Above the Law

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Lisa Blatt and Tom Goldstein

On Monday, October 27, at 6 p.m., we’ll be hosting an awesome Above the Law event in Washington, D.C.: a look at the current Term of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Our managing editor, David Lat, will moderate a discussion featuring two of the nation’s foremost Supreme Court advocates: Lisa Blatt, head of the appellate and Supreme Court practice at Arnold & Porter, and Tom Goldstein, partner at Goldstein & Russell and publisher of SCOTUSblog. Blatt and Goldstein have collectively argued more than 60 times before the Court.

There are many SCOTUS previews taking place around town over the next few weeks, but we promise you that the ATL event will be especially fun and lively. We will offer food, drink, and excellent company.

This event is free of charge. If you’d like to attend, please request an invite below. Thanks!

Lisa Blatt and Tom Goldstein

In Washington, D.C., on Monday, October 27, at 6 p.m., we’ll be hosting an awesome Above the Law event: a look at the upcoming Term of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court’s docket grew by 11 cases today (but no action yet on same-sex marriage).

I’ll moderate a discussion featuring two of the nation’s foremost Supreme Court advocates: Lisa Blatt, head of the appellate and Supreme Court practice at Arnold & Porter, and Tom Goldstein, partner at Goldstein & Russell and publisher of SCOTUSblog. Blatt and Goldstein have collectively argued more than 60 times before the Court.

There are many SCOTUS previews taking place around town over the next few weeks, but we promise you that the ATL event will be especially fun and lively. We will offer food, drink, and excellent company.

And the event is free of charge. If you’d like to attend, please request an invite below. Thanks!

Now we’ll unmask this superhero.

Longtime readers of Above the Law will recall the tale of Aquagirl. She’s the former Cleary Gottlieb summer associate who, while in a state of inebriation, stripped down to her underwear at a Chelsea Piers charity benefit and jumped into the Hudson River. This might have been an effort to demonstrate her swimming prowess (she was on the swim team in college), but ultimately she had to be rescued in a boat by either the Coast Guard or the NYPD. Her exploits are now the stuff of legend, the bar by which summer associate misadventures are measured.

In these pages, we’ve referred to Aquagirl simply by her nickname, in keeping with our general policy of anonymizing summer associate stories. But that policy admits of exceptions. We will now unmask Aquagirl because she’s back in the headlines for newsworthy conduct — this time heroic rather than scandalous….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Aquagirl Is Back In The Headlines — For Heroism!”

The legal profession is not what it once was. It seems like every week, we’re writing about the same topics, over and over again: tumbling profits, partner departures, and layoffs. Biglaw’s focus on the bottom line is even sharper than in years past, and that means that when firms are hurting for cash, the first thing they’ll cut is “excess” personnel.

For a firm that sank like a stone in the most recent Fortune “Best Companies to Work For” rankings, sliding from #62 to #81 in just a year’s time, reducing ranks is sure to earn it another demotion.

Not so fast, though, because to our knowledge, this leading law firm isn’t desperately seeking dollars, and it’s not conducting layoffs just yet, either — instead, generous buyout packages are being offered…

(Please note the UPDATES to this post below.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Voluntary Buyouts Offered By Yet Another Top-Tier Law Firm”

On Friday, we asked readers to submit fun hashtags for the ABA’s commitment to provide its members with cheap wine. Or at least with cheap, personally branded wine to give clients eager to drink cut rate wine with the label of a cut rate law firm.

So some of you took to the Hashtag War format we modeled on @Midnight. Check out the finalists for this Hashtag War and see if you agree….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Hashtag War Finalists: Biglaw Winos”

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just hang out in the venire assembly room and observe all the potential jurors? You could make note of conversations they have, what they’re wearing, books they’re reading, and generally get a head start on the opposition when it comes to evaluating preemptive strikes. If your firm hired a jury consultant, they could get a jump on working out the psychological profiles of the potential jurors.

