Divorce

If there’s anything as labyrinthine as copyright law, it’s divorce law. Smokey Robinson, the composer of several Motown hits, is combining both.

Smokey Robinson sued his ex-wife, Claudette Rogers Robinson, seeking declaratory judgment that he may terminate and “recapture” the copyrights to all the songs he wrote during their marriage, and that she cannot claim interest in them under California community property law.

Robinson is reclaiming the rights to his pre-1978 songs from Jobete Music Co., something many artists are doing as copyright termination goes into effect. Robinson’s main problem, oddly, isn’t Jobete arguing that the songs were “work for hire,” but rather that his ex-wife (who he divorced in 1985) believes she should be entitled to 50% of whatever income these songs generate.

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The kid, however, does understand what ‘divorce’ means.

* In the annals of “do we have to explain everything to you idiots?” a woman is suing her lawyer for failing to explain that her divorce would end her marriage. [Gawker]

* Recess appointments make for strange bedfellows. Like C. Boyden Gray, the former ambassador to the EU, or William J. Olson, formerly a Director of the Legal Services Corporation, who are hoping the Supreme Court robs President Obama of his recess appointment power. Even though Gray and Olson were, themselves, recess appointments (they claim they were “real” recess appointments defined as “before the Democrats taught everyone to run fake sessions and pretend it’s a session). Or maybe “being partisan hacks in a conservative echo chamber” makes for strange bedfellows. [New York Times]

* Let’s check back in with Law Grad Working Retail and the unfortunate concept of G-G-MILFs. [Law Grad Working Retail]

* If you’re going to steal a car, turn off your phone first. The money quote is at the end of the article when the alleged thief makes the police detective an… interesting offer. [The Journal]

* The long-running debate over legal ethics and LinkedIn endorsements has prompted the networking site to change its settings to address concerns raised by the Florida Bar. Dare I “endorse” this move? [Daily Business Review]

* San Diego used to be on the lookout for racial profiling. Now they’ve just stopped caring and a bunch of folks are rightly concerned. But what more can you expect from a city founded by the Germans in 1904? [Voice of San Diego]

* Elie was on Mike Sacks’s Legalese It! this afternoon along with Professor Garrett Epps and Professor Lisa McElroy. Video embedded after the jump… [HuffPo Live]

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As 2013 draws to a close, let’s look back at the 10 biggest stories in the legal profession over the past year. This is an annual tradition here at Above the Law, which we’ve done in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. We’ll fire up the old Google Analytics machine to get data on our most popular posts, based on pageviews, and share the results with you.

Before turning to specific stories, let’s look at the top general discussion topics here at ATL. For 2013, our most trafficked category page was Biglaw, which bumped Law Schools out of the top spot — a spot that Law Schools held from 2010 through 2012. Now that the word is out about the perils of getting a law degree, leading to plummeting applications, perhaps it’s time to move on from the “don’t go to law school” narrative.

After Biglaw and Law Schools, our third most-popular category page was, as usual, Bonuses. This wasn’t a terribly exciting year for bonuses — there were no spring bonuses, and Cravath and its many followers paid out the same bonuses as last year — but people still want to know the score.

Our fourth most-popular category page was small law firms. Small firms, including boutiques, are an area of increasing focus and readership for us — and also where many of the job opportunities are these days.

Moving on from the topic pages, what were the 10 most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2013?

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One of Ashley Madison’s lawyers?

Would the courts also hold a hotel room accountable? A cellphone operator if his wife called her lover on it? The car she drove? I think it would be an incredibly slippery slope to attempt to espouse blame to all the technology and inanimate objects that were utilized in an affair.

– Former lawyer Noel Biderman, founder of the website Ashley Madison, commenting on a lawsuit filed by Robert Schindler, a jilted husband who blames the infidelity service for his marital breakup.

People who love their dogs almost always love them forever… But with divorce rates at record highs, the same cannot always be said for those who marry.

– Justice Matthew Cooper, who will preside over New York’s first dog custody case. Two Washington Heights women are divorcing and both want custody of their dog “Joey.” When reached for comment, Joey licked his butt and stared intently at a discarded Chipotle wrapper.

