The rise and fall of Melvyn Weiss is one of the most dramatic stories within the legal profession. The Bronx-born Weiss, a graduate of NYU Law School, founded Milberg Weiss, which went on to become the nation’s top class-action securities firm. Weiss and his partners became millionaires many times over.
But it turned out that the firm rested on shaky ground. In 2008, Mel Weiss pleaded guilty to participating in a kickback scheme that helped him get clients and cases. Weiss got sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison and had to pay more than $10 million in forfeitures and fines. Milberg Weiss itself had to pay $75 million to settle charges relating to the racketeering conspiracy.
Too bad Weiss had to do prison time. House arrest would have been pretty sweet in his waterfront mansion on Long Island’s Gold Coast, now on the market for $18.8 million….
The National Law Journal named its Elite Trial Lawyers for 2014. It’s a list of 50 firms that the National Law Journal selected through a vetting process that reviewed “more than 100 firms, poring over nominations and reporting on performance.” Making a nearly 50 percent cut on an entirely subjective list. That must have been rough.
At a quick glance, the list seems entirely reasonable. A lot of these names look like usual heavy-hitters. And congratulations to everyone who made the list.
We don’t have the official congratulations message from the National Law Journal to the firms, but this reader created one that perfectly captures the problem…
Given the glut of lawyers and law firms to choose from out there, the way their services are advertised grows more and more important each day. Sure, prospective clients are looking for skilled representation, but standing in front of a wall of legal books in a low-budget commercial can only do so much to prove your intelligence. Sometimes, clients are looking for that extra something, that je ne sais quoi that even they don’t know they want until they see it on their television screens at home.
Say, for example, that you happen to know a rapper so famous that he’s one of the highest-paid hip-hop entertainers on Earth. You’d definitely want that guy to appear in your commercials, wouldn’t you?
That’s exactly what one small law firm did. Which rapper is helping them make it rain?
If, unfortunately, someone in your family faced catastrophic injuries that you thought had legal issues, they would be on a very, very short list of firms to consider.
– Roger Dennis, dean of the Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law. He’s telling the Philadelphia Inquirer about Thomas R. Kline. “Short list,” eh? After Kline donated $50 million and the school scrubbed poor Earle Mack from their letterhead and renamed the school, the best praise the dean can summon is that Kline belongs on a “short list.” Once you rename your law school, you’re already a commercial, so go right ahead and tell the reporter “Thomas R. Kline is the best goddamned lawyer on the planet!”
In the most Canada news ever, a man has brought a class action suit against the Canadian government for its failure to control the moose population in Newfoundland and Labrador. An appeals court dismissed the claim, but personal injury lawyer Ches Crosbie vows to take his campaign all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court: “The case is unprecedented in many ways… It’s rife with live legal issues for a court of appeal.”
The theory of liability here is that the Canadian government introduced moose to Newfoundland island in 1904 as a source of food. Now their population is out of control, and motorists routinely slam into them and are injured by the large herbivores.
Let’s get this out of the way quickly… the solution is NOT to release an “apex predator” to control the moose population. A prime moose can generally not be messed with by any alpha predator. Top predators will eat some moose calves, but when you get out to check the damage the moose did to your car, the sound of timber wolves closing in around you is not something you are going to want to hear.
Oh, and for the Texans in the audience, shooting them hasn’t really been a successful answer either. Sorry Canada, you have a trophic cascade on your hands, and there is little that can be done about it….
* Uh oh! The Second Circuit is having a copy/paste problem in that it copied and pasted the wrong legal standard into twelve of its immigration opinions from 2008 to 2012. Embarrassing. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Am Law named the grand prize winners of the magazine’s Global Legal Awards for the best cross-border work in corporate, finance, disputes, and citizenship. Was your firm honored? [Am Law Daily]
* An attorney at this Louisiana law firm was apparently attacked by a co-worker’s husband who claimed that the lawyer was behind his cuckolding. We may have more on this later. [Louisiana Record]
* A computer systems engineer at Wilson Sonsini has been charged with insider trading. This is the second time in three years that an employee from the firm has been charged with this crime. [Bloomberg]
* The best way to navigate common mistakes in the LSAT logical reasoning section is to display your logical reasoning capabilities by not taking the LSAT right now. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* Sweet billable hours: Congrats to Proskauer Rose on its efforts to keep the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo, New York. It’s the largest deal for the sale of an NFL team in history. [Am Law Daily]
* Your firm brings in billions in verdicts, but that’s not prestigious enough. It needs to be on the inaugural list of America’s Elite Trial Lawyers. See if yours made the cut. [National Law Journal]
* The best way to dodge traps in the LSAT analytical reasoning section is to display your analytical reasoning capabilities by not taking the LSAT in the first place during a time when law schools are in turmoil. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* Law professors Zephyr Teachout (Fordham) and Tim Wu (Columbia) were defeated in the Democratic primary election for New York governor and lieutenant governor, but they lost well. [New York Daily News]
* The world wants to know if Ray Rice can be prosecuted for domestic violence, even though he’s enrolled in a pre-trial intervention program. Like the answer to all legal questions, it depends. [WSJ Law Blog]
Raise your hand if you’ve been to Marshall, Texas. It’s on the eastern edge of the Lone Star State, not far south from Springdale, Arkansas, where Jim Bob and Michelle are raising 19 kids (and hopefully no more), and just west of Monroe, Louisiana, where the Robertsons play whack-a-duck every fall.
