We all know Michele Bachmann as the Tea Party darling running for the Republican presidential nomination. Before that, Bachmann the Congresswoman became famous for making some of the most truly ignorant statements in modern American politics.
But few people know that before Bachmann became a crazy-eyed, anti-tax standard bearer, Bachmann was a lawyer. A tax lawyer. Working for the IRS. That’s right, as a lawyer Bachmann helped the government collect taxes.
But I wouldn’t call her a hypocrite. It seems she wasn’t all that good at collecting taxes….
Remember John J. O’Brien? Back in April 2009, we wrote about the mysterious departure of John O’Brien from Sullivan & Cromwell, where he was a well-regarded and well-liked partner in the M&A department. In a follow-up post in December 2009, we noted : “When partners leave a place like Sullivan & Cromwell, there’s often a story behind the departure.”
In our December 2009 post, we reported that John O’Brien “left Sullivan & Cromwell due to an issue relating to his taxes.” We added that the problem was personal, i.e., that it did not implicate S&C or any of its clients (unlike the fraud of another former SullCrom partner, Carlos Spinelli-Noseda, who defrauded the firm and its clients of more than $500K).
Some readers pushed back on this reporting. They claimed that John O’Brien left voluntarily and for perfectly innocent reasons. They told us to leave O’Brien alone. They accused us of harboring ill-will towards Sullivan & Cromwell (even though, to be honest, large law firms are somewhat interchangeable for us here at ATL; they’re all just potential sources of news to write about).
In light of all the flak we took for our John O’Brien coverage — similar to the criticism we received for covering Theodore Freedman’sdeparture from Kirkland & Ellis, a few months before Freedman got indicted by the feds — please forgive us for gloating a little. (This gloating is directed at our critics, not at John O’Brien; we have nothing against O’Brien and wish him the best of luck in moving on with his life.)
Today brings news that John J. O’Brien has been hit with federal criminal charges. Like Ted Freedman, John O’Brien has been hit with tax-related charges. But the numbers involved are larger — a lot larger….
UPDATE (7 PM): O’Brien pleaded guilty. See the update appended to the end of this post.
As we mentioned in the story, our coverage of Freedman’s departure was prompted by “interesting rumors.” We hoped that our post would result in additional corroboration of what we were hearing. Alas, our write-up just prompted the usual attacks from Kirkland Kool-Aid drinkers, who accused us in the comments of harboring ill-will toward K&E and engaging in shoddy journalism.
Well, this time we’ll enjoy the last laugh (not because we have anything against K&E — we don’t — but because we like being proven correct). We can share what we know about Ted Freedman, because the rumors are now embodied in a federal criminal indictment….
As many of you know, here at Above the Law we have been tracking which major law firms offer a non-salary benefit that we’ve dubbed the gay gross-up. As we’ve previously explained, quoting a memo issued by Simpson Thacher, the gay gross-up is “[a] ‘gross-up’ for employees who enroll same-sex partners in the Firm’s health benefits plans to offset any federal, state and local income taxes paid on the value of the partners’ benefits which heterosexual spouses are not subject to.”
Today we are pleased to report that two top firms have joined the club. Kudos to Debevoise & Plimpton and Shearman & Sterling for standing on the side of equality. You can read their announcement memos, issued earlier this month, after the jump.
We have added these firms to our list. By the way, for those firms that would rather appear on a list maintained by the New York Times than one maintained by Above the Law, you should note that the NYT is also monitoring which workplaces provide this perk. The NYT list includes employers of many different types, not just law firms, and features some of the nation’s most innovative companies, such as Google and Facebook and Apple.
With the addition of Debevoise and Shearman, which leading law firms provide this benefit? Let’s take a look….
The case for same-sex marriage should rest less upon dollars and cents and more upon fundamental principles of fairness (as recently argued by Professor Jaye Cee Whitehead in a New York Times op-ed piece). But it’s certainly the case that money matters should not be overlooked when it comes to marriage equality.
We’ve previously discussed a non-salary benefit that we’ve nicknamed the gay gross-up. Here’s one concise definition: “A ‘gross-up’ for employees who enroll same-sex partners in the Firm’s health benefits plans to offset any federal, state and local income taxes paid on the value of the partners’ benefits which heterosexual spouses are not subject to.” (Currently gay couples in which partners receive employer-provided health benefits are taxed on the value of those benefits, due to the fact that, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), federal law — including federal tax law — doesn’t recognize same-sex unions.)
