October 2014

Reposa.jpg* Former Lawyer of the Day Adam Reposa, who was held in contempt for making the ‘jerk off’ gesture in sight of a judge, is still contemptible. [Texas Lawyer via Blogonaut]
* The first openly gay U.S. attorney gets to work in Washington State. [Associated Press]
* Kwame Kilpatrick is suing the attorney who turned the former Detroit mayor’s sext messages over to the Detroit Free Press. [Detroit News]
* Fresno judge forces nine pot shops to shutter pending the outcome of a zoning law court battle. [Associated Press]
* Former Judge of the Day Robert “Don’t-Park-in-My-Spot” Nalley pleads guilty to taking the air out of a court cleaner’s tire. [Washington Post]
* Are judges cracking down on data breaches? [Storefront Backtalk]

Massachusetts Michigan bar exam results.jpgIf you’ve been waiting for bar results in the “M” states of Massachusetts and Michigan, your wait is over. We’ve been inundated with emails like this one:

Long time reader, first time caller. Just letting you know that letters for the MA Bar Exam went out today. (I passed!!!)

Congratulations! You have established that you are not an idiot:

Massachusetts bar results were received in the mail today. You are retarded if you failed.

Meanwhile, in the Midwest, Michigan bar results are out:

Michigan July 2009 bar results have been released to examinees. I got mine today. But are there any jobs for those of us who passed?

Good question. Times may be tough for Colorado law grads (even taking into account this correction), but Michigan comes in FIRST when it comes to high unemployment.
Michigan’s unemployment rate may largely reflect the troubles of the car companies. But might the auto industry and the legal industry share some things in common?
Feel free to crow about your bar exam passage, bemoan your bar exam failure, or discuss legal employment conditions in Massachusetts and/or Michigan, in the comments.

Sonia Sotomayor electric blue blazer.jpg* Are bankers even more narcissistic than lawyers? Consider the evidence. [Dealbreaker]
* No, Justice Scalia did not say he would have dissented in Brown v. Board of Education. [Balkinization]
* Of course, “[t]he misrepresentation of Scalia’s remarks went viral almost instantly, which is the way things go these days.” [Althouse]
* Patterico slaps around Scott Glover of the L.A. Times for Glover’s slanted coverage of a recent Third Circuit decision clearing Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.) of wrongdoing. [Patterico's Pontifications]
* Justice Sonia Sotomayor, photographed by Annie Leibovitz for the pages of Vogue? Be still my heart! [Memo Pad / Women's Wear Daily]
* “Too many people practice law who should not. Practicing law is hard.” Ain’t that the truth? [What About Clients?]

Apparently so. From a student at Brooklyn Law School:

Brooklyn law school logo.JPGToday we received this e-mail from the administration, which is causing quite an uproar among the student body.

The gist of it seems to be that, contrary to the practice of other schools, BLS will begin actively investigating [illegal] downloading and proactively providing names of people to media [companies] so [the individuals in question] can be sued.

I believe the typical practice at other schools (graduate and undergraduate) and institutions is to wait for a subpoena and either cooperate or fight the subpoena, not to go out of their way to inform on their students.

The total cost of attendance at Brooklyn Law for the 2009-2010 academic year, for full-time students not living with their parents (God forbid), is a shade over $66,000. Shouldn’t that buy BLS’s silence?
Or is the law school in the right here? Shouldn’t law students, i.e., future lawyers, know and follow the law?
UPDATE: Brooklyn Law has announced a change in this policy.
Read the email and take a poll, after the jump.

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McGuire Woods logo.jpgAlthough November is just around the corner, some 2009 summer associates are still learning about their fates. As one might expect given how late it is in the recruiting season, the news that comes around now isn’t always the happiest.
Above the Law has received reports that summer associates from McGuireWoods are now hearing back about offers. The interesting part is that the firm has apparently decided to make offers in waves, i.e., on a rolling basis.
One tipster tells us that approximately 11 out of 48 summers have received offers of full-time employment — thus far. The rest haven’t been rejected; rather, they’ve been placed on what amounts to a waitlist. Depending on how things unfold over the coming weeks and months, they might get offers — or they might not.
This “hiring in waves” approach is effectively what Dechert did. The firm made offers to about half of its summer class, but told the other half that they’d hear about offers in January 2010.
Comment from a source at the firm, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide No Offer Watch: McGuireWoods Does the Wave”

