March 2011

David Boreanaz

* What kind of a tour bus does Willie Nelson have? A cannabus. The singer won’t have to make a pit stop to sing in court on his maryjane charges. [New York Daily News]

* How is there a human trafficking problem in Michigan? Are they all Canadians? No one cares if Canadians aren’t getting their fair share of maple syrup. [Chicago Tribune]

* The FTC can be a real Buzz-kill. Google settled its privacy case with the feds over its failed social networking site. [Bloomberg]

* The big O avoids the big ©: my FAAAAAVORITE talk show host doesn’t have to pony up $100M. That makes me want to scream, cry, and then pee my pants. [Crimesider / CBS News]

* Let me save you the trouble: Dockette, your comment about dwarfs was completely inappropriate. I hope that you turn into a dwarf. [Washington Post]

* David Boreanaz settled a wangtastic lawsuit about his peen — and rightfully so, because the show is called Bones, not Boners. [E! Online]

* Howrey gonna make ends meet? By moving to Baker Hostetler. [Am Law Daily]

This is the time of year when future lawyers have to make a crucial choice that will follow them for the rest of the legal careers: where to go to law school. The choice of law school is critical, maybe unfairly so. When you look at medical schools, the hard part is getting into a medical school. But in the legal profession, your choice of law school will be a huge factor in what professional opportunities you can take advantage of with your J.D.

Perhaps in past years, this choice was really easy for 0Ls: they could just go to the highest-ranked school they got into, and then hope for the best. But given the realities of the legal economy, 0Ls need to look at a number of factors beyond the U.S. News law school rankings: how much the school costs, what job markets the law school feed into, and so on.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve received a number of inquires from 0Ls asking for advice about which law school to attend. We’ve pulled out two of the best questions, and now we want to open it up to the Above the Law readers to give these students — and all 0Ls — the combined wisdom of the ATL community.

These are really tough choices, and we know reasonable people will disagree. Hopefully you guys can help these 0Ls feel comfortable with their decisions, whichever way they go….

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* Some people regret going to law school; Rachel Kramer Bussel regrets not finishing. But she wound up at the same delicious destination as so many JDs, namely, cupcakes. [The Gloss and Cupcakes Take the Cake]

* Speaking of law school, Professor Dan Filler asks: Despite all the gloom and doom, is now actually an ideal time to apply? [The Faculty Lounge]

* Still on the law school beat, here’s the latest proposal from the LST gang on how to improve the reporting of employment outcomes. [Law School Transparency]

It's Britney, b**ch.

* Deal flow was fabulous in the first quarter of 2011 — and the M&A boom shows no signs of letting up. [Am Law Daily]

* Sue me baby one more time? Everyone wants a piece of her. [Radar Online]

* Bad news for same-sex, bi-national married couples confronting immigration issues. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* A few law firms made this list of best 401(k) plans. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

* Here’s an interesting (and free) program coming up, “JD in the New Economy: Multiple Perspectives.” [West LegalEdcenter]

The joy that is the bar exam.

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On what basis can one be confident that law schools acquaint students with prosecutors’ unique obligation under Brady? Whittaker told the jury he did not recall covering Brady in his criminal procedure class in law school. Dubelier’s alma mater, like most other law faculties, does not make criminal procedure a required course. [FN21]

[FN21] See Tulane University Law School, Curriculum, http://www.law.tulane.edu (select “Academics”; select “Curriculum”) (as visited Mar. 21, 2011, and in Clerk of Court’s case file).

– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting, in Connick v. Thompson (via Josh Blackman, who provides additional context and excerpts from the opinions; there’s also discussion of the case at Gawker).

There haven’t been any VCU-style upsets in our Coolest Law Firm Bracket. That’s probably because lawyers don’t like upsets. Lawyers get paid to make sure no “surprises” happen; lawyers like things to proceed in a predictable and organized fashion. Sure, Davis Polk (ranked #5 by Vault) topped Skadden (ranked #4) in the Elite Eight. But the real surprise there is that the gargantuan-sized Skadden couldn’t whip up enough of its own people to vote it through to the next round.

As we move into the Final Four, we’ve got some intriguing match-ups. On one side of the bracket, people will have to choose whether or not making money is cooler than being attractive. On the other side of the bracket, we’ll answer the question: Is being “first” more important than being “best”?

Let’s get to it…

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

No, not in the way you think. I’m not talking about E-tickets and giant bow-tied mice and screaming, overtired kids being dragged around by the half-crazed parents determined to get their money’s worth. (“Have fun, dammit! Have fun!”) I mean in the way that the company, Walt Disney, creates a consistently positive and memorable experience year round for people from all over the world.

Whatever your impressions or memories of Disney World, most people agree that the company’s ability to make people happy is unrivaled. Executives and managers from companies in every industry pay thousands of dollars to study how the company does it at the Disney Institute. And the Institute even published a book on how to Disneyify your company called Be Our Guest. You can get the book at Amazon for about ten bucks; I recommend it.

So what can your law firm do to create the kind of world-class service that Mickey would be proud of? Let’s discuss….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Firms, Big Lawyers: Is Your Firm Like Disney World?”

Now is the season when law school applicants, having received their admission and rejection letters, need to make up their minds about where to attend law school (or if they want to go at all). We’ve received a number of inquiries from anxious 0Ls seeking advice about whether to matriculate at School X or School Y (which we might work into a post at some point, but which we don’t have the time to answer individually, for which we apologize). See also this post (asking whether you’d go to Notre Dame, for $X, or a lower-ranked school, for some number lower than $X).

In these discussions, the question of value looms large. We’ve previously mentioned lists of “best value” law schools in these pages, but some of these lists have methodological problems. And other lists — like the National Law Journal’s recent list of law schools that will get you into Biglaw on the cheap — while helpful, are too narrow in focus for some readers. Maybe you’re not looking for a Biglaw job, but you would like to attend a law school that is worth the price (i.e., a law school that can get you a job that will allow you to service the debt you incur).

Say hello to yet another set of law school rankings: U.S. News & World Report’s list of “10 Law Degrees With Most Financial Value at Graduation,” i.e., law schools whose graduates “have the highest first-year salaries relative to debt load.”

Did your school make the cut? Try to guess at some of the names you’ll see on the list, and then read on to see if you’re right….

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In its recent obituary for Warren Christopher, former U.S. Secretary of State and former senior partner at O’Melveny & Myers, the New York Times referred to O’Melveny as “the most traditional and prestigious of Los Angeles law firms.”

Well, if you want to be one of the “most prestigious” Los Angeles law firms — or national or global law firms, to the extent that O’Melveny has outgrown L.A. — then you need to pay your people appropriately. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a shock to learn that OMM has announced spring bonuses.

We received confirmation and details of the O’Melveny spring bonuses from multiple sources. Amusingly enough, about half of our sources on this story are anxious associates at Gibson Dunn….

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(While the associates are getting restless at Gibson Dunn….)

My tenure at Sullivan & Cromwell ended – along with my legal career – in a smoking crater. Picture scorched earth. Nuclear armageddon. The fat lady sang.

That said, I actually got off to a pretty good start. At least for the first couple weeks.

I was assigned to a rather jolly partner, fresh back from running an office in Asia. He didn’t seem a bad sort, and I was feeling on top of the world, commencing my career after a month’s vacation. Off I scrambled to the library to write a memo on a detail of securities law. The topic was complex, but I kept my cool, summarized what I found – with a touch of wit – and called it a day.

Things went swimmingly. The partner loved the memo. He deemed it clever and refreshing and pretty close to accurate. Apparently, I’d managed to lighten the mood at a key moment in a tough deal. I decided I loved him…

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