Environment / Environmental Law

law firm swag treasure chest.jpgPerhaps it’s a sign of the times. We received a whopping four (4) entries in our inaugural law firm swag contest. Is law firm swag, like subsidized soda or staff attorney programs, another casualty of the recession?
But if we cancel the contest, then the terrorists win. So, onward!
We realize, of course, that not everyone approves of swag. See, e.g., this comment:

This is fairly disgusting…. I find this article particularly untimely, given that most law students are struggling to find good jobs, and many practicing attorneys are struggling just to keep the jobs they have.

Jeez, commenter 58 — lighten up! Considering that we cover law firm layoffs in excruciating detail, to the point where many accuse us of doomsaying and fearmongering, we are aware of the tough job market. But, even in the Great Recession, some people are still getting offers — along with a little swag to sweeten the pot. So what’s wrong with some fun to balance out the gloom?
In defense of law firm schwag, here’s a trend worth noting: “going green.” Firms are trying to be environmentally conscious in their swag selections, as well as more socially responsible in general. This may make schwag less “disgusting” to its critics.
A second theme of swag this year: customization. In this age of individualism and/or narcissism, firms are letting swag recipients have a say in what gets given away. Just as firms are moving away from lockstep in terms of pay and promotion, so too are they allowing for greater tailoring in terms of swag.
Check out the finalists, and vote for the best law firm swag, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Swag Contest: The Finalists”

paper documents paperless office stack file folders.jpgBack when we worked at a law firm, one partner was obsessed with the concept of the “paperless office.” He wanted to have as many documents as possible scanned and stored electronically, in order to eliminate any unnecessary use of paper. It was a bit OCD of him, and his jihad against paper was viewed with mild amusement around the firm.
Perhaps this partner was ahead of his time. Back in 2006, law firms were described as the “last frontier in going paperless.” But now the trend is moving strongly in the direction of a paperless world. These days it seems that everyone wants to go commando.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Paper(less) Chase”

rain forest law firm.JPGThe Texas based law firm of Haynes and Boone moved their Dallas operations into a new “green” office today. Despite the laudable initiative, some lawyers and many support staffers have complained about the new “confines.” Apparently, personal space is at a premium in the new space. Administrative assistants are particularly annoyed, as they will be moved out of cubicles into an open floor plan, “fishbowl” situation.

In addition to the lack of privacy, Haynes and Boone issued new policies regarding how secretaries use the personal space they still have. Most of the new rules meet an accepted standard of “petty.”:

2. There will be a sufficient number of small plants that Gensler will place in appropriate areas around our floors. You may have one 8-inch potted plant in your office or on your desk–none on the ledges.

3. Please do not put any objects or plants on ledges or the tops of your cabinets. Two framed pictures and a small candy dish may be placed on your desk, but no beanie babies on desks.

You’re moving into new environmentally friendly offices, but you’re going to regulate the number and types of plants employees are allowed to have? That’s not directly contradictory, but it’s certainly annoying.

Additional regulations after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Haynes and Boone: ‘Green’ Offices. ‘Orwellian’ Controls”

black hole.gifThose of you who follow science news are likely well aware of the Large Hadron Collider deep beneath the earth near Geneva. For the uninitiated, it’s a scientist’s wet dream: an $8-billion particle accelerator built to test the Big Bang Theory by smashing protons together at the speed of light. They fired it up this month, but it malfunctioned and is out of commission until next year.

For some, the machine is more nightmare than wet dream. Critics worry that it could create a sub-atomic black hole ending the world as we know it. In March, two guys filed suit in Hawaii to save the world. From the New York Times:

Last spring, Walter Wagner, a retired radiation safety officer who lives in Hawaii, and Luis Sancho, a science writer and professor in Barcelona, filed the lawsuit, claiming that the collider could produce a black hole that could eat the Earth or cause some other calamitous effect.

The federal judge who got the case chose to punt, “dodging the issue of whether it could actually cause the end of the world.”

The judge, Helen Gillmor, said in her ruling Friday that the court lacked jurisdiction over the Large Hadron Collider, which is located on the Swiss-French border and was built by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, with help from the United States and dozens of other countries…

Mr. Wagner and Mr. Sancho sued CERN, the United States Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Federal District Court in Hawaii. The Energy Department and the science foundation have contributed about $531 million of the collider’s estimated cost of $8 billion.

Judge Gillmor decided that the fraction paid by the United States was too small for the collider to constitute a “major federal action,” as defined by the National Environmental Policy Act, and so the court lacked jurisdiction on environmental grounds.

We hope someone else steps in to consider the possibility of a “planetary apocalypse.” At least it puts the cosmic crisis on Wall Street in perspective.

Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit to Halt Operation of Particle Collider [New York Times]

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft new logo CWT AboveTheLaw blog.jpgIn his defense in the Wall Street Journal (subscription) of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, America’s Firingest Law Firm™, Ashby Jones wrote:

[W]hile it might take several months to determine the full damage, so far the firm hasn’t seen large groups of partners bolt for the door, a phenomenon that can create a mini-panic at a firm and result in the loss of entire practice groups. Of course, the handsome partnership payouts provide good incentive to Cadwalader partners to stay put. And while Cadwalader might never be called a “collegial” place, its partnership is at least cohesive. It consists of a manageable 114 lawyers located predominantly in lower Manhattan.

Make that 113 lawyers. From a press release issued today by Steptoe & Johnson:

Andrew Perel Andrew J Perel Cadwalader CWT Steptoe Johnson.jpgSteptoe & Johnson LLP, a pre-eminent international law firm, today announced the addition of Andrew J. Perel as a new partner in its New York office.

Mr. Perel, former Chair of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft’s Environmental Practice Group, will also become the resident member of the management committee of Steptoe’s New York City office and that office’s representative on the firm’s Executive Committee.

“Andrew is the ‘go to’ environmental lawyer in New York. He is a leader in his field and highly respected nationally. Through his practice, he provides Steptoe with additional entrée into the financial services clients that are the backbone of every New York law firm practice,” said Steve Fennell, head of Steptoe’s Litigation Department.

Is Perel’s departure an isolated occurrence? Or could it be the first of several partner exits? Time will tell.
Andrew J. Perel Joins Steptoe as Partner in New York Office [Steptoe & Johnson (press release)]
Andrew J. Perel bio [Cadwalader via Google Cache]

recycling environmental eco friendly law firms Above the Law blog.jpgAt least it’s a better way to spend the firm’s money than a theme song (mp3). From The Recorder:

Nixon Peabody has appointed a chief sustainability officer, hoping not only to reduce the firm’s environmental impact, but to increase its impact on clients. Carolyn Kaplan, a counsel in the firm’s energy and environmental practice, will spend at least a quarter of her time in the new position.

So what exactly will Ms. Kaplan do in this new gig? Send around annoying firm-wide emails telling people to recycle those reams of useless Westlaw print-outs? Tell associates to turn off the lights when they leave their offices (even if it will tip off the partners to their departures)?

Kaplan said the position has two aspects: looking internally at ways to reduce the firm’s production of CO2, or its carbon footprint, and determining how attorneys can use the firm’s experience to better understand clients dealing with environmental regulation and related issues. Both of those could make the firm greener in the financial sense, too, she said.

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Everyone Is Greener at Nixon Peabody”

* Judge Mark Filip (N.D. Ill.) picked to be Mukasey’s deputy. [AP via How Appealing]
* SCOTUS stays Florida execution like I said they would. [New York Times]
* Hmm…Bush administration didn’t properly consider impact of climate change…. shocking. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Hillary Clinton takes the gloves off, giving “her most commanding performance to date” in last night’s debate. [The Atlantic (Marc Ambinder)]

Al Gore Albert Gore Above the Law blog.jpg* Al Gore, law school dropout, wins Nobel Peace Prize. [WSJ Law Blog; Washington Post; New York Times]
* Houston crime lab drops the ball, again. [CNN]
* Iraqi families sue Blackwater in U.S. court. [CNN]
* Lithwick’s take on the interesting SCOTUS case, Medellin v. Texas. [Slate]
* McCartney-Mills divorce settlement could break records. [MSNBC]
* After typo, infants in Arkansas can’t not be allowed to marry. [CNN]

recycling environmental eco friendly law firms Above the Law blog.jpgThe latest post in our series on perks / fringe benefits isn’t a “perk” per se. But it is, like true perks, a non-monetary factor that some people may take into account when choosing between law firms.
The topic: eco-friendliness, or how “green” a law firm is. From a tipster:

I think you should do a feature on which law firms are promoting eco-friendly office environments / business practices. With the country’s increased environmental awareness, I think it could help both law students and attorneys decide where to work. Here are two examples:

1. Arnold & Porter: Details of their “green office” policy appear here.

2. Morgan Lewis & Bockius: They described their “program to promote an eco-friendly workplace” in a recent memo (reprinted after the jump).

We offer commentary on that memo after the jump.
Getting Law Firms to Boot Up to Green [Legal Technology News]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Perk Watch: How Green Was My Valley Law Firm”

* Morgue employee having too much fun costs Hamilton County $8 million. [CNN]
* Nacchio gets appeal bond. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Told ya. [Jurist]
* Parents apparently signed their kids away to a New Mexico entertainment sweatshop. [New York Times]
* It’ll be blowing up our mountains when it comes. [New York Times]

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