David Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Observer, Washingtonian magazine, and New York magazine. Prior to ATL, David worked as a federal prosecutor in Newark, New Jersey; a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, in New York; and a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. David graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School, where he served as book reviews editor of the Yale Law Journal. David has received several awards for his work on ATL, including recognition as an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, a group of innovators within the legal profession, and inclusion as a member of the Fastcase 50, "the fifty most interesting, provocative, and courageous leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology." You can connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.
It’s a term of art. We define a “comment clusterf**k as a post that generates over 100 reader comments (typically of a vicious and nasty nature — but that could be said of many, if not most, comments on ATL). We enjoy a good “CC,” and we haven’t had one here since Friday.
Hence this post. There’s no more surefire way to generate one than writing about affirmative action, a topic that tends to send y’all into a tizzy. From Fox News (gavel bang: commenter):
Does affirmative action work? An explosive study that suggests it does not is pitting the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights against the State Bar of California in a battle over admissions data that could determine once and for all if racial preferences help or hurt minority students.
“Currently only about one in three African-Americans who goes to an American law school passes the bar on the first attempt and a majority never become lawyers at all,” says UCLA law professor Richard Sander.
In an article published in the Stanford Law Review, Sander and his research team concluded several thousand would-be black lawyers either dropped out of law school or failed to pass the bar because of affirmative action.
Wow — those are shocking statistics. What’s the explanation?
Read more, after the jump.
We just caught the second half of I Love New York 2 (previously discussed here and here). Wow.
Even by the debased standards of reality television, the show couldn’t be any more trashy. We felt our IQ plummeting as the minutes passed. We won’t tune in next week, since we don’t have the points to spare.
And no, we’re not TV snobs. Our favorite shows include ANTM, Gossip Girl, and Desperate Housewives. We like good trash TV as much as, if not more than, the next guy (or girl). But it has to be quality trash, if that makes any sense. (As for defining quality trash, we cite Justice Stewart: we know it when we see it.)
But look, don’t take our word for it. From a commenter (one of the few to opine on the show itself, as opposed to affirmation action, the legal academy, and the plight of minorities in America):
Since I’m not arguing about race, HLS, Obama or any of these issues, my post probably doesn’t belong. But I was personally quite amused to [see] a Big Law associate on my secret vice: vh1 reality programming….
Though I would have to say, seeing as how law firms are in the business of questioning the “good judgment” of associates, I think exhibiting an interest in dating NEW YORK [a/k/a Tiffany Pollard] is clearly a poor example of judgment.
She’s crazy, looks like a [transsexual] with a cheap breast enhancement, and did I forget to mention CRAZY?
Frighteningly enough, the exact same description — “crazy, looks like a [transsexual] with a cheap breast enhancement, and did I forget to mention CRAZY” — also applies to Tiffany “New York” Pollard’s mother, Sister Patterson. While we harbor a weakness for strong, African-American women, we want them to look like women (and work at the Justice Department).
And what about the fate of the two legal eagles on the show — David Otunga, a Harvard Law School graduate and former Sidley Austin associate, and Juan McCullum, a 2L at Mississippi College of Law? As you can see from the show’s Wikipedia page, which has already been updated with the results of tonight’s episode, they’re both still in the running.
And Christopher Columbus Langdell is turning over in his grave. I Love New York 2 [VH1 (official website)] I Love New York 2 [Wikipedia] Earlier: Sidley Hates on Old People, Reality TV Stars He Feels Pretty, Oh So Pretty
* How much will various law-related search terms cost you on Google? Adam Liptak has collected some interesting examples: “Asbestos attorney” = $51.68, “Pro bono lawyer” = $2.89. [NYT via WSJ Law Blog]
* Another day, another Republican politician in a gay sex scandal. [Green Bay Press-Gazette]
* Not law-related, but interesting to those who follow the blogosphere: Vanessa Grigoriadis’s detailed profile of Gawker Media. [New York Magazine]
* Blawg Review #130, presented on two attorney/mediator law blogs — a Southern Hemisphere edition from New Zealand, and a Northern Hemisphere edition from the USA — recognizes Blog Action Day and International Conflict Resolution Day. [mediator blah... blah... and Online Guide to Mediation, via Blawg Review]
In the latest issue of the Legal Times, Nathan Carlile has a somewhat salacious story about Beveridge & Diamond. Perhaps you haven’t heard of this D.C.-based environmental law boutique — which might be mistaken for a livestock brokerage, thanks to the sheep photos on their website. But a livestock brokerage probably has fewer hijinks:
[A] sordid story… has ensnared partners at 95-lawyer Beveridge & Diamond in allegations that include adultery and forgery. The dispute stems from a bitter divorce battle between firm partner John Guttmann and his wife, Nancy Lasater, a nonpracticing attorney who was previously co-chairwoman of the Law Practice Management Section of the D.C. Bar and a solo practitioner who often represented firms on ethics issues.
