October 2014

What happens when you put thirty American lawyers in a London pub where the drinks are free for the evening? Well, let’s just say it’s rather different to what happens when thirty British lawyers are assembled in equivalent conditions.

The attendees at last week’s inaugural Benedict Arnold Society meeting for young and young-ish American lawyers in the United Kingdom, held at the Witness Box pub in the heart of London’s legal district, were impeccably behaved. No one collapsed, vomited or — in spite of my continual prying for insider information — gave away a single secret about their firms. In fact, I think I was the only one there who was drunk.

Still, my memories of at least the first part of the evening remain. What stood out was how nicely many of the assembled Yank expats had done by coming to London — be it because they had saved money on legal education costs, were enjoying heightened status due to their willingness to travel, or were appreciating the health-inducing lighter U.K. workloads.

Several had undertaken their legal studies in the U.K., thus circumventing the enormous fees charged by U.S. law schools….

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Newt, you've made the tiger angry.

* “Members of Congress are not above the law,” and that’s why the Senate will likely approve a ban on insider trading of non-public information by the end of the week. Say hello to the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act. [Boston Globe]

* Eye of newt tiger, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog. You see, Newt, you screw up one part of the witches’ spell, and you get sued for unauthorized song use on the Election 2012 campaign trail. [Bloomberg]

* Which Biglaw firms have the strongest brands in the country according to high-revenue clients? You’d think that those in the top five would be the firms leading the bonus market, but like most things having to do with money, you’d be wrong. [Am Law Daily]

* As Rutgers Law students take to the streets to protest the school’s merger with Rowan, nontenured faculty members are doing their damnedest to GTFO before all hell breaks loose. [Burlington County Times]

* GW Law will be launching a health care law and policy program next fall for the low, low cost of $5M, but the hordes of law school grads willing to pay top dollar for a useless LL.M. is priceless. [National Law Journal]

Did you make a mistake?

It’s been a while since we had a good Xtranormal video. The So You Want To Go To Law School sensation inspired a number of predictable spinoffs. But that mediocre flow eventually subsided.

But Xtranormal is still a pretty funny way of getting your point across. A tipster came across a good one over at Wall Street Oasis. It’s actually a series of videos called “Adam the Analyst.” The one that caught our tipster’s attention was the episode asks if he should go to law school. He’s told that law school is awful, and he should go to business school instead.

Joking aside, isn’t that clearly the right answer?

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Professors Richard Epstein (left) and John Yoo

* Are you still trying to make sense of the conflicting opinions in United States v. Jones, the GPS tracking case recently decided by the Supreme Court? Professor Barry Friedman has this helpful round-up. [New York Times]

* Elsewhere in law professors opining on SCOTUS, what do Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo predict the Court will do regarding Obamacare? [National Review Online]

* A Spanish CFO, a Finnish tax lawyer, and a moody Hungarian CEO walk into an Amsterdam coffee shop…. [What About Clients?]

* Musical chairs: prosecutor Greg Andres is leaving DOJ for DPW. [DealBook]

* In case you missed this fun Friday story, it got picked up by MSNBC today. [Digital Life / MSNBC]

* Did your law firm give you an iPad? Are you wondering what to do with the darn thing? Here’s an idea, after the jump….

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Judge Andrew Peck

Keyword searching is absolutely terrible, in terms of statistical responsiveness.

– Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck (S.D.N.Y.), in a panel today at the LegalTech conference. He spoke alongside Wachtell Lipton counsel Maura Grossman and Jackson Lewis partner Ralph Losey, on a panel that aimed to demystify cutting-edge, computer-assisted e-discovery technology. Peck is a vocal proponent of computer-assisted discovery and predictive coding. He is not a fan of the slightly older keyword-searching technology.

(A few minutes later, Losey had another strong opinion to add. See what was said, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Keyword Searching? You’re Doing It Wrong”

Lawyers, have you been looking for a unique way to do some self-branding? Of course, we don’t mean that you should literally brand yourself, but this Mexican lawyer did just that. She turned herself into a walking piece of art, and is now known as the “Vampire Woman” by her colleagues in the tattoo and body modification industry.

