August 2014

Lateral interview season is about to kick off. You’ll likely see several law firm vacancies pop up early in the new year as firms struggle to find replacements for attorneys who jump ship after receiving their year end bonus.

In preparation for the upcoming interview season, the recruiters at Lateral Link have compiled a list of the top five tips to help you ace your next law firm interview.

1. Be prepared: Preparation is key. Do not try and “swing it” and go to an interview unprepared. Understand what is at stake when you go into an interview — getting hired. Back in the good ole days, your résumé alone was sufficient to get you a job. The interview process was merely a formality and a way for firms to screen out people who were completely socially inept. Today, the résumé is only one component of your candidacy….

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The ABA stopped talking and started firing shots.

Well that was fast.

Over the weekend, the New York Times unleashed a feature article about the role of the American Bar Association in keeping the cost of legal education absurdly high. The school profiled in that article, which we talked about yesterday, was Duncan Law School, which was seeking provisional accreditation from the ABA.

The article, by legal academia bête noire David Segal, came out in print on Sunday. Everybody talked about it on Monday. And today, on Tuesday, the ABA denied Duncan its provisional accreditation.

Boom. Roasted.

That’ll teach these law schools to get chatty with the mainstream media about this little legal education cartel they have going here…

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Even attorneys are signing up.

Since time immemorial (or at least since the advent of computers), PCs have ruled the law office technology world. As iPhones and iPads have become more popular, Apple products have begun encroaching on the PC’s long-standing dominance of the workplace.

But who would’ve thought that Apple would actually be taking over, even in the technophobic realm of law?

A new legal survey shows just how much attorneys love their Macs. Let’s look at the results, and maybe find some gift ideas for the holidays….

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[A] law school could literally burn a huge sum of money and, as long as the flames were meant to teach something to the students — the craziness of the U.S. News algorithm, perhaps? — the school would benefit in the rankings.

New York Times journalist David Segal, responding to a reader’s question in relation to his series of articles about the economics of law schools. Segal’s latest article, For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.’s Way (our coverage here), concluded the series.

(Additional excerpts from Segal’s responses, after the jump.)

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This actually happened last Wednesday — but, due to the less-than-exciting nature of the news, we doubt anyone has been prejudiced by our delay in reporting it. The law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf announced associate and counsel bonuses, on the Sullivan & Cromwell scale (i.e., the Cravath scale, but topping out at $42,500 instead of $37,500).

Even if not surprising, it is nice that Dewey is matching market. As you may recall, Dewey made our list of the top ten most generous law firms — i.e., ten firms that generally match Cravath-level bonuses, despite having significantly lower profits per partner than Cravath. Partners at these firms take a financial hit to keep their associates happy.

Just like last year, there are a few footnotes to the Dewey bonus news that merit comment. And there’s some positive news for top performers, too….

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You know that it’s the holiday season when your inbox begins to fill up with holiday cards. Some are cute, some are clever, some are heartfelt, and some come from people and companies you don’t even remember meeting or doing business with.

And even though these people can’t be bothered to spend the time and money necessary to send real holiday cards in the mail, they still took a few minutes out of their day to send an email. At least sending out a holiday card via mass email gives the appearance that the sender cares about you. As many mothers would say, it’s the thought that counts.

So what happens when a law school sends out a holiday card, but completely botches it? This New York law school previously provided walking instructions to its students, but maybe the administration needs instructions on how to send out emails that are a little less insulting….

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Schulte Roth & Zabel really came up with a creative way to make this terrible bonus season even worse for SRZ associates.

Schulte is matching the Cravath scale, but not all at once. Half of the bonus is being paid now, the other half in March. It’s Schulte’s way of issuing a retention bonus without actually spending any extra money.

It also sets Schulte up nicely to avoid paying spring bonuses next year. Not that Schulte management really cares what people think about them. The firm didn’t pay spring bonuses last year. Even though the firm is making people whole with a “spring bonus” payment to those who should have gotten one last spring, the money is still tied to hitting 2011 hours targets.

