This case sounds like a script from a far fetched legal thriller. Russia is suing the Bank of New York in a Russian (and allegedly corrupt) court, asserting RICO violations and claiming damages in excess of 20 billion dollars. The case is full of well-known legal experts, including Alan Dershowitz, former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, and former federal judge Abner Mikva. Professor Dershowitz is one of a number of experts for Russia.
Thanks to Columbia Professor Bill Simon for the pointer.
Read about her comments, and watch a video of a discussion, here. She said it is impossible to tell the difference between an A, an A-,and a B+. I agree with that, to an extent, but the implication is wrong: just because it's hard to make accurate fine distinctions doesn't mean that there isn't a difference between, say, a C paper and an A paper.
We might reminisce nostalgically about the days of yore when a lawyer could hang out a shingle and provide services in exchange for a chicken or bushel of potatoes. It seems, however, that there are limits to the services that we lawyers can accept as compensation. Lap dances by a client, apparently, are out, at least in part because the lawyer's representation "might be limited by his own interests."
"Satan killed Carol; Jesus saved the kids." Said by a jailed client whose fingerprint was found in the blood of a dead woman these words grab you and will not let go. No amount of exposition on MR 1.6, at issue in the case where they were said, has a tenth their power.
Stories matter. We see the world in patterns our minds compulsively create, and a pattern is a type of story. Stories frame, justify, rationalize, complicate, obscure, mislead, and enlighten. Jurors create stories and favor the presented story that most closely matches their own. The best cases are good stories. They are vital to learning. Two books I read recently, Jerome Bruner's Making Stories and Gary Klein's Sources of Power, are eloquent on the point.
So here is a story of a magnificent book of stories: Richard Abel's Lawyers in the Dock. If I could have a wish for the legal ethics curriculum it would be that every student have a seminar with this book among the texts. If I could have a second wish it would be that I would have written it instead of Abel.
Fordham, a Jesuit-run university, is getting some grief over the Law School's decision to give a legal ethics award to Justice Stephen Breyer. The cause for the concern appears to be that Justice Breyer authored the Stenberg opinion, which struck down restrictions on partial birth abortions.
The Cornell Law Review has published its colloquium on David Luban's book, Legal Ethics and Human Dignity. The colloquium contains numerous responses to the book from prominent legal ethicists as well as a reply from Professor Luban.
Sad story here. According to the article, the management committee has given tacit approval to a mass exodus that would finish off the firm. (Disclaimer: I know only what the article says.)
Law firms are now big businesses, and it'll be interesting to see how the law defines the duties of management committee members when firms reach insolvency or other end-game scenarios. Their decisions affect all sorts of people -- clients, non-legal staff, non-equity lawyer -- not just the partners.
Interesting case, depending on which set of facts you base your result on: the majority reasoned that if a lawyer at a firm inadvertently receives privileged documents and doesn't do as is required under state law -- notify and return -- that the entire firm as a matter of law is disqualified. The concurring opinion, though, laid out the facts more fully, and it's clear that at least two, and probably more, lawyers reviewed the documents and the firm claimed privilege over the extent of the internal disclosure, and so for that reason firm-wide disqualification was in order. The case, Greenberg Taurg v. Atlas Air, Inc., __ So.2d __ (Fla. App. Sept. 17, 2008), is here.