October 2014

As T-Fifty wisely noted this morning, getting a public interest legal job is a lot harder than it looks. You can’t spend two years of law school trying to get Biglaw to notice you, and only turn on your public interest charm after Biglaw rejects you. You can’t treat public interest jobs like the ugly girl ovulating her way through a night out with attractive friends.

Since getting a public interest job (especially a paying public interest job) is so competitive, students expect their law schools to help them through the process. And if you go to one of the best law schools in the nation looking to do public interest work, you expect quite a bit of help. That’s why your parents paid to put you through law school in the first place. (Oh, I’m sorry. Of course there are some people who are borrowing the full freight of a $45K/year education but totally intend to work for $45K salaries for the rest of their lives “because it’s the right thing to do.” Sure there are.)

At Columbia Law School, the students are complaining that they are not getting the public interest support they expected. As of this writing, 215 of them have signed a petition asking Dean David M. Schizer to address their concerns about career services for students who want to go into the public interest.

Given the general difficulty all law students are having getting any type of job, the public interest concerns could seem small time. But since so many law schools sell themselves as the cradle for our public interest lawyers of the future, you’d think a school like Columbia would do a better job at least paying lip service to the public interest ideal…

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Usually, the green pallor doesn't set in until she's been an associate for a year.

* Some tips for people who need to look older so potential employers and clients will take them seriously. Or you could actually live a little and let nature do her thing. [Corporette]

* Law as a business will survive this recession. Law as a profession probably won’t, not at the prices these law schools are charging. [My Law License via ABA Journal]

* Now that they’re getting a pay freeze, I expect the SEC porno-per-regulation ratio to shift even more heavily towards porn. [Dealbreaker]

* Lawyers need to be great at customer service. Having legs is optional with today’s modern advances. [What About Clients?]

* Remember that little wrinkle in world history where every civilized western nation had banned slavery except the United States? I thought about that when I read that the U.K. banned the exports of lethal injection drugs to America. Are we going to have to fight over this or can we peacefully agree that the Eighth Amendment is enough? [WSJ Law Blog]

* Above the Law has been nominated in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 contest. Thanks to all the readers who support us, and of course the ones who vote for us. Check out the full Blawg 100. Above the Law is in the news category. But if you if you click over to the niche category, you’ll notice that Kashmir Hill’s excellent work on privacy matters has also earned a much deserved nomination. [ABA Journal]

We know that most Biglaw shops couldn’t care less about mass associate departures. As exhibit A, I present this year’s bonus news.

But partner defections are another matter entirely — especially if a number of partners leave all at once, or if a thriving practice group jumps ship all at the same time. According to Above the Law sources, this is the situation Nixon Peabody could be facing in the days and weeks ahead. Multiple sources have told Above the Law to expect a significant exodus of Nixon Peabody partners and that the defections could start as early as this week.

We’ve been told that these defections will happen unless the disgruntled partners receive significant concessions from Nixon Peabody managing partner Richard Langan. And apparently some partners will not be satisfied with anything less than Langan’s outright removal…

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WikiLeaks worships at the shrine of rabid transparency. And it does not just sacrifice government documents to the transparency gods; founder Julian Assange tells my Forbes colleague Andy Greenberg that corporate America is the site’s next big target. A big bank is going down, says Assange.

Greenberg thinks it might be Bank of America. Dealbreaker has some additional theories. Most likely some bank somewhere is going to have a big project for its lawyers pretty soon.

Meanwhile, after the most recent State Department cable leak, government lawyers are trying to figure out how to prosecute Assange.  There’s talk of invoking the Espionage Act of 1917, regardless of the fact that Assange is an Australian citizen and spends his time country-hopping. G’day and g’luck, mate.

So, what about those juicy diplomatic cables? What did State Department legal adviser Harold Koh not want the world to see?

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The holiday season is always a good time to start thinking about a new wardrobe. If you’ve ever seen us on television you know the Above the Law crew could use a little upgrade. But since bonuses are low this year, we know that people might need a little extra help when putting together appropriate business attire.

