* Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s warrantless spying program is legal, noting that — if it had existed — the government could have predicted the 9/11 attacks. Good point, because intelligence agencies were in no position to figure out that there was an attack brewing without a Big Brother initiative. Oh… wait. [Huffington Post]
* On a related note, a cartoon from 1994 that predicted the NSA’s controversial programs. It’s really kind of scary…. [Slate]
* Britain’s clowns are furious that people are dressing up as clowns and trying to scare people. For their sake, let’s make sure they never hear about Pennywise. [Lowering the Bar]
* The Wolf of Wall Street is about a criminal ripping off poor people. Bankers cheered at a recent showing. There is a lesson to be had there about what bankers would do if given an opportunity. [Business Insider]
* “Knockout,” a game where young boys cold-cock unsuspecting victims, is a serious issue. Nah, just kidding, it’s a crypto-racist overreaction. But at least one kid was stupid enough to try it and then tell a cop about it. Seriously. [Gawker]
Earlier this year, partner bonuses at Hogan Lovells generated some controversy across the pond. Certain partners in London questioned the process by which payments were determined and wondered whether partners in management received too much relative to rank-and-file partners. Squabbles over partner pay are something the firm’s incoming CEO, D.C.-based Stephen Immelt, can look forward to addressing when he takes over next summer.
Let’s now turn from partner pay in London to associate pay in New York. The NYC office of Ho-Love recently showed its associates some love, in the form of year-end bonuses. Were they as controversial as the London partner payouts?
Earlier this week, the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II posthumously pardoned Alan Turing. Turing, a mathematician and early computer scientist, is perhaps best known for two contributions. He proposed what has come to be called the “Turing Test” in artificial intelligence theory, used to test a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior indistinguishable from that of a human. Turing also spearheaded the cryptography team at Bletchley Park in England that cracked the Nazi’s Enigma Code. His work contributed mightily to the Allies’ eventual victory in World War II.
Turing, one of the best minds of his generation or most others, was also openly gay. He was convicted of the crime of “gross indecency” in 1952, for admitting to a consensual sexual relationship with another adult man. With the conviction, the British authorities rescinded Turing’s security clearance and subjected him to ongoing monitoring, fearing that his homosexuality increased the risk of blackmail by the Soviets and enemies of the Crown. They also offered Turing a deal: he could avoid prison for his crime if he agreed to hormone treatments that would severely lower his testosterone levels, effectively eliminating his sex drive and rendering him impotent. Alan Turing chose chemical castration, answering one of the worst “which would you rather?” questions most men of any sexual orientation can imagine. Two years later, in 1954, Turing’s housekeeper found him dead, after he apparently ate a cyanide-laced apple. British authorities ruled his death a suicide.
Turing was prosecuted under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, commonly referred to as the Labouchere Amendment, which provided that “[a]ny male person who, in public or private, commits [ . . . ] any act of gross indecency with an other male person [ . . . ] shall be liable at the discretion of the Court to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years, with or without hard labour.” Convictions under the Labouchere Amendment carried sentences much lighter than for the UK’s actual sodomy law — death until 1861, then life imprisonment in later years — but were much easier to obtain in practice. The Sexual Offences Act of 1967 partially repealed the Labouchere Amendment, though some of the provisions remained officially in place until the passage of the Sexual Offences Act of 2003.
Turing’s pardon this week arrived after a public campaign seeking redress for the maligned genius, whose cause was bolstered by the high-profile support of physicist Stephen Hawking and other public intellectuals. A pardon, while ostensibly a recognition of the good deeds of a man whose mind was largely responsible for saving the free world as we know it, seems to me altogether the wrong thing….
* “No one calls me Justice Sotomayor and no one calls Justice Kagan Justice Ginsberg. It’s an exhilarating change.” Back in the day, people used to mistake the Notorious RBG for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. How rude. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Eversheds, the national U.K. law firm that sounds like it’s an outdoor storage emporium, has elected a new chairman. Congrats to Paul Smith, who specializes in environmental law, and will begin his four-year term on May 1. [Am Law Daily]
* In his last year of service, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer will moonlight in Brown Rudnick’s Irvine office. Critics think this move “looks and smells bad.” If it’s brown, flush it down? [Bloomberg]
* Down 11 percent from last year, this fall, law schools enrolled the fewest amount of students since 1975, when there were only 163 ABA-accredited schools. Too bad tuition’s still so high. [National Law Journal]
* George Zimmerman is an artiste extraordinaire, and one of his paintings is currently for sale on eBay where the price has been bid up to $110,100. The guy’s almost as talented as George W. Bush. [CNN]
Roommate disputes with normal people are distressing. There are fights and recriminations, there are passive-aggressive maneuvers, there are stolen Cheerios and girlfriends.
