Start messing with democracy and you'll find tyranny at your front door.
Earlier this week, I compared Wisconsin to a North African country. Now I think that comparison is unfair to North African countries.
The crisis in Wisconsin continues. Democratic state legislators are still on the lam from their jobs, denying the Wisconsin legislature the quorum necessary to conduct state business.
Some of our commenters think that fleeing the state to avoid a quorum call is just another procedural right given to the minority party, kind of like an ultimate filibuster. I think that’s a self-serving analysis. Quorum rules are there because reliable motorized transportation is a relatively modern innovation. Quorum rules are there because laws shouldn’t be passed by the first two guys to show up to work in the morning. Legislators don’t have a right to flee the state as a political maneuver to prevent democracy from occurring.
Of course, if Wisconsin Democrats don’t want to respect democracy, Wisconsin Republicans are more than happy to give them a big dose of tyranny. That’s just how Republicans roll…
In our most recent practice area survey of the Above the Law readership, the most popular single response was “Intellectual Property.” Eighteen percent of survey respondents identified themselves as IP attorneys.
So many of you might be interested in the latest controversy to heat up the small-firm blogosphere. If you’re an IP lawyer, if you work at a small law firm, or if you’re a law student who enjoys intellectual-property hypotheticals, keep reading….
Is Wisconsin experiencing the worst Super Bowl hangover ever?
Is there a huge difference between living in a North African country and living in the state of Wisconsin right now? Can somebody please send in Richard Engel to conduct an interview with a bearded lumberjack making a barricade out of cheese?
In case you haven’t been following along (and I understand that it’s not as exciting as the next Charlie Sheen interview), Wisconsin no longer has a functioning government. I’m not exaggerating. The Republican Governor, Scott Walker, and the Republican legislature basically want to take away the right of unions to collectively bargain.
In response, Democrats have fled the state. Again, I’m not exaggerating here. Instead of allowing democracy, however disagreeable the outcome, to play out, 14 Democratic legislators have simply decided not to play. They’ve fled, preventing the legislature from getting together a quorum to vote on Walker’s budget.
And man, are there protests. It’s getting to the point where if Wisconsin had a functioning government, it would probably declare martial law….
The performance of litigation as a Biglaw business line during the Great Recession has been widely viewed as disappointing. But at least one type of litigation seems to be picking up. From the New York Times:
A diamond is forever? Prove it.
Companies that were once content to fight in grocery-store aisles and on television commercials are now choosing a different route — filing lawsuits and other formal grievances challenging their competitors’ claims…. The goal is usually not money but market share. Companies file complaints to get competitors’ ads withdrawn or amended.
The cases themselves might seem a little absurd — an argument over hyped-up advertising copy that not many consumers even take at face value. Pantene has attacked Dove’s claim that its conditioner “repairs” hair better, and Iams has been challenged on one of its lines, “No other dog food stacks up like Iams.”
Dueling over dog food quality? Desperate times call for desperate measures.
I’ll admit, I did not participate in any kind of fake court moot court competitions during law school. It just wasn’t my thing. But for other students, moot court can be a really exciting way to pass the time while you are waiting for law school to stop charging you money. I totally respect that.
Unless people take it too seriously. When moot court turns into gunner heaven, it’s hard not to laugh at all the Lil’ Boies running around acting like the competition is more important than 1L torts.
But at UVA Law School, it looks like the people running the school’s William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition have taken things to an entirely new level of pettiness. A UVA 2L explains it this way:
[T]he Lile Moot Court competition is our intramural moot court that 240 2Ls are competing in. It is run by appx. 10 incredibly rude and power-hungry 3Ls … and they have been inconsiderate to say the least. It’s the talk of the campus, or at least of the 2Ls.
You see what happens, Larry? You see what happens when 3Ls don’t have secure firm jobs waiting for them upon graduation?
After the jump, the members of the UVA moot court board completely lose their ever lovin’ minds.
