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Ed. note: This post is written by Will Meyerhofer, a Biglaw attorney turned psychotherapist, whom we profiled. A former Sullivan & Cromwell associate, he holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work. He blogs at The People’s Therapist.

You pass through a stage when you’re about two years old – the famous “terrible twos.” It’s often marked by stubborn refusals to obey orders, and sometimes downright tantrums. The infant is growing into a person. For the first time, he wants control over his own life.

It’s called personal autonomy. You go where you want to go, do what you want to do, and refuse to do what you don’t want to do. A crucial phase of human psychological development, it marks the inception of an independent identity, a sense of purpose – and a sense of self.

This week I worked with a young second-year from a big firm. She related a hellish story of law firm life.

This past Saturday morning she was at the airport in line with a boarding pass, heading to her best friend’s wedding, when her cellphone rang. It was a partner. He needed her in right away.

She explained that she was about to step on a plane.

He asked, “Well, are you actually in the wedding?”

She said no.

“Then you don’t have to be there.”

You’ve heard stories like this. One of my clients admitted to a partner that it was actually his step-grandmother’s funeral he was leaving the office to attend. This old woman had been married to his grandfather for 30 years and was the only grandmother he’d ever known, but he lost on a technicality. He couldn’t be at that funeral because she wasn’t family. Some court filing was more important.

Young attorneys at big firms don’t have personal autonomy….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In-House Counseling: The Terrible Twos”

We’ve had plenty of unnamed sources insisting on the heterosexuality of Solicitor General and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. The most notable was the anonymous administration official who told the Washington Post that Kagan isn’t gay, in response to an online column by conservative blogger Ben Domenech claiming otherwise.

But there have been other such sources. I previously mentioned one, a Clinton Administration official involved in vetting Kagan when she was nominated to the D.C. Circuit, who insisted to me that she’s straight. Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic cited “[p]eople who know Kagan very well” in reporting that she’s not gay.

Now we have an identified individual going on the record to say that the Divine Miss K enjoys the big D. From Politico:

Elena Kagan is not a lesbian, one of her best friends told POLITICO Tuesday night, responding to persistent rumors and innuendo about the Supreme Court nominee’s personal life.

“I’ve known her for most of her adult life and I know she’s straight,” said Sarah Walzer, Kagan’s roommate in law school and a close friend since then. “She dated men when we were in law school, we talked about men — who in our class was cute, who she would like to date, all of those things. She definitely dated when she was in D.C. after law school, when she was in Chicago – and she just didn’t find the right person.”

A denial that the likely 112th justice of the Supreme Court is a devotee of Sappho? This is just… so… ridiculous. But fun! God bless America.

And there’s more….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “It’s Official: Elena Kagan Is Straight!”

* Are we witnessing the start of an M&A boom? Here’s a round-up of the firms that have snagged the latest work. [Am Law Daily]

* BP wants the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cases to be consolidated and heard in federal court in Houston (S.D. Tex.). [Bloomberg via WSJ Law Blog]

* The U.S. Chamber of Commerce weighs in against the nomination of John J. “Jack” McConnell — the prominent plaintiffs’ attorney who has donated hundreds of thousands to Democratic candidates’ campaigns, and who will earn between $2.5 million and $3.1 million every year though 2024, in deferred pay — to the federal bench in Rhode Island. [Providence Journal]

* A Louisiana politician is suing anonymous blog commenters. If you go into politics, you ought to have a thicker skin. (In fact, in the internet age, we should all have thicker skins.) [New Orleans Times-Picayune]

* If Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, Ivy League domination of SCOTUS will be complete. [Washington Post]

* Meanwhile, the Kagan nomination has created a headache for Sen. Arlen Specter (R D whatever-PA) — he voted against her as Solicitor General, but now he might support her for SCOTUS. Nice. [New York Times]

Will confirmation hearings remind Kagan of the Pit of Despair?

UPDATE: Vote in our Elena Kagan Look-A-Like Contest here.

Every time we write about Solicitor General Elena Kagan (and we’re writing about her quite frequently since Obama tapped her for the Supreme Court), our readers immediately begin commenting on her looks.

That is not unusual in these parts. Men and women are often superficial. Rather than analyzing her law review articles or performance before the High Court in Citizens United v. FEC, people focus on her face. More specifically, the resemblance her face bears to other faces: Kevin James, a character from the Princess Bride, and Carrie Fisher, among others.

You people are shallow, sad creatures…

But we are too. We’ve written before about how attractive lawyers do better financially than their looks-challenged counterparts in the private sector, and unattractive people’s tendency to migrate out of law firms and into government and public sector jobs.

We’ve also commented specifically on Kagan’s looks. Lat is a devoted fan:

Solicitor General Kagan, you’re quite pretty. There’s a reason you made our list of law school dean hotties, back when you were dean at Harvard Law School. You have great skin, a dazzling smile, and a girlish glow. You definitely possess assets that merit accentuation.

A few years back, Kagan was nominated for our Law School Dean Hotties contest. Now we’re devoting an entire contest to her: the Elena Kagan look-a-like contest.

We’re accepting submissions in the comments, and choosing finalists based on those with the most “likes.” A photo essay on suggestions so far, after the jump….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Does SCOTUS Nominee Elena Kagan Look Like?”

* Welcome to the world stage, new British Prime Minister David Cameron. Try to remember that you were elected without a mandate, your predecessor was awful, and most Americans think the Frost/Nixon guy is still in charge. Since you had to pander to the Liberal Democrats to assume your position, maybe you could take some of their ideas about reforming your ridiculous, ancient, electoral system. [BBC News]

* Put him in a body bag, Larry Lessig. [Huffington Post]

* If only law schools feared Rule 10b-5. [Adam Smith Esq.]