We know what you must be thinking: “Aren’t female vampires supposed to be sexy?” That might be the case on True Blood, but we’re not so sure about this girl. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the Vampire Woman’s look makes us wonder whether she’s capable of keeping clients from running out of her office screaming. Don’t believe us? See for yourself….

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Not shown: the empty bottle of Jack in this guy's carrel.

Last week, I derisively noted that legal blogs were pushing a silly story in U.S. News about great careers that you can pursue with a law degree. No matter how bad legal hiring gets, law schools like pushing the “you can do anything with a law degree” angle, based on the anecdotal evidence of those who were lucky enough to parlay their J.D. degrees into something non-legal.

Obviously, I’ve got some anecdotes of my own.

But here’s a job, a real live job, that’s actually being offered to law students as we speak (or type). If you really want to know “what you can do with a law degree,” take a freaking look….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Things You Can Do With a Law Degree: Bank Teller”

So the matter/case (whatever you call it) is over. You’ve resolved the contract dispute, formed the corporate entity, ended the marriage, had the criminal case dismissed, resolved whatever the client’s issue was for which you were retained.

You’ve taken my advice and narrowly defined the scope of representation in your written, signed, retainer agreement. Now what?

Your guess is that you send a nice letter advising the client that you’re done here, thanking them for retaining you, and possibly reminding them that there’s a balance due.

Not a bad idea.

Not the best idea, but not a bad idea.

I suggest that the end of your representation is where you give the free consultation, instead of at the beginning.

Time for a face to face meeting with the client, to continue the relationship. Time to ask: “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

I’m terrible at this. I rarely do it. I generally say goodbye to the client in court, or with a phone call and tell them to “take care.” I may say, “Call me if you need anything,” but I don’t often take the extra step to continue the client relationship. Many times the relationship is already established through the representation, so I don’t feel the need for the face to face “exit interview,” but I’m missing out on an opportunity, and I know that….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Practice: Do You or Your Client Understand the Scope of Representation? (Part II)”

David Otunga

If you’re a longtime reader of Above the Law, then you’ll remember Harvard Law School graduate and former Sidley associate, David Otunga. We’ve previously written about Otunga’s adventures in reality television on VH1’s I Love New York, his engagement to singer-actress Jennifer Hudson, and his foray into the wonderful world of “professional” wrestling with World Wrestling Entertainment.

Otunga’s been flexing his muscles in the ring since 2008, but our tipsters were unimpressed, noting, “From Harvard Law School to I Love New York to the WWE. Unfortunately the next stop is probably porn.” Well, sorry to disappoint you, but Otunga hasn’t signed up for his porn industry debut just yet. Instead, he took a momentary break from wrestling to make his return to the courtroom.

Was he able to lay down either of his finishing moves (the Verdict and the Case Closed) to pull out a win?

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Meet the new Biglaw. Same as the old Biglaw.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the Wall Street Journal has a good article about how various recession-era cutbacks have become entrenched in Biglaw. If you have been paying attention or are a current law student, you know the issues: smaller entry-level classes, stagnant salaries, and a partnership track long enough to make a first-year Ph.D. student laugh.

Basically, if you were already a Biglaw partner when the recession hit, you are likely to say, “What recession?” Your profits per partner have probably gone up, despite the general economy’s woes. Other industries use economic downturns to retool their business models and develop new ways to compete. Not Biglaw. It appears that Biglaw has used the recession to fire a bunch of people, exclude new partners, and keep associate salaries and bonuses at recessionary levels. They haven’t developed a new business model; they’ve just found a way to reduce the costs of the old business model.

Biglaw partner: It’s great work if you can get it. The WSJ even found one partner who was so busy loving himself and his life that he appears to be totally oblivious to the struggles of everybody else…

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