Yesterday the stock market experienced its biggest drop since 2008. In the wake of the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of U.S. debt on Friday night, the Dow Jones industrial average fell by 5.6 percent and the S&P 500 fell by 6.7 percent. Global markets suffered similarly.
The market decline on Monday was only the latest in a series of slides. As noted yesterday by the New York Times, “[t]he S.& P. 500 is now down 18 percent from its April 29 peak and is nearing official bear market territory, defined as a fall of 20 percent.”
(All in all, it’s pretty depressing stuff. As I tweeted yesterday, “@DavidLat isn’t looking at his #stockmarket holdings today; instead, he’s buying more #Powerball tickets – huge jackpot!”)
What’s frightening about the latest economic turmoil is that it comes on the heels of a brutal recession that the U.S. economy has not yet fully recovered from. In the wake of the aptly named Great Recession, unemployment still exceeds 9 percent, housing markets remain weak, and government policymakers have exhausted many of the tools at their disposal for attempting to revive the economy. Interest rates are basically as low as they can go at this point; fiscal stimulus is a political no-go. What is to be done?
The steep stock market declines raise a question: Are we entering another recession — i.e., the second dip of a double-dip recession? If so, what does that mean for law firms and lawyers? (We’ve already noted the implications for the IPO market — and the lawyers who work in it.)
* The NBA is suing its players for failing to negotiate in good faith. Funny, I think the players are acting with the same “good faith” NBA owners do when they steal teams from loving fan bases or hold cities hostage until they build new arenas. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Having a drunk woman angrily spray breast milk on you is probably not as alluring as it sounds. [Sentencing Law & Policy]
* In other sentencing news, a guy got six weeks in jail for getting his ass kicked by Rupert Murdoch’s wife. [Gawker]
Last week I attended an interesting talk by Preet Bharara, currently serving as the U.S. Attorney for the (extremely powerful and prestigious) Southern District of New York. I had heard great things about Bharara from many people, including current and former colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s office and people who previously worked with him on Capitol Hill, where he served as chief counsel to Senator Chuck Schumer. So I was eager to hear his remarks, which he delivered to the New York Financial Writers Association, a group of business and finance journalists here in New York.
Here’s my report on what he had to say — including, for those of you who aspire to be assistant U.S. attorneys, what he expects from the prosecutors who work for him….
Friday was not a pretty day for the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed below 12,000, for the first time since March of this year — a 1.4 percent decline. The S&P 500 also fell by 1.4 percent, and the Nasdaq composite index fell by 1.5 percent.
Everyone is looking for an edge in this market (especially given the low returns you get by keeping your money on the sidelines, in cash, or by investing in real estate). This raises a question for legal eagles: Can knowledge of the law help you invest profitably?
One of our favorite folks here at Above the Law — Ted Frank, head of the Center for Class Action Fairness, whom we’ve dubbed the Class Action Avenger — believes the answer is yes. Earlier this month, he invested 10 percent of his net worth in a bet that one company’s stock is on the way up, based on a forthcoming Supreme Court decision.
Let’s find out which stock Frank is betting on, and why….
To judge by the accoutrements of “the profession,” lawyers, as a group, maintain an inflated self-image. They think they’re all that. It’s easy to get sucked into this mindset – especially fresh out of law school. Perhaps, when you’re not “thinking like a lawyer,” you’ve spent a few minutes admiring the little “Esq.” printed after your name on an envelope from school or a law firm — or some company in Parsippany trying to sell you a genuine mahogany and brass pen holder featuring a statue of “blind justice” for only $59.99 with free shipping.
Back when I passed the bar, I was offered the option by New York State to purchase a printed document – “suitable for hanging” – to memorialize the event. I figured what the heck and blew the twenty-five bucks. The “parchment” arrived in a cardboard tube, and it was huge – like a royal proclamation. I felt ridiculous, rolled it back up and stuck it in a closet, where it remains.
It’s hard to imagine accountants (who usually make more than lawyers), or bankers (who always make more than lawyers) laying on the pretension to quite the degree lawyers take for granted…
“Aww, Matt, why do you have to go around giving us a bad name?”
