Bankruptcy

Around here, one can’t mention the concept of something being “overrated” without reference to one of the weirdest and most enduring ATL comment memes, a play on the late, great Hitch’s assertion that the four most overrated things in life are “champagne, lobster, anal sex, and picnics.” So who are the, um, lobsters of Biglaw?

Last week, we had a look at what our audience considered to be the most underrated Biglaw firms, by practice area. Today, inevitably, we turn it around and have a look at what you’re telling us are the most overrated firms.

Among other things, our ATL Insider Survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with overrated practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, etc.

To be sure, these survey results need to be taken with some buckets of salt — we realize that, for some, answering this question might be a chance to take an easy shot at a more successful rival or competitor. Of course, there are crazy people who will tell you that such paragons as Benjamin Franklin or Tom Brady are “overrated,” but that probably says more about the person making that statement than anything else. But that said, these survey responses are a fun glimpse at which firms Biglaw attorneys think are more sizzle than steak….

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‘Standing with your arms folded is underrated.’

Hot air balloons, Ice Cube, new socks, Ray Guy, Uzbek food, Kevin Bacon, plus-size models, Pittsburgh… what do the items on this random list have in common? In some nook or cranny of the internet, someone is making the claim that they are “underrated.”

Apparently also underrated? The corporate group at Cahill Gordon, according to the ATL audience. Cahill received the most mentions as having an “underrated” corporate group in our ATL Insider Survey. Biglaw has a fairly stable roster of alpha dogs in each practice category (Weil in bankruptcy, Wachtell in M&A, etc.), but we wondered which firms’ practice groups deserve more recognition. So, among other things, our survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with underrated (and overrated) practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, tax lawyers do the same for tax groups, and so on.

Read on and have a look at the top three underrated firms in each practice area:

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David Otunga

* “Enough is enough.” Come on, Togut, did you really think all of the Dewey drama was going to end just because the judge approved your settlement plan? Now he’s trying to get the former partners committee disbanded. This won’t end well. [Am Law Daily]

* Covington & Burling was disqualified from representing Minnesota in the state’s anti-pollution case against ex-client 3M over a conflict of interest. A “conscious disregard” of professional duties? This is 1L stuff, really. [Twin Cities Pioneer Press]

* Remember J. Michael Johnson, the former dean of Louisiana College Law who resigned for a “great job offer” before the school even opened? He’s now senior counsel for the ultraconservative Liberty Institute. [Alexandria Town Talk]

* “If you’ve been hit by a table, ladder, or chair, call David Otunga.” What has this Harvard Law grad turned WWE wrestler been up to, aside from filming commercials at criminal defense firms? [City Sentinel]

* “The argument is absolutely absurd.” An ex-high school coach accused of having sex with a student wants Oklahomas’s ban on student-teacher relationships overturned as unconstitutional. [Alva Review-Courier]

* Everyone’s happy about the Dewey & LeBoeuf settlement except the Ad Hoc Committee and its LeBoeuf retirees, who called Judge Martin Glenn’s attempt to slap them down an “insult to injury.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* While South Carolina’s voter ID law wasn’t found to be inherently discriminatory, its enforcement was still blocked because people will be unable to get their sh*t together in time for the election. [Bloomberg]

* VP debate moderator Martha Raddatz’s 1991 wedding guest list has come under fire because Barack Obama was invited. Clearly there’s a conflict of interest worth arguing about here. [Washington Post]

* This man is nobody’s “butt boy”: Tom Keefe, the interim dean over at Saint Louis Law School, will be footing a $14,212 bill for his students in the form of ABA Law Student Division memberships. [National Law Journal]

* Strippers in California, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Texas, and Nevada will be making it rain, because they just scored a $12.9M class action settlement. That’s a whole lot of “college tuition”! [Courthouse News Service]

A wise man once said, “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” Lawyers, allegedly an unhappy lot, are asked if they are happy all the time. Vault asks, Am Law asks, and in a roundabout way, so do we.

To date, we’ve received nearly 8,000 responses to our ATL Insider Survey. Among other things, our survey poses this question to law firm lawyers: “If you had the chance to do it all over again, would choose to work for your firm?”

Unsurprisingly, those who answer “yes” tend to highly rate their firms in such areas as compensation, culture, and training. For those that wish they could take a Mulligan when it comes to their choice of employer, the inverse is true. Here is a comparison of ratings scores (on a scale of 1-10) for the various aspects of law firm life, broken out by responses to the “Mulligan” question:

SUBJECT ”Yes” ”No”
Compensation 7.81 5.35
Hours 7.38 4.81
Firm Morale 7.7 3.53
Training 7.45 4.32
Culture and Colleagues 8.56 4.56

Hardly counterintuitive stuff, we know, but it allows us to use the “Mulligan” response as a proxy for overall happiness/satisfaction, as it’s so broadly predictive of the nature of the individual’s assessment of his firm.

