I’m not particularly interested in the history of the Titanic, but my cursory understanding of the tragedy tells me that there were not enough life boats for all of the passengers. That seems like a basic design flaw to me.
As clear as I can tell, current law students are suffering from a similar lack of suitable escape options. Future lawyers are responding to the difficulty of getting a job in private practice by bombarding government agencies with applications. But the sheer number of applicants is flooding the market for government lawyers, leaving many students out in the cold.
Applications are going far beyond obvious options like the Department of Justice. Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission decided it couldn’t even take on any more resumes:
Thank you for your interest in the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Competition. Due to a record number of applications, we have ended our application period in advance of the September 30th deadline.
Again, thank you for your interest and please keep the Bureau in mind for future opportunities.
Bureau of Competition Hiring Committee
When we’re at the point in the movie where the government is locking the doors to steerage, you know things are bad.
In response, Cornell Law School is urging students who want to work to move even more quickly. Details after the jump.
Who says the wheels of government turn slowly? Earlier this month, we reminded you that Justice Department Honors Program applications were almost due. Now, three short weeks later, candidates are hearing back about interviews. Sources report:
“DOJ Honors interview notifications have gone out. I was fortunate enough to snare one in the Civil Division. You might want to put up an open thread for discussion.”
“Interview invites came out Wednesday, information about which component came out Thursday. Open thread?”
We aim to please. Here you go.
If interview notifications went out on Wednesday, was that ahead of schedule? According to the list of key dates on the Honors Program website, today is supposed to be the day that the DOJ “notifies candidates selected for interviews by e-mail.”
Feel free to discuss the Honors Program interview process — which components you’re interviewing with, what you’d like to know about the process, or what you already know about the process (for those of you who have been through it) — in the comments.
This morning, we reminded you about judicial clerkships as one career option to explore. Now we’d like to remind you of another: the Attorney General’s Honors Program, at the U.S. Department of Justice. The application deadline is this coming Tuesday, September 8.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the DOJ Honors Program, here’s a description:
The highly competitive Honors Program is the only way that the Department hires entry-level attorneys. Selection for employment is based on many elements of a candidate’s background including academic achievement, law review or moot court experience, legal aid and clinical experience, and summer or part-time legal employment. The Department also considers specialized academic studies (including undergraduate and post-graduate degrees), work experience, and extracurricular activities that directly relate to the work of the Department.
A partner at a top New York law firm — we have more partner readers (and tipsters) than you might think — sent us an email with this subject line: “Stimulus Money for Law Firms?” The email directed us to two links on Recovery.gov, the disturbingly expensive website devoted to tracking where the federal economic stimulus money is going.
Almost $900,000 in stimulus money — i.e., your taxpayer dollars hard at work — is going to two top law firms: Debevoise & Plimpton and Paul Weiss. Debevoise is getting $432,680 and Paul Weiss is getting $462,528, both from the U.S. Department of Energy. Links are here and here.
Needless to say, this got us hugely excited. Have things gotten so bad that law firms — even firms as prestigious and profitable as Debevoise & Paul Weiss — need government funds?
Economists sometimes talk about the hypothetical stimulus of the government paying people to dig ditches and then refill them. Is the federal government now trying to jump start the legal economy, by paying law firms to draft merger agreements or summary judgment motions, then send them through the shredder? Has the phenomenon of fake work spread beyond the summer associate class, into the ranks of associates and partners, to be paid for by U.S. taxpayer dollars?
Not quite (although that would have been a juicier story). Find out the somewhat boring reality, after the jump.
Ed. note: Welcome to the latest installment of “Notes from the Breadline,” a column by a laid-off lawyer in New York. Prior columns are collected here. You can reach Roxana St. Thomas by email (at firstname.lastname@example.org), follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook.
Searching for a job is often described as a marathon. “It’s not a sprint,” people will tell you knowingly, often adding that it “might take a few months.” When my own job search began, I heard this pearl of wisdom from countless recruiters, all of whom encouraged me to “be patient.” “Don’t worry,” they told me. “Something will come up.”
Several months on, I have determined that the marathon analogy may be a bit of an understatement. Sure: Giovanna found a job in short order, but for many of us, looking for work is more like an Iron Man, the Iditarod, a long ocean voyage, or a marathon followed by an extended push to the summit of a high peak. Carrying a heavy pack. I can imagine the captain’s log for such a journey. “Day 180,” it would read. “Morale is low. Rations are scarce. The cats are restless; I fear that a mutiny is not far off.”
Not long ago, I stopped by Lat’s office for a chat about this dismal state of affairs. “This isn’t getting any easier,” I said. “Does anyone find a job these days?”
“Think of it as a marathon, Roxana,” Lat said, stroking his chin wisely. He offered me a cup of coffee, which flows from a garden-sized fountain topped with a naked, burbling Cupid standing on one foot, in his office. Then he paused to consider my question. A moment later, it became clear to me that he could not think of anyone who had, in fact, found a job. “I get the picture,” I said glumly.
But a few days later, Lat delivered some encouraging news: he knew someone who had found a job. “It took a while,” he said of his acquaintance, “but he did it.” In fact, Lat explained, it had taken the acquaintance a remarkably long time to find work. Even more remarkable, however, was how long the man’s job search had taken, despite his impeccable credentials and extensive network of well-connected lawyers.
