That’s the title of our latest column for the New York Observer, which reflects upon recent television and film portrayals of women litigators.
It touches upon some of the same themes highlighted in Amy Kolz’s excellent American Lawyer article from last year, but it’s more focused on fictional female litigators, as opposed to real-life ones. Here’s how it starts:
Whatever happened to Ally McBeal? If recent movies and television shows are any guide, the life of a female lawyer has gotten a lot less pleasant since the carefree, charmingly neurotic days of dancing babies and bathroom kisses. But today’s portrayals may be more accurate, and certainly more critically acclaimed.
Last January, Glenn Close won a Golden Globe for her compelling performance as Patty Hewes, a fearsome and wildly successful plaintiff’s lawyer, on the addictive TV show Damages. The following month, Tilda Swinton snagged an Oscar for stepping into the pumps of Karen Crowder, a hard-charging in-house litigator, in Michael Clayton.
In March, Julianna Margulies (of ER) returned to television as aggressive defense lawyer Elizabeth Canterbury, the title character of Canterbury’s Law. Even Katey Sagal, who embodied the famously vulgar Peggy Bundy on Married With Children, reincarnated herself this year as Marci Klein, the sleek, powerful, and ruthless founding partner of the law firm on Eli Stone.
Herrera’s complaint — “for discrimination, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and fraud” — reads like a reality TV show pitch about the lives of paralegals. Herrera has been a paralegal in Weil’s Silicon Valley office since 2004. In his complaint, he talks about:
a female paralegal who thinks men are inferior to women;
a male paralegal who thinks women are inferior to men (and referred to a co-worker as “milky creamies” in honor of her breasts);
a paralegal who expressed prejudice against Latinos;
good old inter-office gossip about who liked and hated whom; and
the use of the “pimp hand” and the “mojo hand” to intimidate and cajole.
Here’s an excerpt from the complaint (“Mr. Schmoller” refers to senior paralegal Chris Schmoller):
(For those who don’t know, Matt Powers is one of the most feared, respected and successful patent litigators in the country.)
(Also for those of you don’t know, the ever-useful urban dictionary defines “pimp hand” as “the hand used to smack your ho’s around,” but has no definition for “mojo hand”)…
Reached Friday at Weil Gotshal where he still works, Herrera told Legal Pad he sued because he was out of options for resolving the problems. He has yet to serve the firm, and said he was contemplating Friday just how to do it.
Wikipedia says the mojo hand is a kind of magic charm. We still don’t know what a mojo hand is, but we want one!
As a former paralegal, Kash was most amused by Herrera’s complaint that he was given “repetitive, unchallenging and un-enriching tasks.” Welcome to being a paralegal!
That’s a question that our friends at the ABA Journal are planning to tackle in a forthcoming article. Perhaps you can help?
Some background, from reporter Richard Acello:
We’re looking to do a story on law firms’ tech savvy or lack thereof. At a recent technology conference, some IT people complained about how their technological requirements were just not accepted by the older partners. But the young lawyers, used to more advanced technology, had no problem adapting when changes were made.
We’re looking for some examples from associates, as well as suggestions for new associates who come in and are appalled at how backward the tech is at their law firms. Yes, we will allow anonymity.
You can email Rich Acello, the writer on the story, at richace at cox dot net. Also feel free to comment on this post if you have some thoughts on law firms and how “with it” they are when it comes to tech.
The bad news continues to roll in. Becker & Poliakoff, which just announced across-the-board pay cuts for its lawyers, isn’t the only Florida firm that’s hurting.
From a report by Julie Kay, for the upcoming issue of the National Law Journal:
In another sign of the hard times facing the legal industry, particularly in real-estate heavy South Florida, two local law firms — Holland & Knight and Shutts & Bowen — have laid off non-lawyer staffers.
On a day that could be dubbed Black Friday in South Florida legal circles, Tampa-based Holland & Knight, one of Florida’s largest and most venerable firms with 1,150 lawyers, laid off 70 staffers Friday, including legal secretaries, IT and accounting staff. No lawyers were laid off.
The layoffs of about four employees in each of Holland’s 17 offices represented 5% of Holland’s non-lawyer workforce.
Shutts & Bowen, a 200-lawyer, Miami-based firm, Friday laid off nine people, all entry level file clerks or paralegal clerks. No lawyers or legal secretaries were affected.
Holland & Knight spokeswoman Susan Bass told the Daily Business Review that the firm “had some redundancies and inefficiencies.” Seventy staffers is a whole lot of redundancies.
Read more — about prior layoffs at H&K, and the situation over at Greenberg Traurig — below the fold.
Ah, those inscrutable transcripts from the University of Chicago Law School — gotta love ‘em. They’re chock full of numbers, but they don’t use the standard “As = 90s, Bs = 80s” scale. For example, if your grades are all in the 80s, you’re a rock star.
Nobody can make heads or tails of the U. Chicago transcripts. So what’s wrong with a little “tweaking” here and there? From the ABA Journal (via TaxProf Blog):
A lawyer who attended the University of Chicago Law School has been accused in an ethics complaint of lying about his grades when he applied for a summer position at Sidley Austin.
