United Kingdom / Great Britain

Sidney Spies

* Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg thinks Roe v. Wade was a mistimed ruling, saying things would be different today if the court had been more “restrained.” Well, wire hanger sales would be up, that’s for sure. [CBS News]

* Bait and switch of the day: personal injury firms are enticing plaintiffs to sue with promises of free iPads, but they may never see them. Blame England for this one. At least it’s not happening in America… yet. [Daily Mail]

* Netflix is settling its nationwide video privacy lawsuit for $9M. It’s embarrassing enough that you know you watched the Twilight saga so many times. Netflix doesn’t need to keep your shame on record. [paidContent]

* Remember Sidney Spies, the sexy First Amendment freedom fighter? Her final yearbook photo submission was rejected, and now her family wants to file a complaint — because nobody’s gonna tell their daughter that she can’t look like a skank. [ABC News]

* Roger Aaron, one of Skadden’s most prominent mergers-and-acquisitions partners, RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]

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….

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* How many friend requests did these firms just get? Fenwick & West and Simpson Thacher are the Biglaw stars of Facebook’s S-1 filing for its $5B initial public offering. Like. [Am Law Daily]

* The prosecution is expected to make its arguments today in Julian Assange’s appeal of his extradition from the U.K. to Sweden. Hope it won’t affect his role on The Simpsons. [CNN]

* Adventures in fourth-tier second-tier law school marketing: go to the University of Dayton School of Law, take a tour, and get your first-year textbooks for free. Mmm, the sweet smell of bribery. [National Law Journal]

* The little hybrid that could: Heather Peters, the former lawyer who decided to sue Honda in small claims court, has won her case. Maybe she should reconsider her career options? [Los Angeles Times]

* Looking for a way to shield your assets during a wrongful death suit? Just adopt your adult girlfriend. It has “nothing to do with the lawsuit” — dude just wants to bang his daughter. No big deal. [Palm Beach Post]

* Unpaid internships are so last season. A former intern for fashion mag Harper’s Bazaar wants class action certification for a lawsuit claiming that her free labor violated wage and hour laws. [New York Times]

What happens when you put thirty American lawyers in a London pub where the drinks are free for the evening? Well, let’s just say it’s rather different to what happens when thirty British lawyers are assembled in equivalent conditions.

The attendees at last week’s inaugural Benedict Arnold Society meeting for young and young-ish American lawyers in the United Kingdom, held at the Witness Box pub in the heart of London’s legal district, were impeccably behaved. No one collapsed, vomited or — in spite of my continual prying for insider information — gave away a single secret about their firms. In fact, I think I was the only one there who was drunk.

Still, my memories of at least the first part of the evening remain. What stood out was how nicely many of the assembled Yank expats had done by coming to London — be it because they had saved money on legal education costs, were enjoying heightened status due to their willingness to travel, or were appreciating the health-inducing lighter U.K. workloads.

Several had undertaken their legal studies in the U.K., thus circumventing the enormous fees charged by U.S. law schools….

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Keeping you unemployed since 2008.

* People like it when the members of the Supreme Court agree with each other, except when the justices forget to tell them exactly what to do. Poor sheeple. [Washington Post]

* If you’re wondering why you can’t get a Biglaw job, it’s because the firms don’t need you. Well, they probably do, but definitely they need their money more. [Wall Street Journal]

* Chadbourne & Parke to 190K square feet: partners seem to be pissy about the move, but this white-shoe firm may soon be a blue-chip tenant at One World Trade Center. [New York Times]

* British blokes like scamming folks. Kevin Steele, a former Mishcon de Reya partner, has been sentenced to more than five years for his role in a $28M fraud scheme. [The Guardian]

* Florida’s former foreclosure king might have been dethroned, but David J. Stern refuses to give up his crown. Say hello to the Five Guys burger king. [Real Time / Palm Beach Post]

* My Fair Wedding? More like My F**ked Wedding. A New York couple is suing celebrity wedding planner David Tutera, alleging that he left them waiting at the altar. [New York Daily News]

“Oh, What a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive,” said Judge Guy Anthony, quoting Sir Walter Scott’s poem Marmion, as he sentenced British Biglaw attorney Francis Bridgeman to 12 months in prison on Friday. The former Allen & Overy (A&O) and Macfarlanes partner, who had already had his membership of the latter firm’s limited liability partnership terminated, then collapsed in the dock.

