The New York Times features the upcoming International Phaistos Disk Conference sponsored by Minerva Magazine at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London

Dear Readers of LawPundit,

The New York Times has featured the upcoming International Phaistos Disk Conference in London at which we will be giving the first paper on October 31. John Tierney’s TierneyLab at Why Not Test the Phaistos Disc? features an article from which we link the photograph below showing both sides of this enigmatic ancient CD and DVD precursor (info recorded on a disc), and which holds the clue to the origins of writing in Western Europe and thus also the development of our own Western Civilization in subsequent eras.


On October 31 we will present our sensational historic paper at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, deciphering Old Elamite Script using Greek syllables from our decipherment of the Phaistos Disk thirty years ago and in the process we will view an Elamite statue that is either Helen of Troy or Clymene, also named Asia, who gave Asia its geographic name.

Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD
Home of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Academy of Arts
and their current exhibitions:


1. in the Main Galleries, Byyzantium 330-1453
25 October 2008 to 22 March 2009
supported by The J.F. Costopoulos Foundation
the A.G. Leventis Foundation
and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation

“This ground-breaking exhibition,
a collaboration between the Royal Academy of Arts and the Benaki Museum in Athens,
provides a grand-scale survey of 1,000 years of history.
Highlighting the splendours of the Byzantine Empire,
‘Byzantium 330–1453’ incorporates over 300 objects.
Some of the works have never been displayed in public before.”

2. in the Sackler Wing of Galleries
Miró, Calder, Giacometti, Braque: Aimé Maeght and His Artists
4 October 2008 to 2 January 2009
sponsored by BNP Paribas

The exhibition presents Aimé Maeght’s outstanding contributions
to art in the mid-twentieth century as an art dealer, exhibition maker and publisher.
It features work by the major artists he exhibited – Miró, Calder, Giacometti and Braque –
as well as works by Bonnard and Matisse.

To repeat, on Saturday, October 31, 2008, I will be presenting my paper at the Phaistos Disk Conference in the rooms of the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. The program (UK “programme”) is given below in our excerpted version (LawPundit has added all the links and commentary and has removed text not relating to the papers as such).

The conference registration fee was £35 but as far as we know, registration is now sold out and closed. We presume that we have a full house, but perhaps not a royal flush? We personally herewith invite members of the Royal Family to attend our presentation and see history being made but it might be SRO (standing room only).

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE PHAISTOS DISK
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its discovery
,
Friday, 31 October – Saturday, 1 November 2008
,
At the Society of Antiquaries of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly
,
Organised and sponsored by Minerva,
the International Review of Ancient Art & Archaeology


CONFERENCE PROGRAMME


FRIDAY, 31 OCTOBER

10:30 Opening remarks by Jerome M. Eisenberg, Ph.D., New York, USA

10:40 Keynote speaker Louis Godart, D.Ph., D.ès L., Hon.C.B.E., Rome, Italy
The Phaistos Disk and the Aegean Civilizations

11:40 Introduction by Peter Clayton, F.S.A., Hemel Hempstead, UK
Arthur Evans and Plato Have Much to Answer For
[LawPundit: Peter A. Clayton is the author of Chronicle of the Pharaohs, in German Die Pharaonen, generally regarded to be one of the best books ever written about Ancient Egypt.]

11:50 1st paper Andis Kaulins, J.D., Traben-Trarbach, Germany
The Phaistos Disk: An Ancient Enigma Solved: Two Corroborative
Old Elamite Scripts Deciphered Using the Greek Syllabic Values
Obtained for the Phaistos Disk
[Proof of alleged decipherments of the Phaistos Disk have thus far suffered from the lack of corroborative texts. I have identified two such texts in Elam and have deciphered them using my decipherment of the Phaistos Disk as Greek, with spectacular historical results.]

12:20 2nd paper Torsten Timm, Dresden, Germany
The Two Sides of the Phaistos Disk

12:50 3rd paper Dieter A. Rumpel, Dr.-Ing., Dusseldorf, Germany
Facts and Probabilities Regarding the Phaistos Disk and the Axe of Arkalokhori

2:40 4th paper John Coleman, D.Phil., M.A., Oxford, UK
Epigraphic Continuity of the Phaistos Disk Signary
With Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear Scripts

3:40 5th paper Richard Sproat, Ph.D., Urbana, Illinois, USA
How to Forge the Phaistos Disk Text

4:10 6th paper Jerome M. Eisenberg, Ph.D., New York, USA
Some Unique Decipherments of the Phaistos Disk

SATURDAY, 1 NOVEMBER

10:15 7th paper Tom Palaima, Ph.D., Austin, Texas, USA
Emmett L. Bennett, Jr., Cryptoanalysis, Decipherment, and the Phaistos Disc

10:45 8th paper Gareth Owens, Ph.D., Heraklion, Crete, Greece
The Phaistos Disk: The Enigma of the Minoan Script

11:45 9th paper Mark Newbrook, Ph.D., Heswall, Wirral, UK
Diskomania! Some Highly Non-Mainstream ‘Decipherments’ Of the Phaistos Disk

12:15 10th paper Nicholas Reed, M.A., M.Phil., Folkestone, Kent, UK
Why the Phaistos Disc is Unlikely to be a Forgery

2:15 11th paper Gia Kvashilava, Ph.D., Tbilisi, Georgia
On Deciphering the Phaistos Disk as a Sample of Colchian Goldscript

2:45 12th paper Panagiotes D. Gregoriades, Athens, Greece
The Phaistos Disk: The Oldest Portable Calendar
in Use by the Minoan Navy

Poster presentations

Jan Bigaj, Ph.D., Ustrzyki Dolne, Poland
Phonetic Values of the Signs on the Phaistos Disc in Relation to the Cypriot Syllabary

William H. Considine, B.Sc., Albourne, West Essex, UK
The Phaistos Disk from a Trading Perspective.

Edmund Marriage, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK
The Phaistos Disk: The Story of a Pastoral Disaster

Submitted papers and comments on view at the conference
Stephen Chrysomalis, Ph.D., Detroit, Michigan, USA
Phaistos Phakery Redux

Jean Faucounau, Bascharage, Luxembourg
1. Official Statement from the G.L.I.F. [Arguments against the Phaistos Disk being a hoax]
(Several copies are available to registrants)
2. Complementary Note from Mr. Faucounau [On the Proto-Ionian Theory]

-Herbert Ferguson, Redland, Bristol, UK
In Search of the World’s First Printers

Franz Gnaedinger, Zurich, Switzerland
A Concise Interpretation of the Elaia Disc and Tiryns Disc…
[as relating to the Phaistos Disc]

Werner Wagner, Oslo, Norway
Is the Phaistos Disc Genuine?

