Austintacious


"I reckon I'm as American as anyone from Tennessee"

Y’all may have noticed I haven’t posted in the past few weeks, and my absence has been due in part to vacation, and in part due to other considerations as well (read billable hours).

Accordingly, I am signing off for a while. Many thanks for your patronage over this last year and a half or so, and continued success to all of you.

-020033

Longhorn Legends

Barking Carnival has a fascinating comparison of Coaches Royal, Akers, and Brown’s first decades at the Texas helm. Below, I’ve summarized the comparison between DKR and Mack because it is the most competitive and surprising contrast.

Overall Record:

DKR: 82-23-3; 75.2% winning percentage
Mack: 103-25-0; 80.4% winning percentage

Conference Record:

DKR (SWC): 50-15-2; 75.8% winning percentage
Mack (Big 12): 65-15-0; 81.2% winning percentage

Titles:

DKR: 2 outright SWC titles, 2 co-championships, and 1 National Championship
Mack: 3 Big 12 South Division championships, 1 Big 12 Championship, and 1 National Championship

Rankings:

DKR: Top 5 five times (1959, 1961-64); Top 20 two times (1957, 1960)
Mack: Top 5 three times (2001, 2004, 2005); Top 10 two times (2002, 2007); Top 25 five times (1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2006)

Rivalries:

DKR: vs. OU (8-2); vs. A&M (10-0)
Mack: vs. OU (4-6); vs. A&M (7-3)

While Mack may be rightly knocked for his lackluster performance against Texas’s most hated rivals (excepting of course the bonfire tragedy year agaisnt A&M), no one can seriously challenge Mack’s amazing overall performance, even as compared to one of the college game’s greatest coaches.

One other thing Mack has accomplished that is unlikely to ever be eclipsed by anyone is having the distinction of winning the “not only the best BCS bowl game ever played, but the best college football game ever played … period.” Texas is as lucky to have Mack as it was to have DKR.

The telling comparison will come during the next ten years, as DKR won two more national titles during that span. Let’s see how many more Mack can bring home to Austin.

Thx to Barking Carnival and ESPN’s Big 12 Blog

Keep Austin Weird

Okay, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) thinks no antitrust concerns are rasised by allowing the planet to be served by only one satellite radio company, but allowing the merger of two niche, patchouli-oil-scented grocery store chains is just a groovy bridge too far.

A federal district court ruled last August that Austin’s own bohemian bazaar turned corporate giant, Whole Foods, could acquire rival hippie food purveyor, Wild Oats, without hurting competition.

Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit ruled it had had enough of all the free grocery love, reversed the district court, and held that the core customers of each store were “worthy of antitrust protection,” despite their appearance (oh ok, I added that last part).

Because the merger has already gone through in the interim, the likely outcome of the remand–if the court sids with the FTC as expected–is that stores in areas that raise antitrust concerns will likely be divested.

Thx to the Austin Business Journal and the WSJ Law Blog

For the coward pictured below.

About to rue the day

Today, the DPS released the security video of the arsonist who almost succeeded in burning the Governor’s Mansion to the ground.

Anyone with information about the possible identity of the person depicted in the video or picture above is urged to call investigators at:

512-506-2849,
512-506-2861,
512-506-2862, or
Crime at 800-252-8477.

Thx to the Austinist

Closest thing to heaven

My fair city of Austin is notorious for being a stagnant and stale legal market for those young lawyers with the audacity to attempt to practice here. Practice groups at various firms tend to merely jump from one address along Congress to another, instead of firms actually adding to their headcounts.

The stories are legion of uber-qualified attorneys from Biglaw NYC firms and Ivy Law being turned away by the BigLaw and BigTex Austin branches because of the incredible geographical demand Austin perpetually generates. It was rare for BigTex/Law satellites to open entirely new offices in Austin–that is, until now.

It all began in early 2006 when Dechert opened its Austin office with the first group of Dewey (then Ballantine, now LeBoeuf) emigres.

