Sonia Sotomayor despondent.jpgIs it sexist to dissect the fashion choices of Judge Sonia Sotomayor during last week’s confirmation hearings? Probably. I don’t remember anybody asking what Sam Alito was trying to convey with his confirmation tie choices.
But Sotomayor was trying to convey something with her choices. We might as well take a look at what message she was trying to get across.
Click the link below for the full Fashionista analysis, by editor Abby Gardner, and reader comments (which you’re free supplement with your own two cents).
Dressing the Part [Fashionista]

summer associate program ATL Above the Law blog.jpgLast week, we brought you our five finalists in the ATL Summer Associate Event Contest of 2009. The top two vote-getters are too close to declare one a winner, so we’re having a run-off.

Southeast firm Carlton Fields garnered almost 32% of the over 2,500 votes for taking its Tampa summer associates on a daylong fishing trip, with multiple swimming, beach, and bar stops along the way. IP firm Fish & Richardson captured 34% of the vote for “Harpdrygal IV,” an event shrouded in mystery revealed on the day of to be an all-female roller derby.

We checked back in with the firms and have some additional information about the events to inform your voting. We also have photos, but from the roller derby only. No Carlton Fields associates in bathing suits, though we can direct you to the summer associates’ photos and you can use your imaginations. After the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Summer Associate Event Contest of 2009: Fish & Richardson Roller Derby vs. Carlton Fields Fishing Trip”

summer associate program ATL Above the Law blog.jpgThis year’s batch of summer associates are roughing it at Biglaw summer camp, with fewer meals out on the firm and less lavish events. To make matters worse, some summers are being told now that their future job will be deferred. Summer associates at Skadden and Ropes & Gray have been informed that they can’t come back to the camping ground until 2011. Tents can’t be repitched at Orrick until 2012.

This seems like a good time to focus on the light side of the summer associate experience. For the past month, we’ve been soliciting entries for our Summer Associate Event Contest of 2009. They came trickling in slowly, whether because there aren’t many events to brag about or because summer associates are too busy (or too scared) to email us. One SA was so fearful of “tipping” us that the announcement about the firm’s event was sent anonymously via snail mail. [FN1]

One ATL reader from a small firm had this to say about the environment at firms this summer:

Our firm does a lot of corporate bankruptcy work, so we’re faring better in this economic storm than most, but we had to scale back our summer associate program a bit. We do not have as many summer associates as we used to, and we are not having as many major, expensive events. No more big-ticket concerts; no more dinner theater on a river boat; no more renting out an entire movie theater for a pre-release movie showing….

Certainly, the difficulties of this economy are showing in the makeup of our summer class: because we have a summer program at all (unlike many law firms), we’re getting students from higher ranked schools. Most of them are from Top 20 law schools, all of them from Top 75 law schools, none of them from the fourth-tier local law school that usually supplies some of our summer class. And our summer associates are noticeably more stressed about the experience and their prospects than I’ve seen in the past 10 summers.

Despite the foregoing, we have a nice selection of events for the contest. We ask you to vote on the best one, plus offer a few honorable mentions (for events involving public urination and broken bones), after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Contest: Best Summer Associate Event of 2009″

Back in March, we reported on stealth layoffs at Davis Polk & Wardwell. Stealth layoffs are usually seen as an effort to maintain high attorney utilization rates — and high partner profits. But at genteel, WASPy DPW, long known for its passive-aggressive kinder and gentler firm culture, profits come second to pulchritude.

Everything is beautiful at 450 Lexington — the offices, the stationery, and yes, the attorneys. DPW has long been known for hiring based on beauty as well as brains. So we suspect that their recent stealth layoffs were just an “office beautification” project: lay off the less attractive associates, to increase the average hotness of the remaining lawyers. (Lord only knows what the denizens of the recently closed Frankfurt office looked like.)

A few years ago, we wrote about Davis Polk’s reputation for hiring aesthetically appealing attorneys in the New York Observer:

Bar Belles: According to Rob, a 2L at NYU, one firm that’s in demand this season is Davis Polk & Wardwell. Why? “I’ve heard they have good-looking associates.”

Some things never change. When I interviewed a decade ago, Davis was already known as a bastion of beauty on aesthetically challenged Lexington Avenue. It was the firm of choice for the prom queen and king of my law school class — the editor in chief of the law journal, a luminous doll-like beauty with a vast family fortune, and her Abercrombie-handsome future husband. They were joined at Davis by enough comely Asian females to cast Memoirs of a Geisha.

