Tax Law

* Legendary union leader Marvin Miller died today at the age of 95. This is a guy who lost a huge case at the Supreme Court fighting against Major League Baseball, and still found a way to win. He wasn’t a lawyer, but he mastered the law. [USA Today]

* Tax professors weigh in on the fiscal cliff. [Tax Prof Blog]

* Jersey Shore residents are suing over sand dune protection from storms. They’re not suing because they’re weren’t protected enough, they’re suing because the new sand dunes block their ocean view. [Asbury Park Press]

* Yahoo! and NBA lawyers might need to talk about what, precisely, the NBA is endorsing. [Marc Edelman Blog]

* I’m going to go on and vote “no” on the question of whether or not the U.N. should get to “govern” the internet. Wait… I don’t get a “vote” on what the U.N. should do? Well, that sounds like a good reason to go back to not giving a crap about anything the U.N. says. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Looks like the wheel finally came ’round on InTrade. [Dealbreaker]

* The Justice Resource Center, coordinator of the 2013 NYSBA High School Mock Trial Tournament, seeks voluntary attorney-coaches. Help teach young people about the law — and get CLE credit, too! [Justice Resource Center]

Yesterday, Cravath made it rain with a decent bonus scale, especially for those who survived the meltdown. A fifth-year associate at Cravath is making $230,000 in base salary and will receive a $34,000 bonus. Nice work if you can get it. (Actually, it’s not nice work. It’s grueling, soul-crushing. Luckily, most people can’t get it.)

Soon after the Cravath bonuses came out, Weil Gotshal issued some bonus news of its own. The firm is expected to match Cravath, but yesterday Weil announced that it won’t pay bonuses until the end of January, 2013. The timing represents a change for Weil; in recent years, the firm has paid out bonuses in December, not January.

Is it no big deal? Well, if you are a fifth-year expecting a Cravath-level bonus, it could be a huge deal. That bonus is going to push you over the $250,000 mark, and that could make a big difference if we’re talking about 2012 versus 2013…

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Around here, one can’t mention the concept of something being “overrated” without reference to one of the weirdest and most enduring ATL comment memes, a play on the late, great Hitch’s assertion that the four most overrated things in life are “champagne, lobster, anal sex, and picnics.” So who are the, um, lobsters of Biglaw?

Last week, we had a look at what our audience considered to be the most underrated Biglaw firms, by practice area. Today, inevitably, we turn it around and have a look at what you’re telling us are the most overrated firms.

Among other things, our ATL Insider Survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with overrated practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, etc.

To be sure, these survey results need to be taken with some buckets of salt — we realize that, for some, answering this question might be a chance to take an easy shot at a more successful rival or competitor. Of course, there are crazy people who will tell you that such paragons as Benjamin Franklin or Tom Brady are “overrated,” but that probably says more about the person making that statement than anything else. But that said, these survey responses are a fun glimpse at which firms Biglaw attorneys think are more sizzle than steak….

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Last month, we discussed an interesting case that was pending before the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. The question presented: whether an adult entertainment club is entitled to a sales tax exemption for admission and lap dance fees under the theory that these dances qualify as “dramatic or musical arts performances.”

Flying with the speed of boobie tassels attached to a stripper gyrating furiously around a pole, the court handed down its ruling just a few short weeks after oral argument. Here’s what the court held….

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‘Standing with your arms folded is underrated.’

Hot air balloons, Ice Cube, new socks, Ray Guy, Uzbek food, Kevin Bacon, plus-size models, Pittsburgh… what do the items on this random list have in common? In some nook or cranny of the internet, someone is making the claim that they are “underrated.”

Apparently also underrated? The corporate group at Cahill Gordon, according to the ATL audience. Cahill received the most mentions as having an “underrated” corporate group in our ATL Insider Survey. Biglaw has a fairly stable roster of alpha dogs in each practice category (Weil in bankruptcy, Wachtell in M&A, etc.), but we wondered which firms’ practice groups deserve more recognition. So, among other things, our survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with underrated (and overrated) practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, tax lawyers do the same for tax groups, and so on.

