August 2014

Everyone knows how challenging it can be for lawyers to find satisfying work in today’s economy. Employers who are looking to hire associate attorneys seem to have the upper hand because there are so many qualified candidates available.

Even with an abundance of candidates, however, hiring associates and support staff can be particularly challenging for small and boutique law firms. Although Biglaw firms are notoriously selective, in some ways they are actually less selective than their smaller counterparts.

Unfortunately for most, and fortunately for some, larger firms’ hiring is largely focused on the candidate’s objective credentials. Every firm pays lip service to its unique culture, but for junior associates your resume is often more important than your personality.

In a small or boutique firm, personality and “fit” are more important than they are in Biglaw. A small firm is more likely to have a distinct firm culture that is a reflection of its partners. The more owners, the more diffuse the personalities and culture. If nothing else, in a smaller environment you are going to be working in closer physical proximity to the other employees.

So, how can small firms find new associates who fit best?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Growing Pains”

... to take a survey.

The ATL School and Firm Insiders Survey continues to roll along at a nice clip: we expect our 3,000th respondent any minute now. While we’re pleased with this response, of course we encourage all of you who haven’t yet to take 3-5 minutes and head over here to take our absolutely confidential survey. Thanks in advance.

Last week, we shared a few broad trends we’re seeing, and today, we’ll get a little more specific and name some names.

Among other things, the survey asks law students for their perceptions of a select group of firms as potential employers. In our analysis, we’ll look at which firms are considered the most (and least) attractive by law students. We’ll also consider how these perceptions jibe with what lawyers at these firms are telling us….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Survey Update: Student Favorites and the Ghosts of Layoffs Past”

Where would lawyers be without open (and absurdly expensive) access to Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis for legal research? They’d have to trudge down to the closest law library and read real books made of paper. They’d have to head over to the courthouse and pull actual files with non-electronic documents inside of them. In a time where legal texts are used solely for decorative bookshelf purposes, that is just too much to ask.

But that is the behavior that two lawyers would expect of their professional colleagues. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, they claim that the legal database providers have been engaging in “unabashed wholesale copying of thousands of copyright-protected works created by, and owned by, the attorneys and law firms who authored them.”

Do they have any chance of winning their class action copyright suit?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyers Sue Westlaw, Lexis-Nexis for Copyright Infringement”

With the proliferation of online rating sites, an aggrieved consumer of pretty much anything has a surprising range of avenues to express his or her discontent.

Whether you have a complaint about your neighborhood coffee shop or an allegedly unfaithful ex-boyfriend, the average Joe has a surprising amount of power through these sites.

Rating sites apparently even have the power to bring a well-known UNC Law professor to his electronic knees.

It’s not every day that a torts professor sends his former students a “rather embarrassing request” to repair his online reputation. It’s also certainly not every day that the students respond en masse….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “UNC Law Prof Sends a ‘Rather Embarrassing’ Request, Asks Former Students to Help His Online Rating”

Okay, I confess: I made the headline intentionally provocative. You shouldn’t lie at all, and you should absolutely forbid witnesses from lying under oath. (If we, the lawyers, don’t obey the law, who will?)

I’m thinking today about a person who is not under oath and will be sorely tempted to tell an obvious lie. Don’t do that yourself, and advise others that it’s not great idea, too.

When are people tempted to tell obvious lies?

In the corporate context, a quarterly earnings announcement might boldly proclaim that the company earned $1 per share this quarter. The Street expected only 90 cents, so this appears to be great news. But there’s something else tucked into the earnings report that disappoints the analysts: revenue declined; margins compressed; organic revenue growth stalled; whatever. Thus, despite the happy headline, the stock price drops two bucks on the day of the earnings announcement.

The next week, you, or the head of your department, or the head of a business unit, or whoever, has to brief an internal audience about the quarterly results. The speaker will be sorely tempted to tell an obvious lie: He’ll pull excerpts from the slide deck used for the earnings announcement, emphasize that the company beat the Street’s consensus estimate by ten cents a share, and tell the gang that we had a great quarter.

