Hundreds have gathered here in Chicago for the 10th annual Inside Counsel SuperConference. Though it’s perfectly pleasant weather outside, the Fairmont Hotel meeting rooms are upholding the Windy City’s reputation for frigid temperatures.
Many of the sessions offer advice on how in-house counsel can improve their offerings to their companies and get the most from their outside counsel. One law firm that has set up shop in the vendors’ alley has an advertisement that reads, “The Billable Hour is dead… and we killed it” — a pure pander-play to cost-conscious in-house counsel.
But the conference is not dedicated solely to budget busting, belt-tightening moves. Last night was a celebration of female GCs and law firm partners, with a series of awards for successful women lawyers and the companies and firms that support them.
Winners offered advice on empowering women in the work place. I wish I’d kept count of the number of times I heard the word “mentor.” I also heard a new term: “the old girls’ network.”
Last year, while law firms were still feeling the worst of the recession, Sullivan & Cromwell provided some springtime cheer to its associates. The firm paid a spring bonus in 2009. The payment was less than the one the firm made in 2008, but still, it was extra money in 2009. At the time, we reported:
[N]ews is now trickling in about the special bonus S&C paid out late last week. Last year, the spring bonus was as much as $30,000 for eighth-year associates.
This year, sources report that eighth-year associates topped out at $8,500. For first-year associates, the spring bonus was $500.
All indications are that the legal economy is better off now than it was in 2009. Will the fledgling recovery lead to a better spring bonus for SullCrom attorneys this year?
Supermodel Linda Evangelista famously quipped that she doesn’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day. Alas, not all models occupy such a privileged position. This summer, one model is getting out of bed for considerably less than $10,000 a day — to wit, about $3,000 a week.
Sara Albert, who made it to the final four on America’s Next Top Model – Cycle 6, has excelled in yet another reality competition. In a still challenging job market, Sara Albert — actually, now Sara Hallmark, since her 2008 wedding to John Hallmark — managed to snag a summer associate position in the Washington office of a major international law firm. A Biglaw biggie that just got bigger, as it turns out….
So, which fine firm will have its hallways graced by the 6’1” blond beauty?
I can’t claim to know all of the difficulties nursing mothers are up against as they try to handle their personal and professional business. But I do know that the recession has pushed “work-life” balance concerns off the front page.
We’ve all heard stories about the travails of nursing mothers. Horrible stories about women who can’t get an exception to their firm’s “no curtains” policy, thus preventing breast pumping in their own office. Discriminatory stories about women who can’t get a reasonable break to do what needs to be done. We’ve heard positive stories too: like Simpson Thacher’s lactation room — which sounds like a thing nobody would call a “perk” if more women ran law firms.
However, I can’t recall any kind of technological innovation that could actually help nursing mothers manage all the things on their plate. Until now. The device below is beautiful … and terrible. It seems like one of the most unnatural contraptions ever invented to help a natural process. It is corporate and mammalian at the same time.
I love it when the U.S. Government casts its lot with foreign entities that export child molesters to the United States. The WSJ Law Blog reports:
In a filing made late last week, the U.S. government weighed in, largely siding with the Vatican’s argument that the Ninth Circuit erred by allowing a sex-abuse case to go forward against the Vatican. The move represented a rare foray by Washington into the highly sensitive litigation.
Who knew that our courts were powerless to hold the Vatican accountable for sending us priests with a history of abusing children?
Last year, law professor Kyndra Rotunda filed a federal lawsuit against her former employer, George Mason University School of Law; a GMU law professor, Joseph Zengerle; and the law school’s dean, Daniel Polsby. Rotunda raised claims of sexual harassment, retaliation, pay discrimination, and constructive discharge, alleging that she was sexually harassed by Zengerle when they worked together at a legal assistance clinic for military service members.
Rotunda claimed that the law school “knowingly” tolerated Zengerle’s behavior and that the administration did not respond properly when she raised complaints about Zengerle. Before filing her suit, Rotunda declared: “I was sexually harassed at one of America’s upper-tier law schools, and they shouldn’t be able to get away with it.”
Last week, a judge dismissed much of Rotunda’s lawsuit. From Tony Mauro of the BLT:
A federal judge on Friday dismissed most of law professor Kyndra Rotunda’s sexual harassment lawsuit against George Mason University School of Law professor Joseph Zengerle, the school’s dean and the school itself. Judge Leonie Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled from the bench after a hearing on motions to dismiss the case.
“It was a very good day,” said law school dean Daniel Polsby, who described the lawsuit as a “very serious abuse of the system.” He added, “The civil rights laws are very important. When they are abused, they are attacked.”
So what’s left in the lawsuit after the dismissal?
A number of people sent us this article from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. At first it reads like your classic “boy, this recession seems to be affecting lawyers too,” mainstream media story. Most of the stuff here are things regular Above the Law readers are fully aware of, though it’s always interesting to hear how the secondary markets like Minneapolis-St. Paul are doing.
But about halfway through the piece, the paper reveals one of the most callous stories that we’ve heard during this entire recession:
Matt Nelson graduated last week from the University of Minnesota with a law degree and an MBA. Nelson, 36, was on track to earn $145,000 his first year at a Milwaukee firm. But duty called, and while he was serving as an Army paralegal in Iraq, Milwaukee withdrew its offer.
Are you kidding me? The firm pulled an offer from somebody who was serving his country in Iraq!? What kind of bleeping bleep firm bleeps over our bleeping troops when they’re in the middle of a bleeping war, trying to make it safe for these bleeping partners to bleep their secretaries on their motherbleeping planes?
UPDATE / CORRECTION: This discussion is subject to a correction — see here.
Of course, Nelson handled this world-class rogering with more grace and class than I can even imagine…
* A forthcoming report from the inspector general’s office alleges inappropriate and illegal conduct by employees of the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that regulates offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. [New York Times]
* The White House has lent its support to a possible compromise worked out between legislators and the Defense Department aimed at repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. [Washington Post]
* Is the design and application of custom tattoos protected under the First Amendment? A tattoo parlor owner is taking his case to the Ninth Circuit. [Los Angeles Times via WSJ Law Blog]
* The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a missing lawyer, Irell & Manella partner Thomas Kirschbaum, whose unmanned sailboat ran aground Sunday at Venice Beach. [ABA Journal]
* Vivia Chen asks: “Maybe [Elena] Kagan is married to her job. And maybe it’s a deliriously happy marriage. Anything wrong with that?” [The Careerist]
* Meet 54-year-old James Bain, who was recently released after spending 35 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. [CNN]
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