Divorce Train Wrecks

* My Big Fat Dewey Compensation Guarantee: it’s like a movie that no one wants to watch, except it’s happening in real life. But at least the partners got their draws, right? [Reuters; DealBook / NYT]

* Why didn’t John Edwards’s former aide disclose to the government that he refused to lie under oath about his affair? “Because you never asked.” Best. Response. Ever. [MSNBC]

* Maybe Mintz Levin didn’t belong on the list of the Top Ten Family-Friendly Firms after all. The firm’s been sued twice in recent years for sexual discrimination. Oops. [Careerist]

* Baylor Law claimed the top pass rate on the Texas bar exam for the fifteenth time since 2001. Unfortunately, Baylor Law cannot claim a top pass rate on disclosure of private student information. [Baylor University]

* In America, lawyers are pissing off state bar associations by offering their services on Groupon. En México, no es un problema. There, you can buy gift cards for the gift that keeps on giving… divorce! [Huffington Post]

Ekaterina Rybolovleva: 'But daddy, I want an $88M apartment now!'

* No dowry, no problem: Dewey we have a suitor for this imploding Biglaw firm? Rumor has it that Greenberg Traurig was seen whispering sweet nothings into D&L’s ear about its possible interest. [Am Law Daily]

* BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has hired Milbank Tweed to work out a restructuring plan. Just think, maybe if your product didn’t suck so hard, you wouldn’t be in this position in the first place. [Reuters]

* Sex, money, and betrayal… it sounds like another failed TV series about lawyers on ABC, but in actuality, it’s just a preview of the John Edwards campaign finance trial set to begin this week. [Los Angeles Times]

* Technophobes beware, because this copyright battle over code is getting serious. Oracle v. Google turned into Larry v. Larry in court last week as the CEOs for both companies gave testimony. [Bits / New York Times]

* George Zimmerman thought he’d have to stay in jail longer because he was having trouble coming up with his bail money, but he was released in the dead of night. Bet he looked pretty suspicious. [CNN]

* “There are [fewer students] coming in and crying. I haven’t had a crier yet, which I have had in the past.” Given the legal hiring market, that’s a real accomplishment for a career services official. [Charlotte Observer]

* Who gives a sh*t? Not this Russian fertilizer tycoon. When you’re a billionaire, buying an $88M apartment for your kid is just a run-of-the-mill transaction. Come on, he’s not hiding his assets for his divorce. [Telegraph]

Jason Smiekel

When we last checked in with Illinois attorney, Jason W. Smiekel, the man accused of taking out a hit on a former client (who also happened to be the ex-husband of Smiekel’s fiancée), he was busy trying to convince a judge to release him on bail. Apparently he didn’t think murder for hire was a “crime of violence.” Needless to say, that was an exercise in futility.

In August, Smiekel pleaded not guilty to seven counts of using interstate facilities in his alleged murder-for-hire scheme. At the time, readers who knew Smiekel assured us that we would “see in the end that he is the victim in this whole fiasco.” They believed that the divorce lawyer’s fiancée — otherwise known as the “hot hot hot blonde” (HHHB) — was to blame.

But based on the plea deal that Smiekel took yesterday, that doesn’t seem to be the case….

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* The billable hour may be far from dead, but last year, 61% of general counsel worked out alternative fee arrangements with outside counsel, including counsel from elite (read: Biglaw) firms. [Wall Street Journal]

* Dewey need to take lessons on revenge from this firm? John Altorelli, the D&L defector who spilled all the beans to the Am Law Daily, was blasted on Page Six this weekend. More on this to come later today. [New York Post]

* CHECK YOU LATERALS: recent Quinn Emanuel hires William Burck, Paul Brinkman, and Andrew Schapiro, as well as name partner John Quinn, have entered appearances on behalf of Megaupload. [Am Law Daily]

* Copyright infringement suits over porn downloading involving some 3,500 defendants were dismissed because the plaintiffs’ attorney, Terik Hasmi, couldn’t get it in legally in Florida. [National Law Journal]

* In England, there’s no such thing as a no-fault divorce, but instead, you can get one for “unreasonable behavior” — behavior like malicious service of tuna casserole, and speaking only in Klingon. [New York Times]

* This gives “I’m a Slave 4 U” some new meaning. Britney Spears’s fiancé, Jason Trawick, is trying to start their impending rocky marriage off on the right foot. He’ll soon be her co-conservator. [New York Daily News]

Steven Simkin: now with neckwear.

