Judicial Notice (12.03.22): Déjà Vu
The Eleventh Circuit benchslaps Trump, a Biglaw firm announces layoffs, and other legal news from the week that was.
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Who’s ready for the holidays? I’m ready for the vacation they represent even if I’m not ready in terms of preparations, including gift shopping.
I get the sense that some folks are already powering down on the work front, which isn’t a bad thing. But I had a busy week: I published three stories, recorded a great podcast episode for later this month, and spoke to A.R. Hoffman of the New York Sun and Kaustuv Basu of Bloomberg Law about law schools withdrawing from the U.S. News rankings. For the latest on that, see Law.com: so far 13 schools have dropped out, including 10 of the top 14 (“T14”); four are staying in, including two of the T14 (Chicago and Cornell); and two T14 schools are undecided (NYU and UVA). My recommendation to U.S. News: with so many leading law schools opting out, change your methodology so it relies entirely on public data, such as data required by ABA Standard 509, and data you can generate yourselves, such as reputation scores.
Now, on to the news—which may give you déjà vu, since much of what happened this week feels like a repeat of things that have happened before.
Lawyers of the Week: attorneys working on crypto-related bankruptcies.
For the past few years, Biglaw firms have been hiring aggressively in both their bankruptcy and cryptocurrency practices. Now these bets are finally paying off—just not in the way firms expected.
This year, cryptocurrency prices crashed, and multiple crypto companies filed for bankruptcy—most famously FTX, founded by the imprudently irrepressible Sam Bankman-Fried, but others as well. This has generated plenty of work—and plenty of fees—for lawyers and law firms. Billing rates for attorneys working on big-ticket bankruptcies can reach or exceed $2,000 an hour, and total legal fees in a single case can hit nine figures (or even ten figures—Lehman Brothers).
Who are some of the big players in the crypto bankruptcies? According to Reuters Legal, they include Sullivan & Cromwell, counsel to FTX; perennial powerhouse Kirkland & Ellis, counsel to BlockFi, Celsius Network, and Voyager Digital; and Latham & Watkins, counsel to Three Arrows Capital (and to Celsius Network on regulatory issues). As for individual lawyers, some are longtime leaders in the bankruptcy bar, like James Bromley of S&C and Joshua Sussberg of K&E, and some are rising stars, like Adam Goldberg of Latham. Expect them all to be very busy in the months—and probably years—ahead.
Eleanor Jackson Piel, a civil-rights pioneer who litigated wrongful convictions and death-row cases, passed away at 102.
Mary Shannon Little, who investigated and prosecuted the Wedtech scandal of the 1980s, passed away at 65.
May they rest in peace.
Judge of the Week: Judge Colm Connolly.
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