As much as some people glorify being a “Jack of all trades,” the truth is that in order to succeed, most professionals have to specialize. After all, the full idiom is actually “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
At a certain point in a person’s career, if he really wants to go somewhere, he must become an expert at something specific and be able to do that one thing better than anyone else. No one wants to get complacent, but at some point work hopefully becomes comfortable.
And that’s what makes Judge Ann Pfau’s story so intriguing and unique. The 64-year-old was, until recently, the chief administrative judge for the State of New York. But late last year, after massive budget cuts, the lifelong administrator ended up as a trial judge, “in the gray courthouse that hulks next to Brooklyn Borough Hall like some weird tribute to bleak Soviet architecture.”
When I was a kid, I thought only white people had to worry about being thirty-something.
I’m back. I got sick, again, with pretty much the same kind of acute sinus infection as I had the last time. It’s the second time in six months some stupid illness has completely floored me by making it hard to see and think — I definitely need at least one of those faculties to do my job.
Last time, when I got back, I was just happy to be alive and looking for somebody to blame. This time, I’m depressed. It’s probably because I was sitting the doctor’s office, and I was whining and in incredible pain and petulantly demanding answers as to why I’m having all these health problems and the guy says to me: “Well, you are getting old.”
I’m not the only one. And it occurs to me that, once again, I’m in much better shape for this new phase of consequences than I would be if I was still at a Biglaw firm. Because while I need to refine and hone my skills in my mid and late thirties, associates at top law firms need to gun it. They need to take their suddenly aging bodies and turn every morsel of ATP into billable hours if they want to make partner. And they need to do it now….
A law student client — already an MBA — said she needed convincing to drop out of her third-tier school.
I told her to calculate the return on investment for the final three semesters.
She crunched the numbers.
“Debit-wise, I’ve burned $80k in savings and I’m looking at another $100k of borrowed money. On the credit side, I might find a low-salary doc review gig.” She pretended to scratch notes. “So… big loans, interest payments, inadequate cash flow…opportunity cost of 18 more wasted months learning legal mumbo-jumbo followed by the bar exam…”
“In other words…” I egged her on.
“I’d be totally screwed.” She affixed the cap on her pen. “Thanks. I’m convinced.”
I posed the question we were dancing around: “Why are we having this conversation?”
If I were not a judge, I wouldn’t be doing anything. What would I be doing if I were not a judge? What am I even qualified to do? I’ve been a judge for 44 years. My father was a butcher. I’m not trained to be a butcher.
SOPA is getting pwned. Yesterday, all the uber players with their epic gear hopped on Vent and raided the SOPA base, and now the newbie Congress people who sponsored the law are running scared. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the sponsors of the Stop Online Piracy Act have “renounced” their law. The New York Times reports that Senators and Congresspeople are abandoning this thing like it was a campaign promise.
Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, all of the big internet corporations flexed their muscles — and oh, by the way, this is what it looks like when corporations use speech for speech, as opposed to pretending that anonymous corporate campaign contributions magically count as speech.
In the wake of this victory, here’s a question: Is this what we want? Yesterday, the internet used its power for good (though I fear the movie industry will strike back by making you watch full-length Kevin James movies before you can download the next Batman preview). But what if in the future “the internet” wants something bad, something that is more than the mere protection of freedom?
* Even if law schools changed their teaching methods to include more experiential learning opportunities, would anyone care? To that, the latest hiring patterns say: “LOL, srsly?” [National Law Journal]
* Joran van der Sloot has been sentenced to 28 years for the murder of Stephany Flores. Parents will now be able to allow their college-aged kids to spend spring break in Aruba until 2038. [CNN]
When I was a kid, my father leaned across the dinner table and whispered to me, “Never ask a woman’s age or weight.” He then stole a glance at my mother, who was busy shoveling mashed potatoes into her maw, and sighed. I could never tell whether my dad was trying to offer the wisdom of the ages or making a statement about the tyranny of manners, the clichés they birth, and the way in which politeness can imprison a good man in a loveless relationship that inevitably leads to you watching your 400-pound wife shovel potatoes back like she was auditioning for The Biggest Loser.
And so it was that the Internet Movie Database, aka IMDb, found itself under attack for revealing an actress’s age and “real Asian name.” Kash detailed the charges last October. A few weeks ago, we noted that the woman would have to put up (her name) or shut up (legally speaking).
Well, I don’t want to waste any more of your precious time. The grand reveal is finally here.
After the jump, pictures of an attractive Asian woman….
* Rick Perry’s motion for a temporary restraining order over the printing of Virginia’s primary ballots without his name on them has been denied. Damn all of those unelected, activist judges! [Bloomberg]
* Jed Rakoff isn’t the only one with cojones big enough to challenge the SEC. Wisconsin Judge Rudolph Randa fell right in line, and cited the controversial Citigroup case as precedent. [New York Times]
* Looking for ways to lower your law firm’s operating expenses in 2012? Here are some suggestions for Biglaw firms. At least they deal with technology, not layoffs. [Law.com]
* Long, hard litigation: a Los Angeles city attorney would like to pull out of a ballot measure that requires porn stars to wear condoms while filming before people start suing. [Los Angeles Times]
* Do you want to think about babies when you’re being served at a strip club? Didn’t think so. This pregnant waitress is suing over being demoted, and then fired by the Hustler Club. [Gothamist]
* Grumpiest old man: at almost 100, an Italian man is set to become the world’s oldest divorcé. Hope he had a prenup (even though they probably didn’t exist back then). [Herald Sun]
* Pizza, beer, and hot chicks: what’s the problem? A lawsuit over the “hot chicks.” A former bartender says he was replaced in favor of hotties, and now he wants justice (and money). [11 Alive News]
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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 six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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