Litigators

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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At a breakfast last week, the Seventh Circuit Bar Association learned the true meaning of going “from the sublime to the ridiculous”: As Judge Frank Easterbrook took his seat, I approached the lectern.

I won’t burden you with the subject of my remarks (regular readers of this column could probably guess), but I’ll share the sublime. Judge Easterbrook said one thing, and he failed to mention another topic that he often raises.

Judge Easterbrook explained that, as a young lawyer, he had sent a brief to the Third Circuit for filing. The clerk rejected the brief and mailed it back. Easterbrook called, and the clerk’s office explained that it had rejected the brief because the back cover was the wrong shade of blue — a shade specified by an unwritten local rule. Easterbrook asked if there were any other unwritten rules, and the clerk said he wasn’t sure. Easterbrook mailed a revised version of the brief, which the clerk’s office again rejected — this time for violating a different unwritten local rule. On the third try, the clerk’s office finally accepted the brief. Easterbrook swore that, if he were ever the chief judge of a circuit, all of the rules would be in writing. Easterbrook then told the assembled crowd that (1) the Seventh Circuit’s written rules are fairly comprehensive and (2) the clerk’s office is extremely helpful if you call for advice, so there’s no longer an excuse for not complying with appellate local rules.

Judge Easterbrook last week chose not to discuss a different subject. One of the other folks who attended the breakfast meeting told me that the judge often raises this in his talks . . .

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard some surprising rumblings of discontent from Boies Schiller. Why do we say “surprising”? Because the complaints have been about compensation, which is typically something that BSF lawyers never complain about.

Boies Schiller, the litigation powerhouse founded by the legendary David Boies, is an amazing firm. Its lawyers work on some of the biggest and most important cases of our time, and their compensation reflects that. In addition to paying above-market base salaries — the BSF scale starts at $174,000 — the firm pays bonuses that blow the NYC market out of the water.

In recent years, Boies has made two bonus payments to associates, one in December and one in April. But this year, April came and went, and many lawyers did not receive any payout. Of those who did receive payments, many were surprised at the small size.

So what happened? Did the relative cheapness of the disappointing spring bonuses at Sullivan & Cromwell trickle down (or up) to Boies Schiller? Let’s discuss….

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Consider this definition (which I’m borrowing from my own work):

Business development: Playing golf with old college buddies. As in: ‘Of course I charged the firm for my business development trip to Scotland.’”

If you’re in high school, you did not think that was funny.

If you’re in law school, you have a bemused look on your face.

If you’re 50 years old and work at either a large law firm or a large corporation, you may well have just laughed out loud.

Why is that? I submit that there’s a generational divide in legal humor.

When my daughter was in first grade, and her classmates were all losing their baby teeth, I picked up Jessica’s arm one day and felt around in her armpit. “Hey, Jessica,” I asked, “are any of your classmates losing their baby arms yet?”

Jessica didn’t laugh. Instead, she gave me a look that said, “I’m pretty sure that he’s kidding — but if he’s not, this really sucks.”

I got that same look recently from a bunch of students at the University of Chicago Law School . . . .

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Partner departures from the fast-sinking Dewey & LeBoeuf have reached a point where it’s difficult to track them in real time. We’ll focus our coverage on the biggest defections. There are multiple other resources for monitoring all the moves, the latest being the Wall Street Journal’s interactive graphic. (Similar trackers are available from Am Law Daily and Thomson Reuters.)

Last week, an internal memo gave Dewey partners the green light to consider “alternative opportunities” with other law firms. Many partners have availed themselves of that permission, with dozens of partners leaving the firm since the memo’s issuance. According to Thomson Reuters, about 150 of Dewey’s 300 partners have resigned since the start of 2012.

And now one of Dewey’s leaders — the chair of the firm’s Global Litigation Department, and a member of the multi-partner Office of the Chairman — is departing. Where is he going?

As usual, various UPDATES — including news of another departure by a department head and Chairman’s Office member, and additional details of litigators on the move — after the jump.

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Last night, when we reported the news of secretarial staff layoffs at Dewey & LeBoeuf, we mentioned a prediction of additional layoffs today — i.e., Tuesday — or later in the week. That prediction has already come to pass — like so many predictions about Dewey, sadly.

Last night, they came for the secretaries. This time, they’ve come for the associates….

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About a month ago, we wrote about an interesting lawsuit that Twitter filed against the allegedly “most aggressive” Twitter spammers. The social media giant took action against companies with goofy names, such as TweetAttacks, TweetAdder, and TweetBuddy.

At least one of the defendants, Skootle, the company that developed TweetAdder, is fighting back against Twitter’s allegations. The company filed a response brief on Friday and is represented by none other than one of Above the Law’s own regular columnists.

Keep reading to see Skootle’s brief and learn which ATL columnist is helming the defense…

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For a couple of centuries, we thought that American elections were precise: People voted; the government counted each vote; we knew which candidate received how many votes.

In the year 2000, we learned that elections are approximations. Votes are miscounted; chads dangle; we don’t in fact know precisely who received how many votes. Elections are a human process after all, and they can’t bear the weight when we insist on precision within the margin of error.

So, too, with litigation. I recently spoke to one of our outside litigators who had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth for several weeks. He told me that one of his clients had run into a now-typical e-discovery disaster: His client had overlooked some documents; a computer system had automatically deleted some other documents; when the client corrected the situation, it did so imperfectly; the judge (who came from a government background and had no experience in private civil litigation) was quick to spy “bad faith.” Why, this outside lawyer asked, don’t judges appreciate the difficulties presented by e-discovery?

My thesis (for today, anyway) is that e-discovery is like elections: It’s an approximation, and participants in litigation (parties, counsel, courts) should understand that it may not bear the weight when the judicial system insists on precision within the margin of error . . . .

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Judging from our traffic stats and the many emails we’ve received about it, the story of the document controversy involving Greenberg Traurig and its former client, TD Bank, has captured the interest of our Floridian readers. So we’ll do one more story about it for now (and then we may keep our powder dry until after the contempt hearing later this month before Judge Marcia Cooke, when there will be bigger news to report).

In our first story, we discussed the allegations made against Greenberg Traurig and one of its former shareholders, Donna Evans. In our second story, we raised some points in defense of ex-partner Evans and her former firm. We believe in providing both sides of a story here at ATL.

Now we’ll share with you a final rebuttal by critics of GT and Evans….

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Carter Phillips

On Sunday, Sidley Austin announced a regime change at the firm. Over the next year, veteran Supreme Court litigator Carter Phillips will become co-chair and eventually chair of the firm’s executive committee. In 2013 he will replace the current chair, Thomas Cole.

Currently, Phillips is managing partner of Sidley’s Washington D.C. office. He recently argued his 76th case in front of the Supreme Court. I had the opportunity to ask him about the Obamacare arguments last month.

Keep reading to learn more about the transition and to find out what it takes for an accomplished practicing attorney to take on a crucial business role…

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