Meanwhile, everyone in the room is thinking: “If we had such a great quarter, why did the stock price crater on the news? Do you think I’m an idiot? Why are you lying to me, and do you lie often?”

I’m no expert in corporate communications, but it strikes me that it’s a bad idea to tell obvious lies. How do you avoid telling obvious lies?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Don’t Tell Obvious Lies!”

I have successfully avoided jury duty since I moved back to New York in 2003, but this week they finally caught up with me. This week, I’ve had to perform my civic responsibility of sitting in judgment of my peers (like I don’t do that enough already).

Sorry, I had to “be available” to sit in judgement of my peers. Nobody is ever going to pick me for a jury. I blog about law for a living, hold two Harvard degrees, and have a checkered past. I’m not getting impaneled. Instead, I was just looking forward to the rare business day when I didn’t have to invent an opinion or listen to “the internet” pontificate on my weight.

Then the lady who seemed to be in charge of the proceedings told me that I was looking forward to three days of that. I went to protest, but Nurse Ratched told me to sit down and wait for my lobotomy. So i started paying attention to my surroundings — because blogging is how I cope with the slings and arrows of outrageous people asking me to behave like a normal person.

I’ll deal more directly with Nurse Ratched at another time. Today I got an up-close look at the voir dire process in a criminal trial. While I was not picked, I feel like my McMurphy-esque fingerprints will be all over the case.

Let’s take a look inside our clearly broken jury system…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Elie Draws Jury Duty: Day One — Voir Dire”

Casey Anthony is pissed.

* And now another reason for lawyers to hate other lawyers (even more than they already do): Westlaw and LexisNexis are being sued for copyright infringement for selling access to publicly filed legal documents. [WSJ Law Blog]

* MGA Entertainment’s antitrust suit against Mattel has been dismissed. In celebration, attorneys from Quinn Emanuel will buy themselves hot pink convertibles while singing that “Barbie Girl” song. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Yesterday in the Golinski case, a federal judge ruled that the definition of marriage under DOMA is unconstitutional. Come on, even a Bush II appointee knows what’s up. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* After finally realizing that he was a lawyer and not an agent — and that his most infamous client wasn’t worth as much as he thought — Jose Baez dropped Casey Anthony like a bad habit. [Miami Herald]

* Former University of Virginia lax player George W. Huguely V was found guilty of second degree murder in the death of Yeardley Love. UVA students are instructed to pop their collars at half-staff. [Bloomberg]

By the way, 'meme' rhymes with 'team.'

Like it or not, internet memes have slowly but surely crept into our everyday lives. Your Facebook feed has likely been inundated with pictures of “What People Think I Do / What I Really Do,” and your own mother has probably asked you about the correct pronunciation of the word “meme.” There seems to be a meme to address just about every situation imaginable.

But what about lawyer memes? Unfortunately, those have been few and far between. Given the current widespread popularity of internet memes, and the general lack of memes that relate to the legal profession, we thought that we’d give our readers the floor to create some of their own….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Seeking Submissions for ATL’s ‘Lawyer Meme’ Contest”

Chris Christie has an idea for Warren Buffett.

* How can you tout your achievements in a cover letter without sounding like a tool? Here are some pointers from Professor Eugene Volokh. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* The “unbundling” of legal services is a big buzzword when talking about the direction of the profession. But Jordan Furlong has a question: should lawyers and law firms start thinking about “rebundling”? [Law21.ca]

* Benchslap of the day earlier this month: the Fourth Circuit smacks around some saucy AUSAs. [Legal Blog Watch]

* “[P]ublic drunkenness is not illegal in NYC.” (Elie will be glad to hear this.) [Gothamist]

* How will SCOTUS rule on the Stolen Valor Act? Mike Sacks reads the oral argument tea leaves. [Huffington Post]

* Chris Christie to Warren Buffett: if you want to pay more in taxes, “just write a check and shut up.” [Dealbreaker]

* A Harvard Law School student, Matthew Schoenfeld, stands up for a good cause. [Harvard Law School News]

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