Awards and announcements roundup

Several local lawyers are receiving high honors these days.

– Victoria Sulerzyski, an attorney at Ober|Kaler, received the 2012 Volunteer of a Lifetime Award from United Way of Central Maryland in a ceremony Sept. 20.

Sulerzyski has volunteered for over 10 years at places like PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs; the Kennedy Krieger Institute; Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities; and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

– Seven local firms received recognition as  ”highly recommended” Maryland firms in the newest edition of “Benchmark Litigation.”

The list includes DLA Piper, Hogan Lovells, Kramon & Graham P.A., Miles & Stockbridge P.C., Whiteford Taylor Preston LLP, Venable LLP and Zuckerman Spaeder LLP. Attorneys and these and other firms were also named “Local Litigation Stars.”

— Phoebe Haddon, dean of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, is hosting this week the 2012 Teaching Conference of the Society of American Law Teachers.

Haddon won the society’s “Great Teacher” award last year. The conference hosts more than 150 law professors Thursday through Saturday. This year’s theme is “Teaching Social Justice, Expanding Access to Justice: The Role of Legal Education and the Legal Profession.”

DLA Piper: Hollywood hot spot

On the set of "Whirlwind" at DLA Piper's Baltimore office. (Photo courtesy of DLA Piper.)

Hollywood is back in Baltimore.

Clayton LeBouef, an actor from “The Wire,” filmed scenes from his new movie, called “Whirlwind,” at DLA Piper’s Baltimore office last week in the main reception area.

On “The Wire,” LeBouef played Orlando, a front man who ran a strip club for the Barksdale drug organization. LeBouef is also known for his role as Col. George Barnfather in “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

DLA Piper’s glass office building has been a Hollywood hot spot in recent years. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s HBO comedy, “Veep,” shot several scenes for its pilot episode at the building. Several scenes in the 2005 movie “Syriana,” starring George Clooney, also were filmed at The Marbury Building at 6225 Smith Ave.

The recent movie shoot at DLA Piper is just one of a number of Charm City’s recent forays into the film industry. In addition to “Veep,” the HBO movie “Game Change,” about John McCain’s and Sarah Palin’s 2008 bid for the presidency and vice presidency, was filmed in Baltimore. (Both “Game Change” and “Veep” won awards at Sunday’s Emmys.)

The Netflix show “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey has also been around town, filming at a sound stage in Edgewood, as well as in the city in places like the Peabody Institute in Mount Vernon.

All are part of an effort by Maryland to boost the film industry in the state.

Baltimore law office rolls out red carpet for ‘Veep’

The local law world is going Hollywood this week.

The Baltimore office of DLA Piper was featured in the season premiere of the new HBO show, “Veep,” which premiered Sunday night. The show stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, best known as Elaine on “Seinfeld”, as the vice president of the United States.

The comedy follows Louis-Dreyfus’s character, Selina Meyer, and her staff as they navigate the inroads of Washington, D.C. Meyer spends the pilot episode trying to assert herself in her new role. There are many bumps along the way for Meyer as she tries to carve out a place as second-in-command.

She organizes a meeting to push for green initiatives, which no one attends. She is forced into making a speech at a fundraiser in place of the president, during which she makes a series of bad jokes and a political gaffe. Throughout the episode, she repeatedly asks her secretary if the president has called, to which the answer is always “No.”

In one scene, Meyer goes to a senator’s office to lobby for a green initiative she is working on to replace plastic forks in government buildings with ones made of cornstarch. The scene was filmed at DLA Piper, whose offices are at The Marbury Building, 6225 Smith Ave.

About 100 members of the cast and crew showed up to film for the day; a wing on the second floor of the law offices was transformed to look like a fictional Nevada senator’s suite.

The cast and crew only filmed at the law offices for a day. When filming went late into the night, the crew had to shine lights into the office from outside.

The show also filmed in DLA Piper’s hallway as Meyer and her staff are leaving. The same hallway was used for a scene in the 2005 movie, “Syriana,” starring George Clooney.

Law blog roundup: Can belly dancing reduce alimony?

Greetings on this hot, humid Monday. Cool off with the latest law links:

  • Today brings the announcement that the W.P. Carey Foundation will donate $30 million to the University of Maryland School of Law. The new name — the Francis King Carey School of Law –  will honor Carey’s grandfather, an 1880 graduate of the school.
  • DLA Piper lands #2 spot on the National Law Journal’s list of the largest 250 law firms.
  • “That safe was so full, you couldn’t put another dollar in it.”
  • Beware: Belly dancing could reduce alimony.
  • Filing motions to enforce settlements could be in vogue soon.
  • Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester responds to the Washington Post’s ‘Spillionaires‘ story.

Law blog roundup

Good Monday morning. Even if you’re just waiting it out at work before skipping out for the Orioles opening day game, do yourself a favor by catching up on the latest happenings below:

Law blog roundup

Happy Monday. Here are some law links to get your week started.

  • Lawyers, remember this: Workplace bullying is not cool. And, if legislation passes, could get you in trouble.
  • If a picture is worth a thousand words, is a bad set of pictures worth a $1,000 verdict?
  • DLA Piper asks judge to quash subpoena served on the firm seeking docs in the criminal prosecution case of former baseball great Roger Clemens.
  • Oh snap, you got benchslapped.
  • Cure for the frivolous lawsuit could be worse than the disease.
  • American Legal Funding gets cease and desist from Maryland Department of Financial Regulation.
  • Conservative justices have feelings, too.

