Last week, I was having a business lunch at Michael Chiarello’s Coqueta overlooking the San Francisco Bay. (Those who know me won’t be surprised that I managed to combine a business meeting with some good eats. I’ll save my restaurant review for another time, or you can read it on OpenTable.)
Anyway, my lunch was with a partner at Leason Ellis, a thriving IP boutique in New York. The firm is a boutique in that the lawyers are specialists in intellectual property; as far as I know, that is their only practice area. But within that subject matter, they have both a litigation and transactional practice. Conversely, with limited exceptions, my own firm has remained a litigation-only boutique since it was founded four years ago. We handle a wide range of subject matters, but only do litigation within those subjects.
What are the pros and cons of running a litigation-only shop? Why haven’t we added a robust transactional practice as well?
Last week, we wrote about reductions to the ranks of lawyers and staff at WilmerHale. We noted that the cuts, made in connection with twice-annual performance reviews, seemed to focus on IP litigation and on the Boston and Palo Alto offices.
Today we bring you additional information about the reductions, which look a lot like stealth layoffs. They seem to be more widespread, in terms of offices and practice areas, than previously reported.
And they might be due to some earlier overhiring, reflected in an interesting email we received….
In the dark days of 2009, we had frequent occasion to discuss the difference between “layoffs” and “performance-based dismissals.” Layoffs are generally understood as economically motivated, large-scale reductions in headcount, while performance-based dismissals involve specific individuals being asked to leave for cause. (Some see this as the difference being getting laid-off versus getting fired, although I’ve sometimes heard layoffs referred to as firings.)
The distinction can be a fine one. Unless cuts are made based on factors like seniority or practice area, layoffs often target weaker performers, so they can look a lot like performance-based terminations. There’s no bright-line cutoff, in numerical terms, for what constitutes a round of layoffs. And you can’t let firm characterization control, since many firms find it in their reputational interest to deny layoffs (unless the cuts are so large as to be undeniable; see, e.g., last week’s Weil Gotshal layoffs).
Today we bring you a story that captures this ambiguity. Several lawyers and staffers, totaling a number believed to be in the double digits, have been asked to leave a firm — but the firm denies that it’s conducting “layoffs.” We’ll present the facts and let you be the judge….
I have to admit that I’m still a bit surprised that pop-up/pop-under advertisements still exist. The concept is so annoying and so anti-consumer that pretty much all browsers figured out ways to build in pop-up blockers many, many years ago. Every so often one gets through (almost always advertising Netflix, by the way), and I get annoyed and try to remember never to visit that site again. However, Paul Keating alerts us to the news that a company called “ExitExchange” now claims to hold a patent on pop-up ads, and has sued seven porn sites and two travel companies [Ed. note: this link is from a porn industry publication so it's "safe-ish" for work, but be warned] for using them without a license.
In case you don’t know by now, many lawyers — maybe even you — enjoy writing cease and desist letters in a foreign language called legalese. This exotic tongue often contains Latin phrases, SAT vocabulary words, and various here-and-there words (e.g., herein, heretofore, hereinafter, hereunder, thereof, thereto, therewith, thereunder, therefor, thereon, and therefrom).
A person unfamiliar with legalese may become frightened and run to another attorney for help in deciphering this mystical language of lawyerly legend. The lawyer who has been tasked with translating legalese to English may then become annoyed, and issue a scathingly funny letter in return.
For an example of a great response to a cease and desist letter, keep reading….
(1) Monopolies are generally illegal.
(2) Like baseball, patents make monopoly laws get a little funky.
(3) Courts really really really like to encourage settlements.
So, when two companies get together, and work out a settlement that makes a whole patent infringement lawsuit go away, and the only objection is that pesky Federal Trade Commission complaining that the settlement is anticompetitive, you can understand why a federal court could meditate on points (2) and (3) and dismiss that FTC complaint.
Yet, in FTC v. Actavis, the Supreme Court yesterday made it harder to settle some patent infringement suits, saying that sometimes a settlement of a lawsuit can be an antitrust problem.
* Marshall University is no longer a defendant in a case about a student shooting bottle rockets out of his anus. So from now on your sum total knowledge of the Thundering Herd involves the movie We Are Marshall and “shooting bottle rockets out of anuses.” [West Virginia Record]
* Documentary filmmaker files suit seeking declaratory judgment that “Happy Birthday to You” is in the public domain. Why hasn’t everyone just accepted Larry Lessig’s new birthday song? [New York Times]
* Men tend to think professional dress is one part white/blue shirt and one part brown/black/navy slacks. There’s more to it than that. Well, if you want to look good at all, there’s more to it than that. [Corporette]
* Market realities catch up with law school plans. Pour a little out for the proposed Arlington Law School. [ARL Now]
* Rough legal question: Should the U.S. refuse to send a child to a country employing Islamic family law? [Volokh Conspiracy]
* A federal judge ordered HHS to give a little girl a lung transplant. Popehat wonders who lost out on a transplant in this exchange. I’m wondering why there aren’t more lung donors out there. [Popehat]
I don’t know about you, but the first thing I did on social media this morning was follow @KUBoobs, which then led me to follow @UKboobs and @Mizzouboobs. And then I remembered that I’m a goddamn 35-year-old married man, these women are in college, and didn’t really need to follow these accounts to do “research” for this story. Then I followed @JonesDay, which is kind of like throwing a pack of gum on the checkout scanner after ringing up a tube of K-Y.
In any event, the point is that there is a Twitter account called @KUBoobs which involves girls provocatively wearing Kansas Basketball gear (I suppose they could wear KU Football gear but, c’mon) and sending the pictures to the account to be posted online. The best ideas are the most simple.
Now, you’re not going to believe this, but this account is not sanctioned by the university. Shocking, I know.
But what actually is surprising is that some people at the University’s office, probably some pervs who were “tempted” to spend their whole work day on the site, tried to get their lawyers to shut it down. Do old people really know nothing about the internet?
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: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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