In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the Houston legal community is getting back to work. WRAL news channel 5 reported that Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell expects to reopen Wednesday. Andrews Kurth has their attorneys working remotely. According to the WRAL report, an Andrews spokesperson said, “all of our BlackBerrys are working.”
Other Houston area firms were contacted by ATL directly. The most important news is that everybody is safe.
Mike Conlon, partner-in-charge of Fulbright & Jaworski’s Houston office, said:
[W]e have been able to assist all that have needed temporary housing. While our Houston office is closed today, our lawyers are working from remote locations, including our other offices in Texas. All computer support functions are operating, and other offices are providing additional support where needed, which is part of Fulbright’s disaster recovery plan.
Fulbright & Jaworski plans to be fully functional by tomorrow.
More news from Houston after the jump.
With the hurricane season upon us, residents of coastal states are watching the radar and making storm plans. While New Orleans residents are wondering whether it’s safe to go home after Hurricane Gustav, their attorney general wants to make sure it’s affordable to come home.
Louisiana Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell plans to crack down on price-gougers, after getting complaints about inflated prices for hotel rooms and gasoline. But who isn’t complaining about gasoline prices these days?
From The Daily Advertiser:
The attorney general said that under state law, owners, managers, employees and “anyone who participates in jacking up prices” is subject to a $500 fine and six months in prison on each count of price gouging.
“Like a rattlesnake, first we give a warning,” ["Buddy"] said. But if a business doesn’t comply with the law, “then we bite.”
As was widely reported in yesterday’s coverage of Hurricane Gustav, quick thinking and brute manpower relieved the pressure on a private levee in Plaquemines Parish. The levee protected a subdivision of a couple of hundred homes.
Nearly 400 people participated in saving the levee. Their ranks included residents, first responders, the Army Corps of Engineers… and an unconfirmed number of prison inmates who were pressed into service.
Most of the prisoners from New Orleans and surrounding areas were evacuated well ahead of Gustav’s landfall. In Orleans Parish, about 300 municipal prisoners were simply delivered out of bondage. Only violent municipal offenders were kept in custody and moved with the 2500 inmates held on more serious charges.
Yet there were still enough prisoners on hand to help out when the Plaquemines Parish levee weakened.
We spoke with Pam Laborde, a spokeswomen for the Louisiana Department of Corrections. She could not tell us which parish’s prisoners were involved in the levee saving efforts. However she was not surprised that there was extra muscle on hand.
It’s not unusual in those types of emergencies to hold a few people on a work crew back so that they are able to help perform certain functions keeping the city government working. Whether they run the kitchen or as a work crew for cleaning the roads or that type of thing.
It’s one thing to scrub a latrine, but prisoners who helped to save a levee that protected homes — and potentially saved lives — should merit a “get out of jail free” card.
Laborde did not know the specifics involving efforts of these particular inmates (or their crimes), but she said that generally no such special consideration is given for state prisoners who stay behind and in harm’s way. She did say that if they were municipal prisoners, any time off would be given at the discretion of the individual Sheriffs’ departments.
Not surprisingly, Plaquemines Parish Sheriff “Jiff” Hingle could not be reached for comment.
Lawlessness can be a common occurrence during natural disasters, but apparently not all of it is bad. Concerns about New Orleans-area levee ease [CNN]
Tropical Storm Fay — what a beeatch! Doesn’t she know the job market is tough enough as it is?
The rising 2Ls at the University of Florida are really getting screwed because of Tropical Storm Fay. This thing hasn’t even hit land and is not even remotely near our school (but admittedly, probably is near the homes of some of the interviewers), yet the school has canceled the first three days of Early Interview Week OCI.
This is when many of the Biglaw / otherwise “good” employers come. All the firms are supposed to reschedule the interviews. But especially for the interviewers from non-Florida firms/offices, what [are the chances] that they’re going to make the effort to come back? Even if they do, by now they’ve probably started interviewing students from “better” schools.
Our correspondent wonders how other Florida law schools and law firms are dealing with the storm. If you have info to share, feel free to chime in.
Announcement emails from the career services office at UF, after the jump.
Apologies for the tardiness — this news is from last month. But it’s about the bar exam, which is still fresh in the minds of many, so it’s fair game.
Some of you who took the New York bar exam last week complained of a loud, distracting, feedback-type noise in one of the rooms at the Javits Center. There were also reports of cell phones going off during the test.
Wouldn’t you have liked a room of your own, quiet and distraction-free? Or maybe an extra day to take the bar exam? From the West Virginia Record:
West Virginia’s Board of Law Examiners printed its examination in big type for Shannon Kelly last year, gave him a room to himself and allowed him an extra day to complete the test, and he blames them for his failure.
Kelly sued the examiners July 21 in U. S. District Court at Charleston, demanding four days to finish an exam that most law school graduates finish in two days.
“He has severe deficits in processing speed, cognitive fluency and rapid naming,” wrote his attorney, Edward McDevitt of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff and Love in Charleston….
Kelly received a score of 253 last year, 17 points fewer than he needed to pass the exam. He had asked for four days to take the exam, but the board had granted three.
