* 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]
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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