Biglaw

Most lawyers do not cheat.

But a few do, and they think they’re being clever.

A cheating contract lawyer reads a novel all day, codes a couple hundred documents as “non-responsive” at ten to five, and then heads home.

Cheating junior associates record a few hours that they didn’t actually work. They assuage their guilt: “I’m more efficient than other people are, so I did this more quickly than the average guy. It’s not cheating if I write down how long it should really take to do this job.” And then the cheating associates mysteriously hit their billable-hour targets for the year.

Cheating junior partners are different. Short on work but desperate to bill time, these junior partners hoard work that they should naturally pass down to associates: “I have some free time, and I’m a very talented guy. I’ll write the brief more quickly than an associate would, anyway. I’ll just do it myself, and then I won’t have to worry about being held out of the equity ranks because I haven’t worked hard enough this year.”

But how do senior partners cheat?

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The job scene for recent law school graduates is still a little rough around the edges. Just 57 percent of the class of 2013 managed to secure full-time, long-term positions as lawyers within nine months of graduation, and those who found one of those golden tickets are clinging to them for dear life. Biglaw hiring, on the other hand, was up by about 10 percent, and the 3,989 members of the class of 2013 who are now working as associates are as happy as can be.

Enjoying their starting salaries of $160,000, many of these new lawyers are high on life. While some of their colleagues are mass-emailing pictures of their biceps to entire state bars just to get a job, these associates are kicking back in their offices without a care in the world (save for their billable hours).

One new associate felt so secure in his employment that he decided to take up a side gig as an underwear model — using his real name. Seeing as this associate has been working as an interchangeable cog in a large machine, how will his firm feel about his parading around half-naked online?

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Hop in the DeLorean and travel back in time with us.

Earlier this week, the good folks over at Vault released their annual list of the nation’s 100 most prestigious law firms. As we noted in our analysis of the list, the top 15 for this year don’t look very different from the top 15 from last year.

Wachtell Lipton topped the list for the 12th year in a row. But as Vault noted, Cravath isn’t far behind — and could retake the crown that it relinquished to Wachtell back in 2004.

Yes, that’s right — Wachtell hasn’t always been #1. On this “Flashback Friday,” let’s look back at the Vault rankings from 2008 and 1998 and see how things looked in the past….

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No one expects Biglaw to have the greatest sense of humor. Make no mistake, individual Biglaw partners can be hilarious. We actually talk to them all the time here. But when you get a big entity, the funny gets lost. See Apple or Saturday Night Live. Add in the fact that Biglaw doesn’t even have to pretend to pitch to the masses, and the tiny fragment of a fun-loving personality that mass advertising requires is lost.

So it should come as entirely zero surprise that a Biglaw firm has thrown a petulant fit over a parody website mocking it for behavior that even a federal judge has called into question….

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When women in law aren’t being told how to dress and act appropriately, they’re busy watching their firms brag about their dedication to advancing women in the profession, while at the same time being constantly passed over for partnership promotions and leadership positions in favor of their male colleagues. That doesn’t seem fair, does it?

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: “Biglaw lives to serve men, and in most cases, they are the ones claiming all of the power, the prestige, and most importantly, the money, while women are left in the dust.” At some large law firms, it’s a different story. Some firms offer women the chance to rise through the ranks to become major power players and to receive startlingly booming compensation — and rank among the most family friendly.

Thanks to the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF), we have a way to find out exactly which firms are on top when it comes to offering women attorneys the chance to perform on par with their male colleagues in terms of prestige and pay. Let’s check out the list…

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The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) just released its employment data for the law school class of 2013. Roughly nine months after graduation, how are these folks faring in the job market?

As we’ve come to expect from jobs reports in the post-recession “new normal” (which is no longer really “new”), there’s good news and there’s bad news. The big picture: new graduates found more jobs in total and median starting salaries grew, but the overall employment rate fell due to the historically large graduating class.

Shall we take a look at some numbers?

