Old People

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a new 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.

An intriguing demographic dilemma is approaching a powerhouse law firm, Jones Day, as several senior partners and chairs are straddling the mandatory retirement age. The firm currently has over eight partners — including numerous practice leaders and partners in charge — above their proclaimed mandatory retirement age, and over ten partners nearing the cutoff, which probably signals that Jones Day gives some partners a pass when it comes to retirement. For example, Mark Sisitsky, Hugh R. Whiting, and Bob Mittelstaedt, just to name a few, are all very respectable partners who are refining with vintage.

Jones Day generally restocks from within by promoting partners in the first quarter each year. In 2013, the firm internally promoted 29 partners in the first quarter, each with an average of 12.5 years of experience. Although Jones Day is five months away from the next round of promotions, Lateral Link has identified around fifty associates who are in the running for a partner promotion (although only a handful will ultimately get the nod). We have an idea who fits in both categories and have been fairly accurate in our projections from the past….

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As long as I can do the job full-steam, I would like to stay here. Last term was a good example. I didn’t write any slower. I didn’t think any slower. I have to take it year by year at my age, and who knows what could happen next year? Right now, I know I’m OK. Whether that will be true at the end of next term, I can’t say.

– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the lone octogenarian on the Supreme Court, commenting on whether she might retire from the nation’s highest bench any time in the near future.

(Do you think Justice Ginsburg should retire? Take our poll, after the jump.)

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When a Biglaw firm drops out of the Am Law 200 and starts hemorrhaging attorneys, you know that things are starting to turn sour. Much like the partners who fled Dewey & LeBoeuf like rats from a sinking ship, a mass attorney exodus is just a sign of other unfortunate events to come.

If a firm’s not careful, one of the first assets to go underwater will be retirement benefits for both current and former employees. That’s when the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation swoops in to rescue severely underfunded plans from certain doom at the hands of Biglaw firms experiencing financial woes.

Which law firm turned to the government for help this time, and how underfunded was its pension plan — was it short by $9 million or $39 million?

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Justices O’Connor and Ginsburg

I wonder if Sandra regrets stepping down when she did?

– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, referencing her colleague, former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in response to liberal pressure to retire due to her advanced age, and suggesting that she won’t be stepping down from her position until her health requires it.

Justice rests.

* No, silly, Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn’t “too old” to be a Supreme Court justice. So what if she uses the SOTU address as her personal naptime? She’s brilliant, and everyone loves her. [Los Angeles Times]

* “Justice delayed due to overworked judges can … mean justice denied,” and Obama’s got a lot of work ahead of him due to a “uniquely high” amount of judicial vacancies on his watch. [National Law Journal]

* After the SCOTUS ruling on the Voting Rights Act, Southern states have rushed to push out voter ID laws. But isn’t that discriminatory? “Not true, not true,” as Justice Alito would say. [New York Times]

* It turns out the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s redefinition of the word “relevant” is what has allowed the NSA to collect anything and everything. Say au revoir to privacy! [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Layoffs: they aren’t just for Biglaw firms anymore! McGeorge Law School is downsizing its staff and student ranks due to an “unprecedented drop” in applications. Another one bites the dust; which law school will be next? [Sacramento Bee]

* Client 9, aka Eliot Spitzer, announced his candidacy for NYC comptroller. He’ll run against Kristen Davis, the woman who once set him up with escorts. That’ll be an awkward debate. [New York Times]

* As the prosecution rests its case and the defense’s acquittal motion is denied, a nation is left wondering whose voice it was on that 911 recording — Trayvon Martin’s or George Zimmerman’s? [CNN]

I just returned from my annual Bar convention. Have you been? Hundreds of lawyers, judges, and a smattering of law students attending meetings, receptions, CLE seminars, and having chance meetings at the real “bar” with opposing counsel — it’s a day or two to realize you’re part of something bigger than your law office.

I know, some of you hate your state Bar. You don’t hang out with “Bar-types” and see no value in spending a day or two running around a hotel and saying hello to lawyers you know and don’t know.

Being involved in my state Bar has been one of the most important components of building my practice…

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I dunno. Some old pilgrim?

Zach Galifianakis, while acting in a Game of Thrones game show sketch on Saturday Night Live, in response to a visual-clue question from Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) that asked Galifianakis to identify Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by name.

(If you’re interested, you can watch the clip from this episode, after the jump.)

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* Earlier this week, after some political wrangling, Senator Chuck Grassley proposed the Court Efficiency Act in the hope of paring down the D.C. Circuit. But really, come on, what are the odds of that happening… again? [National Law Journal]

* Biglaw partners, rejoice, for it seems that your legal secretaries will be unable to sue you for defamation over emails written to your wives. Spousal privilege, baby! (N.B. This doesn’t apply to your girlfriends.) [New York Law Journal]

* Which law schools placed the highest percentage of grads in federal clerkships? This info comes from the rankings guru himself. We may have more on this later. [Morse Code / U.S. News & World Report]

* The Rutgers basketball scandal claimed another scalp yesterday after the school’s former general counsel resigned. Rutgers Law dean John Farmer will be stepping in for a brief assist. [Star-Ledger]

* So, do you remember that environmental report Steven Donziger allegedly had made up in the Chevron case? Yeah, the consulting firm just disavowed all of the evidence in the report. Oops! [Businessweek]

* Say so long to your retirement money, sweetie: Junie Hoang, the actress who sued IMDb for revealing the fact that she was over the hill, received a less than favorable jury verdict. [Houston Chronicle]

Is D.C. the capital of… crazy lawsuits?

People love to complain that D.C. is a dysfunctional city. That may be a bit harsh. Despite the partisan gridlock, sometimes deals can be reached in Congress — for example, the new gun control compromise measure in the Senate.

And the city itself is a much more appealing city to live in these days. The recent, taxpayer-financed boom in D.C. has led to improved restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and residential options. (I used to live in D.C., from 2006 to 2008, and I continue to visit frequently.)

But the lawsuits coming out of the nation’s capital — well, they’re still pretty crazy. Time for some quick updates on the insanity….

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Patricia A. Martone

“You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit.”

– Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (affiliate link)

Take this famous line and replace “man” with “law firm partner,” and you’ve captured the gist of the lawsuit against Ropes & Gray brought by Patricia Martone, who alleges age and sex discrimination by her former firm. (Martone, a former IP litigation partner at Ropes, is now a Morrison & Foerster partner.)

When I broke the news of this lawsuit back in 2011, I expected a speedy settlement. Would Ropes really want to go toe to toe with a pair of high-powered litigatrices, namely, Martone and her formidable employment lawyer, Anne Vladeck?

But here we are, two years later, and the battle rages on. Ropes has hired a third leading litigatrix to defend itself. Let’s learn the latest news….

(Note the multiple UPDATES at the end of this post.)

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