Above the Law

Recent Headlines from Above the Law

 

In my line of work, I sometimes end up as a career counselor of sorts. People talk to me about what’s going on at their law school or law firm and ask me for advice about what to do.

I recently had occasion to speak with a lawyer who was laid off by his Biglaw firm. He remains on the website, but he hasn’t been to the office in months; that was part of the deal they negotiated with issued to him. He has been looking for a new job for months but has been having difficulty. He blames this in part on a lack of specialization — he’s a generalist, not really marketable as an expert in a particular type of litigation or transaction.

This reminded me of a chat I was having with an old friend from my high school debate days, who has found great professional success in a focused practice area. I contacted him again and our chat turned into a full-blown interview about how to become (and remain) a partner at a major law firm by establishing expertise in a particular field of substantive law.

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* For all you surprised by LeBron James, let me remind you: Cleveland is all about two non-consecutive stints. [Wikipedia]

* Speaking of basketball, Mitchell Epner takes his talents to CNBC to breakdown the 5 things he learned during the first week of the Donald Sterling trial. [CNBC]

* Who is the Litigator of the Week, per Litigation Daily? It’s Daniel Gitner of Lankler Siffert & Wohl because he became the first lawyer to beat the S.D.N.Y. U.S.A.O. in an insider trading case. Also because he’s awesome. Pardon me while I put on my LSW shirt. [The Litigation Daily (sub. req.)]

* Hey! Take a second to take our latest law firm survey. We really want your feedback on your perception. [Above the Law]

* “5 Reasons the Sleeping Yankees Fan’s Lawyer Should Be Disbarred.” Fair enough. [Internet on Trial]

* Will the EPA’s latest carbon rule survive judicial challenge? I would have said “no” but after Homer City… [Breaking Energy]

* Do blondes make more money? I guess that’s the trade-off with being the focus of revenge porn. [The Careerist / American Lawyer]

* Aereo is back. Sort of. [Comm Law Blog]

* A former Patton partner lost his new job at Pillsbury over the Chevron case. Could anybody have suffered more over this case? Oh, right, all the Ecuadorians. [Legal Times]

* While you weren’t looking, even fewer people took the LSAT. Obviously. [LSAC]

Congrats, professor, but Malawi’s law stinks.

* “I don’t think the government should be in the credentialing business.” Thanks to the whims of politicians, SCOTUSblog is having trouble getting media credentials to continue its coverage of the Supreme Court’s cases. [New York Times]

* How you like me now? In Redeeming the Dream (affiliate link), a new book co-authored with David Boies, Ted Olson says he experienced “some blowback” when he announced he was taking on the Prop 8 gay marriage case. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Steve Davis and Steve DiCarmine of failed firm fame think it’s “unfair” they have to defend themselves in a criminal case and an SEC case at the same time. They want the SEC case to be halted. Dewey think the judge will say yes? [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Back in 2011, Pillsbury decided to ship its back-office operations to Nashville, and now it’s hiring a small contingent of lawyers to work there. FYI, an Ivy League degree may not be necessary. [Washington Post]

* Only in Florida would a judge allegedly challenge a public defender to a fight out back during a hearing and start throwing punches. We’ll definitely have more on this fiasco later today. [WFTV Eyewitness News]

* Peter Mutharika, a former law professor who taught at Washington University in St. Louis Law for about 40 years, is now the new president of Malawi, where it’s illegal to fart. Congrats! [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Some former partners of the dearly departed Dewey & LeBoeuf claim that the firm could have survived if not so many partners had defected in the final months. The wishful thinking theory of these Dewey defenders is that if the firm could have held on to more of its top rainmakers, the plan of paying everyone back (slowly) and waiting for work to pick up might have succeeded.

Perhaps learning from Dewey, the leaders of embattled Patton Boggs have been trying to get partners to commit to staying as the firm restructures. Not long ago, managing partner Edward Newberry declared that about 90 percent of the firm’s partners agreed to stick around.

But 90 percent is not 100 percent. Today brings word of more Patton partners headed for the exits. How many? Who are they? And where are they going?

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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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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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Potentially landscape-altering deals don’t come along every day, and a deal that would merge a 1,000-lawyer firm with a 700-lawyer firm would be exactly that. And it’s not just headcount — the marriage of these two firms would have placed the joint entity at No. 9 in revenue for 2012.

But just because two firms are talking merger doesn’t mean it’ll happen. We’ve been let down before.

Indeed, we’ve been let down by one of these firms before. Way back in February, we reported that Pillsbury Winthrop was talking with Fulbright & Jaworski about a merger. Nothing ever came of that, but members of the management at Pillsbury are still on the prowl for a big, strong firm to sweep them off their feet. It’s all very romantic.

And now they just might have found the partner they’ve been looking for….

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The idea of “happiness” is the basis of an ever-growing body of research. In fact, while economists traditionally measure a nation’s prosperity by looking at GDP, there is a growing movement for them to consider a different measure, something akin to “Gross National Happiness.” One of the best-known efforts to move away from a reliance on GDP as a measure of national welfare is the UN’s Human Development Index, which amalgamates three metrics: lifespan, educational attainment, and adjusted real income. Then there are dozens of much more subjective surveys of national happiness, many of which find Costa Rica to be the happiest country in the world. Others say it’s Norway. (Then there is this preposterous “Happy Planet Index,” which ranks the U.S. at number 113, between Madagascar and Nigeria.)

Of course happiness research is performed in more narrowly targeted ways, such as examining specific professions. Earlier this year, Forbes reported on a “Career Bliss” survey of 65,000 employees that ranked “law firm associate” as the unhappiest job in America. (See Joe’s take on that survey here.)

This week, over at In the Belly of the Beast, Steven Harper is asking “Are Lawyers Becoming Happier?” Harper takes a look at two recent studies that suggest the answer is “yes.”

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