European Union

Ed. note: This post appears courtesy of our friends at Techdirt. We’ll be sharing law-related posts from Techdirt from time to time in these pages.

A few weeks ago we wrote about Iceland’s thoroughly daft idea of trying to block porn there. Bad proposals for the Internet always seem to spread, and so it should perhaps come as no surprise that the European Parliament will be considering a similarly unworkable proposal, but in a rather more covert way, as the Pirate Party politician Christian Engström noted on his blog:

Next week in Strasbourg, probably on Tuesday, the European Parliament will be voting on a Report on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU. To promote gender equality and eliminating gender stereotypes are of course very laudable goals, so my guess would be that unless something happens, the report will be approved by the parliament, possibly by a very large majority.

That would be a good thing, were it not for the following detail….

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Well, that didn’t take long. Those topless sunbathing pics of Kate Middleton only went up a few days ago, and a French court has already slapped the offending tabloid around a little. A judge has sided with the royals and ordered Closer to fork over the pics and a little bit of cash for causing everyone the trouble.

Thank goodness privacy and a sense of old-world decorum have been restored. Except not quite, owing to this little thing called the internet…

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* Who needs a Declaration of Internet Freedom when the government supports protesting citizens who go buckwild in the streets? The European Union voted against ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. [Associated Press]

* Kenneth Schneider, the former Debevoise & Plimpton associate serving a 15-year sentence for forcing a Russian teenager to be his sex slave, was suspended from practice pending further disciplinary proceedings. [New York Law Journal]

* Glenn Mulcaire, the investigator who intercepted voicemail messages on behalf of News of the World, lost a bid to remain silent about who commissioned his services. Rupert’s gonna be sooo pissed. [New York Times]

* Congratulations to the team from the University of Chicago Law School that won the United States Supreme Court Prediction Competition. They won $5K for betting on their Con Law nerd-dom. [SCOTUS Competition]

* Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. is expected to rule on George Zimmerman’s motion for bond today, and perhaps he won’t be so quick to forget that the defendant already lied to the court to get out of jail. [Orlando Sentinel]

* “You can’t just arbitrarily add anything you want to a sentence.” Well, it looks like you can, because in addition to jail time, a judge in South Carolina tacked on a Biblical book report to this woman’s sentence. [Daily Mail]

Ed. note: This is the latest column by our newest writer, Anonymous Partner. In case you missed his prior posts, check them out here and here.

Devotees of international soccer, and I have come across quite a number of them in my Biglaw career (from foreign-born colleagues to more recent converts like myself), are currently enjoying one of the world’s foremost tournaments, the European Championship or the “Euros.” Because the tournament is played in Europe, the games have been on during lunchtime and the early-afternoon hours here on the East Coast, perfect for sneaking out to a local bar for a slightly longer than usual lunch break to watch. I would imagine that most Biglaw Euro watching is being done via Espn3.com, on the “second screen” that most IT departments insist on hooking up in order to enhance the lawyer’s “productivity.” Truth is that when it comes to work, the second screen is fantastic — but it is more fun when it acts as a substitute television.

Now, ESPN’s wall-to-wall coverage of this year’s Poland/Ukraine-based tournament has definitely raised the Euros’ profile in the USA — but for those unaware or uninterested in the proceedings, realize that each match draws as much interest and television viewership as the Super Bowl. And the level of play on display is absolutely top-notch, as each team is composed of hardened veterans of the top European leagues, those renowned for attracting the top soccer talent worldwide with the allure of riches and fame.

As an aside, knowing something about soccer, just like speaking a foreign language, is a great normalizer when dealing with clients and colleagues in overseas offices. Sports and business are intertwined, and as professional services providers in increasingly international businesses serving an increasingly global clientele, it behooves firms to ensure that both partners and associates have some familiarity with the world’s most popular game (in both amount of fans and corporate support).

In what way is soccer like Biglaw, and what lessons might it have for those of us who toil in law firms?

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Google's new privacy policy is not this sexy.

* Remember Phillip Closius, the former dean of University of Baltimore Law, who said the university was raiding the law school’s funds? Yeah, he was totally right. Just guess what percent of the law school budget was going to the rest of the university. Starts with “A” and rhymes with “dot.” [National Law Journal]

* The humanity! Oklahoma’s worst fears have come true; American judges are enforcing Sharia Law! Whatever are we going to do? There is no solution in sight — except to maybe stop overreacting… [CNN]

* Mitt Bot won in both Arizona and Michigan last night. Can we send Santorum back to the 16th century yet? [Washington Post]

* Twenty-five suspected members of Anonymous were arrested across Europe and South America. They ain’t anonymous anymore. [New York Times]

* In other cyberlaw news, Google’s new privacy policy not only stinks, it probably violates European Union law. Hey Google, don’t be evil! [New York Times]

What happens when you put thirty American lawyers in a London pub where the drinks are free for the evening? Well, let’s just say it’s rather different to what happens when thirty British lawyers are assembled in equivalent conditions.

