David Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, New York magazine, Washingtonian magazine, and the New York Observer. Prior to ATL, he launched Underneath Their Robes, a blog about federal judges. Before entering the journalism world, he 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 an editor of the Yale Law Journal. He has received several awards for his work on ATL, including recognition as one of the American Lawyer’s Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years; one of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels, a group of pioneers within the legal profession; and one of the Fastcase 50, "the fifty most interesting, provocative, and courageous leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology." His first book, Supreme Ambitions: A Novel, will be published in 2015. You can connect with David on Twitter and Facebook.
We will soon be posting an update to our earlier, draft report on clerkship bonuses. Thanks to everyone for all the tips, corrections, and additions. If you have info to share, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”).
In the meantime, here’s another useful little resource for you. It was sent to us by a tipster with this message:
Looks like the NY Law Journal JUST picked up on the trend of listing the $160,000 firms. Don’t they know that every associate in the city already got this list from Abovethelaw?
Indeed. But in case you’d like to refresh your recollection (or want your salary information with an MSM seal of approval), the NYLJ listing of $160K firms — aka the “List of Pride,” the opposite of the “List of Shame” — appears here (free subscription may be required). NY First-Year Salaries: Who Pays $160,000 [New York Law Journal via nylawyer.com]
The Cravath partner who uses Scotch tape to Biore herself during a deposition. The Sullivan & Cromwell partner who allegedly tells a gay associate to “bend over” and pick up a document. The partner that you’re probably working for right now, who makes one insane demand after another.
What is UP with these people? How can they be so clueless? Why are they completely unable to appreciate how their words and actions will be received?
One theory about why powerful partners act the way they do can be gleaned from this NYT op-ed, by Richard Conniff, author of The Natural History of the Rich. Conniff suggests, in a nutshell, that power turns people into inconsiderate a**holes. Here’s an excerpt:
Researchers led by the psychologist Dacher Keltner took groups of three ordinary volunteers and randomly put one of them in charge. Each trio had a half-hour to work through a boring social survey. Then a researcher came in and left a plateful of precisely five cookies. Care to guess which volunteer typically grabbed an extra cookie? The volunteer who had randomly been assigned the power role was also more likely to eat it with his mouth open, spew crumbs on partners and get cookie detritus on his face and on the table….
The researchers went on to theorize that getting power causes people to focus so keenly on the potential rewards, like money, sex, public acclaim or an extra chocolate-chip cookie — not necessarily in that order, or frankly, any order at all, but preferably all at once — that they become oblivious to the people around them.
Are you one of those associates who does whatever a partner asks of you, quickly and without complaint, no matter how unreasonable? You may be part of the problem:
[T]he people around them may abet this process, since they are often subordinates intent on keeping the boss happy. So for the boss, it starts to look like a world in which the traffic lights are always green (and damn the pedestrians). Professor Keltner and his fellow researchers describe it as an instance of “approach/inhibition theory” in action: As power increases, it fires up the behavioral approach system and shuts down behavioral inhibition.
So next time a certain partner asks you to coordinate an armada of town cars to ferry deal documents to her at home, “Just Say No.” You’re standing up not just for yourself, but for generations of unborn associates.
(Okay, this advice would probably get you fired. But wouldn’t it be satisfying to tell her off? It might almost be worth losing your job to say to her, “I graduated from a top law school. I got offers from every top firm I applied to. Do I look like a Dial-A-Car dispatcher?”) The Rich Are More Oblivious Than You and Me [New York Times]
Some of you have taken issue with our worship of Monica Goodling, the Justice Department lawyer who finds herself at the center of the firestorm over the U.S. Attorney firings. We’ve praised her as an up-and-coming DOJ diva; but some of you have argued that a true diva wouldn’t take the Fifth.
Fair enough; and normally we might agree. But Goodling isn’t hiding behind the Fifth Amendment like a shrinking violet. Instead, she is invoking it boldly, defiantly. And she’s going on the offensive against the Democrats who have cast aspersions on her simply for availing herself of constitutional protections.
From the Washington Post:
In a letter to House Democrats, Goodling’s attorneys lambasted Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and his counterpart in the Senate, Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), for questioning whether Goodling was hiding criminal activity by refusing to testify before Congress.
Attorneys John M. Dowd and Jeffrey King wrote that Goodling’s assertion of her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination “can in no way be interpreted to suggest that Ms. Goodling herself participated in any criminal activity.”
“Your and Senator Leahy’s recent suggestions to the contrary are unfortunately reminiscent of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who infamously labeled those who asserted their constitutional right to remain silent before his committee ‘Fifth Amendment Communists,’” the attorneys wrote.
We adore quirky lawsuits brought by high school students against school administrators. There’s something about the high school setting that fosters oddball litigation. E.g., “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”; Gifties v. Tards.
Here’s the latest such tale, from the AP:
A high school senior acknowledges he went too far when he mooned a teacher. But he thinks the decision of school officials to send him to a new school for the rest of the year was too harsh, so his family is suing.
Tyler Tillung, 18, mooned a teacher “suddenly and without thinking about the consequences” in February, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday. The teacher had declined to let him into a Feb. 21 school lip sync show that was full.