In early 2007 after the shuttering of Jenkens & Gilchrist (which coincidentally, was the subject of our very first post here at the SMSB), Virginia-based Hunton & Williams reopened its Austin office with the remaining Jenkens lawyers who didn’t spin off their own boutiques or join Winstead’s ranks.

Also in 1997, the Arkansas firm of Mitchell Williams opened its doors in Austin, but only began to expand its Austin footprint in May with the acquisition of longtime Austin firm Long Burner Parks & DeLargy.

After the announced closing of the Dewey office earlier this year, the majority of the remaining Dewey alumni headed over to McKool Smith, but three found their way to King & Spalding’s new Austin branch just a few months ago.

Now, word out tonight is that several Akin & Gump lawyers, including the managing partner of the Austin office, are leaving to open Greenberg Traurig‘s Austin satellite on August 1.

While all of these office openings certainly prove the maxim that Austin firms merely trade lawyers instead of adding them, because five new firms now have an entrenched presence here in Austin, it is entirely likely that more capacity for lawyers yearning to live interesting and meaningful lives in the ATL will be created.

As long as they keep Austin Weird, they’re welcome within the City Limits.

Wouldn\'t have it any other way

* * * UPDATE * * *

Due to my own oversight, I neglected to mention the 2007 founding of Yetter & Warden’s (now Yetter, Warden & Coleman) Austin office by several former Weil appellate lawyers, including the national head of their appellate practice group, former Justice Thomas clerk and Solicitor General of Texas, Greg Coleman.

Thx to the Austin Business Journal and Tex Parte Blog

Mightier

UT Law Professor Schiess has an excellent discussion going on over at his Legal-Writing Blog regarding the importance of proper citation to persuasive legal writing.

By way of fair disclosure, I am an avowed adherent to the “tyranny of the inconsequential,” as insisting upon correct citation has been labeled by some less fond of the practice.

From my experience writing for and editing law journals and clerking for judges, one must of course first put forth a cogent argument. But if you then decide to let the citations take care of themselves, you detract from the credibility you have established by your reasoning. You may still win if you have the better argument or more favorable facts, but I–for one–prefer not to engender snickering in my legal reader, no matter what the outcome of the underlying case.

My background is anectdotal and the sample size insufficient from which to draw statistically significant conclusions, but in my experience, lawyers (usually older and more of the trial variety) who deride other lawyers (usually younger and more of the post-trial variety) for their insistence upon employing correct citation format do so because they wouldn’t have the faintest clue how to cite something properly if you simultaneously smacked them upside the head with the Bluebook, the Greenbook (flawed though the 11th ed. may be), and the MUS.

Moreover, those lawyers I’ve encountered who would never bother to check a citation tend to have evidenced similar diligence in their reasoning as well. Back once upon a time, when it was my job to read briefs submitted by others, it was a very rare occurrence indeed when a brief that jumped out at me as being offensively lax in its citation was inversely impressive for its thoughtful analysis. The converse was also true: rarely were briefs that shone with impeccable citation burdened by slovenly reasoning.

Accordingly, I don’t view correct citation as a nice cherry to put on top of an otherwise impressive argument, or a useful complement to cogent analysis, but instead as the most basic demonstration of one’s elemental understanding of persuasive writing. This is particularly true here in Texas, where an improper notation of the subsequent history of an intermediate appellate case can directly impact the precedential weight that must be accorded the cited case.

Once you’ve lost credibility through incorrect citation, it’s hard to get it back through unassailable logic.

Thx to the Legal-Writing Blog

Don\'t Mess With Texas

Don't Mess With Texas

Unhappy with the SCOTUS ruling in Medellin v. Texas, No. 06-984, slip op. (2008 ) that formally recognized our Great State’s award-winning anti-littering slogan of “Don’t Mess With Texas” as official jurisprudential canon, the International Court of Justice attempted to once again force Texas to halt the executions of several Mexican nationals who made the eternally unwise choice of murdering Texans.

The curt reply from Texas to the World Court was, in essence, the same as it was to the Mexican army some one hundred and forty-three years earlier: “Come and Take It!”

