This post is dedicated to William A. Rutter, who passed away last week. If you’re not a lawyer in California, you might not recognize the name. But at least in my world, Rutter is the guy who produced the invaluable and ubiquitous Rutter practice guides, covering a wide range of practice areas and procedures.
If you’re not from California, you might be more familiar with other Rutter creations, like the BAR/BRI prep course he founded, or his Gilbert Law Summaries for law students.
My firm, like most firms in California, has a series of Rutter guides on our shelves. And even though we run a virtually paperless office with Lexis, Westlaw, and other electronic research options, I still love my printed Rutter guides. We even have a joke about Rutter. Whenever a colleague questions their ability to handle a particular matter or solve a particular issue, we joke, “I’m sure there’s a Rutter Guide for that.”
The joke has a serious point, namely, that the basics of most practice areas can always be learned. And if it’s easy enough to learn a practice area, why shouldn’t a lawyer forming a solo practice or small firm become a true generalist, handling everything from family law, wills and trusts, civil, criminal, and essentially whatever walks in the door?
Or, if you prefer, a ruling on marriage equality. We knew this ruling was coming because the Ninth Circuit kindly informed us in advance that its opinion would be issued today: “The Court anticipates filing an opinion tomorrow (Tuesday, February 7) by 10:00 a.m. in Perry v. Brown, case numbers 10-16696 and 11-16577, regarding the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the denial of a motion to vacate the lower court judgement in the case.”
The Ninth Circuit’s practice of providing advance notice of certain opinion filings is very helpful to those who cover the court. It would be nice if other circuit courts followed the Ninth Circuit’s lead. (Yes, I just typed that sentence.)
* Obama has officially nominated William Baer, an Arnold & Porter partner, to run the DOJ’s antitrust division. Get ready for an election year confirmation showdown between the parties. [New York Times]
* Newt Gingrich has dropped out of the Virginia ballot lawsuit that was originally filed by Rick Perry. What does this mean for his campaign? Is he giving up his plans for the presidency, too? [Washington Post]
* Here’s a great refresher on all things Prop 8 in anticipation of today’s ruling from the Ninth Circuit. This is happening on West Coast time, so check back for our coverage this afternoon. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]
* Sorry, bridge and tunnel people, but it looks like you’re going to have to keep paying increased prices at the tolls. AAA of New York and North Jersey lost a bid to block collection of the fee hikes. [Bloomberg]
* More law school graduates are trying to get their day in court for bankruptcy protection. Looks like these people didn’t read their student loan MPNs carefully (or at all). They state pretty clearly that you’re screwed for life. [Reuters]
* James R. Silkenat was selected as the president-elect at the ABA’s Midyear Meeting, meaning his ascension to the presidency is “virtually assured.” We can only hope that his leadership is as awesome as his combover. [ABA Journal]
* PETA’s Thirteenth Amendment whale slavery lawsuit is heading to court today in California. Maybe we’ll see if what SeaWorld calls a “baseless” and “offensive” lawsuit has got legs. Or flippers. [CNN]
* Polygamy for all! Kody Brown’s bigamy lawsuit will proceed in Utah thanks to Jonathan Turley’s lawyering. Are we going to see the drama play out on season three of Sister Wives this spring? [Associated Press]
* Joshua Monson, the suspected serial lawyer stabber, must regret this missed opportunity. While signing documents with his weapon of choice, he allegedly punched a corrections officer in the face. [Daily Herald]
Last night, we received a tip about the San Francisco branch of a national law firm that delivered an office-wide email concerning “restroom etiquette.” The email is hilarious, and if nothing else, impressively thorough. They thought of everything. The missive covered tips for masking awkward bathroom noises, suggestions for choosing a urinal, and an emphasis on the ways bathroom behavior can affect your professional reputation.
Let’s see which firm has (toilet) water on the brain, and take a look at the memo….
* Football’s labor lockout legal fees: which Biglaw firms scored huge touchdowns thanks to their collective bargaining work? The three top billers included Latham, Dewey & LeBoeuf, and Patton Boggs. [Am Law Daily]
* The sanctions for filing a 9/11 conspiracy claim cost $15K, but forever being remembered as the lawyers who got benchslapped for drafting “a product of cynical delusion and fantasy” is priceless. [Reuters]
* Jared Loughner is still incompetent to stand trial, and he’ll remain in the loony bin for another four months. You know what that means? Time to make this kid swallow some more pills. [Arizona Republic]
I got home from New York last night, exhausted and ready to sleep in my own bed instead of a different couch every night. I noticed a couple things as soon as I set foot into the San Francisco airport. Everyone here wears jeans. Us Californians love our casual clothes. Also, fried food and all meat products and candy are outlawed here, so we are all in excellent shape. We have and enjoy trees, and we live in apartments large enough to have closets.
For better or worse, there are a lot of things about California that make us different and drive Newt Gingrich to say he wants to shut down our region’s federal appeals court.
One of our specialties is our penchant for unaccredited law schools. Say what you will about them — there are advantages and disadvantages — but what about an online only, unaccredited law school that spams law school students who have already enrolled at other, more prestigious institutions?
Shady? Or brilliant marketing strategy? Decide for yourself, courtesy of a generous tipster….
* Looking for a way to shield your assets during a wrongful death suit? Just adopt your adult girlfriend. It has “nothing to do with the lawsuit” — dude just wants to bang his daughter. No big deal. [Palm Beach Post]
* Unpaid internships are so last season. A former intern for fashion mag Harper’s Bazaar wants class action certification for a lawsuit claiming that her free labor violated wage and hour laws. [New York Times]
Legal services are expensive. Duh. And sometimes clients do not want to pay their bills. Maybe the case outcome wasn’t what the client hoped for. Maybe the bill was significantly higher than expected. There are all sorts of reasons that attorneys just have to say, “Eff you, pay me.”
The thing is, you normally associate breach of contract disputes with litigation or other standard lawyering. Not Biglaw attorneys brokering movie finance deals, and suing when the client doesn’t pay his finders fee.
But Akin Gump filed suit last week against a Hollywood movie producer, for breach of contract and promissory fraud, alleging that he did not fork over the finders fee he owed a firm partner for helping secure loans and finding a distributor for one of his projects.
The firm says Mark Manuel owes a lot of money. So how much does he owe, and which movie is at the center of the controversy?
For some, the phrase “small law firm” implies certain stereotyped practice areas, clients, and attorneys. At its worst, the stereotype invokes unsophisticated clients and matters that are routine and uninteresting. I doubt the stereotype is wholly true anywhere. I know for sure it isn’t true in San Francisco or Silicon Valley.
I know many attorneys in small firms who have specialized, high-end practices. These specialized practices are often called boutiques, and they are perfectly suited to serve the entrepreneurial, high-tech client base that abounds in the San Francisco Bay Area.
It remains to be seen whether we’re experiencing a boom or just another bubble, but I guess it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m not an economist and I’m not making predictions. I am only remarking on some great practice opportunities for smaller law firms which exist here, maybe because we are fortunate to have so many imaginative, passionate, and savvy entrepreneurs working on exciting projects in so many different industries….
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…