The attendees at last week’s inaugural Benedict Arnold Society meeting for young and young-ish American lawyers in the United Kingdom, held at the Witness Box pub in the heart of London’s legal district, were impeccably behaved. No one collapsed, vomited or — in spite of my continual prying for insider information — gave away a single secret about their firms. In fact, I think I was the only one there who was drunk.

Still, my memories of at least the first part of the evening remain. What stood out was how nicely many of the assembled Yank expats had done by coming to London — be it because they had saved money on legal education costs, were enjoying heightened status due to their willingness to travel, or were appreciating the health-inducing lighter U.K. workloads.

Several had undertaken their legal studies in the U.K., thus circumventing the enormous fees charged by U.S. law schools….

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Professors Richard Epstein (left) and John Yoo

* Are you still trying to make sense of the conflicting opinions in United States v. Jones, the GPS tracking case recently decided by the Supreme Court? Professor Barry Friedman has this helpful round-up. [New York Times]

* Elsewhere in law professors opining on SCOTUS, what do Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo predict the Court will do regarding Obamacare? [National Review Online]

* A Spanish CFO, a Finnish tax lawyer, and a moody Hungarian CEO walk into an Amsterdam coffee shop…. [What About Clients?]

* Musical chairs: prosecutor Greg Andres is leaving DOJ for DPW. [DealBook]

* In case you missed this fun Friday story, it got picked up by MSNBC today. [Digital Life / MSNBC]

* Did your law firm give you an iPad? Are you wondering what to do with the darn thing? Here’s an idea, after the jump….

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Professor William Birdthistle

Welcome to Lawyers & Economics, a new video series on financial topics by Professor William Birdthistle of Chicago-Kent College of Law. Professor Birdthistle, who teaches corporate law, has been preparing well-received videos for his students on a variety of subjects related to economics and finance. We’ve previously linked to some of his work, which received positive reader feedback, so we thought we’d give you a bit more.

After the jump, here’s a short primer on the Greek debt crisis, which remains ongoing. Watch it, so you can sound enlightened the next time this topic comes up at a cocktail party.

It features not just Professor Birdthistle but also a television actor you might recognize, who left Hollywood to become a law student….

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When Hitler came to power in January 1933, more than half of Berlin’s 3,400 lawyers were of Jewish origin. All of them, alongside the thousands of other Jews practising law throughout the rest of Germany, were forced to re-apply for admission to the national bar. At which point, only German-Jewish lawyers who had qualified before 1914, or who had fought at the front line in the First World War, were granted the right to continue in their profession. And in November 1938, even this select group was banned from practising. Many German-Jewish lawyers would subsequently be murdered in concentration camps. Others managed to flee to the U.S., where some, like the late Coudert Brothers lawyer Ernst Stiefel, eventually re-qualified as U.S. attorneys.

I learnt about Stiefel — who, before being admitted in the States, completed spells as a chauffeur, busboy, and dishwasher in New York, having undergone a period of internment as an “enemy alien” in the U.K. — from an excellent pamphlet produced by the German Federal Bar and the American Bar Association, “Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich,” that I happened upon last week in the reception room of the English Law Society’s office in Brussels. I was there to listen to the English legal representative body’s arguments against a proposal for a new single Europe-wide contract law, having spent the first part of the day listening to the E.U.’s arguments in favour of the plan.

At face value, a single European contract law is about exciting as, well, Brussels (imagine an Eiffel Tower-less Paris without the joie de vivre, or a diluted Euro-version of Washington, D.C.)….

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Judge Sam Sparks

* Remember the “kindergarten party” that Judge Sam Sparks (W.D. Tex.) was planning to hold? His Honor has canceled the festivities. [WSJ Law Blog]

* John Althouse Cohen — yes, son of La Althouse — discusses one way in which Texas might be emulating… Europe? [Jaltcoh]

* Professor Paul Campos opens up a can of whoop-ass on people who say students go to law school — and take on six figures of debt — “for the chance to make a difference.” [Inside the Law School Scam]

* Musical Chairs: Mr. Quinn Goes To Washington (with the help of three Alston & Bird partners). [ABA Journal]

* The latest news on Stephen McDaniel / Lauren Giddings: if the blue gloves don’t fit, you must acquit? [Macon Telegraph]

* Above the Law — of animal cruelty? Steven Seagal, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a dead dog, and a rooster massacre. [TPM Muckraker]

Steven Seagal

* After a judge shot down the effort by NBA star Gilbert Arenas to stop “Basketball Wives: Los Angeles” from airing, Arenas’s ex-fiancee, Laura Govan, was allowed to strut her stuff on television — and it wasn’t pretty. [Sister2Sister]

* Congratulations to super-mensch Stanley Levy, senior counsel at Manatt, on winning Am Law’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2011. [American Lawyer]

* And congrats to Masimba Mutamba, a 3L at Miami Law, who has just been awarded an apprenticeship with Waller Lansden’s innovative Schola2Juris program. [University of Miami School of Law]

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