Media and Journalism

Ed. note: This is the second installment of The ATL Interrogatories, brought to you by Lateral Link. This recurring feature will give a notable law firm partner an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.

Theodore Boutrous, Jr. is co-chair of Gibson Dunn‘s appellate and constitutional law groups. He is also a member of the firm’s executive and management committees.

1. What is the greatest challenge to the legal industry over the next five years?

For law firms to maintain strong, lasting bonds with clients and distinctive brands and cultures rather than transforming into large, largely fungible, faceless, bottom-line business enterprises.

2. What has been the biggest positive change to the legal profession since the start of your career?

Technology has revolutionized the legal profession, enhancing productivity, and improving the quality of work, life and client-service capabilities.

3. What has been the biggest negative change to the legal profession since the start of your career?

The demise of law libraries as special sanctuaries for thinking and contemplating and generating ideas.

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These days, it seems like every media outlet that has any remote connection to the law is making an effort to dispel the allure of the esteemed U.S. News law school rankings. U.S. News encourages law school administrators to attempt to game the rankings, they say. The U.S. News rankings are too focused on the test scores of incoming students, they say. And while we agree that some of the U.S. News methodology could be changed for the better, others have only offered up absurdities in their alternative ranking systems.

National Jurist recently came out with its own set of rankings which measure much lauded criteria like the number of Super Lawyers each law school produces, and the quality of each law school’s faculty, as measured by the oft revered website, RateMyProfessors.com. And as with the glorious Cooley rankings, any traction that the new National Jurist rankings might have received went totally out the window when the powers that be at the magazine decided to rank Alabama higher than both Harvard and Yale. Come on, everyone knows that the only place ‘Bama should be ranked ahead of Harvard is on a football field!

As far as we’re concerned, this serves only as an exercise in how not to make a new rankings system….

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The late, great James Stockdale put it best: Who am I? Why am I here?

You’re probably wondering the same thing as you read a Monday post from the heretofore “Thursday morning guy.” Well, I’m pleased to announce that I am your new ATL assistant editor. Moving on up from humble contributor to a spot on the masthead.

I will cover all manner of subjects, but with a particular eye on legal tech. Basically I’m the Kreiger of the ISIS operation that is ATL.

And yes, I’m going to be upping the Archer references at this publication because Archer is awesome.

More about me, including a real picture and my résumé for your crippling judgment, after the jump.

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At a bachelor party a few weeks ago, traveling around the city, my friends and I discussed in detail various survival strategies should someone fall onto the subway tracks. We all agreed that trying to climb back up onto the platform was the most dangerous move. You want to go into that middle area so trains are rushing past you on either side. Or you want to book it down the track, because just inside the tunnel there are stairs for workers.

Of course, in the heat of the moment, if I actually were pushed in front of an oncoming train, I’d probably turn and yell at it and be very surprised when it didn’t stop to listen to what I had to say.

It’s really not an uncommon conversation for New Yorkers, because falling onto the tracks is kind of a persistent nightmare in this city. Much more real than getting hit by a falling air conditioner or being hit by a taxi cab. The reason why jumping back up onto the platform is a bad idea is because the track is much deeper than it appears, so you can’t standing-jump that. And so then you’re in a situation where you need to do a half-pull up and… not everybody can do that.

It’s hard to pull yourself back up without help. And in NYC, you can’t count on help. Which of course brings us to Tuesday’s tragedy on the tracks….

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To be honest, I don’t know if this is a Formula 1 car or an Indy car. Now ask me if I care.

* Judicial benchslap catfight over administrative orders. Man, I didn’t think I could make the word “catfight” sound so unsexy, but there you go. [The Chief Jester]

* Is it a federal crime to read Above the Law at work? If so, download the app. [Workplace Law Prof Blog]

* Speaking of apps, te “App from Hell” would be more interesting if it were actually an app. But hiring Professor Dan Solove to teach your colleagues about privacy is still a good idea. [Teach Privacy]

* A dean of the University of Ottawa Law School wrote an op-ed defending Canadian law schools (which aren’t even as bad as U.S. law schools). Remember when deans didn’t have to defend law schools because there were “jobs” for “new attorneys”? [Canadian Lawyer]

* Here’s an article about Formula 1 racing that you don’t need Google translator to read. [Dealbook]

* Bonus podcast! I mean, Lat did a podcast with the ABA Journal about bonuses, not that there’s a podcast you can listen to in order to get a bonus. [ABA Journal]

* Bonus Lat! I mean, here’s a story about David Lat and the changing coverage of law firms and the legal profession. [Details]

Apparently, Chuck Klosterman believes law deans without checking to see what they’re hiding.

