August 2014

Ed. note: Law Shucks focuses on life in, and after, BigLaw, including by tracking layoffs, bonuses, and laterals. Above the Law is pleased to bring you this weekly column, which analyzes news at the world’s top law firms.

Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer for business, if not for astronomers, and with that comes the arrival of the summer associates. Most years, it’s a months-long party, but lately it’s taken on a veneer of respectability as young gunners put on their best face and try on professionalism. Gone are the days of cruising through, knowing that you’d really have to screw up to not get an offer. Offer rates have plummeted from the high 90s to little better than a coin flip at some firms.

If you think you need advice on how to behave during the summer program, there’s plenty out there whatever your role.

Bitter Lawyer has the best list, with nine simple things to avoid. It’s not just the summer associates who need advice on summer programs, though. BL’s Unethical & Amoral Matthew Richardson provides the lecherous associate’s perspective.

Corporette has some practical advice on keeping the weight off while being tempted left, right, and center with the city’s finest food. Even Jones Day’s hiring partner has some advice.

The highest-profile incoming summer associate is probably Sara Hallmark (nee Albert), a competitor on America’s Next Top Model, who will be summering at Hogan Lovells’ DC office. Not that she in particular needs fashion advice, but the newly merged firm did feel the need to publish a dress code for the legacy Lovells lawyers who are about to be freed to enjoy their first casual Fridays. Even with everyone on their best behavior these days, and no clash of culture excuse, other firms still send the dress-code memos out. Weil Gotshal is one of the latest – at least they illustrated their version.

Of course, we expect common sense in abundance from those smart enough to gain entry to BigLaw. But it’s good to know that if someone can fail out of medical school and get disbarred, there’s always business school.

After the jump, we hit the recent highlights and lowlights in BigLaw.

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Peter Erlinder

Ed. note: ATL is on holiday today, in recognition of Memorial Day. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

* Peter Erlinder, a professor at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn., is on the wrong side of the law in Rwanda for promoting “genocidal ideology.” [Star Tribune; Pioneer Press; Katz Justice]

* The right to complain online is in peril: Tweets and Facebook groups lead to lawsuits. [New York Times]

* The Massachusetts law student that you don’t want to hire tells his side of the story. He explains the reasons for his typos and shows off his very impressive office. [YouTube]

* Did Joe Sestak/Bill Clinton conversation break the law? [CBS News]

* Controversial filmmaker quits his judicial day job. [New York Times]

* Lively wakes in Puerto Rico. [Miami Herald]

* Ankle bracelets now do GPS and BAC? [Adjunct Law Professor Blog]

* ATL’s sports commentator Marc Edelman crushes hopes of an explosion of NFL video games as a result of American Needle v. The National Football League. [Ripten]

* An ode to Con Law. [Cardozo]

We’re closing up shop on the early side today. We hope some of our readers also get an early start on the Memorial Day weekend.

But if you’re stuck at the office, perhaps you can come up with some clever captions for this photo sent to us by a reader from Massachusetts:


Same rules as always: Submit possible captions in the comments. We’ll choose our favorites — with preference given to those with a legal bent — and then let you vote for the best one.

Please submit your entries by MONDAY, MAY 31, at 11:59 PM.

We hope you appreciate this vehicle for procrastination.

* Whatcha gonna do when the Hulkster lays a lawsuit on you. [ABA Journal]

* The death of the one word exam. [New York Times]

* New York needs to tamp down its anti-bullying law or I’m going to start locking legislators in the janitor’s closet. [Forbes]

* Being a lawyer for the detainees sounds like a thankless job. [Salon]

* Hey female partners, here’s a reason to hire male legal secretaries. [WSJ Law Blog]

* After the jump, a preview of the new Jerry O’Connell-starring legal show, The Defenders. [Wild Wild Law]

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Howard B. Miller, President of the State Bar of California, penned a provocative letter for the California Bar Journal. In it, Miller suggests that the California bar has a duty to help stem the tide of law students graduating with a crushing amount of educational debt:

Do we in the profession have an obligation to deal with all this — especially the State Bar of California? I think we do.