Morris M. Weiss, M.D., Louisville, Kentucky, USA
The Phaistos Disc and Rogem Hiri – Is There a Connection?

– Hermann W. Zebisch, Dipl.-Ing., Schaerding, Austria
A Summary of the Work of Herbert R. Zebisch

New English-language Germany.info Online as the Website of the German Embassy, the German Consulates General and the German Information Center USA

We received the following notice from and about the English-language website Germany.info:

We have officially launched the redesigned, streamlined, modernized, fully integrated website of the German Embassy, the German Consulates General and the German Information Center USA.

Germany.info’s newsletter, “The Week in Germany“, will continue to bring you the most important and engaging stories of the week to your inbox every Friday, and it is now better integrated with the content on Germany.info. We thank you for your patience over the past weeks while we worked to build our new newsletter and website.

With this new site, we have taken the features you already like–videos, interactive games, news, cultural events–added more interesting and informative features and combined them with a great new design and easy-to-use menu to make your experience on Germany.info even better.

Help us celebrate and spread the word about the new Germany.info and The Week in Germany by taking part in our Spot the Bus Contest, E-Mail A Friend campaign and Germany.info Gift Emporium. All three offer cool prizes and a chance to show us your creativity.

Learn More about the New Germany.info

Link to the Newsletter added by LawPundit.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of US Supreme Court Decisions

A take on the “Worst Supreme Court Decisions” is found at the Los Angeles Times in an article written by David G. Savage, reporting on a survey of law professors which included respondents “Jack Balkin, Yale; Mary L. Dudziak, USC; Jonathan Varat, UCLA; Richard Epstein, University of Chicago; Erwin Chemerinsky, UC Irvine; Goodwin Liu, UC Berkeley; Pamela Karlan, Stanford; Michael C. Dorf, Cornell; Steven Calabresi, Northwestern; Douglas Kmiec, Pepperdine; John C. Eastman, Chapman; Marci Hamilton, Cardozo Law School; M. Edward Whelan, Ethics and Public Policy Center; and Robert A. Levey, Cato Institute and the co-author with William Mellor of “The Dirty Dozen,” a book on 12 Supreme Court decisions that “radically expanded government.”

The Legal Market : Effect of the Financial Crisis on the Demand for Lawyers and their Services in Large Law Firms

The current financial crisis is marked by six factors “likely to have a significant negative effect on [the] demand for legal services“, says Paul Lippe, founder of Legal OnRamp, who lists the following likely legal market trends in the October 22, 2008 edition of the American Lawyer:

1. Downward pressure on corporate executive compensation.

2. Less deal origination in synthetic or derivative securities.

3. Fewer mergers and acquisitions.

4. Economic activity will be dampened by recession.

5. Financial institutions will make budget and personnel cuts.

6. Risk will be less tolerated, and practices more standardized.

Lippe sees five effects on law firms through these trends which can be read here.

Hat tip to Molly McDonough at the ABA Law Journal and “Legal Market Predictions: Double the Extreme“.

We ourselves are more “jaundiced” about the law, to borrow a term intimated in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House in the case name of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, where Dickens perspicaciously recognizes that the law in its processes has no end and that, in the end, the lawyers always win.

After all, the financial crisis everywhere will be straightened out in the last analysis by the lawyers, and not by the bankers, who, as the current credit crunch proves, are not to be trusted, and never have been trustworthy. Greed rules all, and that is why you have to have rules, and that is why we have lawyers, both in good times as well as in bad times.

Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law Online (MPEPIL)

Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law Online (MPEPIL, www.mpepil.com) has just launched as Oxford University Press’s newest online product. This monumental reference work, originally published in 1991, has been fully updated and released in an easy-to-navigate online environment. MPEPIL is an essential resource for scholarly researchers and practitioners in the area of public international law.

Developed in partnership with the Max Planck Institute of Comparative Public and International Law, this online service contains over 450 articles including more than 700 new topics not covered in the previous print edition. New material will be added quarterly until all of the nearly 1700 articles are made available by 2010.

By combining expert content and innovative functionally, MPEPIL is one of the most significant and comprehensive scholarly works available in an online format today.

The MPEPIL Online Service Features Include:

  • Articles written by over 650 scholars and practitioners from around the world
  • Carefully selected bibliographies direct users to additional sources to further research
  • Innovative functionality allows users to browse content alphabetically, by subject and author, or via quick and advanced search functions
  • Increased coverage of international criminal law, international dispute settlement, trade law, and environmental law reflect modern developments in the practice and study of public international law
  • All articles undergo rigorous evaluation by an Advisory Board consisting of renowned experts in various fields of international law, and internal advisors who are Senior Research Fellows at the Max Planck Institute to ensure the highest quality of scholarship
  • All articles include links to the Oxford Law Citator, which provides subscribers with easy-access linking to related articles in MPEPIL, as well as content from all other new law online services from OUP.

Detlev Vagts, from the American Journal of International Law, praised the hardcover versions of Max Planck as being “a monument of learning,” and Thomas Walde of ICLQ called it “an instrument that any serious library, university, foreign affairs ministry, international organization or law…should have.”

As the definitive reference work on public international law, MPEPIL is truly a powerful tool that all researchers and practitioners can benefit from.

For more on the MPEPIL project and its editors visit: http://www.mpepil.com/about

For more information on the Oxford Law Citator visit: http://www.oxfordlawcitator.com/about

For sample articles, visit: http://www.mpepil.com/sample_articles

Also available from Oxford University Press Online:

Oxford Reports on International Law

www.oxfordlawreports.com

– via Betsy DeJesu at Oxford University Press

Most Popular Christians : Patron Saints of Learning and the Environment : Religion and Ecology : Law, Religion and Learning

To be mutually and symbiotically effective, both the law and organized religion must maintain a realistic approach to the basic issues of modern everyday life, such as religion and ecology, or law, learning and religion.

An effective blend of these requires a clear understanding of the history of law and religion, but who today has such knowledge?

In this day of global learning and planetary environmentalism, we might for example ask: who is the Christian patron saint of learning? or the patron saint of ecologists? and what relevance do these patrons have for believers today? Are such religious figureheads relevant for modern problems?

Full in the spirit of learning, N.S. Gill, who writes about Ancient and Classical History at about.com, some time ago sent us her most recent newsletter provocatively titled “Most Popular Christians”, which led us ultimately to this link, answering our initial patronly questions:

The Chistrian patron saint of learning is St. Ambrose, also referred to simply as Ambrose (feast day December 7). St. Ambrose’s most influential writings were based on Cicero:

The most influential of his ascetico-moral writings is the work on the duties of Christian ecclesiastics (De officiis ministrorum). It is a manual of Christian morality, and in its order and disposition follows closely the homonymous work of Cicero.

