The firm was dubbed the “Most Feared and Loathed Firm in Silicon Valley” by Business Insider (June 2011)
They have a Nintendo Wii and Beatles RockBand in the lobby of the Chicago office
Former summer associates include Korean pop star, Nikki Lee
Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway Toys Lead Paint Litigation
National HAMP litigation against Wells Fargo
Netflix Video Privacy Litigation
Simon & Schuster Text Spam Litigation
Blagojevich civil RICO case
Inside the Firm
from the firm
We are a different type of firm.
Headquartered in Chicago, we focus on high stakes plaintiff’s-side class actions, employ only 20 or so lawyers (and presently four summer associates), and thrive on representing the little guy. We have a ping pong table in our conference room and really, our office feels more like a tech-start up than a law firm. Check out our website, www.edelson.com and you’ll see what we mean. We’re unafraid to litigate cases of first impression and get our kicks out of challenging convention. And while we’ve probably ruffled a few feathers along the way – last year, Business Insider dubbed us the “Most Feared and Loathed Firm in Silicon Valley” – we’ve also managed to win several seminal opinions while litigating some of the most exciting class actions in the Country.
When it comes to our associates, we take issue with the model that holds the person who knows the most about the particulars of a given case gets to do the least meaningful work. As we litigate matters involving new technologies, it is often the youngest person in the room who has the right answer. We celebrate that by encouraging our associates to take ownership over their cases and by giving them real work starting their very first day. If one of our associates writes a great brief, chances are he or she will be the one arguing it in Court. If a Summer Associate comes up with the winning legal theory or argument, he or she will be at the mediation. And if an associate helps the firm make money, the associate shares in the reward. There’s no hierarchy, no minimum billables requirement, and no pretension. There’s just lawyers working with other lawyers…in shorts.
We admit our firm isn’t for everyone: We take our work very seriously but never ourselves. Someone who needs a secretary and a team of paralegals to feel successful, or to wear a suit and tie to work everyday – or who can’t make their own copies – wouldn’t be a great fit. Anyone whose passion is defending multi-national corporations that break the law shouldn’t apply. And a person seriously deciding between us and a big firm should probably just choose the big firm.
Instead, the type of student who excels in our summer program is smart, entrepreneurial, driven, talented and – above all else – hungry. We’re looking for thorough researchers and excellent writers who are also creative and willing to take risks. We’re aiming to hire students who are eager to start litigating immediately in a collaborative, fast-paced environment and who don’t measure success by counting the number of lawyers in their department. We seek lawyers who are unafraid to make mistakes and smart enough to know when to learn from them.
In short, we want students who understand that becoming truly great at this profession requires doing real work and want to get that process started immediately. Think you’re ready to come play? Visit www.edelson.com/careers/
from the firm
Jay Edelson is the founder and managing partner of Edelson PC, a national consumer class action firm. Edelson PC focuses on consumer technology, privacy, and banking litigation, and has secured settlements valued at over $1 billion in the last five years. Jay also serves as an adjunct professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he teaches class actions and negotiations. The American Bar Association has called him one of the “most creative minds in the legal profession” for his views on associate training and firm management.
1. What is the greatest challenge to the legal industry over the next 5 years?
Our greatest challenge is an internal one. The legal industry has demonstrated an inability to embrace (or even talk honestly about the need for) radical changes. Modern innovations in science and technology fuel a constantly and rapidly evolving marketplace. Forward-thinking companies and new entrants have successfully disrupted widely “accepted” ways of doing business. From novel brick-and-mortar storefronts (Apple), to payment processing (Square), or booking a private driver (Uber), these companies have proven how to leverage creativity and technology in solving conventional business problems. Yet our profession is reluctant to follow suit. We cling to rigid hierarchical work environments that stifle ingenuity, the free exchange of information, and job satisfaction. The billable hour continues to dictate fees (and associate pay), which results in having to perform the awkward dance of fostering and preserving relationships with clients while our financial interests remain misaligned. And, we refuse to let go of the notion that attorneys must be seasoned for years before they can meaningfully contribute.
