John O’Brien

What do you do with the dean of an unranked, fourth-tier law school, who gets made fun of in national newspapers for his enormous salary, tries to fire 35 to 40 percent of his faculty, and even makes taking a 25 percent pay cut look disingenuous and self-serving?

Well, if you are the American Bar Association, you give him an award. And not a sarcastic one like the one I suggested in the headline. I should give New England Law | Boston law dean John F. O’Brien an award for “Most Effective Troll Of His Own Students.” But the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is giving him a real award: the 2014 Robert J. Kutak Award. The award is given annually “to an individual who has contributed significantly toward increased cooperation among legal education, the practicing bar, and the judiciary.”

You know you are dealing with a cartel when it is so tone deaf that it starts giving awards to the members who seem to do the best job of exploiting non-members. Didn’t anybody tell them that handing out a “Pimp of the Year” award is supposed to be a joke?

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* Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has joined Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in being one of the only justices to perform a same-sex marriage. No divas here: the wedding ceremony was held at the high court because “[t]hat’s where she was.” [BuzzFeed]

* “Proceed with caution.” David Kappos, the former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, isn’t too keen on the latest patent reform bill that’s currently before the House Judiciary Committee. If only the man still had a say. [National Law Journal]

* Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge have released a joint statement to ensure the public that the proposed merger is still on. Good news, everyone! The firm won’t be named McDentons. [Am Law Daily]

* Ralph Lerner, formerly of Sidley Austin, has been slapped on the wrist suspended from practice in New York for one year’s time after improperly billing car service to clients to the tune of $50,000. [Am Law Daily]

* It’s been a year since Superstorm Sandy, and lawyers are still counseling their clients on how to muddle through the mess. Volunteer some pro bono hours and help out those in need. [New York Law Journal]

* After threatening to cut faculty positions, New England Law Dean John O’Brien is taking a 25 percent pay cut. He’ll only earn $650,000. Wow. I think we’re supposed to be impressed. [Boston Business Journal]

* Career alternatives for attorneys: rescuer of nerd relics. Head to this Brooklyn book store (of course it’s in Brooklyn) if you’re desperately seeking long lost science fiction tales. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* We bet that folks in Australia would like to tell the the High Court to bugger off after overturning this ruling. Sexual injuries that occur during work-related trips don’t qualify for workers’ compensation. [Bloomberg]

The internet was awash in outrage this weekend after a Boston Globe report revealed that John F. O’Brien, dean of the New England School of Law, makes an obscene amount of money.

And it is obscene. O’Brien makes $867,000 to run a law school so bad it is not numerically ranked by U.S. News. It’s an embarrassing figure for anybody who runs a non-profit educational institution that claims tax-exempt status. Really, somebody should look into that tax exemption, and ask a court to do the same.

It’d be pretty easy to sit here and jump up and down on O’Brien. Again, he makes an obscene amount of money for selling a substandard product. I assume he pays somebody to go around collecting the tears of his recent graduates so he can drink them at parties.

But how much did you think this guy made? Only $400,000? A mere $250,000? New England School of Law charges people $40,904 a year for an education. Where did you think that money was going? The students? Don’t be as naive as the people who actually go to New England School of Law. If I may quote Judd Hirsch from Independence Day: “You don’t actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?”

Let me ask the question this way: How much do you think Case Western Reserve School of Law Dean Lawrence Mitchell makes?

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DaNae Couch

* “I’m a New Yorker, and I jaywalk with the best of them.” Don’t be fooled by the rocks job that she’s got — she’s still, she’s still Jenny Sonia from the block. The Supreme Court’s very own wise Latina, author of a new memoir (affiliate link), is proud of her city. [New York Times; 60 Minutes]

* If you’re looking for an M&A adviser, you’d be wise to seek out counsel from Skadden Arps. The firm swept three separate rankings lists based on the total value of its clients’ 2012 M&A transactions. [Am Law Daily]

* Only in the world of legal education could the dean of a law school that isn’t even numerically ranked by U.S. News have the highest salary of all law deans nationwide. (We’ll likely have more on this later.) [Boston Globe]

* Arizona schools will allow 3Ls to take the bar exam, but New York schools may soon do away with 3L year altogether. Of course, the ABA will find a way to muck it up, but still, hooray for progress! [National Law Journal]

* Remember “Made in Jersey,” the show about a stereotypical Jersey girl who made the jump to Biglaw? Yeah, neither does anyone else. Hopefully “Staten Island Law” won’t face the same fate. [New York Daily News]

* “Sexiness is all about being a woman of character.” Our congratulations go out to DaNae Couch, the Texas Tech law student who advanced to the Top 10 of the Miss America competition. You go girl! [Lubbock Online]

* Aaron Swartz — Reddit co-founder, friend of Larry Lessig, felony hacking defendant — RIP. [New York Times]

* It’s not just media groups that are urging the Supreme Court to allow live coverage of the announcement of the ACA decision. Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee have joined the club. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Dewey know whether this failed firm’s former partners will be settling their claims any time soon? Team Togut hopes to reach a deal in the next six weeks, and claims that cooperation will absolve D&L’s deserters of all future liability. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* From Biglaw to the big house: former Sullivan & Cromwell partner John O’Brien, who is serving time for tax evasion charges, has been suspended from practicing law in New York. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* A Stradling Yocca partner and his wife, a Boalt Hall graduate, stand accused of planting drugs on a school volunteer who supervised their son. Looks like the only thing they’re straddling now is jail time. [OC Register]