Governor Perry‘s Director of Communications, Robert Black, explained:

The world court has no standing in Texas and Texas is not bound by a ruling or edict from a foreign court …. It is easy to get caught up in discussions of international law and justice and treaties. It’s very important to remember that these individuals are on death row for killing our citizens.

Black’s retort reminded me of Gov. Perry’s brilliant press-release-slapping of the EU when it tried to force Texas to halt its use of capital punishment almost a year ago:

230 years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination. Texans long ago decided that the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens. While we respect our friends in Europe, welcome their investment in our state and appreciate their interest in our laws, Texans are doing just fine governing Texas.

God I love being a Texan.

Thx to the WSJ Law Blog and the Houston Chronicle

His Vinceness

No not that kind of retirement, although he apparently considered it after his first season in Tennessee, but Texas has decided to retire Vince’s jersey, along with several other UT luminaries from various sports: most notably in football Bobby Layne (22) and Tommy Nobis (60).

Young, Nobis, and Layne join Earl Campbell (20) and Ricky Williams (34) as the only other UT football players to have their jerseys retired.

Thx to VY, Tommy Nobis, and Bobby Layne

OK, none that measure the predicted success of the team, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

An endzone Bevo can be proud of

First, with the renovations to DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium northern endzone now complete, DKR now is officially the largest stadium in the Big 12 and the fifth largest in the country.

Now, if we can just get up to 110,000 ....

Second, Texas also tops the Big 12 in coordinator salaries, paying Greg Davis and Will Muschamp each $425,000 this season.

Thx to ESPN’s Big 12 Blog

Over ... rated

Bleacher Report has a list out of college football’s seven most overrated coaches, and I gleefullly report to you that the coach holding the Most Overrated post is none other than OU‘s Bob Stoops.

Now, in a transparent attempt to appear not completely in the tank for Texas, I will say that I don’t think Bob deserves the top spot. The coach ranked number 2 on the list deserves top honors in my estimation: Notre Dame‘s Charlie Weis. At least Stoopie won a national championship just eight years ago, while Charlie has only managed to amass the worst single-season record in Irish history.

That said, the argument that Stoops is overrated is not without merit: after winning the 2000 title, his team lost two subsequent national title games (one of the opponents in which Texas prevailed against the following year in what has been hailed as “not only the best BCS bowl game ever played, but the best college football game ever played … period“) and two other BCS games, including to legendary powerhouse Boise State of blue turf fame.

Thx to Bleacher Report

Ruh Roh

Austin has a long and tortured history with the perpetually-advertised transportation nirvana that is purported to be commuter/light rail.

Well, I have to admit enjoying a little grin reading in this morning’s Statesman that a cadre of officials from the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration in town to discuss granting waivers to operate commuter and freight trains on the same railroad with Capital Metro experienced a minor mishap.

The commuter railcar in which they were riding (at the blazing commuter speed of 5 mph) derailed briefly. Thankfully, no one was injured in the incident, save for maybe the reputation of Capital MetroRail (whose predictable motto is “All Systems Go”).

Thx to the Austinist and the Statesman

Beeeeeer

It must indeed be the End Times when the erudite George Will finds himself agreeing with Homer Simpson: Beer is the root of western civilization.

So says King George in his op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post:

No beer, no civilization …. The development of civilization depended on urbanization, which depended on beer.

Will credits his thesis to a recent tome by Steven Johnson entitled, “The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World.”

Speaking of Duff Beer, the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse used to serve it (and it was surprisingly good as well), but not sure if they still do.

Thx to George Will and Volokh

Officially incompetent

After the leaders of both houses of the Texas Legislature sent a very strongly-worded to the State Auditor in late February calling for review of TxDOT‘s “questionable accounting procedures,” including TxDOT’s projection of a $3.6 billion shortfall by 2015 without accounting for some $8 billion in already-approved road bonds, and its admission of $1 billion “error” in its budget forecasting, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission (the “Commission”)–charged with recommending every twelve years whether targeted state agencies should be done away with–unsurprisingly issued a stinging rebuke of TxDOT early last month:

Sunset staff found that this atmosphere of distrust permeated most of TxDOT’s actions and determined that it could not be an effective state transportation agency if trust and confidence were not restored …. Significant changes are needed to begin this restoration; tweaking the status quo is simply not enough.

