Gay

Last week, we mentioned that Winston & Strawn partner Gene Schaerr is leaving the firm to represent Utah in its gay marriage squabble against equal rights. By all accounts, Schaerr is a terrific lawyer. The BYU and Yale Law School grad served as head of Winston & Strawn’s Appellate and Critical Motions Practice.

It’s a little bit surprising that Schaerr took the extraordinary step of leaving the firm to take this case. The move caused some online commentators to speculate that Schaerr left W&S because of the firm’s work with LGBT groups… or even because W&S has an LGBT affinity group at the firm.

Well, we now have Schaerr’s actual departure memo, the one that he sent out firm-wide. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes suggested that Schaerr left the firm simply so he could “focus” on this important case. You can read the departure memo and judge Gene Schaerr’s motivations for yourselves…

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Courtney Love

* Parties in Utah’s gay marriage case are boosting their legal backbones. Utah picked up Gene Schaerr, of Winston & Strawn, who is leaving the firm to serve as lead outside counsel. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called upon Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn to assist with Bridgegate’s fallout. Because messing with people’s commutes into New York City is that big of a deal. [Am Law Daily]

* Come next year, Yale Law School will be joining the majority of law schools located on this planet by holding its fall finals before winter break. They’ll still be studying anyway… just for fun! [Yale Daily News]

* “Being in Portland … is hard to facilitate when you are based in Eugene.” Oregon Law, sadly unable to master the fine art of teleportation, will allow students to take their 3L classes in Portland as soon as in 2015. [National Law Journal]

* Courtney Love was in court this week testifying in the first “Twibel” (Twitter + libel) trial in the nation. Oh, that’s so interesting, but what America really wants to know is what she was wearing. [Businessweek]

We’ve written about judges involved in sex scandals with prostitutes. We’ve written about judges involved in sex scandals with litigants. We’ve written about judges involved in sex scandals over nude photographs. We’ve never written about judges involved in sex scandals on internet hookup websites — but we’re about to do just that.

If you want to stroke it, this Florida judge will tell you exactly how big his gavel is….

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* The D.C. Circuit just spanked the FCC and its net neutrality rules for the second time in a row, but at least the court was polite enough to give the agency a reach-around by saying that it had authority to govern broadband providers. [National Law Journal]

* Current and former judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court wrote a strongly worded letter in opposition to Obama’s proposed surveillance reforms. Apparently they don’t want their secret workload to increase. [Washington Post]

* Oooooooklahoma, where gay marriage comes sweepin’ down the plain! A federal judge ruled that the Sooner state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, issuing a stay pending the obvious appeal to come. [BuzzFeed]

* California can prevent LSAC from notifying law schools when prospective law students were given extra time on the LSAT. LSAC values its ability to discriminate, so expect an appeal. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Yo, Kanye West, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish… I’m sorry, but Coinye had one of the best bitcoins of all time. ONE OF THE BEST BITCOINS OF ALL TIME. [MoneyBeat / Wall Street Journal]

Thomas “Haller” Jackson IV

Imagine this. You graduate from law school with a 4.0, the first person in your school’s history to do so. While in law school, you serve as editor-in-chief of the law review, win the moot court competition, and get a Ph.D.

You clerk for a federal appellate judge, followed by another circuit judge — this time a prominent feeder judge to the U.S. Supreme Court. You work as an associate at an elite law firm in a major city. You then return to your hometown and clerk for not one but two federal district court judges, to round out your already amazing résumé with some time in the trial court trenches.

And then you… get a Supreme Court clerkship? Or get charged with attempted aggravated rape and solicitation of a young child….

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* Hot on the heels of the SCOTUS stay, Utah has ordered its state agencies not to recognize any of the same-sex marriages that took place. Eww, Utah, you are being disgusting right now. [NBC News]

* The eminently quotable Chancellor Leo Strine of the Delaware Court of Chancery has been nominated to serve as chief justice of the state’s highest court. Best of luck with your confirmation! [Chicago Tribune]

* Law firm mergers rose by almost 50 percent after 88 firms joined forces throughout 2013 (a new record, according to Altman Weil). Let’s see if this year’s pace is as frenzied as last year’s. [Am Law Daily]

* The legal profession isn’t very good at diversity, especially in Texas. Here’s a not-so fun fact: just six percent of all equity partners at the largest law firms in Dallas are minorities. [Dallas Business Journal]

* “[I]t was the first time he had ever heard of someone being killed by a pair of underwear.” A man in Oklahoma was tragically killed after becoming the first-ever recipient of a fatal atomic wedgie. [News OK]

Ronan Farrow: a former Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree turned contest judge.

Since 2012, the list-loving folks at Forbes have been publishing “30 Under 30″ compilations for various fields of endeavor. The 2014 lists just came out, and they include, of course, a 30 Under 30 for law and public policy. We noted the news in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs.

Such lists generate great traffic, but they also exhibit a somewhat arbitrary character that can be criticized, even mocked. The New Yorker, for example, took inspiration from Forbes to create 3 Under 3: Entrepreneurs, Intellectuals, Toddlers.

A list of notable legal eagles under 30 presents additional problems. Unlike, say, sports or the arts, where people over 30 might already be “over the hill,” law doesn’t lend itself to super-young prodigies. As Miguel Morales of Forbes points out in introducing the list, “It’s never easy for FORBES staffers to sniff out the 30 best and brightest Millennials making an impact on their fields. In law and public policy, where most people are barely out of law school by 30, let alone blazing trails in their fields, the task sometimes felt farcical.”

Whether it’s farcical or not, we know you want to see the list. Let’s have a peek, shall we?

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Our ten nominees for 2013 Lawyer of the Year honors were a distinguished and diverse group. They included a Supreme Court justice, a U.S. Attorney, a governor, a law school dean, and some of Biglaw’s brightest stars. They also included a plaintiffs’ lawyer accused of awful acts, a shameless self-promoter fond of letting it all hang out, and a young attorney with a problematic sideline. We cover it all here at Above the Law.

Our prior winners have come from the savory rather than salacious side of the ledger. Here are ATL’s past Lawyers of the Year:

For 2013, who will join their distinguished ranks? Let’s find out….

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Steven Davis

“You just drove a major global law firm into the ground. What’s next?”

“I’m going to… Disney World Ras al Khaimah!”

“Ras al what? Why do you hate Batman?

Congratulations to Steven Davis, the former chairman of now-defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf, who recently landed a new job. As we mentioned earlier today, he has been appointed chief legal officer to the government of Ras al Khaimah, one of seven semi-autonomous emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.

What could be drawing Steven to Arabia? And what are the downsides of the move?

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Somewhere between the next two and six years, the court will be ready to do it, assuming the composition of the court does not change.

– Professor Michael J. Klarman of Harvard Law School, author of From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage (affiliate link), commenting to the New York Times about when the U.S. Supreme Court might vindicate marriage equality nationwide.

(An amusing quip from another law professor, after the jump.)

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