Lee Smolen

See the resemblance here?

* Utah is appealing its gay marriage case directly to the Supreme Court, presumably because the state’s attorney general doesn’t even want to bother with an en banc hearing before the Tenth Circuit. This should be good. [Salt Lake Tribune]

* Perkins Coie recently appointed its first ever Washington, D.C.-based managing partner in its 102-year history. Congrats to John Devaney, who will lead a “true national firm” beginning in January 2015. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* When your career goes awry in Biglaw through no one’s fault but your own, you can end up living your life in shame or in jail. We’re going venture a guess and say the former is nicer than the latter. [Am Law Daily]

* How can law school graduates obtain law work experience? Simple. Get on your knees and learn how to please. Just kidding. Take some advice from this “poorly written” article instead. [CollegeRecruiter.com]

* Everything about Lacey Jonas from Grand Theft Auto V is so Lindsay Lohan-esque that she should totally win her lawsuit. Just take it from someone who’s “no legal expert, but know[s] [her] tabloid stars.” [TIME]

* Need a break from bar exam studying? Searching for something to do as a summer associate? Are you an attorney in need of fun? Come to tonight’s trivia event! All are welcome, sign up here. [Above the Law]

I was trying to achieve a work-life balance after I had missed my children’s lives.

Lee Smolen, the ex-Sidley Austin partner who was hit with ethics charges after he faked almost $70,000 in reimbursable car fare expenses, during his testimony last week before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. The IARDC seeks a temporary suspension of Smolen’s license to practice law as punishment for his pilfering.

Stan Stallworth and Therrie Miller (click to enlarge)

It’s almost law school exam time, so let’s run through some hypotheticals. An uncle having sex with his niece: should that constitute illegal incest?

What about an uncle having sex with his nephew? Does the fact that it’s “gay incest,” with no possibility of procreation, make it less troubling?

What about an uncle and his nephew allegedly getting a teenage male drunk and tag-teaming him? Whether or not it’s “incest,” it sounds problematic.

According to Chicago prosecutors, such a situation unfolded last week. And the oldest man in the threesome is a partner at one of the world’s leading law firms….

(Please note the multiple UPDATES added below.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Biglaw Partner In Big Trouble, Charged With Sexual Assault — Along With His Nephew”


Last year, we covered the mystery departure of Lee Smolen — the prominent real estate lawyer, not the famed theoretical physicist — from Sidley Austin. It may have been related to the ethics charges filed against Smolen, accusing him of conversion and breach of fiduciary duty through alleged filing of false expense claims.

Amazingly enough, Smolen got picked up as a partner by DLA Piper. The firm admitted that it “was aware of this matter during the hiring process.”

In order to deliver to DLA’s bottom line, Smolen will need to avoid suspension or disbarment. So he has filed a response to the Illinois ethics charges against him. What does Smolen have to say for himself, and is it persuasive?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sidley Austin Turned DLA Piper Partner Responds To Ethics Charges”

* J. Lo has apologized for singing Happy Birthday to a repressive dictator. Many are questioning the decision to serenade an alleged violator of international human rights law, but I’m just confused why J. Lo didn’t opt for the new, copyright-free birthday song? But people are being way too tough on the President of Turkmenistan. Don’t be fooled by the rocks that he got, he’s still Gurbanguly from the block. [Breaking Energy]

* NYU Law Professor Barry Friedman and Dahlia Lithwick wonder if the progressives have another liberal agenda item to push after marriage equality. The authors cite issues like voting rights and opposition to the death penalty as traditionally liberal causes marginalized by progressives. It strikes me this article makes a lot more sense if you replace the word “progressive” with “Justice Kennedy.” [Slate]

* DLA Piper’s decision to hire Lee Smolen has raised more than a few eyebrows given the firm’s commitment to ethical billing policies. [Hellerman Baretz]

* Did the ABA just recommend an ethical violation? [New York Personal Injury Attorney Blog]

* After a week of landmark rulings and Biglaw layoffs, the importance of clerking cannot be understated. [Judicial Clerk Review]

* The Supreme Court Term feels like a distant memory, but now’s a good time to look back on it with added perspective. Courtesy of MoloLamken, here’s a great guide to the big business cases of the Supreme Court Term just ended. Download or print it, then read it at your leisure. [MoloLamken]

* An attorney left the rat race to open a pea company. But these don’t look like the peas you tried to hide under your mashed potatoes, they look like serious snack food. [Kickstarter]

Last September, we wrote about the mysterious departure of Lee Smolen from Sidley Austin. Smolen, former head of Sidley’s real estate practice in Chicago and a member of the firm’s executive committee, departed without comment or a known destination. When that happens, something interesting is usually afoot.

Earlier this month, the other white shoe dropped. A lawyer ethics commission in Illinois leveled charges against Smolen arising out of his time at Sidley.

What has he been accused of? And what does his new law firm have to say about it?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Mystery Departure Solved: Ex-Sidley Austin Partner Hit With Ethics Charges”

Opening a legal bill from DLA Piper?

Here at Above the Law, we ❤ DLA Piper. The firm makes for great copy; there’s always something funny, ridiculous, or salacious going down over there.

In fairness to DLA Piper, the craziness might not be that high on a per capita basis. DLA Piper is one of the largest law firms in the world. In the most recent Global 100 rankings, DLA took second place in both total revenue and attorney headcount.

Many of the DLA Piper stories are on the lighter side. But this latest one — involving serious allegations of overbilling, apparently supported by internal DLA emails saying things like “churn that bill, baby!” — is no laughing matter….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Overbilling Gone Wild: Paying the (DLA) Piper”

The last winner of our esteemed Comment of the Week contest was rewarded for bringing some Oscar-winning gravitas to an already serious issue. Namely, the oft-crushing weight of student loans.

There’s always time for serious business, but sometimes we appreciate astute observations of minute, easily-overlooked details. (As Mitch Hedberg would have said, “What the f**k is a sesame?”) And our newest Commenter of the Week winner uncovered a similarly amusing logic problem in a former Sidley Austin associate’s book about his adopted K9….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Comment of the Week: I Don’t Think Adopted Means What You Think It Means”

When people leave the Chicago office of Sidley Austin, they do it in style. Remember the humorous departure memo of partner David B. Johnson, who left the firm to pursue a career as a novelist? Or the epic farewell message of associate Tyler Coulson, who left to hike across the country with his dog?

(And write a book about the experience, with a great title: By Men or By the Earth: A Corporate Lawyer Walks Out on Law, Love, and Life, and Walks Across America With His Adopted Dog (affiliate link).)

Today we have news of another lawyer leaving the Chicago office of Sidley. But this departure reads more like a mystery novel than a memoir. Let’s find out who’s leaving, even if we don’t yet know why….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: A Sidley Austin Partner’s Mysterious Departure”