Jones Day

The ceiling of a Columbia dorm room collapsed on a student, giving her a herniated disk and persistent headaches. She claims the back injury compromised her ability to get a decent night’s sleep and forced her to take muscle relaxants to deal with the pain.

Now the newly minted lawyer is suing the school over her injuries, and the school’s lawyer is suggesting that the victim can’t really have this back injury because she kept getting good grades.

Brilliant legal strategy!

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No one expects Biglaw to have the greatest sense of humor. Make no mistake, individual Biglaw partners can be hilarious. We actually talk to them all the time here. But when you get a big entity, the funny gets lost. See Apple or Saturday Night Live. Add in the fact that Biglaw doesn’t even have to pretend to pitch to the masses, and the tiny fragment of a fun-loving personality that mass advertising requires is lost.

So it should come as entirely zero surprise that a Biglaw firm has thrown a petulant fit over a parody website mocking it for behavior that even a federal judge has called into question….

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Now that Patton Boggs is safely in the hands of Squire Sanders — minus a few notable defectors, such as Ben Ginsberg’s high-profile election-law team, which is leaving for Jones Day — observers of Biglaw are looking around for other possible trouble spots. And some of them are focusing on Bingham McCutchen.

Back in February, we covered some less-than-positive developments at Bingham: “tumbling profits, partner departures, and unfortunately timed staff layoffs.” What has happened since then?

As we mentioned earlier today, partner departures continue at the firm. Who are the latest partners to leave Bingham, and where are they going?

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Mindy Kaling

* Barnes & Thornburg’s managing partner is planning to step down after almost two decades in the firm’s top leadership role. His tenure ends on a high note: 2013’s gross revenue was up by 12% and PPP was up by 8.2%. [Am Law Daily]

* “To terminate Jones Day at that point is an incredibly bad idea. I hope the mayor hears me.” Judge Steven Rhodes politely called Detroit’s mayor a moron after the city official declared he’d fire Jones Day in September. [Detroit Free Press]

* “When you’re giving anything to a judge, you try to be careful about it.” In 2012, law schools paid federal judges almost $2M to teach and lecture. A useful way to spend tuition dollars? [National Law Journal]

* San Diego Law School, a branch of San Francisco Law School, is open for business. It’s being marketed as a “fresh start” — if you failed out at another law school, come join the party here! [Daily Transcript]

* If you weren’t aware, Mindy Kaling gave a commencement speech at Harvard Law this week. She praised the graduates’ dedication to tedium, and kindly reminded some that they were truly evil. [Boston.com]

It’s springtime in D.C., and we all know what that means. No, we’re not talking about the cherry blossoms; that was last month. We’re talking about the spinning of the revolving door.

We have some interesting moves to mention taking place in the nation’s capital. One top government lawyer is returning to private practice; one top Biglaw partner is going back to government, perhaps for good; and one major law firm, potentially party to a high-profile merger, is losing some partners to a rival — after holding them prisoner for a while….

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Oscar Pistorius

* Lawyers for Jones Day got a light spanking in court after sending out some of Detroit’s confidential negotiation documents to its creditors. Quick, blame the doc reviewers. Oh wait, you already did. Nice work. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Cynthia Brim, the judge declared “legally insane” who collected a $182K salary for months without working, was booted from the Illinois bench. She’s the first member of the state judiciary to be removed in a decade. [Chicago Tribune]

* Massachusetts is instituting a $30,000 pay hike for state judges which will prime the pump for pension bumps and retirements. For the love of God, think of the poor ADAs next time, Massholes. [Boston Globe]

* The power of diagramming compels you! If you’re studying for the LSAT, here are tricks you can use when trying to exorcise the demons from the logic games section. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Prosecutors want Oscar Pistorius to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in order to urge the court to consider an insanity defense, even though Bladerunner’s legal team doesn’t intend to mount one. [CNN]

As we noted last year when we spoke at length about law firm branding, “[a]side from the daily challenges associated with sustaining or exceeding gross revenue year after year, Biglaw partners are probably most worried about their firm’s brand.”