In its report, the Commission called TxDOT “out of control” in pursuing its toll-road agenda. So disgusted with TxDOT was the Commission that it recommended abolishing altogether the five-member Texas Transportation Commission which oversees the agency and replacing it with a leaner executive structure composed only of the agency’s executive director and a single commissioner. The final major recommendation of the Commission was that TxDOT undergo sunset review again in just four years’ time, instead of the normal 12-year review cycle.

Thx to the Statesman

I sure as heck am. Stewie Mandel over at SI lists the top ten defining games coming up this season, two of which involve Texas:

4. Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 11. While it’s no guarantee the two Red River rivals will make it to their Shootout unscathed — Oklahoma faces early challenges from Cincinnati, Washington and TCU; Texas faces old nemesis Arkansas — they’re still likely to be vying for no less than a Big 12 championship. Between them, the two schools have won five of the past six crowns (though the Sooners claimed all but one of those).

* * *

7. Texas at Texas Tech, Nov. 1. The schedule sets up favorably for the Red Raiders — who return QB Graham Harrell, WR Michael Crabtree and eight other starters on offense — to make a run at their first Big 12 South title, but to do so they’ll almost certainly have to snap their five-game losing streak to the Longhorns. The ever-outspoken Mike Leach claims poor officiating contributed to the past two defeats.

By the way, ESPN recently voted both Texas’s victory over USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl as the best BCS game ever (Texas also held the number 4 spot for its 2005 Rose Victory over Michigan), and Vince Young‘s performance in that game as the best individual BCS performance ever (with his 2005 Rose Bowl performance against Michigan coming in third).

Speaking of his Vinceness, his coach, Jeff Fisher, used VY as an example at the NFL Rookie Symposium this past weekend of just how far the reach of the modern media is:

The first [picture] showed Young posing with fellow participants in a panel discussion during last year’s rookie symposium.

“You recognize the second guy from the left?” Fisher said. “He was here last year, and you know what he talked about? He talked about off-the-field (behavior) … how you guys have got to be really careful because … one little cell phone camera that sends out (photos or video from) here and it ends up here. And guess what? You’re embarrassed.”

Fisher then called for the next slide, taken from photos that recently circulated on the Internet. It was of Young, shirtless and partying. Additional slides showed the quarterback drinking what appeared to be tequila straight from a bottle.

Fisher’s point: The only time an NFL player has a chance to ever truly be considered “off the field” is when he is in the privacy of his home, without any cameras capturing him in compromising situations.

“You are ‘on the field’ when you walk out the front door,” Fisher said.

Thx to Texas Football, Stewie Mandel, and NFL.com

Early Sunday morning, some cowardly soul set fire to the Texas Governor’s Mansion. Completed almost one hundred and fifty-two years ago on June 14, 1856, the Governor’s Mansion is one of Texas’s most historic structures, having housed Sam Houston during his first term as Governor.

In the downstairs parlors:

where Texas’ first presidential visitor, William McKinley, was received in 1901, plaster could be seen cracked and broken. Smoke damage was heavy, and windows were broken and charred.

The dining room—where famed humorist Will Rogers once ate so much chili with Gov. Miriam Ferguson that he had no room for dessert — was blackened and still smoldering.

Because the mansion was currently undergoing an extensive renovation, thankfully “all of the furnishings and official items had been removed” including “the window casements.” Some these irreplaceable items include original and seminal Texas history works of art and Stephen F. Austin‘s writing desk.

I’m not a criminal lawyer, so I don’t know what the Penal Code provides as a sentence for arson, but I’m all in favor of upping it to life in prison in this instance—or even worse—permanent banishment from Texas. Whatever misguided and mangled soul set this fire, they’ve forever given up their right to enjoy life in our fair State.

unbelievable

unbelievable

unbelievable

Thx to the Austinist, the Statesman, BurkaBlog, and State Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado, who is leading the investigation and has promised that “[w]e’re going to come get the person responsible for causing this damage.” Amen brother.

