October 2014

New Shingle new law firm.JPGYesterday the news broke that Steven Molo, of Shearman & Sterling, and Jeffrey Lamken, of Baker Botts, were leaving their respective firms to start a new litigation boutique. It will be called MoloLamken and start out with offices in New York and D.C. Am Law Daily reports that the firm represents the new recession model for business generation:

If there is a firm model built for the dawning post-recession era, it’s probably a litigation boutique with low overhead and a flexible billing structure….

The firm will start with four partners and two associates, and will work on both plaintiffs and defense cases. Within five years, Molo says he hopes to have around 50 lawyers. “Over time, clients have become far more sophisticated in hiring firms,” he said. “They understand how a firm like this can be small but every bit as efficient or even more so than a larger firm.”

But are they hiring? Details after the jump.

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Debevoise logo.jpg* Thumbs down on the public option from the Senate Finance Committee. [New York Times]
* Second Circuit gives Debevoise the green light to represent MetLife in a class action where some Debevoise lawyers may be called as witnesses. [New York Law Journal]
* No prison term for a former Paul Hastings associate involved in an insider trading scheme. [ABA Journal]
* Third Circuit says no dice (yet again) to Delaware’s sports betting plan. [Am Law Daily]
* An Arizona state court judge has issued an injunction against new restrictions on abortion. [How Appealing]
* Former Yankee Chuck Knoblauch has been charged with domestic violence. [Houston Chronicle via WSJ Law Blog]
* Hungry for more debate on the Roman Polanski case? Here are some additional viewpoints. [Room for Debate / New York Times]

law firm swag treasure chest.jpgDespite the grim economy — which we don’t think is recovering yet, despite all the “green shoots” talk — law firms continue to interview. And to make job offers. And, of course, to woo the lucky few who get offers with fabulous prizes: the nifty gifts and cute tchotchkes, often branded with the firm’s name or logo, that we collectively call LAW FIRM SWAG.
At the recent Lavender Law conference (coverage here and here), we were impressed by the level of interview activity at the job fair. To be sure, it’s not clear whether any hiring was going on; but it was nice to see law firms out in force.
And it was nice to see their swag. There were pens, courtesy of Seyfarth Shaw, and compact shoeshine discs, courtesy of Townsend and Townsend and Crew. (Leave it to an IP law firm to bring out the snazzy hardware.)
And what about Sullivan & Cromwell, giver of bonsai trees, and the historical king of law firm swag? What did S&C dole out at this year’s Lavender Law conference?
Find out — and, even more importantly, learn how to nominate your favorite Biglaw gift in Above the Law’s first annual LAW FIRM SWAG CONTEST — after the jump.

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Scalding hot coffee why.JPG* Can someone please explain to me why coffee needs to be roughly the temperature of fire when it is handed to me? I want something to drink, not something I can use to sanitize a bathroom. [Torts Prof Blog]
* Marin asked me if the good days of Biglaw were gone forever. My response can be summed up in one word: “outsourcing.” [Technolawyer]
* How should you handle a rude recruiter? I don’t know, sweep the leg? [Let's Talk Turkey]
* Do you ever lie in bed wondering if Biglaw would take you back? [Ivy League Insecurities]
* Tips on snagging a clerkship from NYU Law. [Blackbook Legal]
* Idle hands are the Devil’s playthings. [Litination]
* You might remember that I thought former law student of the day, Janero Marchand, got a raw deal from some ATL commenters. Still, it’s an important lesson every buppie should know. [True/Slant]

kevin_moriarty.jpgKimberly and Kevin Ireland, of Kansas, decided in 2007 to file for a divorce. Their case was mediated by state judge Kevin Moriarty. Things did not go well from there.
From a pro se complaint [PDF] against Moriarty posted at Courthouse News Service:

Defendant Moriarty used the word “f*&%” during the mediation… Defendant Moriarty discussed plaintiff Ireland’s female undergarments and referred to the same as “panties” during the mediation… Defendant Moriarty discussed plaintiff Ireland’s sex life during the mediation.

According to Kathy Ireland, none of this was relevant to the mediation. But Moriarty thought it was important. And exciting:

Defendant Moriarty appeared to be masturbating during the mediation.

It all sounds pretty crazy, right? But Ireland’s ex-husband is actually backing her up on this.

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Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier LLP.jpgVanity Fair has a detailed article on Marc Dreier. It’s TLDR fascinating. The magazine has a great quote from Dreier explaining how his life felt after he got divorced and split from his longtime business partner:

All this sent Dreier into an emotional tailspin. “I was very distraught,” he says. “I was very disappointed in my life. I felt my career and my marriage were over. I was 52 and [I felt] maybe life was passing me by…. I felt like I was a failure.” His feelings of despair were deepened by his keen, lifelong sense of entitlement, a hard-core belief that he was destined to achieve great things.