Law blog roundup

Happy bright and sunny Monday morning. Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.

  • Byron Warnken weighs in on same-sex marriage.
  • In an interview a couple weeks ago, DLA Piper Chairman Frank Burch told me not to believe everything I read when I asked about the reported $5 million payday it had offered to new hire James Wareham. AM Law Daily breaks down the history of the firm’s $5 million man.
  • Speaking of DLA, word has it that one Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be stopping by the firm’s Mt. Washington office to film her HBO pilot, Veep. George Clooney’s movie Syriana also filmed at DLA’s Baltimore office.
  • Fighting fair could save a marriage from divorce.
  • Recounting Spiro Agnew’s fall from grace.
  • Dish Network will have to put Elmo before American Idol.
  • As partners continue to depart from Howrey, the Washington Post offers its take on the firm’s downward spiral and its efforts to find a new balance.

How law firms here fared in the Vault rankings

The Vault rankings of law firm prestige are out. The Vault rankings are based on surveys filled out by 15,000 law firm associates who rate firms on perceived status. No matter how you feel about rankings, these are an interesting read because they include some of the associates’ comments about the firms.

No firm based in Baltimore made the list, but several large firms with a major presence here did. Here’s are their rankings and a sampling what Vault and associates said about them.

  • Hogan & Hartson (the survey was done before Hogan merged with the British firm Lovells earlier this year) ranked 28 this year, down from 25 last year. Vault comments, “As one would expect of the largest and oldest BigLaw firm with roots in Washington, D.C., Hogan & Hartson’s Beltway influence runs deep” and notes that Chief Justice John Roberts is a Hogan alum. Associates called the firm “lifestyle-friendly” but also “legends in their own minds” and criticized Hogan for “stealth layoffs.”
  • DLA Piper ranked 53, down from 44 last year. Vault comments, “Some love it, some dislike it, but generally associates agree that recent salary cuts have lowered morale.” Associates said things like “competitive and diverse,” “amazing pro bono opportunities” and, somewhat bewilderingly, “extra large pizza with no toppings.” Associates also said the firm is too big. One senior associate told Vault, “Within 12 months, I have gone from my friends saying “wow” when I tell them I work at DLA Piper, to them snickering and asking me why I haven’t left yet.”
  • McGuireWoods‘ ranking is unchanged from last year, at 82. Vault says, “McGuire attorneys enjoy the rewards of working at a big-market firm in small-market settings, entering friendly offices in the morning and heading home to their families at night.” Associates made comments like, “good firm; good people,” “old school, boring,” “less pressure than many other similar-sized firms” and “favoritism toward anointed associates.”
  • Venable comes in at 83, up from 85 last year. Vault comments, “Venable LLP is a mid-Atlantic force that, until the capital markets meltdown, had defined itself by aggressive expansion.” Associates said, “very nice mid-Atlantic practice,” “quirky,” “strong pro bono commitment” and “bonus and compensation system allows firm to rationalize less-than-market salaries for certain associates.” There’s also a comment from a Baltimore corporate associate: “In Baltimore, we do fairly sophisticated work. It’s not Wall Street, but the projects are interesting and challenging. My practice group covers a lot of people and a lot of different sub-specialties, so it can be hard to find your place when you start. It is difficult to see what the future of the group is. While it’s not written anywhere, if you bill 2000 hours people are pleased.”

This Week in Maryland Lawyer

On the Cover:  Welcome to the first Monday in October! This morning marks the Supreme Court debut of Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Assistant Public Defender Celia Anderson Davis, who will argue over a Hagerstown man’s child sex abuse conviction. The question is whether a request for counsel, years earlier, should have stopped police from questioning the suspect without a lawyer after they obtained additional information. Read the main story, some advice from Gansler’s predecessor, and a preview of the new term.

In the News: The Court of Appeals heard argument in a legal malpractice case that challenges the “case within a case” methodology … the ban on self-represented lawyers claiming attorneys’ fees applies even to bad faith or frivolous actions, the Court of Special Appeals holds … Maryland Legal Services Corp. renews its quest for a higher filing-fee surcharge … Sen. Ben Cardin finds a civil audience for his health-care talk at UB Law… and a former CBS Early Show personality appeals a ruling that knocked out his medical malpractice claim.


Law blog round-up

Happy Monday!

  •  To put it mildly, fathers’ rights lawyer Dawn Bowie does not like the recent changes to Maryland’s domestic violence laws.
  • “But if I wrote an editorial to the Miami Herald decrying the fact that Obama’s health care plan includes feeding small children to lions, would they publish that too?” Ron Miller sounds off about an anti-health care plan opinion column.
  • Former congressman Dick Armey has left DLA Piper over backlash about his work to defeat the Democrats’ health care proposals.
  • All together now: correlation does not imply causation! (States with a lot of lawyers also have a lot of cocaine use.)
  • Break out the champagne: we went a whole week with no big firm layoffs.
  • Don’t leave an employer off your resume!