Miller criticizes a wide range of people who have roles in our system of legal education. It’s pretty awesome…

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The modern workplace plays host to three generations: the baby boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. A panel at the InsideCounsel SuperConference this week called the youngest of the bunch, Gen-Why?. The italics are likely meant to indicate a whiny tone, because this bunch, born from 1981 to 2001, are supposedly entitled and snotty. E.g., “You’re going to defer me for a year with a $60,000 stipend? Wah! I hate you!”

I attended the panel as did another legal blogger, Adrian Dayton. Check out his post on what’s wrong with Gen-Y. Despite their complaints about the young’uns, oldies tend to give in to their wishes, judging from the response one general counsel gave to a Gen-Yer who asked to head off to New Zealand for a year and have his job held until he got back.

A not-especially-snotty-or-entitled Gen-Yer was chosen for the panel: Jack Rossi, staff counsel at JetBlue, who scored an in-house offer directly out of law school. He admitted that some of the myths about his generation are true: he does like feedback and wants mentorship (and he’s gotten it in-house). An older baby boomer lawyer in the audience spoke up to say, “I wanted the same things as Jack, but I was not brave enough to ask for it… It was kind of ‘figure out for yourself.’ I think the fact that younger lawyers ask is actually a good thing.”

Honestly, there wasn’t a lot of tension in the room between Gen Y and Boomers, even when J.D. turned PhD panelist, Arin Reeves of The Athens Group, suggested Boomers were at fault for spoiling young folks given the wining-and-dining summer associate experience they created. “If you want to teach that work is the priority, take the events away,” said Reeves.

I think all of our Biglaw readers will agree with us in deeming that terrible advice.

In the room, greater tension seemed to exist between Gen X and Gen Y. “It sounds like we’re saying, ‘How are we going to accommodate an already spoiled generation?’” observed one Gen Xer.

Since I am Gen Y, and Elie is Gen X, we thought this would be an opportune time for a little ATL debate. I’ll let the old man go first…

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UPDATE (May 30): Law student responds via YouTube, and shows off his very impressive office.

A law student in Massachusetts is looking for a job. He found a listing on Craigslist to work as a paralegal for a bankruptcy attorney. He applied, got an interview, and got an offer (kind of). But then he got into a spat with the attorney via email, preserved for posterity by The Docket.

The law student interviewed on Monday. On Tuesday, the female attorney sent him a rather candid email:

I have to confess, I am on the fence about offering you a position. This is a thought I had…tell me your thoughts.

The thought was that she would have the law student do a few freelance projects for a month, and if those went well, she would offer him a full-time position. He responded:

I can do any type of Motion, and research. I do not think a 30 day trial period is necessary. I would prefer bring me on full time to show you my capabilities.

That’s really not the right time for a grammatical typo, my law school friend.

In response, the lawyer laid out exactly why she had reservations about him, and wished him “best of luck in [his] job search.” That just made him crankier…

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* The war on terror… of attorney fees: The plaintiffs firms in the World Trade Center litigation are squabbling. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Arkansas mother who hacked her son’s Facebook account was found guilty of misdemeanor harassment. [Los Angeles Times]

* Will gays and lesbians in the military have something extra to celebrate this Memorial Day? [New York Times]

* Why shouldn’t you do genetic testing on yourself? [True/Slant]

* Nominee for stupidest headline of the day. [USA Today]

* A breakdown of Obama’s BP press conference. [Washington Post]

* Texas just keeps sounding better and better. [The Gazette]

* Tampa lawyer willing to work for less than $10/hour. [Tampa Bay Online]

* We smell a class-action lawsuit brewing. It smells like tanning oil. [Web MD]

* And a music video selected by Elie in honor of Obama’s press conference…

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We’re more aggressive than we used to be. This is not your grandfather’s Cravath.

– James Woolery, a 41-year-old Cravath partner.

* Facebook reverses itself on privacy. [True/Slant]

* Pants Judge is back in the news. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Stanford Law grad turns himself into a writer. [ABA Journal]

* Harvard commencement was today. I’m missing my ten year college reunion and an opportunity to see Meryl Streep with some private citizen named Souter. [Box of Scraps]

* They found the body of the missing Irell partner. [ABA Journal]

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