Ever since Matthew Kluger was charged in a massive insider trading case, involving an alleged conspiracy that spanned 17 years and generated more than $32 million in profit, the foregoing question could be asked by many groups: Cornell grads, NYU law grads, Cravath lawyers, Skadden lawyers, and Wilson Sonsini lawyers.
Tonight we can add more groups to the list: Fried Frank lawyers, and gays — specifically, gay dads.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal earlier tonight, Matt Kluger worked at yet another major law firm: Fried Frank. After he was fired by the firm in 2002, he sued, claiming that partners there discriminated against him because he’s gay — and a father of three, with parenting responsibilities.
Just when you thought this case couldn’t get any weirder, it just did. Matthew Kluger is gay. And a dad. With three kids. Thanks for sending America such a positive image of LGBT parents, Matt!
Let’s take a closer look at Kluger’s suit against Fried Frank — and additional details about Matt Kluger’s complicated personal life, gleaned from ATL tipsters….
* Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s appeal was denied by the Fifth Circuit. While he remains the smartest guy in the room, the room consists of him and a half-wit cellmate whose only discernible talent is making Prune-o. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Bruce Fein, an attorney who worked on Clinton’s impeachment and called for Bush’s impeachment as well, has drafted articles of impeachment for Barack Obama. His high crime and misdemeanor? Time theft. [Politico]
* An Ohio man has been charged with a misdemeanor for barking at a police dog. When asked why he was barking at the female dog, the man calmly replied, “Bitch owes me money.” [CBS News]
* The government rested its case in the Raj Rajaratnam trial yesterday. Of additional note is the fact that Rajabba sits ten feet behind his defense table, partially obstructed from the jury box. You can’t completely block Rajabba from view. You can only wish to contain him. [New York Times]
* The government has warned attorneys for former Madoff employees not to use money that might be associated with Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. That includes, for their own health, any ass pennies. [ABA Journal]
* The Fourth Circuit rules in favor of a pundit-professor, in a case about the free speech rights of faculty members at public universities. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* Charlie Sheen is trying to trademark his catchphrases now. He’s overexposed like a frostbitten penis — is there anything funny left to say about him at this point? (We might try; check in later.) [Forbes]
There’s no contest today for Lawyer of the Day honors. The clear winner is Matthew Kluger, a former associate at three leading law firms, who has been charged in a massive insider trading case. Kluger stands accused of reaping more than $32 million in profit over the course of a 17-year conspiracy, which also allegedly involved a trader, Garrett Bauer. (Kluger and Bauer might not be as big as Raj Rajaratnam, who’s pretty hefty, but their supposed scheme is nothing to scoff at.)
The charges were filed by Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey (disclosure: my former office). Fishman claims that Matt Kluger passed along insider information that eventually made its way, via an unnamed co-conspirator, to Garrett Bauer, who traded on it. According to the complaint, Kluger and Bauer invested more than $109 million in the scheme, which yielded profits of more than $32.2 million.
Where did Kluger allegedly obtain the inside information? From the three Biglaw firms where he once worked on M&A deals….
* The epic insider trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam got underway today. Bess Levin, of our sister site Dealbreaker, comes up with a (rather hilarious and bizarre) list of possible character witnesses for Raj. [Dealbreaker]
* Speaking of the Rajaratnam trial, who were those mystery men observing the proceedings in the courtroom? [Clusterstock]
* Talk about a benchslap: “Mr. Redlich continues to display an apparent disregard for the time and resources that this court must expend in interpreting his poorly-drafted pleadings and analyzing his sloppily-constructed and thinly-researched memoranda.” [Albany Times-Union]
* Four important lessons, for lawyers and technologists, that can be drawn from Michelangelo’s sculpting of The David. [Ben Kerschberg / Forbes]
* Musical chairs: Sean Patrick Maloney — former aide to Governor Paterson, Governor Spitzer, and President Clinton, and a former candidate for New York Attorney General — joins Orrick from Kirkland. [Orrick (press release)]
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