Litigatrix

Robert Leighton

Associates in the Chicago office of Sidley Austin seem to be doing a lot of walking these days. Last week, for example, bankruptcy associate Tyler Coulson announced that he was leaving the firm in order to walk across the country with his dog.

Today we bring you the tale of Sidley IP associate Robert Leighton, who apparently walked out on his fiancée, Lauren Serafin. But Serafin didn’t take the diss lying down.

Lauren Serafin is also a lawyer, so what did she do? She sued him, of course. Her suit for “breach of promise” seeks $62,814.71 in wedding and honeymoon expenses.

And it makes some lurid allegations about Leighton. Let’s take a closer look at the lawsuit — and the ex-bride behind it, who’s rather attractive….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Jilted Lawyer Bride Sues Sidley Associate for Wedding Expenses”

Why do Brits think that filming people staring at other people in silence makes for compelling drama?

* Could stuttering actually help a trial attorney? Somebody should make a movie about this guy, only with fewer British people than The King’s Speech and more things Americans enjoy: like the stutterer/hero saying “My f-f-finger doesn’t stammer,” before he blows some fool away. [From the Sidebar]

* Ernst & Young accountants engaging in funny videos > Ernst & Young accountants engaging in fuzzy math. [Going Concern]

* I don’t trust “the market” as much as some other people do, but it can’t be any worse at running legal education in the country than the current system of letting a yearly ranking in U.S. News dictate how things work. [Truth on the Market]

* Just once in my life, I’d like to be able to vote for a Democrat with balls. [Huffington Post]

Litigatrix Ally McBeal

* There’s an irony in women litigators getting told they are not good at building relationships. [The Careerist]

* Before we accept Revelations, I’m going to want the state psychiatrist to take a look at St. John of Patmos. [What About Clients?]

* “Like most people who do these sorts of things, Linda Speaks Tribby had a good excuse, which is that she needed the money to buy a helicopter and a motor home, two purchases that seem slightly at odds but the heart wants what it wants.” [Dealbreaker]

* Loyola Law – L.A. is running Journalist Law School again. Kash went last year and recommends it. [Loyola Law School - L.A.]

Partners at the differently abled challenged Howrey law firm continue to leave the reservation in droves. Last night, Am Law Daily reported on the departure of antitrust litigatrix Roxann Henry. She’s joining Dewey & LeBoeuf, which has picked up a number of Howrey refugees (including Henry Bunsow, former vice-chairman of the firm).

What’s next for Howrey? According to Legal Week, the remaining partners plan to vote next week on whether to wind down the firm. (For a discussion of possible Howrey endgames, see Am Law Daily, which interviewed partnership law expert Robert Hillman, a professor at UC Davis.)

After the dissolution vote, Howrey can focus on talking to Winston & Strawn about which associates and staff Winston might want (as well as other assets, like the Howrey name). As previously discussed, a few weeks ago Winston made offers to about 75 percent of Howrey’s partners. It looks like about 35 percent of Howrey’s remaining partners have agreed to join Winston, and Legal Week reports that confirmation letters went out to them last weekend.

In our last post, we opened up a Howrey haiku contest. Let’s look at the winners….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Howrey Kemosabe: Rivals Claim More Scalps, As Dissolution Vote Looms (Plus the Howrey haiku contest winners.)

Testimony is now over in the trial of Gerald Ung, the Temple Law student facing charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault stemming from a shooting in January 2010. Ung shot Eddie DiDonato, a former Villanova lacrosse captain and the son of a politically connected partner at the Fox Rothschild law firm.

Throughout the trial, Ung’s counsel, renowned Philadelphia defense lawyer Jack McMahon, has argued that his client acted in self-defense. As he said in his opening statement, “This case is about privileged, drunken bullies, four guys, tough guys, big-muscle guys. It’s unfortunate what happened to this young man [DiDonato], but it was their own fault.”

Today Gerald Ung got to drive this point home, in his own words. In a rare move for a criminal defendant, Ung took the stand, testifying for almost two hours.

How did Ung do? Let’s find out — and play the role of jurors, by voting in a reader poll….

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Natalie Lee (aka Cavanaugh Lee)

Might we be seeing a new trend, namely, federal prosecutors moonlighting as novelists?

Last year, as part of Above the Law’s Career Alternatives series, we profiled Allison Leotta, an assistant U.S. attorney in D.C. who wrote a well-received thriller, Law of Attraction. Today we introduce you to Natalie Lee — an assistant U.S. attorney in Savannah, former associate at Alston & Bird, and author of a new novel, Save as Draft. (When looking up the book, please note that Natalie writes under a pen name, “Cavanaugh Lee.”)

Like Law of Attraction, Save as Draft has garnered some nice reviews. A post on Chick Lit Reviews, for example, praises the book as a “fantastic read that all of us technology addicted Chick Lit fans will absolutely fall in love with, a must read!”