Loren Elliotte Friedman is accused in a complaint filed May 6 by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. He was listed as an associate at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle in New York on the firm’s website earlier Tuesday, but his name was removed by the afternoon.
Joseph Pizzurro, managing partner of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, told ABAJournal.com that Friedman, a bankruptcy associate, disclosed the bar complaint to the law firm on Friday and submitted his resignation.
The complaint says Friedman altered transcripts of his law school grades in 20 classes to reflect better grades than he received. Friedman worked at Sidley Austin the summer of 2002, and the firm extended an employment offer for him to begin work as an associate in 2003.
The complaint also alleges that Friedman failed to reveal he flunked out of medical school in his application to law school, and that he failed to disclose the altered law school transcripts in his bar application.
It looks like medicine, and now law, haven’t worked out for Loren Friedman. What’s next?
Maybe betting on horseraces? The Legal Profession Blog has dubbed his three alleged omissions a “trifecta.”
More details, after the jump.
Last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on trimming summer associate programs is still open, but we’ve already been getting some interesting debate in the comments.
For law students, trimming the summer programs — or at least the summer salaries — would be a critical financial blow:
[L]aw School tuition is fucking EXPENSIVE. I take out 55k per year in loans here at CLS (45k of which goes to tuition + fees). Luckily, I have no undergrad debt. The financial aid office suggests that the average student take out 64k per year in loans. In sum, you misers need to talk to school adminstrations before cutting pay.
But once they’ve achieved permanent (or not so permanent) employment status, some associates would prefer to see a slimmer summer experience:
It’s not right that in a market where good associates are being kicked to the curb for economic reasons we’re throwing buckets of money at a bunch of kids who don’t know anything and just teaching them how to be (more) entitled. Shorten the summer and pay them a salary that has some correlation to what they’re worth – they are mere interns.
Other associates, however, are still in favor of lunch:
I thought ATL was on our side. The open budgets and free lunches are a perk to associates too.
And one tipster wonders just how free those lunches are from firm to firm:
Might be a good time next week or two weeks from now to do a post about summer lunch budgets. I just heard on the grapevine that we’re having $25/person limits, with anything over it coming out of the associate’s pockets. I know some other firms have a $30 or $50 limit.
So, today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey focuses on both lunch and morale. How much can you spend on lunch with the summer associates, how often do you do lunch, and would associates at your firm be upset if the summer program went away? Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.
– Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.
Judge Carlton Vines presides over traffic violations and DUIs in Chattooga County, Georgia. It’s a tiny county with a population of just over 25,000. The local newspaper, The Summerville News, has an ongoing investigative series examining the county’s drunk-driving phenomenon and growing number of DUI arrests.
Unfortunately, Judge Vines has become a part of the phenomenon. He was arrested in November of last year for driving drunk and leaving the scene of an accident after swerving into another car. The coppers just released the dash-cam video from the arrest. The man was trashed, slurring, and stumbling… though still cogent enough to refuse the breathalyzer.
Vines pleaded guilty to DUI charges in April. He has since spent three nights in jail, paid fines, done community service and was on house arrest.
On the tape, Vines can be heard admitting he has had “over the limit.” At one point on the tape, an officer asks, “Do you remember the wreck you were involved in?” Vines can be heard responding, “I’m not going to admit or deny it but I will take responsibility.”
A nolo plea — or just good drunken logic? Vines is under voluntary suspension, and the Georgia State Judicial Commission gets to decide whether he returns to the bench.
Judge Vines makes some bizarre comment about sharecropping at the end of the YouTube video. Can someone from rural Georgia please explain? Caught On Tape: Georgia Judge Arrested For DUI [WSB TV] Drunk Judge Arrested [YouTube.com]
* Justice Department report details FBI objections to interrogation techniques used on terror suspects. [Legalities / ABC News; McClatchy]
* Jurors get a bit too much evidence in R. Kelly trial. [CNN]
* Officers in Sean Bell case face NYPD charges of misusing firearms. [New York Times]
* Florida woman gets seven years for enslavement. [CNN]
* Clinton takes Kentucky, but Obama grabs Oregon and the majority of pledged delegates. [MSNBC; New York Times]
* Should Obama promise Hillary a SCOTUS nomination? [Washington Post]
Bingham McCutchen just confirmed to us that it laid off staff last week in at least two Bay Area offices — 12 in San Francisco and five in Silicon Valley.
San Francisco Managing Partner Geoffrey Howard said the S.F. layoffs constituted between 5 and 10 percent of the staff there and affected three departments: support services (e.g. copy/fax, mail room, catering, etc.), accounting and records.
* A summary of jury selection in the R. Kelly kiddie porn case: “I haven’t heard of jurors this stupid since the O.J. trial.” [Supreme Dicta]
* Really, there’s no cause for alarm. ATL comes in peace. [Tex Parte Blog]
* Cisco GC Mark Chandler feels the heat on Capitol Hill. [Washington Briefs]
* Recent Fantasy Baseball rulings by the Honorable Marc Edelman, ATL’s resident sports columnist. [SportsJudge Blog]
* For those of you who deal with the Malaysian judiciary (all three of you), take note: “[B]usiness as usual in Malaysia is no longer acceptable.” [Wall Street Journal Asia (subscription)]
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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