I decided to talk to the lucky fellow about his experience in – and getting out of – the breadline. Perhaps, I thought, he could inspire us, provide some insight, or (at the very least) make us feel better about our collective inability to find gainful employment. A few days later, I reached out to our new friend, who I’ll call “Max.” (He asked that his real name not be used.)
Read about Max’s job search, after the jump.
The Yale Law School campus is buzzing with rumors that their popular dean, Harold Hongju Koh, could be leaving for a job in the Clinton State Department. The Yale Daily News reports that Koh could be appointed as legal adviser to the State Department:
In that position, Koh — a former assistant secretary of state and a leading expert on international law — would serve as principal counselor on all legal matters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton LAW ’73.
Rumors have swirled for months around the Law School and in Washington, D.C., that Koh, whose five-year term as dean ends in June, might leave Yale to serve again in government. Koh, however, has repeatedly dismissed talk about a possible appointment as pure speculation.
Koh and the YLS press office did not respond to ATL’s requests for comment.
Even though Koh’s five year term is up in June, Yale has given every indication that Koh can keep his current job if he wants it:
University President Richard Levin said Wednesday that a routine review of Koh’s tenure at the Law School — timed for the end of his first term as dean — had yielded positive responses.
“It was clear that the community supported his reappointment,” Levin said. “There’s no question: If he stays here, he will be reappointed.”
If Koh leaves, he’ll be creating yet another opening on the Law School Dean circuit — which is one of the few jobs in the legal profession that is hiring.
Back in July, when we covered the nuptials of celebrity professors / Obama advisers Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power, we wrote: “We look forward to seeing the heights to which they will ascend, together, in the administration of President Obama.”
Well, now we know. Both have snagged important positions in the White House. As previously reported, Sunstein, a former colleague of Obama’s from the University of Chicago Law School faculty, was tapped to serve as “regulatory czar” — a big deal in an administration that will be cranking out lots of regulations.
And last night we learned that Samantha Power will be joining hubby Cass at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. From the Associated Press:
Samantha Power, the Harvard University professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who earned notoriety for calling Hillary Rodham Clinton a ”monster” while working to elect Barack Obama president, will take a senior foreign policy job at the White House….
Officials familiar with the decision say Obama has tapped Power to be senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council, a job that will require close contact and potential travel with Clinton, who is now secretary of state. NSC staffers often accompany the secretary of state on foreign trips.
See, Obama does have a sense of humor! Or, more likely, Obama always planned to give Power a plum position, despite “Monstergate.” Sure, it wasn’t her finest hour; but as a Harvard Law School grad, Power is entitled to a few undiplomatic moments. Speculates Gawker: “If someone really wants to hire you, he’ll make your future boss promise to be nice to you, in exchange for her job.”
Update: More good news for Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein. A tipster tells us: “They’re creating a super-child of the 21st century. She’s pregnant!”
A little more about the Power couple, after the jump.
In prior posts (here and here), we reported on the impressive legal team that President Barack Obama has assembled to staff key positions in his administration. Like many of the Bush Administration lawyers they’re replacing, the Obama lawyers have impressive pedigrees: degrees from top law schools, often with honors and/or law review experience; impressive clerkships, including many SCOTUS clerkships; and stints at leading law firms (but with WilmerHale and Williams & Connolly replacing Gibson Dunn and Kirkland & Ellis as the feeder firms).
Several legal superstars are making big financial sacrifices to go into government service. They can expect low six-figure salaries as government lawyers, a far cry from the seven figures that some of them — not the law professors, but the Biglaw partners — earned in the private sector. As reported by Ken Vogel over at Politico:
Eric Holder, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, will get a separation payment from his firm, Covington & Burling, of between $1 million and $5 million, plus a share of the firm’s profits from this year “based on work performed through date of separation,” and a repayment of between $500,000 and $1 million from the firm’s capital account…. [Holder] earned $3.3 million last year as partner.
Jeh Johnson, Obama’s nominee to be the Pentagon’s top lawyer, would get a severance of between $1 million and $5 million from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, an international law firm. He’ll also get his $200,000 capital investment back from the firm, which paid him $2.6 million last year as a partner.
For more details — e.g., how much Eric Holder and Jeh Johnson’s retirement plans and pensions might be worth — see Politico.
In our earlier hiring round-ups, we missed a few names. Many tipsters came forward to fill in the blanks.
Learn about the latest legal eagles to land in the Obama nest, after the jump.
Last night we wrote about some of the top-notch talent that will be filling senior legal positions in the Obama Administration. These are big names, and you probably also read about them in big publications, like the Legal Times or the Wall Street Journal.
ATL is willing to drill down deeper. We now bring you personnel news at more junior levels. If you graduated law school in the past 15 or even 10 years, you might actually know some of these people.
Our prior post focused on two of the most prestigious parts of the Department of Justice: the Solicitor General’s office, and the Office of Legal Counsel. We now turn our attention to two other top offices: the White House Counsel’s office, and the office of the Deputy Attorney General.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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