Math is hard.

I’m somewhat reluctant to criticize other people’s bad financial decisions, having made so many atrociously dumb decisions in my own life. My financial stupidity isn’t even in the past tense — I have a brand-new PS4, but I’m waiting until the new year when my Flexible Spending Account resets to go to the doctor.

On the other hand, sometimes it takes an idiot to spot an idiot (I just made that up). At the very least, I’m somewhat uniquely qualified to identify which financial mistakes are “common” among the financially illiterate, versus the mistakes that take a special kind of dumb.

There are a few articles making the rounds today: there’s a Salon article trying to explain why law schools are comfortable scamming their students, and there’s a Forbes article making the stupid “now is a good time to go to law school” argument (which should make smart people roll their eyes). We’ve been down those roads before.

But we also have an article from a guy who says law school was the start of his financial downfall. He doesn’t blame law school, which is good, because I’m pretty sure he’s got nobody else to blame besides himself. And maybe his ex-wife….

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ThanksgivingEd. note: This is the latest post in our series of ATL infographics — visual representations of our own proprietary data, relevant third-party data, “anecdata,” or just plain jokes.

Elie here. My first “Black Friday” (that’s the Friday after Thanksgiving for those who reject consumerism in all of its forms) while working in Biglaw, I went into the office. My second Black Friday, I went to the therapist. I didn’t make it to my third one.

Thanksgiving is next week, and while you certainly shouldn’t have to work on Thursday, Friday is a different matter. So, we’ve put together this helpful decision matrix to figure out if you actually have to drag yourself into your Biglaw office on Friday… or if you can sleep off your turkey hangover surrounded by your family and/or the escort you paid to make your holiday feel less empty…

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‘I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete.’

I think dogs should have about the same legal rights as children. That makes me a little aggressive about the legal standing of family pets, and deeply ambivalent about the necessity of treating undeveloped terrorists like “humans.” Children (and dogs) have the right to not be beaten or emotionally abused. They should have the right to clean and safe environments. They should have the right to run and play as much as possible. They should have consistent, reliable access to healthy meals, medical care, and mental stimulation.

They have the right to speak of course, but they don’t have the right to be listened to. If the dog starts demanding a blood sacrifice from the impudent delivery man, the dog is to be ignored. Similarly, you shouldn’t need “tips” for managing your kid’s iPad use. Just take the damn thing away and let the kid punch itself out. You’re the adult, you have a monopoly of force.

Of course, I’m raising a kid (and a dog) in a two-parent home. When parents get divorced, children attain the geopolitical standing of Southeast Asia during the cold war. And in that context, McDonald’s is part of the military-industrial complex that makes money off of the conflict between two warring superpowers…

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If you’ve messed up and managed to get married without an airtight prenup, you’re going to have a messy divorce. Unless you have a fairy tale romance that can never be torn asunder, but statistically you don’t, so you should be planning for divorce. And congratulations to our gay brothers and sisters — with Illinois joining the 21st century this week as the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage, you too will soon have to begin planning for divorces.

But when you get divorced, who should you hire to represent you? One publication has compiled its list of the 10 divorce lawyers you don’t want across the table from you….

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Dean Lawrence Mitchell

Dean Lawrence E. Mitchell of Case Western Reserve University School of Law is not your ordinary law school dean. How many other deans have been the subject of an ATL caption contest?

Case Western is a prominent and well-ranked law school, #68 in the latest U.S. News rankings. It didn’t make the ATL Law School rankings, which stop at the top 50, but Case Western alumni give their alma mater a solid B-plus, as you can see from the school’s ATL Career Center profile.

But Mitchell’s fame comes less from Case Western and more from his national profile as a defender of legal education. Last year, he wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, Law School Is Worth the Money, that went viral.

Critics of Mitchell’s piece, including my colleague Elie Mystal, accused the dean of screwing over his students. Case Western charges tuition of almost $50,000, but less than 50 percent of its graduates secure full-time, long-term employment as lawyers, according to Law School Transparency.

Today Dean Mitchell is back in the news. A lawsuit filed this morning alleges that he screws his students more literally….

(See the UPDATE added below for the university’s response to the complaint.)

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