Vicious Infighting

As we reported yesterday, Dean Paul Schiff Berman is leaving the deanship at the George Washington University Law School to assume a university-wide position as GW’s “Vice Provost for Online Education and Academic Innovation.” He’s switching jobs effective January 16, 2013.

Since the news of Dean Berman’s resignation became public, we’ve heard all sorts of rumors about why he’s departing as dean of GW Law. What are the rumors — and is there any truth to them?

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The people out at Saint Louis University School of Law sure know how to get in the news. First, the law school dean resigns behind an epic departure memo. Then they hire a new law dean who is really a personal injury attorney. Then the personal injury attorney/law dean says he’s not a “butt boy” to the University President, Father Lawrence Biondi.

I think from now on the logo should read: “SLU Law: When the law stops being polite, and starts getting real.”

While New Jersey law students have been swimming to school, out in the heartland the kids are protesting the university president. And the law faculty issued a historic vote of “no confidence” in the university leadership…

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A 43-year-old trust fund baby?

Talk about #RichPeopleProblems. And #DaddyIssues.

A prominent Manhattan lawyer is suing his own daughter. For libel. Because she allegedly harmed his reputation. By seeking an accounting of her trust fund. Which he set up for her and reportedly administers. Got that?

Yes, Dad v. Daughter. How could something this messed-up not be our Lawsuit of the Day? Especially given the claimed size of the trust fund, stocked with such goodies as Hamptons real estate?

It’s hard to get one’s head around these allegations, but the litigation is for real. Let’s take a look at the competing claims. And how much the trust fund was supposedly worth at one point — we’re talking seven figures here….

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Courtney Horne

You can’t keep a good story down. And the case of Courtney Horne v. Donald North, currently being tried in the court of public opinion, is a good story.

We first mentioned this ugly spat between a former law student at Southern University Law Center and her former criminal law professor in passing. Readers clamored for more coverage. So we did a follow-up post, a quick Quote of the Day — which racked up thousands upon thousands of pageviews.

So let’s give you what you want: more discussion of Courtney Horne, Professor North, and Southern University Law Center (SULC)….

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Courtney Horne

It amazes me that after [six] weeks in law school you now speak as an expert in a course where in my estimation you were mediocre at best. I accept my responsibility, as your professor, for trying to have Standards and Expectations. After thirty years in this profession, I am amazed that we have finally created a vehicle where cowards can express their accusations without retribution.

Southern University Law Center Professor Donald North, responding to Courtney Horne’s blog post explaining her choice to quit law school. Her post largely blamed the decision on Professor North and his class.

(Keep reading to see more of the back-and-forth between this former law school student and her ex-crim law prof…)

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Get off my lawn, you damn… homeowners association?

A $2,212 grass bill and I spent almost a quarter of a million dollars to defend? It just doesn’t sound right. This has been an absolute nightmare.

– Ed Simmons, who spent 11 years fighting his Tampa homeowner’s association over a lawn care bill. He finally won the case last month — and now plans to sell the home.

Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us together todaaay.

Today we have news about the marriage of a lawyerly power couple, or at least news about the charred, tattered remnants of what the marriage once was. This extraordinarily dysfunctional ex-couple got chastised by a judge for nuking not only their sacred union but most of their considerable wealth in the process.

We know all’s fair in love and war. I guess that includes seppuku, but I’m not sure it’s really the most effective strategy…

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The iPhone 5 in all its glory.

OMGGGG the new iPhone 5 was announced this morning! It’s the lightest, thinnest, bestest, fastest iPhone ever. It’s got a bigger screen, it fights crime, and it even picks up after your dog! Woooooo, Steve Jobs, you will never die in our hearts and minds and souls. <3333

OK, now that that’s out of the way, why do all you lawyers give a damn?

The intellectual property arms race, that’s why. As a Google VP mentioned in an interview earlier this week, Steve Jobs had warned us years ago about the possibility of thermonuclear IP war. Well, with the release of the new iPhone coming hot off the heels of Apple’s billion-dollar victory against Samsung, the bombs may be falling.

Or, in the words of Willem Dafoe, “There was a fire patent fight!”

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As we noted in Morning Docket, many former partners of Dewey & LeBoeuf are less than pleased with the proposed settlement between the D&L bankruptcy estate and ex-partners of the firm. Preliminary reactions “rang[e] from skepticism to anger,” according to Am Law Daily.

In the words of Mark Zauderer, counsel to almost 60 former Dewey partners, “I’m not seeing overwhelming enthusiasm for the proposal.” A former D&L partner was even more blunt: “I think this is destined to fail. Let the trustee [of a Chapter 7 liquidation] go for it.”

But not everyone holds such negative views. One ex-partner — who claims that he’s being asked to pay more than he thought he owed, and that he’ll have to postpone his retirement by several years due to Dewey’s downfall — told Thomson Reuters that he will vote for the deal anyway. “My view is there’s nothing less desirable than having this drag out for years,” he said. “I’m willing to pay a lot of money to have this go away.”

Dewey have other issues besides how to deal with former partners? Most certainly. There are pressing problems regarding the disposition of client files, as well as issues regarding retirement benefits for former Dewey & LeBoeuf employees….

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(And bad news for D&L 401(k) participants.)

Debtor in possession -- of a sign? Dewey still seems to have signage outside 1301 Avenue of the Americas. (Photo taken on Tuesday by yours truly.)

Ever since the once high-flying Dewey & LeBeouf filed for bankruptcy in late May, observers have been wondering about what type of financial arrangement the firm might work out with its former partners. Last month, we discussed the outlines of a possible settlement between D&L and its ex-partners, in which former partners would pay a certain amount of money into the Dewey bankruptcy estate in exchange for being released from future claims by Dewey’s estate, the firm’s creditors, and fellow ex-partners.

Would such a plan fly? We noted that the broad outlines sounded reasonable enough, but that much would turn on the specific contours of the proposal — especially the amounts that the partners would be asked to pay, and the methodology for determining those sums.

In the wake of a meeting held yesterday afternoon here in New York at a hotel in midtown Manhattan, we now have some additional information on that front….

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