Trusts and Estates

“Sucked balls can make millionaires” — Powerball management and/or Hugh Hefner

In the wake of a record-breaking $580 million Powerball jackpot that none of us won, we all returned to our soul-crushing legal jobs and forgot about the dream of owning an island or riding a partner around the office like horse until the next big jackpot.

But some lawyers are making a living off the lottery. One law firm in New York, Certilman Balin, has even registered the domain name thelotterylawyer.com to tout their expertise in estate planning for lottery winners. That’s some quality SEO. Professional legal advice for lottery winners is a growing cottage industry as the public becomes more familiar with jackpot winners squandering their money.

But estate planning isn’t nearly as entertaining as the crying and gnashing of teeth from litigation. And lotteries have spawned some wild cases because wherever there are deep pockets and petty people there are legal fees just waiting to be collected.

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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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When doing research for my columns, I spend a lot of time thinking about how small-firm attorneys can get the right kind of attention. I can easily find examples of getting the wrong kind of attention: Kim Kardashian, Conrad Murray, and that child-bride who married the guy from Lost. Then, I received an email from a young small-firm lawyer practicing in Winston-Salem who provided me with a positive counter-example.

Michael Wells, Jr. practices personal injury law, litigation, and estate planning at Wells Jenkins Lucas & Jenkins PLLC. Wells is the youngest lawyer at this ten attorney firm. One of the other ten is his father, Michael Wells, Sr. Early on in his career, Wells set out to distinguish himself from his highly successful father and he has succeeded. The lessons he learned along the way can provide a useful road map for young attorneys….

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Almost half (48%) of Career Center survey respondents said they were too busy billing on the Labor Day holiday to fire up the barbie. That’s more than the 35% of survey respondents who reported working on the Fourth of July, but less than the 73% of respondents who worked on Presidents’ Day, and the 66% of respondents who worked on MLK Day.

The most popular reasons given for skipping out on the Labor Day celebrations were:

56% said that nobody specifically asked them to do work, but they had work they needed to get done. 29% said a partner or associate asked them to do work. 14% said a client asked them to do work. 10% said they needed the hours. 7% said everyone else in their office was working. 3% said that Labor Day is not recognized as an official firm holiday.

Now let’s find out in which practice areas and at which Biglaw firms associates were most and least likely to work on Labor Day….

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Mon dieu, je déteste mon propriétaire.

* Led by Cleary and Wachtell, five Biglaw firms were involved in the $12.5B Google/Motorola deal. Talk about a total prestige orgy. [Am Law Daily]

* Casey Anthony will be appealing her check fraud probation order in Florida. WHERE’S THE JUSTICE FOR THAT GIRL’S CHECKING ACCOUNT!!?!? [CNN]

* Those pushing for a law school at Indiana Tech admit the state doesn’t need another law school, but “another kind.” The kind that doesn’t exist, amirite? [Chesterton Tribune]

* Your pets don’t need millions from your estate after you go to the big dog park in the sky. But if you feel so inclined, Fifi will probably use the money to dye her hair back. Pink is so not her color. [Reuters]

* For some young lawyers in Nevada, passing the bar is easier than getting a job. Meh, I guess I should’ve considered moving to Nevada. [Fox News]

* Lawyers in Texas are excited about a Twitter Brief Competition. All filings should be under 140 characters. Just imagine: @Appellant Ur lawyer sucks, ttyl #affirm [Tex Parte Blog / Texas Lawyer]

Joseph Flom

Back in February, Joseph Flom — name partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and one of the nation’s most successful and prominent lawyers — passed away, at the age of 87. During his life, Flom earned well-deserved renown as an attorney, philanthropist, and mentor. He was also a wonderful father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, many times over.

Joe Flom, R.I.P. — and R.I.C.H. As you might expect from the name partner of one of the world’s largest and most lucrative law firms, Flom left behind a vast fortune.

It might seem tacky to talk about this. But that hasn’t stopped us before given Flom’s commitment to charity, it’s actually heartwarming to see all of the worthy causes that will be receiving much-needed funds from the Flom estate.