Dreier felt that way at 52. How many young lawyers feel that way at 25, after getting laid off early in their career or no offered entirely? Of course, some people rebound from that feeling with renewed motivation. Dreier used the emotion to underpin criminal activity. Our friends at Dealbreaker get into Dreier’s head this way:

It’d be enough to send anyone to a place where the next logical thing to do would be impersonate hedge fund managers and stage fake conference calls! And honestly, not to insult anyone here, but do you know how easy it is to scam these hedgie guys? Like crazy easy. It almost seems like the crime would be to not scam them, if you think about it.

If you don’t have the time to get through the whole VF article, check out the highlights on Dealbreaker.
Marc Dreier’s Crime of Destiny [Vanity Fair]
Marc Dreier Got Into The Ponzi Biz To Fulfill His Destiny For Greatness, To Fill A Void, And To Buy A Beach House [Dealbreaker]

American Association for Justice debt trial lawyers.JPGThe tort reformers among you are going to love this story. Just as it looks like there might be an opening to enact significant medical malpractice reform, it appears that one of the most powerful lobbying arms against reform is hemorrhaging money (gavel bang: Overlawyered). The Washington Times reports:

The American Association for Justice, the most prominent group representing plaintiffs’ attorneys, has seen a shake-up in its executive suite and has struggled to deal with what appears to be a mounting budget shortfall. To help it fight congressional efforts to make it harder for patients to sue doctors and lawyers, it recently sent out an extra solicitation to its members, asking them to fork over money for a lobbying campaign.
The most striking evidence of its financial woes is a swift decline in income, which resulted in a more than $6.2 million deficit in its operating budget for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.

The reason for the shortfall appears to be fewer members. Details after the jump.

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Summer associate job market depressed.JPGAmerican Lawyer has released its annual summer associate survey. Not surprisingly, summer associates were generally terrified:

“The economic times suck,” one clerk at New York’s Skadden, Arps, Meagher, Slate & Flom wrote bluntly in response to our most recent summer associates survey. “The firm can’t change that. But the times have made for a difficult summer.” A Bryan Cave intern put it this way: “It is a scary time to be a law student.”
One indication of just how scary: The number of summer clerks who said they expected to receive full-time job offers was down sharply, according to our survey, while anecdotal evidence culled from respondents’ answers to open-ended questions suggested that stress and anxiety levels were up.

I had thought that many summers were stuck in the anger stage of grief. But this report suggests that many summers have actually jumped all the way ahead to stage four: depression. I guess that is progress?
As we suspected, 2009 summers took more of an “every man for himself” approach to this year’s summer experience. Details after the jump.

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Cristina Schultz.jpegFor those of you considering prostitution to pay off your law school debts (you know who you are), consider the cautionary tale of Cristina Warthen. As we have previously reported, Cristina graduated from Stanford Law School in 2001. But instead of going into Biglaw, Cristina adopted the porn name “Brazil” and turned herself into a high-priced escort.
Granted, if she graduated today, Cristina might have been able to get some public interest deferral money for her “service.” But this was a long time ago.
And for a while Cristina was a smashing success. She even landed a rich husband, AskJeeves founder David Warthen.
But the Warthens were hit hard by the recession, and the couple split. Meanwhile, the government came looking for $313,000 in back taxes from Cristina’s sultry side business.
The ABA Journal reports that there is a resolution in Cristina’s case. What sentence did she get?

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Federal Trade Commission logo.JPGI’m not particularly interested in the history of the Titanic, but my cursory understanding of the tragedy tells me that there were not enough life boats for all of the passengers. That seems like a basic design flaw to me.
As clear as I can tell, current law students are suffering from a similar lack of suitable escape options. Future lawyers are responding to the difficulty of getting a job in private practice by bombarding government agencies with applications. But the sheer number of applicants is flooding the market for government lawyers, leaving many students out in the cold.
Applications are going far beyond obvious options like the Department of Justice. Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission decided it couldn’t even take on any more resumes:

Thank you for your interest in the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Competition. Due to a record number of applications, we have ended our application period in advance of the September 30th deadline.
Again, thank you for your interest and please keep the Bureau in mind for future opportunities.
Bureau of Competition Hiring Committee

When we’re at the point in the movie where the government is locking the doors to steerage, you know things are bad.
In response, Cornell Law School is urging students who want to work to move even more quickly. Details after the jump.

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