With so many law firms out there in the world, it may be difficult to figure out which one is right for a client’s specific needs. Amid recent layoffs of all kinds, even from the most respected of firms, how is one to decide which Biglaw firm to roll with?

As luck would have it, there’s a ranking to determine which firm has the strongest brand in the business — one that can withstand even the bad taste that layoffs can leave in a client’s mouth….

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These are just right for Hefner, Guccione & Flynt LLP.

* How high can your heels be for a job interview? [Corporette]

* If you think your client is committing securities fraud, the Supreme Court has good news! Sarbanes-Oxley’s anti-retaliation protection extends to Biglaw associates. [Whistleblower Protection Law Blog]

* Here’s more on today’s Chevron ruling from the perspective of the energy community. [Breaking Energy]

* The California Bar eJournal is running a poll asking the question, “Do you believe that the law school you attended prepared you to practice law?” The results may surprise you! (Shhh! No they won’t.) [Survey Monkey]

* An accused killer asks to withdraw his guilty plea by calmly explaining to the judge that he was high as a kite when he pleaded guilty and that his lawyer was busy boning the prosecutor. He earns an A for effort on that one. [Albany Times-Union]

* Chris Christie’s former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, appears to be the target of a federal investigation. It’s a bad time to be in Christie’s orbit. [Bergen County Record]

* Third time’s the charm! Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s Emergency Manager, is making his third bid to authorize a giveaway to the banks settle a massive derivatives deal that played a big role in Detroit’s financial woes. The judge overseeing the case rejected the prior proposals and may do the same again since the new deal grants UBS and Merrill Lynch a release from liability for the events surrounding a billion dollar deal. [Demos]

* Kerry Kennedy beat her DUI charge in no small part due to the testimony of the toxicology expert. [The Expert Institute]

* Police tried to hide their use of a cell phone tracker from the courts. Apparently the manufacturer asked them to. Oh well, if a corporation wants privacy violations kept quiet, that’s different. [ACLU]

* A follow-up from an oldie but goodie, the judge who changed a baby’s name from “Messiah” to “Martin” based on her personal religious beliefs received a public censure. Perhaps fittingly, the censure was less critical of changing “Messiah” than changing it to “Martin.” I mean, that’s just cruel. [Huffington Post]

* More on Mayer Brown’s uncomfortable lawsuit against a city for erecting a WWII memorial. [The Careerist]

Here at Above the Law, whenever we get a tip about a law firm, we consult with our existing sources at the firm and reach out to the firm’s press operation to nail down as many details as possible. But sometimes there’s a firm so wrapped up in its own secrecy that it’s like pulling teeth to score any further information.

In the wake of the recent double-digit lawyer layoffs at Kasowitz Benson, we heard about another firm letting litigators go in New York. We reached out to this firm last week for comment and have not yet heard back. Maybe they think responding is beneath them? They are one of the most-arrogant law firms in the world — so much so that they’re publicly disrespecting Judge Richard Posner. Perhaps they think that blowing us off will make the story go away? They’d be wrong.

So we’re taking the reports we’ve heard to you, the audience, hoping it might inspire someone out there to divulge additional intel that we can use to update the story.

As of now, we hear the megafirm sent a partner walking the halls of the New York office last week, telling litigators to consider the enriching employment opportunities of “somewhere else.”

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Judge Richard Posner

From the Above the Law mailbag: “Is ATL ever going to call out Judge Posner for being so needlessly nasty to litigants?”

Ummm, no. I’m a big fan of Judge Richard Posner, who is brilliant and hilarious. (Yes, hilarious — if you doubt that, check out the awesome podcast that he and I did together, which you can download and listen to during your commute or at the gym.)

But in the interest of fairness, I will make this reader’s case. This correspondent cited the recent oral argument in Notre Dame v. Sebelius, which we alluded to yesterday, in which Judge Posner dispensed some benchslaps to Matthew Kairis, head of litigation in the Columbus office of Jones Day. The reader also mentioned the argument on remand in the Conrad Black case, alleging that Posner “was particularly nasty to Miguel Estrada, seemingly piqued that Estrada got him reversed by SCOTUS.”

Let’s focus on the Notre Dame v. Sebelius argument, since it just happened. How bad was it?

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