So how much are we talking about? And who are beneficiaries of his will?

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

As I have previously discussed, one thing I wish to accomplish with this column (in addition to the instant boost of self-esteem I receive whenever I read a comment) is to provide specific information to attorneys considering small firms. To that end, meet Ray Prather and Daniel Ebner, principals of Prather Ebner LLP.

Ray Prather was a successful solo practitioner specializing in estate and trust planning. Dan Ebner, an HLS grad and former district court clerk, was a Kirkland & Ellis associate. Realizing that their backgrounds complemented each other — that Prather had experience in running a small firm, and that Ebner had a valuable referral source in Biglaw connections — these partners in life decided to become partners in law.

So how did they make it happen?

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Let’s face it: the best thing about dying is that you are reunited with your loved ones on a puffy cloud get to control people from beyond the grave. I don’t look forward to dying, but the one thing that brings me comfort is knowing that my funeral playlist will be epic, as I’ve taken the liberty of including it in my will (Thong Song, Pour Some Sugar on Me, Red Red Wine, Mambo #5, etc.).

Elizabeth Edwards, who died on December 7th after losing her battle with breast cancer, didn’t exactly pull a Leona Helmsley, screw her children and leave nearly everything to her dog. But she did exact revenge on her cheating, megalomaniac estranged husband:

Elizabeth Edwards left everything to her children, with no mention of her estranged husband, John Edwards, in her will.

“All of my furniture, furnishings, household goods, jewelry, china, silverware and personal effects and any automobiles … to be divided among them …” Edwards says in the document dated December 1.

Yowza. Not even an “I acknowledge my husband, John Edwards, whom I intentionally omit from this will” put in for good measure. In the words of MTV’s best dating show: John, You Are Dismissed…

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As we mentioned last week, Above the Law, in cooperation with our friends at ALI-ABA, will be assisting you with your Continuing Legal Education needs. We regularly review the comprehensive CLE offerings of ALI-ABA and pick out selected courses that look particularly interesting to us. Here are the two for this week:

  • Estate Planning 101: Practical Strategies for Estate and Gift Planning: Due to the demise of the estate tax in 2010 and the resulting complications, this area of law has gotten very tricky. Not every client has the impeccable estate planning sense of George Steinbrenner. If you’re new to estate planning, if you’re a seasoned attorney looking for a refresher, or if you just want a basic working knowledge of estate planning and related tax issues — perhaps you expect to come into an inheritance in the next few years? — you should check out this course.
  • Public Speaking and Oral Advocacy: How To Do It Well: Effective public speaking is a skill that every lawyer, regardless of practice area, needs to possess. This reasonably priced course will teach you what you need to know. And really, knocking off some CLE hours while also learning how to speak nicely — in a bar or at the bar — is a no-brainer.

Both of these courses are taking place this week, so don’t delay on registering. You can take them live, in New York City (Estate Planning) or Philadelphia (Public Speaking), or you can access them as live video webcasts. To learn more, click on the links below.

Estate Planning 101: Practical Strategies for Estate and Gift Planning [ALI-ABA]
Public Speaking and Oral Advocacy: How To Do It Well! [ALI-ABA]

Earlier: The Financial Services Regulatory Revolution: Are You Ready?

Over on Am Law, The Careerist has been doing a series of interviews with hiring partners at Biglaw firms. They are fun reads, at least if you like to see the extreme hubris exhibited by hiring partners during this buyers’ market for fresh associate talent. A month ago, Jones Day’s hiring partner gave a really good interview, one that sounded much more badass before JD popped its layoff cherry.

In today’s spotlight is the indomitable Skadden Arps. Skadden hiring partner Steven Glaser made it clear that he expects job seekers to know something about Skadden before they sit down for an interview:

Ever had a candidate who was great on paper but who blew the interview?

Yes. The ones who were totally unprepared and knew nothing about Skadden. Someone asked us about our T&E practice, which we don’t have.

There’s just one little problem with that cocksure answer from Glaser….

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