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Hop in the DeLorean and travel back in time with us.

Labor Day weekend is here. So let’s talk about… labor! In the Biglaw salt mines.

In response to our earlier Flashback Friday posts about associate compensation in the 1990s, we received a few requests for information about billable hours back then. People wanted to know how hard associates had to work back in the day for that $83,000 starting salary.

It’s a good question. You hear anecdotal evidence going in both directions. Sometimes people who have been in the profession for a long time talk about how hard they had to work before technology made things so much easier, recalling the bad old days of never-ending, hard-copy due diligence or document review. On other occasions, though, old timers reminisce about the good old ways when law was more of a profession and less of a business; sure, lawyers earned less, but they had lives — or , at least, better work-life balance.

Which picture holds more truth? Here’s some data….

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Ed. note: Due to the Labor Day holiday, we’re on a reduced publication schedule today. We’ll be back to our normal Saturday schedule tomorrow. But you don’t care about that. More importantly we’ll be off on Labor Day and back to normal on Tuesday. A restful and happy Labor Day to all!

* Jesus, this Elle Woods fascination just won’t die. [Law School Lemmings]

* Lawyers seek to ruin something beautiful: ALS Association wants a trademark on the concept of an ice bucket challenge. [Washington Post]

* Ah, fun tales of the Streisand Effect. [Popehat]

* UC Davis Law saw increased applications. Dean Kevin Johnson says, “I do think the market is coming back. And I do think the naysayers of law schools and being a lawyer, their days are limited in number.” You’re the only school in California showing an increase and the country as a whole is down and you’re conveniently not charging any application fee, but yeah, our days are limited. [UC Davis Law]

* Lawyer who showed up to court going by the name “Lord Harley of Counsel” gets a tongue-lashing from the judge. [Legal Cheek]

* Ant-f**king. OK. [Legal Juice]

Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Alison Monahan provides some advice for optimizing your law school grades.

It’s a fresh semester, a new year, and you’ve resolved to get better law school grades. Great! How are you going to do that? If you’re like most people, you resolve to “work harder.”

For a few days, or maybe even a couple of weeks, you spend extra time in the library, making sure you’re well-prepared for class and don’t fall behind on the reading. Inevitably, however, things get in the way and you start slipping. Maybe your favorite TV show is on, or a big ball game, and your study time gradually drifts back to about what it was before.

There’s nothing really wrong with this approach, except for the fact that it’s unlikely to improve your outcome. What will improve your results is a new approach — iteration.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center….

Steve Stipanovich guarding that co-pilot from Airplane.

“Sicilians are great liars. The best in the world. I’m Sicilian. My father was the world heavy-weight champion of Sicilian liars.” –Vincenzo Coccotti

Lying, of course, is that most human of traits. We all lie. It’s what separates us from the rest of these animals. My dog, for instance, would love to tell me that a gigantic rat broke into my apartment and pooped on my floor. But he can’t. Which is why he’s scurried under this ottoman and is currently avoiding eye contact with me.

This week, the world was entertained by a subset of that most human of traits. The lie told this week, however, was of a rarer breed, one borne of a toxic mix of hubris and imagination. This kind of lie, of the great big Costanzian variety, consists not only in covering a misdeed up, but in covering the liar in glory at the same time.

Josh Shaw committed that kind of lie this week. And in doing so, reminded the world that athletes are liars like all of us.

He also reminded the world of an athlete who shot himself almost 35 years ago…

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Deepak Gupta

It’s an intimidation model. It’s a way for corporations to go after their critics and those who fund them.

Deepak Gupta of Gupta Beck PLLC, lead appellate lawyer for Steven Donziger in Donziger’s never-ending litigation with Chevron, commenting on the oil giant’s hardball tactics and aggressive litigation style (for a lengthy Rolling Stone article about the case).

Keith Lee

It’s always interesting to have conversations with clients who have gone through multiple lawyers. Not the sort of clients who have gone lawyer shopping in the past, bouncing around looking for the lowest price, but rather the client who has had a relationship with a lawyer in the past and has decided to break away from that lawyer due to poor performance or bad customer service. Listening to clients who have severed relationships with other lawyers offers a glimpse into what is going on in the mind of clients and what they expect from the legal services they obtain.

One of the most egregious things I’ve heard lately from a client has to do with a couple of bottles of water….

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Professor John Yoo, who deemed waterboarding wasn’t torture.

Among the many, many, many problems with running a torture program (beyond being morally problematic and with no history of effectiveness) is the fact that it makes it easier for others to justify torture programs as well. It’s now come out that ISIS has been waterboarding prisoners, including reporter James Foley whom they recently beheaded. Waterboarding, of course, was one of the CIA’s favorite torture techniques. And, of course, people had warned for years that having the CIA waterboard people would only encourage others to use the technique against Americans. Hell, even Senator Dianne Feinstein condemned waterboarding a few years ago, because it would lead others to do it against the US:

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In honor of the Simpsons marathon, let’s introduce each of these with a Simpsons quote.