Cicero, a Roman statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and philosopher, who lived in the 1st century BC, is a major figure in the development of legal concepts of the modern State:

Cicero aspired to a republican system dominated by a ruling aristocratic class of men, “who so conducted themselves as to win for their policy the approval of all good men.” … Cicero’s guiding principle throughout his political career was:

That “some sort of free state” is the necessary condition of a noble and honourable existence; and that it is the worst calamity for a people to permanently renounce this ideal and to substitute for it the slave’s ideal of a good master.” …

Cicero was declared a “righteous pagan” by the early Catholic Church, and therefore many of his works were deemed worthy of preservation. Saint Augustine and others quoted liberally from his works “On The Republic” and “On The Laws,” and it is due to this that we are able to recreate much of the work from the surviving fragments. Cicero also articulated an early, abstract conceptualisation of rights, based on ancient law and custom.

Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine), of Berber descent, quoted above, has relevance today, especially through his best-known work, The Confessions of St. Augustine:

Augustine is one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity, and is considered to be one of the church fathers. He framed the concepts of original sin and just war.” …

Catholic theologians generally subscribe to Augustine’s belief that God exists outside of time in the “eternal present”; that time only exists within the created universe because only in space is time discernible through motion and change. His meditations on the nature of time are closely linked to his consideration of the human ability of memory.

Memory is at the root of human learning.

Augustine was perhaps the first saint with a home page on the Internet.

The patron saint of ecologists and the environment is Francis of Assisi (feast day October 4).

Christianity is not the only religion to deal with ecology. The Harvard University Center for the Environment points us to other religions with beliefs of relevance to the environment:

Daoism and Ecology, by James Milles, Queen’s University
Hinduism, Jainism, and Ecology, by Christopher Key Chapple, Loyola Marymount University
Buddhism and Ecology.

Take a look at Gill’s page on Christians for more interesting material about the history of Christianity.

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Understand the Present Financial Crisis by Peering into the Past : Archaeology Websearch Blog : Digging the Internet

You can’t live by law alone.

To fully understand the current financial crisis, it is instructive to peer into the past to see that the ups and downs of civilization are part of a process that has been going on for millennia.

For those of our readers interested in the history of mankind,
we have developed the

Archaeology Websearch Blog : Digging the Internet

as a specialized webtool for searching the Internet
in the areas of ancient history, archaeology, and anthropology,
broadly defined.

Give it a try here:

You can always find this search engine at
the Archaeology Websearch Blog
which is located at
http://archaeologywebsearch.blogspot.com/

Stressed? Archaeology Travel Photos Might Give You Ideas for a Cultural Vacation

This is a slide show of the Archaeology Travel Photos group at Flickr, which as of this date is approaching 1000 members who have uploaded nearly 12000 photos from around the world. We have no control over the photos, but many of them are outstanding photos of archaeological sites by vacationing photographers.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Archaeology Travel Photos was founded by Andis Kaulins, also the founder of this blawg.

Viagra et al. Frozen : FTC and Chicago Judge Shut Down World’s Biggest Spam Ring

Here is welcome news to all Internet users.

Via an ABA Journal Law News Now posting concerning Internet Law, Debra Cassens Weiss alerts us to a case where a federal judge in Chicago has frozen respective assets and issued a temporary injunction against a Viagra and similar product spam operation responsible for sending billions of those Viagra and other messages that clog the world’s mailboxes.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a press release about the case, FTC Shuts Down, Freezes Assets of Vast International Spam E-Mail Network.

Brad Stone at the New York Times in Authorities Shut Down Spam Ring writes:

“This is pretty major. At one point these guys delivered up to one-third of all spam,” said Richard Cox, chief information officer at SpamHaus, a nonprofit antispam research group.

The investigation provides a clear window into the business of modern spam, which by some estimates accounts for 90 percent of all e-mail sent over the Internet.

To pepper Internet users with its solicitations, the HerbalKing group used a botnet, a global network of computers infected with malicious software, often without the knowledge of their owners….

The activities of the HerbalKing group, like those of other criminal groups online, were remarkably international in scope. The group was shipping drugs like Propecia, Lipitor, Celebrex and Zoloft out of India. The F.T.C. also said the group based its Web sites in China, processed credit cards from the former Soviet republic of Georgia and Cyprus, and transferred funds among members using ePassporte, an electronic money network.

Wailin Wong at the Chicago Tribune in Feds bust alleged spam network behind billions of Viagra e-mails, writes regarding the criminal liability of the spammers:

The FTC is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation but couldn’t comment on the likelihood of criminal charges.

The SpamHaus Project, cited above, “tracks the Internet’s Spammers, Spam Gangs and Spam Services, provides dependable realtime anti-spam protection for Internet networks, and works with Law Enforcement to identify and pursue spammers worldwide.”

SpamHaus writes:

Fines or other penalties are decided at a later phase of the suit. The FTC uses US civil law, not criminal law. But it can refer cases to criminal prosecution, especially in situations where the defendants have violated earlier orders…. Spamhaus is hopeful that further criminal charges may be filed as a result of this civil investigation.

Cairn of Barnenez (Tumulus of Barnenez) in Brittany (Bretagne, France) to be Submitted to UNESCO for Status as a World Heritage Site

Jane at The Modern Antiquarian writes: “Barnenez will make you gasp in wonder. It’s so big and grand.” Barnenez is a Breton megalithic site in Brittany (Bretagne, France).

A Breton Farmer
Copyright © by Yvon 2008 (published by LawPundit with permission).


A gigantic ancient heap of pyramid-like megalithic stones in Brittany (Bretagne, France) has few ancient comparables in the world for the sheer size of this stone edifice.

The aerial view below is linked in doubled size from the website Cairn de Barnenez – Centre des monuments nationaux (photograph copyright by P. Beuzzen):


Nearly destroyed in modern times for greedy quarry use, the heap of stones called the Cairn (or Tumulus) of Barnenez was saved in the last minute and has now been restored. Barnenez measures ca. 72 metres long, about 20 to 25 metres wide, and up to 9 metres in height. It contains 11 dolmens and as many entrances (some sources say 12). The stones have a volume of 6500 to 7000 cubic metres and weigh 12000 to 14000 tons.


This is a front view of the Cairn of Barnenez (Cairn de Barnenez), in a Wikipedia Commons photograph by NewPapillon which we have reduced in size and to which we have added a bordering frame. See also the video, Reportage au Tumulus de Barnenez.

It is rather amazing that this phenomenal megalithic site is not yet a World Heritage Site. At the website, the Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map, thecaptain writes: “One of the most impressive ancient monuments I have ever visited.

