June 2006

National Law Journal
June 19, 2006
Profiles in Power: The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America

The National Law Journal's list of the "100 Most Influential Lawyers in America" included 11 Columbia Law graduates, four adjunct professors and fulltime faculty member John C. Coffee, Jr. The graduates mentioned were Russell Frackman '70, Andrew Frey '62, Larry Gage '72, David Hawkins '69, CLS Lecturer-in-Law Abbe Lowell '77, Ira Millstein '49, Gary Naftalis '67, CLS Lecturer-in-Law Michael Ratner '69, Victor Schwartz '65, Bruce Vanyo '72, and Mary Jo White '74. The two additional Lecturers-in-Law included in the list were Elizabeth Cabraser and Kenneth Feinberg.

Profiles and the complete list of attorneys are available here:

Associated Press

June 17, 2006
Lawyers Helping Combat Slavery, Prostitution Overseas
PETER ROSENBLUM spoke about the International Justice Mission, a Washington-based nonprofit that recruits lawyers to fight human rights abuses in developing nations by helping in raids and training prosecutors. Prof. Rosenblum called the liberation philosophy "hero tourism" and "cowboy-like," noting that the victims could be forced into even worse conditions after raids. He advocated organizing workers and empowering them as more fruitful pursuits. "Exemplary prosecution has some effect, but when you don't look at the powerful pressures for migration and the forces that are pushing people into these industries ... then you end up making some distinctions that are just not real in the lives of the people concerned," Prof. Rosenblum said.

The Wall Street Journal

June 16, 2006
During 1990s, Microsoft Practiced Variation of Options Backdating
JOHN COFFEE was quoted on allegations that Microsoft had engaged in potentially illegal behavior by setting prices for stock options at the stock's monthly low so recipients' gains were maximized. Prof. Coffee said Microsoft's policy undermined the pay-for-performance spirit of stock options. Executives could have had a "perverse desire" to see the stock go down between July 1 and July 31 or in the 30 days following the start date for new hires, he said. Prof. Coffee described the practices at Microsoft as "forward-dating" rather than backdating because the grants were dated at the lowest price following July 1. But whether forward-dating or backdating, he called the practice a bad one. "This ironically relates pay to poor performance," he said.

The Washington Post

June 14, 2006
Casting the First Stone
MICHAEL DOYLE authored a review of a new book by legal scholar Alan Dershowitz titled "Preemption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways." The book sought to address when it is appropriate to wage war to prevent an attack. "Dershowitz asks us the hard questions, and for that, we owe him both thanks and a reading," Prof. Doyle wrote. "But one finishes this book wishing he had tried out some more answers."

National Law Journal

June 12, 2006
Academic Freedom: Wrong 'Bill of Rights'
VIVIAN BERGER '73 penned an article to examine the so-called Academic Bill of Rights, a right-wing sponsored document that claims to support "intellectual diversity." Prof. Berger writes that the bill's authors have "co-opted the language of academic freedom in an effort to ram 'equal time' for conservatives down the throat of an alleged left-wing educational monolith."

Financial Times

June 9, 2006
US Urged to Act Against China Labour Practices
MARK BARENBERG and the 180-page trade petition on labor rights that he filed last Thursday for the AFL-CIO and Reps. Cardin (D- Md) and Smith (R-NJ) were featured in numerous media outlets including the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. Many regional newspapers around the country also carried the story.

The new petition is a follow-up to an earlier draft written two years ago to demand that the President remedy human rights violations as an unfair trade practice under U.S. trade legislation. At that time, the President agreed to a joint US-China commission to investigate China's labor rights violations, but no action has been taken. In the new petition, Prof. Barenberg and his colleagues demand that he take effective action, including economic incentives (sanctions) linked to verifiable benchmarks of compliance.

The New York Times
June 9, 2006
Lawyer Says U.S. Halted Bonds Figure in Inquiry

JEFFREY FAGAN commented on the investigation of Barry Bonds and the question of whether he committed perjury when he told a federal grand jury that he did not knowingly use steroids. Federal investigators wanted pitcher Jason Grimsley, who told authorities that he used steroids, to wear a listening device to collect evidence on Bonds. Prof. Fagan said getting Grimsley to wear a wire would have been "for symbolic value," theorizing that federal authorities were trying to make "a deal with Grimsley to get the higher-value target."

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

June 4, 2006
Health Care: An RX for Trouble
A Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial about a vote by state Board of Pharmacy to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill certain prescriptions cited a Nation column by Patricia Williams, in which she wrote, "The refusal to go along with anything with which you disagree may indeed be a principled individual choice, but it should not be allowed to substitute for the codes of behavior we demand as a condition of handing out professional licenses."

ABC News

June 2, 2006
"World News Tonight"

SCOTT HORTON appeared on "World News Tonight" to discuss what happens when a US soldier or marine kills innocent civilians. He said that what matters legally is "their intention at the moment that they pulled the trigger."

The Washington Post

June 2, 2006
Enron's Quiet Outages 
JOHN COFFEE commented on the improved corporate governance procedures implemented since the fall of Enron, during which time 18 former Enron directors claimed they were duped by Enron's leadership. "Directors are doing better," Prof. Coffee said. "The audit committee is coming to learn a great deal more ... There is now the fear waking up and finding yourself on the bridge of the Titanic and you've just hit the iceberg. The embarrassment cost has definitely gone up."