Year-end tax planning is especially challenging this year because Congress has yet to act on a host of tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013. Some of these tax breaks may be retroactively reinstated and extended, but Congress may not decide the fate of these tax breaks until the very end of this year (and, possibly, not until next year). These breaks include, for individuals: the option to deduct state and local sales and use taxes instead of state and local income taxes; the above-the-line-deduction for qualified higher education expenses; tax-free IRA distributions for charitable purposes by those age 70-1/2 or older; and the exclusion for up-to-$2 million of mortgage debt forgiveness on a principal residence. For businesses, tax breaks that expired at the end of last year and may be retroactively reinstated and extended include: 50% bonus first year depreciation for most new machinery, equipment, and software; the $500,000 annual expensing limitation; the research tax credit; and the 15-year write-off for qualified leasehold improvement property, qualified restaurant property, and qualified retail improvement property.
* How are Nevada and Idaho officials reacting to yesterday’s Ninth Circuit ruling striking down gay marriage bans in those states, and how soon might marriages get underway? [BuzzFeed]
* In other LGBT legal news, New York City is likely to make it easier for transgender individuals to amend their birth certificates. [New York Times]
* Good news for Joan Orie Melvin, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice turned convicted felon: her unorthodox sentence has been stayed (again). [How Appealing]
* Eduardo Leite, who has led Baker & McKenzie since 2010, gets another two years at the helm of Biglaw’s biggest firm. [American Lawyer]
* Cravath associate Micaela McMurrough scores a victory in tax court for artists. [New York Times]
* The ABA has issued a new opinion addressing ethical issues raised during the sale of a law practice. [American Bar Association]
* Why do lawyers blog? Tim Baran of Rocket Matter talks to 23 of us. [Legal Productivity]
I became a lawyer without really understanding that the job cuts time off of your life. My work hours are long, I can’t see my family or friends, and I am constantly at the mercy of the partner or the client. On top of everything, at one point, I was paying 7% on my law school loans. […]
Can you blame Campaign for Liberty for not wanting to expose its private-citizen donors to retribution, even if that means disregarding IRS demands?
* The Woody Allen-Mia Farrow custody findings were pretty damning. But for legal geeks, the important point is footnote 1, where the opinion shouts out then-clerk, now federal judge Analisa Torres for her role in drafting the opinion. [Huffington Post]
* Um… you shouldn’t do that with a sea anemone. [Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals]
* Judge Stanwood Duval presided over the criminal trial of a BP engineer arising from the BP oil spill. He forgot to mention that he was a plaintiff in a suit against BP arising from the BP oil spill. Oops.[New Orleans Times-Picayune]
* Maybe Harvard needs some new tax lawyers. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* Apparently, the Brits aren’t too thorough with their background checks. A lawyer got exposed for lying about having two Harvard degrees. It only took bar authorities 9 years to figure it out. [Legal Cheek]
* Elie weighs in on the McGruff the crime dog story from last week. [ATL Redline]
* And part of the problem with the background check may start at the law school stage — the U.K. doesn’t consider criminal convictions for fraud in the U.S. as “relevant” for future practitioners of law. One tipster wonders if Stephen Glass should try his luck outside America? [New York Times]
* UNLV Professor Nancy Rapoport offers some mixed thoughts on the Santa Clara professor’s “Local Rules.” [Nancy Rapoport’s Blogspot]
* Mathew Martoma’s conviction probably doesn’t mean all that much. Except to him, of course. For him it means some quality time in federal prison. [Dealbreaker]
How did the 200 largest law firms in the country apportion their new partners among practice areas?
* Woody Allen’s lawyer, Elkan Abramowitz, responds to Dylan Farrow’s account of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of her famous father. [Gawker; Gothamist]
* Sound advice from Professor Glenn Reynolds on how not to increase applications to your law school. [Instapundit]
* What is a “nitro dump,” and will it provide information about who (or what) killed Philip Seymour Hoffman? [ATL Redline]
* “Is Elena Kagan a ‘paranoid libertarian?’ Judging by [Cass] Sunstein’s definition, the answer is yes.” [Reason via Althouse]
* A petition of possible interest to debt-laden law school graduates: “Increase the student loan interest deduction from $2,500 to the interest actually paid.” [WhiteHouse.gov]
* Vivia Chen wonders: Is Amy Chua, co-author of The Triple Package (affiliate link), being attacked as racist in a way that it itself racist? [Time]
* Yikes — journalists around the country have been receiving “a flurry of subpoenas in recent months,” according to Jeff Kosseff of Covington & Burling. [InsideTechMedia]
* Congratulations to Orrick’s 15 new partners — an impressively diverse group, from a wide range of practice areas and from offices around the world. [Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe]
The most underrated practice groups in Biglaw, according to the ATL readership.
The adage that law turns slowly does not hold in eDiscovery. This year saw unprecedented sanction awards for falling behind the curve. Courts did not hesitate to engage with advanced and nuanced technological issues. For lawyers and other eDiscovery professionals who plan on maintaining basic competence, these cases and trends shouldn’t be overlooked. For a full exploration of trends and developments in this area of case law, check out this on-demand webinar.
Allegations of a high-ranking government lawyer abusing the perks of his office, a tax lawyer engaging in tax fraud, and a real estate lawyer stealing $4 million — who should be Lawyer of the Day?
Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Righteous Indignation, our new column for conservative-minded lawyers. You probably saw this week’s topic coming. Until the folks at One First Street start tossing Elie and me some fresh meat to tussle over, my indignation — righteous as it is — must be directed elsewhere. Unless EM […]
If tax lawyers aren’t supposed to distinguish between 501(c)(4) orgs and 527 orgs, than who is?
Biglaw, Books, Facebook, Federalist Society, General Counsel, Hedge Funds / Private Equity, In-House Counsel, Law Professors, Morning Docket, Murder, Musical Chairs, Partner Issues, Politics, Social Media, Social Networking Websites, Tax Law, Technology
* Given the name and origins of the Tea Party movement, it actually makes perfect sense that their groups got grief from the IRS. [Washington Post]
* Wachtell Lipton weighs in against the practice of shareholder activists offering special compensation to director nominees. [Dealbook / New York Times]
* A law professor, Joshua Silverstein, argues that schools should embrace grade inflation. (But haven’t most of them done this already?) [WSJ Law Blog]
* Facebook shareholders might not “like” this news, but Ted Ullyot is stepping down as general counsel after almost five years. We’ll have more on this later. [National Law Journal]
* The Brooklyn DA’s office is reopening 50 murder cases that were worked on by retired detective Louis Scarcella (who looks oh-so-savory in the NYT’s photo of him). [New York Times]
* In news that should shock no one, Nicholas Speath’s dubious discrimination case against Georgetown Law has been dismissed. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
* Not long after leaving Cravath for Kirkland, Sarkis Jebejian is putting together billion-dollar deals for private-equity clients. [Am Law Daily]
* Professor Jeffrey Rosen reviews an interesting new book, The Federalist Society (affiliate link), authored by Michael Avery and Danielle McLaughlin. [New York Times]
Do you love tax law? These lawyers do, and they’ve proclaimed it on their license plates.