* The town of Sedgwick, Maine, has declared “food sovereignty,” giving its citizens the right “to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing,” without regard to state or federal law. Preemption? The Supremacy Clause? Eat it. [Food Renegade]
* Speaking of chaos, Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse wonders: “Who will win and who will lose in the recall madness?” [Althouse]
* Elsewhere in the Midwest, a blogger who didn’t commit defamation is nevertheless held liable under alternative theories that media law professor Jane Kirtley describes as “trash torts.” We no like. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune via Consumerist]
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: birthday girl.
* A young couple that has been fined for their noisy kid might take legal action against their homeowners’ association. Do they have a toddler’s leg to stand on? [MyFoxDFW.com]
* Happy Birthday, Justice Ginsburg! You don’t look a day over 78. [Vault]
* We previously mentioned the ATL contest for NCAA picks — click here, join the group “Above the Law Blog” with the password “abovethelaw”, and fill out a bracket — but we also encourage you to join the Dealbreaker contest (which has much nicer prizes). [Dealbreaker]
Most small law firms are staying away from social media when it comes to marketing, according to a new report from Chicago-based Total Attorneys. The report, which you can see here (a short 6-page PDF), had a section about which marketing methods solos and small firms found most effective. The leading methods were:
online directories (17.7%);
word of mouth — which isn’t really a method, but more of a thing that happens (15.5%);
group-advertising ventures (whatever the hell that is) (13.3%); and
Yellow Pages (8.9%).
The takeaway for me from that list is that small-firm lawyers don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to marketing. “Word of mouth” means sit back and hope someone tells someone else to hire me, “group-advertising ventures” sounds like some sort of mail-order scam, and I didn’t know they still printed Yellow Pages. When my daughter asked me what Yellow Pages were, I told her that they were what little kids used to sit on to reach the table. (Sorry, Yellow Pages advertisers. Oh, wait. You’re not reading this because you’re offline.)
But the more-interesting fact to come out of this report is that two-thirds of respondents don’t do social-media marketing at all.…
Bruce MacEwen has been blogging long and well over at Adam Smith, Esq. He typically writes about law firm management, and his target audience is senior lawyers at large firms. Recently, however, MacEwen published a post about an award that Kraft Foods gave to Clifford Chance for innovation in delivering legal services.
Apparently, Clifford Chance helped Kraft’s legal department with its knowledge management issues. Clifford Chance had experience in knowledge management; Kraft did not; Clifford Chance helped Kraft to create a series of blogs and discussion boards in which Kraft’s in-house legal department will share information. MacEwen provides this example:
“Kraft, as you know, is a global consumer food services company . . . which means they generate their own specific variety of legal questions, such as ‘what food-like items are subject to VAT in various countries around the world?’ Food is largely exempt from VAT, non-food subject to it. Kraft sells some products, such as chewing gum, which are on the border.
“If you post that question on a discussion board, and get responses from around the world, you have the beginning of a knowledge base on VAT incidence on quasi-food items. And of course it’s also recorded for posterity, at least in theory never needing to be answered again.”
This type of knowledge management is surely a good idea. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that only one of the two tools that Clifford Chance helped Kraft to create is ultimately going to prove effective. Which one, you ask?
* What’s the secret to lawyer happiness? And no, it doesn’t involve illegal drugs or porn stars (Charlie Sheen isn’t a lawyer). [Slaw via Legal Blog Watch]
* Want to start your own law blog? Read this interesting interview with BL1Y (a regular in the ATL comments section). [Lawyerist]
* Superstar criminal defense lawyer John Dowd, the Akin Gump partner who successfully got Monica Goodling (among many other clients) out of legal trouble, offered a rousing defense of Raj Rajaratnam today. [Dealbreaker]
* Congratulations to a 3L at NYU Law and future S.D.N.Y. law clerk, Eli Northrup, who belongs to a hip-hop band called Pants Velour — which has, in the words of our tipster, “captured the magic of Charlie Sheen as only music can.” [YouTube]
In our most recent practice area survey of the Above the Law readership, the most popular single response was “Intellectual Property.” Eighteen percent of survey respondents identified themselves as IP attorneys.
So many of you might be interested in the latest controversy to heat up the small-firm blogosphere. If you’re an IP lawyer, if you work at a small law firm, or if you’re a law student who enjoys intellectual-property hypotheticals, keep reading….
As we recently mentioned, Above the Law is dramatically increasing its coverage of small law firms. Clients and lawyers are moving in the direction of smaller firms, and ATL is following suit.
