Ted Frank

Judge Richard Posner isn’t amused — but we are!

Judge Richard Posner isn’t trying to entertain us. He just does.

When he benchslaps prominent Biglaw partners or government lawyers fighting marriage equality, he’s not trying to be funny. He’s just trying to understand the facts of a case or get to the bottom of the legal arguments — and he’s, well, maybe not as diplomatic as some other judges in going about his business.

Let’s check out the latest argument where Judge Posner snarked on hapless counsel….

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With unemployment rates still high for new law school grads, incubator programs sponsored by law schools and bar associations are gaining traction. Not to be confused with the profit-generating incubators common in the business and start-up world, the law school incubator concept, conceived by Fred Rooney at CUNY Law School, subsidizes new law school grads to start their own practices to  provide “low bono” legal services.

In exchange for deeply discounting their fees, grads receive low-cost rent and training from more experienced attorneys. After 12-18 months in the incubator, these now practice-ready lawyers can move on to a position at a non-profit or continue to operate their firms on their own. Since the first law school incubator launched back in 2007, nearly two dozen others have cropped up at law schools and bar associations across the country.

What should we make of this trend?

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How our original tipsters felt.

Yesterday we shared with you a controversial firm-wide email sent by a fairly senior partner at Kirkland & Ellis. After receiving too many “requests for information” that he viewed as a waste of his (and everyone else’s) valuable time, corporate partner Kenneth Morrison fired off a firm-wide response that made fun of three offending messages and offered guidance for future RFIs.

The K&E sources who shared Morrison’s message with us disapproved of it. They viewed it as a share partner essentially engaged in cyberbullying of junior colleagues, publicly humiliating them before the entire firm.

But some folks disagreed — including, for example, many commenters on yesterday’s story. And since then, we’ve heard directly from multiple people, both at Kirkland and outside of it, who support Ken Morrison’s email. Let’s hear what the members of #TeamMorrison have to say, shall we?

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Because football is better than job stats.

* In the latest round of musical chairs, Skadden Arps managed to scoop up products liability queen and top woman litigator Lisa Gilford from Alston & Bird. Congratulations! [The Recorder (sub. req.)]

* Is merger mania a thing of the past? With pocketbooks tighter than ever, “pseudo-mergers” are starting to look great. No one will complain about more lawyers with less liability. [Legal Intelligencer]

* Man, it’d be great if you could represent plaintiffs in a class action suit and keep all of the settlement funds without having to pay your clients a cent. Oh wait, you can actually do that? [New York Times]

* “It shows he’s adventuresome and he’s got good taste.” Peter Zimroth, the lawyer appointed to oversee the reform of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies, married very, very well. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The ABA approved Texas A&M’s acquisition of Texas Wesleyan’s law school. Hello to the Texas A&M Johnny Football School of Law! We hope to see the Heisman of employment stats. [National Law Journal]

* A judge says the woman who sued Paula Deen for racial discrimination was nothing more than an “accidental victim.” And like that, her race-based claims have melted away like butter, y’all. [ABC News]

Law school’s epitaph?

* Hiring a Supreme Court clerk might not be worth a $500,000 gamble for some Biglaw firms. Some will take that sweet sign-on bonus and remove their golden handcuffs before a year is out. [Capital Comment / Washingtonian]

* Akin Gump partner and D.C. Circuit nominee Patricia Millett won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee by a margin of 10-8 along party lines, and now her nomination will head to the full Senate for a vote. [Huffington Post]

* President Obama nominated Michelle Friedland and John Owens, two young Munger Tolles & Olson partners, for seats on the Ninth Circuit. If confirmed, that’ll make three partners from the same firm on the bench. [The Recorder]

* Sorry, law firms, but it’s no longer cool to inflate hourly billing rates for contract attorneys when you pay them substantially less. You can thank Ted Frank for this judicial revelation. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education thinks that just about everything having to do with law schools is “deeply flawed” and needs “serious re-engineering.” How comforting. [ABA Journal]

* Law School Transparency is willing to assist schools with the reporting of their ABA post-graduation job placement statistics, for a price. How much is integrity worth these days? [National Law Journal]

* For $25K, Casey Anthony’s bankruptcy trustee won’t make her sell the worldwide rights to her story — like her theory of the crime she was acquitted of, it “exists solely within [her] mind.” [Sun-Sentinel]

The fact that the billing rates of contract attorneys are in excess of what the law firm pays them is not unusual or untoward. That’s to cover overhead and have a profit built in.

