Health Care

* President Obama defends Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act), saying that the dysfunctional HealthCare.gov website will get fixed. [Washington Post]

* “Calling All Unemployed Law Grads: Greenberg Traurig Is Hiring.” But there’s a catch. We’ll have more on this later today. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* The Supreme Court agrees to hear a case regarding how to determine mental disability in death-penalty cases. [National Law Journal]

* If you’re thinking of selling legal services over Groupon, proceed with care. [ABA via WSJ Law Blog]

* Want to get out of jury duty? Try flipping the bird at the defendant (which is what this Biglaw partner allegedly did). [ABA Journal]

* Chris Geidner takes a closer look at Chris Christie’s decision not to keep fighting marriage equality in New Jersey. Is it all about 2016? [BuzzFeed]

* More details on the circumstances surrounding a Reed Smith partner’s profane and ill-advised tweet. Expect Steven Regan to be sent back to “Tweet School.” [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* How Jamie Dimon (and Stephen Cutler and Rodge Cohen) reached JPMorgan Chase’s tentative $13 billion settlement with Eric Holder and the Department of Justice. [DealBook / New York Times; Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Congratulations to all the New Jersey couples who got married since midnight, in the wake of the state supreme court’s decision not to stay a lower-court ruling in favor of marriage equality. [Newark Star-Ledger]

* Additional insight into all the partner departures from Weil Gotshal in Texas. [Dallas Morning News]

* Lawyers aren’t the only folks who know how to overbill; defense contractors do too, according to federal prosecutors who allege that a company provided prostitutes and kickbacks to Navy personnel. [Washington Post via The BLT]

* The legal battle over Obamacare rages on. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Judge Oing, this really isn’t that hard. Here’s a draft opinion for you in the long-running litigation between Macy’s and J.C. Penney over the right to sell Martha Stewart merchandise (by James Stewart, no relation to Martha). [New York Times]

* If you’d like to run with the bulls without schlepping to Spain, former lawyers Rob Dickens and Brad Scudder can help. Presumably their legal training helped them draft ironclad waivers. [BuzzFeed]

* Another interesting but very different event, taking place this Wednesday: “Healing the U.S. Lawsuit System.” [U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (one of our advertisers)]

* Referees go on a power trip and get arrested. [Legal Juice]

* Lawyers enjoy LinkedIn. They may not like it as much if these allegations are true. [IT-Lex]

* A New York lawyer is using Twitter to complain about Obamacare. This is what happens when there aren’t enough billable hours to go around. [New York Post]

* TSA lets 9-year-old through without a ticket or adult help. Our security is top-notch in this country. [Lowering the Bar]

* New York attorney Bradley Dizik is the working to save Detroit’s Masonic temple from its financial woes. How screwed is Detroit? Even the international Freemason conspiracy can’t help. [Detroit News]

* Interested in national security — and getting CLE credit? [Lawfare]

* A Georgetown Law student was killed over the weekend. On a personal note, I knew Mark and he was truly great guy and my thoughts go out to his family and friends. [Washington Post]

With the continuing partial government shutdown and the shaky rollout of Obamacare, the issue of health insurance has never been such a central and divisive topic in the national conversation. Surely there are thousands of unemployed or temping JDs who are entering the brave new world of insurance exchanges and its attendant “hiccups.” In a development that perhaps should alarm the lowest-paid support staffers at law firms, some corporations appear poised to drop “bare bones” health-care benefits altogether for low-wage employees in favor of directing such employees to the new state exchanges.

Of course, for the lawyers at firms, such developments concerning the exchanges are essentially an abstract issue. That is not to say that attorney benefits packages are not subject to “new normal” economic pressures, or that the ultimate effect of the Affordable Care Act on private health insurance packages is unknowable. As noted here way back in 2009, some firms have added health care cost clawbacks to their expense-cutting repertoire of layoffs and pay cuts. Many associates have found themselves, post-Recession, with higher premiums and deductibles and thus, a de facto salary cut. Comparing salaries and bonuses across law firms overlooks the element of health insurance costs, about which there is no equivalent transparency. Undoubtedly there are significant variations across firms in this area, and some firms that appear to pay “market” aren’t quite doing so in light of their requiring a larger fraction of health care premiums. These variations inevitably distort direct comparisons.

We’d like to bring some transparency to this topic — but we need your help….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Are Biglaw Health Insurance Premium Increases Really Stealth Pay Cuts?”

I nearly did not write this post this week. (I’ll pause while some of you wish that ‘nearly’ weren’t a part of that sentence.) I started the week with a mild toothache. By the time I reached my dentist on Tuesday morning, that niggling pain had bloomed into an infection that spread from my tooth to my jaw bone to the soft tissue of my face. Despite oral penicillin (and Vicodin!), I developed a high fever, the left side of my face swelled to grotesque proportions, and my jaw seized shut. I ended up in an ER on IV antibiotics.