As written at Brittany Ferries:

In reality, it is made up of two juxtaposed cairns, saved at the very last minute from destruction in 1955. The stone is decorated with figures of idols carved inside shields, carved signs forming V shapes and knapped axe-heads.

Andis Kaulins in his book Stars Stones and Scholars, in which ancient megaliths are seen as land survey locations sighted by astronomy, equates Barnenez with the axe-headed viz. V-headed figure and the two lines of adjacent nearly rows of stars which form the shape of Aquila and Serpens Cauda.

Perhaps the status of Barnenez may soon change, as Romain Guillou, the mayor of the nearby community Plouezoc’h, France, has reintroduced the site as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site status (see 29252 Plouezoc’h, France).

Fact Check the U.S. Presidential Debates and Other Political Statements

Fact check the U.S. Presidential debates and other “facts” at factcheck.org.
Hat tip to Lessig Blog.

Fact Check is:

[A] nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg in 1994 to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels.

The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals. It is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation.

P.S. … and “just checking the facts” here. The following notice regarding Fact Check facts is found at the FastCheck.org website:

FactCheck.org’s staff, not the Annenberg Center, is responsible for this material.

Lessig Blasts Crony Capitalism in the STANFORD Magazine September/October 2008 Issue : Change Congress : A Movement to End Congressional Corruption

In his article, “How the Founders Failed“, in the most recent issue of STANFORD Magazine (September/October, 2008), which just arrived per snail mail, Lawrence Lessig really lets “crony capitalism” have it

In that article – as excerpted from a speech that Lessig, the C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, held in June at the National Conference for Media Reform 2008 – Lessig says that America will not be able to face its manifold problems “sensibly” until America solves “the way money has corrupted this government”.

To this end he has helped to launch “Change Congress, a bipartisan reform movement”, whose goals are as follows:

CHANGE CONGRESS is a national movement to end corruption in America’s Congress. We’re organizing citizens to push candidates to make four simple commitments:

1. No money from lobbyists or PACs

Congresspeople should be beholden to citizens, not special interests. By committing not to accept money from lobbyists or PACs, candidates give us confidence that their votes won’t be swayed by big money. Learn more about Lobbyists.

2. Vote to end earmarks

Earmarks allow congresspeople to explicitly decide who should get the money our government spends. Because of the earmark economy, money that is supposed to go to our schools, our soldiers, and our citizens is instead diverted to political donors and pork-barrel projects like the “Bridge to Nowhere”. We can’t clean up Congress until we end this blatant system of corruption. Republicans have recently pushed prominently for changes such as these. To learn more, see FAQ on earmarks, Taxpayers for Common Sense or Porkbusters.

A pledge to support ending earmarks means a Member will vote for proposals that will permanently abolish earmarks. Importantly, it does not mean that while the system of earmarks remains, the Member will choose to forego earmarks for his or her district. Until the system is changed, that choice is left up to the Member.

3. Support reform to increase Congressional transparency

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we would all benefit from a cleaner Congress if more of its proceedings, and the proceedings of its members, were public. This pledge calls for changes in the law and rules of Congress to get all members to be more public about meetings and contacts, including changing the rules so lawmakers post weekly updates of their campaign contributions, meetings with registered lobbyists, their latest earmark requests, and significant changes in their personal wealth. To learn more, see FAQ on transparency and visit the Sunlight Foundation.

4. Support publicly-financed campaigns

It’s not enough to just push particular candidates to stay out of the system of corruption; we have to reform the system itself. Publicly-financed campaigns will stop the cycle of campaign finance reform loopholes and ensure that big money stays out of Congress forever. Public financing has been supported by both Republicans and Democrats. For prominent campaigns, see FAQ on public financing and visit Public Campaign and Just 6 Dollars.

Blawg Review #180

THIS IS THE 180th EDITION OF Blawg Review.

Today, on German-American Day, October 6, 2008, a day proclaimed by the President of the United States, LawPundit, as a law blog domiciled in Germany and authored by an American expatriate, born in Germany, raised in the United States, and formerly lecturing on Anglo-American law at the University of Trier Law School in Germany, is honored to host the 180th edition of Blawg Review. (If you did not read BlawgReview #179, Infamy or Praise tells you more).

There are literally millions of German-American (“deutsch-amerikanische”) connections, both contemporary and historical. It may come as a surprise to many Americans to know that German Americans make up the largest acknowledged ancestry group in America, even larger than the Irish and the English. Take a look at this map from the US Census 2000 which shows all the counties in America. Those in light blue color have a plurality of inhabitants claiming German ancestry:

Indeed, as President Ronald Reagan proclaimed in 1987:

Few people have blended so completely into the multicultural tapestry of American society and yet have made such singular economic, political, social, scientific, and cultural contributions to the growth and success of these United States as have Americans of German extraction….

In fact:

[T]here are still many metropolitan areas where German is the most reported ethnicity, such as Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and St. Louis.”

There are many distinguished German-Americans, some of whom are annually honored by the German-American Heritage Foundation. The German-American lawyer Friedrich Kappcan be regarded as a pioneer of German-American historical science.

The German-Corner features biographies, among them lawyer Francis Daniel Pastorius:

PASTORIUS, Francis Daniel (1651-1720). German-American, lawyer and colonizer, b. Sommerhausen, Germany. Practiced law in Germany; as agent for Quaker group founded (1683) Germantown, Pa., and became its first mayor, chief citizen, and schoolmaster.

He marks the beginning of German settlement in the US.

WDR.de provides us with information about Pastorius in German for our German readers:

Noch heute heißt ein Vorort Philadelphias “Germantown “. Gegründet wird er 1685 unter dem lateinischen Namen “Germanopolis” – von einem Mann aus dem fränkischen Sommerhausen. Sein Bild ist im Kuppelgemälde des Kapitols von Philadelphia verewigt, und im Deckenfries des Kapitols von Washington steht er neben William Penn, dem Gründer von Pennsylvania. Der Sommerhausener hat selbst einen lateinischen Nachnamen: Franz Daniel Pastorius wird am 26. September 1651 als Sohn eines Juristen geboren und studiert später ebenfalls Jura.

Another example of a famous German American is America’s first millionaire, Johann Jakob Astor (Johan Jakob Astor):



John Jacob Astor
, detail of an oil painting by Gilbert Stuart, 1794.
Originally Johann Jakob Astor, he was the first of the Astor family dynasty
and the first millionaire in the United States,
making his fortune in the fur trade and New York City real estate.

