Represented Oracle in Oracle v. Google patent infringement trial
Partner Andrew Woodmansee served as lead counsel in Fehrenbach v. Department of the Air Force challenging the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law
Worked on the first license of the Hello Kitty brand for baby bottles
from the firm
Ed. note: This is the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories. This recurring feature will give notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.
Larren Nashelsky is the chair of Morrison & Foerster. Prior to becoming chair, Mr. Nashelsky focused his practice on U.S. and international restructurings, including Chapter 11 reorganizations, workouts, restructurings, secured financings and distressed acquisitions and investments. Larren is a graduate of Hofstra University School of Law.
1. What is the greatest challenge to the legal industry over the next 5 years?
To constantly demonstrate to clients the value of high-end legal services. In doing so, Biglaw needs to continue to push itself to better understand its clients’ business, culture, work style, industry, and markets. Then we need to use that information and knowledge to provide clients with, what in their eyes, is value.
2. What has been the biggest positive change to the legal profession since the start of your career?
Renewed focus on our obligation to provide quality legal services to those who need help but cannot afford it. This has been on my mind lately because our Senior Pro Bono Counsel, Kathi Pugh, will be retiring this summer. When Kathi started running our program 25 years ago, she was one of the first full-time pro bono attorneys in the country. The model Kathi built at our firm has since been replicated by nearly every large firm. Professionals like Kathi pushed us to constantly focus on our obligation to the profession and our communities.
3. What has been the biggest negative change to the legal profession since the start of your career?
The drive for short-term financial success that has dominated the profession, sometimes with tragic results. Even where firms are financially strong, competition among Biglaw causes many good firms to lose their focus on the profession, their culture and their communities.
4. What is the greatest satisfaction of practicing law?
Being trusted with and solving a client’s most difficult and complex problem. As a restructuring lawyer, I regularly am faced with companies with challenging futures. Being able to counsel them to the best possible business and legal outcome is incredibly gratifying.
5. What is the greatest frustration of practicing law?
The struggle to control the time demands of the practice and my family life. I have an amazing, long-suffering wife, and four boys aged 8 to 15. I strive to be both the best possible attorney I can for my clients, and, more importantly, the best possible husband and father I can be for my family. As everyone in Biglaw knows, that is no easy task.
6. What is your firm’s greatest strength?
Our people. And I don’t just mean the excellent service they deliver to our paying and pro bono clients every day, though that’s critical. I mean the character of our people – respectful, inclusive, collaborative, positive, engaging and supportive of the profession and our communities.
7. What is the single most important personal characteristic for a successful lawyer in your field?
Without question, being really smart. Of course that doesn’t get you far without humility, a sense of humor and resiliency.
8. What is your favorite legally themed film or television show?
A Few Good Men (affiliate link). I can recite too much of it from memory. The line I still want to work into a meeting is when Tom Cruise’s character says to Demi Moore’s character, “Oh, I’m sorry, I keep forgetting. You were sick the day they taught law in law school.”
9. What is your favorite legally themed book (fiction or non-fiction)?
* CeeLo Green, through his attorney, tells the judge and prosecutors in his criminal case to, um, Forget themselves. He’s miffed that the judge and prosecutors set up cameras during his arraignment and left themselves out of the shot creating a false impression of guilt. This marks the first time this guy didn’t want a camera fixated solely on him. [TMZ]
* Samsung wants a mistrial in its case with Apple because Apple’s attorney, Harold McElhinny, implied in his closing argument that American-made jobs building TV sets moved overseas because companies failed to protect intellectual property. Samsung is arguing that this is racist. [Bloomberg]
* JPMorgan is awfully sorry for making the conscious decision to sell toxic securities that helped destroy the economy. “Our bad, y’all!” [Gawker]
* The justices who penned Bush v. Gore shamelessly admitted how terrible the decision was by trying to claim it had no precedential value. Unfortunately, no one listened to them. [Mother Jones]
* In addition to the many lawfirms that are contributing to Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts, several Asian-American lawyer groups are organizing a fundraising event this coming Monday. If you’re in New York, please consider attending! [Facebook; AABANY]
* In sad news, the son of Ninth Circuit Judge Jay Bybee shot and killed himself in the courtyard of the LDS Temple in Henderson, NV. Our thoughts are with Judge Bybee and his family. [Las Vegas Review-Journal (gavel bang: Las Vegas Law Blog)]
* Judge Victor Marrero orders MF Global to pay over $1 billion to customers. Serves those MFs right. [CNBC]
* The Second Circuit has punted on the question of whether defunct firms in New York have an ownership right to fees earned by former partners who took work to new firms. [Am Law Daily]
* Howard Morris, the former co-chief executive of SNR Denton, is joining MoFo as the head of the bankruptcy and restructuring group in London. [DealBook / New York Times]
* NBC has a new show about a criminal court judge who is a hard-living, sexually unapologetic woman. So basically a documentary about Justice O’Connor’s early years. [Deadline]
* So Detroit might be the worst place to work. Even with that caveat, it’s hard to believe this ad seeking someone to do, “whatever other crazy type stuff this (bastard) lawyer of ours thinks up.” A screenshot is provided after the jump in case the ad comes down…. [Craigslist]
* Judge Ellen Huvelle has ordered the government to turn over to her an executive order that the feds claim is subject to executive privilege. Judge Huvelle rejected the administration’s argument that privilege exists because, “we don’t want to give it to you.” [Politico]
* Pepper Hamilton has joined the greener pastures of Silicon Valley, opening an office with three partners poached from Goodwin Proctor. [Reuters Legal (sub. req.)]