While portions of the federal government ground to a halt due to insufficient funds, I held ice packs to my head and prayed quiet prayers about septicemia and the relative impermeability of the blood-brain barrier. Vaguely, in the background, I knew Congress and the president were arguing about health care. About funding the PPACA. Obamacare.

My heart goes out to folks harmed by the federal government shut-down this week. I also agree with those who are dismayed that Capitol Hill can’t reach a consensus sufficient to end the current crisis. It’s their job to find workable agreements, after all. That much, I hope most of us can agree on. Since we’re not here to agree, let’s talk a bit about Obamacare, the source of this week’s trouble in Washington . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “When Democracy Hurts: The Painful But Legitimate Debate Over Obamacare”

Over the last two decades, a dedicated Supreme Court bar has gained prominence, focusing on arguing the increasingly few cases before the justices each term. These lawyers face fierce competition in persuading clients to hire them, participating in a not-so-glamorous competition known in the industry as a “beauty contest.” At these lawyerly pageants, attorneys competing to take the case make their pitch and try to persuade the client that their firm is the best suitor.

In my new book, Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare (affiliate link), I go backstage and look at two of the most high-profile beauty contests in Supreme Court history: who would represent (1) the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and (2) twenty-six states in their respective challenges to the constitutionality of Obamacare.

How did these litigants go about choosing their counsel? Which lawyers and law firms got passed over?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Supreme Court ‘Beauty Contest’: A Behind-the-Scenes Look”

A new school year is beginning for millions of U.S. schoolchildren. Most parents of wee ones know that states require a battery of immunizations in order for kids to enroll in public school.

Exemptions were once reserved for a vanishingly tiny minority of religious families whose beliefs prohibit certain kinds of medical treatment. There was nothing trendy or sexy about it. Thanks, however, to a burgeoning anti-vaccine movement and celebrity spokespeople like Jenny McCarthy, the number of families seeking exemptions has grown dramatically in recent years. With this trend, significantly more people have been getting sick, and sometimes dying, from diseases none of us had to worry about a generation ago.

When state laws make it easier for parents to withhold vaccinations from their children, more children get sick. And you might too….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Infectious Diseases: The Back-to-School Edition”

For those who are brilliant (and lucky) enough to get hired, being a law professor is a great job. You get to write and teach about interesting subjects. You get the summers off — yes, we know you have articles to work on, but you have total flexibility about your hours and location. You get to be a public intellectual, writing for newspaper op-ed pages and magazines. And you get paid well, too.

If you have an unusual personality, don’t sweat it. Legal academia is welcoming to sociopaths. And sadists, too.

If you enjoy inflicting pain on others, being a law prof is a great gig. Using the Socratic Method, you get to torture 1Ls — and many of them will eat it up. As a law professor, the winner of multiple teaching awards, once told me, “The students like it when you’re a hard-ass; they like to be challenged.”

Many law students don’t mind verbal victimization, but they’d probably draw the line at physical contact. Which brings us to a high-profile law professor who goes around sticking needles in people….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Torturing Law Students To Sticking Needles In People”

Many moons ago, around this time of year, I worked as a summer associate at Wachtell Lipton. I enjoyed many a fine meal that summer (although Wachtell’s program is more work-focused and less lunch-focused than many others). One of my favorite occasions was a dinner at Jean-Georges with partner Karen Krueger, her husband, myself, and a girlfriend of mine.

Oh how times have changed. It’s rare to see partners leave the gilded cage of Wachtell Lipton, where annual profits per partner regularly exceed $4 million. But Krueger had the guts to make the jump. She left the practice of law and now works as a nationally certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.

What is the Alexander Technique? If you suffer from pain, perhaps as a result of your stressful law firm job, it could be your salvation. And it might help you with your poker game, too….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Wachtell Lipton Partner Leaves the Law For….”

Have you ever thought that your law professor was a sadistic bastard? Have you ever felt like the prosecutor across the table was an emotional black hole? Would it freak you out if you turned out to be clinically right?

We’ve talked a lot about mental health recently, from panic buttons to Asperger’s (or autism spectrum disorder, if you prefer). But today we’ve come across a truly chilling article from a law professor who admits that she’s a sociopath and writes about how law is the perfect field for people like her.

I’m turning the snark meter way down on this post because, well, I don’t want to be murdered…

Note the UPDATE at the end of this post concerning the professor’s possible identity.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sociopath Law Professor Admits To Being A Sociopath”

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