In response to our posting for a new small-firm columnist, we received dozens of superb applications (and we thank everyone who applied for their interest). The pool of talent was so strong that we decided to take on not one but two new columnists — doubling our dedicated small-firm coverage, with posts on at least four out of five weekdays (in addition to our existing coverage of small law firms).
Let’s meet our new writers. One of them should be familiar to many of you, and one of them will remain shrouded in secrecy….
* A Valentine’s Day deportation that separates a loving couple sounds exactly like something that would make Jesus happy. Oh wait a minute, that’s not right at all. [Stop the Deportations: The DOMA Project]
* Virginia Thomas, Clarence Thomas’s wife, is now a lobbyist. Well, one of them has to talk, I guess. [Politico]
* I understand why people are annoyed when somebody edits your work and takes all the “color and attitude” out of it. But I have a solution: start a blog! That way, instead of begging the New York Times to publish your unedited thoughts, you can just publish your unedited thoughts. All hail the 21st Century. [The Volokh Conspiracy via ABA Journal]
* Being a female lawyer is a bitch, might as well own it. [Lawyerist]
* Luther Campbell (of 2 Live Crew fame) is running for mayor of Miami. You can be a white professional wrestler and be governor; let’s see if you can be a black rapper and be mayor. [Miami New Times]
When you write for as large an audience as reads “Above the Law,” you get a huge variety of responses to your posts. But two recent posts illustrated that point in a remarkable way.
Last month, I published one post about the care with which I edited bills (that is, daily time entries) that I sent to clients when I was in private practice. And I later published a post about how lawyers could improve communications by taking a moment to reflect on the “subject” lines of e-mails before hitting the “send” icon.
The response to those posts was fierce and immediate. Folks who published “comments” to those posts overwhelmingly reacted negatively: “What kind of idiot spends several hours a month editing time entries to ease a client’s life? This guy was a typical big firm drudge!” (I’m paraphrasing here, because some of our readers may be minors.) And, “He’s writing about the ‘subject’ lines of e-mails? What comes next — a post about the quality of the office staplers or the tissue in the restrooms?”
Simultaneously, I was receiving a host of e-mails — not anonymous comments, but signed e-mails — from folks saying that they were sharing the posts with other lawyers in their offices or asking permission to reprint the posts in internal newsletters.
When we last wrote about goings-on at Howrey, the once-strong law firm that’s now experiencing troubled times, we mentioned the possibility of partner losses in the Chicago office. The firm pushed back on this, denying knowledge of any imminent defections in the Windy City.
It now seems, however, that additional partner departures may be on the horizon — in Chicago, and elsewhere too. As reported in Crain’s Chicago Business (via WSJ Law Blog), the Chi-town powerhouse of Winston & Strawn recently discussed a possible merger with Howrey — but then decided against that approach, opting instead to pick off specific groups and partners from Howrey.
The Howrey situation is starting to look a lot like what happened to Heller Ehrman. A well-respected firm with a widely admired culture encounters business difficulties. Key partners and groups (especially IP) start leaving for greener pastures or more stable platforms. A potential white knight emerges — Mayer Brown in Heller’s case, and Winston & Strawn in Howrey’s — but then decides to order a la carte from the menu of partners, practices and offices, instead of going for the chef’s tasting menu.
A distressed employee of the firm sets up a blog to serve as a clearinghouse for updates. Heller had Heller Highwater, and Howrey had Howrey Doin’.
But now it looks like Howrey Doin’ is… done. If you surf over to http://howreydoin.wordpress.com/, the blog’s former address, you learn that “[t]he authors have deleted this blog.”
What the heck happened? We have a statement from the author of the blog, as well as a response from the firm.
I have no idea why this is blowing up today, but it looks like the mainstream media just figured that maybe going to law school isn’t the most awesome idea (especially in this economy).
On New Year’s Eve, John Carney — our former colleague, from his days at Dealbreaker — noted on CNBC’s NetNet that the ABA issued a paper entitled The Value Proposition of Going to Law School (Word document). NetNet called the report an official warning from the ABA about the perils of going to law school. I’m always happy to see that particular report get a little bit more coverage. We linked to Carney’s post in Morning Docket on Monday, when we got back from break.
But then it seems that Doug Mataconis of Outside the Beltway noticed Carney’s report, and he did a story on it. And then Megan McArdle of The Atlantic noticed the Outside the Beltway report, and she did a story on it, today. And in the meantime the ABA paper has been linked and retweeted a bunch of times.
And that’s all well and good, except for the fact that the damn thing came out years ago and was widely discussed in the legal blogosphere back in 2009. So, umm, while it’s great that everybody is interested in this party, there hasn’t actually been any new news about the matter over the last few days….
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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