Career Center AboveTheLaw Lateral Link ATL.jpg
The 2009 billable year hasn’t even ended at most firms yet, but October has been full of announcements from Big Law firms across the country about major changes to associate compensation.  Check out the ATL Career Center, powered by Lateral Link , for the latest information from the legal markets and updates from users about who is paying what when.  In the last week, we have updated the firm snapshots for Schulte Roth & Zabel, Katten Muchin Rosenman, Morrison & Foerster, DLA Piper, Fenwick & West, Bingham McCutchen, Dorsey & Whitney, Foley & Lardner, and Nixon Peabody.  Below are some recent nuggets of golden and not-so-golden news about compensation from the Career Center’s firm snapshots:

  • This firm announced that, in January 2010, it will move away from a lockstep compensation system to one that emphasizes merit-based factors as a more significant component of compensation decisions.  The firm says the combination of base pay and discretionary and productivity bonuses will keep overall compensation at or above current levels, but associates worry they may see significantly less pay if they don’t achieve the necessary merit marks.
  • This firm has confirmed that it will be paying bonuses in early 2010, an announcement associates can only hope is the first of many.  Although the firm anticipates the amounts will be less than previous years, bonuses are still predicted to range from $5,000 to $50,000.
  • This firm recently cut starting salaries to $145,000 in all of its offices (other than New York and Asia). The firm has indicated it will continue to monitor the situation and may re-adjust salaries (up or down) in light of legal market trends if necessary.
  • This firm is also taking the merit-based compensation route: although it plans to retain a lockstep scale for base salaries, the firm has announced that its practice group leaders will now have greater discretion in awarding year-end bonuses.  Billable hours will continue to factor into bonus determinations, but so will qualitative and quantitative factors, such as financial productivity, profitability and teamwork.

Use the Career Center’s firm snapshots and comparison tool to find out what other bonus and salary changes firms across the country are making.  And as always, we encourage you to send information about your law firm experience to careercenter@abovethelaw.com.

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lolita with lollipop.jpgA high school principal in Indiana doesn’t want slutty-seeming students playing sports, reports Courthouse News Service.
Two sophomores attended a summer slumber party with other girls from Churubusco High School. They did what all high school girls do at slumber parties (at least in the imagination of high school boys). From their complaint [PDF]:

During the sleepover the girls took pictures of themselves pretending to kiss or lick a large multi-colored novelty lollipop shaped phallus that they had purchased as well as pictures of themselves in lingerie with dollar bills stuck in their clothes as well as other pictures.

Ed. note: See this comment. Should that read “phallus-shaped lollipop”?

The girls later posted these photos on MySpace. Someone among their MySpace “friends” printed the pics and gave them to the principal. The principal decided the girls had violated the school’s code of conduct and suspended them from all extracurricular activities, including athletics, for the entire school year.
The ACLU thinks the principal is a sucker, and has stepped in to help the girls sue their school.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supplemental Lawsuit of the Day: Principal’s ‘Phallusy’?”

law firm merger small.jpgEarlier this month, we mentioned that Hogan & Hartson and London-based Lovells were in “early stages of merger talks.”
Today brings the news that the firms are in “advanced talks to merge,” according to Nathan Koppel of the Wall Street Journal. But it’s not a done deal yet:

One of the biggest challenges to a Hogan/Lovells deal, lawyers say, will be marrying the firm’s contrasting styles. Hogan is considered relatively hard charging, paying partners based on how much business they bring in. Lovells take a more genteel approach, compensating partners based largely on their seniority.

UPDATE: Bruce MacEwen, who thinks that “this deal makes superb sense,” has a detailed analysis over at Adam Smith, Esq. (gavel bang: commenter).
A memo from Hogan head Warren Gorrell, plus selected comments from our prior post — we read the comments, so you don’t have to! — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Merger Mania: Lovells and Hogan & Hartson Talks Still on Track”

Notes from the Breadline Roxana St Thomas.jpgEd. note: Welcome to the latest installment of “Notes from the Breadline,” a column by a laid-off lawyer in New York. Prior columns are collected here. You can reach Roxana St. Thomas by email (at roxanastthomas@gmail.com), follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook.
This column is a continuation from last week’s, which you should read first if you haven’t done so already.

