Litigators

Last week, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the American Lawyer all mentioned an unusual debt in the bankruptcy case of Dewey & LeBoeuf. A former D&L associate, Emily Saffitz, was listed as being owed $416,667 — a sum big enough to put her in the top 20 unsecured creditors of the firm. This was apparently due to a “severance arrangement.”

Why did Dewey agree to pay an associate from the class of 2006 more than $400K in severance? According to the Times, Saffitz received this severance agreement after she “complained over how she was treated by a former Dewey partner and told the firm’s management.” According to the Journal, she filed “a complaint regarding sexual discrimination by a Dewey partner who is no longer with the firm.”

Inquiring minds want to know: Who was the partner in question? And what did he allegedly say or do to Emily Saffitz?

Finding out such details is difficult. Settlements in cases of alleged sex discrimination or sexual harassment often contain non-disclosure or non-disparagement provisions that prevent the parties from speaking about what took place.

So we didn’t expect we would ever find out which former Dewey partner triggered complaints from Emily Saffitz. Until, well, he emailed us….

Multiple UPDATES, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey Know A Partner Whose Alleged Actions Led to a $400K ‘Severance Arrangement’?”

Based on the number of submissions we’ve received — please don’t be offended if yours doesn’t make the cut — it seems you’re enjoying our Law License Plates series. Our last post on law-related vanity license plates was a little over a week ago, but we’re always looking for more photos. You can send them via email (subject line: “Vanity License Plate”).

Today, we’ll be writing about lawyers who spend so much time in the courtroom that they’ve decided to slap a verdict on their license plates — literally. And from the looks of it, these litigators’ verdicts have resulted in some pretty big monetary payouts. Unfortunately, it looks like only one of them could afford the “i”….

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We have been covering the Justice Department’s case against Megaupload, the formerly massive file hosting site, ever since the government shut it down in January.

We have seen the government’s piracy case devolve from a slamdunk into a slopfest with what appears to be less and less of a chance of successful prosecution. Although charismatic CEO Kim Dotcom is still under house arrest in New Zealand, judicial officials there are getting frustrated with the United States. And the company’s attorneys at Quinn Emanuel are still continuing their assault against the Feds. The firm filed two important briefs yesterday, which could significantly impact the future of the case…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Justice Department Appears to Be Losing the Battle Against Megaupload”

It is no secret that electronic discovery is not exactly fun or glamorous work. Entry-level associates who have to do document review almost universally hate it. But how important is it, really? Can one deny that e-discovery has become a crucial part of the litigation system?

Has it become important enough to merit its own class in law school? At least one Midwestern law professor thinks so. Read about his plan to integrate it into his law school, and let us know your opinion in our reader poll

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The supremely successful Quinn Emanuel, one of the nation’s leading litigation firms, is known for many things within Biglaw. It secures amazing results for its clients, which help generate sky-high profits per partner. It pays its associates well; it’s one of the few firms providing spring bonuses this year (along with Sullivan & Cromwell). And it enjoys a reputation for innovation, a willingness to experiment with new things (e.g., a revamped recruiting model, a founding partner on Twitter).

Interestingly enough, despite the firm’s flashiness, Quinn also has an academic bent. The QE partnership includes such scholars as Kathleen Sullivan, former dean of Stanford Law School (and the first female name partner in the Am Law 100), and Susan Estrich, who still teaches at USC Law.

Joining these leading litigatrices is another prominent professor, with an international orientation….

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Tom Wallerstein

As readers of this site’s “Lawyer of the Day” posts everyone knows, lawyers and their clients can be guilty of all kinds of outrageous behavior. Litigation especially, with its inherently adversarial nature, seems to bring out the worst in people.

Bad behavior by lawyers comes in many forms. To non-lawyers, most if not all lawyers are jerks or worse. All bad behavior by lawyers is lumped together. But there are important differences.

A lot of bad behavior should be avoided simply because it is counter-productive. For example, an attorney may refuse to offer voluntary extensions of time to respond to discovery, or to a complaint. Aside from violating a principle of professional courtesy, that behavior also is ultimately self-destructive. In litigation, what comes around goes around, and granting extensions of time that will not prejudice your client is a prudent way to ensure later modest courtesies for yourself when needed.

