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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Abby Gordon is a Director with Lateral Link’s New York office. Abby works with attorney candidates on law firm and in-house searches, primarily in New York, Boston, and Europe. Prior to joining Lateral Link, Abby spent seven years as a corporate associate with Cleary Gottlieb, focusing on capital markets transactions for Latin American clients in New York and for the last five years for European clients in Paris. A native of Boston, Abby holds a J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in government and romance languages, magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College. Abby also worked with the International Rescue Committee as a Fulbright Scholar in Madrid, Spain. She is a member of the New York Bar and is fluent in French and Spanish (and dabbles in Portuguese and Italian).

Recently, I wrote a post on the 25 Things All Young Lawyers Should Know In Order To Not Screw Up Their Legal Careers. A number of lawyers contacted me after the post ran to ask if I could further discuss some of the points, and in particular, those relating to choosing the best law firm and the best practice area.

Choosing a law firm and a practice area is a big decision. While 62% of lawyers move firms within their first four years of practice, your career path will likely be clearly shaped by your first job as a lawyer. I cannot stress enough how difficult it is to switch practice areas once you have started your legal career. It is not impossible, but it can be very difficult. Some firms are much more flexible than others in letting you dabble in various areas before committing to a practice area. In fact, certain firms never officially require you to choose a group. However, it is extremely rare for associates to find opportunities to switch from one firm’s practice area A to another firm’s practice area B. If you are lucky enough to have this opportunity, you will almost inevitably be asked to take a haircut in class year.

So what are the major factors you should consider in choosing a firm as a summer associate or first-year associate?

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Bruce Stachenfeld

Ed. note: Please welcome our newest columnist, Bruce Stachenfeld of Duval & Stachenfeld LLP.

By way of introduction, I am the founder and managing partner of Duval & Stachenfeld LLP. We are a 70-ish lawyer law firm in midtown NYC that focuses strongly on real estate; indeed, we refer to ourselves as “The Pure Play in Real Estate Law.”

As managing partner I have spearheaded numerous unique initiatives that have distinguished us from other law firms. Many of these ideas were very scary when we tried them out — there was always a fear that we would not only fail but, worse yet, be laughed at. Some of these ideas did not work out so well, I admit; however, the ones that succeeded have been the fulcrum to attract both lawyers and clients to our firm and indeed been the bedrock of our success.

As a relatively small firm playing with the big boys and girls, one would think that our size could be a disadvantage. But that would be incorrect. Smaller players can be flexible and move in different directions. We can take risks and seize opportunities that large law firms cannot logically capitalize on….

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‘This one is a story about shoes… international shoes!’

Let’s have a chat about the job market. For the past few years, it’s been a rather bleak situation, with a little more than half of recent law school graduates employed in full-time, long-term jobs as attorneys. Jim Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement, recently revealed that the class of 2011 would “historically come to be seen as the bottom of the market.” Less than half of the class of 2011 found jobs in private practice, with the overall employment rate sinking to lows not seen since the mid 1990s.

Now that it’s been a few years since they graduated, just how screwed are the members of the class of 2011? By all accounts, it seems like the answer may be “very.” As it turns out, all of the law professors who thought they were cheekily offering babysitting jobs to their students for some extra cash were really just preparing them for their future careers.

Take heed before you apply to law school, lest you become a nanny with six figures of debt…

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Raven 23 was a team of Blackwater employees who provided security in Iraq for U.S. government personnel. On September 16, 2007, a car bomb went off, and Raven 23 was called on to secure an evacuation of a diplomat. As a federal court described it later, “a shooting incident erupted, during which [some of the members of Raven 23] allegedly shot and killed fourteen [Iraqi civilians] and wounded twenty others.”

After September 16, the firefight moved to federal district court in the District of Columbia when the U.S. Attorneys Office for the District of Columbia brought charges against some of the members of Raven 23.

And, as legal battles go, what a firefight it is.

There’s been a Kastigar hearing, a direct appeal, a mandamus action, a judicial call for an Inspector General investigation into the State Department’s conduct in the case, a promised request for the government to pay attorneys’ fees for one of the members of Raven 23, posturing about new charges, and threats of motions for vindictive prosecution.

If you find yourself with some time, reading the papers in the case – the case number is 08-360 on D.D.C.’s docket – isn’t a bad way to spend it.

If you find yourself without that kind of time, here’s a blow by blow of some of the most interesting bits.

