Lavender Law National LGBT Bar Association conference.jpgWe’re having a pretty gay Monday here at Above the Law. Earlier today, we discussed which top law firms won recognition from the Human Rights Campaign for being LGBT-friendly.
Perhaps we’ll still recovering from the weekend. As we mentioned before, we spent part of it attending the excellent Lavender Law conference, over in Brooklyn (just a short subway ride away from the ATL offices in Soho). In case you’re not familiar with the conference, here’s some background:

Every year, the sharpest legal minds in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community gather at the National LGBT Bar Association’s annual conference and career fair.

Hundreds of practicing attorneys, dozens of scholars, over 500 students and many leading members of the judiciary are expected to attend over the course of this year’s events.

We moderated a panel on Saturday, focused on federal courts and LGBT equality, and we attended several other panels and workshops. We’ll be writing a bit about the conference proceedings.
Our first conference write-up — discussing the workshop Coming Out in the Profession: “But What Will the Clients Think?”, which may interest young LGBT attorneys — appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From the Lavender Law Conference: Coming Out in the Profession”

Human Rights Campaign HRC gay rights Above the Law blog.jpgLet’s give credit where credit is due. The Human Rights Campaign has released its annual Best Places to Work list. It shows that law firms are great when it comes to creating a non-discriminatory environment for gays and lesbians. The ABA Journal reports:

In 2006, the first year law firms were included in the Human Rights Campaign survey, 12 got a perfect rating of 100 percent [on the Corporate Equality Index]. This year an unprecedented 88 law firms got perfect ratings, “eclipsing every other industry represented on the index,” according to a press release. The group evaluated 127 law firms in all; 124 of them were among the nation’s largest 200 law firms.

Our industry deserves a large pat on the back. In a time of massive layoffs, it is great that law firms are still committed to equality when it comes to sexual orientation.

Check out the list of firms that are good for gays here (PDF).

Top Law Firms for Equality – 2010 [Human Rights Campaign]
Law Firms Outshine Other Companies in Ranking by Gay Rights Group [ABA Journal]

Earlier: Which Law Firms Are Down With the Gays?

Back to School Biglaw parents.jpgToday is the back to school day, at least in NYC. Normally, we at Above the Law notice the event passively due to the increased proliferation of children on the mass transit system. But a reader brought the day to our attention in a more specific way:

Today was the first day of school in NYC. [Could you] do an open thread? Then we could share info, like where to get the best prices for the darlings on the black market.

We sure can! How happy are parents to get the kids out of the house and back to school? Biglaw is notoriously hard on family life. Do veteran parents have any advice for the novices?
Just for kicks, let’s try to keep the thread G-rated and family friendly.

Byrd Biff Marshall Jr.JPGFinally, we have a law firm partner who has looked in the face of the so-called “hybrid tough love” strategy, and found it wanting. His name is Byrd “Biff” Marshall Jr., and he is the president of GrayRobinson — an Am Law 200 firm that is giving associate raises in the middle of the recession. The Daily Business Review reports:

As other major law firms order layoffs and pay cuts, GrayRobinson is giving an average 8 percent raise to its associates.
Pay raises were as high as 15 percent Tuesday, and 90 percent of associates received raises, said law firm president Byrd “Biff” Marshall Jr. The merit-based increases were decided on an individual basis.
All support staffers at the Orlando-based firm also are getting higher pay, he said. The raises were announced at a firm retreat last weekend.

A friend of mine translated this news into language Partner Emeritus can understand:

Partner Maximus Above the Law 2.JPGWhile not a peer firm, GrayRobinson has shrugged off the recession caused by my good pal Alan Greenspan. Instead of trashing the moral and economic vitality of its employees, the firm has taken bold action to retain its best people. The actions of Mr. Marshall remind me of my trailblazing days. Back then, firms did not treat their future partners and rainmakers as interchangeable cogs to be used and then discarded. And the entire firm was better for it.
But then America elected as President a senile old man — based solely on his credentials as a minor character actor. He made everybody believe that the wealthy individuals like myself would allow some of our hard-earned money to “trickle down” to lower earning Americans. Fools! Luckily my firm understood the dangers of obscene income inequality and unchecked corporate greed. We shared the wealth not out of charity, but because it made smart business sense. Now, many non-peer institutions are paying for their lack of vision in the ruined careers of their employees and the dissolution of their organizations.
I am not happy that I will have to temporarily delay my planned upgrades to my second yacht. And honestly if Muffy gives me any more back-talk about forgoing her shopping spree in Milan, I’ll have to cashier her and promote wife number four. But my commitment to the long term success of my firm trumps such petty personal concerns. Young attorneys should not be treated as Rick’s Cabaret dancers. They should be treated as our future.

– Partner Maximus

Thanks, PM.
After the jump, more from GrayRobinson.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Partner Emeritus, Meet Biff–You Could Learn Something”

parking garage murder P2.jpgEd. note: This post has been updated. Please read below (updates in bold).
Not all Biglaw types are luxuriating in 1600 hours for the year. Some are still working long hours and spending late nights at the office. There can be hazards to late night assignments: canceled dinner plans, sleep deprivation, and running across an armed robbery in the car garage.
Such was the case last night, in a garage shared by many firms, including Paul Hastings. A Los Angeles attorney sent us this e-mail last night at midnight EDT/ 9 p.m. PDT:

This evening, some attys in the office received the following email:
“In case you guys were planning on leaving the office, there’s an armed car jacking going on in j2, its barricaded and cops aren’t letting anyone in. Some sort of stand-off with the cops now.”