The gross-up is not a perk that affects a huge number of employees, to be sure. But having it sends an important message about a firm’s commitment to equality and inclusion.
Where did we obtain that handy definition of the gross-up? From the benefits page of a top law firm that recently started offering this benefit. It’s one of two elite law firms that recently boarded the gay gross-up bandwagon….
* BP has its granny panties in a bunch over Transocean’s liability for the oil spill. So they’re suing. [Bloomberg]
* Major League Baseball sought to take over the Dodgers from Frank McCourt yesterday. Your move, Wilpon. [Los Angeles Times]
* Tax Lady Roni DEUTCH may be thrown in jail. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in this video, but definitely wait for the thrown dog. [ABA Journal]
* Juvenile killers are hoping to reach the Supreme Court in an effort to overturn their life sentences. If their cases make it that far, they’ll undoubtedly find a certain justice who only cares about inferior MP3 players and Emilio Estefan. [New York Times]
* Something called the Second Amendment Foundation has sued Massachusetts over their law forbidding legal immigrants from owning handguns. Crocodile Dundee didn’t need a handgun. [Fox News Latino]
* House Speaker John Boehner and former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, now at King & Spalding, have joined forces to fight marriage equality by defending DOMA. Talk about two people who will not be taking their talents to South Beach. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
* The tax returns of Barack Obama and Joe Biden have been made public. Notes Professor Paul Caron: “It’s amazing how much more politicians give to charity in years in which they know their tax returns will be released to the public (although Biden still tosses around gifts to charity like manhole covers).” [TaxProf Blog]
* If you were underwhelmed with OCI at your law school, a new service — JD Match, founded by law-firm consultant and blogger Bruce MacEwen — wants to try to match you up with employers ready to hire. [WSJ Law Blog]
* People keep acting like their law firms are hunting for associates expressing discontent. But law firms aren’t as paranoid as Roger Ailes. [Gawker]
* It’s always nice when our nation’s legal system comes to the defense of punk bands. [Los Angeles Times]
* It’s almost time for the anniversary of the historical basis for Texas thinking it’s better than everybody else. [The Defense Rests via Blawg Review]
* Tape-recorded trash talk at the Raj Rajaratnam trial. [Dealbreaker]
* Here’s a good response to Mark Herrmann’s request for examples of crappy behavior by partners: “Miss a deadline, and then throw your secretary and associate under the bus when called out for it.” [South Florida Lawyers]
* Our tipster, a Georgetown Law alum, has the credited response: “[T]his must have been a GULC student mad he/she could have gone to Texas, gotten a 3500 sq foot wife and a Lexis, and graduated with the same presTTTige.” [Law Library Feedback Blog]
The Chicago River goes green on St. Patrick's Day.
* Law firms have been supporting Japan relief efforts (see here and here), but Felix Salmon urges you not to give money to Japan (or if you do donate to a relief organization, make sure your donation is unrestricted). [Reuters]
* Tax time is just a month away. What should be America’s top tax rate — 25 percent or 49 percent? [TaxProf Blog]
* This illustration of Justice Thurgood Marshall isn’t racist, is it? [Zoopreme Court]
* A Happy St. Patrick’s Day, from Elie — after the jump….
Nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between you and Above the Law. It may also constitute attorney advertising, depending on the state you’re in (such as boredom or apathy). Please consult the laws of your jurisdiction. If you have received this post in error, please print it and mail it to Elie. Then delete it (the post, not Elie) from your computer.
Nothing says “lawyers” like a good generic email footer. They first appeared around the turn of the century, soon after law firms begrudgingly accepted that “The Email” was here to stay. (Though I’ve heard that some firms still use fax machines. Perhaps only because their telex machines are busted.)
Like most things lawyers create, standard email footers were born out of fear. Such as fear that a single email exchange would lead some moron to think that he’d entered into an attorney-client relationship. Or fear that the authorities would consider an email about lunch plans to be improper attorney advertising. Or fear that an email containing a drunk-kitty YouTube video would somehow destroy someone’s attorney-client privilege.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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