A couple of days ago, we brought you the story of a Bingham McCutchen secretary who believed that her firm had great “CHARACTER,” despite these tough economic times. She closed her remarks with this:
So, although I am grateful for my job and middle class life, I realize that living daily in fear and conforming to play a Stepford role will not ensure either. Besides, I value and respect too many of the people at Bingham. I’ll stick with good old CHARACTER.
As we — and many others — anticipated, that secretary is no longer employed at Bingham.
The firm would not comment about its internal decision, but multiple sources independently tell us that she has been let go. As we understand it, she was fired on Wednesday.
One of our commenters had this insightful response to the Stepford Secretary’s situation:
I think this and eekboy’s “rant” is a reflection of our times. Everyone thinks their opinion is important and should be heard. While I don’t doubt this secretary has a beef on her mind, I believe she and eekboy have no concept of boundaries. This is part of the facebook/twitter/blog phenomenon where everyone thinks they can say WHATEVER they want, WHENEVER they want, WHEREVER they want.
She should’ve sent that to close friends and peer colleagues. Sending it to the entire firm is just selfish and egotistical.
But it could be that the secretary had more to say.
Details after the jump.
Don’t call it a memo, call it a mission statement.
This afternoon, just before lunch, a secretary in the New York office of Bingham McCutchen decided to express her feelings about the recession to her law firm colleagues. All of them. All Bingham partners, counsel, associates, and staff, in every office, received this message to ponder over lunch:
In recent times we read and talk primarily of those who have lost their jobs. Those of us that remain employed, specifically for this content, in the field of “Corporate America”, are clinging so tightly to the stability and familiarity of ones’ employment that we are losing, in my opinion, an already underrated quality, CHARACTER (for some that may be assuming that they had any in the first place, and likely they are clueless to who they are).
Many years have passed now since I joined the legal profession. I can remember meeting a first year associate, and sinking into my chair when I realized I was older than my assignment. I have been truly fortunate during my many years. I have worked with ground-breaking woman and bright young associates who eventually became partner. I have experienced co-workers get married, have babies, even cried with them over loss of dear friends (R.I.P. Howie, Mike and sadly several others).
As I look around lately, I see nail biting and unshowered attorneys (more driven than ever), which is another great concern – the lack of recognition for the importance of Quality of Life. But that’s another story). In conversation with colleagues I hear in whispers “well, we have our jobs”. Some of these people, now unrecognizable to me, I have known for countless years. It is as if their zest is gone, overshadowed by their fears, desperate to justify their worth to the company. These were some of the brightest and most innovative people I have ever professionally known.
Good. Good. Keep typing. I am unarmed. Keep writing this email and take the Quinn Emanuel associate’s place by my side.
Crack open a beer and watch the train wreck continue after the jump.
Yesterday, the Exquisite Rap Duo dropped a new album. What’s especially exquisite about the album is that it’s the work of Anthony McNamer, an IP attorney in Portland, Oregon.
McNamer is a ’95 Stanford Law grad who has worked for Bingham McCutchen and for Davis Wright Tremaine, clerked in American Samoa, and founded his own small three-person firm, McNamer and Company, five years ago. The firm does IP work and media, entertainment, and sports law.
“I’m probably the biggest music lawyer in Portland… but that’s not saying much,” McNamer told us. He is also on the short list for most extreme athletes looking for a lawyer, he said, representing them when sponsorship deals go awry or in “right of publicity” cases.
McNamer sent us an e-mail last week to let us know about his “rap group” and debut album:
You don’t hear about many big firm lawyer to rap group transitions. Word.
Apparently, McNamer is unaware of his East Coast rival, Mekka Don, who went from being a Weil first year to being a self-proclaimed savior of hip hop. Word.
We surfed over to his website and listened to some of the songs. As for our favorite, we’re torn between the one about not being able to look tough on a BMX bike and “Best Friends with a Gay Dude” about his college best friend coming out after graduation, which McNamer informed us is 100% autobiographical. The latter includes samples from Cher’s “Believe.” If you haven’t guessed yet, McNamer’s rap has a funny side. But he doesn’t consider his work to be pure novelty. “I don’t want to be Weird Al,” said McNamer.
We also watched the music video for Calculator Watch; the humorous approach reminded us strongly of Law Revue videos. We followed that hunch and discovered during our interview that McNamer was once a lead writer for Stanford’s version of Law Revue. None of the songs on Nine Mile (We Go The Extra Mile) employ legal humor, though. “I know from doing [Stanford's Law School Musical] that law stuff isn’t very funny,” said McNamer.
We spoke to McNamer yesterday about his music, founding his own law firm, and how his legal career will help boost his musical stylings. Check out his video and the beauty of having your own firm in Portland — HINT: his target for weekly billables is 15 hours — after the jump.
As we’ve previously noted, when it comes to disputes between lawyers and their former firms, there are several sides to every story. For example, compare Yolanda Young’s claims against Covington & Burling with the firm’s response (PDF).