And hotness matters more at Davis Polk these days, now that their redesigned website features attorney photos (for some, but not all, of the lawyers — perhaps it was an “opt in” regime?). From an observant tipster:

Have you noticed that Davis Polk’s new website has pictures of attorneys? Weren’t they once afraid of stalkers? Glad they’ve gotten over that. Or perhaps their associate corps is simply uglier now.

We think not. If you visit the Davis Polk — er, DavisPolk — website, and surf through the attorney profiles, you’ll still find hotties to spare.

Evidence of hotness, plus additional analysis, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Davis Polk’s Website Makeover: Now With 100 Percent Way More Hotties!”

gordon chin.jpgEvery once in while, we like to explore career alternatives for attorneys, i.e., things you can do with a law degree that don’t involve Biglaw or contract attorney work. These days, we’ve come to think of the series of open threads as things you might do if you can’t find Biglaw or contract work.
Do you have a passion for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and HGTV? When you walk into a room, do you immediately judge the color scheme? Do you spend an inordinate amount of time rearranging doc review boxes to maintain the proper feng shui in your office? Maybe you should consider a second career in interior design.
Gordon Chin, a real estate lawyer and American University Law ’99 grad, has always had an interest in design work. Since being laid off by Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell in November, it’s become his full-time gig. To see his ultra-modern style, check out this Washington Examiner piece [PDF] on him (though the article’s a bit cliched, describing his style as “unpretentious yet somehow still sophisticated”).
Chin told us:

I’ve always done design work on the side, but given the slowdown in big-law, I’ve found more time to devote to my passion. I’m currently working with some clients in the DC area — everything from interior design, to staging services….
Projects range in scope and size — some include entire rowhomes/townhomes, others are consulting with paint colors or staging, assisting clients with shopping or selecting decorative pieces.

A Q&A with Chin, and the bright side of being laid off, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Alternatives for (Laid-Off) Lawyers: Interior Designer”

townhouse Professor Edward Morrison Ed Morrison 357 West 121st Street.jpgIn these dire times, academia is regarded as a refuge. Sure, endowments are down, some schools have imposed hiring freezes, and budgets are being trimmed here and there. But the academy, especially the legal academy, hasn’t seen anything like the carnage experienced by Biglaw.

Take the ivory tower of Columbia Law School, which apparently remains an impregnable fortress against the recession. Despite a few budget cuts at the university, the law school still provides professors with delicious digs. From the Sunday New York Times:

Many buyers say that jumbo mortgages are hard to come by these days. But don’t tell that to Edward R. Morrison, a law professor and economist at Columbia University, who is something of an expert on these troubled times.

Last month Mr. Morrison and his wife, Anne, bought a restored two-family town house at 357 West 121 Street in Harlem for $2.575 million. Brokers said it was a record price for a town house in the neighborhood — just down the hill from the Columbia campus in Morningside Heights, near Morningside Park — and one of the top 10 town house sales in Harlem in recent years.

As we’ve told you before, to the Elect go all the spoils. (Ed Morrison clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia.)

Now, a $2.6 million townhouse is pretty sweet — but it’s not the nicest piece of real estate owned by a CLS faculty member. That title surely belongs to Hans Smit’s $29 million mansion.

(Actually, make that $30 million, the price reflected in the current version of the listing. What recession?)

More details about the Morrison manse, plus a picture of the super-cute professor, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: It’s Good To Be King A Law Professor”

National Enquirer Cass Sunstein Samantha Power.jpgThe world is obsessed with celebrity professors Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power, who recently left the ivory tower to take high-ranking positions in the Obama Administration. He might someday sit on the Supreme Court; she’s a winner of the Pulitzer Prize; and together, as we previously reported (see the update), they’re creating the World’s Smartest Baby.

How many HLS grads turned Harvard professors get named Fun Couple of the 21st Century by Esquire? The article begins:

If The Chronicle of Higher Education had paparazzi, a few of them would be camped outside this office right now.

The office is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and inside are two Harvard professors. The first — a tall woman in her thirties with long red hair — is wrapped in a wool blanket…. The second — a slightly older man who looks a bit like William Hurt — wears a dark suit and is twirling a Wilson tennis racket, a favorite habit of his. They’re talking about the usual — Obama, the fight against extremism, the future of the Supreme Court. And also, who should order flowers for the priest who helped them out with wedding plans.