That’s probably why courts don’t let lawyers hang out in the venire room.

But that didn’t stop one partner from sending his associate on a fact-finding mission against the court’s express rules. And now the whole Biglaw defense team faces a motion from a cranky adversary….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “That’s One Way To Pick A Jury. Maybe An Unethical One, But It Is One Way.”

Each year in January, Fortune releases its list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. As in years past, a few law firms have managed to sneak their way onto a list that includes employers like Google, the Mayo Clinic, and Goldman Sachs. With companies like that on the list, we still wonder if the people at Fortune have any idea what they’re talking about, because there’s just no way a law firm could be on a similar level.

We try to cover this list every year (click here for our posts in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007). In 2013, only five law firms made the list: Alston & Bird (#23), Perkins Coie (#33), Baker Donelson (#45), Arnold & Porter (#62), and Bingham McCutchen (#82).

This year, six law firms made the list. Which six firms had pay that was high enough, perks that were good enough, and environments that were nurturing enough to make the cut? Let’s take a look…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “6 Law Firms Make Fortune’s List Of The ‘Best Companies to Work For’”

This coming Friday, it is the inalienable right of all Americans to sleep off their hangovers, or riot at Walmart, or do anything at all rather than work for The Man. But Biglaw is a different country. As illustrated by Elie’s decision matrix, the “choice” of whether to work on this sacred day is, for the denizens of the law firm world, fraught with other pressures and expectations. We all know that Biglaw careers demand a Faustian bargain: in return for their fat paychecks (and bonuses?), lawyers are expected to work grueling, unpredictable hours. This time of year, that reality is brought into sharp relief: the “holiday season,” with those “family obligations” and so forth, is something that occurs elsewhere.

But law firm billable expectations are not homogeneous. There are significant differences across practice areas, seniority levels, and, of course, individual firms. So how do the various practices, employment statuses, and firms stack up?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Best Of Hours, The Worst Of Hours: ATL Survey Ratings”

… a damn about pro bono.

Pro bono work is often an afterthought in the minds of attorneys who have more important things to do with their time — things like “churn[ing] that bill, baby!” But for others, it’s a commitment to fulfilling the very concept their naive and idealistic law school applications were premised upon: helping the people who need it most.

We know lawyers like rankings, so we thought we’d provide you with a way to measure a firm’s prestige and beneficence, all at the same time. Out of all of the Biglaw firms in the United States, which five are filled with the most worthy do-gooders? Let’s find out…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Which Biglaw Firms Are ‘Pro Bono All-Stars’?”

The popular conception of “lawyer” — as seen on television and in the movies — is that of a litigator. Understandably, law students are also susceptible to this view and will be so as long as the case method remains the pedagogy of choice in law school. Cases, by definition, are always about litigation. Both popular culture and the law school curriculum show lawyers most often in court or, at least, investigating the facts of the case. However, the truth of litigation practice is very different: the overwhelming majority of litigators’ work takes place outside the courtroom. Never mind that upwards of 90 percent of all lawsuits settle before trial or that most litigators’ spend their actual in-court time arguing procedural motions rather than the substance of the dispute. Oh, and there’s also doc review.

Anyway, most new associates and law students who aspire to Biglaw are going to be confronted with a question. To grossly generalize and simplify: am I a litigator or a transactional attorney? Many would say that there are distinct personality types best suited for each. Are you a win-lose kind of person or a win-win kind of person? Do you enjoy confrontation? Do you care if you ever see the inside of a courtroom? How important is the predictability of your schedule? And so on. (Of course we must acknowledge that wrestling over such questions is the classic “luxury problem.” For the majority of law students, what follows is, at most, of voyeuristic interest.)

For those in a position to choose, which Biglaw shop’s litigation departments offer the highest quality of life? We’ve dug into our survey data for answers…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Which Biglaw Firms Have The Most Satisfied Litigators?”

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