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* The $160K-Plus Club welcomes its newest member: Duval & Stachenfeld, a real estate firm in NY, is more than doubling its starting salary for associates to $175K. Look for them recruiting at your “tier one” school soon. [New York Law Journal]

* In this economy, bankruptcy firms are being hit hard: Stutman Treister & Glatt, a top L.A. firm that once assisted in cases against Lehman Brothers and Enron Corp. in their Chapter 11 proceedings, is closing up shop. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* It ain’t easy being dean at the law school with the best Biglaw prospects — oh wait, yes it is. Congrats to Gillian Lester, who will serve as Columbia Law’s fifteenth dean come January 2015. [Columbia News]

* “Do I think he thought he was gonna beat it? Yeah.” The district attorney who brought charges against Stephen McDaniel thinks the law school killer was too big for his chainmail britches. [Macon Telegraph]

* From catcalling to “jiggle tests,” NFL cheerleaders have to put up with a lot of really ridiculous stuff. Not being paid the minimum wage is one thing, but having to put up with being groped is quite another. [TIME]

There’s a reason the Hero’s Journey doesn’t take detours through law school. It just doesn’t feel all that epic to spend your day highlighting cases and playing gunner bingo. When the most famous films about law school involve a pathetic whiner terrified of his professor, a white guy in blackface, and a ditz trying to get back at her boyfriend, you know you’re not dealing with the Guns of Navarone.

Whenever law tries to get heroic, we tell tales of lawyers who champion the downtrodden. And then fail miserably.

So it’s no wonder that this kid who feels they really are a hero is rudderless in law school.

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* There’s a 5-4 Supreme Court lineup you don’t see too often. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* The Supreme Court is about to hear two cases on cellphone searches that would ring true with the Founders. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Who watches the watchmen? It turns out nobody. This’ll end well. [Reuters]

* A “Real Housewife” is apparently no longer so much a wife. She’s dating a “hot shot” NYC lawyer. [Daily Mail]

* Affirmative action took another hit yesterday. But Professor Brian Fitzpatrick examines whether or not race-neutral affirmative action was really ever working anyway. [SSRN]

* Extensive drug bust announced by publicity-hound D.A. uncovers… well, not all that much. [Slate]

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(c) Image by Juri H. Chinchilla.

100 years ago today, on April 23, 1914, Wrigley Field opened in Chicago. At the time, the stadium was called Weegham Park and it was the home of the Whales, not the Cubs. The Whales — part of the short-lived Federal League — took the field that day against the Kansas City Packers. The Whales won 9-1. Today, Wrigley Field celebrates 100 years of continuous losing use — a marvel considering that 80% of current major league stadiums are less than twenty-five years old. This week, On Remand looks back at the history of Wrigley Field and the decades-long dispute over what happens there after dark….

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The students now are generous, collaborative. They share notes with each other. I regularly ask students what has surprised them about Harvard Law School and almost always the response is how nice everybody is. I think the degree to which the students care about the world is very impressive to me. They are not just concerned about themselves.

– Dean Martha Minow of Harvard Law School, in an interesting and inspirational interview with the Harvard Gazette. Additional highlights from the interview, plus commentary, after the jump.

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Women continue to have a hard time in the law. Whether they’re being told not to show cleavage, dress like “ignorant sluts,” or wear hooker heels, they just can’t the respect they deserve. In an environment like this, where women are perceived as lesser beings and one is expected to bring baked goods to the office just because she happens to have breasts, achieving a sense of work/life balance seems like an incredibly lofty goal.

The Yale Law Women just came out with their annual list of the top ten family friendly firms. We cover this list every year (see our posts from 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008). This year’s list changed very dramatically from last year’s: only three of the firms have returned.

Which firms made the cut? Which firms had the best options available to both women and men? Let’s take a look at the latest ranking for the most family-friendly firms…

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A hallmark of horrible regimes everywhere is the insistence that everyone around them profess a deep and abiding faith that they are, in fact, super-awesome regimes. This is why Kim Jong-un has at least 35 laudatory epithets attached to his name and holds parades about how awesome it was that he sprayed the populace down with AXE Bodyspray. Or something. I’m a little shaky on the details because bad regimes make a point of keeping the truth out of the public eye.

At least one law school has taken a lesson from mid-20th century fascism and adopted a total blackout on the truth about the substandard results it’s been getting. A blackout so absolute that, while hosting a candidate for the open position of dean, the school reportedly asked the candidate to leave and threatened to call security when he or she brought up the fact that, “hey, enrollment is down and those jerks from Above the Law make fun of us for our terrible bar passage rate” at a faculty gathering.

Can’t let the proles hear that.

So let’s have some fun — which law school do you think it is?

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