A little over a year ago, law firms came up with a unique plan to deal with the problem of too many associates and not enough work to go around: the deferral. It did not apply just to incoming associates; it was also offered up to those already at the firm who were open to a year-long sabbatical.
We know that many of you decided (or had to) seek out work in the public sector. But when the mainstream media picked up on the fact that law firms were paying their employees to go away from a year, they focused on those doing fun things, like the Skadden Sidebar associate planning a trip around the world. How many other deferred dreamers have taken the opportunity to do something offbeat?
Or something about beats. Rap Genius, a website that analyzes rap lyrics (called ingenious by Nick Antosca of the Huffington Post for its breakdown of Empire State of Mind), is the creation of a DL Pursuer. The site is now nine months old, and Mahbod Moghadam (Stanford Law ’08) is hoping it’s his escape out of law. Which would be a good thing, since Dewey & LeBeouf is having a hard time reabsorbing its DL Pursuits associates.
Moghadam is quite a character: he sent us a bizarre photo involving a carrot, he’s the ex-boyfriend of Victoria of Downtown Girls, and he convinced two Yale friends to quit their jobs (at Google and D. E. Shaw) to work with him on Rap Genius. What kind of Jedi mind tricks is this guy using?
Congratulations to Sutherland. The firm’s band, “Sutherland Comfort,” won the 2010 Battle of the Law Firm Bands in D.C. on Thursday night. Sutherland Comfort defeated a host of worthy challengers — including “Dangerous Communication Device,” the Williams & Connolly band that won the contest in the past two years.
You know the drill when it comes to nonprofit fundraisers: hour-long open bar, followed by an excruciatingly long sit-down dinner. Like hamsters, you are rewarded for sitting through each speech with another course served. Once you’ve finished dessert, you hope for a video or slideshow, so the lights are dimmed and you can slip out unobserved.
Some fundraisers are more fun than others, of course — especially if there’s a photo booth with viking hats, or dueling lawyer rock bands (as there will be at the Black Cat in D.C. tonight). But generally these events are rather staid affairs.
LA-based legal services organization Bet Tzedek wanted to shake that formula up. Thirteen years ago, it launched The Justice Ball. Its founders were “sick of black tie and rubber chicken,” says the organization’s president/CEO Mitchell Kamin, and hoped to attract the young professional set instead of just geriatric philanthropists.
Over 2,500 people are expected to attend this year’s ball on Saturday night, featuring music by Dave Navarro and DJ Skribble, a Guitar Hero battle, legal tattoos, and a J-Date sponsored speed dating session. Since I’m in L.A. after attending Loyola’s Journalist Law School (and a historic taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live), I’ll be in attendance Saturday night too, thanks to comp tickets from Bet Tzedek. I look forward to spotting many summer associates there. Sidley, Skadden, Latham & Watkins, and O’Melveny & Myers are among the many firms that put the Justice Ball on their summer associate events calendars.
I interviewed Kamin about what to expect Saturday, whether tickets are still available (they are), and how he has transformed the LA County legal services firm into an award-winning national network.
Ropes & Gray partner Rob Skinner was named a “Future Star” by Benchmark Litigation in 2009. They were surely impressed by his securities work on behalf of financial services clients. But Skinner may be a future star in musical theater, too.
That’s our prediction after watching a YouTube video from “Rob Skinner’s Midlife Crisis Cabaret,” a one-man show Skinner put on last month in honor of his 40th birthday. An attendee tells us:
Rob is a well-loved, youngish partner at Ropes, known for his being a bit over the top. After he turned 40, he wrote and arranged a one-man show, then rented out his local theater in Winchester, MA and performed it last month for friends, family, and a fair number of co-workers (plying us with drinks for a good while before hand). Not in any way a firm-sponsored event, although a fair number of partners were in attendance.
We discovered that partners are just as capable as associates of making fun of law firm life. Skinner did a Kermit-inspired number about lawyer TV shows. “The partners on TV shows are like Machiavelli. They own everything but their souls,” he sings. “They win their cases and have lunch with Satan, who joins them for 18 holes.”
We caught up with Skinner by email. Check out his hilarious video and an interview with this non-Satanic partner, after the jump.
Would you trade in being a pop star to be a legal rockstar? Last week, we wrote about So-eun Lee, a South Korean pop star who left behind her music career to attend Northwestern Law.
We emailed with the now-2L to find out how she achieved pop stardom back in Seoul and whether it seems easier to break into the music industry than the legal industry these days. We also found out she goes by Nikki Lee here in the States.
ATL: How did you break into the music industry in South Korea?
I participated in a national song writing contest when I was thirteen, and it was broadcast on television. I got calls from various recording companies after that went on air, and that was the beginning.
ATL: Why did you decide to leave your music career for the law? Are you glad you decided to go to law school?
I am glad, although I have to admit that sometimes during the last year I wondered why I ever decided to come. I did music for a long time, for eleven years, and I felt and knew that I wanted a change in direction. I was a spokesperson for a couple of organizations as an artist, and I wanted to be able to know and participate in the substantive issues instead of just being the “face” of something, and a legal education seemed like the right path.