Back in April, we shared our survey findings showing that Davis Polk was the top firm when it came to morale (to date, this holds true.) Today, we look at whether there are notable differences regarding satisfaction based on practice area. If we slice our survey data by practice, we find that there certainly are. So after the jump, let’s look at how practice groups stack up against one another in terms of the happiness of its practitioners….

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* Dewey know whether Judge Martin Glenn approved this failed firm’s $71.5 million partner contribution plan? We certainly do, and D&L’s chief restructuring officer, Joff Mitchell of Zolfo Cooper, is simply “delighted” about it. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Bitch better have my money? The United States is suing Wells Fargo under the little known Financial Institutions Reform, Recover, and Enforcement Act for allegedly screwing it out of approximately eleventy billion dollars. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “Flat is the new up for the legal sector,” except in Cleveland, because law firms there have been on hiring sprees throughout 2012. But unfortunately, there is a down side — it’s Cleveland. [Cleveland Plain-Dealer]

* Diversity: no longer just an old wooden ship. Almost every law school-related amicus brief filed in Fisher v. University of Texas has backed the consideration of race in admissions decisions. [National Law Journal]

* There’s officially at least one benefit in attending Thomas M. Cooley Law — the school collects so much money from students that it’s able to attract big-name speakers, like ex-rocker Henry Rollins. [Michigan Live]

Whatever happened to the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into the failure of Dewey & LeBoeuf? It seems like we haven’t heard about it for weeks. Today we finally have some news to pass along.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, this morning the Wall Street Journal ran a piece about the current state of the investigation. There are a few additional details, but on the whole, we don’t know very much at this point.

We know more about how you can get your hands on part of Dewey’s art collection. Keep on reading for details on that subject….

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(Plus your chance to own a piece of Dewey.)

A big round of applause for diversity!

* Dewey know when Judge Martin Glenn will issue his ruling on the failed firm’s proposed partner contribution plan? If all goes according to plan, we can expect to learn if the PCP’s been approved or rejected as early as next week. [Am Law Daily]

* Hot on the heels of Google’s digital-book settlement, the company announced that it would be appealing its copyright infringement jury verdict in the Oracle trial. One thing’s for sure: Judge Alsup will be angered terribly by this. [Bloomberg]

* David Askew, formerly the director of Edwards Wildman’s pro bono program, will now lead the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms as CEO and general counsel. [Corporate Counsel]

* The American Bar Association submitted an amicus brief in support of using race as a factor in college admissions, because diversity in college education is a must for diversity in law schools, duh. [ABA Journal]

* Remember the family law judge who got caught beating his daughter in a video that went viral? Now he wants the Texas Supreme Court to reinstate him, over his ex-wife’s objections. Good luck with that. [CNN]

Not so fast, Canellas…

* Yeah, about that huge bonus we were going to pay our ex-finance director — we realized how silly that was, so we’re not going to do that. Aww, don’t worry, Dewey & LeBoeuf, you’ll have plenty of other chances to look absurd. [Am Law Daily]

* Not only is Samsung suing Apple for patent infringement, but the company is also trying to get a do over by getting Judge Lucy Koh to throw out the original billion-dollar verdict over jury foreman Velvin Hogan’s alleged misconduct. [Bloomberg]

* “Small deals are easier to swallow, easier to integrate.” Regional firms like Carlton Fields and Adams and Reese are gobbling up smaller firms in what seems to be the latest trend in law firm merger mania activity. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Douglas Arntsen, the former Crowell & Moring associate who had to be extradited from Hong Kong after embezzling $10.7M from clients, pleaded guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. [New York Law Journal]

* It’s tough to come up with appropriate whistleblower jokes given the background here. We’ll play it straight: Mike McQueary filed a defamation suit against Penn State, and he’s seeking $4M in damages. [ABC News]

* Jose Godinez-Samperio, an undocumented immigrant, is fighting for the ability to practice law in Florida, but the members of the state Supreme Court are literally trying to make it into a “federal case.” [Washington Post]

* “This case has nothing to do with the United States.” We’d normally let that slide because of this law from 1789, but now the Supreme Court is suddenly skeptical about the validity of the Alien Tort Claims Act. [Reuters]

* “Why are we being punished for Dewey & LeBoeuf?” Come to think of it, former employees at the failed firm are probably wondering the exact same thing as the fictional characters on “The Good Wife.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* Reduce, reuse, and recycle your claims? New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed suit against JPMorgan, alleging that the bank’s Bear Sterns business defrauded mortgage-bond investors. [Bloomberg]

* A man of many firsts: Randall Eng, the first Asian judge in the state, was appointed to lead New York’s Second Department as presiding justice, the first Asian-American to serve in the position. [New York Law Journal]

* UC Irvine Law is planning a six-week summer camp for in-house counsel. They’re calling it the Center for Corporate Law, but Mark Herrmann’s “General Counsel University” has a nicer ring to it. [National Law Journal]

* Why shouldn’t you get a dual JD/MBA? Because hiding out in school for another year isn’t going to save you from all of the extra debt you’ve incurred earning yet another degree. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

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