A Regent University law student who posted an unflattering photo of Regent President Pat Robertson on his Facebook page has been indefinitely suspended pending a psychiatric evaluation.
Adam M. Key was told by a dean in an e-mail Friday that he was concerned about Key’s “emotional well-being” and that several students have recently expressed concern about Key’s “interpersonal behavior.”
The students “have reported, among other things, that you said that you brought a gun on campus, which is a violation of University policy,” said the e-mail, signed by L.O. Natt Gantt, the law school’s associate dean for student affairs.
But Key — who, by the way, appears to have commented on our last post — says this is a bunch of b.s. completely untrue:
Key said he has never brought a gun on campus or told fellow students that he had. “I’ve never owned or carried a gun,” he said….
“This is an effort to discredit me by drawing attention draw away from” the free-speech issue, Key said Friday. “It’s insulting to imply that someone who has different opinions from the university is emotionally unstable.”
We recently made passing reference to the staff layoffs at Heller Ehrman, which firm management claimed were made to enhance efficiency, and not due to slow business. But one of the affected employees begs to differ:
Don’t believe Heller Ehrman’s claims that the layoffs were not because of slowdowns. I was a paralegal who worked at Heller for [several] years. The past year has been the slowest in litigation we have ever experienced….
I enjoyed my job, and [found that Heller] was a great place to work. [But in] the past two years, the whole culture and the focus of the firm changed (or is in the process of changing).
Everyone’s billable rates were raised to such heights that competing for business became pretty distasteful to many of the shareholders. It’s not easy to justify $200 to $300 an hour for paralegals.
Are layoffs the flip-side of the associate pay raise coin? More after the jump.
At the last meeting of the Associates Committee in New York, the committee representatives noted that we had fallen behind some other firms who had adjusted clerkship bonuses in 2007. As we mentioned at the meeting, we assumed that the firm would promptly respond with a clerkship policy consistent with the market.
Accordingly, I am pleased to report that because the firm places great value on the experience a clerkship provides, it has raised bonuses to $50,000, paid to associates who join the firm after August 1, 2007 and who complete a one-year eligible clerkship. For two one-year clerkships or two-years of clerkship experience, the firm will pay $70,000. An additional bonus is paid to U.S. Supreme Court clerks.
This is the first clerkship bonus news in a while (since Dechert). Have we missed any developments? If you know of clerkship bonus news that we haven’t previously covered — use the site search function or the archives to check — please email us. Thanks. Earlier: Clerkship Bonus Watch: What’s Up With Shearman?
That’s the debate currently raging in the Los Angeles office of Skadden. It was triggered by some exuberant, multicolored emails from a Gay Colleague, promoting the Skadden LA AIDS Walk team.
From the delicious (but sporadically updated) Skadden Insider:
[T]he e-mails weren’t well received by everyone because “they are pretty aggressive and unprofessional. Just the tone of voice, the five thousand colors, the naming of names of who contributed and who didn’t.”
Our source continued: “And of course, some ignorant fools are going around saying, “I don’t go around calling myself the ‘straight associate’! Anyway, it was pretty funny. It was a gay gay gay Friday.”
Check out the full post, which reprints the (literally) colorful email, over here.
And read about another instance of public shaming at Skadden, after the jump.
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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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