Following my (somewhat graceless) entrance to the networking event, motion in the room stops for a moment. If, I imagine, this scene were taking place in a movie, it would be annotated by the sound of a needle being pulled violently across a record. A quick glance around the room confirms that the people in attendance are, for the most part, old enough to be able to identify this sound.
The facilitator (who, thanks to a large name tag, is clearly marked “Rhonda”) breaks the silence. “Oooh!” she exclaims, “Goody! You made it! We’re sooo glad you could come!” I feel a flicker of doubt. Networking is for people with a lexicon of excited utterances that includes words like “Oooh!” and “Goody!,” I think dubiously. Networking is for people who enjoy wearing nametags. Rhonda has probably embraced the networking incantation to “be proactive!” and sewn nametags onto her sweater sets and gym clothes. After all, she would probably point out, you never know when an opportunity to make connections will arise!
But, I realize, while I may not be a born networker, I am here, and my doubts are no match for Rhonda’s warmth. “Me too,” I finally say. “I’m happy to meet you all.”
Rhonda tells me that the group has just started the process of introducing themselves. She explains that she has asked everyone to make a 30-second “elevator speech” about who they are, and to come up with a story or anecdote about a “networking experience.” “Have a seat!” she says, and everyone shuffles awkwardly, as though to make room. It is clear that, if I sit with the group, I will be perched on someone’s lap. “I’ll sit at the kids’ table,” I say quickly, making a beeline for an empty table. Rhonda looks distressed; I can tell that she values herd cohesiveness. “I’m okay!” I assure her, and settle into my peripheral vantage point.
Before the elevator speeches can continue, a waiter appears and hovers expectantly, pad in hand. “Hey gang?” Rhonda says, trying to reclaim the group’s attention. “We should order before we go back to introducing ourselves.” There is more shuffling; reading glasses are fished out, and the group members study their oversized menus diligently. I scan its voluminous contents, remembering the cardinal rule of professional feeding etiquette: avoid dining humiliation. Fajitas? Too messy. Soup? Too drippy. Salad? Too bovine; too many opportunities to be caught, mid-sentence, with greenery hanging from one’s mouth. Chopped salad? Perfect! I order and sit back, listening to snatches of banter from the other table.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Notes from the Breadline: Friends and Other Strangers
(Part II)”

Reed Smith.jpgEd. note: We mentioned it briefly in Morning Docket, but thought we’d say a bit more (and give folks a place to comment).
A number of large law firms — although, interestingly enough, not the Cravaths and S&Cs and Davis Polks of the world — are moving away from a lockstep system of associate compensation and promotion. See our collected coverage under Killing Lockstep.
The latest one to jump on the bandwagon: Reed Smith. From Ashby Jones of the WSJ Law Blog:

On Tuesday, Reed Smith announced yet another way to skin the cat. Starting early next year, the firm will go to a sort of hybrid lockstep/merit-based pay system for associates, called CareeRS (get it?). Associates will be categorized as junior, mid-level or senior depending not on how many years they’ve served, but on whether they’ve demonstrated certain “core compentencies.” That is, a particularly talented third-year associate might achieve the “mid-level” designation; a fifth-year on a slower pace might still be a “junior.”

According to the firm’s chairman, Greg Jordan, the move was a response, at least in part, to client demands. “The most painful conversation you can have with a client is to tell him that that all of a sudden, you’re charging more for an associate just because the associate has aged a year,” says Jordan. “Something needed to change. The recession made that clear.”

When the WSJ asked Jordan if the majority of associates would progress normally — getting bumped up to midlevel associate after three or so years, and to senior associate after six or so years — he was a bit vague:

“That may be what ends up being the typical pattern. But we really don’t expect that everyone will take this path. Some will advance quickly, others will need time.”

Hmm…. Should this be cause for concern among associates? How many will, like not-so-smart grade schoolers, get “left back” each year?
Some perspectives, after the jump.

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