Biglaw

Bruce Stachenfeld

I guess at heart I am a competitor. I want my law firm to be the absolute top law firm in the world – at least in our niche of being The Pure Play in Real Estate Law.

I would like us to be loved by clients — loved by lawyers — incredibly profitable — the greatest law firm that ever hit the legal world. And to do this I need to crush my competition — right?

Or maybe not right. Let’s think about this a bit and see what happens….

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Earlier this week, we showed you a home movie taken inside Slaughter & May’s offices in 1981. What we learned was that practicing law at the highest levels in the early 80s involved no computers, a lot of switchboard operators, and casually telling women in the office that they had good backsides.

The natural question after watching the whole video was, “Where are they now?” Whatever happened to the young associates showing off their window views and pretending the British tax laws are interesting?

We don’t have answers for every face recorded all those years ago, but we do have updates on the current whereabouts of a few of them.

But most importantly, we can tell you whether the guy with the killer porn stache guy is still rocking it today!

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Last month, when we covered BuckleySandler’s midyear bonuses, we included a shout-out to Cahill Gordon. Cahill has paid out generous summer bonuses to its associates dating back to 2010, and we wondered whether the firm would continue the streak.

The answer: yes. Cahill just announced its latest summer bonuses. The timing is good, since rising 2Ls will soon be picking which firms to interview with during on-campus recruiting. (Note Cahill Gordon’s nice rise in the latest Vault 100 rankings, which are widely consulted by law students during the OCI process.)

How big are the Cahill midyear bonuses this time around?

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This year to date has not brought much happy news for Dickstein Shapiro. In April, we covered associate and staff reductions at the firm. In May, the Am Law 200 rankings revealed a 20 percent drop in revenue at Dickstein. In June, the firm fell out of the Vault 100.

In 2013, Dickstein Shapiro experienced the most partner departures of any Am Law 200 firm. And this week brings word of additional partner defections.

Who are the lawyers in question, where are they going, and how big a deal is their departure?

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See the resemblance here?

* Utah is appealing its gay marriage case directly to the Supreme Court, presumably because the state’s attorney general doesn’t even want to bother with an en banc hearing before the Tenth Circuit. This should be good. [Salt Lake Tribune]

* Perkins Coie recently appointed its first ever Washington, D.C.-based managing partner in its 102-year history. Congrats to John Devaney, who will lead a “true national firm” beginning in January 2015. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* When your career goes awry in Biglaw through no one’s fault but your own, you can end up living your life in shame or in jail. We’re going venture a guess and say the former is nicer than the latter. [Am Law Daily]

* How can law school graduates obtain law work experience? Simple. Get on your knees and learn how to please. Just kidding. Take some advice from this “poorly written” article instead. [CollegeRecruiter.com]

* Everything about Lacey Jonas from Grand Theft Auto V is so Lindsay Lohan-esque that she should totally win her lawsuit. Just take it from someone who’s “no legal expert, but know[s] [her] tabloid stars.” [TIME]

* Need a break from bar exam studying? Searching for something to do as a summer associate? Are you an attorney in need of fun? Come to tonight’s trivia event! All are welcome, sign up here. [Above the Law]

Ed. note: Please welcome Steve Dykstra, our newest columnist, who will be covering the Canadian legal market.

I am a Canadian-trained lawyer and legal recruiter. I recruit throughout North America so I really get to study the legal systems on both sides of the border. I thought it would be fun and interesting to highlight some of the differences between the American and Canadian systems — hence the column’s title, “The View From Up North”.

As this is my first column, I want to provide a bit of an overview. In coming weeks, I’ll focus more narrowly on specific topics.

Sound good?

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* Alan Jacobs, Dewey’s bankruptcy trustee, says his clawback suit shouldn’t be stayed during the defendants’ criminal cases — after all, he doesn’t want their assets to dry up while they “scramble to defend themselves.” [New York Law Journal]

* Rengan Rajaratnam, Raj Rajaratnam’s little brother, was acquitted in his insider trading conspiracy case. It’s the first defeat in Preet Bharara’s financial crackdown against hedge funds. Tough break, dude. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Sore loser? Andrew J. Weinstock, the public defender who got into a fight with Judge John “I’ll Just Beat Your Ass” Murphy, resigned from his position in protest of the judge’s return to the bench. [WSJ Law Blog]

* There are many things nontraditional applicants should ask before going to law school, including, but not limited to, whether they’ll ever be able to find employment after graduation. [U.S. News & World Report]

* Oscar Pistorius’s attorney closed his defense of his client in the ongoing murder trial, and Judge Thokozile Masipa has adjourned all arguments in the controversial case until next month. [Bloomberg]

There’s nobody I’ve talked to at Squire Sanders who doesn’t think Patton Boggs doesn’t have the potential to take the firm down.

– A disgruntled former partner of Squire Sanders who left the firm following its recent merger with Patton Boggs.

(Do other legacy Squire Sanders & Dempsey partners feel the same way?)

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We used to think that the Biglaw firm with the best-looking lawyers in New York City was Davis Polk, but then Paul Weiss brought sexy back in the Big Apple. Alas, their title was usurped in less than two years’ time by a challenger from another firm.

Who is she, and which firm does she hail from?

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Patent litigators travel frequently. I addressed the topic back in early March. Travel can be tiring, or fun, or a combination of the two. And travel episodes are sometimes good for a laugh afterwards. Sometimes, you can even learn a business lesson or two from a travel experience. On a recent trip, I was reminded that trying to save some money can be costly in other ways. And while it is nice to be running a firm that is a cheaper alternative to Biglaw, there is no excuse for letting that price differential compromise the quality of our services. We don’t, and never will, but reminders of that principle do not hurt either.

A few months ago, Zach and I needed to make a trip to meet with a client and separately deal with an issue in one of our cases. When I was in Biglaw, both of the firms I worked for had in-house travel agents, and because of the nature of my practice, I got to know the actual agents pretty well. If I had a business trip, all it took was an email or phone call, and everything would be arranged based on my travel profile and preferences. The occasional “can you get me an earlier flight” or “flight cancelled, get me home” situation was often handled seamlessly as well. And while I was never in the “client is paying for it, so it’s first class for me” camp, I also never hesitated while at Biglaw to incur additional travel cost when there was a compelling business reason for it.

So if it cost a bit more to take a flight at a certain time of day, so be it — especially if flying at those times would make me more productive, i.e., capable of generating billable hours. Or if an upgrade that would allow me to get some much-needed rest was available for a moderate cost, I would take it. But I could not stomach employing some well-worn Biglaw travel tricks, such as always booking refundable full-fare tickets in coach to pretty much guarantee an upgrade. As the years went by, of course, increased client focus on expenses cut out some of the marginally abusive practices. It is hard to worry about securing an upgrade — when you are trying to get the client to pay for the trip in the first place.

Things are different now that I have my own boutique firm….

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