Plaintiffs’ lawyers

If you use Facebook, you’ve probably noticed the sponsored stories that periodically pop up within the site. These (IMHO annoying) ads are an important part of Facebook’s revenue strategy. But recently, the company got sued over the stories, for allegedly violating the law by publicizing — but not paying — users who “like” certain advertisers, and not providing a way to opt out of the program. A settlement plan was recently announced. But uh oh, the federal judge handling the case rejected the settlement on Friday. Why?

Maybe something to do with the plaintiffs attorneys getting $10 million, the actual plaintiffs getting nothing, and an overall sense that left the judge wondering if the terms were “merely plucked from thin air”….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “I Don’t Think Class Action Settlement Means What You Think It Means”

So God made Adam and, when Adam didn’t want to sex any of the animals, he made Eve out of a riblet. They eventually got snookered by a snake and evicted from Eden. Yet before Eve and the snake and the eviction, Adam was blessed with the first kind of food labeling ever recorded. There was an oral tradition so, instead of writing his warning down, God simply shouted to Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There was no mention of monosodium glutamate or high fructose corn syrup. No list of ingredients or percentage of fat. There was a simple admonition not to eat from one specific tree, you dumb sonofabitch.

And so our obsession with food has continued unabated, to the point where we as a culture can be said to be consumed by it as much as we consume it. Yesterday, the New York Times published an article outlining how foodie culture has finally hit the big time: it has become the basis for a series of lawsuits by attorneys who previously made their names in the tobacco litigation that made millionaires of quite a few of them.

As a piece of straight reportage, it qualifies as mildly interesting. As a piece of absurdist comedy, it absolutely shines….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The People v. Cap’n Crunch: Suing Big Food”

Yesterday, we broke the news of the dean of St. Louis University School of Law’s abrupt departure, and the accompanying fiery resignation letter she sent to the powers that be at the university. Ex-dean Annette Clark’s missive was more of a bitchslap than anything else, but like Phillip J. Closius before her, she made it absolutely clear that she would rather quit her job than run a law school whose sole function was to serve as the university’s cash cow.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, we’ve found out that Clark’s passionate letter may have been penned in one of those “can’t fire me, I quit” type scenarios. Clark may have purported to be going to the mattresses for her students, and she might have been doing just that. But as we all know, there are two sides to every story….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “University President Claims He Intended to Terminate Ex-Dean’s Appointment, Hires Personal Injury Attorney as Interim Dean”

Quick! I’m an in-house lawyer! How are my legal skills?

Admit it: You just thought to yourself, “So-so. The guy couldn’t hack it at a law firm and wanted a 9 to 5 lifestyle, so he took his mediocre skills and moved in-house. I’ll try not to be transparently condescending when I talk to him on the phone.”

I believed that, too, until I went in-house. (That was a joke. How do you put a smiley face on a blog post?)

A moment’s thought reveals that I’m a bundle of legal prejudices, and I suspected that others were, too. So I did a Rorschach test of some lawyer-friends. I named categories of lawyers, and I asked my friends to give their immediate reactions to those categories.

So what are our legal prejudices?

Quick! I’m a partner at a big firm! What do you think of me?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Revealing Our (Legal) Prejudices”

Last week, I headed downtown to meet with Stephen A. Weiss and Eric Jaso, partners at the Seeger Weiss litigation boutique. Weiss co-founded the firm with Christopher Seeger in 1999. Jaso, who just joined the firm from Stone & Magnanini, is a friend and former colleague of mine from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They kindly agreed to be interviewed about what it’s like to work at an elite, plaintiff-side litigation firm.

Here at Above the Law, we’ve always had strong coverage of the large, defense-oriented firms that collectively constitute Biglaw. In the past few years, however, we have dramatically expanded our offerings related to smaller law firms. We currently have three columnists — Brian Tannebaum, Tom Wallerstein, and Valerie Katz — writing in this space, in addition to the small-firm coverage generated by our other writers.

Consistent with this editorial expansion, I was eager to meet with Weiss and Jaso and hear about Seeger Weiss (which is relatively large for a plaintiffs’ firm, but small compared to a Biglaw firm). I’ve always wondered why more law school graduates don’t go into plaintiffs’ work and why we don’t hear about this side of practice as much. It can represent a chance to do well while also doing good, by vindicating victims’ rights or blowing the whistle on misconduct — especially in the qui tam practice area, a focus of Seeger Weiss.

Here’s what Weiss and Jaso had to say….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Portrait of a Plaintiffs’ Firm: Seeger Weiss”

Folks go out there and say, ‘I’m mad at the plaintiffs,’ and ‘I see the same names,’ and ‘Let’s go bash the plaintiffs’ attorneys.’ I don’t mind that, but the law has been there, don’t kid yourself.

Martin J. Coleman, defending the barrage of Americans with Disabilities Act suits that he and other plaintiffs’ attorneys have filed in New York City.

(Coleman also had more choice words for his detractors. Check them out, as well as the other side of the ADA suit debate, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: He Does Have a Point”

History is littered with examples of Aussies sticking it to the Brits: from early convict rebellions to the time Rupert Murdoch bought our favourite tabloid newspaper, The Sun, and had a photo of a topless woman placed on its inside page each day — a tradition that continues to this day (semi-NSFW link).

Last week they were at it again when Australian law firm Slater & Gordon used some of the millions generated from its 2007 public listing — the first ever for a law firm — to snap up the large British personal injury firm Russell Jones & Walker (RJW), in an unprecedented £54m ($85 million) cash and shares deal. Once again, the people of the U.K. were left shaking their heads.

Of course, we should have seen it coming. British lawyers have been talking about the deregulatory provisions of the U.K. Legal Services Act (LSA) for years now. And it’s not as if we haven’t been watching the rapid growth of Slater & Gordon — where turnover, staff numbers and office locations have nearly tripled since the firm responded to Australia’s enactment of a similar law by going public — with eyebrow-raised interest from afar.

For some reason, though, we failed to put the two together….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Letter from London: U.K. Law Firms Set to Cash in Facebook-style”

Gerald Ung (left) and Edward DiDonato Jr. (right)

This shouldn’t come as a shock; we predicted it last February, when the criminal case ended in acquittal. But Eddie DiDonato Jr., a former lacrosse star at Villanova and the son of a prominent partner at the Fox Rothschild law firm, has filed a civil lawsuit against Gerald Ung, the Temple Law School student who shot DiDonato in January 2010 in the Old City section of Philadelphia.

Gerald Ung isn’t the only defendant. DiDonato is suing a half dozen other parties, relying on various theories of liability. Let’s think of this as a Torts final exam: Who else might DiDonato be suing besides Ung? What causes of action can you see?

Let’s take a closer look at the lawsuit, filed on behalf of DiDonato by one of Pennsylvania’s leading personal injury lawyers….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “DiDonato v. Ung: The Temple Law Shooter Gets Hit — With a Civil Suit”

Cops learn to hate people. Basically everyone they encounter is a criminal, so cops soon come to believe that everyone is a criminal.

Litigators — or perhaps litigators who are repeat players in a particular field — learn to hate people. Personal injury insurance defense counsel come to believe that all plaintiffs are lying fakers. Personal injury plaintiffs’ lawyers come to believe that all insurance defense counsel are tightfisted jerks who never pay a claim.

Maybe this is natural. If you spend eight hours every day repeatedly doing the same thing over the course of many years, you become what you do. It’s hard to break out of your role.

But this can cause trouble for in-house litigators. If you become what you do, consider who in-house litigators learn to hate . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Learning Who To Hate”

Last week in Non-Sequiturs, we pointed you to a photo essay of some of the sketchiest lawyer billboards out there. From dogs, to eye patches, to crazy nicknames, these billboards are the epitome of what makes local lawyer advertising so painfully bad.

It’s tough to say which is worse — these misguided attempts at originality, or the overly earnest types who make lofty promises to fight for you and protect your rights. The serious advertisements are equally subject to mockery.

One Florida solo practitioner may have discovered the perfect approach. No over-the-top gimmicks, no vows to fight injustice. Just the simple, honest truth….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Adventures in Lawyer Advertising: Best Lawyer Billboard Ever”

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