Last year, St. Martin’s Press published The Partner Track, the debut novel of lawyer Helen Wan. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, I praised the book for being engaging, suspenseful, and — unlike so many legal novels — realistic. The paperback edition of The Partner Track became available last week.
I enjoy fiction about lawyers, as both a reader and writer — my own firstnovel comes out in a few weeks — and I’m deeply interested in how other writers work. So I interviewed Helen Wan about her book, her approach to writing, and how she managed to write a novel while holding down a demanding job as an in-house lawyer for Time Warner. I also asked for her advice on how women and minority lawyers can succeed in Biglaw.
Here’s a (lightly edited and condensed) write-up of our conversation.
Our latest Lawyerly Lairs column is about a gay Filipino lawyer’s hunt for a new home on the island of Manhattan. (No, it’s not about me; I’m quite happy where I am, and I don’t own any dogs.)
Julius Towers, a 36-year-old intellectual property lawyer for Colgate-Palmolive, recently relocated from Queens to Manhattan. His search was complicated by a couple of canines: Felix, a Shiba Inu, and Athena, a golden retriever-poodle cross.
What was Towers’s budget, and where exactly did he wind up?
I am writing this from Hanoi, Vietnam, where I have been for the last week, working on legal matters for American companies doing business in Vietnam. Viewing firsthand how Vietnam has responded to this week’s anti-Chinese riots has prompted me to write on the impact those riots and the sentiments that led to them might have for American businesses in Vietnam.
Many American companies doing business in China have what is commonly referred to as a “China plus one strategy.” Such companies will have the bulk of their Asian operations in China, but will also be active in at least one other Asian country to hold down costs or reduce over-dependence on China. The increasing cost of labor (and other inputs) in China has accelerated the number of companies considering this strategy.
If you do a Google search for “China plus one,” Vietnam is listed one, two and three as the “plus one” that specifically mentions another country. It is also the country my law firm’s clients most often mention when considering where to go outside China.
* “Ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, if my client was the shooter, why would he have left the witness alive to testify? He’s a man who finishes the damn job.” [ABA Journal]
* Who would pretend to be a lawyer who is not? Apparently this public figure. [Legal Cheek]
* Jill Abramson is out at the New York Times. Could the reason be her decision to lawyer up? [Law and More]
* If you’ve hung around ATL long enough, you’ve heard us speculate that it just doesn’t make economic sense to attend most law schools. Here’s proof — only about 50 are even worth it economically. Which is hard to believe because I thought law degrees were worth $1 million. [TaxProf Blog]
* Lawyers get depressed, and not talking about it makes it worse. [Everyday Health]
* Seven-year-old kids are developing health problems from picking tobacco, because we let children work on tobacco farms apparently. [Slate]
* The Asian American Bar Association will be conducting a trial reenactment of 22 Lewd Chinese Women next Wednesday. Register here! [AABANY]
* As the new movie comes out, lawyers are really worked up over the Godzilla intellectual property. They need to hire Jorge Rivers: Godzilla Lawyer, whose ad appears after the jump (starring Thomas Lennon)…. [The Columbus Dispatch]
* U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wants to know more about why Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down an anticorruption commission. [New York Times]
* The ABA weighs in on the “unfinished business” controversy affecting bankrupt law firms, their lawyers, and their clients. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Better late than never: students and professors at UC Davis Law are pushing for the posthumous admission to the California bar of Hong Yeng Chang, who was denied a law license in 1890 solely because of his Chinese heritage. [Associated Press; South China Morning Post]
* Speaking of late, a robber sent to prison 13 years late because of a clerical error just got released. [ABA Journal]
Back in February, we covered a lawsuit filed by Mayer Brown that some critics called “disgusting” and “despicable.” The case challenges the placement of a memorial for World War II “comfort women” in a public park in Glendale, California — partly on administrative procedure grounds, and partly because the memorial allegedly “presents an unfairly one-sided portrayal of the historical and political debate surrounding comfort women.”
Filing a lawsuit that effectively seeks to deny the historical phenomenon of the comfort women — women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II — didn’t go over too well in many quarters. And now the case is back in the news, surely to Mayer Brown’s chagrin….
Aasif Mandvi accepting his Justice in Action Award last night at the AALDEF 40th anniversary celebration.
Last night, I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the 40th anniversary celebration of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). Forty years is a remarkable milestone, so everyone was in a celebratory spirit. Here’s my account of the evening, which also honored several leaders within the Asian-American community….
It’s fun to look at lists of bar exam passers. You can celebrate the success of your friends and derive schadenfreude from the failure of your enemies. And you can marvel or laugh at the names that some people have been saddled with by their parents.
We recently learned about two bar passers with such wacky names, it’s a miracle they survived the playground — then graduated from college and law school, and passed a very tough bar exam….
A lawsuit filed earlier this month has raised the ire of several leading lawyers and legal bloggers. Noted First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza — a panelist at our Attorney@Blog conference, by the way — describes the case as “truly disgusting.” Ken White of Popehat, another prominent commentator on the legal profession, calls the suit “despicable” and “thoroughly contemptible,” writing that he “cannot remember a lawsuit that so immediately repulsed and enraged.”
Let’s find out what all the buzz is about. Which law firm filed this controversial complaint, what is the case about, and how bad is it?
* Per Am Law, Mayer Brown just posted its highest profits ever. Maybe that’s one of the reasons the NSA’s thunder from down under, the Australian Signals Directorate, was spying on it. [New York Times]
* For Asian American women, Biglaw’s “bamboo ceiling” may be just as tough to crack as its glass ceiling. What’s that? Find out by reading Helen Wan’s book, The Partner Track (affiliate link). [Washington Post]
* Controversy alert: Michael Dunn was convicted of four out of five charges, including three counts of attempted murder, in Florida’s “loud music” trial, but the jury was hung on the murder charge. Lame. [CNN]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things have changed recently in Korea – a few of our US and UK client firms are looking, very selectively, for a lateral US associate hire. Until just recently, there was not much hiring like this going on in Korea, since US and UK firms started opening offices there. We have already placed two US associates in Korea in the past month at top firms. Most of the hiring partners we work with in Korea do not actively work with other recruiters.
If you are a Korean fluent US associate in London, New York or another major US market, 2nd to 6th year, at a top 20 firm, with cap markets or M&A focus (or mix), or project finance background, and you are interested in lateraling to Korea to a top US or UK firm, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our head of Asia, Evan Jowers, was just in Korea recently, and Evan and Robert Kinney will be in Korea in a few weeks. We are in the process of helping several firms open new offices in Korea (a number of which are interviewing our partner level candidates) and also helping existing offices there fill openings.
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