Man, the New York Times is just full of people defending law schools these days. First we had Lawrence Mitchell, Dean of Case Western Law School, write an op-ed about why he is “proud” to be a law dean. I’m not sure if he’s proud to have written an op-ed that has been savaged by everybody, but there you go.

This weekend, the Times ran an Ethicist column by noted pop culturalist Chuck Klosterman about the “morality” of law schools enrolling students at hefty tuition prices when they know the job market is very challenging.

Klosterman defended law schools, though it’s not clear that he intended to. In fact, it’s not clear that Klosterman knows just how “unethical” law schools have become.

But hey, you don’t actually have to understand the challenges of legal employment to defend law school in the New York Times these days….

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I reported back in October that the New York Times had asked me to write an op-ed piece about the future of big law firms, but a Dealbook special unceremoniously preempted my piece.

I figured the editor at the NYT might think she owed me one, so I cranked out a replacement piece proposing to reform legal education. I’m pleased to report that this op-ed piece was not preempted! No, no, no: It was rejected on the merits. The editor said that my article made too many points and felt like a “report, rather than an opinion piece.”

But she was wrong. And, in any event, you should judge for yourself.

So here’s my recently rejected op-ed piece proposing how we should reform legal education. (I do believe this is the last in my short-lived series of “crap I wrote for the Times that the Times didn’t publish.” It’s an awful lot of work to produce 1,200-word pieces that become mere fodder for another column here at Inside Straight.) . . .

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* On the even of the Supreme Court’s conference that will determine whether a gay marriage case will be on the docket in 2013, a federal judge ruled that Nevada can ban the practice in the state. Not fab. :( [BuzzFeed]

* A bankruptcy judge gave Dewey & LeBoeuf’s unsecured creditors the go-ahead to sue the pants off Joel Sanders and the Steves (a moniker for what likely would’ve been an extremely orange band). [Am Law Daily]

* Hostess Brands received final approval to wind down its business and begin selling off its Twinkies to satisfy its creditors, but not before $1.8M in bonuses payouts were authorized. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Foul balls: as if his public tiff with Lance Armstrong and indecent exposure sentence weren’t enough, Clark Calvin Griffith is facing bar discipline over his pervy predilections. [Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal]

* UCLA School of Law recently announced its plans to offer an LL.M. in Law and Sexuality. Now, recall that just one month ago, Justice Scalia advised students not to take “law and _____” courses. [National Law Journal]

* Dominique Strauss-Kahn agreed to settle a suit brought against him by a hotel maid who accused him of rape. We still don’t know the dollar amount, but we bet he kept his aggravated pimp hand strong. [Bloomberg]

* A day in the life of Lindsay Lohan includes an arrest for assault in New York, followed by charges related to a car crash in California. Her legal drama is almost as bad as Liz & Dick. [Daily Dish / San Francisco Chronicle]

* Jerry Finkelstein, former publisher of the New York Law Journal, RIP. [New York Law Journal]

* George C. Kern Jr., Sullivan & Cromwell’s M&A maven, RIP. [New York Times]

I was not aware that see-through shirts and cleavage was the trademark of a good lawyer in New Zealand. Apparently I have a lot to learn about their judicial system.

– a comment left on Facebook in response to a picture used by LEX magazine to entice people to “like” the New Zealand Law Students Association (NZLSA) page on the social networking site.

(Read on to see the picture that’s being slammed as sexist by women lawyers the world over.)

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As 2012 draws to a close, marked by bonus announcements and holiday parties, many of our readers are thinking about making career transitions. Departure memos follow bonus checks as naturally as models and bottles follow… bonus checks.

Here at Above the Law, we regularly receive inquiries from people interested in working with us, on either a full-time basis or as guest contributors. While we are thankful for your interest, we are usually not in a position where we are looking (so if you don’t hear back from us in response to your query or pitch, please assume that we’re passing).

But right now we happen to be in hiring mode. Keep reading for information about the two positions we’re hoping to fill….

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