Every firm has its big book partners. And the size of the book doesn’t always correlate in an obvious way to the skills of the lawyer, or even to relationships. There are other ways to get rich…
- Elena Kagan, Gay, Gay Marriage, Law Schools, Money, Morning Docket, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Clerks
* The lawyers fighting against marriage equality say “[w]hether [they] win or lose in lower courts doesn’t matter that much,” because everything will be up to the Supreme Court at the end of the day — but so far, they mostly lose. [National Law Journal]
* On the other side of the coin, the lawyers fighting in favor of marriage equality are sounding more and more like used car salesmen, always bragging about the quality of their “vehicles” just to get their cases in front of the justices. [New York Times]
* In the meantime, Justice Kagan officiated her first same-sex wedding this weekend for one of her former clerks. Only the women of SCOTUS, sans Sotomayor, have performed such ceremonies. [Huffington Post]
* In a landmark decision, Arab Bank PLC was found liable for supporting Hamas in a civil terrorism-finance case. There will be a second trial to determine damages, but the bank plans to appeal. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Here’s advice for those of you considering reapplying to law school during a time of educational crisis: rewrite your app in crayon, you’ll probably get in. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]
Early last week, we broke the news that the Thomas Jefferson School of Law had missed a payment on its revenue bonds, triggering a default event under its current Loan Agreement. Luckily for the school, it was able to strike a deal with its bondholders to delay the unseemly business of ceasing its operations, at least until October 17, 2014. In the interim, TJSL is discussing “various potential structures and restructuring alternatives” with its bondholders, and is “confident” that it will be able to reach an accord in the near future.
When we last checked in with this overly optimistic law school, TJSL was hoping that it would be able to “continue to prosper” after settling up with its creditors. But how is the law school supposed to reach this happy fate when its credit rating with Standard & Poor’s keeps getting downgraded lower and lower?
Perhaps it’s time for Thomas Jefferson Law to remove its rose-colored glasses and embrace the fact that it shares the same financial woes as its own namesake. Will the school die in debt like our former president?
- Biglaw, Contracts, General Counsel, In-House Counsel, Intellectual Property, Labor / Employment, Litigators, Money, Rankings
Corporate Counsel just released its annual list of the law firms that Fortune 500 companies utilize as outside counsel (as noted in Morning Docket). Not surprisingly, the nation’s biggest corporations turn to some of the biggest names in Biglaw for legal services.
But as we noted last year, the most-mentioned firms aren’t necessarily the most prestigious or the most profitable. The rankings prioritize quantity, and they’re dominated by firms that excel in a particular practice area. See if you can guess which one….
- Biglaw, Boutique Law Firms, Duval & Stachenfeld, Midsize Firms / Regional Firms, Money, Partner Issues, Partner Profits, Real Estate, Small Law Firms
This is a continuation of the article I published in ATL two weeks ago. My previous article gave my view that the profitability metric of “Profits Per Partner” becomes in effect a master (rather than a servant) and is destructive and a root cause of some serious problems for Biglaw. In this article, I put forth a different way of doing business.
A long time ago, we at Duval & Stachenfeld decided that we would not make partnership decisions in our law firm based on a “numbers game.” Instead, we would look at the quality of the associates, and if they were qualified, we would make them partners irrespective of the effect that had on our firm economics. We have stuck to that view rigorously.
Over time we came to some realizations:
While it’s true that things have been spiraling downwards for law schools since the Great Recession, it wasn’t until 2011 that things really got out of hand. That was when the very first class action lawsuit about deceptive employment statistics was filed against the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Little did we know that it would prove to be a harbinger of doom for the school.
About a year ago, we brought our readers the sad news that TJSL had conducted faculty and staff layoffs in an effort to free up funds. Not only had it suffered a blow to its enrollment, but it was also struggling to pay off the $133 million debt it accumulated after opening its new campus building in 2011.
To make matters infinitely worse, in December 2013, Standard and Poor’s released news that it had downgraded the credit ratings of a slew of stand-alone law schools. TJSL was one of the downtrodden schools whose credit standing was downgraded to B+, junk bond status with a negative outlook.
Now, we’ve got news that could have disastrous effects for the law school. It seems that TJSL has defaulted on its bonds, and it may be unable to remain in operation due to its financial predicament…
Please note the UPDATE at the end of this post.
- Biglaw, Clerkships, Football, Kids, Money, Morning Docket, Music, Partner Issues, Rankings, Rap, SCOTUS, Summer Associates, Supreme Court, Technology
* “Operas can get pretty gory. I should have put that in my brief.” In the upcoming Supreme Court term, it looks like law clerks will have to educate their justices about the intricacies of rap music’s sometimes violent lyrics. [National Law Journal]
* The pay gap between equity and non-equity Biglaw partners is growing wider and wider. According to recent survey, on average, equity partners are bringing home $633K more than non-equity partners each year. [Am Law Daily]
* Hackers are targeting Biglaw firms to acquire their clients’ important secrets. Unfortunately, no one is brave enough to step up to the plate and say their firm’s been hit — admitting that “could be an extinction-level event.” [Tribune-Review]
* Which Biglaw firms had the most satisfied summer associates this year? There was a big rankings shake-up at the top of the list this time around, and we’ll have more on this later today. [Am Law Daily]
* In the wake of the Ray Rice scandal, Adrian Peterson screwed up many of your fantasy football teams after he was indicted for hurting his child “with criminal negligence.” He’s now out on $15,000 bail. [CNN]
Law schools across the country are falling from grace now that the new normal has taken hold. Students are increasingly less and less interested in going to law school. From joblessness to insurmountable debt, there are just too many risks now associated with the J.D. degree to make it worth their while.
Many law schools are doing everything they can to entice new students to attend, and some of their disaster-avoidance plans — like initiating freezes and cuts to their egregiously high tuition rates — have been quite popular. Other law schools are trying to control costs by offering faculty and staff buyouts or conducting layoffs. Some law schools, however, are trying to pass the buck to their students.
Which top 100 law school is planning back-to-back tuition hikes and asking for state assistance to account for its enrollment woes?
Stop it South Carolina. Okay, not like everyone in South Carolina, but based on the tips we keep on getting it appears to be one of the worst markets for contract attorneys. This is not the first time the Palmetto State has been featured as one of the worst jobs, and I fear it won’t be the last. Once there are a few bad jobs (particularly as “bad” relates to wages) in a regional market it can trigger an avalanche effect and even staffing agencies and vendors that used to consistently offer projects above the market rate start to heed the downward market pressure.
And I know exactly how it happens…
- Biglaw, Football, Law Professors, Law Schools, Litigators, LSAT, Money, Morning Docket, Plaintiffs Firms, Politics, Violence
* Sweet billable hours: Congrats to Proskauer Rose on its efforts to keep the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo, New York. It’s the largest deal for the sale of an NFL team in history. [Am Law Daily]
* Your firm brings in billions in verdicts, but that’s not prestigious enough. It needs to be on the inaugural list of America’s Elite Trial Lawyers. See if yours made the cut. [National Law Journal]
* The best way to dodge traps in the LSAT analytical reasoning section is to display your analytical reasoning capabilities by not taking the LSAT in the first place during a time when law schools are in turmoil. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* Law professors Zephyr Teachout (Fordham) and Tim Wu (Columbia) were defeated in the Democratic primary election for New York governor and lieutenant governor, but they lost well. [New York Daily News]
* The world wants to know if Ray Rice can be prosecuted for domestic violence, even though he’s enrolled in a pre-trial intervention program. Like the answer to all legal questions, it depends. [WSJ Law Blog]