The closest parallel that comes to mind–and it’s not an exact one–is the newspaper industry. Years ago, I listened to a roundtable of editors from some of the country’s leading newspapers. They understood that fewer people were buying papers, advertising revenues were down, and that the forecast looked bleak. Yet, in addition to offering no realistic solutions (“we should charge for internet content” was the most popular), they couldn’t come to terms with their changing industry, namely that (1) consumers had come to expect free content and (2) the wealth of free information on the internet meant readers were no longer reliant on traditional news sources. Fearful of remaining inactive, newspaper conglomerates focused on growth (i.e., acquiring other, smaller, newspaper publications) and cutting labor costs (i.e., layoffs, downsizing, etc.).
It feels like the legal industry is in a similar place. Traditional firms, unwilling to make real reforms but not wanting to sit on their hands either, gobble up other firms, lay off associates (and income partners), shrink their summer classes, and then return to step one. The main difference from the newspaper comparison above is that it’s significantly harder for outsiders to compete with traditional law firms, whereas anyone can set up a blog and instantly be in the media game. Because of strict laws prohibiting non-lawyer ownership of law firms, innovative companies (like LegalZoom) generally exist on the periphery and don’t pose much threat to Biglaw. These barriers to entry mean that change comes at a slower clip, but when it finally reaches us (it will), we won’t have Jeff Bezos to bail us out.
2. What has been the biggest positive change to the legal profession since the start of your career?
The democratization of knowledge, ushered in by the Internet era, has allowed the public greater access to the legal world. Now that court documents are available on the web (albeit sometimes for a small fee), folks can follow cases that interest them, or read editorials about them online. From SCOTUSblog, which demystifies cases of national importance, to Fight Copyright Trolls, which has a significantly narrower focus, members of the public no longer need to rely on lawyers (or the gloss of the national press corps, which often relies on establishment lawyers anyway) to understand how our legal system works. The results, though at times uncomfortable, have been by and large positive. More and more lawyers have embraced “plain language” contracts and briefs, eschewing traditional mind-numbing legalese. It is now easier for clients to understand (and learn about) their rights and, with that knowledge, keep their lawyers honest. Attorneys and judges alike know that their decisions are subject to instant and public scrutiny (thanks, AboveTheLaw!), which makes them more accountable. And when the conduct of large corporations impacts the rights of millions, it has become increasingly simple for individuals to learn about their rights and find a lawyer to protect their interests.
What is both extremely exciting (and scary to some) is that the elimination of this information asymmetry has only just begun. Over the next decade, we can all expect that the knowledge gap between lawyers and the lay public will continue to narrow, which will make the judicial system significantly more open and with that, much more fair (and hopefully more efficient).
3. What has been the biggest negative change to the legal profession since the start of your career?
Our justice system, though imperfect, is the greatest ever created. But it can’t work without proper funding. Over the last few years, state and federal legislatures have failed to recognize this basic fact. Simply put, our courts don’t have the funding that they need. Nor do state Attorney General offices, public defenders, and prosecutors. It has gotten so bad that judicial concerns about the underfunded system are being acknowledged in court opinions. See, e.g., Burton v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC, No. 1:13-cv-00307-LJO-GSA, Dkt. 14 (May 29, 2013), Dkt. 29 (Sept. 3, 2013) (“The parties and counsel are encouraged to contact United States Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to address this Court’s inability to accommodate the parties and this action.”). A lack of funding undermines the entire judicial process and disrespects already starved courts and public servants, stripping them of their ability to reliably offer the speed and certainty needed to enforce the rights of businesses, consumers, and all other litigants.
Another threat to the public’s ability to access the judicial system stems from the Supreme Court’s recent decisions endorsing the enforceability of certain forced arbitration clauses. If this trend continues, we risk developing two distinct systems of justice: corporations (and likely high-powered citizens) can use the public courts, while the average individual will be forced to vindicate their rights in a forum established for the benefit of businesses.