Elie here. On Wednesday, I took a closer look at the woman who called the Cambridge police on Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. I wondered if she could be held liable under a good Samaritan statute, and asked if we should hold good Samaritans to a higher standard.
Most readers felt that the woman was beyond reproach. She saw “two black males with backpacks” attempting to enter a house, and most people — including Professor Gates and President Obama — felt she acted appropriately when she called the police.
Legal Blog Watch has published a great analysis suggesting that Gates’s arrest was unwarranted. Even if you take the police officer’s word about what happened inside the house, it was unlikely that a prosecution against Gates for disorderly conduct could have survived (at least based on the evidence we have now; there are rumors of tapes).
I understand that I am hanging far out on a thin limb, but I remain far from convinced that the woman acted appropriately. I do think, hypothetically, that there is a cognizable legal claim Professor Gates could have against the woman who turned him in. Here is the applicable Massachusetts “good Samaritan” statute:
Section 13. No person who, in good faith, provides or obtains, or attempts to provide or obtain, assistance for a victim of a crime as defined in section one, shall be liable in a civil suit for damages as a result of any acts or omissions in providing or obtaining, or attempting to provide or obtain, such assistance unless such acts or omissions constitute willful, wanton or reckless conduct.
On Wednesday, I suggested that the standard for liability was reasonableness, as opposed to “willful, wanton or reckless conduct.” Obviously, a recklessness standard is much more difficult to prove.
But after the jump, I make my case. And then Mr. David Lat slaps me upside the head makes his case … that I need to be Rule 11-ed right back to Tolerance 101.
Last week, we tangentially touched on the issue of California’s Proposition 8, which is titled: “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.” The issue touched off a firestorm of comments, with many strong opinions for and against the measure.
Apparently, senior attorneys at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe also hold strong opinions about Prop. 8. Political divisions at the firm came to a head when Dean Criddle, a tax partner in the San Francisco office, made a $5,000 contribution to the Yes On 8 campaign. Upon learning of Criddle’s contribution, his colleague in the tax department and San Francisco office, of counsel Cameron Wolfe, sent out this email:
Sent: Sunday, September 28, 2008 9:57 PM
To: SF ALL ATTORNEYS; SV ALL ATTORNEYS; SC ALL ATTORNEYS
Subject: Orrick and the Proposition 8 Campaign
The publicity attendant to the $5,000 contribution to the Yes on 8 Campaign by an Orrick partner damages the reputation of Orrick as a progressive law firm supportive of equal rights for gay and lesbian people. This can adversely impact the firm in many ways, including hurting our ability to attract gay and lesbian recruits; turning off clients, existing and potential, that support equal rights for homosexuals; and making our current gay and lesbian work force feel like second class citizens.
Chief justice George’s eloquent exposition of the reasons why same sex marriage is a right that should be guaranteed to all gay and lesbian people need not be elaborated upon here. Obviously, the partner who made the $5,000 contribution had a right to believe the Chief Justice to be wrong and to make the contribution he did. It can be debated whether he should have foreseen that this action could damage Orrick. What can’t be debated is that we should try to counteract the damage that has occurred.
One thing that we as individuals working at the Orrick firm can do is to make personal contributions to the No on 8 Campaign. If enough of us do so, that may be newsworthy enough to generate positive publicity offsetting the present negative impression in the community on this important issue.
I urge each of you to make a contribution to No on 8, which can be sent as follows:
Michigan people, I feel your pain. The seven fumble loss to “The School That God Built, Then Abandoned” was terrible. You guys are trying to enjoy these last days of summer before the arctic wind sends you into underground bunkers. And clearly, you can’t lend out a cell phone/ask for your cell phone back without getting dragged into a heated exchange that is mocked by all.
