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Dawn Johnsen gives up on OLC

* After a yearlong hold-up, Dawn Johnsen withdraws her nomination to the Office of Legal Counsel. [Huffington Post]

* There’s been so much Stevens retirement coverage that new angles are rare. But this piece is fresh: on what the High Court now lacks. [The Root via Concurring Opinions]

* Class action against Texas judge for requiring litigants to file via Lexis Nexis. [Courthouse News Service]

* Wilmer Hale co-managing partner William Lee is the first Asian-American selected to serve on the Harvard Corporation. [Boston Globe; Harvard Crimson]

* Florida man sued for $15,000 for negative eBay review. [Florida Today]

* The New York Times speaks out about law school clinics. [New York Times]

Today I attended the Future of Education Conference, sponsored by Harvard Law School and New York Law School. New York Law School hosted a pretty interesting event. The fact schools as different as HLS and NYLS were coming together to host it (part two of the conference will be at HLS this October) is illustrative of the breadth of legal educators who are trying to deal with the declining “value proposition” of going to law school.

I’ll be doing a couple of posts on today’s conference over the next few days (you can check out my real time tweets from the event @atlblog). But I did want to share some thoughts from United Technologies‘ General Counsel, Chester Paul Beach and Gillian Hadfield, Professor of Law and Economics at USC.

Speaking during the “Apocalypse Now” session, Beach stood up and told approximately 75 law school deans and legal educators from around the country:

“We don’t allow first or second year associates to work on any of our matters without special permission, because they’re worthless.”

[Correction: The quote below has been changed from an earlier version.]

Later, on a separate panel, the USC professor pointed out how difficult that assessment was for graduating 3Ls.:

“What did Paul Beach say? “They’re worthless”.  It’s awful, it’s really really awful”

It is pretty awful for 3Ls as they prepare to set out into the market.

So the panelists pulled no punches, but did the educators get the message?

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(And You Should Be Worried Too)”

* Do trust them foreigners. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Can you be in virtual contempt of court? [Threat Level/Wired]

* Is Manhattan DA Cy Vance rehearsing for Undercover Boss? [Gothamist]

* STD Secure. [Instapundit]

* Toyota plaintiffs have class. [Los Angeles Times]

* Speaking of Stevens… [Legal Times]

* Speaking of Supreme Court Justices retiring… Jimmy Smits will play the fictional one in new Conan O’Brien-produced legal show, Justice. [TV.com]

* Pay your interns and law clerks. [Lawyerist]

Hey Biglaw partners, if you’re switching products to please your client, you may be wasting your time. Last week, we reported that Day Pitney is getting rid of all the free Cokes in its office in favor of client Pepsi-Co’s products.

This was disappointing news around the firm, since according to our survey, 78% of lawyers prefer Coke to Pepsi.

As we recounted anecdotally in that post, Day Pitney is not alone. Many firms have been known to switch products to please clients. One former Biglaw type who is now in-house says, though, that product loyalty is inconsequential.

For the record, I am now in house with a very large company and I have absolutely NO expectation whatsoever that any of our firms will require their staff and attorneys to use our products, and only our products. In fact, I would see a move like the one taken by Day Pitney as nothing but full, balls-to-the-wall pandering. Forget what soda you stock at meetings. How about you do good work and stop overbilling me? THAT’S what matters. Idiots.

Is this in-house lawyer’s analysis flat?

UPDATE: Others say Pepsi will can those who don’t drink their kool-aid, er, their Sierra Mist

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Potential Supreme Court nominees?

For weeks, the media laundry machine has been circulating news of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’s impending retirement. Now that the buzzer has gone off on that, it’s time to switch to the next cycle: speculation as to who President Barack Obama will nominate to replace him.

President Obama has been dragging his feet in his appointment of federal judges. We are relieved to hear that he is going to pick up the pace for announcing his Supreme Court pick. ABC News reports that the White House is prepared — thanks to Stevens’s public pondering — and that the announcement will come “within weeks.” Which isn’t really very helpful at all. Two weeks? Four weeks? Twelve weeks?

BLT reports on Obama’s speech from the Rose Garden today:

“While we cannot replace Justice Stevens’ experience or wisdom, I will seek someone in the coming weeks with similar qualities — an independent mind, a record of excellence and integrity, a fierce dedication to the rule of law, and a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people,” Obama said. “It will also be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.”

Please make it fast, Obama. We’re ready to move on to the confirmation hearing cycle!

Let’s speculate until then, though…

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It’s a talk, it’s a party, it’s an open bar, it’s an opportunity to meet and mingle with the ATL editors, law firm associates, and law students. Can you think of a better way to spend a Tuesday night?

We’ve still got space for the Summer Associate Kick-Off Party, hosted by Practical Law Company. The event is this Tuesday, April 13th, from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Amity Hall, (80 West 3rd Street). David Lat, Elie Mystal and Kashmir Hill will be hanging out and offering advice on the Do’s & Don’ts Of Being A Summer Associate.

First Do: Take advantage of networking opportunities. (And open bars.)

If you’re a law student or lawyer, you’re invited. You can RSVP for the event by emailing us at rsvp@abovethelaw.com, with your name and your law school or law firm.

We hope to see you there.

Summer Associate Kick-Off Party [Practical Law Company]

The weather is seasonal in New York City today, but for most of this week we’ve experienced a little heat wave. Near record high temperatures were recorded throughout the tri-state area.

