Latest Stories

Congratulations to the two winners of our holiday caption contest, sponsored by Applied Discovery. We gave you this picture:
gift wrapped office.jpg
Almost 5,000 votes later, two winners emerged. Check them out, after the jump.

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The Tenth Justice Fantasy SCOTUS League.jpgEd. note: ATL has teamed up with FantasySCOTUS, the premier Supreme Court fantasy league. (For more background, check out this WSJ Law Blog post.) On Fridays, the 10th Justice will analyze league voting to predict how the Supreme Court may decide upcoming cases.
Welcome to the third installment of Predictions of the 10th Justice, brought to you by FantasySCOTUS.net. The league has over 2,000 members, who have made predictions on all cases currently pending before the Supreme Court. Recently, Justice Stephen G. Breyer was asked in an interview about FantasySCOTUS.net. His response: “I don’t think I will bet on it.”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fantasy SCOTUS from the 10th Justice: Grading Forecasts For The First Four Cases of OT09, Plus Prediction Tips”

As some of you know, I like television shows about lawyers. Granted, I liked them a lot better before I knew they were full of crap, but I still like them.
But not like this. This, my friends, is going to suck.

Some complaints after the jump.

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  • 11 Dec 2009 at 11:32 AM
  • Uncategorized

Mystery Meeting at K&L Gates

KL Gates logo.JPGThe last time we checked in with our friends at K&L Gates, they were busy infecting each other with swine flu. But now we’re wondering if K&L Gates is about to catch a different kind of sickness. A tipster reports:

[S]o we’re having a firm-wide associates meeting on the 18th people (i.e., me) are getting nervous have you heard anything?

Gosh, why is everybody always so pessimistic? You’re a Biglaw associate. Your firm is having a big meeting. What could possibly go wrong? They probably will be announcing a fabulous bonus payment. Maybe even a raise or a big time merger that will vault K&L Gates into even more prestigious air.
Sorry, I just wanted to see what it would have been like if Above the Law existed in 2004.

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Salary Cuts.jpgThe artifice of the slurpee salary freeze and the “temporary” salary cut can be put to rest. As long as you are not doing keggers with the firm Kool-Aid, you already know that Biglaw will keep associate salaries depressed for as long as they can. It’s not hard to see where this is going, as Am Law Daily reports:

“If you do the math,” says Steven Davis, chairman of Dewey & LeBoeuf, “associate compensation is coming down across the board.” …
“I lean much more in the direction that this is not a blip,” says Dewey’s Davis. “In the medium term, we’re seeing, and will continue to see, a paradigm shift” in associate compensation. (Dewey, interestingly, hasn’t announced cuts in compensation or in bonuses, though it has sent dozens of 2009 first-years on leave with a stipend.)

That last parenthetical isn’t entirely forthright. Dewey hasn’t announced bonuses yet. If the firm follows Cravath or S&C, that will represent a “cut” in bonuses from last year (to say nothing of two years ago). If Dewey doesn’t follow the market and instead pays what it did last year, I’ll strip naked and run through the streets screaming “I am TTT! I am so TTT!”
But the general point — the one about basic “math” — is exceedingly obvious.
The only open question is whether firms will keep the deflationary salaries on lockstep, or if they’ll move towards a system that rewards people based on still undefined “performance metrics” instead of experience and billable hours.

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* “[A]nd what will happen to Elie Mystal, the site’s current editor and contributing blogger–oft noted for his witty humor and spell-check mishaps?” The ship be stayin’ [ABA Journal]
* Britain, please stop the forum shopping. Please! [New York Times]
* I also dislike judicial elections. It’s too difficult to tell which judges will be soft on crime. [National Law Journal]
* According to Obama, sometimes you have to engage in war to achieve peace. I learned this lesson from Mr. Blonde: “If they hadn’t done, what I told them not to do, they’d be alive.” [ABC]
* Happy Hanukkah. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Simpson Thacher Bartlett LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAbove the Law has obtained what appear to be notes or minutes from a June 2009 partners’ meeting at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. As you would expect, they are riveting reading.
A caveat: the notes appear authentic to us, and they’ve been making the rounds at Simpson, but the firm has not officially confirmed their authenticity. In addition, a firm spokesperson stated that STB does not maintain official minutes of partnership meetings. So please read this post with these warnings in mind. (We welcome private feedback on the notes and their contents; please feel free to email us.)
Let’s start with the important stuff. Back in June, when this meeting took place, Simpson seriously considered doing layoffs, in the truest sense of the word — large in scale, and open and notorious (not stealth). To their credit, however, the partners decided not to go down that path — even though it meant taking a financial hit, by forfeiting potential cost savings. From the minutes:

Headcount: We continue to be oversized relative to demand in New York corporate, particularly among the younger classes and in California corporate. We have been working closely with Personnel and have aggressively been moving out underperformers and people who have been passed over for partner….

Obviously, we could “right size” faster if we implemented a lay-off (100 attys). And, we could target the younger corporate classes in New York and the younger classes in California. However, none of the top-tier firms has engaged in lay-offs. We do not want to be the first top-tier firm to engage in lay-offs. From a financial point of view, given the market practice that has developed, with respect to severance, the cost savings produced by a lay-off, as opposed to our aggressive performance-based reductions, is modest [no savings this year / $30K per/point next year].

More discussion, plus the complete minutes, after the jump.