We don’t mean to sound callous or, even worse, politically incorrect. But if one has “severe deficits in processing speed, cognitive fluency and rapid naming,” one should perhaps explore professions other than law. Some people just aren’t cut out for it. E.g., Paulina Bandy (who failed the California bar exam thirteen times, before passing on try #14).
Meanwhile, in other complaints about bar exam administration:
Thought you might be interested. Prefer to be anonymous lest it sound like I’m whining.
One of the rooms of CA Bar test takers received five additional minutes as a consequence of the earthquake. This was the room with the metal grate and bakery. [Ed. note: Bakery???] Older male Caucasian announcer.
Ballroom A/B/C, with an older, white-haired, female Caucasian announcer, got no extra time.
Our apologies to those of you who sat for the bar exam today. We forgot to wish you good luck, unlike the QuizLaw kids:
It’s a special day for the country’s future lawyers — over the next two to three days, thousands of recent law graduates will take the bar exam. Most will pass, some will not. Somewhere, in some state, at least one person will freak the fuck out during the exam. That person will then become part of bar exam lore, an anecdote passed down from bar taker to bar taker to make them feel better about their chances.
Could ATL’s failure to wish you good luck be responsible for the earthquake that hit California in the middle of today’s test? We hope not. Talk about “bar exam lore” — an earthquake certainly qualifies.
Anyway, we won’t make the same mistake twice. To everyone taking the bar exam this week, GOOD LUCK!!!
If you’re one of the poor souls going through the ordeal of the bar exam, and checking ATL between day 1 and day 2 — or maybe on the eve of day 1, for those of you in Wednesday – Thursday jurisdictions — feel free to tell us how you’re feeling, in the comments. Earlier: Breaking: Earthquake Hits California on Day 1 of the Bar Exam!
Some people question whether large law firms do enough to make the world a better place. These people wonder: Are Biglaw partners letting Third World babies die, just so they can enjoy their Ferraris?
Or is the “Baby vs. Ferrari” choice a false dichotomy? Here’s another way of looking at it. Lawyers at large law firms, by providing top-notch legal services to large corporations — corporations owned not just by fat cats but also by ordinary Americans, through mutual funds and similar investment vehicles — create value that otherwise would not exist. Some of this surplus value makes its way into the pockets of partners (and their Ferrari dealers). But some of it makes its way to charitable causes (as well as federal and state government coffers, in the form of tax revenue).
Last week we commended the firms of Dewey & LeBoeuf and Heller Ehrman for their generous donations in support of China earthquake relief efforts. And it seems that supporting relief organizations, just like raising associate salaries, may be contagious within Biglaw.
Several other leading law firms have donated to support China earthquake relief efforts (and a number of these firms, including Orrick and Weil, acted within a few hours of last week’s ATL post). Here are some that we know of:
We commend the foregoing firms and their employees for their generosity. If your firm has taken action and isn’t mentioned above, feel free to post a shout-out in the comments.
For those of you who are curious — perhaps your firm would like to start a similar initiative, and you’d like to lift some language for the announcement — the Orrick and Weil memos appear after the jump.
Props to our friends over at Dewey & LeBoeuf. Sure, Denim Day is great at all, and their wine-and-cheese events sound like a lot — maybe too much — fun.
But DL also thinks of the less fortunate. From an internal email that went around recently:
As news of the devastation in China and Myanmar spreads, and in support of our colleagues and clients in Asia, we recognize a responsibility to support and assist the many thousands of individuals and families in need at this time. Current news reports suggest that the massive earthquake in the Sichuan province of China has already claimed the lives of more than 20,000 people, with numbers that could soar to as many as 50,000. The deadly cyclone of the Myanmar delta region has already claimed over 75,000 lives, with more than 55,000 people still missing and over 1 million people in need of aid.
The firm will match all donations made by our lawyers and administrative staff up to $200,000 to the following four funds designated for relief in China and Myanmar….
Perhaps other law firms are undertaking similar efforts? If your firm is, feel free to note that in the comments.
The complete Dewey & LeBoeuf email, including links to four relief organizations that you can support, appears after the jump. Update: As noted in the comments, Heller Ehrman is one of the firms stepping up to the plate. The firm is matching employee donations to the Red Cross up to a total of $50,000. Memo after the jump.
Emergency kits, like the ones doled out by Davis Polk, are nice. But billable-hour credit during an emergency is even nicer.
From a curious correspondent:
Here’s a question you may want to pose to your readers: How has your law firm dealt billable hour requirements when the office if officially closed due to an emergency / disaster?
I ask this question in connection with the recent southern California wildfires. I’ve heard that many law firms in So Cal had to close shop for the entire week last week due to the wild-fires. I’ve also heard that many of these shops are giving associates billable hours credit for the days the office was closed.
I’m curious how often firms do this sort of thing. What did law firms do after 9/11? Or Katrina? Or any of the major CA earthquakes? It wouldn’t seem right for a firm to tell attorneys not to come in for a week and then hold them accountable for that week at the end of the year.
But what about telecommuting? Is the ability to work from home a double-edged sword? Now that everyone has a laptop and a Blackberry, can attorneys be expected to fiddle (with merger agreements), while California burns?
More after the jump.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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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