Remember Steven Simkin, the prominent Paul Weiss partner who sued his ex-wife for a better divorce deal? Simkin argued that even though he negotiated for and obtained the couple’s investment account with one Bernard Madoff as part of their 2006 separation agreement, his former wife should now pay him more money — since it was subsequently revealed, years later, that Madoff was running a huge Ponzi scheme.

As you may recall, I was not terribly sympathetic to Simkin. In my view, an expert negotiator like Simkin — the head of PW’s real estate practice, who was also represented by separate counsel in the divorce — should be required to live with the bargain he struck. In negotiating for and taking on the Madoff account, he also took on the risks associated with that investment.

An intermediate appeals court sided with Simkin. But now New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has spoken….

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This case is a perfect illustration of what happens when divorce meets recession meets downsizing.

Howard London of Beermann Swerdlove, commenting on the particulars of client David McLauchlan’s case.

(McLaughlan, a former partner at Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, was asked to leave the firm during the height of the recession due to his declining billables. McLaughlan’s income was reduced significantly — so much so that he could no longer afford his alimony payments.)

If you took a professional responsibility course in law school, or even studied for the MPRE, then you’re familiar with the the main takeaway on legal ethics for attorneys. You know that you have to zealously represent your clients without doing anything illegal. (And if you do decide to take a walk on the wild side, you know that you should try not to get caught.)

It looks like an attorney from New Mexico — one who had already been disbarred for cocaine possession — missed the memo on that one. Apparently his definition of zealous representation includes kicking down doors and burglarizing homes.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, we’ve got it on film….

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and for some people, it represents a time to serenade a sweetheart, pop bottles of champagne, and stare dreamily into the eyes of Mr. or Ms. Right (or Right Now, as the case may be). For others, Valentine’s Day is a time of loneliness and despair — angry, bitter lawyers, we’re looking at you — where only the commiseration of other single friends can lift one’s spirits.

For others still, Valentine’s Day is a time to ponder how their spouse got so fat, and why they decided to marry such an obnoxious, sniveling idiot. For the last category of those who will be celebrating lamenting Valentine’s Day this year, we’ve got a possible salve for your marital woes.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, those who hope to dodge Cupid’s arrows this year can enter a contest in the hopes of winning a free divorce. There’s just one catch….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “This Valentine’s Day, Give the Everlasting Gift of Love Divorce”

Jennifer Hudson

* At least two firms probably won’t be handing out spring bonuses like candy this year. While gross revenue remained steady at Dickstein Shapiro and Crowell & Moring, PPP dropped at both firms. [Legal Times]

* Not-so breaking news: the Thirteenth Amendment applies only to humans. It seems like the only people who didn’t already know that were the lawyers PETA hired for their orca whale slavery case. [Washington Post]

* Washington has approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, and Governor Gregoire has vowed to sign it. Wedding planners can prepare for a fabulous summer season, and divorce practitioners can create a new niche. [CNN]

* In China, lawyers are allowed to name their firms after imaginary people. Here in the United States, we’ve got laws against that, and for good reason. Because knowing Americans, we’d probably end up with a bunch of dueling Dewey, Cheatem & Howes. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Jennifer Hudson says, “And I am telling you, I’m not going — to speak to your lawyers.” William Balfour’s defense team wants to meet with her prior to his murder trial. [Chicago Sun-Times]

* Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and if you’re still trying to find the best present for your crappy spouse, then look no further. This law firm is giving away a free divorce. [Charleston Daily Mail]

In Machiavelli’s masterpiece, The Prince, chapter 19 — “That One Should Avoid Being Despised And Hated” — contains Machaivelli’s only suggested restrictions on the Prince’s absolute power. Machiavelli essentially argues that the Prince must not take the people’s sheep (“sheep” being a metaphor for the ability of peasants to have enough food) or their women (“women” being a metaphor for women). He writes: “It makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain. And when neither their property nor honour is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many ways.”

These are good restrictions for all who find themselves in positions of inscrutable power. Most men will suffer any other form of servitude so long as they have enough to eat and are allowed exclusive access to their own wives. The 1% will be just fine, so long as they don’t institute some kind of system of polygamy that allows the wealthy to marry-up all of the available women.

Machaivelli’s advice applies just as easily to a totalitarian ruler of a country as it does to a managing partner of a law firm. Managing partners, ignore Machiavelli at your peril. You could end up with a full-scale revolt on your hands — or, at the very least, an embarrassing lawsuit from a former, allegedly cuckolded partner….

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