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13 July 2006


Payday Loan Advocate

David Kernell is the 20-year-old son of Tennessee’s Democratic Representative Mike Kernell, and David got caught red-handed. Based on the CNN account “Democratic lawmaker's son indicted in Palin hacking,” David reset the password of GOP vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account. David allegedly read the contents, took screenshots, and got a hold of other private information. Some of the information believed to be compromised includes Palin’s address book, photos of family and friends, contact phone numbers, and family birthdates among other things. Ironically, although David Kernell turned himself in, he pled not guilty. Why would he plead not guilty after he took the information he hacked from Palin’s personal account and posted it to a public website? Not only did David post Palin’s personal information to the public site, but he posted the new password he created, which made it possible for others to access and view Palin’s e-mail account. As a consequence, David Kernell could serve five years in jail, pay a $250,000 fine, and be subject to three years of supervised release. At the maximum of $1,500 per loan, that fine would require approximately 167 individual payday loans to free himself from the confines of prison
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D. Daniel Sokol


Your data is exclusively American. An interesting question (perhaps the next project?) is whether or not these findings hold up in the EU, the other major center of legal professionals. A related question may be why London became such a legal powerhouse, as London based firm numbers dwarf those of German, French or other continental firms.

Another question would be to examine the entry of non-US based firms into the US. Do they follow your overall economic geography model? I would guess that correspondent offices may be very highly concentrated in NYC for both European and Canadian firms. However, I could imagine that Latin American law firms might set up shop in Miami (or in the case of Argentine based Allende y Brea, Miami and Atlanta) and Japanese or Korean based firms on the west coast.

As to the US data, your findings suggest a number of additional questions. If lawyers are following the clients, we should expect to see increased coverage in each of the global legal centers in the US for a given firm. However, in your previous work you note that the most highly profitable firms are reluctant to open new offices because it might dilute their per partner profits. Is it possible that a major transactional powerhouse need only have a presence in California and NY plus an optional DC operation that is high revenue regulatory work? Other than Skadden, none of the highly profitable NYC based firms have a Chicago presence. Is Chicago basically feeding off the decline of the rest of the Midwest or does its future outlook as a global center look more dynamic?

Is there a distinction between corporate and litigation work? That is, is it possible to have a high end national litigation practice without the need to focus specifically in global legal centers (or perhaps just outside them like Southwest Airlines)? It seems to me that Boies Schiller would suggest that such a strategy is possible. Is Boies unique or a harbinger of things to come of high end litigation talent scattered in such places as Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale, Armonk and Short Hills?

Joseph Heyison

For the most part, the clients aren't following the lawyers; the lawyers are following the capital. Transactional lawyers need to be near the repeat business and the complex business that financial institutions and hedge funds provide. The Fortune 500 companies who use the lawyers on an episodic basis then come to the lawyers.

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