Luck of the law

After graduating law school, some people spend their summer studying for the bar exam and some people win hundreds of thousands of dollars playing poker.

Vanessa Selbst graduated from Yale Law School in January. Now, she is $244,259 richer having won an event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Selbst has won a total of $5.3 million total in her poker career.

When she started law school, Selbst picked up the books and put down the cards for a few years, she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Her last year, though, she upped the ante and balanced poker with law school, winning a total of $1.1 million at events at the Mohegan Sun casino near New Haven.

After she is done winning at the World Series, Selbst wants to get a position volunteering at a law firm in Los Angeles. She plans to take the bar exam next year, likely in California and hopes to eventually practice public interest law.

But, law career or not, don’t expect to fold her poker career anytime soon.

In-House Interrogatory

This week it is all about CEOs and general counsels.

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

Clarissa Cerda, general counsel at LifeLock, Inc., took on her job around three years ago. The corporate counsel takes on a “partner role” with her CEO, Corporate Counsel reports. Cerda takes the company’s CEO to court proceedings and meetings with regulators.

“I took my CEO along,” she told Corporate Counsel. “A lot of people thought I was crazy when I decided to do that.”

Here’s our question for you:

What is your working relationship like with your company’s CEO? Do you let him/her have as much access to the in-house department as Cerda and why or why not?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • An in-house legal chief for a Houston company created a fake law firm and funneled almost $9 million of company money into the paying the “firm” for its “legal services.”
  • Texas Lawyer has the 2012 summer reading list for corporate counsels.
  • Pinterest hired Google’s deputy general counsel, Michael Yang, as its general counsel. Pinterest has faced copyright issues since its website has users post pictures and content from other sites.
  • A former Warner Bros. executive, Mark DeVitre, will join Entertainment Studios as executive vice president and general counsel. The company produces and distributes over 31 syndicated TV shows.
  • Remember how we reported this month that more law students are interested in corporate counsel jobs immediately after graduation? Well, it’s happening in India, too, except between 50 to 75 percent of graduating law school students went to corporations this year, The Times of India reports.
  • One in-house counsel in California is backtracking and going back to private practice after about 13 years. The general counsel for Callaway Golf, Steven McCracken, made the move in May.
  • Knome, Inc., the human genome interpretation company, appointed Gary A. Cohen as general counsel, senior vice president and secretary of the company.
  • If you are interested in intellectual property law in the gaming industry, check out this Q&A by the Las Vegas Review-Journal with the deputy general counsel of Cantor Gaming.
  • The Allstate Corporation named Susie Lees general counsel this month.
  • To get more in-house counsel news, sign up for our FREE monthly email newsletter, In-House Counsel. The newsletter is a compilation of The Daily Record’s coverage of in-house counsel news as well as job listings, movements within the industry and other resources. Click here to sign up today.
  • Follow us on Twitter for the In-House news and discussion: @TDRInHouse
  • Want the latest on who’s been hired, fired or moving and shaking in between? Head to our Movers and Shakers page to find out.
  • For networking events and other happenings this week in Maryland, check out our calendar of events.
  • Get the very latest updates from our law reporters on Twitter: @TDRKristi, @BenMook@Steve_Lash
  • Check out The Daily Record on Facebook.

Hoping to hit the (court-ordered) jackpot

Siblings fighting over money is, unfortunately, not news. But a financial dispute between sisters in Connecticut is newsworthy for two reasons:

  1. The money is from a winning Powerball ticket.
  2. The sisters are in their 80s.

Theresa Sokaitis, 84, and Rose Bakaysa, 87, went to court Tuesday for the younger sister’s lawsuit seeking a part of a $500,000 jackpot the older sister won in 2005. The lawsuit is being heard after the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed another lower court’s decision to throw out the case.

Bakaysa and the sisters’ brother won the jackpot, but Sokaitis argues a written contract signed by both sisters to split their gambling winnings entitles her to a piece of the financial windfall. Bakaysa’s lawyer said the sisters had a falling-out a year before the jackpot, effectively tearing up the contract.

The saddest part of the story to me is the sisters haven’t spoken in years and shunned each other in court. Don’t they remember what the Beatles said about money?

A judge is expected to make his ruling by the end of May.

Law school student hits poker jackpot

I’m not sure whether Leo Wolpert’s summer internship at the ACLU of Nevada’s Las Vegas office is paid or unpaid, but it’s probably irrelevant now.

That’s because Wolpert, a University of Virginia Law School student, pocketed more than $650,000 this week by winning a World Series of Poker event. Wolpert survived an eight-hour final table in a no-limit hold’em heads-up tournament to get the cash and a coveted WSOP bracelet.

How did he celebrate his win? According to The Washington Post, Wolpert had a ”nice dinner with friends, watched some TV, fell asleep, and reported for work at the ACLU the next morning.”

Wolpert, a 26-year-old Fairfax native, played poker professionally for a while before using his earnings to pay for law school. He said he became fascinated with law after reading a blog entry about a Fourth Amendment case, according to the Post, and intends to return to law school in the fall.

But my favorite fact about Wolpert? He lost on “Jeopardy!” to the trivia buzzsaw that is Ken Jennings. I guess sometimes you have to know when to fold ‘em.

Lottery wins big

OK, someone needs to explain this to me. After complaining to fellow Daily Recordian and all-knowing blogger Andy Rosen, I am still in a state of confusion — nothing new if you ask those who reside in our newsroom.

The Maryland Lottery announced it has achieved record sales for the 10th consecutive year, amounting to $1.577 billion. Now that’s all well and good for the lottery — and the state, which gets $494 million in returned revenue — but how does that not fall under the “evils of gambling” so often linked to those hellacious pieces of machinery known as slots?

On top of the Pick 3, Pick 4, Mega Millions and monitor-style lottery games like Keno, Keno Bonus and Racetrax, there are the bundles and bundles of scratch-offs that clutter every gas station sales counter. Yet, the thought of slot machines at a racetrack where people are already wagering their money is somehow blasphemy.

The latest battle between good and evil involves Rosecroft Raceway and Penn National Gaming Inc. Penn, a national casino operator, is in the midst of buying Rosecroft, a harness racing track. Penn National already runs several facilities that have slots, and odds are they would like to see the Prince George’s County track be the next.

On top of the “moral” roadblock Penn National will face, Rosecroft’s nearby neighbor may be an issue. Some developers seem to think if Rosecroft did end up with sinful slots, that the National Harbor would also have to have them. Now, what would a $2 billion, 300-acre, mixed-use waterfront development along a 1.25-mile panoramic stretch of the Potomac River in Prince George’s County want to do with slot machines?

Either way, I would wager that after all the debating and protesting, the state will still have a deficit. Not that I’m a betting man.

-FRANCIS SMITH, Special Publications Assistant Editor