Read on and have a look at the top three underrated firms in each practice area:

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A wise man once said, “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” Lawyers, allegedly an unhappy lot, are asked if they are happy all the time. Vault asks, Am Law asks, and in a roundabout way, so do we.

To date, we’ve received nearly 8,000 responses to our ATL Insider Survey. Among other things, our survey poses this question to law firm lawyers: “If you had the chance to do it all over again, would choose to work for your firm?”

Unsurprisingly, those who answer “yes” tend to highly rate their firms in such areas as compensation, culture, and training. For those that wish they could take a Mulligan when it comes to their choice of employer, the inverse is true. Here is a comparison of ratings scores (on a scale of 1-10) for the various aspects of law firm life, broken out by responses to the “Mulligan” question:

SUBJECT ”Yes” ”No”
Compensation 7.81 5.35
Hours 7.38 4.81
Firm Morale 7.7 3.53
Training 7.45 4.32
Culture and Colleagues 8.56 4.56

Hardly counterintuitive stuff, we know, but it allows us to use the “Mulligan” response as a proxy for overall happiness/satisfaction, as it’s so broadly predictive of the nature of the individual’s assessment of his firm.

Back in April, we shared our survey findings showing that Davis Polk was the top firm when it came to morale (to date, this holds true.) Today, we look at whether there are notable differences regarding satisfaction based on practice area. If we slice our survey data by practice, we find that there certainly are. So after the jump, let’s look at how practice groups stack up against one another in terms of the happiness of its practitioners….

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* This San Francisco attorney had a nice visit to the up-and-coming superpower across the Pacific. And by “nice,” I mean the Chinese tried to kill him and the U.S. State Department made things worse. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* I’m sure there’s some sort of serious social commentary here about how gay marriage is good or bad, but I can’t figure out what it would be. Either way, this poor kid has had quite the rough go of it. [Althouse]

* Monster Energy Drinks are under investigation from an as-yet unnamed state attorney general. Because apparently some people were unaware that drinking something that looks like liquid uranium may be unhealthy. [About Lawsuits]

* The suspect in this multimillion-dollar scam graduated from Harvard Law in 1972. You stay classy, Cambridge. [ABC]

* Glenn Reynolds explains why everyone just needs to suck it up and pay income taxes. [Instapundit]

* Justice Scalia is interviewed again about his new book. Shockingly, no one took any shots at Judge Posner this time! [LA Review of Books]

Change is in the air! And it’s not just pollen. On the heels of an explosion of popular interest in (and subsequent boredom with) intellectual property, stemming from the Apple v. Samsung case, as well as new IP regulatory changes, the time is right to take IP reform to the streets! Let’s burn this mother down… or crowd-source it, at least.

A new partnership between the U.S. Patent Office, Google, and popular tech website Stack Exchange, will recruit average Americans to help end the patent wars. Take that, rounded corners!

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* Obama has made more women federal judges than any other president in history. But he still has a long way to go to match Bill Clinton’s record for being judged by women. [Wall Street Journal]

* Let’s agree that neither of the people running for president should be a tax lawyer. [Going Concern]

* This story about law firms involved in a class action suit allows me to quote one of the great Abraham Lincoln lines, as retold by the late Shelby Foote: “There’s too many pigs for the tits.” [Forbes]

* Proof that bankers have a better life. [Dealbreaker]

* Did you know that there is a typo on the Liberty Bell? [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* Louisiana has a problem with deadbeat corporations that owe money to the state. Apparently, businesses run from their debts just as well as students. [Lexis Tax Community]

Stripping is supposed to be a lucrative profession — just look at all of the law students racing to the poles in the hopes of obtaining gainful employment. And in some states, bumping and grinding on stage while wearing six-inch lucite heels is even considered an artful expression worthy of protection under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, two lawsuits in New York and Texas threaten to sabotage the erotic striptease entertainment that we’ve all come to know and love.

New York’s highest court is currently considering whether an adult club is entitled to a sales tax exemption for lap dances under the theory that they qualify as “dramatic or musical arts performances.” Meanwhile, in the Lone Star state, a plaintiff in a federal class action suit claims that strippers are misclassified as independent contractors and being forced to live on tips alone.

Now that we’ve greased the pole, let’s get ready for a feature performance from both of these suits….

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