States are liberalizing liquor laws to allow stores to allow liquor tastings, reports the Chicago Tribune. Apparently tastings lead to greater sales of expensive brands, something that makes both companies and states happy.A daily look at legal news and the business of law...

Liquor Tastings and Sin Taxes
States are liberalizing liquor laws to allow stores to allow liquor tastings, reports the Chicago Tribune. Virginia recently became the 43rd state to ease its laws. Apparently tastings lead to greater sales of expensive brands, something that makes both companies and states happy. States make a lot of money off sin taxes, and last year seven states enacted or increased liquor taxes, reports the New York Times. (The Times article has a nice summary of the whole field of sin taxes.)

My first encounter with liquor tastings was 15 years ago, when driving around Mexico. I discovered drive-up tequila stands where you could taste shots and then get back on the road. Whatever the merits of making liquor tastings easier in this country, I hope we don't go quite that far.

And in the business of law...
"New York's Most Obnoxious Lawyer," Kenneth Heller, has been charged with tax evasion, one of seven ex-UBS clients targeted yesterday, reports the AmLaw Daily. Given the caricature that New Yorkers are naturally obnoxious and lawyers intrinsically so, getting the moniker "New York's Most Obnoxious Lawyer" must have taken some doing. The article gives the lowlights of Heller's behavior and escapades, of which abusive yelling figures prominently. The Village Voice gave Heller the nickname three years ago after the 77-year-old was disbarred for "obstructive and offensive behavior which did not involve fraud or deception," the only New York lawyer disbarred for such reason. Apparently he yelled at judges a lot, among other things.

Dewey & LeBoeouf refinances its debt by selling $125 million in bonds through a private placement, reports Bloomberg. The move is very unusual for a law firm, which typically helps others do these deals.

DLA Piper erased a 10% salary cut it imposed on associates in June 2009. First-year associates in big cities will make the $160,000 a year salary commonly enjoyed just before the Great Recession, reports the National Law Journal, a level that has been returning to other firms as well. More senior associates will make correspondingly more as well.

When I was at a firm, in-house counsel positions were perceived as cushy jobs with good pay for less work. But apparently that's not always so. eBay in-house attorney Mary Huser is heading back to Bingham McCutchen, where she expects to work less and earn more, reports the ABA Journal.

The ABA Journal also reports that Blank Rome is expanding in Texas, picking up a partner and scouting locations for a new Houston office.

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