Ira Press, a partner at Kirby McInerney, offering commentary on the Citigroup billing frackas that’s made headlines of late. On average, the firm billed out contract attorneys who worked on the matter at about $465 an hour, but likely paid them just $60 to $75 an hour for their “special expertise” and services. Ted Frank, aka the Class Action Avenger, is not happy about all of this.

A ‘beauty culturist’ at work.

* The latest update on the law school litigation front represents good news for New York Law School. [National Law Journal]

* Should summarizing a one-day deposition transcript really cost $90,000? Even DLA Piper might blush at such a bill. [Point of Law]

* Ropes & Gray isn’t backing down in the discrimination lawsuit brought by former partner Patricia Martone. (We’ll have more on this later.) [Am Law Daily]

* No, silly polo mogul, you can’t adopt your 42-year-old girlfriend to shield your fortune from litigation. [ABA Journal]

* Replacing “barbers” with “beauty culturists”? This is Indiana and not California, right? [WSJ Law Blog]

Harvey Dent was a lawyer who made his own luck. How did that work out for him?

I think one of the biggest differences between Republicans and Democrats (beside, apparently, gun ownership) is that Republicans tend to worry about making the world safe for successful people, while Democrats are a little more worried about making the lives of unsuccessful people not so crushingly terrible. I’m not talking about specific policies, so much as I’m talking about attitudes. In broad strokes, Republicans want people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and Democrats are worried about the people who don’t have any boots.

What I just said above isn’t a new idea, but I think that kind of dichotomy is playing out in responses to the legal job market, somewhat regardless of party affiliation. There is one group of people who are a little more concerned with how a young graduate can make it in these challenging times, and there is another group of people who are more worried about the masses of people who won’t “make it.” Unlike national politics, I don’t think there are obviously right and wrong perspectives on this, I just think that it’s more useful to focus on the structural problems that cause so many to fail, as opposed to the happy circumstances that lead a few to succeed.

It’s not going to surprise anybody that a prominent conservative commentator, Ted Frank, has a different perspective than I do….

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* From the White House to the ivory tower: Cass Sunstein is leaving OIRA to return to Harvard Law. Perhaps his thoughts on behavioral economics and public policy will be appreciated in academia. [New York Times]

* It’s too late to apologize this time, Cesar. Greenberg Traurig has been sanctioned in the TD Bank to-do for the firm’s negligent failure to bring forth documents during discovery. [Tampa Bay Business Journal]

* Jared Loughner is reportedly set to plead guilty in the Arizona shooting attack that killed six people, including Judge John Roll, and injured 13, including former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. [Los Angeles Times]

* Lance Armstrong is going for the gold against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, this time with a bid to Judge Sam Sparks for a restraining order blocking the USADA from forcing the cyclist into binding arbitration. [Bloomberg]

* “[T]his is not the time for us to become an international accrediting agency.” The ABA will remain a faulty U.S. accrediting agency, because the Legal Ed Section voted against accrediting foreign law schools. [ABA Journal]

* Apparently Texas Tech Law has more than beauty queens. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has appointed dean emeritus and current law professor Walter Huffman to the new Defense Legal Policy Board. [KCBD 11]

* Remember Joshua Gomes, the UVA Law student who allegedly broke into the school’s registrar office? As it turns out, there’s no more “allegedly” about it. We’ll likely have more on this news later today. [Daily Progress]

* Law school graduates’ tales of woe are still making headlines in newspapers. Please take heed, 0Ls, and remember that you decided to discount this info if you’re told that you “should have known better.” [Oregonian]

* If you want to eat mor chikin but the thought of supporting Chick-fil-A’s stance on gay marriage is giving you indigestion, now you can eat your fill with the assistance of Ted Frank’s chicken offsets. [Huffington Post]

The vetting of a Supreme Court Justice

Ted Frank tweeted something brilliant at us this weekend. A law professor and blogger, Kyle Graham, was digging through documents at the Reagan Presidential Library. (Side note: if you’ve never been to a presidential library, go; all the ones I’ve been to are excellent.) Professor Graham came across a great find: the vetting form that O’Melveny & Myers chairman A.B. Culvahouse used to vet Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The document is fascinating. Vetting somebody for a lifetime appointment is serious business, but it’s hard to imagine having your private life invaded to this magnitude.

It’s particularly interesting in light of Chief Justice John Roberts’s vote in the Obamacare case. Lots of people have asked why conservatives seem to have problems nominating justices who will doggedly toe the ideological line. Perhaps some answers can be found in the vetting document?

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