No, we’re not starting a clothing drive. Instead, we’ve teamed up with Proper Cloth to offer a 20% discount to Above the Law readers (and editors) who are in the market for tailored shirts. That’s right, we said tailored shirts. Because nothing says “I’m a law student who doesn’t know what I’m doing” quite like stuffing yourself into something your girlfriend picked up off the clearance rack.

Click here to redeem your coupon. Order by December 13th to ensure a Christmas delivery. Or order soon and be able to whip out your new duds at the holiday party.

Just try to keep your new shirt on your back — unless you want to feature in an ATL “Holiday Party Disaster” post.

Federal government lawyers are having their pay frozen. But let’s face it: you don’t don’t go into government service for the money.

You might do it for the experience. You might do it for the lifestyle. And, depending on the position, you might do it for the prestige.

Someone once said to me, “You can’t eat prestige.” “Maybe not,” I replied. “But prestige certainly is delicious!”

For a young lawyer, one of the most prestigious government gigs around is a Bristow Fellowship. These four one-year fellowships in the Solicitor General’s Office are generally regarded as second only to Supreme Court clerkships in prestige (and many Bristow Fellows later go on to clerk at the Court). You can read more about the Bristow, including the job responsibilities and the application process, on the Department of Justice website.

Earlier this month, the four Bristows for 2011-2012 were notified of their good fortune. Who are they?

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The problem of priests’ sexually molesting boys would be solved if priests were allowed to marry and if women could be priests, because then the priesthood would attract fewer homosexuals.

– Judge Richard Posner, in a recent post on The Becker-Posner Blog.

Floyd Abrams of Cahill and Evan Chesler of Cravath: two great lawyers who are also great to work for.

With all the negative press surrounding partners lately — see, e.g., here and here — it’s about time for some good news, about good partners.

Last month we asked you to nominate the best partners you work for, tell us why they are the best, and rate them in six categories: expertise within the practice area, quality of work given to associates, hands-on training given to associates, provision of feedback on associate work, respect for associates’ schedules, and professionalism with associates. And we didn’t even have to pay these associates to say nice things about the partners they nominated.

Over the next few weeks, the ATL Career Center, hosted by Lateral Link, will bring you the list of the best partners to work for, divided up by geographic region. This week we will focus on New York, Above the Law’s home base, and give you the top 24 partners to work for in the Big Apple as nominated by you, our readers.

Let’s look at the first eight, shall we?

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Ed. Note: Will the Lost Generation ever find its way back into Biglaw? This new column is written by a member of the Lost Generation who initially was thrown off of the Biglaw bandwagon but was able to get back on, and is now trying to hang on to his Biglaw second chance.

By the second semester of my 3L year, I began to realize that my whining about graduating law school unemployed was no longer an overly dramatic response to having been no-offered. It had become a legitimate concern.

For the first few weeks of the first semester, I dreamt of finding another Biglaw job somewhere in the country. As the rejection letters rolled in, I began to embrace the idea of practicing in the public sector. I imagined prosecuting violent criminals for assault or defending drug-users for minor misdemeanors. I managed to snag a couple of interviews through the meager offerings of 3L O.C.I. But, I stood no chance against my classmates who had been committed to a side of the criminal “v” since 1L year. Also, there was a glaring white space on my resume where it should have read “offer received.” Instead, it read, “I’m here because the high-paying legal employer that just reviewed over ten weeks of my work didn’t want me, and now I’m screwed and desperate.”

The other candidates had PILC and PILF all over their resumes . . . in bold. I, on the other hand, had never even been to that damn auction everyone kept talking about. Even if I could have competed for those jobs, I knew that I was undeserving as compared to many of my hard-working peers who had committed to being A.D.A.s or public defenders from the beginning of law school. Don’t get me wrong, though. If given the chance, I would have taken one of the jobs immediately

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The new normal is depressingly flat.

First the good news. American Lawyer surveyed managing partners at Am Law 200 firms and 80% of them said they were optimistic (“somewhat” or “very optimistic”) about the future profitability of Biglaw firms.

The bad news? An ever shrinking group of people will experience the benefits that future. Managing partners are feeling good because they are cutting staff, hiring fewer associates, paying minuscule bonuses, and even de-equitizing their fellow partners.

It must feel good to be a gangsta. It probably feels less good to be gang banged…

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