Declining modest extensions to respond to discovery requests is especially unwise, as the responding party can always just serve objections, with the intention of serving substantive responses before a motion to compel can be filed. Because there is no instantaneous remedy for a failure to serve substantive responses, you often have little to gain by refusing a request for a modest extension of time.

Continue reading to find out when bad behavior crosses the line….

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I got caught.

In a column last week, I criticized a brief for using the alphabetical short form “EUSLA” to signify “end user software license agreement.” Depending on the circumstances, I suggested, one might shorten the name of that contract to “agreement,” “license agreement,” or “software license agreement,” but “EUSLA” just doesn’t work — it’s meaningless alphabet soup that doesn’t help the reader of a brief.

As I said, I got caught: The lawyer who had drafted the brief read my column, cleverly figured out who I was criticizing, and called to take issue with me. (Serves me right for using real-world examples in this forum, I suppose.)

“You’re wrong, Mark,” my outside counsel said. “We called that contract an ‘EUSLA’ in all of the depositions in the case. When we quoted deposition transcripts in the summary judgment brief, those quotations called the contract an ‘EUSLA.’ We would have confused things if we called the contract an ‘EUSLA’ in the deposition excerpts and a ‘software license agreement’ in the rest of the brief. ‘EUSLA’ was the right choice.”

This conversation illustrates, first, why you shouldn’t quarrel with me while I have this nifty megaphone at Above the Law and you’ve got bupkis; I can’t possibly lose. And the conversation illustrates, second, the meaning of “digging yourself into an even deeper hole.” “EUSLA” is the wrong short-form in a brief, and your earlier mistakes don’t justify your later one . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: On EUSLAs, Depositions, And Trials”

Based on the number of submissions we’ve received — please don’t be offended if yours doesn’t make the cut — it seems you’re enjoying our Law License Plates series. Our last post on law-related vanity license plates was about one month ago, but we’re always looking for more photos. You can send them via email (subject line: “Vanity License Plate”).

Today, we’ll be writing about lawyers who spend so much time in a courtroom that they’ve decided to brand their vehicles with the evidence. Both of these submissions came to us from California, where a career in trial practice (both before and behind the bench) seems to be as hot as the soaring temperatures.

Let’s take a look at what these legal eagles are advertising on their license plates, shall we?

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The “It firm” of May 2012 would appear to be Greenberg Traurig. It’s the Biglaw behemoth that’s generating the greatest buzz and the most headlines right now (not counting Dewey & LeBoeuf, which will soon find itself in bankruptcy).

Whenever there’s a big story, GT is there. In the past month, it has appeared in these pages as the possible savior of Dewey, the actual savior of Dewey’s Poland operations, and the victim of some alleged rudeness by a divorce lawyer in Texas.

And, of course, Greenberg Traurig has found itself at the center of the TD Bank controversy. Late last week, Judge Marcia Cooke held a contempt hearing, to decide whether Greenberg should be sanctioned due to a discovery debacle.

The hearing spanned two days and featured some high-powered witnesses. What happened?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Greenberg Traurig and the TD Bank To-Do: What Happened at the Contempt Hearing?”

We’ve seen some heated deposition transcripts in the past, but we didn’t know that simply scheduling a deposition could get so nasty. Clearly, we’ve never practiced in Texas, a place where Biglaw lawyers occasionally have to contend with “pansy” opposing counsel.

And, you know, have sanctions sought against them for their allegedly inappropriate email correspondence.

We’ve got a fun one today, folks. A partner at Cozen O’Connor in Dallas sent a string of allegedly abusive emails to opposing counsel when the lawyers couldn’t agree on a schedule for depositions. And we know all this because the emails are part of the record in the motion to sanction the Cozen partner.

UPDATE (5/17/2012, 11 AM): We’ve added a link to the full motion for sanctions, after the jump.

Actually, make that former partner. Keep reading, to find out what may have led to the partner’s departure from the firm….

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