Wolf of Wall Street

For almost a decade, the Forum on Law, Culture & Society has hosted fascinating conversations about legal issues with such luminaries as President Bill Clinton and Justice Sonia Sotomayor. I’ve had the pleasure of attending several Forum events over the years, such as a riveting panel discussion about the Casey Anthony case and screenings of legally themed movies at the Forum Film Festival.

For years, the Forum has made its home at Fordham Law School. But now the Forum is moving. Where is it going, and why?

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* The Eighth Circuit axed a $900K jury award after a lawyer recounted her tale of sexual harassment by a law professor at Drake University Law during closing arguments. Well, that sucks, but we’d really love to know which professor this was. [ABA Journal]

* If flat is the new up, then mergers must be the new growth. The new year is upon us, and law firms are on track to either meet or break the merger record set in 2013. Thus far, 22 firms have announced mergers or acquisitions in 2014. [Washington Post]

* A lawyer in Minnesota who’s been in trouble with the bar quite a few times was recently charged with setting his girlfriend on fire. Yikes, someone’s way too excited about the Fargo mini-series. [Star-Tribune]

* Oscar Pistorius took the stand in his murder trial yesterday, revealing that when he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, he was really trying to protect her. This case gives us the sads. :( [New York Times]

* Sorry we’re not sorry about the toupee: Paramount wants this Wolf of Wall Street suit dismissed since it’s undeniable the plaintiff was part of “bizarre travesty that was Stratton Oakmont.” [Hollywood Reporter]

Kristen Saban

* Justice Scalia apparently has an ulterior motive for his hatred of deep-dish pizza: “He’s just trying to undermine Barack Obama because he’s a Chicago guy.” God, can’t the guy just like New York style pizza better? Come on. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Now that the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules have been smacked down by the D.C. Circuit, the agency is going to start from scratch and come up with some new ones. Yeah, good luck with that. [National Law Journal]

* “Roll your window up, ignore the taunting, put your car in reverse, move a parking spot over.” These are some of the ways you can avoid killing black teenagers over loud music, says a Michael Dunn juror. [CNN]

* The toupee gave it away: A lawyer who used to work as an i-banker at Stratton Oakmont is suing for defamation over a character he claims was modeled after him in the “Wolf of Wall Street.” [ABC News]

* The lawsuit filed against Nick Saban’s daughter by her sorority sister was tossed under Alabama’s “stand your ground” rule over her objections that she was kind of like a defenseless receiver. [Associated Press]

Amanda Knox

* Quinn Emanuel got a pretty harsh benchslap from Judge Paul Grewal over its litigation strategy in the Apple / Samsung case, calling it “650 lawyers wide and one lawyer deep.” Sick burn, Judge. [Courthouse News Service]

* At Cardozo Law, Jordan Belfort’s former lawyer says that the movie Wolf of Wall Street “played down the sex and drugs.” Dear Lord, if that’s the case, Leo’s muse should be happy he’s alive. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “I’ve been around the block. And I’ve never seen an attorney general sanctioned.” Ahh, the rarest rose. Nevada’s AG was sanctioned for failing to provide evidence in a fraud case against a mortgage lender. [Forbes]

* Eighteen people were arrested for their alleged attempts to market and sell Super Bowl “party packs” to football fans. It’s pretty sick, but you’d got to admit that hookers and blow beat wings any day of the week. [Bloomberg]

* Law schools in the Southeast closed their doors because their states were “unequipped for dealing with the roadways.” Send them up here, we’ve got school when there’s a foot of snow. [National Law Journal]

* A recent grad of a “good school” wanted to know how to get a job, so she asked an advice columnist. Here are five of the suggested jobs she probably already applied to and was rejected from. [Fortune]

* The third time’s apparently the charm in Italy: Amanda Knox was convicted of murder, again. Foxy Knoxy must be pissed that her case has turned into an extradition question on an international law exam. [CNN]

Unless you’re living under a rock or stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge,[1] you know that N.J. Governor Chris Christie spent yesterday digging himself out of the Fort Lee traffic scandal in the most Jersey of manner — by placing a proverbial bullet in the back of the neck of one of his most trusted allies Tony Soprano-style. He even invited the media over to the Bada-Bing for a couple of hours after he did it.

Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly took the rap for closing lanes on the GWB and creating a traffic snarl for Fort Lee residents after a smoking gun email emerged where the staffer seemingly ordered David Wildstein, himself a once highly-paid Christie staffer who resigned last month, to stop up the bridge to make life miserable for Fort Lee. The mayor of the town — a Democrat — had failed to fall in line and endorse the Republican Christie in his re-election campaign,[2] and Kelly’s email outlined the chosen means of retaliation. It seems dumb, but people may have died over this issue.

Liberal columnists are calling Christie basically an overfed Pol Pot and conservatives are comparing this — because they cherish beating their dead one-trick pony — to Benghazi.

But whether Christie was directly involved in this scandal or not — and so far the digital paper trail seems to begin with his mild-mannered aide showing uncharacteristic initiative and ends with a high school crony whom Christie put in charge of the bridge — this scandal falls somewhere between unsurprising and utterly inevitable.

Christie is a former prosecutor, serving as a U.S. Attorney from 2002 until 2008. The modern prosecutor is armed with the luxury to exact petty, brutal revenge on any and all who cross him or her, and this is the mentality that Christie brought into the Governor’s Mansion. Indeed, he made this mentality his political calling card.

Oh, and will this matter in 2016?

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The Wolf of Wall Street, by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is out, and is the story of the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who, if the movie is to be believed (and maybe it mainly should be, including the dwarf tossing) built a fabulously successful and fundamentally corrupt trading firm, then was indicted, then went to federal prison and cooperated against two dozen of his friends and co-conspirators.

The film has been criticized for glorifying fraud and being dangerous — a “reckless attempt at continuing to pretend that these sorts of schemes are entertaining” — in a letter by the daughter of someone who went to prison for the stuff in the movie. Apparently traders love it in a creepy and not good way.

DiCaprio responded, saying that Scorsese’s vision is to show characters as they really are and ask “Who am I to judge anybody?” Apparently Pope Francis is contagious.

I don’t think the movie glorifies fraud any more than, say, Macbeth glorifies ambition. It seems like there are some pretty awesome parts to fraud, like you can use fraud to get a lot of money, which you can use to buy cool things. The movie is also frank that there are some serious downsides, like you can go to prison for committing it.

The film is also a largely accurate portrayal of the reality of a lot of white-collar practice.

Here’s how . . 

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