April 2014

Musical Chairs

Is lateral partner hiring a game of musical chairs that law firms can’t win? Anecdotes about unsuccessful lateral hires abound. You hear stories about high-profile partners moving from Firm A to Firm B, often lured by huge guarantees, only to leave Firm B a few years later, after failing to integrate or deliver the expected business.

And some of the most successful firms in all the land, places with immense prestige and sky-high profits, do very little lateral hiring. Their refusal to engage in the lateral market hasn’t seemed to hurt them.

When it comes to lateral hiring, should firms “just say no”? Well, that’s not what’s actually happening in the marketplace. Last year, lateral partner hiring climbed, suggesting that it must be working out — at least for some firms….

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* Rand Paul “doesn’t really understand” gay marriage. Let me help him out: it’s something that’s none of the government’s business. HTFH. [Huffington Post]

* And neither does Aaron Schock. [BuzzFeed]

* “Just how crippled is the legal job market? Utterly.” The Atlantic added value to the law school application story that the New York Times just posted without linking to anybody. [Atlantic Wire]

* I can see how Budweiser buying Modelo raises antitrust concerns. But since it’s a potential monopoly over “crappy beer,” I don’t really care. [Dealbook]

* Sorry, but I don’t see Manti Te’o suing his gay lover mean persecutor, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* If Hitler got royalties. [The Schwartz Report]

* The man suspected of shooting Arizona attorney Mark P. Hummels has been found dead. And after earlier optimism, Hummels is now not expected to survive. [ABA Journal]

‘If only I had an eDiscovery solution for compliance and discovery requests to efficiently manage, identify, analyze, and produce potentially responsive information from a single, unified platform. Of course, it would be hosted in a private, cloud-based environment.’

While technology has reduced costs for many areas of legal practice (e.g., research), the centrality of electronically stored information to complex civil litigation has sent discovery costs skyrocketing. Hence the rapid proliferation of e-discovery vendors like so many remoras on the Biglaw shark. Nobody seems to know how large the e-discovery market is — estimates range from 1.2 to 2.8 billion dollars — but everyone agree it’s not going anywhere. We’re never going back to sorting through those boxes of documents in that proverbial warehouse. New amendments to the FRCP specifically dealing with e-discovery became effective way back in December 2006, but if the e-discovery vendors (evangelists?) at this week’s LegalTech tradeshow are to be believed, we are only in the technology’s infancy in terms of its development and impact on the legal profession.

At LegalTech, we attended a “supersession” presented by e-discovery provider Planet Data, promising to present “judicial, industry, legal, and media perspectives on where legal technology is taking litigation and how it affects you.” Don’t be jealous….

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Ed. note: This is the third installment in a new series of monthly posts, brought to you by Corporette’s Kat Griffin, which will deal with topical business and lifestyle issues that present themselves in the world of Biglaw. Send your ideas for columns to us here.

One of the biggest sartorial challenges that both men and women face is looking professional in bad weather. Whether it’s slush, snow, rain, or just absolutely freezing temperatures, showing up at your office, meeting, or court appearance looking like the abominable snowman is usually frowned upon.

So how can you look your best but also stay warm and dry?

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Tom Wallerstein

I was grateful that Quinn Emanuel sent me to Los Angeles for a multi-week long, intensive trial advocacy training program. The instructors were incredible and the program overall was one of the most valuable training experiences of my career.

Some of the sessions featured practice drills followed by critiques from practicing attorneys. In one of the sessions, that “mentor” role was filled by a junior partner in a well-known firm. He had long, wavy hair and wore a tight silk shirt with the top several buttons open, exposing his chest hair and gold chains. His cologne should have been arrested for olfactory assault. If you think of a 1980s hair-metal band you will get the right idea.

Creepy-looking Mentor was constantly flipping his hair and paying far too much attention to the young, female associates. (He seemed to think it was particularly important to help them with their cross-examination posture, as he made a point of standing behind them and guiding them like a golf or tennis pro might do.)

Even though the program was only “practice” — cue Allen Iverson — there was a lot of pressure because many firm partners were there watching and, presumably, evaluating us. In this particular session, the associate doing a cross examination was very nervous, and visibly shaking. When the associate was finished, Mentor said he had a relevant war story he thought would be helpful to share, and did so….

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For some people, passing the bar exam is really easy. Some people (ahem) can spend three years of law school with a BAC level approaching “flammable,” sober up for six weeks of BAR/BRI, pass the test, and move on with their lives. People who pass the bar aren’t necessarily “smart.” But they do well on standardized tests.

Other people have a real problem with the bar. Those people aren’t necessarily stupid or lazy. For the most part, bar failure happens to people who don’t standardize-test well and are pointlessly trying to memorize “all” the information instead of being taught how to prioritize the information they have.

Of course, people who don’t standardize-test well and have problems prioritizing information don’t suddenly start doing poorly on the bar exam. They probably lost points on the SAT, but maybe their raw intellectual capacity powered them through to a decent enough score. Maybe they did well at an average college, and then BOMBED the LSAT (which exists to punish people who don’t prioritize information correctly). So they end up going to a low-ranked law school, but they haven’t addressed their testing problems because they think the LSAT was just “one bad day.”

These kind of people spend three years making excuses for their LSAT scores, developing huge chips on their shoulders about how they’re just as smart as people who scored ten points higher (as if standardized tests give a damn about how smart you are), and figure they’ll rock out on the bar because, “Derp, I got an A in evidence, so I’ll ace that section, derp.” And then wham, the bar hits them upside the head, they fail, and they blame their law school, their professors, and the exam itself.

Since drops in bar passage rates make law schools look bad, one law school has an innovative approach to reach kids before they run into a bar exam buzzsaw. And it starts with giving them cash….

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The crime scene.

Yesterday brought word of a law firm shooting in Phoenix in which a partner was injured. Today we have news of more gun violence, this time from Texas, resulting in the death of a prosecutor.

This morning, an assistant district attorney in Kaufman County, Texas, was shot and killed outside the courthouse. Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was on his way to misdemeanor court when he was ambushed by two men and gunned down.

The situation is still developing, but here’s what we know right now….

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Antigua & Barbuda 1
United States 0

Have you been holding off on buying your copy of Supertrain: The Complete Series in hopes of downloading it illegally without fear of reprisal? Well, you have a friend in Antigua & Barbuda.

In a Monday decision by the World Trade Organization, Antigua & Barbuda can now legally offer downloads of copyrighted U.S. works, and there’s not a damn thing the U.S. can do about it.

The decision marks the latest chapter in the long-running trade dispute between the U.S. and the tiny Caribbean nation over Antigua’s internet gambling industry. The U.S. banned Antigua’s internet casinos, Antigua took the U.S. to court through the WTO, and Antigua won — and has continued to win — consistently throughout the appeal process.

And now, in what passes for the sentencing phase of the WTO proceedings, Antigua has earned the right to violate the hell out of U.S. copyrights up to the value of $21 million a year.

Does that seem illogical? Welcome to the WTO….

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We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books. Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school. Today, the law school escalator is broken.

William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University (Maurer), commenting on the rigor mortis that’s quickly spreading now that everyone’s fantasies of fame and fortune in the once storied legal profession have died.

(Enough doom and gloom. What are law schools planning to do about it?)

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With a few exceptions (including a situation that was remedied), Biglaw associates were fairly happy with their bonuses for 2012. This was largely due to Cravath setting a solid scale for the market.

But happiness is not universal. We’ve heard from several sources who are unhappy with the payouts over at Arnold & Porter. Let’s see what all the fuss is about….

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