Lawyer of the Day

April’s Lawyer of the Month victor won in a landslide. He’s also the first person to win the contest for his practice of law (as opposed to his death or his desire to quit the practice of law).

Yes, I think I speak for all legal bloggers out there by wishing April’s Lawyer of the Month a warm congratulations…

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We’re a little bit late with April’s lawyer of the month reader poll. First of all, we’ve been doing a lot of reader voting so far in this month. (There are still a few hours for you to vote in our Law Revue Video Contest.)

The other reason why we’re a bit delinquent this month is because we think we know who is going to win. It’s not every day that a recent law grad finds himself trying a murder case — and getting reprimanded by the judge for “lack[ing] knowledge of proper trial procedure.”

Such is life during the Obama “recovery.” Check out this month’s nominees below…

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Don't sucker punch David Prater.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater: you, sir, are poised to receive the coveted “everybody now knows you’re a bad ass” award. Expect your phone call from Badass-in-Chief President Obama shortly.

The story from the Oklahoman (gavel bang: ABA Journal) starts off in scary fashion. A defendant, Emanuel “E Man” Mitchell, took a swing at prosecutor Prater, after the jury found E-Man guilty of felony murder. Prater never saw the punch coming.

But that wasn’t the end of the fight….

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Toronto partner David Cowling, exonerated booty dancer.

Toronto partner David Cowling, exonerated booty dancer

Back in January 2009, a moot court after-party hosted by Mathews, Dinsdale & Clarke got wild enough to spark allegations of sexual harassment. Canadians do know how to party, eh? The “night of debauchery” has haunted David Cowling ever since; he was one of the partners accused of getting overly friendly with female associates and law students, while gettin’ jiggy.

He says that an internal law firm investigation cleared him of charges of inappropriate dance floor behavior, but that the firm refused to make that public, leading to rumors continuing to swirl in his work and social communities in Toronto. Oh, and have we mentioned that David Cowling specializes in labor and employment law? “If I were a personal injury lawyer, sexual harassment rumors would not be such a bad mark on my professional reputation,” says Cowling.

So he filed a libel suit against Adrian Jakibchuk and Sarah Diebel, the two associates who accused him of doing the really funky chicken on the dance floor. Apparently, they don’t study the Barbara Streisand effect in Canadian law schools. That got the allegations splashed across Canadian newspapers and here at ATL.

But now he’s got his name cleared, with a public statement from his prior firm, along with a seven-figurish settlement. He started a new firm and dropped his lawsuit against his accusers, and has a few things to say about his side of the story.

So say you’re the law student who supposedly got felt up by a partner on the dance floor, and his lawyer calls you up in the middle of exam week to talk about it. Yeah, that’s awkward. And Cowling sent along the transcript…

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If you already know what I’m talking about, I’m sorry — I don’t have very much to add. The deposition is so damn short, the transcript doesn’t contain case-identifying information, and the pdf has been stripped of its metadata. Really, I only know what you know: a hilarious deposition took place earlier this month.

For those who are in the loop, there’s been this deposition making the rounds on various lawyer listserves. From what we can tell, it’s a real deposition in what appears to be a divorce or some other type of family-law proceeding. The deponent is named Kevin Phillip Gartner; of all the Kevin Gartners in Google, we can’t be sure of which one. The lawyer taking the deposition appears to be Denise Watson, a Jacksonville area lawyer. When I tried to contact her, I was told she is “unavailable, this week.” The lawyer valiantly trying to represent Kevin Gartner and defend the deposition is known only as “Mr. Dorsey.”

That’s all I got: a name, a no-comment, and the mysterious Mr. Dorsey. Normally, that wouldn’t be enough for a full post. But you’re going to want to see the depo transcript for yourself….

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So this month, we went out of our way to nominate potential Lawyers of the Month who were still breathing. The desire of our readers to bestow this honor posthumously is laudable, but we don’t want to this feature to end up like the “dead people” reel at the Oscars, where folks bet on which deceased celebrity will get the most applause.

Being forced to choose only among living candidates, Above the Law readers perhaps started another trend we’re sure to see in future Lawyer of the Month contests: they voted for a guy who is no longer a practicing attorney…

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Matthew Kluger aka Big Gay Matt

“Aww, Matt, why do you have to go around giving us a bad name?”

Ever since Matthew Kluger was charged in a massive insider trading case, involving an alleged conspiracy that spanned 17 years and generated more than $32 million in profit, the foregoing question could be asked by many groups: Cornell grads, NYU law grads, Cravath lawyers, Skadden lawyers, and Wilson Sonsini lawyers.

Tonight we can add more groups to the list: Fried Frank lawyers, and gays — specifically, gay dads.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal earlier tonight, Matt Kluger worked at yet another major law firm: Fried Frank. After he was fired by the firm in 2002, he sued, claiming that partners there discriminated against him because he’s gay — and a father of three, with parenting responsibilities.

Just when you thought this case couldn’t get any weirder, it just did. Matthew Kluger is gay. And a dad. With three kids. Thanks for sending America such a positive image of LGBT parents, Matt!

Let’s take a closer look at Kluger’s suit against Fried Frank — and additional details about Matt Kluger’s complicated personal life, gleaned from ATL tipsters….

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Matthew Kluger

There’s no contest today for Lawyer of the Day honors. The clear winner is Matthew Kluger, a former associate at three leading law firms, who has been charged in a massive insider trading case. Kluger stands accused of reaping more than $32 million in profit over the course of a 17-year conspiracy, which also allegedly involved a trader, Garrett Bauer. (Kluger and Bauer might not be as big as Raj Rajaratnam, who’s pretty hefty, but their supposed scheme is nothing to scoff at.)

The charges were filed by Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey (disclosure: my former office). Fishman claims that Matt Kluger passed along insider information that eventually made its way, via an unnamed co-conspirator, to Garrett Bauer, who traded on it. According to the complaint, Kluger and Bauer invested more than $109 million in the scheme, which yielded profits of more than $32.2 million.

Where did Kluger allegedly obtain the inside information? From the three Biglaw firms where he once worked on M&A deals….

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Our first two lawyer of the month polls in 2011 were dominated by death and despair. Several high-profile, wonderful attorneys died in the month of March — e.g., Warren Christopher, Bill Stuntz — but we’re not including them in this month’s contest. This month, the lawyer of the month reader poll is 100% alive.

And we’ve got some very strong nominees this month. We’ve got standard bearers for salaciousness, uplifting entrants, and deranged douchebags.

Should be fun. Let’s check out the nominees for March…

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What is up with state prosecutors in the Midwest? Over the past year or so, they’ve been making huge fools of themselves. See, e.g., Wisconsin’s Ken Kratz (of “I am the prize” fame); Michigan’s Andrew Shirvell (of “homophobic nut job” fame); and Indiana’s Jeff Cox (of “Use Live Ammo” fame).

Our latest Midwestern prosecutor to win Lawyer of the Day honors, Carlos Lam, also hails from Indiana. Let’s take a look at what this loser Hoosier did….

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