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ropes gray logo small.JPG* Ropes & Gray is getting all tangled up in this Galleon thing. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Bonuses for Goldman’s top brass might be very interesting this year. [Dealbreaker]
* Eric Holder stopped by NYC today. He ordered Curt Schilling to stand trial in the Bronx. [Gothamist]
* At this point, if I found out Arizona courthouses provided free strippers in the lobby, I wouldn’t be surprised. [Arizona Republic]
* It would have been nice if the partners at Heller who knew “the ship be sinking” clued in some of the associates and staff before the firm crashed and wrecked careers that hadn’t even started yet. [The Recorder]
* See, legal types (like the ones running this blog) know how to be charitable. [Give Blog]

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to [email protected].pls hndle copy 2.jpg
When you think of drug addicts, you probably think of people with jawline zits and corroded teeth who hang out in tunnels with spoons and needles. Thankfully, the ten or so people who, in fact, do live like that have been located and will be featured in the upcoming season of Intervention. What about the less dramatic cases of drug use? Would you know it if the dumpy kid with the laptop next to you was juicin’? If he’s wearing Ed Hardy getting A’s on his Corporations exam, he very well might be.
This week, a tipster sent this email:

As I sit here in my cave trying to focus on Bankruptcy and Secured Transactions, I can’t help but be distracted by what eliminates distractions for many of my classmates, along with a large amount of law students around the country… [What] is becoming clearer and more apparent to me is the use of Adderall…

Adderall, or “beans,” “Christmas trees,” “black beauties,” or “double trouble” as my mom calls them, is normally used to help parents feel like they can do something about their troublemaker children. When abused in adults, the drug can have devastating effects including being unspeakably corny and being a huge loser.
But law students around the country aren’t juicin’ to hit harder, run faster or some other noble cause.

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billable hours for 2009.jpgLast week, we surveyed Above The Law readers about their billable hours for 2009. Over 16% of respondents will be billing less than 1600 hours, and the majority of them are billing less than 1500 hours.
Assuming a stingy two weeks of vacation, that means these folks are billing 30 hours per week. Those are not the kind of hours you want to be racking up in Biglaw. But 2009 was slow, and there wasn’t a lot of work to go around.
How did you spend those unbillable hours? We hope a decent percentage of them were spent here at ATL doing “trade media review.” We hope you weren’t spending your time playing Facebook Mafia Wars and getting tricked into opposing health care reform.
We talked to legal recruiter Dan Binstock about what associates should be doing during their unbillable time. He offers advice to low-billers (and anyone gunning for partnership) after the jump.

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Supreme Court 6 Above the Law blog.jpgOur obsession with Supreme Court clerks is longstanding, dating back to our blogging for Underneath Their Robes (where we used to profile SCOTUS clerks). And it seems we’re not alone in lusting after the Elect.

Apparently oral argument makes people think of other oral activities. Check out this “Missed Connection” from Craigslist:

Law clerk at SCOTUS honest services argument – w4m (Supreme Court Building)

We were both there to hear the honest services arguments, which were fascinating. You were siting with the law clerks, I think, so I’m wondering if you’re one of them. You looked slightly older and more mature than the rest of the people you were sitting with. You’re quite handsome and I enjoyed watching you as you followed the arguments. Too bad you left at the case break–I’d been trying to catch your eye. (I was sitting in the front row of reserved seating.) I promise that if you agree to meet me for dinner that I won’t mention Black or Weyhrauch. What say you?

If you’ll forgive the quibbling, this posting is subpar; it’s missing some information. First, the poster has omitted her age (which typically goes after the “w4m”). Second, she offers little identifying information about herself (e.g., “I was wearing a red scarf”).

Third, she offers little identifying information about the clerk, other than that he’s “more mature” and “quite handsome.” We suspect that every male Supreme Court clerk fancies himself “more mature” and “quite handsome.”

Typically a missed connection involves, well, a “connection.” The lack of identifying information suggests that no such connection was forged here. But we admire the poster’s effort.

This is not, by the way, the first time a CL “Missed Connection” has arisen out of a Supreme Court argument.

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Breaking Media logo.jpgGreetings, Above the Law readers. We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you an announcement relating to our parent company, Breaking Media.
From our press release:

Jonah Bloom, currently editor of Crain Communications’ Advertising Age, will be joining Breaking Media, the B2B digital blog network that publishes the popular sites Above The Law, DealBreaker, Going Concern and Fashionista, as Chief Executive Officer and Editor in Chief. In addition, Breaking Media announces that Matt Creamer, senior editor at Advertising Age, will be joining the company as Executive Editor. They begin January 4.

Bloom and Creamer bring to Breaking Media extensive experience in B2B news and information. During their tenure, Bloom and Creamer helped lead the transformation of Ad Age into multiplatform information brand, greatly expanding its audience and its digital presence with newsletters and blogs and evolving the content to serve the media and marketing business with intelligence that went well beyond breaking news.

At Breaking Media, Bloom and Creamer, along with Publisher-Chief Operating Officer David Minkin, will be charged with the continued growth of the company’s existing stable of websites and with leading expansion into new coverage areas.

What does this mean for ATL on a day-to-day basis? Well, your above-signed writer will be returning his full-time focus to writing and editing posts on Above the Law. Observant commenters have noticed our byline appearing with increased frequency over the past few weeks; now you know why.
UPDATE: In response to some of your comments, we’re happy to report that the rest of Team ATL — Elie, Kash, and all the columnists — will remain in place.
FURTHER UPDATE: To the extent that this is a “demotion” for us, it was one that we requested (and that the company accommodated). Above the Law is our baby, and given our “control freak” tendencies, we wanted maximum involvement with it.
Full press release, after the jump.

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