Boo-yah

Today’s SCOTX orders contain a little gem noted by both the Texas Appellate Law Blog and SCOTX Blog.

In In re Roberts (No. 05‑0362) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam), the Court (J. Johnson not sitting) dryly observes that:

[T]he only harm involved is a 30-day delay. By contrast, this original proceeding has now delayed the case for four years …. By any measure, the benefits to mandamus review of a 30-day extension are outweighed by the detriments.

Kudos to the authoring Justice of this one: very subtle yet very effective.

Thx to the Texas Appellate Law Blog and SCOTX Blog

Yet another reason why it’s good to be alive in Austin, Texas.

mmmmmmmm

I had just finished up with a project yesterday when I came across this post from the Austinist, touting the green chili pork taco from Torchy’s Tacos, pictured above. Well, I headed straight over to Torchy’s location off of Bouldin Creek on South First (which, by the way, is a gorgeous site situated underneath big swaying live oak trees just above the babbling Bouldin Creek).

I can vouch that the green chili pork taco tastes every bit as good as its picture looks. I also sampled the fried avacado taco, which was excellent as well. Can’t wait to go back to try the [R]epublican (of course), the Democrat, the Brushfire, and—horrible though the connotations its name engenders are–the Dirty Sanchez.

* * * UPDATE * * *

Today, I sampled both the [R]epublican (which is, of course, full of pork), and the Democrat. Much to my chagrin, I have to say the Democrat kicks the [R]epublican’s tail. The barbacoa is fantastic. And I just can’t bring myself to order the Dirty Sanchez: the imagery of its namesake is just too unappetizing.

Thx to the Austinist and Torchy’s Tacos

The U.S. News & World Report law school rankings have long been criticized for numerous and valid reasons by people who know of what they speak (unlike myself), but I think Res Ipsa has crystalized what criteria should really be considerd when ranking law schools—if the purpose in ranking these schools is to help inform where an aspiring applicant will spend the next the three years of indentured legal servitude.

Namely, return on one’s dollar.

Most law school students could care less about most of the indices USNWR uses to rank law schools, namely the size of a school’s library, median entering GPAs or LSAT scores, per capita expenditures, or even the employment rate for graduates (because what does it matter that you have a job if that job pays far less than the amount of money you just shelled out for the privilege of securing said job). Of much more importance to most law school students is the relative assurance they have that a given law school will provide them with an education that will likely allow them to attain a positive net worth at some point in their lives.

depressing

There are only three law schools in Texas where a graduate will, on average, make more in their first year of practice than they paid in tuition for three glorious years of legal tutelage: UT, Houston, and Texas Tech.

However, I would add two columns to Res Ipsa‘s excellent comparison chart above (and if I weren’t much lazier than Res Ipsa, I’d add in Thurgood Marshall‘s numbers as well): the return ratio of these schools when you factor in room and board (which all of us know who survived law school grossly underestimates the essential “beer” portion of the “board” figure, not to mention all kinds of other significant costs like books, etc.).

hmmmmm

Taking into account room and board, nobody makes enough their first year to make up for what they expended during law school, but some schools fall so woefully low on the this list that I think the fallacy of the USNWR ranking of these schools is revealed.

what a bargain

So, according to USNWR, SMU is the second best school in Texas, but according to the modified return rate ranking, it’s one of the very worst. Same with Baylor (third best according to USNWR, sixth out of eight schools measured according to the modified return rate ranking).

However, USNWR did accurately rank UT as the best law school in Texas, and came awfully close on both Houston (third versus second) and Texas Tech (fourth versus third).

So, all hype and boosterism aside, I think one would have a pretty hard time arguing UT, Houston, and Texas Tech are not the top three law schools in the state. Conversely, it’s hard to rank either Baylor or SMU in the top three when you consider how much longer it will—on average—take a graduate to make back their law school investment.

