Biglaw Partner Runs Face First Into Contempt Order

Above the Law reports that a U.S. District Judge delivered a benchslap to a Baker Donelson partner and a senior public policy advisor after they tried to jump the line in a receivership situation involving a hundred-million-dollar Ponzi scheme.

The judge had put a hold on any individual victim trying to carve back money in lieu of allowing a receiver to get the maximum recovery for all victims, but then Jon Seawright, the Baker Donelson partner, and Brent Alexander, the firm’s lobbyist, went out and tried to recover some money.

The judge responded with a lecture about the concept of a receivership, using the boarding process on Southwest Airlines as an example, writes Above the Law’s Joe Patrice.

Read the Above the Law article.



First NBC Bank’s Former Top Lawyer Charged With Defrauding New Orleans Bank

First NBC Bank’s former top lawyer was charged in federal court Friday with conspiracy to defraud the New Orleans bank, which failed two years ago in the biggest U.S. bank collapse since the 2008 financial crisis, reports The News Orleans Advocate.

Gregory St. Angelo was First NBC’s general counsel for a decade until 2016. During that time, according to the Advocate‘s Anthony McAuley, he took out loans totaling tens of millions of dollars from the bank, many of which went into default.

“St. Angelo was charged in a bill of information rather than a grand jury indictment, generally a sign that a defendant has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors. He is due for a first appearance in federal court March 29,” writes McAuley.

Read the Advocate article.



Meet the 16-Year-Old Texan Who Will Be Attending Law School This Fall

The Dallas Morning News reports that Haley Taylor Schlitz, who graduated from high school at 13, is preparing to attend Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law this fall, one of nine schools that accepted her, according to the American Bar Association.

Haley was homeschooled after her parents withdrew her from public school in the fifth grade because they didn’t like the way she was being taught, writes the Dallas NewsSarah Sarder. After high school, she began taking classes at Tarrant County College and started at Texas Woman’s University in 2017, according to her website.

“Haley initially wanted to go into medicine like her mother but now wants to become an attorney and advocate for gifted students from traditionally neglected communities. She has spoken out against systemic racism in American public schools,” according to Sarder.

Read the Dallas News article.



How to Best Promote ‘Best Lawyer’ Honors

Some legal rankings and guides truly do a good job of identifying top-rate attorneys in various areas of practice, but others are simply brazen attempts to capitalize on a lawyer’s vanity in exchange for a fee, warns Bruce Vincent of Muse Communications.

“Knowing the difference between a reputable listing and one that holds no real meaning or value is key for effective marketing,” he writes. “Imagine spending money and time to promote your selection to a ‘best’ list only to find out that the other lawyers on the list have no business being there based on their level of experience or expertise.”

He explains the importance of learning how to spread the word about earning a spot on a top-lawyer list, because there is little chance that your honor will get noticed by your most important audiences. Then he offers suggestions on how to get real benefit from the honor.

Read the article.



Energy Market Manipulation Remains a Hot Issue at FERC

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is continuing to aggressively investigate and bring enforcement action against companies that engage in energy market manipulation, reports WilmerHale in its 10-in-10 Hot Topics in Energy Series.

These investigations and proceedings mirror Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) action on financial market manipulation in the energy area.

“As the recent Powhatan and Silkman decisions indicate, the body of case law defining FERC’s enforcement authority continues to develop. Regulated companies should be aware that the statute of limitations in market manipulation cases will likely be read permissively. A strong internal compliance program, coupled with self-reporting in appropriate instances, can help reduce risk,” according to the article’s authors.

Read the article.



Webinar: The Role of Financial Experts in Commercial Litigation

WebinarExpert Webcast will present a complimentary webinar roundtable titled “The Role of Financial Experts in Commercial Litigation.”

The event will be Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 1-2 p.m. Eastern time.

Speakers will be Dan Boland of Pepper Hamilton, Jeff Litvak of FTI Consulting, Clara Chin of FTI Consulting, and Alex Kasan of DelMorgan & Co.

