Above the Law

Recent Headlines from Above the Law

 

Woody Allen

* Woody Allen’s lawyer, Elkan Abramowitz, responds to Dylan Farrow’s account of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of her famous father. [Gawker; Gothamist]

* Sound advice from Professor Glenn Reynolds on how not to increase applications to your law school. [Instapundit]

* What is a “nitro dump,” and will it provide information about who (or what) killed Philip Seymour Hoffman? [ATL Redline]

* “Is Elena Kagan a ‘paranoid libertarian?’ Judging by [Cass] Sunstein’s definition, the answer is yes.” [Reason via Althouse]

* A petition of possible interest to debt-laden law school graduates: “Increase the student loan interest deduction from $2,500 to the interest actually paid.” [WhiteHouse.gov]

* Vivia Chen wonders: Is Amy Chua, co-author of The Triple Package (affiliate link), being attacked as racist in a way that it itself racist? [Time]

* Yikes — journalists around the country have been receiving “a flurry of subpoenas in recent months,” according to Jeff Kosseff of Covington & Burling. [InsideTechMedia]

* Congratulations to Orrick’s 15 new partners — an impressively diverse group, from a wide range of practice areas and from offices around the world. [Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe]

One of the most noteworthy deals of the new year is Google’s recently announced $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs, a maker of Internet-connected devices like thermostats and smoke alarms that was founded by former Apple engineers. Orrick, a firm known for its strong roster of tech clients, is advising Nest. The Orrick team is led by the firm’s chairman, Mitchell Zuklie.

That’s not the only noteworthy news out of Orrick this week. Yesterday the firm announced its 2013 associate bonuses. How are they looking?

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No one really likes hippies.

In addition to being dirty, they toss out annoying liberal platitudes to mask a self-absorbed worldview based around “freedom” as defined by easy access to drugs and not being hassled by regulators who aren’t cool with a commune squatting in a tenement. They’re like libertarians without showers and with the decency to pretend they care about other people.

But this federal judge hates them a lot more than the average bear. And he hates their lawyer even more…

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In an era when “disruption” is celebrated, the world of large law firms is one of the last redoubts of conventional wisdom. For a uniquely rule- and precedent-bound profession, this makes sense. Biglaw’s conventional wisdom has the added virtue of being reliable. For example, we can count on Cravath taking the lead — at least chronologically — on bonuses, and for DLA Piper to have the most random Third developing-world offices.

Another reflection of conventional wisdom is the way in which Biglaw lends itself to — and revels in — superlatives and rankings. There tends to be a generally acknowledged and perennially dominant player (or a few) in most practice areas: Wachtell Lipton for M&A, Weil Gotshal for Chapter 11 work, Patton Boggs for lobbying, and so forth. There’s no doubt that many worthy firms get overlooked.

Last year we took a look at which firms’ practice groups were considered “underrated” by peers in the field. Among the notable 2012 nominees: Cahill for corporate law, Arnold & Porter in litigation, and Proskauer for its bankruptcy and tax practices.

We wondered whether the same practice groups were still considered by practitioners to be unfairly underrated. Or are there other firms deserving more recognition?

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There’s once a dream that was OrrickPillsbury.

It was exactly a month ago that we first heard that Orrick was looking to join up with (read: bail out) Pillsbury. Today, the thrill is gone. Orrick and Pillsbury announced they were calling off the mega-merger saving us, our planned Very Special Episode of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch.

So what happened?

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The ruins of a house on the outskirts of Tacloban, capital of Leyte.

Law firms and the legal profession have a long and distinguished tradition of contributing to the public interest. Earlier today, we highlighted five Biglaw firms that are pro bono all-stars.

Most pro bono cases involve clients and causes here in the United States. But in today’s increasingly global world, law firms look beyond borders when it comes to helping the needy.

Yesterday we commended Skadden for its generous support of Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts in my ancestral homeland of the Philippines. And today we recognize several other law firms that have joined in this worthy cause….

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Biglaw firms have a problem. They can’t get their senior partners to retire. Or to pass along their clients to younger partners fast enough.

The reasons for this unwelcome phenomenon are straightforward. First, today’s Biglaw senior partners are making too much money. Would you retire if you were making seven figures and billing 1200 to 1500 hours a year? Of course not. Especially if you are helping to support your children. Or in this age of the 70-year-old rainmaker, a grandchild’s “education” as a communications major at the top party school in this year’s rankings.

Kidding aside, I know that many senior partners have very valid reasons for continuing to maintain their Biglaw practices. But that does not mean that what works for them at an individual level is what is good for Biglaw as a whole. In fact, I think the “sticky senior” issue is the greatest long-term threat to the continued viability of many Biglaw firms….

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Would you rather be a great lawyer or be perceived as being a great lawyer?

For many people, I think the answer to that question varies over time: At age 30, you’d rather be a great lawyer. At age 60, you’d rather be perceived as being a great lawyer.

Why?

Because, over time, your reputation may come to track reality. If you’re perceived as great when you’re 30, but you’re actually no good, that truth may out over time. As you age, your reputation may catch up with you.

By the time you’re 60, your professional horizon will have shortened, and it’s less likely that the world will unearth your incompetence. If you’re perceived as being a great lawyer when you’re 60, you may well make it to retirement unscathed.

What of law firms? Would you rather that your firm be great or be perceived as being great?

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Today’s post is written by Michael Allen, the Managing Principal of Lateral Link, who focuses exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

Merger season has arrived, yielding a fruitful harvest of potentially enormous mergers between Patton Boggs and Locke Lord and between Pillsbury and Orrick. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these mergers is the potentially “super” practice groups these mergers will make.

Patton Boggs has recently undergone a period of mild strife, as we detailed several months ago. Though they lost a significant number of energy and environmental attorneys after the fallout of the Chevron litigation, this merger with Locke Lord could be effective not only as a stopgap, but could also vastly strengthen each firm’s energy department….

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* Chief Judge Philip P. Simon of the Northern District of Indiana has ruled that being a federal judge is better than being an equine semen collector. Agreed. [The Kentucky Trial Court Review]

* The Supreme Court lets tradition trump technology. Because if the Founders wanted cameras in the courtroom, they would have written it into the Constitution. [Washington Post]

* NBC is developing a TV show based on Shon Hopwood’s memoir Law Man (affiliate link). Could NBC have a watchable drama? [Variety]

* Congress keeps telling us the D.C. Circuit is not overworked. They’re wrong. [People for the American Way]

* A poem about the lawyer as shark. Wasn’t this a whole TV show once? [Poetic Justice]

* Legal education needs to adapt to reflect the fact that 50 percent of law students don’t intend to use their law degrees to work in traditional legal fields. In other words, legal education needs to adapt to people too stupid to figure out the only jobs that require a law degree are those in traditional legal fields. [New York Law Journal]

* Harvard is hosting an event on the “business of college sports.” You can learn all about the business of college sports from this video right here. [Sports Agent Blog]

* The judge who forced a family to change their baby’s name from “Messiah” is getting disciplined. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Flash mobs are disturbing enough without being composed entirely of lawyers. [Daily Report Online]

* Elie and Staci appeared on CNBC’s Power Lunch today to discuss the Orrick and Pillsbury merger talks and the Clifford Chance memo. Video embedded after the jump… [CNBC]

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