When I signed on to write full-time for Above the Law, I thought that I might be able to make some of our readers and commenters see the sunnier side of things at lower-ranked law schools. I had a very positive experience, and I don’t have very many regrets about the school I chose to attend.
But sometimes lower-ranked law schools do things that make even me cringe.
We spend a lot of time with soon-to-be-unemployed 3Ls who are looking for some way to express their dissatisfaction with their law school and the career services they received. When people pay or borrow over $100K for three years of legal education and their employment future still comes down to how they perform during McDonald’s supersized hiring day, it makes people bitter.
Recently, UVA Law students have been putting in requests to be named Kings of the Bitters. We understand that their T-shirt based protests continue (can a brother get a link to buy a shirt?). We don’t know how effective they’ve been at steering 0Ls away from UVA Law, but then again, it seems like the only thing that effectively impacts 0L decision making is more paperwork.
Once you get to law school, you realize that the important pieces of paper are the ones you get in the mail informing you whether or not you have a job. But many UVA Law students are receiving thin rejection letters. One student pushed all of his rejection papers together into perhaps the most creative display of student dissatisfaction we’ve seen during the recession.
The 3L has taken the marble facade off of one top law school, exposing the sad reality lying underneath…
Associates are under a lot of pressure these days. But we applaud those junior lawyers who respond to the current demands with initiative and creativity. We found just such an associate in Toronto.
The man’s problems seem trivial to the outside world. His office is crappy. He needs an upgrade, but not because he wants to feel like he’s some hotshot. He just knows that he has to look like a hotshot in order to generate business. This is how he explains it on a Craigslist post:
I work in a large Bay Street law firm. Many of my partners and clients have extensive collections of original artwork. As a struggling associate with a mortgage, no job security and a wife with a penchant for running into things with our car, I cannot afford to buy original artwork myself, so I appear low-rent to the higher-ups. Given the high standards of my clients and partners, I also cannot go out and buy prints or copies of original art – I will be laughed into the unemployment line.
A lot of associates would have noted the problem and left it at that. Maybe they would have gone home crying to their mothers about life’s unfairness. But not this kid…
Christopher Boutlier, male model turned interior designer.
Over the long weekend, the Washington Post magazine treated us to a delicious inside look at the gorgeous home of Christopher Boutlier, an interior designer, and his partner, Aaron Flynn — a lawyer. Flynn practices environmental and administrative law in the D.C. office of Hunton & Williams.
Flynn may be a mere associate, but he lives like a partner: he resides in D.C.’s desirable Dupont Circle neighborhood, in an 1,110-square-foot condominium; he has an art collection; and he sleeps with a model. (The fine-featured Boutlier was a model before becoming an interior decorator.)
Morrison & Foerster tends to attract quirky types. The firm is demonstrably offbeat, from its mildly bizarre website to its embracing the moniker “MoFo.” So we were not particularly surprised when an artist type auctioning off a piece of conceptual art on eBay turned out to be a lawyer from the firm.
Alfred Steiner is a tech and IP lawyer in MoFo’s New York office. He described the piece to us thusly:
In a conceptually reductive context where works are increasingly defined more by an agreement between artist and collector (whether written or oral, tacit or explicit) than by the tangible manifestation of the work itself, what would a work become if it were reduced to be coextensive with that agreement, that is, if that agreement were the work itself?
Yup, the piece of art is a contract. What we were surprised by was how much a contract from a Morrison & Foerster attorney went for on eBay…
‘Think,’ one of the pieces on display at Agora Gallery.
This past weekend, two of your ATL editors paid a visit to Agora Gallery in Chelsea. We wanted to see for ourselves the LEGO brick sculptures of Nathan Sawaya, the lawyer turned LEGO artist.
As explained in our profile of Sawaya, the NYU Law grad left Winston & Strawn for a $30,000-a-year job as a builder at LEGOLAND. Several years later, Sawaya is now a world-renowned LEGO artist, whose works sell for thousands of dollars.
So, what did we get to set our eyes on? And how did we like it?
Nathan Sawaya went to the trouble of getting a law degree, but now he’s making a living with a skill he mastered in kindergarten.
Instead of building cases these days, Sawaya is building large-scale sculptures out of LEGOs. He’s been a LEGO fanatic since he got his first set at 5 years old. He told Image Magazine that while at NYU Law, rather than using his law school desk for studying, he used it for building a LEGO replica of Greenwich Village.
Despite spending his law school days playing with blocks, he managed to score an offer from Winston & Strawn.
Six years ago, though, he won a contest at Toys R’ Us and left the firm to take a $30,000 job as a builder at LEGOland. That batsh*t crazy decision has actually turned out well for Sawaya, 36, if you consider being a world-renowned LEGO artist to be a good thing.
New Yorkers can now check out his work at Agora Gallery in Chelsea. “Brick by Brick: The Lego Brick Sculpture of Nathan Sawaya” opens today.
What might you see beyond a man-size Blackberry (with a built-in flat screen TV)? Here are some examples of Sawaya’s “art”:
As we previously reported, a sizable portion of the art collection of defunct law firm Heller Ehrman was sold at auction yesterday. The auction took place at Bonhams in San Francisco, before a standing-room-only crowd.
We submitted absentee bids on the following:
lot 1, Pale Orange Begonia (we bid $500; it sold for $1,159);
lot 2, Glass of Water (we bid $500; it sold for $671);
lot 99, Lover of Time (we bid $800; it sold for $1,830);
lot 210, Bonsai and Bicycle (we bid $1,000; it sold for $4,575); and
lot 290, Return of the Rice Cooker (we bid $2,000; it sold for $5,185).
All of the items we bid on went for well above their high estimates — bad news for us, but good news for Heller creditors. How much dinero did the auction generate in total?
If you’ve always wanted to own a piece of defunct law firm Heller Ehrman, today is your lucky day. A sizable portion of the firm’s art collection is hitting the auction block in about an hour, at Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco.
We previously covered a prior Heller art auction, here in New York, but that sale involved just a handful of pieces. The auction taking place today — and starting very soon, at 10 a.m. Pacific time (or 1 p.m. Eastern time) — is much larger in scope.
So what’s up for sale? And how can you get a piece of the action?
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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