It’s really one of the most disingenuous bonus memos we’ve seen. While technically the firm is matching Cravath, it’s doing it in a nickle-and-dime way that makes it pretty clear the Schulte partnership begrudges every last cent they have to pay out in bonuses.

If the associates don’t like it, they know where the door is….

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Edward Hayes (on The Charlie Rose Show)

What draws people to the practice of law? Some do it for the paycheck, some do it for the prestige, and some do it for the excitement and fun of it all.

Veteran New York litigator Edward Hayes belongs firmly in the final camp. Although he has amassed fame and fortune over almost four decades of practicing law, his legal career reflects a quest for adventure.

And what adventures Hayes has had. After graduating from the University of Virginia and Columbia Law School, he joined the Bronx District Attorney’s office, where he prosecuted homicides (which there was no shortage of in the Bronx in the 1970s). He then launched his own practice, handling civil and criminal matters for such clients as the estate of Andy Warhol, notorious “Mafia cop” Stephen Caracappa, acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind, actor Robert De Niro, celebrity editrices Anna Wintour and Tina Brown, billionaire publisher Si Newhouse, and then-paramours Sean Combs and Jennifer Lopez (after they were arrested together back in 1999).

Eddie Hayes has even found his way into literature. He served as the basis for Tommy Killian, Sherman McCoy’s defense lawyer in Tom Wolfe’s great novel, Bonfire of the Vanities. Wolfe dedicated the book to Hayes, a close friend of his for many years.

This past summer, I enjoyed the privilege of spending a day with Ed Hayes. We met up at Penn Station and took the train out to his vacation home in Bellport, Long Island, where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch, dining outdoors and overlooking the water. (There are Lawyerly Lairs-style photos of his house, after the jump.)

During our time together, Hayes reminisced about his extraordinary life in the law, offered career advice for fellow lawyers, and showed me how to properly prepare a caprese salad….

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* The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Obamacare over three days in March. Let’s fast forward to June so we can see how Election 2012 is going to turn out. [Blog of Legal Times]

* The Grinch definitely stole AT&T’s Christmas this year, and even a team of Biglaw superstars couldn’t save the day. The company’s merger deal with T-Mobile is now officially dead. [Am Law Daily]

* A bed and breakfast owner told this lesbian couple aloha before they could even say aloha, and now they’re suing. And here I thought that Hawaii specialized in tiny, gay bubbles. [Washington Post]

* James Franco doesn’t just get bad grades on Rotten Tomatoes. José Angel Santana, one of his former professors, has filed a lawsuit saying NYU fired him for giving the actor a “D.” [Reuters]

* Snooki, Jersey Shore’s drunken munchkin, is being sued for $7M over a licensing deal gone bad. The worst part is that even if she paid up, she’d still have oodles of money in the bank. [Daily Mail]

* Sick of law school? Get all of your bitching down on paper, and turn your rage-filled manifesto into a short story for submission to the JLE Legal Fiction Contest. [National Law Journal]

'Who needs cash? We have these nifty red hats!'

Over the weekend, I had dinner with a friend of mine who used to work as a paralegal at a small law firm. She told me about how one year, for the holidays, all the lawyers chipped in to get her a gift certificate to a spa, so she could get herself a massage.

I said it sounded like a nice gesture. This was not the reaction my friend was going for in telling the story; she viewed the gift as an insult. Her view: Christmastime is the time to show me the money.

I can understand that perspective for secretaries or administrative assistants. As we’ve discussed before, if you’re an attorney you should give your secretary a holiday gift that’s either cash or a cash equivalent (like an AmEx or Visa gift card). As a legal secretary once told us, “if you decide on giving gift certificates [to specific stores], I sincerely hope your next bonus will be paid in the same currency.”

But paralegals, at least at large firms — my friend who got the massage certificate worked at a small firm — are a trickier proposition. Over the course of a year in Biglaw, a lawyer might work with many different paralegals, on a wide range of matters. Are you expected to give gifts to all of them?

So what should a lawyer do with respect to holiday gifts for paralegals? And, of course, what’s the “going rate” for holiday gifts for secretaries in 2011?

Let’s conduct some reader polls, and open up the comments for discussion….

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