German Americans (German: Deutschamerikaner) are citizens of the United States of ethnic German ancestry. They currently form the largest self-reported ancestry group in the United States, accounting for 49 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population. California and Texas have the largest populations of German origin, although upper Midwestern states, including North Dakota and Wisconsin, have the highest proportion of German-American population. …

The first Germans to arrive in the New World settled in the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia in 1608. It wasn’t until the 1680s, however, that significant numbers arrived, settling primarily in New York and Pennsylvania. Immigration continued in substantial numbers during the 19th century; with the largest number of arrivals coming between 1840 and 1900. Americans of German descent form the largest ancestry group in the U.S., outnumbering the Irish and English, with some eight million immigrants having come to the United States. Some arrived seeking religious or political freedom, others for economic opportunities greater than those in Europe, and others simply for the chance to start fresh in the New World.

German Americans have been influential in almost every field, from science to architecture, industry, sports, and entertainment. Some, like Brooklyn Bridge engineer John Augustus Roebling or architect Walter Gropius, left behind visible landmarks. Others, like Albert Einstein or Wernher von Braun, set intellectual landmarks.”

Important dates in German-American history are found at the IUPUI Max Kade German-American Center, and the reader can find a list of German-American Historic Sites and Museums at that same website.

Viewed on a contemporary transatlantic and global basis, it is interesting to see from the following map that the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the USA and Germany, which dominate the Old World and the New World, reflect a similar work and production ethic. LawPundit has added labels to the following cartogram of the world, resized it and added a border: (you can view the original cartogram from Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan, here):


Although not directed solely to America, but broadcasting “online, on-screen and over the air” in 30 languages around the world, including of course English as the primary language, the German Deutsche Welle mirrors the importance of Germany to world affairs, and, pursuant to its statutory mission:

promote[s] understanding of Germany as an independent nation with its roots in European culture and as a liberal, democratic, constitutional state based on the rule of law.
[emphasis added by LawPundit]

Speaking of the rule of law, the German-American Lawyers’ Association, the Bonn-based Deutsch-Amerikanische Juristen-Vereinigung (DAJV), exemplifies German-American legal relations on this day, and points to the fact that:

[T]he United States influences [German] cultural, economic and legal environment more than any other country. This is just one of the reasons why roughly 3,200 German and American jurists have joined together in our Association.”

“The purpose of the DAJV:

[I]s the advancement of professional and popular education, in particular the professional education of German lawyers and other groups interested in the fields of American law, as well as the advancement of American lawyers and other groups interested in the fields of German law.”

The DAJV is holding its Annual Conference on German and American Law from August 12 to August 15, 2009, in Berkeley, California. Make a note.

But we are getting a bit ahead in our time schedule. For detailed information about the current German American Day, see the German American National Congress viz. Deutsch Amerikanischer National Kongress (DANK). As written at About.com:

German-American Day – October 6 The first German-American Day was proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 for the 300th anniversary of the arrival of 13 German families on board a sailing vessel named “Concord” (the “German Mayflower”). The Germans from Krefeld landed in Philadelphia on October 6, 1683 and founded Germantown, Pennsylvania (now part of Philadelphia). In 1987, after a campaign by German-American organizations, Congress made October 6 an official day of commemoration and President Reagan signed the proclamation….

German American Day celebrations 2008 have taken place or are taking place from Saturday, September 27 through Monday, October 6, 2008 in the USA, e.g. in Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Germantown. The German-American Society of Pennsylvania points to the following event schedule today as found at AOL:

Monday, October 6: German American Day 10:00 p.m. Wreath laying ceremony at the Pastorius Monument in Vernon Park, 5818 Germantown Avenue in Germantown. Call 215.947.5490.12:00 p.m. Commemorative Luncheon highlighting the 325th Anniversary and recognizing the German roots of the Rohm and Haas. Union League, 140 South Broad Street, Philadelphia. 215.665.1585.7:00 p.m. Landesjugendorchester Rheinland-Pfalz Performance of Elgar, Beethoven and Mendelssohn, German Society of Pennsylvania, 611 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia.”

Even German cooking is featured in the magazine German Life, “a bi-monthly magazine written for all interested in the diversity of German culture, past and present, and in the various ways that North America has been shaped by its German element. The magazine is dedicated to solid reporting on cultural, historical, social, and political events.” This year’s recipe, Bamberg Style Stuffed Onions With Savory Beer Sauce, is featured at Taste of Home.

In this connection, we also want to mention Oktoberfest, “a sixteen-day festival held each year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany during late September [and running to the first Sunday in October, unless that first Sunday is the 1st or 2nd of October, in which case the event runs to German Unity Day, October 3]. It is one of the most famous events in the city and the world’s largest fair, with some six million people attending every year, and is an important part of Bavarian culture. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the Munich event.” Obviously, many an Oktoberfest (see this list from Realbeer.com) also takes place in America. A good example is the Great Syracuse Oktoberfest.

The Infant Attorney at Learning the Law in Baby Step has Oktoberfest all planned out:

I have a fun weekend planned. MP and I are meeting up with some college friends at Oktoberfest (not in Munich unfortunately). I’m looking forward to lots of beer, more beer and German food, I can’t wait. Hopefully I’ll see some hot lederhosen too! I’d love to go to Germany someday for Oktoberfest, MP was lucky enough to go when he studied abroad in Italy. It will be fun regardless. Did I mention the beer?”

Make sure you click those links above for more photos like this one, it’s the first, an Oktoberfest Meisterwerk (masterpiece):


Speaking of beer, food and Oktoberfest, David Harlow at the Health Care Law Blawg (also known as HealthBlawg) cautions us mildly about such festivities:

If you load up on bratwurst and sauerkraut this Oktoberfest, you may be in the market for coronary artery bypass graft (a different kind of cabbage … CABG) in the future . . . and you’ll want to be sure you go to a high quality provider. I interviewed the general counsel of a teaching hospital that took its CABG program offline for a while to make it better.

That interview by David Harlow presents the topic Doug Brown, UMass Memorial Health Care’s General Counsel, speaks with David Harlow about transparency and systems improvement as posted at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow’s Health Care Law Blog.

Eating and drinking in connection with night life can raise legal issues, as David Giacalone at his f/k/a weblog observes in his posting lady judge says “ladies’ nights” are not unconstitutional. Giacalone writes:

Federal District Court Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum (who’ll be 80 years old next year) bounced avowed anti-feminist Roy Den Hollander from her Manhattan courtroom last Monday — rejecting his claim that bars and night clubs holding ladies’ nights (where women are offered free or reduced-price admission or drinks) are engaged in unconstitutional gender discrimination against males under the Equal Protection Clause. See “Judge to anti-feminist: Ladies’ night is alright” (AP, Sept. 30, 2008; “Ladies Night OKd by judge” (New York Daily News, Sept. 30, 2008).

