January 2012

Not going to lie. These guys are starting to make me nervous.

While the Internet was throwing itself a party yesterday for taking down the Stop Online Piracy Act, getting drunk off its own power and shooting pistols into the air like a Mexican fiesta, the Department of Justice was already throwing up a big middle finger to offshore rogue websites, or whatever they’re calling pirates now.

Yesterday, the DOJ and FBI seized and shut down one of the largest filesharing websites on the internet. The department also filed indictments against seven people involved in the site, in what authorities call one of the “largest criminal copyright cases ever brought.” That’s pretty big news all by itself. But, oh it gets better.

Everyone’s favorite shady hacker collective, Anonymous, struck back in revenge almost immediately. The group launched massive denial of service attacks against every media and governmental website their deranged hive mind could think of.

So, which of your favorite movie streaming sites is no longer online? And who faced the wrath of Anonymous? It’s a long list…

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Welcome to the latest edition of Above the Law’s Grammer Pole of the Weak, a column where we turn questions of legal writing and English grammar and usage over to our readers for discussion and debate.

Last week, we learned that 59% of our readers would never use “their” in the place of “his or her” when referring to a gender-neutral singular noun. After all, using “their” might sound better, but that certainly doesn’t make it the right word choice.

And that brings us to the topic of this week’s Grammer Pole, which came to me while I was listening to Metallica yesterday afternoon. Guys in heavy metal bands know when to use “whom,” so why don’t lawyers? Because sometimes, it just sounds better when you’re wrong….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Grammer Pole of the Weak: For ‘Who’ the Bell Tolls?”

Tom Wallerstein

For some, the phrase “small law firm” implies certain stereotyped practice areas, clients, and attorneys. At its worst, the stereotype invokes unsophisticated clients and matters that are routine and uninteresting. I doubt the stereotype is wholly true anywhere. I know for sure it isn’t true in San Francisco or Silicon Valley.

I know many attorneys in small firms who have specialized, high-end practices. These specialized practices are often called boutiques, and they are perfectly suited to serve the entrepreneurial, high-tech client base that abounds in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Even in the down economy, a number of new ventures were launched in Silicon Valley. Geographically, the high-tech corridor also seems to be expanding, thanks to Twitter, Zynga, SalesForce.com, and the like setting up shop in San Francisco. You don’t even need a Visa or traditional office space to launch a startup anymore; now you can enjoy Peter Thiel’s “Visa-free entrepreneurship and technology incubator on an ocean vessel in international waters.”

It remains to be seen whether we’re experiencing a boom or just another bubble, but I guess it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m not an economist and I’m not making predictions. I am only remarking on some great practice opportunities for smaller law firms which exist here, maybe because we are fortunate to have so many imaginative, passionate, and savvy entrepreneurs working on exciting projects in so many different industries….

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That's sexual harassment, but you probably want to take it.

* Listen up, internet pirates: if your license plate says “GUILTY,” it’s almost like you’re doing the DOJ’s job for them. More on this later. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Say cheese, because you’ll want to catch this first on camera. Sullivan & Cromwell is serving as lead counsel on Kodak’s bankruptcy case. [Am Law Daily]

* Protesting fail: looks like New York’s Occupy the Courts group won’t even be able to occupy the courthouse steps today. [Bloomberg]

* Stephen Colbert’s lawyer, Trevor Potter of Caplin & Drysdale, is now an internet celebrity. He’s a UVA Law grad, so pop your collars. [Chicago Tribune]

* Sexting extraordinaire Ken Kratz is fighting the suspension of his law license, because if he can’t practice as an “atty,” how can he be the prize? [Wisconsin State Journal]

* Apparently lots of DAs like to sexually harass their coworkers. Myrl Serra has been sentenced to one year for exposing himself at the office. [Denver Post]

There’s a really funny post up on Constitutional Daily, in which the protagonist — who holds a J.D. from NYU Law and was laid off from Biglaw during the recession — recounts his inability to secure a job at Target. It got me thinking of that other great lie that law schools tell incoming law students: “Yada yada, you can do anything with a law degree… also, I’d like to interest you in partial ownership of the Brooklyn Bridge.”

