Labor / Employment

Around here, one can’t mention the concept of something being “overrated” without reference to one of the weirdest and most enduring ATL comment memes, a play on the late, great Hitch’s assertion that the four most overrated things in life are “champagne, lobster, anal sex, and picnics.” So who are the, um, lobsters of Biglaw?

Last week, we had a look at what our audience considered to be the most underrated Biglaw firms, by practice area. Today, inevitably, we turn it around and have a look at what you’re telling us are the most overrated firms.

Among other things, our ATL Insider Survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with overrated practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, etc.

To be sure, these survey results need to be taken with some buckets of salt — we realize that, for some, answering this question might be a chance to take an easy shot at a more successful rival or competitor. Of course, there are crazy people who will tell you that such paragons as Benjamin Franklin or Tom Brady are “overrated,” but that probably says more about the person making that statement than anything else. But that said, these survey responses are a fun glimpse at which firms Biglaw attorneys think are more sizzle than steak….

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‘Standing with your arms folded is underrated.’

Hot air balloons, Ice Cube, new socks, Ray Guy, Uzbek food, Kevin Bacon, plus-size models, Pittsburgh… what do the items on this random list have in common? In some nook or cranny of the internet, someone is making the claim that they are “underrated.”

Apparently also underrated? The corporate group at Cahill Gordon, according to the ATL audience. Cahill received the most mentions as having an “underrated” corporate group in our ATL Insider Survey. Biglaw has a fairly stable roster of alpha dogs in each practice category (Weil in bankruptcy, Wachtell in M&A, etc.), but we wondered which firms’ practice groups deserve more recognition. So, among other things, our survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with underrated (and overrated) practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, tax lawyers do the same for tax groups, and so on.

Read on and have a look at the top three underrated firms in each practice area:

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It’s been a rough week for Democrats watching their lead in the presidential race tighten after a lackluster debate performance. So can you blame liberals for latching onto the fact that the only politician having a worse week than Barack Obama is their favorite punching bag, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker? Walker’s alleged sin is that he’s been subpoenaed to appear as a witness in the trial of his former deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch. Rindfleisch is facing four Class I felony counts relating to illegal campaigning on government time — charges that carry up to 3 1/2 years of prison for each.

Why couldn’t she have just blown off work by reading blogs all day like good-hearted people?

But back to Walker — oh my God a subpoena! He must be guilty!

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A wise man once said, “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” Lawyers, allegedly an unhappy lot, are asked if they are happy all the time. Vault asks, Am Law asks, and in a roundabout way, so do we.

To date, we’ve received nearly 8,000 responses to our ATL Insider Survey. Among other things, our survey poses this question to law firm lawyers: “If you had the chance to do it all over again, would choose to work for your firm?”

Unsurprisingly, those who answer “yes” tend to highly rate their firms in such areas as compensation, culture, and training. For those that wish they could take a Mulligan when it comes to their choice of employer, the inverse is true. Here is a comparison of ratings scores (on a scale of 1-10) for the various aspects of law firm life, broken out by responses to the “Mulligan” question:

SUBJECT ”Yes” ”No”
Compensation 7.81 5.35
Hours 7.38 4.81
Firm Morale 7.7 3.53
Training 7.45 4.32
Culture and Colleagues 8.56 4.56

Hardly counterintuitive stuff, we know, but it allows us to use the “Mulligan” response as a proxy for overall happiness/satisfaction, as it’s so broadly predictive of the nature of the individual’s assessment of his firm.

Back in April, we shared our survey findings showing that Davis Polk was the top firm when it came to morale (to date, this holds true.) Today, we look at whether there are notable differences regarding satisfaction based on practice area. If we slice our survey data by practice, we find that there certainly are. So after the jump, let’s look at how practice groups stack up against one another in terms of the happiness of its practitioners….

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We’ve covered bullying time and time again here at ATL. Usually we come down pretty hard on schools’, parents’, and legislators’ attempts to punish certain forms of alleged bullying among hormonally unbalanced teenagers. Because we prefer to allow kids (like this little guy) to grow up and be able to handle their own lives without constant parental interference.

