Email Scandals

One Liberty Plaza: a tower of dark secrets?

It’s official: Cleary Gottlieb is no longer boring. The elite and esteemed firm is now exciting as well.

In the past few months, Cleary has generated enough drama to fuel a law firm soap opera — think “All My Associates” or “The Biglaw and the Beautiful” (on second thought, save the latter title for Davis Polk). Cleary has witnessed a mysterious partner departure, support staff vanishing into the ether, and a summer associate dismissed due to his disturbing past.

Yesterday, the drama at One Liberty Plaza continued. A terminated employee rose from the cyber-grave to haunt the living — before he was electronically exorcised by the powers-that-be….

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‘This email is unbelievable….’

One argument you sometimes hear in favor of making the jump from Biglaw to boutique is that small firms are, for lack of a better word, nicer. Everyone knows everyone else, so people treat each other with respect and even kindness. The hours are less brutal than at large law firms, and the overall environment is less impersonal and more friendly. The lawyers and staff at small firms are less focused on billable hours and the bottom line than their Biglaw counterparts.

At least that’s the conventional wisdom. But is it universally true? According to one current employee of Faruqi & Faruqi, the litigation boutique on the receiving end of an epic sexual harassment lawsuit, F&F is not exactly a “Fun & Fabulous” place to work.

And this person provided email messages from the two name partners to support their claims….

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‘Churn that bill, baby? Dear Lord…’

* With SCOTUS justices questioning standing in the Prop 8 case, and one even stating that gay marriage is newer than cell phones and the internet, you can guess where the decision is headed. [New York Times]

* “This badge of inequality must be extinguished.” With men like Ted Olson and David Boies representing the plaintiffs in Prop 8, at least we can say that they fought the good fight. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* OMG, remember when DLA Piper allegedly overbilled a client and got dragged through the mud over scandalous emails? Now the firm says they were totally joking. So cray. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Less than a month after handing out pink slips across multiple offices, Patton Boggs named a new managing partner in New York who just so happens to be a Dewey defector. Ominous. [Am Law Daily]

* These are great tips on negotiating financial aid, but try this: tell admissions you’ll happily enroll elsewhere, and watch them throw cash at you. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* It looks like Paul Ceglia’s zany misadventures in being fired as a client by Biglaw firms and suing Facebook may finally be at an end thanks this scathing 155-page recommendation of dismissal. [CNET]


Opening a legal bill from DLA Piper?

Here at Above the Law, we ❤ DLA Piper. The firm makes for great copy; there’s always something funny, ridiculous, or salacious going down over there.

In fairness to DLA Piper, the craziness might not be that high on a per capita basis. DLA Piper is one of the largest law firms in the world. In the most recent Global 100 rankings, DLA took second place in both total revenue and attorney headcount.

Many of the DLA Piper stories are on the lighter side. But this latest one — involving serious allegations of overbilling, apparently supported by internal DLA emails saying things like “churn that bill, baby!” — is no laughing matter….

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Haters gonna hate.

During her last week here at Above the Law, Kashmir Hill and I went out to lunch. In her usual, insightful, Kash way, she said to me, “When you first started here, I thought your hatred for law school and lawyers was just your schtick. Now I see that it’s not. You really don’t like them.”

No doubt. It sounds like hyperbole, but I really probably hated 50 percent of the people I went to school with or worked with. And then I probably had no opinion (but assumed the worst) of another 30 percent. So, during my time at law school and in a Biglaw firm, I felt hostility towards eight out of every ten people I met.

Why? Because lawyers suck. Because normal-thinking law students who desperately want to turn themselves into people who think like lawyers are some of the worst people on the planet. For God’s sake, read a warning label. Read the DMCA. Lawyers did that.

I made my friends. As for the rest, Shannon Sharpe once said, “I’ve never called anybody ugly. Do I think people are ugly? Yeah, I think he’s ugly, but I’ve never said that… Is he my friend? No. Did I ever view him as a friend? No. Do I view him as an acquaintance? No. Do I like him? No. If I see him in a snowstorm, his truck is broke down, mine is going perfectly, would I pick him up? No.”

Regular readers know this already. And there are a bunch of people nodding and saying, “Right back at you too, tubby.” But I bring this up now because your inclination is going to be that the young man we’re about to talk about is joking. You’re going to think he’s saying things for effect. But when a man posts a screed to his law school listserv to explain how he hates most of the people he goes to school with, and that he wants to be a writer and not a lawyer, I believe.

You should too….

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It’s the last day of December, so it’s a good time to look back on the year that was. We’ll do what we’ve done for the past three years (wrap-up posts from 2009, 2010, and 2011 can be found here, here, and here) and identify the ten biggest stories of the past year as decided by you, our readers. With the help of Google Analytics, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten posts for 2012, based on traffic (as represented by pageviews).

By the way, for the third year in a row, the most popular category page on Above the Law was Law Schools. People have now been intensely focused on the declining value proposition of going to law school for as long as it takes to earn a Juris Doctor degree. Isn’t it time that we graduate from the current educational model?

The second and third most-popular categories on ATL in 2012 were Biglaw and Bonuses. Although this year brought us the largest law firm failure ever, nearly all other firms indiscriminately doled out offers to summer associates, and bonus season looked better for the first time in years. While the legal profession is still in transition, things are certainly looking up, and through the highs and the lows, we’ve been there to cover it all.

So what were the ten most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2012? Let’s find out….

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The year is quickly drawing to a close, but we have unfinished business to conduct here at Above the Law. Come on, people, we still have to crown our Lawyer of the Year for 2012.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for nominations, in the comments or via email. We’ve narrowed down the nominees to a field of nine (although you’ll see only eight options in the poll because one is a joint nomination). As in past years, the contenders run the gamut from distinguished to despicable.

And the nominees are….

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Having spam emails sent out under your name can happen to anyone. As we’ve previously reported, it has happened to a leading law firm. And to a prominent professor, at a top law school. This led us to wonder: Is “phishing” running rampant throughout the legal community?

Quite possibly. Even being married to justice of the United States Supreme Court will not protect you from the spammers.

It seems that a Supreme spouse may have fallen victim to unsavory characters from the online world….

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Judge Richard Cebull

Americans expect the courts to be fair, impartial, and open to all. Cebull clearly demonstrated that he does not have the temperament to serve as a federal judge, period.

Cebull may hope that taking senior status before the misconduct review concludes will help him avoid sanction. But he should be held accountable by the 9th Circuit regardless of his status.

Taking senior status is a half-measure that allows Cebull to continue hearing cases. That’s not appropriate. He should resign or retire immediately.

– Josh Glasstetter, Research Director of People For the American Way, responding to news that District Judge Richard Cebull, who sent that infamous, racially charged email about President Obama, will take senior status in March 2013.

Are you kidding me?

Have you ever emailed a friend to tell him how pissed off you are at another friend — only to realize after the fact you accidentally emailed the friend you were trying to gossip about instead? Or have you gone on a bad date and texted the girl instead of your buddy about lame she is?

A little humiliating right?

What about accidentally emailing your litigation opponent a confidential mediation statement? It’s an express train to a crummy afternoon….

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