Dewey & LeBoeuf's sign at 1301 Avenue of the Americas. (Photo by David Lat. Feel free to use.)
Let’s take a step back from the hurly-burly of day-to-day, hour-by-hour coverage of Dewey & LeBoeuf, the once-powerful law firm that could soon find itself in bankruptcy or dissolution. We will return to bringing you the latest Dewey news in tomorrow’s Morning Docket. (Of course, as you may have noticed, we added many updates to Tuesday night’s story; refresh that post for the newest developments.)
Let’s take a step back, and ask ourselves: Who is to blame for this sad state of affairs? And what lessons can be learned from the Dewey debacle?
As we previously mentioned, and as Lawrence Hurley of the Daily Journal reports here, Congress is considering a proposal that would raise federal judges’ salaries by a significant margin. Here’s what the new scale would look like (with current salaries indicated parenthetically):
District Court Judges: $247,800 (up from $165,200) Court of Appeals Judges: $262,700 ($175,100) Associate Justices of the Supreme Court: $304,500 ($203,000) Chief Justice of the United States: $318,200 ($212,100)
This proposal would cost millions in taxpayer dollars. So we have a better solution to the problem of federal judicial pay, which Chief Justice John Roberts has dubbed a “constitutional crisis.”
Here’s our brilliant idea: Require all federal judges to marry rich!
Don’t you just love couples in which one spouse is a judge, with all the power and prestige of judicial office, and the other spouse is rolling in dough? Off the top of our head, we can name a number of federal judges who have married well — or at least wealthy. (Like Judge Kimba Wood, above right, with her well-heeled hubby, Frank Richardson.)
We list some judges who have married into money, and we invite additional examples from you, after the jump.
We’ve solicited funny holiday party stories from you. We haven’t received much thus far.
But from the legendary Southern District of New York, probably the nation’s most distinguished district court bench, we did get this account of its celebrated “Courthouse Follies” (which took place on the evening of Friday, December 15):
Item: The Southern District of New York’s “Courthouse Follies,” tonight.
Showstopping performance: A boisterous musical number by Judge Jed Rakoff (at right), Judge Laura Taylor Swain, Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis, and Chief Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith. Sung to the tune of “There Once Was a Man” from Doris Day’s “The Pajama Game,” with additional lyrics and dialogue by Judge Rakoff, the act featured Judge Rakoff in a blond fright wig, Judge Swain in a Groucho mask with cigar, Judge Ellis in an oversized red polka-dot bow tie, and Judge Smith in what I can characterize only as a goofy black hat.
Was that a woman’s blond fright wig? If so, Judge Rakoff can kiss any elevation hopes good-bye. Senator Brownback opposes all judicial nominees who have appeared in drag.
Highlight: A musical shoutout to Underneath Their Robes! The patter leading up to the song was about changes in the courthouse under the new chief judge. One of them was (I’m paraphrasing slightly), “I get all my case info from www.underneaththeirrobes.com.”
Less a joke than a name check, but it suggests that Judge Rakoff is a fan.
It used to be exceedingly rare for a federal judge to leave the bench for private practice. But times are changing.
Earlier this summer, Fourth Circuit Judge J. Michael Luttig — frequently mentioned as a possible Supreme Court candidate, and the nation’s top judge when it comes to feeding his clerks into prestigious Supreme Court clerkships — surprised the legal world by flying the Article III coop. He headed off to Boeing, to assume the position of general counsel at the aerospace giant.
And now the acclaimed Southern District of New York, generally regarded as the nation’s most prestigious federal trial court, is losing its chief judge. Chief Judge Michael Mukasey is returning to the partnership of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, where he practiced before President Reagan appointed him to the bench. In addition to his partnership draw at Patterson, where profits-per-partner are in the seven figures, he’ll receive his annual judicial pension of $165,000. KA-CHING!
Mukasey will be replaced as chief judge by the luscious Kimba Wood. Judge Wood, of course, is the ex-Playboy bunny who reigns as the #1 Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary.
Judge Mukasey is known as an efficient, hardworking, and occasionally cantankerous judge. One lawyer who appeared before him describes him as someone “who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.”
Sounds like the transition to Biglaw partner will be pretty easy for Mukasey. As Judge Leaves for Law Firm, His Legacy Is Remembered [New York Sun]
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.
● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.
● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.
● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!