The anti-bullying movement is moving into the employment law world, as several states consider adding bullying to the existing discrimination law canon. Is this a good idea? Let’s take a look at the details and possible consequences for schoolyard bullies who got taller but never grew up…

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Ed. note: This new column is about sports and the law. You can read the introductory installment here.

Do you remember what you wrote on your law school application essay? I do. Since I knew (and know) next-to-nothing about the law, I chose to focus the theme of my essay on issues of justice and how my childhood and young adulthood had been shaped by a sort of visceral response to injustice that practically forced my hand. That literally compelled me to learn more about the law so that I could fight injustice like some fey Batman, ridding the world of evil. I must have spent days puzzling over what in my life’s experience could be offered up as proof of my worthiness to study the law. Truthfully, I couldn’t think of a single thing in my childhood that was weighty enough for this most holy of callings. A midwestern, middle class, middle-of-the-pack upbringing had left me woefully unprepared for this self-selected mission.

And so it was that a white kid from Kansas decided to say that he was drawn to the law because of the Spike Lee joint, Do the Right Thing. I might have even mentioned that I cried when Radio Raheem was murdered by New York City cops. That the feeling I had while watching a movie as a child was a clarion call to justice. That the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards my admittance to a T14 law school.

This is all to say that several years from now, some idiot very much like your humble correspondent might mention the injustice of the Seattle Seahawks victory Monday over the Green Bay Packers as the moment when he decided to go to law school.

Let’s talk sports, referees, and four-fingered rings that say LOVE and HATE.

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Offensive pass interference, Seahawks!

It is time to get the real refs [back].

– GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, commenting on the unfortunate NFL replacement referee situation. Luckily, with the assistance of Proskauer Rose and Arnold Newbold Winter & Jackson, the NFL and the referees’ union were able to reach an agreement to end the lockout.

Stripping is supposed to be a lucrative profession — just look at all of the law students racing to the poles in the hopes of obtaining gainful employment. And in some states, bumping and grinding on stage while wearing six-inch lucite heels is even considered an artful expression worthy of protection under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, two lawsuits in New York and Texas threaten to sabotage the erotic striptease entertainment that we’ve all come to know and love.

New York’s highest court is currently considering whether an adult club is entitled to a sales tax exemption for lap dances under the theory that they qualify as “dramatic or musical arts performances.” Meanwhile, in the Lone Star state, a plaintiff in a federal class action suit claims that strippers are misclassified as independent contractors and being forced to live on tips alone.

Now that we’ve greased the pole, let’s get ready for a feature performance from both of these suits….

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“In accepting the offer to join Ropes & Gray, Ray accepted Roscoe Trimmier’s assurances that Ropes ‘does not see black and white, only shades of Ropes & Gray.'”

That’s paragraph 75 from the latest complaint filed by John H. Ray III, a 2000 graduate of Harvard Law School and an African-American man, against his former employer, Ropes & Gray. According to Ray, the firm, after initially embracing him with open arms, turned on him. Ray claims that he was subjected to racial discrimination and retaliation, which made his time at the firm more painful than pleasurable. And, unlike Anastasia Steele of Fifty Shades of Grey (affiliate link), Ray did not enjoy the alleged abuse.

When we first wrote about Ray, he was proceeding pro se against Ropes & Gray. Now he has hired counsel — an experienced employment-discrimination litigator who has appeared before in these pages.

Let’s find out who’s representing John Ray, and take a closer look at the complaint — which features an Above the Law shout-out, interestingly enough….

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As you will see, it’s not all about the money in life: it’s about health, love, respect, happiness and then at some point about the money, which is the only thing that will survive all of us.

Emel Dilek, the pulchritudinous plaintiff who is suing her former employer for breach of contract. Dilek was the mistress of the company’s former chief operating officer, who hired her; after he passed away, the company fired her.

(A closer look at this sexy plaintiff and her salacious suit, including some rather amusing deposition excerpts, after the jump.)

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