Anyone who wants access to the replay of the webinar may indicate that preference in the last field of the registration form.

Register for the webinar.



Unambiguous Terms of Written Contract Trump Claims of Fraudulent Inducement

A recent Texas Supreme Court opinion provides a definitive answer to the question of whether a party can ignore the written words of a contract that directly contradict what you are being told by your counterparty is the real deal.

Glenn D. West, writing for Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s Global Private Equity Watch, discusses Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC v. Carduco Inc.

“While it is often said that fraud vitiates a contract that was entered into based upon that fraud (and such fraud would also trump the parol evidence rule), that statement is only true if there was actually legally-recognized fraud that induced the making of the contract. But a fraud cause of action does not consist simply of an allegation that the defendant made a false statement of fact to the plaintiff, knowingly or recklessly,” West writes.

The Texas Supreme Court found that “[b]ecause the conduct and action of [the defendants] on which [the plaintiff] relies to establish its fraudulent-inducement claim are directly contrary to the unambiguous terms of the contract it signed, we conclude that [the plaintiff’s] reliance thereon was unjustified as a matter of law.”

Read the article.



Former Texas Justice Jennifer Caughey Joins Jackson Walker

Jackson Walker has added Jennifer Caughey as a partner in its Houston office. A civil litigator and former justice on the Texas First Court of Appeals, Caughey will co-chair the appellate section of Jackson Walker’s Trial & Appellate Litigation practice.

“We are honored to have Justice Caughey join the firm. She represents everything we look for in our attorneys—smart, energetic, and determined to get to the bottom of every case,” managing partner Wade Cooper said. “Her significant experience and capabilities are a natural fit for Jackson Walker.”

Houston litigation partner Chip Babcock said: “Justice Caughey was a highly respected judge on the Houston Court of Appeals and our clients will benefit tremendously from her insight gained from that experience now that she has reentered private practice.”

Litigation chair Ross Forbes Jr., added: “We are fortunate to have such an outstanding team of trial and appellate attorneys who offer a wealth of experience for our clients. Jennifer joins an ever-growing list of Jackson Walker attorneys who have served on the bench, including judges David Folsom and Len Wade.”

While serving on the First Court of Appeals, Caughey authored more than 125 opinions (half signed, half per curiam) and participated in approximately 450 decisions. She wrote decisions in cases involving high-profile commercial disputes; statutory, contractual, and common law claims; and constitutional challenges.

At Jackson Walker, Justice Caughey will focus on appellate matters and complex litigation, the firm said in a release.

“Serving on the First Court of Appeals was an extraordinary honor, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity,” Caughey said. “Now, I’m excited to begin the next chapter of my career and join the strong team of attorneys at Jackson Walker.”

Jutice Caughey earned her law degree from Harvard Law School, where she was an executive editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. She received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. After law school, Caughey clerked for the Timothy M. Tymkovich, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and for Justice Robert J. Cordy of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.



11 Law Schools With High Student LSAT Scores

Yale Law School
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A study by U.S. News & World Report reveals that the 11 law schools with the highest scores on the  Law School Admission Test had average median scores of nearly 171.

That score compares with the national average median of 156, based on LSAT scores reported by 192 ranked schools to U.S. News in an annual survey.

Harvard University and Yale University tied for the top median LSAT score, with full-time law students entering in fall 2018 earning a 173 at both institutions, the magazine reports.

Read the U.S. News article.



5th Circuit Nixes Ex-NBA Star’s $1.5 mln BP Spill Claim – Because He Didn’t Lose Any Money

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a $1.5 million award to ex-NBA All Star David West, who claimed he qualified for a payout in the BP oil spill settlement because he earned less in 2010 than in 2009.

Reuters reporter Alison Frankel explains that West “was in the fourth year of a five-year, $45 million contract with the New Orleans Hornets when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in 2010. West was paid every penny of the $45 million he was owed under his contract, including the full amount he was due in the year after the spill. He nevertheless argued – and the settlement administrator agreed – that under the definitions and formulas in BP settlement, he qualified for a payout for economic losses because he earned less in 2010 than in 2009. The 5th Circuit shut that right down.”