Lip sync shows: not just for show queens. Anyway, here’s the school’s response:
“Without knowing the allegations, we’re confident in the administration’s position on this case,” [School Board Attorney Jim] Robinson said. Palm Harbor principal Herman “Doc” Allen described the mooning as “disgusting” and the teacher as “traumatized.”
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales may be slightly more secure in his position these days than in the recent past, when it was looking like “Gonzales” was Spanish for “canned.” But he’s not out of the woods yet — which is why speculation about possible successors continues.
Ben Wittes, writing for TNR Online, has some excellent insights. His overall take:
[B]etween a sinking administration that still demands loyalty above all else and congressional Democrats keen on using their new oversight powers, finding a candidate who satisfies both sides will be hard. The next attorney general must be someone acceptable enough to Democrats not just to get confirmed but to tamp down the fire Gonzales has witlessly set.
But he must also be enough of a conservative to satisfy the White House. And he needs a reputation for probity and moral seriousness sufficient to speak to the public and to Congress with the respect that Gonzales obviously lacks. It’s a tall order–a pinch so tight that it squeezes out almost all of the names being bandied about in public.
Wittes then marches through various possible nominees. Discussion continues, after the jump.
As we previously mentioned, we will be speaking at Columbia Law School next week, at the kind invitation of the Columbia Federalist Society.
Our talk is open to the public, so feel free to stop by if you’re in the area. Here are the details:
Wednesay, April 11, 5:30 PM6:00 PM Columbia Law School Jerome Green Hall, Room 102 435 West 116th St. (at Amsterdam Avenue)
As one CLS student pointed out to us, our talk unfortunately overlaps (in part) with the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court finals, scheduled from 4 PM to 6 PM. If you’d like to go to the Moot Court first, please feel free to sneak into our talk late. Needless to say, considering the star-studded bench — which we also plan to watch in action before heading off for our event — we won’t be offended by tardy arrivals. Update: We’re happy to report that the time of our talk has been changed. We are now speaking at 6 PM, so there’s no need to choose between us and Moot Court.
Hope to see you next week!
The Harvard Law Review is cited less and less in decisions by federal courts, in keeping with a trend across several major law reviews, according to a study published last month by staff at the Cardozo Law Review of Yeshiva University.
The researchers found that the Harvard journal was cited 4,410 times in federal courts during the 1970s, but only 1,956 in the 1990s, and 937 so far in this decade—despite an increase in the number of cases brought to courts.
This is completely unverified — nothing more than total rumor. We’re in the process of following up. But we thought we’d toss it out there, to see if any of you can confirm (or deny).
This is what we’ve heard, from a little bird:
“Eric Krautheimer is probably going to be transferred to Sullivan & Cromwell’s L.A. office.”
Because Los Angeles has such different views on gay issues than New York. And out on the distant West Coast, still reachable only by Pony Express, nobody will have heard of this Aaron Charney guy.
As noted, this is UNCONFIRMED. We’ve left messages with Eric Krautheimer, S&C chairman H. Rodgin Cohen, and a firm spokesperson. We haven’t heard back from any of them. But if and when we do, you’ll be the first to know.
Do you have inside information about the truth (or lack thereof) of this item? If so, please email us (subject line: “Eric Krautheimer”). Thanks. Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Eric Krautheimer (scroll down)
Anyone who has seen Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg knows that, although she’s big on law, she’s short on physical stature. Some of the employees who work around her in the Supreme Court Building find her diminutive size rather endearing and have taken to calling her Little Tweety Bird, a moniker they use only within their small circle.
But, lest you think that Ginsburg might rule such a nickname as “out of order,” that same circle insists that it’s a kind nickname, and one meant to reflect the notion that they feel very protective of Ginsburg.
Does that make Justice Scalia into Sylvester the Cat? Probably not. Justices Scalia and Ginsburg are close personal friends. They share a love of opera, and their families sometimes spend New Year’s Eve together.
We nominate Justice Thomas for the role of Sylvester the Cat. In the 1947 cartoon Tweetie Pie, the Sylvester the Cat character went by the name “Thomas.” MEOW! A nickname for Ginsburg [Washington Examiner / Yeas and Nays]
We don’t write much about American Idol. We leave that subject to the experts, like Ann Althouse.
(You can read Professor Althouse’s take on last night’s show over here. Also, she shares our admiration for Sanjaya Malakar. Read her persuasive defense of Malakar over here.)
Today, however, we have a legal angle for writing about Idol. We have a video clip to pass along.
It’s already been nicely summarized by Vote For the Worst, a website that urges its readers to vote for the Idol that the website creators view as the least talented. So we’ll just quote from their blurb:
This is hysterical. On The O’Reilly Factor, civil litigator Danielle Aidala makes incredibly stupid arguments about how she could sue this website. The arguments are actually even stupider than the rationale from the 12 year olds who write to us, so it’s a pretty funny way to waste five minutes if you’re bored.
And here’s the video. It’s also up on YouTube, where it’s described as follows: “Danielle Aidala is a babe.”
(We agree with that sentiment — which may explain how Aidala wound up on Fox News. Fox seems to specialize in giving airtime to attractive female commentators with, umm, provocative or contrarian views.)
P.S. Danielle Aidala, in case you’re wondering, went to NYU for undergrad and Fordham for law school. Here’s her New York Times wedding announcement. She is not to be confused with Dianna Abdala, of “bla bla bla” fame.
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.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.