Vicious Infighting

Lile Moot Court UVA law competition.jpgI’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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “UVA 3Ls Threaten to Eat Their Young”

Skip Gates.jpgElie 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:

Chapter 258C: Section 13. “Good Samaritans”; liability

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Gatesgate: A Legal Hypothetical”

orrick logo.gifLast 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:

No on 8

Equality California

2370 Market St.

San Francisco, CA 94114

And be sure to indicate your affiliation with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.

Thanks for your help.

Cameron Wolfe, Jr.

We can argue about whether gay marriage should be protected by the Constitution, but isn’t it a little bit odd to be advocating one right while trying to step on a separate Constitutional protection?

Another Orrick lawyer weighs in, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Orrick’s Internal Battle Over Proposition 8″


wolverine in the wilderness.jpgMichigan 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Voracious Wolverine”

mich law catfight copy.jpgWhen 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:
EVILDOER,
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!
-TATTLETALE
————————————————————————————
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 08:01:52 +0200
From: EVILDOER
Subject: Re: phone
To: TATTLETALE
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.
EVILDOER
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.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘How To Handle This?’
(By not sending out over the law school list-serv?)

William and Mary Marshall Wythe School of Law Above the Law blog.jpgWe 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.

As Hillary and Barack do battle in Virginia today, so too do administrators at William and Mary. From a tipster at William & Mary School of Law (interesting factoid: it’s one of the oldest law schools in the country):

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Turmoil at William & Mary – Law School Dean Takes Over as President”

* The NYT’s official statement on L’Affaire Berenson. [Starkman & Associates]
* A slew of law school hypotheticals about sex with and between minors, triggered by Carl Stanley McGee, our Lawyer of the Day. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Second runner-up for Lawyer of the Day? And a punitive damages award of $33 million. Ouch. [How Appealing]
* Man saves dog; law student saves man. Congratulations to GW’s Jason Coates, our Law Student of the Day! [GW Hatchet]
* “Derek Jeter has romanced Mariah Carey, squired Jessica Biel, sweet-talked Scarlett Johansson — and now he’s made it to first base with the state taxman.” [TaxProf Blog]
* Wow, this is wild. Has Gary Crossen, a former federal prosecutor and partner at Foley Hoag, read too many John Grisham novels? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Speaking of white-collar criminal defense lawyers, more business may be headed their way, courtesy of Andrew Cuomo. [DealBreaker]
* You’ve got… male? [Reuters]
* Are you a Disgruntled Republican? Join the club — or buy a mug. [Zazzle]

Chris Hook Christopher Hook DOJ Pride gay Above the Law blog.jpgNot everyone likes Attorney General Michael Mukasey. At Boston College Law School, students are protesting Dean John Garvey’s decision to invite Attorney General Mukasey to deliver the school’s 2008 Commencement address. See here (Facebook group: “Waterboarding IS Torture”), here, and here.
Why are liberals so unhappy about Mukasey? We’d expect the AG to receive a warmer reception, in light of this happy news, which made the pages of the Washington Post:

Five years after a gay advocacy group was told that it could no longer use the e-mail, bulletin boards and meeting rooms at the Justice Department, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey has reversed that decision and issued a revised equal-employment-opportunity policy barring discrimination against any group.

Mukasey informed leaders of DOJ Pride last week that the department would give it the same rights as all other DOJ employee organizations, said the group’s president, Chris Hook. In a statement, Mukasey said the department will “foster an environment in which diversity is valued, understood and sought” and maintain “an environment that’s free of discrimination.”

Writes a Department of Justice source:

Finally — now I can celebrate “Pride on Ice” anytime I want! Michael Mukasey gets two snaps in a circle for this decision!

