February 2011

Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon.

I’ve always been awestruck by tax lawyers. They are the dudes.

As a transactional attorney, you can’t make a move without a tax guy. M&A is based on IRS consequences. It’s the tax guy who hands you a chart with boxes and arrows, holding companies and off-shore limited partnerships buying and selling and re-selling and issuing and repurchasing and spinning off. Everything starts there.

Tax lawyers do stuff no one else would attempt. They swagger out the door at 5 pm.

“Don’t start with me. I’m in tax.”

Way back when, I took an advanced tax course in law school – to see if I could roll with the gangstas. I even took it the wrong semester, so instead of JD students, it was tax LLMs snickering at my desperation. I received my lowest grade ever. I also discovered tax law is like higher mathematics: there is no big picture. Tax is not intuitive or guided by overarching principle; it’s a mess of staggering, intimidating complication.

What I’ve come to realize lately, as a therapist working with tax lawyers, is that these seemingly unapproachable superstars are human. And being “the expert” can exact a toll….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Better Get an Expert”

Gerald Ung (left) and Eddie DiDonato (right)

Judging from the comments section of our last story about Gerald Ung — which is still active, like a volcano — many of you are still interested in talking about the Temple Law student shooter. Even though Ung was quickly acquitted of all charges arising out of the January 2010 shooting of Edward DiDonato Jr., the trial goes on — in the court of public opinion.

We’ve selected a handful of stories from the avalanche of news and blogosphere coverage that we believe merit your attention. You can check them out — one of them reveals what Gerald Ung’s future plans are, while another has the reaction to the verdict of Eddie DiDonato’s father, a prominent partner at Fox Rothschild — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Commonwealth v. Ung: A Morning-After Linkwrap”

* Criminals and foreclosure victims subject to criminal mortgage rates now have something in common in New York: guaranteed legal representation. [New York Times]

* Not getting your fill of Broadway injuries from Spider-Man? Then Billy Elliot’s got a deal for you — tickets now come with a complimentary face smash worth $4M. [New York Post]

* Dumb kids are going to continue to eat Play-Doh, no matter how it’s spelled. And trust me, “play dough,” edible or not, doesn’t taste good. [Boston Globe]

* You’d think that the government could do better than just saying “this stuff happens” when it comes to rape and gangbangs in the military. [MSNBC]

* Facebook: connecting you with the people around you. It’s just too bad that they sometimes bleed to death in the process. [Chicago Tribune]

* If libeling the police was a crime in the United States, a lot of more rappers would probably be in jail — or out of business. [CNN]

* Stephen Baldwin and Kevin Costner are fighting about water clean-up technology for oil spills. Um, hello, dude was in Waterworld, I think he knows his sh*t about water. [The Hill]

* I’m just a girl, but don’t speak, I know just what you’re saying. There is no doubt that this video game lawsuit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S. [Company Town / Los Angeles Times]

One of my favorite law firm names is FreshfieldsFreshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, to be precise, but I prefer Freshfields. It makes me think of rolling green hills, crisp laundered linens, or a dairy, producing the creamiest milk in all the land.

As it turns out, Freshfields is a law firm — a top international law firm, a member of the elite Magic Circle. And this Freshfields is rolling out the green, doling out crisp bills, and ladling out the cream — to its associates. As reported earlier today by Am Law Daily, yesterday Freshfields announced spring bonuses, on the top-of-the-market Cravath scale.

Freshfields isn’t alone. This afternoon, Cadwalader, which was publicly toying with the idea of spring bonuses, announced that it too would pay them, again on the Cravath scale.

These two moves are significant — far more significant than the earlier spring bonus announcements….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Spring Bonus Mania: Freshfields, Cadwalader…. Where Will It End? Could Your Firm Be Next?”

* A “barroom brawl” between law firm partners results in one partner leaving the firm. WEAK. Men should be able to beat the crap out of each other, shake hands when they’re finished, and still be able to do business together. [ABA Journal]

* A public defender got a TRO against a judge who allegedly slammed her to the ground. WEAK. Women should be able to get body slammed by enraged judges, receive treatment for their injuries, and go back to work without needing a TRO. (Dude, that’s the last time I try this “intellectual consistency” BS; it just makes me sound stupid.) [Penn Live]

* Why should I even try to be intellectually consistent when South Dakotans are so addled that they can’t see the flaw with caring about the sanctity of human life so much that they’re willing to kill innocent people to protect it? [Mother Jones]

* Thankfully we did not deport one member of a loving couple on Valentine’s Day. [Metro Weekly via Stop the Deportations]

* According to a recent survey, way too many of you are hooking up with people you work with. When two of you end up plastered all over ATL, go on and cry in your coffee, but don’t come bitching to me. [Vault]

* Protip for law profs: creating hypotheticals that involve killing your dean is probably not a good idea (even if it might be protected academic freedom). [Althouse]

* For those playing along at home, putting cocaine extract in your soft drink is okay. But putting alcohol in your soft drinks constitutes a grave danger to young people all across the country. [Gizmodo]

* A Turkish company wins the public vote to make the new yellow cab for New York City. They’re the only ones where every cab will be handicap accessible. You like free markets? Then don’t complain when young Turks are just better. [Alt Transport]

* Between the adventures of the City of Austin’s solid waste department and what’s going on in Fort Wayne now, you wonder how long it will take old people to figure out that letting “the internet” name things is not a very good idea. [Feedback Fort Wayne]

We received an overwhelming number of responses – 3,700 – to last week’s Career Center survey on debt and how it contributes to your decision on where to work.  We will introduce an overview of the results today, and present a more detailed analysis later in the week.