Did we mention keg tossing? Dan Slater at the WSJ Law Blog writes that:

Earlier this summer, we told you that Vermont Law School was taking a stand against the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy — and paying for it. The school, whose endowment is about $14 million, could be denied federal research money to the tune of $300,000 to $500,000. (Hopefully, this won’t affect the school’s keg-tossing contest.)

See a pic of Yale’s Oktoberfest Keg Tossing Contest.

OK, that’s been the fun part. Let’s get down to more serious business. German-American legal and political affairs are important.

The German American Law Journal presents postings about US law in the German language (“Recht der USA auf Deutsch“). There are two language versions: German and English.

JuraBlogs – Die Welt juristischer Blogs (The World of legal Blogs). As written at Technorati, “JuraBlogs summarizes most of the German law blogosphere with several rankings, tools, newsletters and an advanced search functionality.

Davids Medienkritik (“Politically incorrect observations on reporting in the German media“) is a pro-American blog which reports critically on transatlantic German-American relations as they are portrayed in German media. See their mission statement. An example is a posting about the Top Pet Issues for German Media Coverage of the United States.

The quality translation of legal documents is a must in the international legal sphere. Transblawg is the blog of German-English legal translator Margaret Marks, who maintains her “Weblog from Fürth on German-English legal translation / Weblog aus Fürth zur juristischen Übersetzung Deutsch-Englisch“, and who refers to this edition of Blawg Review at Musings on Blawg Review/Blawg Review Deutsch-amerikanisch. An example of the type of useful postings that Transblawg makes is the Article on translating contracts into German/Probleme beim Übersetzen englischer Vertragstexte.

Speaking of contracts, marriage is also a contract that has important ramifications for German-American relations. Many children issue from marriages between Germans and Americans, and even a child born, for example, in Germany to two American parents can under some circumstances obtain a German citizenship. Amerika-Forum.de (in German) discusses the issue of dual citizenship (“doppelte Staatsbuergerschaft”). A detailed legal treatment of this important matter of dual nationality is found at the website of the U.S. Embassy in Germany.

Not only dual nationality, but also dual German-American educational degrees are possible. The Business School ESB Reutlingen discusses a double degree in international management (“Deutsch-Amerikansicher Studiengang“).

Since the principle feature of this posting is by design directed to “blawg review”, we present below a selection of blawgs covering the cutting edge of legal and political issues and contemporary topics of note, from a variety of perspectives:

  • The blawg IP Think Tank (TM) does a “weekly selection of top intellectual property news breaking in the blogosphere and internet” which includes German and American legal news.
  • The editor of IP.com’s corporate blog, Securing Innovation, points to a recent article at Law.com, German Court Sees First Signs of European Patent Trolls, by Philippa Maister of IP Law & Business, and is concerned about the likelihood of confusion with IPCom GmbH in connection with the German company’s whopping 12 Billion Euro patent infringement lawsuit against Nokia.
  • Bob Ambrogi on Law.com’s Legal Blog Watch points to a report on The World’s Most Client Friendly Firms, which included Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Germany, while Allen & Overy got top honors worldwide. Speaking of A&O … we learn at the Tax Lawyer Blog, that Allen & Overy LLP will open a new office in Munich in October 2008. With its existing offices in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg and Mannheim, Allen & Overy will be represented in five of Germany’s key economic centres. Prost!
  • Dan Hull at What About Paris? – formerly What About Clients? – asks Are you ready for Europe’s REACH directive? In Blawg Review #65 Dan points to some German blawgs, among them “three German Fulbright Scholarship alums in Hamburg, Berlin and Seattle [who] publish the Atlantic Review, a press digest on transatlantic affairs….
  • Professors of the world unite! We ourselves use the software program Zotero as a tool for research so that the following lawsuit hits us directly. At The Laboratorium, James Grimmelman suggested that the Thompson/Reuters lawsuit against the developers of Zotero, a free EndNote competitor, was “comically inept”, but Mike Madison at the Madisonian thought that there might just be a method to it all, whereas Mike Masnick at Techdirt thought the whole thing was ill-considered and suggested that Zotero could make EndNote more, rather than less, valuable. Michael Froomkin at Discourse.net adds a new legal angle, writing that “there is one interesting and potentially triable … issue in the case … the extent to which a contract by a firm with a (state) university can bind its professors.
  • Elizabeth Garrett at Balkinization wonders “How the Financial Crisis is Reshaping Democratic Politics: Term Limits Reconsidered”, whereas Rick Pildes at that same blawg considers the importance of appointing a board of overseers for the Department of Treasury in connection with the $700 Billion bank bailout.
  • Nolo’s Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Blog exclaims, “Bailout? Follow The Money!“.
  • ,

  • Speaking of money, what about product liability cases? Jim Beck and Mark Herrmann jointly write the Drug and Device Law Blog, where they recently pointed to Learned Intermediary Rule 201 in a posting that describes the application of the “learned intermediary rule” in pharmaceutical product liability cases in which the treating physician gives slightly offbeat responses to some of the usual questions asked during discovery.
  • Nothing lasts forever, and fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers went through this long ago with the demolition of Ebbets Field, as BizzBangBuzz now shares “Yankee Stadium Memories” with us. Construction and destruction are two sides of the same coin.
  • At Deliberations, Anne Reed ponders in “Women Lawyers, Juries, — And Stress?” whether juries react more positively to male lawyers rather than to female attorneys.
  • Advocate’s Studio in “Poor writing across the pond” tangles with the view found in TheLawyer.com, as expressed by Peter Crisp, dean of BPP Law School, that law students suffer from lapses in writing. Solutions are suggested.
  • Law School is a topic at LawVibe, where Michael presents the “NYU Law School Cash for Class Scandal“, the consequences of which are discussed by Paul Caron at the Tax Prof Blog and Jim Maule at MauledAgain (Part I-Tax Issues, Part II-Legal Education Issues).
  • Jordan Furlong of Slaw.ca and Law21 discusses “The Future of Law Firm Branding”.
  • Feminist Law Professors discuss “Where Feminism, Copyright Law and This Interminable Election Intersect”, pointing to a mock of Sarah Palin at the New Yorker, via the Huffington Post, which employs an Alaska parody of a famous New Yorker title page by Saul Steinberg.
  • Speaking of New York, Bruce MacEwen at Adam Smith, Esq. asks in (New York) City’s End, in view of “all the body blows the New York City financial services industry and its attendant handmaidens (BigLaw, that would be you) have taken in the past couple of months“, whether “the Apocalypse [will be] descending upon Sin City“, referring to The Sky Keep’s Falling!, a book review by Tama Starr at the Wall Street Journal book shelf of Max Page’s The City’s End, as published by the Yale University Press, which touts the book as:

    [T]he first to investigate two centuries of imagined cataclysms visited upon New York, and to provide a critical historical perspective to our understanding of the events of September 11, 2001.