In a week, they’re getting married in a small church in Ireland — a fact that, if those paparazzi did exist, would send them into a Brad-and-Angelina tizzy.

Oh, but such paparazzi do exist. Harvard Law School student “Percy Thrillington” snapped a few photos of the happy couple, in an HLS parking lot — the small parking lot just off Mass. Ave., next to the International Legal Studies library. They were unloading what said tipster described as “a rather dorky-looking red PT Cruiser.”

Chief Justice John G Roberts JGR PT Cruiser.jpg(Hey, Percy, lay off the PT Cruiser. If it’s good enough for Chief Justice John Roberts — see photo at right — then it’s good enough for Cass and Sam.)

After a heated bidding war between top tabloid publications — bids climbed well into the six figures, allowing Percy to pay for his law school education — ATL emerged victorious. We now proudly present exclusive photographs of the world’s leading legal-academic couple.

Check out paparazzi pics of the Power couple, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL World Exclusive: Paparazzi Photos of Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power!”

Lindsay Harrison front steps SCOTUS.jpgLindsay Harrison at One First Street. Photo by Patrice Gilbert.

To paraphrase the controversial Campari ads at issue in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (aka The People vs. Larry Flynt), everyone remembers “their first time” — arguing in open court, that is. It’s a rite of passage that all young litigators must go through. At large law firms, associates (or even junior partners) typically tackle something minor for their first oral argument — e.g., a non-critical discovery motion — and then work their way up the ladder.

But that’s not the case for everyone; some people start at the top. Meet Lindsay C. Harrison. She’s a fifth-year associate in the D.C. office of Jenner & Block, who just had her very first oral argument — which happened to be in the U.S. Supreme Court. On Wednesday, she appeared before the nine justices to argue the case of Nken v. Mukasey (or, technically, Nken v. Filip; more on the name changes later).

Read our interview with Lindsay Harrison, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Jenner & Block Associate Argues Her First Case – In the Supreme Court”

california dreaming.jpgWhile David Lat’s west coast rampage continues — he just finished speaking at UCLA — the good people from the Federalist Society furnished us with a podcast of Lat’s lunch talk yesterday with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.).

If you weren’t able to make it yesterday, or you live in the part of the country that the Sun God Ra has marked for eternal suffering, check out the podcast below.

Update: A write-up of the talk is available here.

A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence [Federalist Society]

Ninth Circuit Judges Remain Collegial, Kozinski Says [Metropolitan News]

Alex Kozinski David Lat.jpgSometimes readers complain that Above the Law focuses too much on the East Coast. Since our headquarters is here in New York, and since we lived in Washington from 2006 to 2008, we may have an East Coast bias.

But we do try to run a national legal news site. Even if we’re physically located in New York, wherever two or more lawyers are gathered in our name, there we are.

In recent months, we’ve been making a conscious effort to do more for the West Coast. For example, we’ve started posting — later in the day, to account for the time difference — material aimed at a West Coast / California audience.

And next week we’ll be in L.A., to participate in three events (all kindly sponsored by the Federalist Society). One is with a leading light of the federal judiciary, and another is with a top law professor/blogger. Here are the details:

1. A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence

When: Tuesday, January 13, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Speakers: The Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Ninth Circuit; David Lat, Founder, Above the Law

Where: Omni Hotel, 251 South Olive Street, Los Angeles

MCLE Credit: One Hour

Cost: $38 if paid in advance; $40 if paid at the door. Public employees, students and law clerks may pay the discounted rate of $15.

2. Cocktail Reception with David Lat

When: Tuesday, January 13th, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Where: Bel Air Bar and Grill, 662 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles

MCLE Credit: No. This will not be educational in the least — just gossip and booze.

Cost: Cash bar. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served. YUM.

3. How Bloggers Changed the Legal World

When: Wednesday, January 14, 12:45 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Speakers: Professor Stephen Bainbridge, Warren Professor of Law, UCLA; David Lat, Founder, Above the Law

Where: UCLA Law School, Room 1357

Cost: Free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided.

Please come to any or all of these events. We look forward to seeing you!

A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence [Federalist Society - Los Angeles Lawyers Chapter]

How Bloggers Have Changed the Legal World [Facebook]

Two Events / One Day with Chief Judge Kozinski and David Lat [Facebook]

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