By Joseph Schuman
Survey suggests mobility can help road to partnership
A survey of newly-made partners at large firms in London and Canada mostly found what you might expect: more money and responsibility for the new partners and general satisfaction with their new roles. But, writes American Lawyer Editor in Chief Aric Press, there was at least one big surprise.
Nearly half the respondents said they had switched firms at some point before they got the big promotion. "Listening to law firms talk about their cultures, I'd long thought that it was the rare partner promoted from the ranks who didn't start out at the firm," Press says. And he draws three conclusions from the finding.
1. "Firms are actually far more welcoming of talented young lawyers, whatever their provenance, than they let on," Press says.
2. Firms' heavy efforts to perfect recruiting practices in recent years haven't allowed them to get it quite right. "I don't know why they would -- the way they recruit is quite haphazard and not very serious, despite all the bells and whistles," says Press.
3. Hanging on to talent may get even harder. "Headhunters regularly say that the first move is the hardest," Press says. "With nearly half this group already veterans of changing places, further mobility seems likely in their future."
In peaceful Los Angeles, Occupiers' lawyer pays tribute to the police
From New York to Oakland, Occupy movements across the country have Clashed with police, sometimes violently, as they stand their protesting ground in the heart of big cities. But not in Los Angeles.
Interestingly enough, Occupy LA's lawyer credits the cops for the relatively peaceful environment.
"The reason I think that people have not been pursued, beaten, or had their tents destroyed in LA is because there is often a line of communication when people are going to go out and engage in First Amendment activity," Santa Monica-based Carol Sobel, co-chairwoman of the National Lawyers Guild's mass defense committee, tells the National Law Journal. Sobel says the Los Angeles Police Department has learned from decades of hard experience that a tougher line often doesn't work.
"It has to do with 20 years of litigation against the LAPD in which they shot people with rubber bullets, pepper sprayed, hit them with batons, charged them with horses," she says. "And then finally, the LAPD decided they could do more with less use of force. Instead of making protestors run a gauntlet of police in riot gear, for the most part they took off the riot gear, put their batons in their holsters, and we've had less difficulty. We just don't have the confrontation they have in other cities because the leadership of the police department is committed to trying this committed approach, and it seems to be working."
Exxon incurs the legal wrath of Baghdad
For years after the ousting of Saddam Hussein, the biggest risk to American companies operating in Iraq was security. Now, it may be legal.
Exxon Mobil last month signed an oil development agreement with the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq – essentially bypassing the central government in Baghdad. And yesterday, after an Iraqi official suggested the company may face sanctions for the contract – including a possible ban on any activity in the Iraq's southern oil fields – the U.S. government said the company should have known better.
"The United States has advised all of our companies, including ExxonMobil, that want to invest in the Iraqi [energy] sector that they run significant political and legal risks if they sign contracts with any parties in Iraq before there has been a national agreement to work out the complex issues having to do with oil revenue distribution within Iraq," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said when asked about the situation. "We have had conversations with Exxon for some time, as we have with all of our firms, advising them to wait for national legislation" sorting out the legal status of oil deals. Exxon sought the U.S. government's advice, and was advised to wait for the legal environment in Iraq to improve, she added.
Still, when asked about the threat of Iraqi sanctions – and any irony related to the fact that international sanctions usually originate in Washington – Nuland noted the U.S. has long been urging Iraq to enact laws that would allow companies like Exxon to "invest in a way that is legally viable and sustainable."
Oregon governor suspends use of death penalty
John Kitzhaber was a practicing physician before he became Oregon's governor in 1995, was reelected four years later and was elected once again to a nonconsecutive third term last year. In tackling issues surrounding the death penalty, Kitzhaber's role as a doctor has conflicted with his role as state chief executive. Yesterday, the doctor in him won out.
