Litigatrix

Patricia A. Martone

“You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit.”

– Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (affiliate link)

Take this famous line and replace “man” with “law firm partner,” and you’ve captured the gist of the lawsuit against Ropes & Gray brought by Patricia Martone, who alleges age and sex discrimination by her former firm. (Martone, a former IP litigation partner at Ropes, is now a Morrison & Foerster partner.)

When I broke the news of this lawsuit back in 2011, I expected a speedy settlement. Would Ropes really want to go toe to toe with a pair of high-powered litigatrices, namely, Martone and her formidable employment lawyer, Anne Vladeck?

But here we are, two years later, and the battle rages on. Ropes has hired a third leading litigatrix to defend itself. Let’s learn the latest news….

(Note the multiple UPDATES at the end of this post.)

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Mary Jo White

Mary Jo White? More like Mary Jo Green. President Obama’s pick to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission is deliciously rich, as revealed in her financial disclosures.

Although she’s barely five feet tall, making her a little litigatrix, Mary Jo White wears big shoes. In the words of my colleague Elie Mystal, a former Debevoise & Plimpton associate, she’s “one of those alpha dog partners…. the kind of partner that makes other partners stammer, shuffle papers, and try to look really busy and intelligent when she’s in the room.”

The sizable net worth of Mary Jo White shouldn’t surprise anyone. Not only is she a longtime Debevoise partner, but her husband, John W. White, has been a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore for more than 25 years (interrupted from 2006 through 2008 by a stint at the SEC, actually, where he served as Director of the Division of Corporation Finance).

Let’s get a sense of Mary Jo White’s fortune….

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It looks like a silly marginal tax increase on the personal incomes of the top 2 percent is the last thing the barons of Wall Street need to worry about. President Obama is sending a new sheriff into the regulatory fray.

Dealbook reports that Obama will nominate former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sending in White to the SEC is a little bit like calling the Wolf to drive home your blood-soaked vehicle. It’s a bold move for an agency that is often overwhelmed by the impressive lawyers marshaled on behalf of the financial industry in defense of their most complex transactions.

Unlike Elizabeth Warren (bless her heart), Mary Jo White is no academic, she’s a hard-nosed litigator. And she might be exactly what the SEC needs…

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Elizabeth Wurtzel, today.

Why do we love to write about celebrity author and lawyer Elizabeth Wurtzel? Because people love to read about her. Even a passing mention of La Wurtzel garners thousands of pageviews, and her name routinely shows up in the top search terms that bring readers to Above the Law.

We aren’t alone in devoting significant editorial real estate to Liz Wurtzel. New York Magazine just published a mammoth essay by this bestselling memoir writer and former Boies Schiller associate. The piece, exceeding 5,500 words, appeared in print as well as online — accompanied by photos of Wurtzel looking much younger than her 45 years.

Wurtzel looks fabulous in the photos, but the essay itself is something of a downer. If you enjoy hating on Wurtzel, taking schadenfreude from her financial, romantic, and bar exam failures, you need to read it….

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Mitt Romney’s unfortunate comment at the most recent presidential debate, in which he boasted about receiving “binders full of women” while trying to build a diverse cabinet as Governor or Massachusetts, has become a wildly popular internet meme. If you’re looking for some good laughs, check out this Tumblr or this slideshow.

Happily, there’s a Biglaw connection to all of this. At which leading law firm can you assemble your own “binder full of women”?

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The relatively new Boston office of Latham & Watkins seems to be going gangbusters. Even though it’s just a year old, it already boasts at least 24 lawyers. (For what it’s worth, they seem to be an unusually attractive bunch; I haven’t seen such a good-looking crop of Boston lawyers since the days of Ally McBeal.)

And their ranks are about to grow. Above the Law has learned that at least three litigation partners are leaving their current firm to join Latham’s Beantown outpost.

Who are they, and where are they coming from?

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Say what? One of Above the Law’s favorite subjects, celebrity lawyer and author Elizabeth Wurtzel, got attacked by a penguin?

Yes — in a manner of speaking. Penguin Group, the publishing mega-house, recently sued the bestselling and critically acclaimed authoress, seeking the return of her advance money. Other prominent authors have been sued as well.

How much does the publisher want back from La Wurtzel? What are her possible defenses? And who are some of the other high-profile defendants being pursued by the angry Penguin?

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You know it’s going to be a great day when you get to write about allegations of attorney misconduct that took place at a store that markets itself as a “purveyor of adult accoutrements, toys and lingerie.”

Do you remember Courtney King, the Ice Miller attorney who allegedly told the police to Google her before she was arrested? Well, today we’ve got another tale of a female attorney who allegedly attempted to pull rank during what seems to have been a rather drunken escapade in Chicago. Trust me, girl, the hangover is going to be that much worse for a prosecutor who has become the prosecutee.

Just because you were allegedly causing a ruckus in an adult store doesn’t mean that you have to go all BDSM on everyone, and start biting people when you’re asked to leave….

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We’ve learned this before: sometimes lawyers and alcohol are like peas in a pod. But other times, lawyers and alcohol are like a box of dynamite and a book of matches. Get too close and everyone comes out looking a lot worse for the wear.

That’s the long and short of an incident that allegedly happened over the weekend in Atlanta, involving a Fulton County assistant district attorney.

The young litigatrix was arrested after allegedly fighting with cops outside a bar. Police had arrived to deal with her male friend, who had been asked to leave and reported for allegedly playing some unwanted grab-ass.

What a hot mess in Hotlanta. Time for ATL to pay a visit to ATL…

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Every day it seems the Apple v. Samsung trial couldn’t get any more exciting, but somehow every day, the court proceedings seem to ratchet up the ridiculousness. Samsung has rested its case, and commentators expect closing arguments to happen on Tuesday.

But the trial won’t close out quietly. The vitriol from all sides shows no signs of slowing down — least of all from Judge Lucy Koh, who has quite simply had it up to here with the tech giants’ bickering.

Yesterday she again tried to convince the parties to settle, without much success. Today, the judicial badass inquired as to whether or not counsel was on drugs. Good times!

Can you guess which side received the verbal beating?

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