Since we’re smack dab in the middle of clerkship application season, let’s turn the spotlight to clerkly compensation and benefits. We hear that some changes may be in the works. From a tipster:
[H]ave you heard anything about progress on a proposal to end/limit/change the salary “matching” program for federal clerks with private sector experience? Several judges I interviewed with mentioned that the salaries for clerks coming from jobs in the private sector (e.g., after a year or more working for a firm) are in flux pending a proposal to eliminate or change the bump that clerks coming from (higher paying) private sector jobs traditionally receive. My understanding is that these clerks traditionally received an increase in their step level within the applicable salary grade. Supposedly a decision on this issue was expected in September.
As a matter of fact, yes, we have. Nothing definitive. But more discussion appears after the jump.
As noted yesterday, we’re smack in the middle of clerkship hiring season. Perhaps some of you are applying to judges based in Miami. Clerking in a tropical paradise — what’s not to like?
Possibly deadly toxic mold, that’s what. From an article by Julie Kay in the Daily Business Review (via SDFLA Blog):
Two studies performed at the historic David W. Dyer federal courthouse in downtown Miami show there are significant mold and air safety issues at one of Miami-Dade County’s oldest courthouses and suggest parts of the building are beyond repair.
The studies… were commissioned by the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida after U.S. Magistrate Judge Ted Klein became ill and died last year of a mysterious respiratory illness, and his fellow magistrate judges raised concerns about the building’s environment.
Yesterday we opined that Judge Laurence H. Silberman would get the Attorney General nomination. Now we take that back.
After our post, a knowledgeable source informed us that Laurence Silberman isn’t interested in the job. A second source, who confirmed Judge Silberman’s lack of interest, added that he might be tougher to confirm that one might expect for a longtime federal judge. See here.
Then we came across this great analysis of the AG situation, by the ever-fabulous Jan Crawford Greenburg. She writes, over at her blog, Legalities:
The White House could announce as early as Wednesday its nominee to replace Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson has emerged as a leading candidate—despite initial concerns in the administration that he could face a tough confirmation hearing, according to sources close to the process.
Olson, a highly regarded Washington D.C. lawyer, has broad support inside the administration because of his deep experience in the Justice Department in two different presidential administrations. In addition to serving as solicitor general during President Bush’s first term, Olson headed the Office of Legal Counsel during the Reagan Administration.
FLASH: Ted Olson becomes frontrunner for Attorney General, top sources tell DRUDGE REPORT; announcement could be imminent… Developing…
But we’re not so sure. Remember when Edith Brown Clement looked like the frontrunner for the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice O’Connor? This White House likes surprises.
More discussion, after the jump.
As noted in the Washington Post, President Bush is expected to name Alberto Gonzales’s replacement as attorney general in the next few days, after returning from Australia tomorrow. The WaPo seems to be predicting Ted Olson:
[F]ormer solicitor general Theodore B. Olson has emerged as one of the leading contenders for the job, according to sources inside and outside the government who are familiar with White House deliberations.
Other candidates still in the running include former deputy attorney general George J. Terwilliger III and D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Laurence H. Silberman, according to the sources, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the discussions.
Even though we’re still rooting for our former boss, based on this short list, we’re predicting Judge Laurence Silberman (who previously served as Deputy Attorney General, the #2 job at the Justice Department).
More thoughts, including discussion of George Terwilliger and Larry Thompson, after the jump.
Wow, that was short. We were prepared to liveblog the Alberto Gonzales resignation announcement, but it was over before it began.
We didn’t time it, but it probably didn’t run over two minutes. Here’s what we jotted down:
AGAG seems a little choked up.
[Update: Pete Williams of NBC had the exact opposite reaction; he saw Gonzales as unemotional.]
Begins with shout-out to wife and son.
Resignation effective September 17.
“I have lived the American Dream.”
Says that his worst days as Attorney General have been better than his father’s best days.
[Well that's true. At least the DOJ has running water.]
In addition to a story on the Nixon Peabody song controversy — which we’ll do a full post on later, so save your comments until then — the New York Times has this big scoop:
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, has resigned. A senior administration official said he would announce the decision later this morning in Washington.
Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation, submitted his to President Bush by telephone on Friday, the official said. His decision was not immediately announced, the official added, until after the president invited him and his wife to lunch at his ranch near here.
Any thoughts on a successor? Update: We liveblogged the (extremely short) press conference by Alberto Gonzales announcing his resignation. See here. Gonzales Resigns as Attorney General [New York Times]
If so, then Uncle Sam wants you. The feds need your valuable skills — badly.
First the Department of Justice produces original documents, instead of copy sets, to Congress. And now, the AP reports on a screw-up by the FTC:
Lawyers for the FTC electronically filed documents as part of [its] court case [challenging the Whole Foods purchase of Wild Oats] yesterday afternoon. Court officials realized the redacted portions of the document could easily be read and blocked it from being downloaded from court computer servers. The Associated Press downloaded the document from the public server before it was replaced by a properly redacted version.
In the original version, the words looked redacted but were actually just electronically shaded black. The words could be searched, copied, pasted and read. The second version of the document was filed using scanned pages of the redacted documents. There is no way to remove the blacked-out portions from the final copy.
In a statement late Tuesday, Whole Foods said it was investigating the “apparent improper release by the Federal Trade Commission of confidential proprietary business information.”
There’s an interesting article on the Freedom of Information Act in today’s Los Angeles Times. Here’s an excerpt, which powerfully illustrates the importance of FOIA to our democracy:
A list of Freedom of Information Act requests that have been completed by the archives staff includes one for a photo of Bill Clinton jogging with a “Yale Whiffenpoof Club insignia” on his clothing, another for various files on UFOs and flying saucers, and one for the full name of the pastry chef who made a birthday cake for Chelsea Clinton.
For our continuing survey of the perks or fringe benefits of large law firm life, we turn our attention to a subject we’ve received multiple requests for: vacation. Here’s a representative email:
Most Biglaw associates get four weeks of vacation. Do most people take much of their vacation time? If so, is it easier to take it in one big block or a few smaller blocks?
In our experience, it depends. When we were at a firm, we usually took a week at a time. But we had one colleague who would work like a madwoman for almost the entire year, then take a three-week jaunt off to some impossibly exotic location.
Here’s another email:
I had always assumed that all firms gave 4 weeks of vacation as standard, but I have learned recently that that is not the case. For example, a friend of mine recently lateraled to [firm X], and discovered when she arrived that they only get 3 weeks vacation. (This was not mentioned in her offer letter!)
Also, at Kirkland & Ellis, first through third years apparently get 3 weeks of vacation, while more senior associates get 4 weeks.
Giving more vacation as you get more senior is how the federal government works. You have to accrue vacation (“annual leave”) before spending it, and your accrual rate goes up as your tenure with the government increases. When you first start, you accrue at a rate of just four hours (or half a day) per two-week pay period. We had a colleague who made the most of this limited leave time by taking many three- or four day weekends.
Vacation has surfaced as a discussion topic in several prior perk threads, but this is the “official” post. So please discuss your employer’s vacation policies — and your strategies for making the most of it — in the comments. Thanks.
As you know, we recently did a series of open threads on law firms in different cities. But we realize that Biglaw isn’t the only option out there.
We’ve been reminded of that by some recent emails. From one reader:
Not so much a tip as a request: How about an open thread for non-firm work — U.S. Attorney’s offices, for example? What are the pros and cons of leaving Biglaw for a few years to go there, and how do you do it?
And from a second:
This my fizzle in light of the prestige cult that ATL harbors, but I was curious if you would ever consider a look at federal government lawyers.
Not just at the Department of Justice:
The FBI, CIA, DoD, etc, all are staffed by tons of lawyers, not to mention the JAG branches of our Armed Forces. I’m obviously biased in light of my JAG affiliation, but I always enjoy reading up on the lives of non-BigLaw attorneys.
We’re happy to accommodate these requests — and note that working for the federal government, even if less lucrative than Biglaw, can be tremendously prestigious.
Please discuss legal employment opportunities with the federal government — including U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Main Justice, the JAG corps, and agencies — in the comments. Thanks.
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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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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