* Legal experts write a letter to Congress suggesting term limits for Supreme Court justices. [The Washington Post]
* SCOTUS will discuss whether judges should excuse themselves from voting in cases involving big campaign contributors when they hear a case involving a West Virginia judge. [Detroit Free Press]
* 3 jurors who convicted Alfred Trenkler of a bombing that killed a Boston Police officer wrote letters begging the judge for a new trial, after a book about the case convinced them of his innocence. [The Boston Globe]
* Today in Houston, U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent will go on trial, facing accusations that he fondled two female court employees. [The Associated Press]
* Mega-jerk Stephen Fowler, who hurled every conceivable vicious insult at his”new wife” on Wife Swap, threatens to sue over a website’s publication of his home address. Unfortunately for Fowler, when the presiding judge sees theepisode, he or she will be forced to recuse himself or herself. [Reality Roll Call]
* The Stimulus Plan is creating tax attorney jobs? Oh, but tax work is so hard and boring. I guess we’ll have to take what we can get. [MSNBC]
* So long friends, old and new. Thanks for reading! See you next week for Pls Hndle Thx.
With regret, we will reduce by 58 the number of Legal Administrative Assistants, Administrative Department Staff, and Paralegals in our U.S. offices. Tomorrow will be the last day at the firm for the individuals impacted by this decision.
The email also references a Sophie’s Choice buyout previously made to staff, which was accepted by nine:
An additional nine members of our staff accepted the Voluntary Separation Package offered earlier in the month. Their last day will be Friday, February 27.
If severance for all terminated staff is the same, it thus appears that staff who chose the buyout and got an extra week’s pay chose wisely.
But go go gadget, attorney skills: the question is, will staff that chose to voluntarily separate be eligible for unemployment? That depends on the state. Let’s hope that those nine staff checked the books in Minnesota prior to making their choice.
Justin Peacock is living the dream. The lawyer-turned-successful-writer dream, that is.
His first novel, A Cure for Night, got rave reviews. The Washington Post called it “terrific.” The New York Times praised Peacock for forgoing “the flashier precincts of John Grisham, where all is conspiracy and the legalese is leavened with bombs and gunplay, and head[ing] toward Scott Turow country, where characters get enmeshed in the murky, moral corners of the actual law.” The Mystery Writers of America recently nominated Peacock for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel.
After all the accolades, Peacock, 38, quit his litigation job at Patterson Belknap last year to concentrate full-time on writing. We caught up with him at Ozzie’s Coffeehouse in Brooklyn on a rainy Wednesday afternoon this week. Read our interview on making the transition from law to writing, after the jump.
When non-lawyers ask what’s happening in the world of law these days (i.e., what ATL is covering), our first response is usually one word: layoffs. It’s been a dominant theme in our coverage since the fall. Non-lawyers are often sympathetic, but couch their sympathy with, “Well, lawyers get six months of severance, right? Getting fired is like a paid vacation for them.”
Well, not exactly. According to one of Justin’s surveys on the slowdown, three months is actually the market rate for lawyer severance packages at large law firms. That time goes by surprisingly fast in this economy. For many of those laid off in the fall, severance checks will soon stop coming. What’s your plan after severance stops?
One tipster wrote in asking us for more details on the going rates on severance:
Could you somehow publicly give honorable mention to the firms who are treating their associates fairly and with the respect they deserve? It would also be tremendous information for those of us who are in a precarious position. At least we would know what would be reasonable to request if and when we are laid off.
Earlier today, we gave props to McKee Nelson for handling layoffs well (or at least as well as such things can be handled). But not every firm uses lube is kinder and gentler in the dismissal department.
We’ve prepared a (very informal) round-up of the severance packages at various firms, self-reported by affected lawyers. Check out the numbers, after the jump.
There was no LEWW last Friday because last week’s wedding pages were even bleaker than the Biglaw employment news. We’ve bounced back nicely, though, because Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this year, making this week’s weddings section a February feast of premium nuptial news.
We present three outstanding couples for your consideration:
Despite the economic nosedive that began gaining momentum in 2008, the nation’s biggest law firms hired just about the same percentage of graduates from top schools last year as they did the year before.
At the same time, firms among The National Law Journal’s 2008 survey of the nation’s 250 largest law firms brought aboard more graduates from the 20 schools that they relied on the most, which themselves had larger classes.
Bigger classes? MORE hiring? Sounds good to me! But the Journal delivers its shocking conclusion:
The development suggests that law firms were not well positioned for the recession they now face.
Find out where the Journal has been living, after the jump.
As tips continue to roll in about layoffs, I am reminded of The Hangman, the poem by Maurice Ogden. It begins:
Into our town the Hangman came, Smelling of gold and blood and flame. And he paced our bricks with a diffident air, And built his frame in the courthouse square.
Sadly, the Hangman has come to ply his trade at Carter Ledyard. We’ve heard that at least nine attorneys, ranging from junior associates (including first- and second-years) to counsel, were fired:
The 9 who were laid off last week were told last Monday, February 9, that they had to be out of the office by last Friday, giving them 4 days to clear out and wrap things up right before a holiday weekend.
Find out why nine may not be the loneliest number, after the jump.
* Lobbyist Vicki Iseman settled her suit with the New York Times. The NYT will run a note in today’s paper explaining that it did not intend to insinuate that Iseman and John McCain had gotten it on. Iseman and the Times are a bit at odds over the meaning of their joint statement though. [BLT]
* Texas Judge Sharon Keller is on the hot seat for going home early the day a stay of execution was going to be filed. [Houston Chronicle]
* Just when you thought Eliot Spitzer’s name would appear in the news only as a byline on Slate, the prostitution prosecution will unseal court records that may change that. Judge Jed Rakoff ordered the hand-off of wire records on Spitzer to the New York Times. [New York Times]
* Does your firm have a best friend in India? [The Lawyer]
* Former federal prosecutor, Deutsche Bank lawyer, and Boston University Law grad Robert Khuzami will head up the enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission. That’s a big job these days. [Washington Post]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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