In another sign of libertinism running rampant in the halls of justice, Lady Justice’s magnificent metal breastses are no longer covered up, as they were during the repressive Ashcroft regime (during which female DOJ lawyers had to wear burqas to court). But the credit for the breast-baring belongs to Alberto Gonzales.
Attorney General Mukasey Reverses Anti-Gay Policy at Justice Dept [Towleroad: A Site With Homosexual Tendencies]
Attorney General Reverses Curbs On Gay Group at Justice Department [Washington Post]
Boston College Law School Community Members Protests Mukasey [ACS Blog]
Mukasey Invitation Prompts the Question: “What has BC Law become?” [Eagleionline]

Jeremy Pitcock Jeremy S Pitcock Morgan Finnegan Above the Law blog.jpgIf we hadn’t already named a Lawyer of the Day, the prize might have gone to Jeremy Pitcock of Morgan & Finnegan. From the American Lawyer:

The former head of intellectual property at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman was fired in December for “extremely inappropriate personal conduct,” according to the firm.

Not merely “inappropriate” conduct, but “extremely inappropriate” conduct. We’re guessing it was strenuously objectionable.

Jeremy Pitcock, 35, joined Kasowitz in March 2006 after being wooed from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where he was a senior associate. Kasowitz named him head of IP not long after. But after less than two years, Pitcock left the 200-plus-lawyer firm for 52-lawyer New York IP boutique Morgan & Finnegan.

Morgan touted Pitcock’s hiring as “an outstanding addition to our successful litigation practice” when it announced his move on January 8. But the Kasowitz firm says he was forced out following an unspecified incident.

“Mr. Pitcock was terminated for cause by Kasowitz, Benson in December 2007 because of extremely inappropriate personal conduct,” name partner Daniel Benson said in a statement.

So what prompted the firm’s statement?

Kasowitz’s statement followed the publication of an article in trade publication IP Law 360 last week, which reported that Morgan had lured Pitcock from Kasowitz. In his statement, directed toward the publication, Benson said, “It was inaccurate to use ‘nab’ in your headline, or to use ‘jump ship’ in your opening paragraph.”

“We were not looking to publicize this incident, but because of those incorrect news items, we felt compelled to set the record straight,” Benson said in a press release that the firm distributed online.

We’re intrigued — and the full article in the American Lawyer doesn’t offer much more. If you have details on the alleged conduct, please email us. Thanks.
Update (6/6/08): Jeremy Pitcock has filed a $90 million defamation lawsuit against Kasowitz Benson. See here.
Kasowitz Fired its ex-IP Chief for Inappropriate Conduct [The American Lawyer via Law.com]
Jeremy S. Pitcock bio [Morgan & Finnegan]

gavel judge Above the Law blog.jpgToday we bring you not one, but two Judges of the Day. We can’t decide who is more deserving of the honor. From the Florida Times-Union:

Twelve days before Christmas, Circuit Judge Aaron Bowden fired his 17-year judicial assistant, who had been on leave since August with cancer. The Jacksonville judge said he feared her prolonged illness would leave him without an assistant at a time when the state had implemented a hiring freeze.

But his decision left Christine Birch, 54, with no medical, life or disability insurance and has created a firestorm at the courthouse.

Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran responded by calling Bowden “a no-good son of a bitch,” prompting Bowden to respond with a blistering e-mail (PDF) defending his decision and calling Moran’s criticism irresponsible, unprofessional and unseemly.

Other judges’ assistants were also appalled by Birch’s firing. They raised money to pay her rent this month….

Birch declined comment Thursday. But she thanked Moran in a handwritten note last week for putting her back on the courthouse payroll in a rotating judicial assistant’s position. Birch was paid about $3,275 a month in her old job, and the state paid her health insurance premium. Her new rotating position pays $750 less a month and requires her to pay her own premiums.

Our tipster writes:

Best quote from the article: “He said if she died while on the payroll, he would have been without an assistant for two months, ‘not an ideal situation for a judge.'” I guess dying wouldn’t have been an ideal situation for her, either.

To get both sides of the story, check out the email from Judge Bowden in which he defends his actions (and rips Chief Judge Moran a new one). You can access his message — in which he benchslaps Chief Judge Moran for his “effrontery” and his “irresponsible” comments, made “precipitously [and] without authority” — by clicking here (PDF).
P.S. Speaking of cancer, here’s a PSA from ATL, and bad news for Biglaw associates and paralegals: according to cancer researchers, overnight work and sleep deprivation may raise your cancer risk.
Judge fires his assistant, draws criticism [Florida Times-Union]
Email from Judge Aaron Bowden (PDF) [Florida Times-Union]

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