Time Warner

Last year, St. Martin’s Press published The Partner Track, the debut novel of lawyer Helen Wan. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, I praised the book for being engaging, suspenseful, and — unlike so many legal novels — realistic. The paperback edition of The Partner Track became available last week.

I enjoy fiction about lawyers, as both a reader and writer — my own first novel comes out in a few weeks — and I’m deeply interested in how other writers work. So I interviewed Helen Wan about her book, her approach to writing, and how she managed to write a novel while holding down a demanding job as an in-house lawyer for Time Warner. I also asked for her advice on how women and minority lawyers can succeed in Biglaw.

Here’s a (lightly edited and condensed) write-up of our conversation.

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On Monday, we noted the surprising news of a young partner leaving Wachtell Lipton to start his own boutique firm. Given the rarity of partner departures from the super-lucrative Wachtell, my colleague Staci Zaretsky described the news as “basically like seeing a unicorn.”

Why did Jeremy Goldstein, a 40-year-old partner in the firm’s executive-compensation practice, leave WLRK? The American Lawyer piece about Goldstein’s move painted a happy picture of a lawyer striking out on his own to be more entrepreneurial and to run his own business.

But we wonder if there’s more to this story than meets the eye….

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Comcast has confirmed reports that the company will be acquiring Time Warner Cable in a deal estimated to be worth around $45 billion. With the ink on their NBC acquisition only just dry to the touch, the deal will tack 8 million broadband subscribers onto the company’s existing 22 million broadband customers. Comcast is already the nation’s largest fixed-line broadband company, largest cable TV provider, and third largest fixed-line phone company — and that’s before you include the company’s NBC or other assets. From a geographical perspective the deal makes sense; Time Warner Cable filling in Comcast’s coverage gaps and in particular giving Comcast the prized markets of Los Angeles and New York City, where Time Warner Cable has traditionally under-performed.

The problem is less of market share (the two companies didn’t compete directly) but one of consolidated power…

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Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (my former boss)

* Virginia is for lovers — gay and straight alike. Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen (E.D. Va.) just struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage (but stayed her ruling pending appeal). Happy Valentine’s Day! [Washington Post]

* The Ninth Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, issued a major Second Amendment ruling. Is it correct, and what will happen next? Professor Eugene Volokh shares his thoughts. [Volokh Conspiracy; Volokh Conspiracy]

* Which leading law firms are trying to make the Comcast/Time Warner Cable monstrosity into reality? [American Lawyer]

* Did a Biglaw firm make a big-time mistake by blowing a deadline to appeal a $40 million verdict? [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Speaking of screw-ups, making them in the e-discovery realm can be costly — a lesson that California is learning the hard way, to the tune of $32 million. [ACEDS]

* Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin thought he’d be acquitted; he thought wrong. [ABA Journal]

* George Washington wasn’t a member of the one of the 8 magic groups — but his story still illustrates the truth of The Triple Package (affiliate link), according to Washington biographer Logan Beirne. [Fox News]

* Authorities have made an arrest for the package bombing that killed a retired Tennessee lawyer and his wife. [CNN]

This seems a better way to go than a hunger strike.

* O.J. Simpson is pursuing a hunger strike because he’s looking to die. If only he knew who the real killers were, they could help him out. [Radar Online]

* Dean I. Richard Gershon of Ole Miss Law thinks Elie is just wrong. [Law Deans on Legal Education Blog]

* In continuing Seventh Circuit benchslappiness, Judge Richard Posner got feisty with an attorney for Notre Dame who kept interrupting him. If this lawyer keeps it up, Posner’s going to treat his client like Alabama did a year ago. [Chicago Tribune]

* Comcast wants to buy Time Warner, pending DOJ approval. The DOJ wants to talk to Comcast, but they’re only available to talk between 10 and 10:15 on alternating Wednesdays. [ATL Redline]

* California and New Jersey have banned gay conversion therapy programs. Is that the best way to combat these schemes? [New York Times]

* A look at getting started as an entrepreneur. See, there’s hope after bailing on practicing law. [Big Law Rebel]

* Daria Roithmayr of USC Law thinks The Triple Package (affiliate link), the new book by Yale’s Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, doesn’t hold water. I mean, since when are we holding academics to writing “scholarship” as opposed to “controversy bait”? Professors need to eat, after all. [Slate]

* A cop who got in trouble for bashing Obama online thought he was protected by the First Amendment. The court disagreed. [IT-Lex]

My wife, who is being deprived of shows like Dexter and The Big Bang Theory reruns by the Time Warner/CBS fee dispute, and is terrified of missing out on Homeland, said of the two warring media conglomerates: “It’s like watching two muggers argue over who gets to steal your purse.”

I haven’t been paying it much attention. I’m assuming that TWC and CBS will get this sorted in time for football season. Well, let me rephrase, I’m assuming that if these two billion-dollar operations can’t get their act together in time for football season, we’re going to see the American version of “Arab Spring” and there will be blood in the streets. There are few things you don’t mess with in America: one is football, and I don’t think people care about number two as long as football is on.

Sorry, let me back up, CBS has been blacked out in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas for weeks now due to a fee dispute with Time Warner Cable. CBS also owns Showtime, so that’s been blacked out, and the Smithsonian channel — which nobody watches but me because it’s the last “learning” channel that doesn’t pander to redneck pawn, ice, gold, lumber, and fishing stars.

In response to this ridiculous situation, a group in Los Angeles has filed a class action lawsuit against TWC for blacking out CBS…

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* The Mars Curiosity rover played “Happy Birthday to You” to itself on the first anniversary of its landing on the Red Planet. It takes about 13 minutes for transmissions from Mars to reach the Earth. Time Warner sued NASA 14 minutes after Curiosity’s performance. [io9]

* Fans of the Colorado Rockies… fans? Huh, okay! Anyway, the case posits that Rockies ticket holders should be allowed to sell them on the secondary market. If they can’t unload Rockies tickets, they may be forced to watch a team 11 games out of first place flounder. [Forbes]

* Paul Rampell, Donald Trump’s lawyer, advocates for replacing marriages with leases with defined terms. It gives new meaning to “trading in for a new model.” The thrice married Trump nods approvingly. [Washington Post]

* The Rumpus interviews Dean Frank H. Wu of UC Hastings. Turns out he’s writing “a bad trashy novel.” So it probably won’t make the 25 Greatest Law Novels ever list. But then again, they put The Fountainhead on that list, so don’t give up hope, Dean Wu! [The Rumpus]

* Poetry Corner: Kenneth Branagh Prepares Evidence For Trial. So long as he’s not preparing to direct another awful Thor movie, I’m fine. [Poetic Justice]

* Just what do Americans even want from an energy policy? That Cuisinart fusion reactor from Back to the Future, that’s what. [Breaking Energy]

* A defendant called a judge “Hon,” and it did not go well. I wonder what Judge Montes gets called at the club? [Sun Sentinel]

* Anthony Weiner once explained that he was “inspired” by a book about a lawyer who wants to cheat on his wife. Indeed. [BuzzFeed]