4. What is the greatest satisfaction of practicing law?
We’ve gotten extremely lucky to be at the forefront of many important consumer issues. The fact that many of our cases involve issues of first impression — from private rights of action to enforce home loan modifications to what “harm” means in the digital age — has given us a unique opportunity to have a voice in how consumer rights will be treated over the next 50 years. This is likely most pronounced in the electronic privacy arena. As a former philosophy student, it is especially gratifying to get to contribute to a field that did not even exist a decade ago and that involves so many competing (and subtle) interests. In short, it’s nice to be doing things that I find challenging and relevant.
5. What is the greatest frustration of practicing law?
Trying to get my tie the right length before going to court is a real pain.
6. What is your firm’s greatest strength?
Two come to mind. First, we approach every issue from first principles. This had led to us being able to clearly identify the core values of the firm, including eschewing short-term decision making, hyper-focusing on attorney growth, and never compromising our firm culture. It also means that we stick to our own (and admittedly very different) playbook when it comes to communicating with opposing counsel and courts, and how to litigate and resolve cases. This model has allowed us to experiment with different strategies while developing quickly as a firm. It also has helped create a firm with a unique identity.
Second, and this is a corollary of the first, we have cultivated an environment where people buy into — and are excited about — the idea that they’re working and advancing together as a team. At our firm, personal success flows from firm success (rather than the opposite), which fundamentally changes how people experience their professional lives.
7. What is the single most important personal characteristic for a successful lawyer in your field?
I tend to think of groupings of characteristics as opposed to characteristics in isolation. I also believe that different types of personalities can have success in my field. That being said, I tend to divide the world up in three ways. In no particular order, I think there is tremendous value in “idea generators.” These are the people who are curious and creative, yet can harness their creativity with a strong sense of pragmatism and strategic thinking. People who are very skilled in the role of a more traditional litigator are similarly valued; these people have a heightened sense of urgency, are decisive, possess strong interpersonal skills and have excellent judgment. Finally, analytical types can do very well in our field. These are people who can grasp extremely complicated ideas, synthesize them, and express them in simple terms, while strongly valuing perfectionism. Probably one of the most important characteristics not to have in this practice: risk aversion.
8. What is your favorite legally themed film or television show?
10. What would you have been if you weren’t a lawyer?
Running a start-up that some firm like mine would probably sue.
Lateral Link’s recruiters are on pace to place hundreds of attorneys throughout the world this year. We are currently involved in over three dozen active partner searches including opening the office of an Am Law 50 firm in a new location, the merger of an Am Law 10 firm with a foreign firm, finding practice chairs for several Am Law10 firms, and searches for groups of partners in at least ten different cities, including Atlanta, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dallas, Denver, and Chicago, just to name a few. We are currently working with partner candidates with $500k to $35M in portable business. For more information, please call Michael Allen, Managing Principal at Lateral Link.
U.S. News will release its annual law school rankings next week. That means that a bunch of would-be law students will have another somewhat arbitrary look at which schools have the right to saddle them with lifelong debt, and which schools should be begging them to come with money.
So it’s time to fire up the ATL Decision Machine! You know how this works: you email us with the two schools you are choosing between, we tell you what to do, you end up going to the highest ranked school you can get into anyway.
Usually, Lat and I give slightly competing reasons, but he’s on vacation right now, so mwahahaha. Today’s choice is interesting: two good schools, but only one is shelling out any money…
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Sunny Choi of Ms. JD interviews lawyers who have found their passion practicing law.
The idea of passion is a seemingly far-fetched one for most people working as an attorney. At some point, 99% of us have regretted the decision to attend law school. Just ask the anonymous 28-year-old who told Business Insider that law school was “a waste of my life and an extraordinary waste of money.” Even the articles on Above the Law will occasionally have you feeling disgruntled about life in the practice.
However, passion is a matter of perspective and it’s very possible to find your passion in, out, or above the law. Part one of this series will focus on the rare breed of attorney who has gone the obvious route and found passion IN the law.
It’s almost mid-March, and you know what that means: broke law students are starting to freak out about the costs associated with their upcoming commencement ceremonies.
Most of them have already forked over six figures of government Monopoly money to their law schools, so why on earth are they so concerned about the cost of renting their caps and gowns for graduation?
