July 2014

* I’ve already shared my thoughts on how stupid affirmative action bake sales are, but I don’t think we need laws banning them. [Jonathan Turley]

* Eventually, everything gets taken over by China, right? Isn’t that one of the reasons our only hope lies 85 million years in the past? [Going Concern]

* This person thinks law firms shouldn’t hire traditional associate “workers.” Instead, he apparently wants law firms to hire a bunch of people who would rather do anything than work in a traditional law firm. Good luck with that. [Law Riot]

* Sam Sparks speaks. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Winning isn’t cheap, but now it seems clients are as concerned with getting it cheap as they are with winning. [What About Clients?]

* John Paul Stevens: still not dead. [Huffington Post]

* You might start out as a “legal” drama, but you’re gonna end in melodrama. [Law and More]

* I think it would be funny if Chief Justice Roberts said, “I once said judges were like umpires. I lied. Actually, we’re more like Gods. I am a God. Come to me, Superman! I defy you! Come and kneel before Zod! Zod!” [Yale Law Journal]

* Surely we can’t be far away from the day when the internet becomes a form of penal justice. [The Onion]

Today’s Career Center Tips Series, focused on the billable hour, is brought to you by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former hiring partner.

Students and new associates are concerned about hours. So are firms. You will hear anecdotes and twice-told tales about monstrous hours. You will hear that Smith & Jones is a sweatshop, but that Arnold and Baker is a laid-back place. Most lawyers are hardworking by nature, and will work hard no matter where they practice. You will work many hours beyond client hours to manage the practice, be trained and train others, stay current in your field and market, and manage the firm.

The differences among firms’ expectations have never been as great as law students believe (and hope). In the wake of the 2000 and 2007 compensation avalanches, expectations on billable hours changed forever….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center: Hours – The Real (And Tough) Story”

I recently came across an article about an Atlanta solo-practitioner who has found a niche practice area. He has become the go-to guy for dog bite lawsuits. The article was interesting to me for two reasons. First, I love me a niche practice. Second, in the article, the attorney, Evan Kaine, discussed a problem common for many small-firm attorneys. That problem is the difficulty of collecting on judgments and getting one’s fees paid.

Kaine explained the reason for the difficulty as follows:

In June, Kaine’s clients were awarded $60,000 in one case and $700,000 in another, but he questions how much, if anything, they’ll ultimately collect. The problem, said Kaine, is that in these and many other dog bite cases the animals’ owners are renters who have no insurance and whose landlords’ homeowners policies cannot be tapped under Georgia law. Despite having clients who are in some cases grievously injured, Kaine’s recovery prospects are dim at best and constitute “small victories,” he said.

As sad as it is when a client does not get the award he is due, it is much worse when the lawyer does not obtain her fees for the work done to obtain that award, right?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Size Matters: Show Me The Money”

A video has surfaced from this weekend’s somewhat ludicrous “Occupy Wall Street” protests. The protests themselves have been barely newsworthy. Hippies and kids mostly — the North Koreans have better organization when preparing a dance routine.

But one kid, one kid who is currently a student at George Washington University Law School, set the protest on fire with his plaintive, whiny, pathetic rantings, as he literally begged to be arrested.

You’re going to want to see this video. It’s a great example of how NOT to use your legal training to bring about meaningful change….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Video of George Washington Law Student ‘Occupying’ Wall Street: Hilarity Ensues”

Yesterday I participated in a panel at the Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference, sponsored by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), entitled “Attitudes & Opinions: Generation Y Speaks about their Workplace in 10 Years.” The spirited discussion covered a wide range of topics relating to Gen Y’s workplace attitudes.

I also attended a number of other interesting events. In the afternoon, I checked out “Special Considerations: The In-House Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Lawyer Experience.”

If you’re interested in LGBT issues or in-house diversity issues, keep reading to find out what the panelists had to say….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Being Out In-House: The LGBT Lawyer Experience in Corporate America”

According to the Department of Labor, 14 million people in our country are unemployed. And with a surplus of lawyers that reaches into the thousands in almost every state, unemployment is a serious problem for the legal profession.