I see a few hands raised. Vacationing in Marshall, perhaps? No? Visiting family? No?
Well, it’s only taken a week for ExamSoft to go from a random company whose name you couldn’t remember one week after the bar exam to “ExamSoft: Destroyer Of Worlds.” Today we can report that the first lawsuit has been filed against the company. It won’t be the last.
This is going to be a fun ride, and we are only at the beginning. By next week I predict the counter-narrative to get rolling. Maybe a dean will pen a New York Times op-ed about how kids these days, with their computers and text machines and MyBooks, don’t know how to take “personal responsibility.” Somebody will say that it is the test takers’ fault, for buying a program and having the audacity to believe that it would work as intended.
Looking deeper into my crystal taco, as lawsuits proliferate, there will be a circuit split. The Second and the Seventh will affirm decisions against ExamSoft, while the Third and Fifth will reverse. The Third will say that we need to learn a powerful lesson about our over-reliance on technology, while the Fifth will hold that a reasonable person wouldn’t try to write an essay in the clouds: “that’s pure hogwash,” it’ll say.
Eventually this will get to the Supreme Court, which will rule, 5-4, to relieve ExamSoft of liability. Writing for the majority, Justice Alito will argue: “When a person, such as ExamSoft, fails so spectacularly in its duties, the key question is to determine if that person is a man or a woman. If male, the person’s own sense of shame will be punishment enough. But if female, the Court must teach a lasting lesson. Here, we find ExamSoft to be a male person, and therefore must reverse the trial courts. The students should clearly incorporate themselves if they wish to pursue further remedies.” Concurring in part, Scalia will tell us that the bar has become too easy of a test and ExamSoft merely introduced a greater barrier to entry. Breyer’s dissent will be something like: “I was robbed once just like these test takers and, goodness gracious, it was scary.”
Okay, you’re welcome. Now that we all know where this thing is going, we can savor the wonderful journey together. Let’s look at the first lawsuit….
Chum’s in the water, folks. And here come the sharks.
Since we first learned that ExamSoft ruined the otherwise relaxing experience of taking the bar exam, we’ve anticipated lawsuits. You can’t piss off all the would-be lawyers you can get your hands on and expect to come through un-served. It is known.
One person on Twitter put it this way: “Numerosity, commonality, typicality, adequacy: Pretty sure all harmed #barexam takers could form a class action against @ExamSoft.”
Jiminy jillickers! ATL editors are going all over the place over the next month or so. Or at least all over the Eastern Seaboard. If we aren’t heading to your neck of the woods on these trips, never fear, we may hit you up on the next time around. We’ve already hit up Houston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the past year.
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
The JOBS Act created new tools for companies to publicly advertise securities deals online. As a result, thousands of new deals have hit the market and hundreds of millions in capital has been raised, spurring a wealth of new business development opportunities for attorneys.
Fund deals, startup capital raises, PIPE deals and loan syndicates are just a handful of the transactions benefiting from the JOBS Act. InvestorID FirmTM is a platform designed to help attorneys equip their clients with the workflow, marketing and compliance tools to publicly solicit a securities offering online. By providing clients with the tools to painlessly navigate the regulatory landscape of general solicitation, InvestorID FirmTM helps attorneys add value above just legal services.
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) went into effect in 2013 and permits Regulation D offerings of securities to be advertised publicly. This means that funds and companies can now use social media, emails and web sites to market transactions to new “accredited” investors.
However, with these new powers come new pain points. InvestorID FirmTM provides a secure, fully hosted, cloud-based platform with a breadth of tools for your clients, including: