Back in March, we reported that Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s motion to dismiss Anna Alaburda’s class action lawsuit over the school’s allegedly misleading employment statistics was “not well-taken,” and the case moved on to the discovery phase. We had previously wondered if Thomas Jefferson could actually lose the case, but given the wave of dismissals in the other law school lawsuits, that glimmer of hope soon faded. But then again, none of those cases ever made it to discovery.
Today, we’ve got news that will make all other schools pray that existing and potential cases against them never make it as far as that of Alaburda v. TJSL, the very first law school lawsuit filed. Everything — and we do mean everything — changes when you get to discovery.
For example, you may find out that your law school was allegedly engaged in a deliberate scheme to inflate its own employment statistics….
And be careful about what you place in the trash. Law firms have paper shredders for a reason; use them. Consider this your practice pointer for the day.
Earlier this month, an ATL reader sent us a collection of documents relating to Sullivan & Cromwell’s on-campus interviewing program at the University of Michigan Law School. For the record, our tipster didn’t have to go dumpster diving for this find. The documents were contained in a black binder that was conveniently placed on top of an outdoor recycling bin, where it caught our reader’s eye. (As we all know from California v. Greenwood, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in stuff you leave in the trash.)
So, what was in these documents? The contents will be of interest to partners and associates at other firms, as well as law students going through the OCI process right now….
Last month, the firm of WilmerHale denied that any layoffs have taken place at the firm. The accuracy of that statement depends on what the meaning of “layoff” is.
In an internal memo obtained by Above the Law, the firm acknowledges that “a very small number of individuals” have been asked to leave WH for economic reasons. The memo also notes that the performance review process “is affected by the reality of current economic conditions, as performance issues sometimes come to light more when business is slower.”
(This may constitute some welcome candor. Other firms try to claim, somewhat implausibly, that performance reviews are utterly unaffected by the economy, i.e., that associates are judged by the exact same standards as in boom times.)
Still, the knowledge that the economy contributed to one’s purportedly performance-based dismissal is cold comfort. From an affected associate at WilmerHale:
I was one of the ones that was cut for “performance” reasons. My evaluations were [several] pages long, single spaced — of accolades… with one half of one sentence that mentioned something I could improve on… from one partner out of [many] that evaluated me. I was let go based on that one phase, copied and pasted on the front of the eval…. Unlike the claim [in the memo] that the firm cannot give associates “three or four” chances to make improvements, I had never received a similar comment in the past.
Many partners were apparently left out of the process of deciding which associates to cut — and as a result have begun to “vent” to the associates that were cut about the process. We (as cut associates) actually had the incredibly uncomfortable task of informing partners that we worked with, who did not know we had been cut, that we were leaving. The resulting frustration of partners has led to a leak of a few tidbits of info on the numbers cut. The numbers floating around differ, but I’ve heard that between 10-15% of all associates firm wide were informed of their “transitions” over the past month. Apparently, another round may be coming in the fall.
Anxiety-inducing for current WilmerHale associates, but perhaps not a surprise. Expect a number of firms to trim their ranks after summer associates head back to school.
More discussion, plus the full memo, after the jump.
When Heller Ehrman dissolved in late September, associates and employees were informed via a firm-wide email.
Since then, Heller management has had email communication with employees, but (to our knowledge) they have not revealed their official dissolution plan.
We got our hands on the 43-page operating document. In addition to a detailed discussion of the firm’s balance sheet, the plan lists the firm’s priorities during the dissolution. One priority is to preserve and protect the firm’s assets “for the benefit of, first, the creditors, … and thereafter the Shareholders of the firm and the former Shareholders of the firm.”
The full dissolution plan can be downloaded below. Check it out and see what interesting nuggets you find.
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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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