Roommate disputes with lawyer people can include all of the above, but they almost always include dense, pedantic arguing. It’s like how in the wild, all the little cubs will play-fight each other to prepare for adulthood, only much, much less cool. It’s very annoying, not just because you have to fight about everything (“Sunday is your day to take out that trash”), but also because law students will drop legal-sounding terms into their arguments (“Yes, but pursuant to our agreement, my duty only vests if you have executed trash removal on Saturday night, which you did not, in the instant case.”). You think I’m joking, but live with other law students for a couple of months and tell me how long it takes before you attempt to murder them.
God forbid multiple law roommates end up disputing the correct interpretation or application of a lease agreement. Honestly, I’d rather wrestle for food with a bear than fight with a bunch of law roomies over something in the lease. Don’t believe me? Check out this seven-page email thread about the legal and metaphysical consequences of taking care of a friend’s rabbit….
* Beware of “affluenza” — the condition where rich kids believe that their wealth shields them from consequences. One kid with affluenza was convicted of four counts of manslaughter and got… probation. Great way to teach him that there are consequences. I don’t doubt being a hyper-privileged douche contributed to his criminal behavior, but let’s see if the judge is equally lenient to the next kid in this courtroom who argues that poverty contributed to his crimes. [Gawker]
* In America people complain about law reviews sharing outlines for free. In the U.K., they’re selling notes on eBay. If you’re buying notes off the Internet, perhaps law school isn’t your bag. [Legal Cheek]
* Do Twitter mentions reflect the scholarly significance of a professor’s articles? No. [TaxProf Blog]
* A Chinese law professor lost his job for writing an article advocating constitutional rule. If you think this is a harsh response, remember this government used to throw tanks at people over less. [Washington Post]
* Speaking of China, next month the CBLA is hosting a panel discussion about the expanded use of the FCPA, specifically with regard to China. [CBLA]
If you’re an associate at a Biglaw firm, you’re probably scrambling for billable hours right now like a squirrel desperately trying to find one last nut before the winter comes. You need to hit your hours target, and you need to hit it now.
But what if someone were to step in and try to take those precious few hours away from you? And what if that person were a contract attorney? You’d probably lose your mind and start flooding the Above the Law inbox with your indignation and rage.
Hey, don’t come complaining to us. After all, apparently you asked for it….
* You’d think that when discussing major reforms to the patent system, the director of the USPTO would be there, but you’d be wrong. You’d also be wrong if you thought we had a director right now. [National Law Journal]
* Welcome to the future of Biglaw: Allen & Overy has realized that it’s a waste of money to keep hiring in a weak market, so the firm is recruiting its alumni to serve as contract attorneys in times of higher legal demand. [Legal Week]
* Dean Gregory Maggs, the interim leader of George Washington University Law, is being lauded for increasing first-year enrollment by 22 percent in a time of crisis. Excellent work, sir. You flood that job market. [GW Hatchet]
* Just because you have a law degree doesn’t mean you’re “entitled to rise up and become partner.” Getting a job in the new normal involves having a good attitude and social graces. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Ladies, if you get pregnant after a fling with an Olympic medalist and move out of state, please know your “appropriation of the child while in utero [will be deemed] irresponsible, reprehensible.” [New York Times]
* GTL stands for “Gym, Tan, Laundry,” but the owner of these Jersey Shore clubs thinks it stands for “Gym, Tan, Lawsuit” — thanks to losses uncovered by its insurer in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. [Newark Star-Ledger]
Even Eric Cartman didn’t need blackface to become a Somali pirate.
If you are a professional actor performing a role and you need to alter the color of your skin as part of that role, you can do it. Robert Downey Jr. and Roger Sterling spring to mind. Dave Chappelle and Eddie Murphy have done it (though going from black to white isn’t even the same thing as going from white to dark).
If you are anybody else, you can’t. You can’t do it for Halloween; you can’t do it “ironically.” You just can’t wear blackface. If you do, you are a racist. Wearing blackface in public for fun is dispositive on the issue of your racism. And it’s dispositive on the issue of your own intelligence and creativity: if you can’t pull off the costume without darkening your skin, you’ve probably missed the point of your costume. It’s not like I’d need to wear whiteface to go as [trying to think of the whitest white person] Boss Hogg.
These are simple rules that have been with us for years, but people still keep screwing up. And when they do, it touches off a “conversation” about race — as if we need to talk about why some racist people wore blackface and thought it was okay.
Why did these law students dress up in blackface to go on a pub crawl? Because they’re racist, the end….
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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