* Dr. Hibbert: And hillbillies want to be called “Sons of the Soil,” but it ain’t gonna happen. — BofA wants that $1.3 billion verdict tossed as “unreasonable.” [Law360]

* Superintendent Chalmers: Oh, I have had it, I have had it with this school, Skinner! The low test scores, class after class of ugly, ugly children! — Suffolk University fired its president just days before school began. I’d like to think it was over their subway ads. In any event, the interim president seems to get the problem: “‘I don’t think there’s growth there,’ he said, referring to [law school] enrollment.” [Boston Globe]

* Homer: Barney’s movie had heart, but “Football in the Groin” had a football in the groin — College football kicked off last night (or Wednesday if we cared about Georgia State), so check in with the lawyer for the USC player who pretended he injured himself saving his nephew’s life. [Deadspin]

* Lionel Hutz: There’s the truth and… the truth! — Bracewell & Giuliani partner, Glenn A. Ballard Jr., got benchslapped in Texas for “an affront to this court, to the other parties and to judicial integrity.” Everything’s bigger in Texas. [Houston Chronicle]

* Chief Wiggum: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say blah blah blah blah blah blah. — After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s overdose, the police actually arrested a jazz musician. He got no jail time after he hired a new lawyer, Alex Spiro, who went after the cops for taking advantage of his client. [NY Daily News]

* Jimbo: You let me down, man. Now I don’t believe in nothing no more. I’m going to law school. — Professor Campos wonders if American University law school will sue students who drop out or transfer? [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

Let’s give a round of applause to these great firms.

Earlier this week, the American Lawyer released the results of its annual survey of Biglaw midlevel associates (third-, fourth-, and fifth-year associates at large law firms). We’ll start with the good news: midlevels seem to be quite happy. The average composite score for satisfaction hit 4.08 — the highest in a decade, and higher even than last year’s healthy figure.

But just like last year, which revealed a significant gender gap in terms of job satisfaction, this year’s rosy news comes with caveats. The latest survey shows, for example, that women, African-American, and LGBT lawyers are less satisfied than their non-minority counterparts in terms of measures like training, fairness of evaluations, and partnership prospects.

Now let’s move on to the juicy stuff: the firms with the happiest — and unhappiest — associates. Plus a new ranking from Am Law, focusing on which law schools best prepared their students for Biglaw life….

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* Here’s the international sign for “don’t urinate in public.” Glad to know we needed a sign for this. [National Review]

* An illegal hostile work environment is created when coworkers wear confederate flag T-shirts. Because… obviously it is. Professor Volokh thinks this is unconstitutional. Apparently a document drafted by white slaveholders is set up to protect “broadcasting to black people that they should still be enslaved.” Because… obviously it is. [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Police accidentally killed a crew member for the TV show “Cops” while foiling a robbery. That’s just shocking… the fact that “Cops” is still on the air. [Associated Press via ABC News]

* Practice pointer: Get in the practice of writing non-clients to tell them that they are not, in fact, your clients. People can be crazy stalkers out there and you need to protect your practice. [What About Clients]

* Scheduling trials is like playing musical chairs. Except no matter when the music stops someone’s probably getting screwed. [Katz Justice]

* It turns out that lawyers have a hard time talking to clients about overdue bills. As a lawyer who has literally had state troopers impound a client’s private jet, I don’t understand this. But here are the results of a comprehensive survey on the subject. [Lexis-Nexis]

* If you’re interested in how the “justice gap” functions overseas, here’s a report from the Legal Services Board in the UK. [Red Brick Solutions]

* A Texas man, David Barajas, was acquitted of shooting and killing a drunk driver who had killed the man’s sons. The defense argued that Barajas didn’t kill the guy and that there was little physical evidence tying Barajas to the killing. Atlanta news (specifically WSB-TV) may not quite understand the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing. Pic after the jump [via Twitter]:

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A Sixth Circuit ruling earlier this week is a victory for critics of federal hate crime legislation, as well as the defendants in the case, a group of Amish men and women who forcibly cut the hair and sheared the beards of their Amish victims. The defendants, members of the Bergholz Amish community, admitted to a series of attacks against other Amish with whom the defendants had longstanding feuds. In the Amish community, men wear long beards and women grow long hair as signs of piety and view voluntarily cutting one’s own hair as a sign of contrition. Cutting another person’s hair is a forceful condemnation of the victim. Prosecutors had argued that the defendants assaulted their victims because of their religious identity. The case is the first appellate case involving a religious hate crime brought under The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. The statute prohibits “willfully caus[ing] bodily injury to any person . . . because of the actual or perceived . . . religion . . . of [that] person.”

In one of the instances at issue, Martin and Barbara Miller’s children and their children’s spouses cut Barbara’s hair and sheared Martin’s beard. The children insisted at trial that they attacked their parents to punish them for “bad parenting.” The kids thought Martin and Barbara were cruel, punitive, and spiteful as a father and mother. The kids did not argue that Martin and Barbara’s “bad parenting” justified assaulting them. The kids only argued that they didn’t attack their parents because their parents were Amish, or even because they believed that their parents’ bad parenting was a sign of them being lousy at being Amish. Rather, they attacked their parents because they believed that their parents were lousy at being parents.

Assaulting your parents in a way that is particularly hurtful to their religious values is a good way to make clear that you won’t be attending the next family picnic, but is it a good way to commit a federal hate crime?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Splitting Hairs Over Causation: When Is Amish Beard Cutting A Hate Crime?”

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. As Michael Allen, Managing Principal at Lateral Link, recently announced, “We are pleased to announce the hiring of Ryan Turley [pictured], who brings years of legal and recruiting experience to Lateral Link. We recently sat down and he gave me his thoughts on the Chicago market and how it compares to the national market.”

As we become further and further distanced from the recession of 2008 and 2009, the market seems to be settling into a new equilibrium state that has seen a modest uptick in the demand for legal services and a sharp rise in the volume of lateral moves since 2009.

My own stomping ground, Chicago, is no exception. From 2009 to today, the Windy City has seen a significant increase in lateral moves:

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