5th Circuit Judge Andrew Oldham, who wrote for the panel, didn’t see it that way: “In 2010, he earned exactly what he was entitled to receive under his contract.”

Read the Reuters article.




Parents Charged in College Scandal Are Turning to This Convicted Felon for Advice on Life in Prison

Justin Paperny, a a former Bear Stearns stockbroker who spent 18 months in federal prison for conspiring to commit fraud, has become a go-to resource for wealthy criminals preparing for prison, according to a report in The Washington Post.

He and his eight-person firm, White Collar Advice, have already been hired by one person tied to the college admissions scandal. Post reporter Peter Holley writes that Paperny provided an invoice showing a down payment of several thousand dollars. And multiple people charged in the scandal have reached out to him for advice, he said, and he suspects he may be hired by several of them.

“Paperny said his fee — which could reach tens of thousands of dollars for his latest client — is high, in part, because he’s one of the few people who can speak to upper-crust criminals in a language they understand,” writes Holley.

Read the Post article.



How Has Personal Injury Changed Over Time?

Three trends have dominated the practice of law, and personal injury law in Texas, writes Bryan O. Blevins, an equity partner with Beaumont, Texas-based Provost Umphrey Law Firm. These are tort reform, judicial activism, and technology.

Tort reform has resulted in many more deserving victims having the courthouse doors slammed shut than frivolous claims being denied, Blevins writes in the article originally published in Texas Lawyer.

“Judicial activism can best be seen in the increase of appeals accepted and the almost universal reversal of trial judgments that favor plaintiff personal injury victims,” in Blevins’ view. “In the last 20 years, we have seen the explosive growth of appellate courts substituting their own version of end-result oriented justice through the guise of ‘expert’ qualification and testimony.”

And new technologies are forcing attorneys to rethink questions that, under other circumstances, may have been much simpler to answer, he added, citing legal issues surrounding driverless cars as an example of the new challenges lawyers must face.

Read the article.



The Top Five Ways to Ruin Your Contracts

wrong-right-good-bad-decisions-signsForbes contributor Jack Garson says a company’s contracts can be remendous assets that lock down rights to money, goods and services. But common mistakes can ruin all of that.

In his article, he discusses five mistakes that can turn contracts into liabilities.

They include using a one-sided agreement, bad drafting, using outdated contracts, using agreements that ignore the law, and failing to prioritize.

Read the article.



Greenberg Traurig Elevates Four Attorneys in Texas

The Texas offices of global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP have elevated Todd Basile and Adelaida Vasquez to shareholder, and Audrey Chang and Peter Lacina to of counsel.

Chang and Vasquez work in the firm’s Houston office, while Basile and Lacina work in the firm’s Dallas office.

Basile is in the Intellectual Property & Technology Practice; Vasquez is in the White Collar Defense & Special Investigations Practice; Change is in the Corporate Practice; and Lacina is in the Litigation Practice.

See more information on the four.



High-Profile Defendants in College Scandal Hiring Biglaw Heavy-Hitters

Defendants in the college admissions cheating scandal case have been turning to Biglaw firms for representation, including Cooley, Sidley Austin, Latham & Watkins, Boies Schiller Flexner, and Ropes & Gray.

Bloomberg Law reports that two of the latest hires are Cooley partners Randall R. Lee and William Schwartz, who have been hired by Jane Buckingham, the founder and chief executive of Trendera, a youth marketing consultancy. Prosecutors allege she paid $50,000 for someone to take the ACT college entrance exam in her son’s place.

And Jack W. Pirozzolo, a partner in Sidley Austin’s Boston office, is representing William McGlashan Jr., who worked at private equity firm TPG before being fired in the wake of the scandal.

Read the Bloomberg article.



Biglaw Firm Sued for Role in $1.36B Grocery Chain Buyout

Cravath, Swaine & Moore is being sued by a former public shareholder of a grocery chain in a class action that alleges the firm breached its fiduciary duty by providing tainted advice that directed the grocer toward a buyer, private equity group Apollo Global Management, reports Bloomberg Law.