I understand how in that environment petty slights can turn into glorious insults. You demand satisfaction! But you justice seekers might want to turn somewhere other than the University of Michigan’s law school list-serv. The following email was sent by a 1L who has been on campus for approximately 11 minutes and 6 seconds:
Dear Student Body,
Whoever the SLEAZE is who likes taking people’s lunches (in particular, 1/2′s of subway sandwiches bought on one day and saved for the next) from the refrigerator in the student lounge, STOP. In case you aren’t aware, it’s stealing. Perhaps you’re practicing for a career in corporate law, but law school isn’t the place to practice this particular skill. Also, in case you aren’t aware, here are a few reasons not to do this:
1) Stealing lunches erodes collegiality among the student body.
2) Stealing lunches inconveniences the person from whom you steal by forcing them to go get lunch elsewhere, thereby wasting time and resources.
3) Stealing lunches can cause an additional inconvenience with having to buy lunch elsewhere. For most of us, the couple dollar loss isn’t really the issue, but imagine not having your wallet with you on a day when someone has stolen your lunch? You must either do without or seek out somebody to borrow from, both of which are annoying.
If you’re really so poor you can’t afford lunch, the law school will provide you with an emergency loan. If you’re just a sleaze, either take an ethics class or come talk to me.
Well allow me to retort.
1) I once got robbed and to make myself feel better, I called it “sharing” instead of “stealing.”
2) Isn’t forcing someone to get their lunch somewhere other than Subway kind of a good thing?
3) Not having your wallet? The only guys I know that don’t carry around their wallet whenever they leave the house are super rich or homeless. Which one are you?
The rest of the maize and blue electronically punch this guy after the jump.
When you’ve been wronged, there’s a part of you that wants the whole world to know. Maybe you think exposing the evildoer’s misdeeds will bring solace, revenge, sympathy… But more often than not, it brings scorn. People just don’t like tattletales.
Several tipsters sent along such an exchange from the University of Michigan’s law school list-serv. Here’s the catfight one law student sent out to the list-serv with the subject line, “not sure how to handle this:”
On Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 11:22 PM, TATTLETALE wrote:
Listen, I tried to be nice and understanding about all this but now it’s just ridiculous! I did you a favor and now I’ve been stuck hounding you for my phone for months and months as if you’re doing ME the favor! I bought that phone for $120, so either send me a check for that amount or return the phone ASAP…
I’m not going to lecture you about how this is no way to treat a law school class mate and definately [sic] no way to start making your reputation in the legal community — hopefully you realize all that. Just return the phone or the money so I can finally forget about this after half a year!
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 08:01:52 +0200
Subject: Re: phone
You f***ing nasty b****,
My sister is gonna give you a f***ing check that you can f***ing hold onto until I come back from rome.
On Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 7:54 AM, EVILDOER wrote:
I AM INF ***ING ROME YOU STUPID W****. I SAID I WILL MAIL IT TO YOU ONCE I
GET BACK. NO REASON TO BE A F***ING B****.
Is bar exam stress driving Michigan students over the edge?
Full exchange (warning: unredacted profanity), plus a bevy of responses, after the jump.
(We’ve redacted identities — and appreciate your protecting anonymity in the comments. Thanks.)
We love internecine warfare at law schools and in other academic settings. As the old saying goes — our cursory Googling doesn’t immediately generate the exact wording or source, so we’ll paraphrase — fights in academia are so vicious because the stakes are so small.
Today the William and Mary Board of Visitors decided not to renew William and Mary President Gene Nichol’s contract. Nichols sent out a pretty amazing email to all students about his resignation, and Michael Powell, former FCC Chairman and Rector of W&M, sent a response. Needless to say, people are talking of nothing else today.
To make the story even better, the law school dean, Taylor Reveley, is now serving as President of W&M. Nichols is joining the law school staff, where his wife is also a professor.
Check out the messages — Gene Nichol’s defiant departure email, claiming he was ousted due to ideological reasons, and Michael Powell’s steadfast denial that the non-renewal was based on ideology — after the jump.
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 six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.