    How times have changed since the days when the famous Wagners, who were German-Americans and lawyers to boot, ran things in New York City. See that link.

  • Regarding that forthcoming Presidential Election, Madeleine Begun Kane presents A Do-Over Supreme Court Test For Palin? posted at Mad Kane’s Political Madness. Mad Kane describes herself as a “writer, musician, and “recovering lawyer.”
  • LawGeek reports that Smithsonian Institution Archives photos from the Scopes trial are now available on Flickr.
  • Tax Girl debates the meaning of tax hikes and tax cuts, commenting upon the vice-presidential debate that “it’s not whether you speak the truth but how well you speak it.” That’s really “bloggitty goodness“, to use a phrase found at this blawg.
  • Blawgletter asks, “MTM, WTF?” in talking about FASB No. 107, Disclosures About Fair Value of Financial Instruments.
  • The Madisonian.net tell us that “For just $125 this inflatable crime scene can be yours!“, referring to the newest macabre Halloween product at Walmart.
  • Speaking of Halloween, George’s Employment Blawg has advice on “Halloween in the Workplace? It Depends…”.
  • Doc Searls Weblog recalls The Verdict and Absence of Malice, for which Paul Newman won the Oscar as leading actor, as Idealawg bids good-bye to actor Paul Newman, to whom the Connecticut Law Blog give’s a hero’s farewell, as do TalkLeft, The Right Coast, Mark Wahlstrom’s The Settlement Channel, The Bizop News, the Hugh & Hazel Darling Law Library at UCLA, Houston’s Clear Thinkers, the Justice Building Blog, Jailhouselawyer’s Blog, Instapundit, Ideoblog, and What About Clients? The CM Law Library Blog even asks the pertinent question as to how many people were led to study law by cinema portrayals of lawyers by actors such as Newman, citing to the August 2008 ABA Journal report on The 25 Greatest Legal Movies, as selected by attorneys.
  • Patent attorney Brett J. Trout addresses every blawger’s problem in Define Yourself posted at BlawgIT.
  • Mrinalini Kochupillai signed-off from the Spicy IP blog with a lengthy and worthwhile post discussing whether India needs a publicly-funded R&D law like the U.S. Bayh-Dole law.
  • Dan Hull at What About Paris?(TM) suggested that the services industries — including legal services — could use an ease-of-use award like that given to manufactured goods.
  • Sam Conforti in Software Licensing & Master Service Agreements provided some guidance to those considering SaaS Contracting, the web-based license of software as a service (SaaS).
  • Dan Harris of the China Law Blawg has thrown a lifeline to anyone who’s been provided bad products by a Chinese supplier. He also ventures to say on China Joint Ventures. Can Things Get Any Worse? as posted at China Law Blog. Take a look at the opening page of the law firm of Harris & Moure – in no less than five languages – English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and, of course, German.
  • Seth Freilich of QuizLaw is none-too-pleased that a judge with two DUI convictions has been sentenced to a total of twelve days of pro bono legal services.
  • When IBM seeks to patent a method for finding new things to patent, Victoria Pynchon of the IP ADR Blog thinks that it’s a sign that we need a legal equivalent of the TED conference.
  • Michael Moore at the Pennsylvania Labor & Employment Blog has surveyed the worsening economy and sees the writing on the wall. He offers some timely advice to employers contemplating reductions in force.
  • Sharon Nelson at her ride the lightning electronic evidence blog found herself somewhere she seems to have considered the back of beyond, but at least one attendee at her presentation on appropriate self-marketing online was paying attention, as he bolted the scene to scrub his Facebook profile.
  • At the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, in honor of Rosh Hashanah, which begins the Jewish New Year, Jon Hyman has posted some words of wisdom about accommodating religious holidays. What does an employer do if an employee wants to take such a day off from work? Hyman writes: “Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act] requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee whose sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance conflicts with a work requirement, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship.”

In addition to our blawg review, we point to the numerous transatlantic organizations that exist and which – either directly or indirectly – are German-American in nature, and many of these are listed in detail as Partner’s Profiles by the New Traditions Network (NTN). The NTN is:

“[A] dynamic group of political, academic and cultural institutions, foundations and corporations in Germany and the United States cooperating together to promote the transatlantic dialogue. The network offers this community a common forum aiming to create new vehicles for dialogue and partnerships as well as new channels and modes of coordination and cooperation. It is open to any organization that is active in promoting U.S.-German relations….

The NTN … was established in September 2000. Building upon the strong ‘traditions’ Americans and Germans have established since World War II, the NTN identifies issues and opportunities current in the transatlantic relationship.

Network projects involve at least two partners cooperating together to develop common activities and to reach out to actors and organizations taking on new roles in the rapidly changing transatlantic environment….

The U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section coordinates the network and maintains the website. The network communicates mainly via email and internet and meets approximately every three months to give opportunity for person-to-person networking and to welcome new members.”

The listed organizations are:

In recent German-American news of note, we received an email announcing the October 3 German Unity Day relaunch of the website Germany.info as maintained in English and German language by the German Embassy in Washington D.C., providing inter alia:

Integrated site

For the first time, Germany.info will fully integrate the German Embassy, the eight German Consulates in the United States, and the German Information Center USA into one website.

Easy access to visa/passport info
First and foremost, all visa, passport and other consular services information will be clearly laid out and easy to access. For the first time, users will be able to use an interactive map to find the German Consulate General, or Embassy, that serves them. They can then easily use that Consulate’s website to find directions, opening hours and other information specific to that location. Also for the first time, Germany’s Honorary Consuls in the United States will each have a page on Germany.info.

The German version of the site will feature comprehensive consular and legal information.

More videos
The new Germany.info will feature short videos more prominently—from informative films on renewable energy, for example, to fun skits on learning German. Of course, we’ll also keep running and expand our popular quizzes and interactive contests.

Informative features
The relaunched site will offer more features on studying in and traveling to Germany, learning the German language, the German business landscape, Germany’s role at the forefront of renewable energies and climate protection, German-US relations and much more.

Germany in your area
To make it easier for you to find German cultural events and organizations in your area, Germany.info will feature information specific to each part of the country. There will be a cultural events listing and an extensive listing of German organizations in America.

Germany.info en Español
Germany.info was one of the first websites published by an embassy not from South America to feature a version in Spanish for America’s growing Spanish-speaking population. With the relaunched site, we will be expanding our Spanish language offering into a more comprehensive site.

Join us on October 3 to celebrate the new Germany.info, take part in special relaunch games, win great prizes and enjoy our new fun features.

Sincerely, Jennifer Clardy.”

And that is it from us today. We hope you enjoyed some part of this posting and that it provided you with new information about your chosen interest in German-American relations.

Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions on how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

Porsche, Volkswagen, Germany and the European Union squabble over the Veto Powers of the German State of Lower Saxony over VW Management

Porsche has recently increased its stake in Volkswagen (VW) to 35.14%, giving it a controlling interest in VW. Furthermore, it is rumored that Porsche may try to increase its controlling interest in VW to 50% or more in the coming months, although, of course, no one knows for sure. Porsche is keeping open its theoretical possibility of obtaining 75% of the shares of VW.

However, in spite of the controlling shares owned by Porsche, according to controversial provisions in the Volkswagen Articles of Association (German: Satzung), the German State of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) effectively retains a veto power over important decisions at Volkswagen through its 20.1% stake. Moreover, the Federal Republic of Germany as well as Lower Saxony retain the special right of each delegating 2 members to the 20-member Volkswagen Supervisory Board, as long as they own shares in VW.

The mentioned provisions in the Articles of Association were designed to protect the interests of ca. 150,000 employees at Volkswagen in Lower Saxony. Those actual provisions of the Volkswagen Articles of Association read in English translation [not our translation] as follows:

Ҥ 12
Right of Delegation

The Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Lower Saxony are each entitled to delegate two members to the Supervisory Board as long as they hold shares in the company.


§ 24

Voting Right – Restrictions on Voting

(1) Every ordinary shares shall carry one vote at the General Meeting. The preferred stockholders have no voting rights. If, however, the preferred stockholders are entitled to a voting right under any mandatory provisions of the law, every preferred shares shall carry one vote. If a stockholder holds more than one fifth of the shares in the company, his voting rights shall be restricted to the number of votes granted by one fifth of the shares. Shares held by a

stockholder shall also include such shares as are held by a third party for the account of the stockholder. If a stockholder is a company, the shares belonging to said company shall also include such shares as are held by a company controlling it, by any of its subsidiary companies or by any fellow group company or such as are held by a third party for the account of such companies. [emphasis added by LawPundit]

(2) Shares in the company may not be transferred in order to avoid the voting right restriction set out in subsection 1 above. In accordance with § 2 of the law relating to the transfer of share rights in Volkswagenwerk GmbH into private hands, any shares which have been transferred in such manner as to be at variance with this prohibition cannot be reassigned.

The European Union (EU) through the European Commission (EC) has maintained its stance that these protective provisions violate European Union rules permitting free investment throughout the EU, and the EC has put pressure on VW accordingly. As written at the International Herald Tribune:

European Union regulators have challenged the so-called VW law and the European Court of Justice ruled in October that it restricted the free flow of capital.

As a consequence, VW is no longer relying on the existing provisions, which capped any shareholders voting rights at 20%, and is now trying to change the Articles of Association to provide that an 80% vote is required for significant company decisions (this figure is currently 75%), thus effectively retaining the old rule in its converse, and with the same effect, since Lower Saxony’s 20.1% share makes it impossible for anyone to obtain 80% of the shares, thus maintaining its veto power.

The Volkswagen Supervisory Board has thus submitted such changes in their Articles of Association to the court of record, the registry (viz. register) court (Registergericht) in Braunschweig, Germany. As written at the International Tax Review:

[C]onfirmation by a government agency is typically a condition precedent to the formation of a corporation (in Germany, this takes the form of entry in the commercial register after review of the articles of incorporation by the commercial register court – partnerships, by contrast, are effective as between the partners upon entry into the partnership agreement).

Recent news reports indicate, however, that the court of record in Braunschweig is not going to accept the changes to the Volkswagen Articles of Association as submitted by the Supervisory Board, since these Articles are regarded by that court to be matters which can only be changed by a resolution of a General Meeting of Stockholders, which votes as follows:

§ 26
Resolutions
(1) The General Meeting shall adopt its resolutions by simple majority of the votes
cast.
(2) Resolutions of the General Meeting in respect of which the German Corporation
Act stipulates a majority comprising at least three quarters of the capital stock
represented at the time the resolution is voted on shall require a majority of more
than four fifths of the capital stock of the company represented at such time.“[emphasis added by LawPundit]

The matter is apparently to be adjudicated at a local court in Hannover on November 6, 2008, but we think that the outcome is quite clear, in spite of the opportunistic political posturing by politicians for the VW provisions in the Articles of Association and in spite of emotional reports in German media which fail to see that the issue is a legal issue, and not a political one.

The fact is that neither the EU nor the courts can permit these kinds of blatantly twisted legal exceptions in the Articles of Association at Volkswagen. Otherwise, any and all companies would be entitled to put similar protective provisions in their Articles of Association, if they wanted them, which would then potentially engender complete chaos as regards the principle of free investment within the European Union.

The Global Top 100 Law Firms for the year 2008 : Profits per Partner : Most Lawyers : Most Revenue

The Global 100 Law Firm rankings for the year 2008 are available at Law.com,
ranked by 1) Most Profits per Partner , 2) Most Lawyers, and 3) Most Revenues.
As written at Law.com:
[t]he Global 100 is a joint project of The American Lawyer and Legal Week, a sibling publication.” [links added by LawPundit]

It is interesting for us to see that our former law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, headquartered in New York City, ranks 9th in the world for profits per partner, a top-10 ranking tied to the firm’s heavy litigation practice, as Law.com writes:

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, a U.S.-law-only shop where about half the lawyers are litigators, rose from 15th in The Global 100’s profits per partner rankings in 2001 to fifth in 2002, and has not left the top 10 since.

Of course, some of those profits are also connected to the firm’s highly rated information technology and telecommunications practice. As noted at the Paul|Weiss website:

On September 19, for the eighth time, Paul, Weiss was awarded the “Best IT/Telecom Law Firm” by Asian Legal Business. This prestigious award is given in recognition for outstanding client service as well as the firm’s ability to combine rigorous analysis with astute judgment to give clients a competitive edge. Winners were selected based on interviews with industry professionals.

Although the U.S. law firm Baker & McKenzie International continues to hold its place as the world’s largest law firm, the United Kingdom has 5 of the 7 largest law firms in the world, a consolidation development accounted for by the growth of these firms internationally.

Indeed, three UK firms top the list of law firms in terms of gross revenues in the recent fiscal year:

1. Clifford Chance International
2. Linklaters International
3. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer International

If we compare just a single law office in a single city, according to Law.com:

Clifford Chance has the largest office in London, with around 1,000 qualified attorneys, while New York’s largest firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, has 845 attorneys in New York, according to The National Law Journal‘s 2007 NLJ 250. (The National Law Journal is a sibling publication of The American Lawyer.)

Links to sources featuring the Global 100

The AmLaw Daily

Editor’s Blog at LegalWeek.com

MarketWatch