Munger Tolles

Judge Paul Watford

Congratulations to the newest member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Honorable Paul J. Watford. On Monday, Watford, currently a 44-year-old partner at the super-elite Munger Tolles & Olson, was confirmed to the federal bench. The vote was 61-34, and it came after a bit of drama in the Senate.

It’s surprising that Watford’s nomination was so contentious, given that he has a number of backers from the right side of the aisle. As noted by the San Francisco Chronicle, “[h]is supporters included conservative UCLA law Professor Eugene Volokh, who has described Watford as brilliant and ideologically moderate, and attorney Jeremy Rosen, former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the conservative Federalist Society” (and a noted appellate lawyer, who has appeared before in these pages).

That’s not all. Watford clerked for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, one of a handful of prominent conservative or libertarian judges on the (generally liberal) Ninth Circuit. If you look at the ranks of former Kozinski clerks, you’ll see many members in good standing of the vast right-wing conspiracy (and some who are not, like Paul Watford — who went on to clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and was nominated to the Ninth Circuit by a Democratic president).

Now that the handsome Watford has joined his superhottie boss on the bench, we have a trivia question: Who is the circuit judge with the most former law clerks to join him on the Court of Appeals during his lifetime?

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It’s late October, so Biglaw bonus news could drop any day now. In 2010, Cravath didn’t kick off the season until November 22. But back in 2009, Cravath announced bonuses on November 2. And in 2007 — yes, the glory days, before the Great Recession — Cravath announced bonuses, regular and “special,” on October 29.

In light of the economic gloom and doom, including the possibility of a double-dip recession, it wouldn’t be shocking if bonuses are modest this year. Better to conserve the cash and avoid layoffs, right? Or maybe repeat what happened in 2010 and save some money for spring bonuses in a few months, when firms might have a better idea of the direction of the economy?

Regardless of how bonuses turn out, there are other pockets of good news in the world of large law firms — even news requiring law firms to open their wallets. Check out the growing number of firms that offer the perk we’ve dubbed the gay gross-up….

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'But I'm too pretty to go to jail.'

* The AT&T/T-Mobile antitrust suit is so big that not even Big Government law can handle it. The DOJ is bringing in even bigger guns with a partner from Biglaw firm Munger Tolles. [Bloomberg]

* Obama has nominated former Kozinski clerk, Paul Watford, to the Ninth Circuit. Way to go, because he’s kind of cute. Isn’t that what everyone looks for in a federal judge? [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Is Paul Ceglia’s Facebook lawsuit completely doomed? His own lawyer, Jeffrey Lake, wants to defriend him. This will be the fourth firm to dump Ceglia as a client. [Wall Street Journal]

* Blind item: which Hollywood actress is suing IMDb for $1M for revealing her true age? And we say “true age” because everyone knows that Botox knocks a few years off your face. [Reuters]

* Lindsay Lohan is due in court today for a progress report hearing, and prosecutors want to throw her in jail. Hope she’s been brushing up on her acting skills. [New York Daily News]

* Cry me a river? A Florida lawyer will be arguing before the state Supreme Court this winter over his First Amendment right to blast Justin Timberlake from his car stereo. [NBC Miami]


Some J.D. holders are swimming in money.

For some holders of the Juris Doctor degree, “J.D.” has depressing meanings: Just Debt, Job Disabled, Justifiably Depressed.

But for others, “J.D.” stands for something happier: Just Dollars. Lots and lots and lots of them.

Partners at large law firms do quite well for themselves. So do general counsel at major corporations.

But they are pikers compared to members of the Forbes 400, the annual list of the 400 richest Americans prepared by Forbes magazine. The 2011 list has been issued — and it contains a number of lawyers and law school graduates….

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An old white male and his younger diverse peeps.

Law firm diversity matters. It matters to corporate clients, many of them public companies that want to demonstrate their commitment to diversity through their selection of vendors and service providers — which is what law firms are, at the end of the day. It matters to the law students and lawyers that firms are trying to recruit — which is the premise behind the data collection conducted by Building A Better Legal Profession.

So there should be keen interest in the latest edition of the American Lawyer’s Diversity Scorecard 2011, which the magazine just released. As Am Law explains, the Scorecard constitutes its annual ranking of large law firms by their percentage of minority attorneys and minority partners.

Let’s take a look at the top firms for diversity. Did your firm make the list?

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Get it into the Ivy League, or die trying.