Apparently, Cardozo Law School was completely unprepared for this spate of summer weather, and it nearly ruined the school’s “OCI Preview” event for 1Ls desperate to snag jobs next recruiting season. Multiple tipsters reported variations on the same theme. I’ll use a version that doesn’t involve cursing: “I pay over $40,000 in tuition yet my law school can’t even turn the A/C on when I’m trying to network for a job.”

It was so bad that Cardozo had to send around an apology to the students for making them network in a sauna. And according to the email, Cardozo truly couldn’t figure out how to simply turn the A/C “on”…

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I have always held a special place in my heart for Georgetown University. I was born on campus at Georgetown University Hospital. My father received his J.D. from the Law Center, and I am an alumnus of Georgetown Prep. I was also very lucky to attend Hoya basketball games as a child and watch Patrick Ewing dominate the college ranks.

Now I have another reason to love Georgetown: Jim Michalowitz. You see, Georgetown University Law Center is one of the few schools with an e-discovery blog. I have highlighted it before on Gabe’s Guide. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that Jim had actually taken time out of his busy schedule to write a response to my ATL post that was highly critical of the legal outsourcing of e-discovery work to non-attorneys here and overseas.

With the title, “You Can’t Trust Them Foreigners – Outsourcing Document Review,” it’s of little surprise that Mr. Michalowitz — advisory board member of Georgetown University’s CLE e-Discovery Institute, Six Sigma enthusiast, and proponent of foreign legal outsourcing — took a different take on the issue.

And, you know what? He was so right. I just don’t trust them foreigners. I didn’t know it until I read his post, but it all makes perfect sense now.

Here are some of Mr. Michalowitz’s conclusions about my original arguments against outsourcing legal work to non lawyers:

  • My position on legal outsourcing was extreme
  • Using foreign or non-attorneys would equal a poor or lower quality work product
  • Foreign lawyers might as well be considered non- or “not-real” lawyers

Mr. Michalowitz brings up some good points; however, he either has some fundamental misunderstandings of — or is falsely characterizing — my views on legal outsourcing. So, I thought that I would take the time to nicely clarify any misconceptions he might have. Oh, and by nicely, I mean, I am coming like the Clash of the Titans, because I am about to release the Kraken, after the jump.

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Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is done with his teasing. He’s been hinting for weeks that he could announce his plans to retire at any moment. Today, he finally made it official.

He sent a letter to President Barack Obama this morning — available after the jump — consisting of a single sentence (Souter did it with two):

Having concluded that it would be in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court’s next Term, I shall retire from regular active service as an Associate Justice, under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 371(b), effective the next day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year.

This means Obama will have his second opportunity to make an addition to the Supreme Court. U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan is considered by many to be the frontrunner for the nomination.

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At the end of the summer, Willkie Farr & Gallagher told offerees that they would be able to start at the firm on time, in the fall of 2010. It turns out that Willkie’s promise wasn’t something intelligent law students should have relied on. Here’s the email that went out to the summer class, yesterday:

Hope everyone is enjoying this summer-like weather. We are looking forward to your return and wanted to provide you with details about arrival date, salary advance and other important matters.

Orientation Date: The orientation date for the new associate class is Wednesday, January 5th.

Salary Advance: The Firm offers a salary advance for all incoming associates. You have the option of receiving up to $20,000 (payable in any month from June to October) as an advance on your first year salary. The amount advanced will be deducted from your salary over a period of one year. If you are interested in taking an advance, please complete the attached form and return it to me.

What a breezy, matter-of-fact email communicating that you don’t intend to keep your promises. But associates headed to Willkie weren’t bothered by the tone. The substance, now that pissed them off…

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* Kelley Drye backs down over its retirement policy. [New York Law Journal]

* The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 needs an upgrade? Why? Has there been some kind of revolution in electronic communications that’s happened over the past 24 years? [New York Times]

* The University of St. Thomas Law School is the latest to drop the LSAT as a requirement for admission. [ABA Journal]

* Former producer of Survivor is now the prime suspect in his wife’s homicide. [NY Post]

* Tragic news for the UNC Law community. [Daily Tar Heel]

* If Willie Nelson and Robert Duval are your character witnesses, you are probably a good guy. Maybe guilty as sin, but a good guy. [Waco Tribune]

Is there a Tiger Woods at your firm?

Tiger Woods is back on the green stroking it into the hole, his face no longer in the rough, for the first day of the Masters.

Beyond a flyover involving a terrible pun and controversy over Nike’s resurrection of Woods’ dead father’s voice, the first day was a smooth one. Tiger the Superstar is back.

Last weekend, Jonah Lehrer wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal about “The Superstar Effect,” suggesting that Tiger will make other golfers play worse just by showing up:

According to a paper by Jennifer Brown, an applied macroeconomist at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Mr. Woods is such a dominating golfer that his presence in a tournament can make everyone else play significantly worse. Because his competitors expect him to win, they end up losing; success becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ms. Brown argues that the superstar effect is not just relevant on the golf course. Instead, she suggests that the presence of superstars can be “de-motivating” in a wide variety of competitions, from the sales office to the law firm.

Brown analyzed PGA Tour data from 1999 through 2006, and discovered that Woods’s presence in a tournament resulted in other golfers taking more strokes. Brown suggests that in situations where success is based on relative performance, a known superstar causes everyone else to give up and step down their game.

We thought that superstars made mediocre associates swing with malice aforethought. But Brown suggests that the “up and out model” at law firms results in great performance from the Tigers bound for partnership, and halfhearted efforts by the rest of the associates who know they’re on their way out…

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