Wall Street

Matthew Kluger

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….

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Raj Rajaratnam

* 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]

* In other insider-trading news, a former Dewey & LeBoeuf associate, Todd Leslie Treadway, has been hit with civil insider-trading charges by the SEC. [National Law Journal via WSJ Law Blog]

* 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)]

* Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? [In Custodia Legis]

* On a more festive note, Happy Mardi Gras! [Twitpic]

* Congratulations to Omar Ha-Redeye of Law Is Cool, winner of the 2010 Blawg Review of the Year. [Blawg Review]

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Inside Straight, Above the Law’s column for in-house counsel, written by Mark Herrmann.

First, a shameless plug; then, back to business.

The plug: I’ll be giving my “book talk” about The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law in several locations in the next couple of weeks, including in a conference room at Skadden and in auditoriums at the law schools of Northwestern and Indiana University. If you have a group that might be interested in the talk, please contact me. We’ll sneak you into one of the upcoming talks, and you can decide whether my spiel would actually fit your occasion.

Now, the business. And it’s real business this time around — a business issue that has caught the attention of an awful lot of in-house counsel. The issue has to do with the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s deliberations over whether to alter corporate disclosures about loss contingencies. (Sorry, guys. No pictures of naked Canadian judges after the jump here. You’ve gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, or vice versa.)

Here’s the backstory: Investors legitimately want to know whether companies are about to lose a ton of money in litigation. So investors want companies to make fulsome disclosures about their “loss contingencies,” which picks up a lot of territory, including pending or threatened litigation.

Companies, on the other hand, are reluctant to disclose publicly that they anticipate losing a lawsuit. If companies were to make that type of disclosure, their litigation opponent would be energized and the settlement value of the case would skyrocket….

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They had to know. But the attitude was sort of, ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.’

Bernard Madoff, speaking about the banks and hedge funds that invested in his Ponzi scheme, in his first for-publication interview since his December 2008 arrest (via Dealbreaker).

* An interesting interview with Professor Benjamin H. Barton about his new book, The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System, which demonstrates what many laypeople suspect: namely, that the legal system is rigged to benefit lawyers over the public. Professors Barton and Reynolds discuss why this might be the case and also compare the legal to the medical profession in this respect. [Instavision with Glenn Reynolds / PJTV]

* Eric Turkewitz channeling Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Look, let’s be blunt here. Who is in a better position to pay the costs of an injury if a city bus injures people? Our strapped city budget, or the victims?” [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Obama says drug legalization is worth a debate. For those scoring at home: we can talk about legalizing drugs, but we can’t talk about controlling guns. [Huffington Post]

* Meanwhile, Florida criminalizes… bath salts? Bonobo Bro has the winning blurb: “Check out this example of the brocist nanny state trying to get in the way of spring break, bath salts that have cocaine like effects and a few other of the principals this great nation was founded on.” [WJHG]

Fred Thompson

* Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana won’t seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. [Politico]

* Speaking of former Republican presidential hopefuls, Fred Thompson prepares to lobby on behalf of trial lawyers. Seriously. Cancel Law & Order and the universe starts breaking down. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The number eight proves lucky for one taker of the New Hampshire bar exam — and the number $140,000, not so lucky. After passing the NH bar exam on his eighth try, the debt-laden lad gets dinged on character and fitness — a familiar tale by now. [Legal Profession Blog via ABA Journal]

* Gotta love it when Jamie Dimon gets catty. [Dealbreaker]

* A corporate partner in the Moscow office of Baker Botts apparently took his own life. John Sheedy, R.I.P. [Am Law Daily]

Ted Cruz

A new year, a new job. That seems to be the thinking of many within the legal profession, based on the proliferation of professional moves we have to report (and not just out of Howrey).

We’ll start with one move that’s aspirational rather than actual. Legal and political superstar Ted Cruz — the Morgan Lewis partner who heads the firm’s Supreme Court and appellate practice, and who was recently named one of the 25 greatest Texas lawyers of the past 25 years — will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the good senatrix Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Check out the announcement on his website, or read this BLT post.

Like many lawyers turned politicians, including our current president, the 40-year-old Cruz is a Harvard Law grad (and one of The Elect — Rehnquist / OT 1996). Graduates of HLS’s rival to the south, Yale Law School, tend to take more quirky paths.