In the complaint, the former shareholder claims Cravath crafted a “false and misleading” U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing relating to the 2016 $1.36 billion leveraged buyout of The Fresh Market by Apollo.

The complaint alleges Cravath drafted the SEC filing “to procure stockholder approval and cover up prior wrongdoing,” and in doing so, pocketed $5.5 million in fees in what amounted to “a sham sale process.”

Read the Bloomberg article.



Suit Against Lawyers of Mormon ‘Prophet’ Revived

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that former members of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have provided enough evidence of misdeeds by their old lawyers for parts of a lawsuit to proceed, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

The Tribune‘s Nate Carlisle explains:

The former sect members must still prove their case in a Salt Lake City courtroom, the appeals court said. The Denver-based appeals court only considered the narrow issue of whether federal Judge Ted Stewart correctly dismissed a lawsuit filed against FLDS President Warren Jeffs and the law firm which used to represent his church, Snow Christensen & Martineau.

The plaintiffs, ex-Jeffs followers, contend the lawyers helped Jeffs find legal mechanisms to hide child rape as well as benefit from child labor, kick people out of their homes and separate them from their families, Carlisle writes.

Read the Salt Lake Tribune article.



Webinar: Is Your Whistleblower Program Effective?

NAVEX Global will present a complimentary webinar title “Employee Hotlines: What Is Your Data Telling You?” on Thursday, April 4, at 10 a.m. Pacific time/1 p.m. Eastern time.

Studies show that effective internal whistleblower programs contribute to business success, including lower levels of litigation. Yet, external reports to the SEC are on the rise, with many employees failing to use internal reporting systems due to fear of retaliation.

The webinar will allow participants to compare how their hotline programs measures up against benchmarks from more than one million anonymized reports from industry leader NAVEX Global.

Register for the webinar.



Arbitration Award ‘Irrational’ Because It Disregards Contract’s Plain-Text to Reach a Just Result

The Ninth Circuit has ruled in a contract arbitration case that incorporated multiple Federal Acquisition Regulation clauses that govern the recovery of expenses in the event a contractor is terminated for convenience, i.e. required documentation and procedures.

Pepper Hamilton’s Constructlaw blog discusses Aspic Eng’g & Constr. Co. v. ECC Centcom Constructors LLC, in which an arbitrator had awarded Aspic more than $1 million. The arbitrator concluded that Aspic was not required to strictly comply with the FAR requirements based on several factors.

“The crux of the decision turns on whether the arbitrator’s decision draws its essence from the contract. The Ninth Circuit also explained that whether the award directly conflicted with the subcontracts was insufficient—on its own—to vacate the award,” the blog post explains.

Read the article.



Former Texas Appellate Justice Craig Stoddart Joins The Pettit Law Firm

The Pettit Law Firm announced that former Texas Court of Appeals Justice Craig Stoddart has joined the commercial and real estate litigation boutique as senior counsel.

Stoddart served on the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas from 2014-2018. He presided over 1,300 cases and authored more than 400 opinions, many involving complex commercial cases.

He also represented the state of Texas in more than 140 appellate prosecutions before joining the Court of Appeals.

“Justice Stoddart’s unique combination of trial court success and appellate expertise will greatly benefit our clients,” said firm founding partner Julie Pettit. “He provides our trial team with a pragmatic appellate perspective as we prepare for the courtroom, and he has the experience and expertise to assist our clients on appeal. We are honored to have such a knowledgeable and well-respected lawyer become a part of our firm.”

“I am extremely excited to join the team of talented attorneys at The Pettit Law Firm,” said Stoddart. “It is unusual to find a boutique firm that is so client-focused and achieves such impressive trial results. I look forward to serving our clients in trial and appellate work here.”

Before his judicial career, Stoddart served as appellate prosecutor for the Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney’s Office for 22 years. He has argued before appellate courts across the state, including the state’s highest criminal court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

He earned his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law and is a graduate of the University of North Texas.