To be honest, the loan money is starting to run out. While some schools have reasonable rental options (in the $50-$70 range), other schools are foisting very expensive graduation gear upon their graduates in some sort of a “gouge ‘em before they go” cash grab.
But how much is too much when it comes to one-day rental prices? Students at one top-tier law school have described what they’re expected to pay as jaw-droppingly “insane”…
Law school applications are down. It looks like the Millennials just don’t want to go to law school. It’s probably because they’re too busy be lazy and texting, amirite?
Or, if we’re not going to jump on lazy stereotypes that have been passed down from generation to generation since Maynard G. Krebs roamed the Earth, maybe there’s something wrong with the way that law schools approach education and the Millennials just happen to be the generation that inherited the sluggish job market that exposed the festering problems within the legal academy.
Many law schools have suggested that more “practice ready” clinical education is the solution. Elie thinks this is basically a marketing gimmick. I think it’s a valuable complement to legal education, but certainly not a replacement for other reforms.
But maybe the answer is not so much about making “practice ready” students, but making “practice ready” professors….
I’m not sure I’d recommend that a young person go into law.
When I was starting out, it was more of a profession, and your worth was determined by the service you provided. Now it’s become more of a business, and your worth is determined by the fee you’re able to collect.
– An honest lawyer who happened to be passing through Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan when he was photographed by Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York.
(Do you agree with him? Feel free to sound off in the comments.)
Across the 195 law schools in the 48 contiguous states and Hawaii fully-accredited by the ABA’s Section for Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar as of 2010 (thus excluding Belmont, LaVerne, California-Irvine, and Massachusetts-Dartmouth) the entering first-year class average LSAT profile fell one point at all three measures between 2012 and 2013, from 159.6/157/153.5 to 158.6/156/152.5. The entering first-year class average LSAT profile fell roughly two points at all three measures between 2010 and 2013, from 160.5/158.1/155.2 to 158.6/156/152.5.
The average decline in median LSAT scores between 2012 and 2013 across U.S. News “tiers” of law schools was .98 among top 50 schools, 1.18 among schools ranked 51-99, .72 among schools ranked 100-144, and 1.13 among schools ranked alphabetically.
Which made me want to revisit a post on Associate’s Mind from last year, Top University Students Avoiding Law School, to see if that trend was holding true in light of the above data. The results? See for yourself….
Just recently, we wrote about how the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has been increasingly detaining and harassing people at the border (or near the border) under highly questionable circumstances — and then refusing to comment on any of it. Instead, CBP has relied on a cloak of secrecy to live outside the law, acting out what we’ve come to expect from authoritarian police states. Recently, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman, Christine Von Der Haar, who is a senior lecturer at Indiana University, after CBP detained her at the airport….
* Dewey know which D&L defendants did the perp walk of shame before their arraignment yesterday? Three of the ex-executives! Even Steve Davis, who quit his job as in-house counsel to Ras al Ghul Khaimah of the UAE last week. [Am Law Daily]
* It’s about half and half when it comes to states that have filed briefs with the Tenth Circuit in support of or against the rulings striking down gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma. Sadly, not everyone can be as fabulous as we’d like. [National Law Journal]
* Abortion clinics are closing their doors in Texas thanks to new legislation, and the total number of clinics in the state come September will be six. Let the Mexican medical tourism commence. [New York Times]
* Illegal immigrants can’t practice law in Florida, says the state’s Supreme Court, but they can in California. Good thing there’s eleventy billion law schools there to accommodate them. [Miami Herald]
* Webster Lucas, the fellow suing McDonald’s over an alleged race-based napkin denial that’s since prevented him from working, has sued fast food joints before. He’s a “vexatious litigant.” [NBC Los Angeles]
8/5: University of California, Berkeley
8/14: Washington University
8/16: Harvard Law School
8/16: University of Michigan
8/19: John Marshall
8/20: University of Colorado, Boulder
8/22: Northwestern University
8/23: Loyola University
8/29: University of Chicago
9/3: University of Denver, Sturm College of Law
9/3: IIT Chicago-Kent
9/10: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign