as an attorney in Biglaw is to make it drizzle. Because “law firms don’t know when to fold when trying to hire lateral partners,” they sometimes wind up with the opposite of what they want amid their ranks. [The Lawyer]
* Texas Wesleyan Law has been Texas A&M Law for only a few weeks, but new traditions are already being made for Aggie lawyers. Now when students enter a classroom, the professors say “howdy.” [KBTX]
* Thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Department of Justice will be declassifying some secret opinions from the FISA Court. We wonder who’ll be hosting the giant redaction party. [Associated Press]
* Morgan Lewis paid out a $1.15 million settlement over unfinished business claims to this defunct firm. Great work, Mr. Diamond, but Howrey going to get the rest to do the same? [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* “[Shon] Hopwood proves that my sentencing instincts suck.” Now that this former bank robber has a clerkship with the D.C. Circuit, the judge who sentenced him is having second thoughts. [The Two-Way / NPR]
* Laptops are useful tools for students in law school classrooms, but they’re also great for checking Above the Law and buying shoes while professors are droning on and on. Apparently we needed a study to confirm this. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* George Zimmerman’s wife filed for divorce, citing “disappointment” as one of her reasons for ending the marriage. Don’t worry, Shellie, half of the nation was disappointed with the verdict too. [Washington Post]
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