But many J.D. holders have found out the hard way that holding a law degree only opens doors to “law” jobs. They aren’t degrees of general utility.

If anything, they close more doors than they open….

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I believe the defendant failed a saving throw against berserker, so when he killed those people he didn't know right from wrong.

* Dressing shrinks as wizards when they testify would be an AWESOME idea. I’m serious. Why can’t we have this? And titles, too. “Your Honor, I call Dr. Freud — Ph.D in weakness management and keeper of the sacred staffs of Ivory guard — to the stand.” [Overlawyered]

* iTextbooks! Could be awesome, could widen the gap between the rich and the iPoor. [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Old lawyer accidentally smuggles a gun onto a plane, mainly because security — which noticed said gun — forgot to stop her. TSA doesn’t make us more safe, folks. It just makes us more molested. [Daily Mail]

* Apparently, LLMs go great with Brazilians. The people, not the grooming. Or maybe both — I don’t know, but I was only asked about people. [Live Mint]

* To be clear, putting slavery analogies into our math problems is bad… unless you are a college basketball or football star trying to work out how much you got paid in free tuition for last night’s game, versus how much the university made off of the performance of your team. Then the analogy is “apt.” [CBS Atlanta]

* White people problems, written by a former Cahill Gordon associate who quit to take a job in television. [Funny or Die]

* Additional impressive hires by an elite litigation boutique. How long before MoloLamken ends up on somebody’s hot list? [MoloLamken]

The next few State of the Market posts by Lateral Link, as compiled by Director Gary Cohen, will focus on one of the country’s largest states — Texas.

In general, lateral hiring activity in Texas has increased substantially in the past 12 months, with even greater momentum as we head into 2012. Corporate/securities and IP are the busiest major practice areas across the state; however, there are differences between the Dallas, Houston and Austin markets. Overall, the Houston market is the strongest, followed by Dallas, with Austin a distant third. In all markets, partners with solid books of portable business are viable and firms are always on the hunt for new partner-level talent….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center: State of the Market – Texas (Part 1)”

Tomorrow, associates at Goodwin Procter will receive individualized news of their bonuses. You may recall that last month, when ATL’s new director of research, Brian Dalton, compiled a list of Biglaw’s ten most generous firms — i.e., the ten firms that pay the best bonuses, when measured against their profits per partner — Goodwin did good, winning fourth place. (The firm fares well in rankings; last month, it made Crain’s list of best places to work in New York.)

Will this year’s bonuses preserve Goodwin’s good standing? Let’s find out. Although the individual amounts are being communicated tomorrow, the firm has outlined its overall approach in a memo….

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Anyone who works with e-discovery has no doubt encountered the bewildering array of vendors and service providers clamoring for legal technology business. It can be confusing.

As the e-discovery industry has exploded, vendors’ roles have expanded and changed as well. Just a few years ago, it was more common for attorneys and their firms to have to piece together several vendors to form a cohesive e-discovery attack plan. These days, many service providers offer more start-to-finish options.

Even though it is all very technical, vendor work sometimes walks the line between IT work and actual lawyering. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has become wary of discovery vendors that might offer misleading advertisements about their legal certifications. Last week the Court’s Committee for the Unauthorized Practice of Law (sounds intimidating!) delivered an opinion clarifying some rules relevant to discovery vendors.

While they were at it, the committee delivered a couple solid kidney shots. Ouch….

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Each year in January, Fortune releases its list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. As in years past, a few law firms have managed to sneak their way onto a list that includes companies like Google, DreamWorks Animation, and Goldman Sachs. With companies like that on the list, you’ve got to wonder (Elie did last year) — do the people at Fortune who make this list have any idea what they’re talking about?

We cover this list every year (click here for our posts in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007). Like last year, only four firms made the list for 2012.

But which four firms? Which four firms had pay that was high enough, perks that were good enough, and environments that were nurturing enough to make the cut?

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