* Dharun Ravi was released early from jail yesterday after completing a little more than half of his 30-day sentence. Funny how bad behavior got him into the slammer, but good behavior got him out of it. [CNN]

* “Why would somebody so smart do something so stupid?” Kenneth Kratz, the sexting DA from Wisconsin, claims that the answer to that question is an addiction to sex and prescription drugs. [Herald Times Reporter]

* Jay-Z’s got 99 problems and this bitch is one. He’s been accused by Patrick White of plagiarizing parts of his own best-selling memoir, “Decoded,” and slapped with a copyright infringement suit. [New York Daily News]

John J. O'Brien

Last August, John J. O’Brien, who was once a highly regarded and well-liked partner in the celebrated M&A practice of Sullivan & Cromwell, pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor tax offenses. The charges of conviction were mere misdemeanors, but the amounts involved were large, as you’d expect from a well-paid partner at S&C.

O’Brien was accused of failing to file income-tax returns for tax years 2001 to 2008, on almost $11 million in partnership income. In the end, he pleaded guilty to failing to file taxes relating to $9.2 million in partnership income, for tax years 2003 to 2008.

Earlier today, John O’Brien was sentenced. The sentencing hearing provided some interesting additional information about why O’Brien acted as he did.

So is O’Brien trading Biglaw for the Big House? And if so, how long a sentence did he receive?

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John J. O'Brien

Remember John J. O’Brien? Back in April 2009, we wrote about the mysterious departure of John O’Brien from Sullivan & Cromwell, where he was a well-regarded and well-liked partner in the M&A department. In a follow-up post in December 2009, we noted : “When partners leave a place like Sullivan & Cromwell, there’s often a story behind the departure.”

In our December 2009 post, we reported that John O’Brien “left Sullivan & Cromwell due to an issue relating to his taxes.” We added that the problem was personal, i.e., that it did not implicate S&C or any of its clients (unlike the fraud of another former SullCrom partner, Carlos Spinelli-Noseda, who defrauded the firm and its clients of more than $500K).

Some readers pushed back on this reporting. They claimed that John O’Brien left voluntarily and for perfectly innocent reasons. They told us to leave O’Brien alone. They accused us of harboring ill-will towards Sullivan & Cromwell (even though, to be honest, large law firms are somewhat interchangeable for us here at ATL; they’re all just potential sources of news to write about).

In light of all the flak we took for our John O’Brien coverage — similar to the criticism we received for covering Theodore Freedman’s departure from Kirkland & Ellis, a few months before Freedman got indicted by the feds — please forgive us for gloating a little. (This gloating is directed at our critics, not at John O’Brien; we have nothing against O’Brien and wish him the best of luck in moving on with his life.)

Today brings news that John J. O’Brien has been hit with federal criminal charges. Like Ted Freedman, John O’Brien has been hit with tax-related charges. But the numbers involved are larger — a lot larger….

UPDATE (7 PM): O’Brien pleaded guilty. See the update appended to the end of this post.

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Ted Freedman

Last October, we wrote about the mysterious departure from Kirkland & Ellis of Theodore Freedman. Freedman was a prominent bankruptcy and restructuring partner at the firm, based out of the New York office.

As we mentioned in the story, our coverage of Freedman’s departure was prompted by “interesting rumors.” We hoped that our post would result in additional corroboration of what we were hearing. Alas, our write-up just prompted the usual attacks from Kirkland Kool-Aid drinkers, who accused us in the comments of harboring ill-will toward K&E and engaging in shoddy journalism.

Well, this time we’ll enjoy the last laugh (not because we have anything against K&E — we don’t — but because we like being proven correct). We can share what we know about Ted Freedman, because the rumors are now embodied in a federal criminal indictment….

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Theodore Freedman is — or was — a prominent bankruptcy and restructuring partner at Kirkland & Ellis, based out of the firm’s New York office. Freedman has been practicing law for almost 40 years; he graduated from Northwestern Law in 1972 and is admitted to the bars of D.C. (1973), Illinois (1976), and New York (1992).

Word on the street, however, is that Ted Freedman has left, or is in the process of leaving, K&E. He’s no longer on the Kirkland website. Check out the list of K&E lawyers whose last names start with F; he’s not there.

Then try running a Google search for theodore freedman kirkland ellis — even the Google cache version is gone. Nice work, Kirkland IT people.

So what happened to Ted Freedman?

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Plus a request for updates on ex-DPW and S&C partners.

John OBrien John J OBrien headshot Sullcrom Sullivan Cromwell partner.jpgBack in April, we wondered about the departure from Sullivan & Cromwell of John O’Brien, a highly regarded and well-liked corporate partner who focused on M&A work. This development captured our interest because it’s unusual for lawyers to leave the (highly lucrative) partnership of a top firm like S&C.

When partners leave a place like Sullivan & Cromwell, there’s often a story behind the departure. E.g., Carlos Spinelli-Noseda (partner left S&C after billing clients and firm for more than $500,000 in fraudulent travel and entertainment expenses).

In addition, word on the street was that O’Brien was escorted from the building by security personnel. Partners are being asked to leave their firms with increasing frequency during the recession — but they’re not usually walked out by muscle.

So we decided to do a little digging.

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