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Hecker’s bankruptcy fees, social media, placement rates

Legal fees from Hecker bankruptcy hit a milestone

The legal fees from the bankruptcy case of disgraced auto mogul Denny Hecker are now on the verge of hitting seven figures.

The bankruptcy trustee and attorney handling Hecker’s estate asked the court this week for payment of $707,706, representing about 10 months’ worth of legal bills, the Star Tribune reports. When added to earlier fees already paid, that put’s it above the cool $1M mark.

Trustee Randy Seaver’s firm is reportedly requesting payment of legal fees and expenses that totaled $205,600. Seaver billed at $390 to $435 per hour, while an attorney in the firm named Matt Swanson billed at $100 to $180 an hour, according to the Strib.

A separate law firm, Leonard, O’Brien Spencer, which Seaver hired to handle motions and lawsuits in the case, submitted a separate bill to the court for $502,006 in fees and expenses.

Prior payments of $372,279 in fees and $11,834 in expenses have been made in the case.

Even for a million bucks I’m not sure if I’d want to put up with Hecker. That said, anyone who generates that much work for lawyers these days is worthy of recognition. I’m not sure whether the Twin Cities actually has a lawyer glut or just a deficiency of Hecker-like characters.


Placement rates not at top of incoming law students’ lists

Citing a recent Kaplan study, Above the Law asks an if-a-tree-fell-in-the-forest question: “Even if you told prospective law students the truth, would they care?”

The Kaplan study ranked factors that prospective students look at in choosing a law school. A total of 30 percent thought that reputation was the most critical factor, while a mere 8 percent identified placement as the most important factor.

“So sadly, I must say that these people — the 92% of people who said that something other than “jobs” was their most important consideration — these people deserve everything that is about to happen to them,” the ATL post goes on to state.

It’s an interesting piece — although it may not be, strictly speaking, an accurate interpretation of the data. First of all, asking people what is the most important factor is a lot different than just asking them what the important factors are. Any number of folks may have thought that placement was important, just not the most important thing. Secondly, even folks who identified reputation as the most important factor may have assumed — not without some justification –that a school with a good reputation would have a better-than-average placement rate.

Of course, the mere fact that an ATL post may have a logical glitch or two does not stop me from reading it and enjoying it. And the point is still a valid one. Most incoming law students — woes of the present economy aside – assume they’ll land a job when they graduate.


Social media in the employment context

There’s an interesting post on Duets blog about the risks of social media to employers.

“[M]any employers now monitor employee use of social media websites. Employers must be aware, however, that monitoring applicants and employees over the Internet is not risk-free. In certain situations, federal, state, or local laws may protect employees from discipline or termination due to their Internet activities,” writes guest blogger Megan Ruwe, an employment lawyer.

So what does she suggest?

“To help protect against the inevitable risks created by social media postings, an employer should implement a policy that specifically addresses Internet use, namely the use of social media websites.  Employers should also consider training employees to understand and abide by the Internet policy. Another recommendation for employers is to consider implementing security procedures for monitoring employee Internet usage, including, without limitation, blocks on certain Internet sites and audits of company technology.” (Check out the full post here.)

The advice sounds good — so long as you don’t block Sidebar, of course!


Thomas’ wife steps down from group

Just weeks after making headlines for a phone call that revived a decades-old controversy surrounding her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas is stepping down as head of the conservative group she founded earlier this year, DC Dicta reports.

Ginni Thomas ignited a media firestorm last month after she left a voicemail message for Anita Hill asking her to apologize for accusing Justice Thomas of sexual harassment during his 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate. Hill, initially believing the message to be a prank, turned it over to police.


A night that will go down in history

Last night the Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society held its second annual members’ reception at the Minneapolis Club. Most of the high court was in attendance, as were numerous prominent lawyers and judges. A good time was had by all. Don’t believe me? We’ve got the video to prove it.


Election lawyers line up for Recount 2 — the sequel

The election’s over — almost anyway. Just that pesky recount to go. The lawyers are now in place — some of the faces have changed, some are different and at least one is in a completely role. Minnesota Lawyer’s Patrick Thornton has the story.


Sidebar is Minnesota Lawyer’s service providing links to items of interest to the state’s bench and bar on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Today’s installment of “Sidebar” was prepared by Minnesota Lawyer editor Mark Cohen, who can be reached at [email protected], (612) 582-1531.

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