Despite her death back in February 2007, Anna Nicole Smith (aka Vickie Lynn Marshall) continues to make headlines. From the Ninth Circuit comes bad news for her former lawyer (and lover) Howard K. Stern, and her daughter, Daniellynn. From E! Online:
[A court] said today that the estate of Anna Nicole Smith is not entitled to the $300 million-plus judgment previously awarded from her late oil tycoon hubby’s billion-dollar estate.
The court battle over Texas oilman J. Howard Marshall II’s millions has been ongoing since 1995.
You can download the opinion from the Ninth Circuit here [PDF]. You’ll see a familiar name on the list of counsel.
Kathleen Sullivan, new name partner at Quinn Emanuel, filed an amicus brief in the case for the Washington Legal Foundation, arguing in support of the decision by the Texas probate court that originally denied Smith’s claim to Marshall’s $1.6 billion fortune.
UPDATE: Congratulations to Dechert partner G. Eric Brunstad, the veteran Supreme Court litigator who represented the victorious estate of Pierce Marshall in this case. (Brunstad was also Lat’s bankruptcy law professor at Yale.)
We continue our series of open threads about small law firms focused on different areas of practice. In light of the turmoil being experienced by Biglaw, as well as the many laid-off lawyers and job-hunting law students looking for other opportunities, now is an excellent time to look beyond large law firms.
Today we turn our attention to TRUSTS AND ESTATES. What is it like to work at a small (or at least non-big) firm focused on T&E work? What are your hours like? Your compensation? What do you like the most — and the least — about your job?
Please discuss, in the comments.
Speaking of trusts and estates, at the recent Lavender Law conference we attended a workshop on advanced estate planning. The panelists offered advice that might be helpful to people who practice in, or aspire to practice in, trusts and estates.
Read about it, after the jump.
For those of you who followed the South Carolina bar exam controversy, previously discussed here and here, we bring you an update.
The South Carolina Supreme Court recently issued a supplemental statement on the matter. According to the Court, the elimination of the Trusts and Estates section from the scoring process had nothing to do with complaints from the kids of prominent public figures.
An excerpt from the court’s statement, after the jump.
Remember the alleged South Carolina bar exam shenanigans, which we discussed in these pages last week? There are some updates. See the links collected below, including a fairly barebones statement from the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Also, here’s what appears to be an interesting email that made the rounds in the wake of the results announcement. It was purportedly sent by one of the test takers who initially failed to other individuals who sat for the S.C. bar exam:
First of all I’m so sorry about the bar exam. This sucks. I need to know if any of you failed the Wills part of the exam and your score.
My Dad and [redacted's] dad have been on the phone with the powers that be, and if we can get a big enough group together that failed the Wills section they are going to take it to the Sup. Ct and see if they’ll regrade our exams. Apparently, the examiner for the Wills section has been asked not to come back. We have a slim chance, but I think that it is worth it.
So far I have a list of 10 people that have failed the exam. They are [names redacted]. If you all know of anyone else that failed the Wills section PLEASE let me know so that we add them to the list. The scores are important too because we need to show the court how outrageous they are. Again, I’m so sorry we all failed. I really can’t believe it.
As you know from our extensive coverage of Laptopgate, we follow bar exam controversies quite closely. So we can’t ignore what’s going on down in South Carolina (especially since we’ve been on a southern kick as of late, what with all our coverage of Emory Law School).
A very juicy possible scandal is brewing down in the Palmetto State. We believe the story was first broken by FITSNews. But for those of you who like your news sources older and more MSM-y, here’s an article from The State:
The state’s top court has changed the grades for 20 people — including the children of a prominent state lawmaker and a longtime circuit judge — who earlier flunked the test required to practice law in South Carolina.
The S.C. Supreme Court in last week’s order said the wills, trusts and estates section of the July exam would “not be considered” in determining a test-taker’s overall score, though the justices gave no reasons for their decision.
The students include the daughters of state Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Richland, chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee; and Circuit Judge Paul Burch of Pageland, The State confirmed Thursday in interviews with the two men.
We’re not really big on pets. Taking care of them is a lot of work, and we can barely keep our houseplant alive. So stories like this one strike us as almost insane:
A man who had not written a will left a $2 million estate, but the most hotly contested item in court has been his golden retriever, Alex. The four-way dispute over the 13-year-old pet was so intense, an attorney was appointed to represent the dog’s interest.
A guardian ad litem causa canis, perhaps?
On Monday, the judge decided the man’s divorced parents should split custody, The Commercial Appeal reported.
“At first glance, the petition seems almost frivolous, but after speaking with all parties, it is evident that this is a highly emotional issue for all involved,” said Alex’s attorney, Paul Royal, in his report to the probate court.
You had it right the first time, Mr. Royal.
P.S. A former colleague who shares our aversion to pets once quipped, “There are at least ten good reasons not to get a dog. Reasons one through nine are fecal matter.” Judge settles intense custody battle over dog [CNN]
Here’s an interesting analysis of the underlying merits of the litigation over J. Howard Marshall’s estate. It contains some bome bad news for Anna Nicole Smith’s infant daughter, Dannielynn.
From a Legal Times piece by Professor Horace Cooper (who narrowly missed being a colleague of Kiwi Camara, and probably isn’t unhappy about that):
[T]here is little chance that this child will inherit millions. Why? Because Anna Nicole Smith’s legal claims on J. Howard Marshall’s estate were always tenuous.
And once the courts act, they will likely extinguish the claim altogether. That means Dannielynn is more likely to be saddled with legal bills and other debt from litigation associated with her mother’s estate than she’s likely to inherit any portion of Marshall’s estate.
We’ll spare you Professor Cooper’s detailed examination of the case, which deploys such fancy-pants legal terms as “de novo” and “res judicata.” We’ll just give you his bottom line:
A separate trial in the Bahamas is going forward to determine who Dannielynn’s biological father is. Once that is answered, will the biological father continue his efforts to secure custody after all the legal claims on the Marshall estate are extinguished?
I predict that once those claims are finally exhausted, even King Solomon himself might not have the wisdom to find a father for this baby.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
Connecticut plaintiffs-side boutique litigation firm (12 lawyers) seeks full-time associate with 2-4 years litigation experience, top tier undergraduate and law school education. Journal or clerkship experience a plus; highest ethical standards and strong work ethic required. Familiarity with Connecticut state court legal practice is preferred, but not required.
The firm handles sophisticated, high-end cases for plaintiffs, including individuals and businesses with significant claims in a wide array of matters. Our cases often have important public policy implications, and are litigated in state and federal courts throughout Connecticut. Representative areas of practice include medical malpractice, catastrophic personal injury, business torts, deceptive trade practices and other complex commercial litigation, and products liability.
Additional information can be located on our website, at www.sgtlaw.com.