We try to cover both sides of these controversies. Having previously covered Roofiegate — aka Moor v. Bingham McCutchen, a complaint filed by ex-associate Michelle Moor against the firm, alleging that she was slipped a date rape drug at the firm’s holiday party — we now bring you this update.
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) has dismissed Michelle Moor’s complaint:
Based upon the Commission’s investigation, the Commission is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes a violation of the statutes. This does not certify that the Respondent is in compliance with the statutes. No finding is made as to any other issues that might be construed as having been raised by this complaint.
Details, plus a link to the Commission’s ruling, after the jump.
Everybody has written a cover letter. The vast majority of people write the same cover letter, because there aren’t more than a couple of ways of doing it right. They’re boring to write, they’re excruciatingly boring to read, and really the only point is to prove that the person writing the letter is basically sane.
But, what if you are not sane? Maybe you started off sane, but the terrible job market has driven you to madness? What if you are at the point where you “just don’t give a f***?” What does that cover letter look like?
A few days ago, I received this email:
Frustrated by my failing job search, I decided to write a more unorthodox cover letter….
I sent it to Bingham McCutchen. I chose Bingham because they emphasize the importance of maintaining a sense of humor in the workplace. I emailed it to them and received a rejection letter in the mail within three days. It was one of my fastest rejections ever.
Well, I’ve read the cover letter, and I think that Bingham made a mistake. There is a true talent here and (if properly medicated) this person would have made an excellent addition to the firm.
The layoff news keeps rolling in. The latest is from Bingham McCutchen. Unlike some of the recent cuts we’ve seen, the firm did not lay off a massive number of associates. That will be small consolation for the people let go today.
We’ve received word that Bingham is laying off 39 people today: 16 lawyers and 23 staffers. A tipster provided us with the firm wide email that just went out to all employees:
I want all of you to know that today we have conducted a reduction in force affecting 16 Corporate associates, counsel and of counsel (of our 1002 total lawyers) and 23 staff members (of our 1091 total staff members).
Bingham had already instituted a salary freeze for 2009, but apparently the cost savings from that move was not enough.
At the end of January, Bingham was ranked as the “best” paying law firm (among the top 100 companies that were rates “best places to work“) by Fortune.
Is any firm realistically going to escape the layoff bug?
As we noted in yesterday’s Morning Docket, even the New York Times has taken note of the salary freeze trend at law firms. The Times reached out to Above The Law’s own David Lat for the story:
Although many associates are angry about the freezes, others are relieved, said David Lat, founding editor of AboveTheLaw.com, a blog about law firms and the profession.
“There is this sense that firms didn’t act prudently during the boom and now they are getting religion, and that it’s better late than never,” Mr. Lat said. “Many associates we have spoken to think the freeze probably saved jobs.”
At the beginning of the month, we did a round-up of firms that have frozen 2009 salary rates at 2008 levels. That list was 16 firms long. Since then, quite a few other firms have announced freezes. Due to frequent requests, we’re updating the round-up list since the number of firms with freezes (that we know of) has more than doubled, to 33 32. Check out the as-comprehensive-as-we-can-make-it list, after the jump.
Law firm offers world-class benefits to staff and attorneys: 18 weeks’ paid leave for maternity and adoption, $5,000 for adoption fees, $30,000 for fertility services, free onsite fitness center, on- and off-site child care.
I guess a salary freeze that their peer firms in the Vault 20 are largely avoiding doesn’t trump a free gym.
Fortune also released a list of the top 20 companies that are great places to work and still hiring. No law firms made that list.
So I guess we’ll focus on other law firms in the top 100 after the jump.
In last Wednesday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we asked you whether you billed over Columbus Day Weekend this year.
We received 1,175 responses, and were pleasantly surprised to learn that 26% of you had a pleasant three-day weekend. Associates in Boston were most likely to enjoy a discovery-free Columbus Day, with offices at Bingham, Goodwin Procter, and Ropes & Gray reportedly closed for the day. Overall, 46% of Boston respondents reported that they had not worked over the holiday weekend, followed by 36% of respondents in Philadelphia.
Of course, not all respondents were so lucky. As one associate commented:
One of the name partners threw a hissy fit when someone asked for the time off, because “Columbus Day isn’t Christmas, and this weekend is just like every other weekend.” We were only absent one associate on Monday. Everyone else not a partner was working.
Of those who spent time at the office, though, only 65% said that their office was actually open. Among worker bees whose offices were actually closed, 52% said that they simply had things they needed to get done. Another 21% said that a partner had told them to work over the weekend, while 8% said a client had asked them to finish something. 13% said they needed the hours.
But two percent of respondents who worked over Columbus Day weekend even though the office was closed said that they just “wanted to impress people,” which is just sad roughly consistent with prior holiday surveys.
Overall, about 58% of respondents who worked over Columbus Day weekend believed that the work was worth it.
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In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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