October 2014

pink slip layoff notice Above the Law blog.jpgEd. note: Above the Law has teamed up with Law Shucks, which has done excellent work translating all of the layoff news into user-friendly charts and graphs: the Layoff Tracker.
We’re coming down to the wire on the Law Shucks Lateral Tracker launch promotion iPhone 3GS giveaway. Read the announcement and the rules, then get those submissions in by midnight January 31 for your chance to win the phone or the other prizes.

Initial jobless claims dropped slightly last week, to 470,000, which was slightly better than the previous week, but once again not in line with the expected 450,000. That actually caused the four-week moving average of initial claims to increase slightly, which isn’t usually a good sign.

But there may now be cause for guarded optimism. The US economy grew by 5.7% in the fourth quarter, the fastest pace in six years. That spending was in infrastructure, not directly in jobs, but it could presage increased staffing. President Obama is hoping to spur that along with a one-year, $33 billion tax credit for small-business new hires and a payroll-tax reduction.

On the whole, though, the week in law-firm economic news was relatively good. Details after the jump.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg cancer surgery.jpgHere’s one talk that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn’t fall asleep during: her own, a conversation with Nina Totenberg at the 92nd Street Y on Thursday night.
We took note of the fact that RBG dozed off a bit during President Obama’s State of the Union address. As it turns out, Justice Ginsburg has an explanation.

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Morrison Foerster MoFo Above the Law AboveTheLaw blog.jpgOccasionally we report about firms offering voluntary early retirement / buyout packages to their staff. For the most part, the programs haven’t been popular. It seems like staffers would just as soon take their chances at layoff roulette instead of voluntarily falling on their swords and slinking away into the night.
So a tipster’s report this morning really caught our eye:

50 employees at MOFO (don’t know the offices) just took an early retirement package.

Fifty? That doesn’t sound like an early retirement offer, it sounds like a Great Escape.
And it’s a true story. We have a statement from Morrison & Foerster after the jump.

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Robert Joffe Bob Joffe Cravath Swaine Moore presiding partner.jpg* Robert Joffe (pictured), former presiding partner of Cravath, RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]
* You have to wonder if Justice Alito and the rest of the majority from Citizens United will get back at President Obama. If they want revenge, listening to Orly Taitz would be a good start. [The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]
* But maybe the President should diffuse any lingering animosity between his office and the court with a “wine summit”? [Double X]
* Or the President could invite Alito to the Georgetown – Duke basketball game. [The Washington Scene]
* In other State of the Union news, did everybody notice that the President is on the student loan bailout bangwagon? [True/Slant]
* We know a thing or two about creepy law firm websites. But we’re always on the lookout for more. [Cracked]
* Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi’s baby daddy is said to be Adam Dell — a UT Law graduate and adjunct professor, and brother of billionaire Michael Dell. [New York Post]

more lady judges needed.jpgThe Center for Women in Government & Civil Society recently released a study [PDF] about female judges. Their main finding: there are not very many of them. (Duh.)

Looking at judgeships on both the federal and state level, women account for just 26% of all seats (5,015 seats), while men occupy 74%, or 14,335 seats.

The Center points out that the problem is not that there aren’t enough female lawyers: “Women make up 48% of law school graduates and 45% of law firm associates.” Update: As commenters point out, this doesn’t take into account the question of age. Perhaps “with time, this too will pass”?

Obviously, the answer is that men have the power and men suck. Or, as the Center more delicately puts it: “The gender gap cannot be attributed to the lack of women who are qualified to serve on the bench, but to the lack of opportunity and access afforded to women.”

The men in New Hampshire and Montana suck the most. And despite what Jersey Shore would lead you to believe, the men in New Jersey suck the least….

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The Tenth Justice Fantasy SCOTUS League.jpgEd. note: ATL has teamed up with the 10th Justice to predict how the Supreme Court may decide upcoming cases. CNN has called FantasySCOTUS the “hottest new fantasy-league game.”
How many SCOTUS watchers does it take to accurately predict the outcome of a case? How large of a crowd do we need before the crowd becomes “wise”? The wisdom of the crowds considers the accuracy of the collective opinion of a group, which in many cases may be more reliable than the opinion of experts. In this column, the 10th Justice tests the theory of the wisdom of the crowds. Based on the accuracy of our predictions in Citizens United v. FEC, the landmark campaign finance reform case, we will develop levels of confidence to determine how reliable our predictions are for four of the most significant cases this term.

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Vinny Guadagnino Vinnie Guadagnino law student law school lawyer.jpgAre you one of the 21 percent of law school students who, due to the changing legal job market, regret going to law school? If going to law school was a stupid decision decision for you, then congratulations — Vinny Guadagnino, the “self-confessed mama’s boy” of Jersey Shore fame, is smarter than you are.

We mentioned his recent interview with Us Magazine before, but in case you missed it — and, judging from all the emails we’ve been getting about it, it seems many of you did — let’s go over the highlights.

Like his undergraduate GPA — which is probably higher than yours….

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There is an excellent new product on the market. A tipster reports:

A machine that turns your JD into something useful. Or, what to do with all those resumes “on file”. Or, the next cost cutting measure. So many possibilities…

Remember when K&L Gates decided to go with cheap toilet paper in their office bathrooms? Well, this seems like an elegant solution.
But I’m not sure that we’ll be seeing this device at Legal Tech next week.
Earlier: K&L Gates to Nickels and Dimes

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGWe’ve got a tale of two states when it comes to the Vinson & Elkins bonus. The firm made true-up raises, putting their associates back at the top of the market for associate salaries. But the firm didn’t give out make-whole bonuses. For many associates, the money lost from a year of salary stasis is gone forever.
The surprising thing is that V&E New York associates seem to be much happier with the news than V&E Houston associates. Here’s what our New York sources tell us:

Vinson froze salaries at 2008 levels in May. But compensation memos were distributed this morning and salaries have been completely unfrozen. True-up, as you say. Added to that, we’re getting Cravath level bonuses.

Spokespeople for Vinson & Elkins confirmed the news: double-bump raises with Cravath bonuses.
But in Houston, that same story is playing out differently.

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The Roberts court has lost its virginity.

Linda Greenhouse

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