Our correspondent has since retired. We have inquiries in to Paul Hastings but have not gotten an official statement yet. Are there any early risers on the West Coast who know more about this? Send us tips at
UPDATE: The Los Angeles garage in question is shared by Paul Hastings and other noteworthy Biglaw firms, such as Morgan Lewis, Winston & Strawn, and Jones Day.
The full story from a building manager is that a woman — we don’t know her Biglaw affiliation, if any — was approached by a man in the parking lot who demanded that she surrender her car keys. She did and called the police. That precipitated the closing of the garage. The police investigated the crime scene for a couple of hours, which is why nobody was allowed to leave the building during that time. No “stand-off,” just a crime scene investigation.
The criminal was not apprehended, but police reports indicate that the criminal left behind some physical evidence. As we understand it, the car jacker was not armed.
We’ll keep updating this post as we have more details to report.

Morris Manning logo.JPGThe well-known Atlanta based firm, Morris Manning, will be under new management in 2010. Louise Wells will be taking over the firm, making her the first woman to lead Morris Manning. The firm’s press release is understandably positive about the future of the firm:

The firm’s succession plan is being implemented to ensure that the firm is positioned to capitalize on ever-evolving market conditions for the continued success of its clients and the firm. As a critical component of the plan, the firm created an Executive Committee that will work closely with Wells. The Executive Committee members include litigation partner John P. MacNaughton, corporate partner David M. Calhoun and real estate partner Thomas S. Gryboski.

“I am honored to accept this responsibility,” Wells offered. “As a result of the firm’s unique culture and entrepreneurial spirit, we have been responsive to the challenging market conditions. We have made smart strategic decisions that build upon the firm’s solid platform, better positioning us to succeed and drive forward in the coming months and years,” she added.

Mmm … peaceful transition of power …

The current managing partner, Robert E. Saudek, will step down at the end of the year, but he will still be active with the firm.

Good luck with the transition.

Earlier: Nationwide Salary Cut Watch: Morris Manning Salary Cuts Based on Practice Group

handshake with fingers crossed behind back.jpgLast recruiting season, Above the Law was the first publication to warn law students to accept their offers for summer employment as soon as possible.

This year that advice is so obvious that even law school career service professionals are telling students to accept offers quickly. William A. Chamberlain, assistant dean for law career strategy and advancement at Northwestern, wrote an article for the National Law Journal this week, strongly urging students to make decisions rapidly:

Our message to students about how to handle offers has been straightforward — accept your offer quickly. The key is to get a job for next summer. Smart students will not rely on NALP’s 45-day guideline but rather accept their offers as soon as humanly possible. [W]e have dealt with all sorts of reactions by firms to the economy and are urging our students to be risk-averse. Any sense of entitlement will be fatal this fall.

Relying on NALP guidelines = fatal?

You know, when the career services dean is directly warning students not to rely upon the NALP rules, I am forced to ask why students should heed the NALP rule limiting the number of offers students can accept….

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Law librarians got miffed at Westlaw this week, after the legal research company sent out the following advertisement via e-mail:
offensive westlaw ad.jpg
Law librarians across the land were appalled and voiced their displeasure on this list-serv, among other places. From a librarian at a large southern law firm:

[Apparently] the folks at West think that attorneys shouldn’t know their librarians’ names. I’d love to see ATL’s snarky humor sticking it to West (or, Hell, stick it to us law librarians if you think we’re being too sensitive.)

We don’t think you’re being too sensitive. In fact, we have a great appreciation for law librarians.
We know that law librarians are hot. We know that librarianship is a good career alternative. We know that law library staffers save lives, literally. And we think knowing their names is not something to mock.
While the folks at LexisNexis are doing a little happy dance, what does Westlaw have to say for itself?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Westlaw Red-Flags Law Librarians”

wall street bull backside.jpgWill the mainstream media ever hold law firms accountable for their roles in the global financial crisis? Probably not. Relatively speaking, only a small sector of society understands that Biglaw firms played a significant role making “toxic assets” lucrative and legal. Without attorneys, bankers wouldn’t know their tranches from their enhancements.
Too few people can get their head around what actually happened to cause the market crisis. But the public — the average American citizen — can wrap its mind around the concept of bonuses. I think it goes something like this:
Bonuses, BAD. Wall Street, BAD. Pitchforks and Torches, GOOD.
Can the mainstream media latch onto that?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Mainstream Media Is Aware That Law Firms Exist, Right?”

Angry clock.JPGIs there really blood in the water around the billable hour? Or are we simply hearing an updated version of a familiar refrain? This morning the Wall Street Journal took another look at killing the billable hour (subscription):

People who follow the world of law firms know, among so much else, two things: 1) that billing-by-the-hour has long been the way law firms get paid and 2) companies have over the years had only limited success in getting firms to agree to do it any other way.
That’s changing. In a big way. Companies are starting to ditch the hourly structure — which critics complain offers law firms an incentive to rack up bigger bills — in favor of flat-fee contracts and other types of arrangements.

Of course, we’ve heard all that before. Heralding the death of the billable hour is much like predicting the end of the world: eventually somebody is going to be right.
Has anything fundamentally changed this time around to make the billable hour more susceptible to death? Here’s the best argument.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Under Attack, Should the Billable Hour Be Concerned For Its Safety?”

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