I freely and anectdotally admit however that—hands down—the most impressive and intellectually-imposing lawyers I’ve ever worked with, against, or for were largely SMU and Baylor grads.

All this aside, it goes without saying that if you graduate in the top ten percentile, have served on a journal (or better yet, been pubished in or been selected to the executive board of said journal), you will likely be able to secure a clerkship somewhere and then go on to make oodles of money in the private sector, if so desired.

* * * MEA CULPA UPDATE * * *

Having had some time this afternoon to reflect on this morning’s rant, I think I have to temper my enthusiasm for the modified return rate metric somewhat. Namely, I don’t think that it is as indicative of the best law schools in the state as it is merely a investment-value measurement.

While I believe that average starting salaries among Texas law schools are misleading because I would posit that SMU, Houston, and South Texas‘s numbers are biased upward because most of schools’ graduates remain in either Dallas or Houston to practice, and St. Mary‘s is largely as low as it is because a large percentage of its graduates remain in San Antonio to practice, average starting salary is still probably a greater reflection of school prestige than is a return rate index.

Under my reasoning put forward earlier today, Harvard, Yale, and Stanford would all likely have much lower return rate rankings than their state school brethren, but no one could argue that these schools are not the best in their respective states, if not the country.

Thx to Res Ipsa

The booking photo says it all

This blog’s newfound buddy, Adam “[Gee, maybe I'm not so] Bulletproof” Reposa, is–unfortunately–back in the news.

Tex Parte Blog just came across the ad mentioned here a few months ago and used quite effectively by the prosecution as an exhibit at Reposa’s trial for demonstrating an alternative hand sign for “contempt.”

Reposa has filed a writ of habeas corpus with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals complaining his 90-day contempt sentence is excessive. In his writ, Reposa alleges that he was denied due process and due course of law when “Judge Davis declined to follow criminal procedure in ascertaining applicant’s guilt” by allowing the state to introduce evidence of extraneous conduct, i.e., the ad mentioned above from something called Whoopsy magazine, which is apparently distributed in some Austin clubs.

Of course it is.

In a letter sent by one of Reposa’s attorneys to the State Bar‘s Advertising Review Committee responding to the committee’s letter that threatened to report Reposa to the State Bar’s grievance committee, Reposa’s counsel justified the ad (presumably with a straight face) by stating:

If one was acquainted with Mr. Reposa when he was 11 years old, then they might connect this parody with him, but otherwise, no casual reader would regard this parody as an advertisement for a specific lawyer.

No, of course not. Except for the fact that the ad repeatedly mentions it references an Austin DWI attorney who has given himself the moniker, “Bulletproof.” It just so happens that there’s only one Austin DWI attorney–or any attorney in the state for that matter–who [in]famously holds himself out with the nickname “Bulletproof.”

Surely no one could connect those disparate dots?

Thx to Tex Parte Blog, Texas Lawyer, and Awesomeness For Awesome’s Sake

Oink

Few who read this blog may be old enough to remember Carole Keeton Strayhorn Rylander McClellan’s 1986 run for Congress, but I do.

Back in ’86, Carole “Keeton McClellan”–as she was then known–made enemies of her Democrat compatriots when she abruptly resigned from the State Board of Insurance with a full three years left on her term, and promptly switched parties so that she could run against the revered and longserving District 10 congressional representative, J.J. Jake Pickle. It wasn’t so much that people begrudged her ambition, but that she would so brazenly and inelegantly attempt to displace an LBJ-era icon in Central Texas politics who was literally beloved by his constituents.

In fact, so deserving of his constitutents’ affection was Congressman Pickle that I remember a tale told at his 2005 funeral that, throughout his years in Congress, he kept his home telephone number listed in the Austin phonebook so he was always—literally—just a phone call away from those who elected him.

Well, the Washington Times reports today that, ‘lo and behold, Mama Carole may have had something to do with her son’s recent partisan about-face with his former boss, 43.

Yesteryear

Lil’ Scotty’s on the left.

Thx to the Washington Times and the Austin Chronicle

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