* 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]
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.
● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.
● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.
● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!