Yul Kwon

That brings us to the second move of the day. YLS grad Yul Kwon — a former Second Circuit clerk and McKinsey consultant, the first Asian-American winner of Survivor, and one of People’s “sexiest men alive” (in 2006) — has left the Federal Communications Commission. Kwon served as deputy chief of the consumer and governmental affairs bureau at the Commission.

Instead of working at the FCC, Kwon, 35, will be regulated by it: he’s going to be the host of a new television series on PBS, America Revealed (which sounds pretty cool). Read more from the FCC (press release), Bloomberg, and the Washington Post.

More moves — a Cravath partner’s jump over to Wall Street, and the defection of many McDermott energy lawyers to Cadwalader — after the jump.

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(Including the energy lawyers going from MWE to CWT.)

There was a time in this country where the holiday season was a time to be rewarded for a good year of work. People received bonuses. People received pay raises, so their salaries could keep pace with their growing experience and maturity (or at least keep up with inflation).

The America where that kind of stuff happened now only exists in memory. In post-recession (or mid-double-dip-recession) America, the holidays are a time when the people at the top jealously guard their wealth, while everybody else tries to figure out how to make “sacrifices” for the greater good.

Usually, this type of thing can be seen most clearly in the private sector (click here for Above the Law’s coverage of bonus season). But today the Obama administration is getting into the holiday spirit by freezing salaries on federal employees for two years.

So, if you’re a J.D. holder who joined the Department of Justice or another federal agency to escape the Biglaw recession, the pay cut you thought you were signing up for just got bigger.

And it probably also means that a few federal attorneys will be trying to get back into the private sector — which will be great, because it’s not like the market for attorneys is oversaturated or anything….

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People, here at LEWW we hate reality TV. Really, really, really hate it. It makes us feel bored, uncomfortable, and grossed-out by humanity, all at the same time. We can watch sports, which we suppose is “reality” in some sense, but other non-scripted programming sends us lunging for the remote. Dancing with the Stars? Gagging at the concept. Jersey Shore? Never seen it; sounds appalling. Even the Food Network is too real for us.

And of course, just thinking about those reality wedding shows makes us break out in hives. That said, we are going to be all over the upcoming royal wedding. Step back, Chelsea, this one is going to be the real deal, and LEWW is already counting the days until April 29. Now, to find a legal angle . . . .

On to this week’s couples. We have four finalists for this special Thanksgiving edition of LEWW:

Audrey Christopher and Trevor Austin

Tali Farhadian and Boaz Weinstein

Susan Ambler and Ashley Ebersole

Allegra Glashausser and Michael Price

Read more about these couples, after the jump.

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* Orrick and Akin aren’t the only two who are talking. The firms of Reed Smith and Thompson & Knight are also in merger discussions. [Am Law Daily]

* A “cite-checking battle” actually sounds… kinda fun. [Laws for Attorneys]

* There’s a motion for leave to amend the complaint in the Robert Wone civil case. [Who Murdered Robert Wone?]

* Why your job is making you depressed. Maybe because it sucks? [CNN]

* Women of Biglaw: think you have it bad? Your sisters on Wall Street may be even worse off. [The Careerist]

* Speaking of women in the legal profession, nominations are now being accepted for InsideCounsel’s Transformative Leadership Awards, which “honor women general counsel and law firm partners who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing the empowerment of women in corporate law.” [SuperConference]

Apparently, Angelina Jolie doesn't have a lot of friends. Aww. Would you be her friend?

* The 9/11 health care bill finally passed the House. Too bad. Not about the bill, the bill looks good. I was just kind of hoping for another epic meltdown from Anthony Weiner. [Salon]

* Could an MBA be even more worthless than a J.D.? [Out of the Storm]

* Real Wall Street types opine on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. I’m using their input for the screenplay I’m working on, Wall Street: Money Flees America. [Hellerman Baretz]

* Let’s be clear: we need more lawyers. We just need them to work for poor or lower-middle-class clients. Wouldn’t it be awesome if law school tuition came down so that more people could do this work? Otherwise, we might just have to find a way to obviate the need for lawyers altogether. [Truth on the Market]

* Are successful women lonely? [Psychology Today]

* The laws surrounding suicide notes. The subject matter is so depressing that few people, even lawyers and journalists, actually know how to treat these documents. [Legal Satyricon]

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