Kitzhaber told Oregonians that he was placing a moratorium on capital punishment. Kitzhaber also issued a reprieve for convicted murder Gary Haugen two weeks before his scheduled execution and said he hoped to find a replacement for a system he called arbitrary, expensive and unjust, the Oregonian reports. "In my mind, it is a perversion of justice," an emotional Kitzhaber said. "I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer and I will not allow further executions while I am governor."
The decision wasn't universally welcomed in Oregon. District Attorney Josh Marquis of Clatsop County, where Haugen was convicted, said the governor shouldn't let his personal feelings dictate policy, and that Kitzhaber should have acted as he did during his first two terms, when he allowed two executions to take place. "When you're the governor of the state and the law is X ... it is your duty to carry it out," Marquis said.
Oregon becomes the fifth state to get rid of or at least suspend use of the death penalty. In New York, a court declared it unconstitutional in 2004. New Jersey repealed its execution laws in 2007. New Mexico did the same in 2009, and Illinois ended executions just this year.
Some Obama judicial nominees aren't passing ABA muster
Some conservatives slam the American Bar Association as a liberal-leaning facilitator of Democratic judicial appointments. But it turns out the ABA is giving a harder time to potential nominees from the Obama White House than it did for the administration's predecessors.
Of the roughly 185 judges nominated by President Barack Obama, 14 were declared "not qualified" by the ABA, a person familiar with the matter tells the New York Times. That rate is more than three and a half times what it was during the Clinton administration and during the administration of George W.
Bush – though Bush stopped letting the ABA pre-vet his nominees shortly after he took office in response to conservatives' complaints.
Administration officials have quietly met with the chairman of the ABA vetting panel to complain that its ratings may be relying too much on the past courtroom experience of potential nominees, since many of the panelists are litigators. That could be hurting the grading of minority and women candidates. Nine of the 14 rated "not qualified" are women, including two black and two Hispanic women, while two of the five men are black and two are Hispanic. White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler gave a statement to the Times calling the administration's relationship with the ABA strong but, but she noted they have some disagreements. “Although we may not agree with all of their ratings, we respect and value their historical role in evaluating judicial candidates," she said.
The ABA vetting panel's chairman, Allen Joseph, declined to confirm the negative ratings but asserted the work they did was fair and independent. “We are not a rubber stamp,” he tells the Times. “Our role is to provide the only peer review in the whole process, and we think that is valuable — particularly with a lifetime appointment under consideration.” The Times' unnamed source adds that when the administration asked the panel to take a second look at two other potential minority or female judicial nominees who were initially deemed "not qualified," it upgraded them to "qualified."
Fired intelligence analyst gets settlement from Pentagon but is still in the dark
John Dullahan doesn't know why he was fired, and he doesn't know why his former employer agreed to settle a wrongful-termination suit by giving him back pay, benefits and $25,000 in attorney's fees. All the former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst and Army veteran knows is the DIA considers both matters classified.
The Pentagon invoked a national security clause when it refused to tell the 66-year-old intelligencer officer about the accusations that got his security clearance revoked and his employment terminated, the Washington Post reports. In attaining the settlement, which now sets his formal DIA retirement at the end of this month, he's also not getting what he really wanted. "I'm grateful for half-measures," Dullahan tells the Post "I wanted my job back. I wanted my name cleared. And I will continue to fight this slander."
What Dullahan says he suspects is that he may have failed three polygraph tests, possibly because of his reaction when asked if he ever spied for the Soviet Union. Back in the 1980s, when Dullahan was on duty in the Middle East as part of a United Nations mission that included Soviet officers, he was accused of inappropriate contact. Though the charge was dismissed, it left Dullahan scarred, according to his wife, and this may have affected him emotionally during the polygraphs.
He also knows the case against him was iffy enough that when he appealed his firing to then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Gates said the termination might not have been justified. That allowed the Defense Department to settle with Dullahan.
But the fight might not be over. Dullahan is applying for security clearance again as a defense contractor. And his lawyer, Mark Zaid,said that if Dullahan is denied, he will probably sue.
Summary Judgments for Nov. 22
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