Until recently, Bridgeman, 43, was just another hotshot Biglaw equity partner enjoying a millionaire’s life-style. Educated at Oxford University, he joined Magic Circle firm A&O in the early 1990s and rose through the ranks so quickly that he made partner in 2000, aged just 32. Having got married, he bought a big house in the countryside outside London and became a governor at a local school. Three years ago, he capitalised on his success by moving to boutique financial law firm Macfarlanes, where profit per equity partner is still high for U.K. standards (last year it came in at £752,000) but the hours and stress are generally considered less than at the likes of A&O.

Then, on April 6 2010, everything changed for Bridgeman, in the most unexpected and surreal way….

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Laura Kaeppeler

* The Fourth Circuit denied Rick Perry’s Virginia election law appeal in about four seconds flat. Not like it matters. He’s probably going to be out of the race come Saturday. [Washington Wire / Wall Street Journal]

* Women are having trouble making equity partner in Biglaw firms, and not because of the glass ceiling or other imposed barriers. No, apparently women are just making bad choices. [Chicago Tribune]

* Laura Kaeppeler, the new Miss America, plans to use her $50K pageant scholarship to go to law school. Well, at least one year of law school, since that’s all she’ll be able to afford with so little cash. [WHBL]

* Her Royal Hotness, Pippa Middleton, has hired Harbottle & Lewis to stop harassment from the paparazzi. As long as they allow more pictures of her ass, we won’t have a problem. [Daily Mail]

* Lindsay Lohan got a glowing report at her latest probation progress hearing from a pleased Judge Sautner. Maybe LiLo really did give the judge a signed copy of her Playboy spread. [CNN]

* End piracy, not liberty. Do you like the Internet the way it is? Got something to say about the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act? Sign this petition and make your voice heard. [Google]

“I thought Freshfields [Bruckhaus Deringer] was a supermarket when I got here,” says Kirsty Grant, a fourth-year associate in the London office of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. Happily, Grant — a fast-learner who got through law school in L.A. while working full-time during the day — quickly figured out that the Anglo-German law firm, a member of the Magic Circle, wasn’t the place to fulfill her grocery needs.

The cultural assimilation enjoyed by the UCLA and Loyola graduate since she arrived in London last March hasn’t stopped there. “At first I couldn’t believe the drinking culture here,” she recalls. “The first Friday after work that I went to the pub, I thought, ‘I haven’t had any food; I can’t do this.’ And then the London lawyers went on until 5 a.m. I just don’t have the liver for it, but it shocks me less now.”

Not that Grant, 33, has oceans of spare cash to splash on boozy nights out. How do her finances as an American abroad compare to those of her Biglaw counterparts back home?

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Benedict Arnold was a general during the American Revolutionary War who started out in the Continental Army but later defected to the Brits. So when in the early 1990s U.S. lawyers Jeffrey Golden and Thomas Joyce quit, respectively, Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Dorsey & Whitney to join U.K. firms Allen & Overy (A&O) and Freshfields, the pair were jokingly likened to Arnold.

Having found themselves ostracised from their old club of U.S. securities lawyers, “The Ad Hoc Committee,” in the wake of their traitorous moves, they founded a new association for the growing band of turncoats like them populating London firms. Its official name was “The Permanent Committee,” but it quickly attracted the moniker, “The Benedict Arnold Society.”

These days, with the one-man U.K. firm U.S. legal practices started by Golden and Joyce now employing hundreds of American lawyers, the Benedict Arnold Society is going stronger than ever; its Yank expat members meeting for dinners that go late into the night every month at the offices of their adopted British law firms.

Jeff Golden, who retired from A&O in 2010 and is now a professor at the London School of Economics (LSE), still sometimes struggles to believe the level of change that has taken place since he and Tom Joyce set up the club in 1993….

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Even stately Englishmen are no match for Google.

I had never heard of Max Mosley until yesterday, when I read he was suing Google in Europe to block all search results regarding his alleged participation in some sort of Nazi sex orgy.

Ironically, when you search for Mosley’s name now, you get a zillion news stories with headlines like “Max Mosley sues Google over ‘Nazi orgy’ search results‎.”

Let’s learn more about Mosley, the former president of Formula One, and his decidedly unsexy legal battle against Google….

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