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* This Biglaw firm is getting into the imaginary money business by bidding on $18M of Bitcoins seized in the Silk Road raid. Maybe they’ll accept this new “currency” as payment. [Am Law Daily]

* Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wants his trial moved to New York or D.C. for an unbiased jury. Moving it to cities where terrorist attacks have occurred is a great idea! [Bloomberg]

* Here’s a perfect headline for a lovely Friday when we imagine people will be able to get in some quality day drinking: “Market Struggles to Absorb Record Law School Class of ’13.” [National Law Journal]

* Part of George Zimmerman’s defamation lawsuit against NBC was dismissed because his attorneys waited too long to ask the network for a retraction. Time to paint a picture about it, Georgie. [Fox News]

* Can you sue the dude who banged your wife for ruining your marriage? It sucks for cuckolded husbands, but you can’t in most states, including West Virginia, where family trees grow in a circle. [WSJ Law Blog]

Usually, the pursuit of “work/life balance” is just a fight between management and labor. Occasionally, it’s an internal conversation where an employee’s desire to succeed professionally is pitted against his or her desire to succeed domestically. Of course, there are always the people who believe they can “have it all,” as if work/life balance can be reduced to checking a number of accomplishment boxes in the most brutally efficient way possible.

But occasionally, work/life balance becomes a battle ground for people to justify a number of “life” choices that have nothing to do with work.

That’s what we have here today. A memo went around one of the top firms in Manhattan from a woman claiming she needed an “I’m having a baby day” so she could go to a Katy Perry concert. Before I post it and open up the comments, I’m going to make some popcorn — that’ll give everybody some time to ramp up their outrage meters to 11…

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Jonathan Birenbaum

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Jonathan Birenbaum is a Director in our New York office and focuses his practices on lateral partner, group and associate placements and client services in the New York area and Canada. Prior to joining Lateral Link, Jon, was a legal recruiter with a New York City boutique legal recruiting company where he placed associates and partners in a variety of practice areas with AmLaw, regional and boutique law firms in New York, California, New Mexico and in Toronto. Prior to his career in legal recruiting, Jon was a litigator with the City of New York, the New York State Attorney General’s Office and in private practice as a healthcare litigator with two New York City firms. Jon holds a J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law in New York and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I started out as a legal recruiter in 2007. After success with a series of lateral associate placements, the recession hit and associate hiring slowed significantly. The owner of my recruiting firm encouraged us to start cultivating a partner portfolio to broaden the scope of our work. Since then, I have facilitated numerous lateral partner placements with regional, Am Law 200, and boutique law firms. I have come to understand that the recruiting process can differ greatly with the size of the law firm. Partner candidates and their recruiters must take these differences as well as the candidate’s scheduling and timing needs into account when devising the best search strategy for that individual.

The first partner I recruited was an undercompensated yet well-respected defense litigator. I introduced him to an Am Law 200 firm as well as to a regional firm based in Pennsylvania. My candidate appealed to both firms because of his national reputation, the key client he represented (a major North American transportation client), and his history of strong billables and collections. Both firms immediately expressed an interest in meeting with him….

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Bruce Stachenfeld

Of all the regrets I have in life, one of my greatest is that I never had the chance to meet Peter Drucker before he died.

Drucker is one of my intellectual heroes. He was able to look at the same world that everyone else was looking at but see things that others couldn’t see. He literally invented a science. And like all science, it is around you from the start but you just can’t see it till someone shows you the way.

The science he invented was the science of “management.” Before Drucker, people just ran things and sometimes good things happened and sometimes bad things — no one really delved too deeply into the “why” of it all. But then along came Drucker, who made order out of chaos and realized that there were principles that, if followed, would increase the likelihood a business would be successful.

All those leadership books you sometimes read, all those “how to” books you sometimes read, all of that thinking evolved from his groundbreaking analysis into the science of “management.” Drucker’s books are utter masterpieces. Indeed, there was an epiphany for me on every single page of his amazing book Management (affiliate link). I think I learned more about how to run my law firm successfully from Drucker than from any other source.

Here are two thoughts from Drucker that hit me like a bolt of lightning when I read them. Honestly, my business — and even my whole life — was never the same again.

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