* Would someone, of either sex, just stand up and confirm that they’ve had sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Kagan? [AOL News]

* Top Female Antitrust Economics and Law Professors. Jeez, they really have a top ten list for everything these days. [Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog]

* Kagan, the fair use Justice? [The Hollywood Reporter]

* It’s one thing for governments not to have a sense of humor about Twitter threats. It’s quite another thing to convict a man for getting angry. [Legal Blog Watch]

In case you haven’t noticed, Twitter is all the rage right now. Everyone is signing up — including your ATL editors.

Given that bloggers are in the business of taking in and pushing out content, our use of Twitter isn’t surprising. A more interesting development is that lawyers at large law firms, including fairly senior partners, are taking to the social networking site. One notable example is Frank Aquila of Sullivan & Cromwell, the high-powered M&A attorney who was named a Legal Rebel by the ABA Journal in part because of his use of Twitter (where he has over 1,300 followers).

The latest is even more prominent: superstar litigator John Quinn, founding partner of Quinn Emanuel. Over the weekend — because QE lawyers are always working, or at least always checking their email — this firm-wide email went around:

John Quinn is on Twitter. He will be tweeting legal developments, firm victories and events, as well as miscellaneous musings at @jbqlaw.

Firm victories. Like in the Redskins case?

I interviewed John Quinn about his foray into Twitter. What did he have to say?

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It’s time for us to discuss the third tier law schools. Every year, U.S. News ranks the top 100 law schools, and then throws everybody else into the third tier morass (which is better than the fourth tier morass, I suppose).

We won’t list them all, but you can click here to check them out.

One could argue that the legal profession would be better if there were just 100 ABA accredited law schools (as opposed to 200). One could argue that we should have very different kinds of law schools: a top 100 that caters to Biglaw, big time clerkships, and elite legal work, and another “tier” of law schools that better prepares graduates for small law and the kind of low cost legal services we need more of.

One cannot credibly argue that the price of these third tier institutions should be similar to the first and second tier schools we’ve previously discussed.

But don’t try to get the administration at these schools to reduce the cost of the education just because the debts put their graduates in a bad financial situation…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Open Thread: 2011 U.S. News Law School Rankings (The Third Tier)”

The “pro bono year” is to Biglaw what a “study abroad program” is to most American universities: a time for reflection, exposure to new things, and a more relaxed pace.

It was a necessity born of the recession. Firms did not have enough work to go around; they didn’t want to lose perfectly good employees, but they also did not want to pay them six figures to sit in their offices, twiddling their thumbs until the economy picked back up. So, instead, they offered five-figure stipends and the requirement, in some cases, that their lawyers go off and serve the public good.

This fall, many of those lawyers are heading back to their firms (though some liked being “abroad” in the public interest sector so much that they don’t plan to go back). Skadden is still trying to decide how much worth the pro bono year, or “Sidebar Plus” in Skadden parlance, brought to its associates, and thus how much to pay them upon their return.

It seems though that Skadden is unsure about the worth of Sidebar itself. Though the firm has not officially commented on it, we understand that it is discontinuing the Sidebar Plus program, apparently because work at the firm has picked up and it wants all of its associates back at the farm, plowing the billable hour fields.

What will become of the “pro bono year” for Biglaw? When we emerge from the recession, will it be left behind? Heading into the fall, some firms are still offering the year-away option to incoming associates, including generous stipends…

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Career Center AboveTheLaw Lateral Link ATL.jpgOur recent Career Center survey asked about starting salaries and annual salary increases at firms across the country.  Over 70% of respondents indicated that their firms increase salaries during the traditional month of January.  About 8% percent of respondents, including associates at this Midwestern firm, see their salary increase in February.  Another 9%, including associates at these two global firms, get raises in March.  The remaining 12% of respondents indicated that their annual raises come at some later point in the year.  

Check out the full survey results after the jump — and visit the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link , for more on changing compensation practices at firms across the country. If you are an employer seeking more detailed information on firm salary scales please contact T.J. Duane at

Full survey results, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center: When Do You Get a Raise? Survey Results”

For many law students, the path to Biglaw riches looks something like this:

Step 1: Get into cheap law school.
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit.

A lot of kids fill in “Step 2″ with the idea of trading up to a “better” law school after a successful 1L year. Now that finals have wrapped up at most law schools (and the law schools still conducting finals are generally places nobody wants to transfer from), many students will set their sights on the goal of transferring out of their current law school.

Of course, just because students want to transfer doesn’t mean they can. And unfortunately many students will find that their current law school actively tries to make it difficult for kids to get out and into a better law school.

Is your school cock-blocking you from scoring a better legal education?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Open Thread: It’s Transfer Time”

This morning I attended a very interesting panel discussion sponsored by the Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Law, Citizens United: Mountain or Mole Hill? Because the talk was sponsored by my rather left-leaning alma mater, I expected the answer to the question presented to be “Mountain” — and not just any mountain, but Mount Doom.

I was pleasantly surprised. The deeply thoughtful discussion pointed more in the direction of “Mole Hill.” This was especially surprising given the liberal bona fides of the three star panelists:

  • Floyd Abrams, the longtime Cahill Gordon partner and celebrated First Amendment lawyer, who argued in the case for Senator Mitch McConnell (as amicus curiae, in support of Citizens United);
  • Heather Gerken, the J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School, and a leading scholar of election law and voting rights; and
  • Samuel Issacharoff, the Reiss Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law, and an expert in voting rights and civil procedure.

Both Professors Gerken and Issacharoff worked on the Obama campaign. And we all know what President Obama thinks of Citizens United.

But what did this eminent trio of panelists have to say about the case?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Citizens United Is Not the End of the World”

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