So what substantive issues is she diving into this summer?
Sometimes, a law school is graced by the presence of a famous classmate and fellow students are completely unaware of their good luck — if, for example, that law student is huge overseas but little-known on this shore.
When Lee So-eun got into Northwestern Law School, it was national news in South Korea. From the Chosun in June 2009:
Singer Lee So-eun has been accepted at a number of law schools in the United States. Lee’s management on Wednesday said the singer, who debuted as a high schooler in 1998, received offers from Northwestern, Cornell, Georgetown and Notre Dame.
Lee had been preparing for U.S. law school since she graduated with a degree in English Literature from Korea University in 2007. She has chosen Northwestern University Law School in Chicago. “I plan to leave for the U.S. in July, and want to focus on international and human rights law,” she said.
Word on the street is that President Obama is about to nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. This makes sense; there are many good reasons to nominate Kagan.
But what if Obama were to think outside the box in terms of SCOTUS nominations? What if he nominated, say, Lady Gaga to the high court? (She is not without ties to the legal world; she is, after all, the unofficial mascot of Cornell Law.)
If Lady Gaga were to become Justice Gaga, we could look forward to Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg filing dispatches for NPR like this:
Wow. That was bizarre. So what’s the story behind this video?
A few weeks back, a lawyer friend invited us to attend the Air Guitar New York Championships in Brooklyn. It was described to us as “pretty rad.” We declined to attend, but in doing so, missed out on taking part in an activity that seems to be taking the legal community by storm. ESPN recently described competitive air guitar thus:
Writhing and finger-plucking. Wagging tongues and balcony dives. Oh, and male shirtlessness. Lots of male shirtlessness. All of it taking place before hundreds of screaming, chanting spectators… [It] isn’t about music. It’s about world peace (really). And going to Finland (really). And headbands. (So many headbands). Mostly, it’s about rock. Head-banging, face-melting, soul-devouring rock. The mysterious, ineffable feeling therein. What air guitar devotees creatively call … “the airness.”
So which legal eagles have been overcome by this “mysterious, ineffable feeling”? A Georgetown Law student, a University of Colorado Law professor, and New York Times legal correspondent, Adam Liptak.
Liptak has actually been in the judge’s seat for a couple Air Guitar competitions in D.C. How did he gain his expertise in the air guitar? We caught up with him for a brief interview. When it comes to air guitar jurisprudence, Liptak has something in common with Justices Scalia and Thomas…
Facebook is a godsend for office workers. It’s where we flee when we’re bored. It’s where we go for updates on our friends’ lives. And it’s where we vent when work sucks.
Florida state prosecutor Brandon White was marooned in a terrible trial last week, and decided to work through his frustrations creatively, by composing a parody of the Gilligan’s Island theme song worthy of a Law Revue show.
According to the Sun Sentinel, he posted his composition to Facebook on the second day of the trial — Wednesday, April 14th — just after 11 p.m. We apologize in advance for getting the Gilligan’s Island theme song stuck in your head. Lyrics via TCPalm:
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trial,
That started from this court in St. Lucie County.
The lead prosecutor was a good woman, the 2nd chair was totally awesome,
Six jurors were ready for trial that day for a four hour trial, a four hour trial.
The trial started easy enough but then became rough
The judge and jury confused,
If not for the courage of the fearless prosecutors
The trial would be lost, the trial would be lost.
He goes on to describe the others stuck in the same boat as him, including “the gangbanger defendant”…
This semester we have received several warnings from our Internet service provider that copyrighted movies and TV shows are being downloaded illegally via our wireless network. The Information Technology office is now ascertaining who is doing this. Once we have names of the individuals involved, we intend to give them to the copyright holders for enforcement purposes.
This stance proved unpopular with BLS students, as well as ATL readers. In a poll, about 75 percent of readers answered “yes” when asked, “Should Brooklyn Law School do more to protect its students from being sued for illegal downloading?”
It seems that Brooklyn Law School has had a change of heart. Check out the email that went out this afternoon, plus selected reader comments, after the jump.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things have changed recently in Korea – a few of our US and UK client firms are looking, very selectively, for a lateral US associate hire. Until just recently, there was not much hiring like this going on in Korea, since US and UK firms started opening offices there. We have already placed two US associates in Korea in the past month at top firms. Most of the hiring partners we work with in Korea do not actively work with other recruiters.
If you are a Korean fluent US associate in London, New York or another major US market, 2nd to 6th year, at a top 20 firm, with cap markets or M&A focus (or mix), or project finance background, and you are interested in lateraling to Korea to a top US or UK firm, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our head of Asia, Evan Jowers, was just in Korea recently, and Evan and Robert Kinney will be in Korea in a few weeks. We are in the process of helping several firms open new offices in Korea (a number of which are interviewing our partner level candidates) and also helping existing offices there fill openings.
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
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Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!