* Speaking of poaching, Martin Dunn, former deputy director of the SEC and O’Melveny partner is joining Morrison & Foerster. [The Blog of the Legal Times]
* And while we’re at it, M&A partner Sean Rodgers has left Simpson Thacher to merge with Kirkland & Ellis. [The AmLaw Daily]
* Publisher ALM (The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, The National Law Journal, The New York Law Journal) has a new technology partner and hopes to boost its readership. If they want to boost their readership, wouldn’t starting a new law school be a better investment? [Talking Biz News]
* Conservative groups are miffed about video of this Democratic party lawyer “attacking” a Republican at the polls and trying to “steal” an election. It seems like he put his hand over the lens of a camera phone, but sure, this is exactly like telling minorities the wrong day to vote. [Bearing Drift]
* “How do we find a new inventory of high net worth clients?” The answer for Kelly Drye was really quite simple: it seems that pro athletes are willing to pay just about anything to keep themselves from going bankrupt. [Capital Business / Washington Post]
* “I don’t know why it’s better to use a bigger firm.” When it comes to the latest law firm mega-mergers, some say that it’s not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* It’s like Groundhog Day for these Biglaw attorneys: Apple and Samsung are preparing for the “patent trial of the century,” part deux, and both MoFo and Quinn Emanuel have enlisted new lineups. [The Recorder]
* SAC Capital’s general counsel is okay, “[a]ll things considered.” His painful appendectomy is nothing compared to the $1.2 billion his hedge fund has to pay the government. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Ted Cruz might be an “AASS,” but he’s done at least one awesome thing in his life. He once drank so much Everclear that he completely ruined a play put on by the Harvard Law drama society. [Boston Globe]
* With all the focus on law schools, medical schools are quietly dropping the last year of schooling. If they can cut out a year of learning how to keep people alive, we can drop a year of learning Jane Austen and the Law. [The Atlantic]
* MoFo lost a T&E team to Shartsis Friese. Hmm…. Maybe Shartsis should put ego aside and let Friese have his day in the sun. [Am Law Daily]
* Congrats to Bayan Alzahran, the first licensed female lawyer in Saudi Arabia. Soon she’ll be valiantly trying to keep people from being stoned to death with the best of them. [Al Arabiya]
MoFo’s new German team is known for its expertise in Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) transactional work. The Berlin office in the firm’s third outpost in Europe and its 17th office worldwide.
How is Hogan Lovells taking news of the departures? As the ABA Journal wondered in a headline, “Morrison & Foerster opens Berlin office; is Hogan Lovells miffed?”
Summer associate class sizes might be shrinking, but for those law students lucky enough to make it into a summer program, life is good. The offers are being given outliberally, and the summer events are just as fun as ever.
Need proof? Just consider the six excellent events that we’ve selected for the finals of this year’s summer associate event contest. Some were cultural extravaganzas, others were athletic outings, but all were fun and fabulous. Thanks to everyone who submitted a nomination.
Vote below for your favorite. Without further ado, here they are:
We’ve just entered August, so you know what that means: the start of on-campus interviewing season. If you’re a law student researching firms or a lawyer involved in your firm’s recruiting efforts, check out Above the Law’s law firm directory, where law firms get letter grades in different categories. Law firms might look alike on the surface, but there are very real differences between them, as our grading system reflects.
For example, law firms diverge when it comes to diversity. While every firm gives lip service to diversity, some firms have the goods to back up their claims, while others do not.
Let’s check out the latest diversity rankings, from two different news outlets, to see which firms are truly diverse….
For many law schools, the bidding process for the upcoming on-campus interview season closed yesterday. In bidding, schools quite reasonably advise students to select potential employers that align with their aspirations and geographic preferences. For example, the section of the Duke Law web site devoted to OCI admonishes students to “thoroughly research” potential employers and to “focus only on employers in whom you are genuinely interested and that match your career goals.” Presumably, one career goal shared by all law school graduates is to eventually be free of debt. As previously and repeatedly noted, for most, a Biglaw associate position is the only employment outcome which gives the graduate a plausible prospect of paying off his student loans.
So what shapes student perception of large law firms and drives the decision of the law student in prioritizing their OCI bids? No doubt there are unique versions of received wisdom that get passed from generation to generation of students at every school. And of course there are plenty of media entities measuring firms against one another: revenues (AmLaw), “prestige” (Vault), practice area prowess (Chambers) and so on. This being the time of year where Biglaw careers are just starting to be built, we thought it would be interesting to look at how students themselves rate law firms. Which firms are the law student favorites?