* The S.E.C. is being attacked again about its ethical standards. It’s not like these problems started with Cam Newton. I mean, the S.E… what’s that? The Securities and Exchange Commission? What? No, I don’t even know what that is. What does that have to do with football? [New York Times]
* Horrifying syphilis experiments keep coming back to haunt the United States government. That’s so syphilis. [Charlotte Observer]
* Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation today ending capital punishment. I couldn’t think of a joke here, but this cat thinks it’s a frog. [Chicago Tribune]
* A judge helped cut an attorney out of his father’s will and claimed he was still able to act impartially on a case the attorney was handling. That sh*t-eating grin on the judge’s face every time the attorney spoke? Oh, that was just a joke he remembered. [WSJ Law Blog]
The plug: I’ll be giving my “book talk” about The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law in several locations in the next couple of weeks, including in a conference room at Skadden and in auditoriums at the law schools of Northwestern and Indiana University. If you have a group that might be interested in the talk, please contact me. We’ll sneak you into one of the upcoming talks, and you can decide whether my spiel would actually fit your occasion.
Now, the business. And it’s real business this time around — a business issue that has caught the attention of an awful lot of in-house counsel. The issue has to do with the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s deliberations over whether to alter corporate disclosures about loss contingencies. (Sorry, guys. No pictures of naked Canadian judges after the jump here. You’ve gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, or vice versa.)
Here’s the backstory: Investors legitimately want to know whether companies are about to lose a ton of money in litigation. So investors want companies to make fulsome disclosures about their “loss contingencies,” which picks up a lot of territory, including pending or threatened litigation.
Companies, on the other hand, are reluctant to disclose publicly that they anticipate losing a lawsuit. If companies were to make that type of disclosure, their litigation opponent would be energized and the settlement value of the case would skyrocket….
I’d love for Mark Cuban to own my basketball team. He’s a self-made billionaire who focuses on the fans and (for all the bluster) leaves the basketball decisions to basketball people. Compare that to current Knicks Owner James Dolan — a man living off of his daddy’s success, who thinks he’s smarter than he really is, who has run the once-proud Knicks franchise into the ground, and who may be in romantic love with Isiah Thomas. You’d take Cuban any day of the week over little Jimmy.
You’d probably take Cuban as a client as well. Stephen Best, the Dewey & LeBoeuf attorney currently representing Cuban in his SEC insider trading case, seems to be happy with his client. And we haven’t even seen his legal fees.
But if you are one of Cuban’s adversaries, it must be brutal. To paraphrase Rory Breaker, if the milk’s sour, Mark Cuban ain’t the kind of pussy to drink it. NBA referees know that. And SEC attorneys are about to learn the same lesson…
A number of attorneys at the SEC were not getting enough stimulation from their securities work, so they turned to porn. Lots and lots of porn — one attorney ran out of room on his computer and had to start storing his porn on CDs and DVDs in boxes in his office, according to the Inspector General’s report earlier this year.
Who were these attorneys who, for so many years, were more focused on wanking it than spanking the Madoffs? We don’t know. The 33 XXX-site-surfing SEC employees — mostly accountants and attorneys — were identified only by their work titles in the Inspector General report and not by name.
According to the Denver Post, the SEC turned down FOIA requests from both the Washington Times and Colorado attorney Kevin Evans, seeking the names of employees involved in the scandal. From the Denver Post:
[T]he SEC maintains in court records that the request for employee names and discipline is an invasion of privacy.
“Public identification of the Commission staff could conceivably subject them to harassment and annoyance of the conduct of their official duties and in their private lives,” a government legal adviser wrote in a denial of Evans’ FOIA request.
Evans is a former partner at Hogan & Hartson and Schiff Hardin, and is now a name partner at his own firm. And he was not content to have his FOIA turned down. He sued the SEC last month, and will let the courts decide if this is a true invasion of privacy.
His justification: how would your clients feel if you were billing them for “rubbing the redweld” while looking at www.ladyboyjuice.com?
Since Judge Denny Chin is moving on up to the Second Circuit, the S.D.N.Y. cases pending before him have to be redistributed. Lawyers for Bank of America, which has 15 civil shareholder lawsuits on Chin’s docket, sent the chief judge a letter requesting that the cases be reassigned using a lottery system. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Cleary Gottlieb, Davis Polk, and Wachtell Lipton all signed the letter.
Why did they need to send this special letter? Because they were scared of B of A landing again in the lap of Judge Jed Rakoff, says the Wall Street Journal:
Judge Rakoff disappointed bank executives last year when he rejected a $30 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had charged the bank with misleading shareholders about bonuses paid prior to the Merrill merger. The New York judge reluctantly approved a new $150 million agreement in February but called it “half-baked justice at best.”
One of the pending shareholder cases accuses the bank of failing to “disclose billions in Merrill losses before shareholders approved the deal in December 2008.”
Apparently, the lawyers debated whether or not to name Judge Rakoff in their letter, thus making it clear that he was the particular judge they hoped to avoid. They ultimately decided to name names.
They were successful in steering their cases clear of Rakoff, though the chief judge claims the letter wasn’t a factor in her decision to assign the cases to Judge Kevin Castel (aka the John Gotti judge). How did she decide?
The New York City marathon happens this Sunday. We know many lawyers who will be running it, and we wish them luck.
The marathon did not impose a minimum age until 1981 (16, raised to 18 in 1988). Pegged to the upcoming marathon, the New York Times had a fascinating article earlier this week about child marathoners, focusing on Wesley Paul, Scott Black (pictured), and Howie Breinan:
The adventures of Paul, Black and Breinan offer a glimpse into a forgotten aspect of the running boom of the late 1970s. Preternaturally self-disciplined, they were among about 75 children (ages 8 to 13) who tackled the early years of the New York City Marathon in a time of novelty and naïveté….
With no conclusive study, physicians still debate risks to children who compete in marathons, like muscular-skeletal injuries, stunted growth, burnout, parental pressures and the ability to handle heat stress.
Another risk: going on to become a securities lawyer. Two out of the three child marathoners profiled by the Times now practice in that field.
* Meanwhile, a Pentagon official who inspected Guantanamo at Obama’s request is under fire from human rights activists for filing a report (which declares Gitmo humane) that is little more than good public relations for the administration. [The New York Times]
* What do you do when your boss gets indicted for securities fraud? You get another job. A team of seven bankruptcy lawyers left Dreier LLP for Epstein Becker Green. [EBG]
* A federal judge encouraged the Obama administration to decide whether to keep pursuing a case against 11 Vietnam War Veterans accused of trying to overthrow Laos’s communist government. [The Associated Press]
* Judge says: UBS must respond to the U.S. lawsuit seeking disclosure of 52,000 names of people who allegedly used Swiss accounts for tax evasion. [Bloomberg]
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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