Unfortunately, we all know that Biglaw firms — and surely other firms, as well — are avoiding these attorneys like the plague. We spoke about this industry-wide issue back in late 2009, noting that Biglaw firms weren’t exactly keen on hiring associates that had previously been laid off. In fact, one recruiter we spoke with told us that approximately 80 percent of employers specifically requested résumés from attorneys who are still employed.

Facing these seemingly insurmountable odds, what’s an unemployed attorney to do? As it turns out, President Obama wants to lend a hand, but only if he can get Congress to pass this jobs bill….

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Several prominent judges, like Richard Posner (left) and Alex Kozinski (right), hire 'off-plan.'

Over the weekend, we mentioned a very interesting New York Times article on the chaotic state of the clerkship application process, and said we’d have more to say about it later. Well, now is later, quite a bit later — so let’s discuss.

The piece — by Catherine Rampell, who has written about the legal world before — paints a depressing picture of a dysfunctional system. Rampell reports that the clerkship process “has become a frenzied free-for-all, with the arbiters of justice undermining each other at every turn to snatch up the best talent.”

Let’s look at the reasons behind this, and discuss whether the process can be fixed….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Price of Prestige: Clerkship Application Chaos”

I feel like we have this story every fall. Every year, new 1Ls get to law school campuses and invariably, some of them quickly look around to see which boots are most in need of licking. The first few weeks they kiss so much faculty ass they look like they’re applying for tenure. And right around now, they start looking for fellow students to suck up to.

Well, there’s a way to suck up to fellow students, and usually kissing butt requires you to be in the same room as your betters. Cold, unsolicited emailing — while fine for general networking — is almost always the wrong way to approach your peers. We’ve explained this to you before.

If you find yourself sending out cold, unsolicited, mass emails, well, welcome to Above the Law, little 1Ls….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How 1Ls Should NOT Approach Peer Networking”

It takes a while to get over squandering an empire. As our habit of placing the prefix “Great” before “Britain” suggests, we’re still not quite there yet. But deep down we know we blew it. The evidence is everywhere: from our dentists, who don’t really know what they’re doing anymore, to our universities, which are crumbling, just like our schools, hospitals, and public transport.

Somehow, though, the U.K’s legal system has avoided being dragged into this spiral of decline. Yes, we’re still good at law — so good, in fact, that London is the top destination in the world for international companies to settle disputes, and English law the most popular among international in-house counsel (40% use it, with just 14% opting for New York law). And, in spite of the relatively tiny size of the British domestic legal market, our law firms manage to give yours a run for their money, with the Magic Circle quartet of Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Freshfields and A&O outdoing most of their U.S. rivals in terms of turnover and profits.

Doubtless part of this success stems from the fact that Britain is the home of the Common Law, which, unless some joker on Wikipedia is deceiving me, was invented around the 1150s by King Henry II. And as we saw during the April nuptials between Prince William and his bride Kate, our “Ye Olde Ingland” nostalgia sells very nicely to foreigners….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Letter from London: How To Squander an Empire”

* How lucky for us that the Senate decided to avoid a government shutdown, but the third time is not the charm when it comes to the taxpayers’ money. [New York Times]

* Did DSK get a blowie in his official capacity as Managing Director of the IMF? That might be what he has to say if he wants diplomatic immunity. [Washington Post]

* Law school applications are down 9.9 percent. It’s too bad that even a nosedive like that isn’t stopping law schools from increasing incoming class sizes. [StarTribune]

* Charlie Sheen settled his lawsuit against Warner Bros. Screw Two and a Half Men; we all know he’d rather have two and a half grams. [Bloomberg]

* Women in Saudi Arabia now have the right to vote, but they’ll have to walk to the polls. They’ll remain backseat drivers until further notice, just like in America. [WSJ Law Blog]

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