Overall, 93% of respondents report being in some kind of debt.  And for the vast majority of them, that debt plays a role in their decision on where to work:

  • 38% of respondents said they considered debt about as much as other factors.
  • 37% said they considered debt more than any other factor.
  • 24% said debt contributed very little or did not contribute at all.

Exactly how much debt are we talking about here?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center Survey Results: A Generation of Debtors (Part 1)”

Gerald Ung (left) and Edward DiDonato Jr. (right)

Well that didn’t take long, did it? The jury in the case of Commonwealth v. Ung began deliberations at 11:32 a.m., and it just returned a verdict of “not guilty,” around 4 p.m. Eastern time. Gerald Ung, the Temple Law student who was charged with attempted murder in connection with a January 2010 shooting in the Old City section of Philadelphia, has been acquitted.

This news might not come as a huge shock. In our reader poll, over 90 percent of you said you’d vote “not guilty” if you were jurors.

Congratulations to Ung — who testified on his own behalf yesterday, arguing that he acted in self-defense — and to Ung’s very fine defense lawyer, the renowned Jack McMahon.

Does this mean that Gerald Ung, 29, gets his life back? Can things go back to normal for him and for the Ung family?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Temple Law Student Gerald Ung Found Not Guilty in Shooting”

In the comments to Elie’s Sugar Mama post from yesterday, which chronicles the woes of a female Biglaw associate who is being harassed by coworkers for affiancing (KABLAM: Princeton Review Hit Parade) a Starbucks barista “peasant,” Bonobo_Bro wrote:

Not bad big guy (other than the usual typo issues which must be intentional); however, I really think you should’ve handled this pls handle thx style because I’d love to see Marin’s opinion of women with lower income life partners.

Rex and either thirty-six other anonymous internet trolls or one troll logging on from 36 different computers liked this comment. My mandate was clear. The people thirsted for my response…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense of Tommy, Who Used to Work on the Docks”

Jaime Laskis

I’m not trying to compare the claims of Jaime Laskis, a former associate at the prominent Canadian law firm of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, with those of Charlene Morisseau (a legendary Lawyer of the Day honoree, from 2007). But we’ve got two stories vaguely related to alleged employee harassment and discrimination in the legal profession, and I wanted to click them both off so I have something to change the subject with when Sweet Hot Justice asks me if she’s a cougar when we meet for drinks tonight.

Let’s start with Jaime Laskis’s story, which is a bit more newsy. Laskis was an associate in the New York office of Toronto-based Osler, who claims she suffered various forms of sexual harassment while she worked there. One partner allegedly said that Harvard University was full of “pretty women pretending to get an education.”

I know, I know, that’s sounds like a man who has never been to a Harvard party. But Laskis makes other allegations….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Aggrieved Women Potpourri: Sexual Harassment Canada-Style, and the Return of Charlene Morisseau”

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

Valentine’s Day was yesterday, and everywhere you turned, someone was trying to spread the message of love. Rachel Ray was on Good Morning America, showing us how to cook breakfast in bed. Every grocery store was hawking roses. There was a marathon of Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo all weekend.

But the most interesting way to say “I love you” is the Pajamagram. While watching Patti Stanger yell at some wealthy old man trying to date a woman who is way too young for him, I saw the Pajamagram commercial. The commercial featured an attractive woman emerging from her bathroom in a “sexy” pair of pajama pants and a tank top covered in hearts. And, according to the Pajamagram people, if you really want to show her you care, then get her a Hoodie-Footie. Apparently, nothing says you are in for a romantic evening like a giant pink-velour onesie. If watching multiple episodes of Millionaire Matchmaker was not enough, seeing these commercials has convinced me that no one is feeling the love this year.

The ABA Journal disagrees. The February 2011 edition is devoted to discussing how lawyers can find happiness — even love — in their legal careers. In Why I Love Being A Lawyer (Seriously), several practitioners share the reasons that they love being a lawyer. Most of the quotes refer to the lawyer’s ability to make the world better or the freedom that comes with practicing law (for those who own their own firms). Unfortunately, I could not relate to any of those happy lawyers.

There was another article in the Journal that struck a little closer to home. In Hunting Happy, Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple chronicle the happiness movement in law — specifically, how lawyers can be happier. The article discusses The Happy Lawyer, a book by Professors Douglas O. Linder and Nancy Levit of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, in which they conclude that the path to happiness comes from working at a small firm.

Or, at least, the path to being happier than people at big law firms….

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