* The GOP is right — September is a totally arbitrary deadline to re-write No Child Left Behind. Really, why would we need a new education law by the time school starts up again for the year? [Washington Post]

* Protip: if your client is suing a preschool over its TTT curriculum, you probably shouldn’t guarantee that her kid will get into an Ivy League school before she’s out of her Pull-Ups. [New York Daily News]

* “This lawsuit takes the cupcake. It’s all sprinkles and frosting until somebody files a lawsuit.” I think the title of this news story just gave me diabetes. [NBC Los Angeles]

* Charles Munger is donating $20 million to Michigan Law — which just moved up to #7 in the latest U.S. News rankings, by the way — so students in the Lawyers Club can have classier dorm rooms. It’s never too soon to instill the “models and bottles” mindset in young lawyers. [Bloomberg]

* Deval Patrick thinks he’s going to be saving Massholes $48 million by cutting 2,000 attorney jobs. What he’s really going to be doing is bringing tears to the eyes of fourth-tier law grads — er, make that second-tier law grads — and doling out more welfare checks. [MetroWest Daily News]

* Good news, everyone! NALP says that law students are going to be slightly less f*cked when it comes to getting a job. [ABA Journal]

* Too bad Latham didn’t hire a “social media guru” sooner — maybe they would have responded to our request for comment on their new Boston office. Throw us a freakin’ tweet here. [Legal Blog Watch]

Watch out, Warner Bros. and Munger Tolles: the machete-wielding, tiger-blood-fueled Charlie Sheen is coming after you. The seemingly deranged actor, who was recently fired from the CBS hit show “Two and a Half Men,” has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre, the studio and executive producer of the show, respectively.

You can read more via the links below. And in case you missed it, be sure to check out Marin’s awesomely hilarious post, “The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Charlie Sheen’s Bitchin’ Termination Letter,” which takes a closer look at some of the issues that will likely arise in this litigation.

Charlie Sheen sues Warner Bros., Chuck Lorre for $100 million
[Los Angeles Times via WSJ Law Blog]
Sheen Sues Warner Bros. & Lorre for $100 Million [TMZ via ABA Journal]

Earlier: Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Charlie Sheen’s Bitchin’ Termination Letter

You don’t have to be a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars to have predicted that Warner Bros. — the company that produces Two and a Half Angry Men and, not un-coincidentally, Looney Tunes — would fire Charlie Sheen from the show. And on Monday, that’s exactly what happened. Writing on behalf of Warner Bros., Munger Tolles (specifically, partner John Spiegel) fired off an 11-page letter immediately axing Charlie from Two and a Half Laughs, Ever Men.

But even if someone wields a machete from a roof or requests a battle in the Octagon, you can’t necessarily fire him for cause just because he’s crazy. For instance, Tom Cruise jumps on couches and he has gone on to not be fired from several lackluster movies, most notably Valkyrie. Warner Bros. needs cause to fire Charlie under his $1.8 million per episode contract, and in the letter, they offer up a kitchen sink of it.

A lot rides on the outcome here: if Charlie prevails in arbitration and proves that Warner Bros did not have cause to fire him, he stands to get paid for the ten remaining episodes in the show’s ninth (!!) season. And if the reports are accurate, he also has a “Michael J. Fox” clause in his contract, which specifically permits a washed-up 80s actor to continue to draw paychecks from humorless sitcoms that remain in production after the actor has left the show to fade into obscurity – a hold over from the days when Sheen replaced Fox in Spin City and Fox continued to get paid. If Warner Bros. prevails, they may seek 10 episodes worth of lost revenue from Charlie, though admittedly it will be difficult to convince an arbitrator that anybody watches the show, must less pays to advertise on it.

In any event, down to brass tacks. Here are the various allegations Warner Bros. makes in the termination letter to assert that they have cause to fire Charlie under his contract, along with my evaluation of their merits….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Charlie Sheen’s Bitchin’ Termination Letter”

Goodwin Liu

* Doing hood rat stuff with your friends is less likely to land you in the adult court system now. [New York Times]

* The Quinnipiac Law School registrar might be headed to the pokey on mortgage fraud charges. Add/Drop is now… CLOSED!!!!! No idea what that means. [Hartford Courant]

* Law prof Liu lingers in limbo. Liberals loathe legislative logjam. Lumpy loofah. [Diverse: Issues in Higher Education]

* You’re riding high, working for a prestigious law firm that handles collections, when WHAMO… you’re out 300 large. [ABA Journal]

* “The feds are set to probe new underage-sex charges against pervy financier Jeffrey Epstein.” [New York Post]

* Several states are considering laws that would make it more difficult for college students and others to vote. College students fire back that they’re not going to take this lying down. But they’re going to get a little high first. [Washington Post]

* A Charlie Sheen update: from dealing with fools and trolls to taking on Munger Tolles. Gnarly gnarlingtons. [Hollywood Reporter]

We’re rolling through the Vault 2011 list of the “prestigiest” firms in the land, so that you can comment on what it’s like to actually live, work, and breathe those firms (when you’re not choking on all the prestige in the air).

We’ve covered #1-10 and #11-20. Here’s the next round-up. Now it’s time for the London-based Magic Circle firms to join in the elite fun:

21. Arnold & Porter
22. Shearman & Sterling
23. Boies, Schiller & Flexner
24. O’Melveny & Myers
25. Ropes & Gray
26. Morrison & Foerster
27. Munger, Tolles & Olson
28. Hogan Lovells
29. Clifford Chance
30. Linklaters

What do associates have to say about the ups and downs of life at these firms? Here are some excerpts from their Vault listings…

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