The reference to technology addiction relates to the novel’s ingenious premise. I discussed that premise — along with other topics, such as the inspiration for the book’s law firm partner / villainess, a products-liability litigatrix named Rose — in a recent interview with Natalie Lee….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Save as Draft: Meet Natalie Lee, Novelist and Federal Prosecutor”

Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon.

I’ll never forget a moment in a wildlife program about Antarctic penguins – I think it was a David Attenborough series.

There were two little penguin parents and a penguin chick.

Then, suddenly, there wasn’t. The chick fell into a crack in the ice.

The little guy squeaked for all he was worth, the parents circled, there was frantic waving of wings – and not a damn thing anyone could do.

Five minutes later – which seemed like several lifetimes – a member of the film crew tore away a chunk of snow and released the chick. Profound relief for all involved, penguin and human.

But there was a wrinkle. The show’s non-intervention policy had been violated. A voice-over explained that an exception had been made because the film crew may have created the crack in the ice.

Uh, yeah. I doubt David Attenborough was buying that story.

The truth? You try filming a baby penguin slowly perishing in front of its parents….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Call of the Wild”

It’s time for a brief postscript on one of this month’s juicier (and well-trafficked) stories: the dismissal of three women associates from litigation powerhouse Boies Schiller. We have a few additional tidbits that we can share with you.

But this is probably the last story we’ll be doing on this drama, since we don’t expect anything else to emerge. One piece of information we’ve received is that the associates were offered severance pay — “very generous” severance, in the words of one source — but had to release any claims against the firm in exchange. All three took the deal, including the expectant mother. So don’t expect any “Aaron Charney for pregnant women”-type lawsuits.

What other details can we reveal about the situation?

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A Supreme Court clerkship is, in the words of Adam Liptak of the New York Times, “the most coveted credential in American law.” When SCOTUS clerks leave their posts at the Court to join private law firms, they get signing bonuses of as much as $250,000 (on top of normal associate salaries and bonuses).

But typically they join their firms as associates (or maybe counsel, if they have a few extra years of practice in addition to clerking). How many clerks come in to Biglaw as partners?

As reported yesterday — by Tony Mauro in The BLT and by Marisa Kashino in Washingtonian magazine, among others — at least one Supreme Court clerk from the Term just ended, October Term 2009, is going to straight into a partnership at a major law firm.

Meet Elizabeth Papez. She clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas in OT 2009. Now she’s joining the D.C. office of Winston & Strawn, where she will practice in commercial and appellate litigation, with a focus on intellectual property and energy law, as well as government relations.

We interview Papez about her interesting career path, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: From Supreme Court Clerk to Winston & Strawn Partner”

Federal judges are people too — and I have proof. Earlier this week, one federal appellate judge accepted my friend request on Facebook. Another circuit judge emailed me — from a Gmail account (although we didn’t Gchat; that would have been too cool for words).

Judges are real people — with opinions, not just of the judicial kind, and with personalities. They have interesting lives — off the bench, and before they’re appointed to the bench. Judges are not grown in petri dishes, and donning the robes cannot and does not erase their personal or professional histories.

So I’m not quite sure why everyone is getting their proverbial undergarments [FN1] in a wad over a forthcoming memoir by Judge Nancy Gertner (D. Mass.). The pot was first stirred by the Boston Globe, which began its article as follows: “US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner has a memoir coming out in April, and it bears a very unjudicial title: In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate.”

“[A] very unjudicial title.” Really? Is this the Boston Globe, or the Boston Herald?

Let’s delve into the controversy….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense of A Woman: Some Thoughts on the Judge Gertner Book Controversy”

Earlier today, on the Senate floor, debate took place on whether to confirm Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th Supreme Court justice. The Kagan nomination is not very controversial, due to the nominee’s impeccable credentials and the Democrats’ 59 votes in the Senate.

In the legal blogosphere, a far more divisive debate is raging, over a subject just as important as confirming the fourth woman ever to the Supreme Court: Are peep-toe shoes appropriate professional footwear? Can female attorneys wear them to the office? What about to court?

The debate was ignited over at The Careerist, by Vivia Chen (no style slouch herself — not many legal journalists own floor-length mink coats). Chen recounted this anecdote:

Waiting in line in the ladies room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel recently, I heard this discussion: “In my day, I always wore pumps to court,” said in a woman in her fifties. “Can you believe this associate went to court with open-toe shoes?” Her companion shook her head, then asked: “How did she do?” The first woman replied, “Her work was good, but her shoes weren’t right.”

Chen then surveyed a number of lawyers, from around the country, and they could not reach a consensus on the appropriateness of peep-toe shoes. The debate continued over at the ABA Journal, where a post by Debra Cassens Weiss generated a flurry of comments.

Given that so many law firms are business casual nowadays, it is probably safe to wear peep-toe shoes to the office. The fashion guidelines issued by the New York office of Weil Gotshal, for example, officially bless “open toe or open heel shoes.” (Still unacceptable: “Athletic shoes, clogs, beach shoes, flip flops, beach shoes.”)

But what about wearing peep-toe shoes to court? On this subject, we decided to turn to the experts: namely, a panel of fabulous female federal judges….

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