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April 1 is a dangerous date. It’s a day when punking people becomes the national sport.  It’s not just traditional pranksters like College Humor marking the holiday. Law firms and law schools have been getting in on the fun today as well.

Shortly after your ATL editors got back from lunch, we got an alarmed email from a Columbia Law student, upset about Columbia’s plan to block some popular websites starting Monday:

From: Student Senate
Date: Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 14:25
Subject: Selective Website Blocking

Dear Students,

When the Dean’s Advisory Committee addressed the Senate last month, it conveyed the faculty’s concern regarding student inattention and declining participation in class. The consensus among professors is that in-class Internet use is the primary cause.

Yesterday, we were informed that IT will begin blocking access to certain Internet sites inside the Law School’s three main buildings, while classes are meeting. Selective site blocking is scheduled to begin Monday morning. Among the 2-3 dozen sites affected are Facebook, Gmail and Above the Law. Others may be added later.

A full list of these sites is available at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/law/senate/siteblocking.html. We’ll update this page as more information becomes available…

We’re honored to be part of that Holy Trifecta of websites, though Elie was initially quite upset at Columbia — until he visited the linked website and “got Rick-rolled for the first time in years.” Judging from the flood of emails we’ve gotten, he’s far from the only one.

Weil Gotshal and Yale Law School also performed some prestigious pranks. You’d think legal types’ natural cynicism would help protect them today. But you’d be wrong…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Made an April Fool of You Today?”

* What we talk about when we talk about federalism: University of Chicago law professor Alison LaCroix, author of the just-published Ideological Origins of American Federalism, discusses the relevance of federalism for current policy debates. [Political Bookworm / Washington Post]

* Speaking of the Founding, if there’s another Constitutional Convention, I demand that all delegates wear wigs. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Mother sues hospital after the staff gave her the wrong baby to breast feed. So, I guess she won’t be appearing on the Project Wet Nurse reality show I just made up in my head. [BL1Y]

* What does Google think about the LSAT? [LSAT Blog]

* Minorities do better than whites when it comes to getting hired into tenure track positions at American law schools. But don’t start getting melanin injections just yet. [ABA Journal]

* Becoming a lawyer for the Catholic Church is a lot like becoming a lawyer for any other organization. [Slate]

* Former Duke lacrosse head coach Mike Pressler settles his lawsuit with the university. I’d say that he should go to a strip club to celebrate, but that would probably look bad. [NewsObserver]

Supreme Court hallway Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law.JPGSupreme Court clerk hiring is once again in the news. This subject, usually of interest just to hard-core legal nerds, migrated over to the mainstream media in Jeffrey Toobin’s recent New Yorker profile of Justice John Paul Stevens. Toobin cleverly used the topic of clerk hiring as a backdoor way of getting at JPS’s retirement plans:

With the election of Barack Obama, the question of Stevens’s retirement has become more pressing. Even though Stevens was appointed by a Republican President, many assume that he would never willingly have turned his seat over to George W. Bush. I asked Stevens about his plans.

“Well, I still have my options open,” he said. “When I decided to just hire one clerk, three of my four clerks last year said they’d work for me next year if I wanted them to. So I have my options still. And then I’ll have to decide soon.” On March 8th, he told me that he would make up his mind in about a month.

April 8 is just around the corner. If you hear of Justice Stevens re-hiring his former clerks (or hiring new clerks) for October 2010, please let us know.

In an interesting online chat with Toobin about his JPS profile, the subject of clerk hiring came up again….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Dukies Do Well; Alito Is Done”

An article in today’s New York Times, by former WSJ Law Blog writer Dan Slater, discusses changing law firm business models. Much of the piece covers ground that will be familiar to ATL readers. But the article contains some interesting new information about Kaye Scholer (where Slater once worked).

According to the Times article, it appears that the firm essentially lied to some of its new associates:

In the summer of 2008, Kaye Scholer’s New York office extended offers of full-time employment to 31 students, many from top schools. They would return to law school for their third years, they thought, then graduate, take the bar exam and begin at the firm in January 2010, at a base salary approximating the current level of $160,000.

About two months before the start date, however, the firm notified 18 of the 31, a group including law graduates from Columbia, New York and Northwestern Universities, that they would be relegated, upon arrival, to the firm’s public interest group. There, they would work on pro bono matters and make $60,000 a year.

All 18 accepted the revised offer.

In March, about two months after starting, 17 of the 18 were assigned to a document review project, for a paying client, and told to bill 40 hours a week. For this, these associates will make an extra $30 an hour, approximately the hourly rate of their base salary.

We reported on Kaye Scholer’s $60,000 a year, pro bono associate plan back in October. How did the firm characterize it to us at the time?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Kaye Scholer Shifts Pro Bono Associates Back to Doc Review
And some reflections on the changing Biglaw business model.

Someone’s got to do it, I guess, but it really was awful and there was really no way to make it fun or interesting other than to give yourself little goals like “at the end of every 25 pages, I get to eat another M&M.”

Ashby Jones of the WSJ Law Blog, on document review.

Hey job hunters, a law firm in Maryland is looking for a real gunner.

The collections/real estate firm wants a lawyer licensed in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area who endorses (non-lethal) workplace shootings.

Liberals need not apply…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Job For Lovers of the Second Amendment”

While there has been some chemistry for the participants in ATL Courtship Connection so far, there has been only one incident of serious sparks.

We launched Courtship in New York because it’s home to so many single types, but also because it’s home to Sex-And-The-City types. Getting lucky on a first date is not out of the realm of possibility here. I’ve been hopeful that one of the blind date couples would experience love –or at least lust — at first sight, and send me the dirty details (since I keep all Courtship Connection couples anonymous).

After a month of blind dates, there’s finally a seriously racy report. From a Biglaw attorney who has apparently left his Midwestern values back in flyover country:

The first thing I noticed was how curvaceous she was. Being from the Midwest, it was a welcome change from all the ellipta-holic emaciated type-A shrews that pass for women around here. Still, you could tell she was no fresh daisy, having been thoroughly corrupted at the temple of NYC BIGLAW. Her first question was whether or not my firm was lockstep. I said it didn’t matter, because either way, I *always* eat what I kill. Saying this, I looked her up and down with my best approximation of hungry eyes. This could have backfired, true, but you don’t get to be a successful attorney without taking risks. Fortunately, her eyes lit up, captivated by my alpha-Dahmer routine. We were off to the printers.  Her blackberry buzzed almost immediately after we sat down. I made a joke about potential alternate uses for this demonic device – a way to turn the pain inflicted on us by our superiors into rapid, double bursts of pleasure. She laughed. I just knew we were in for a fun, sexy time, BIGLAW style.

BlackBerry as vibrator jokes are still fresh?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Courtship Connection: Only Fools Fall in Love (On the First Date)”

The last time we had a motion to continue from Alabama, it was lighthearted and funny. A lawyer asked for the continuance in order to attend the ‘Bama/UT BCS Championship game. We know how much Alabamans love their football.

But we also know how much people in Alabama love their Republican talking points. Sure, you’d think it’d be hard to weave a Glen Beck rant into a run-of-the-mill motion to continue. But you’d be misunderestimating the good lawyers in Alabama.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Motion to Continue of the Day: Alabama Lawyers Blame Socialism for Absent Witness”

What would your firm do to land, or generate more business from, an important client? Would you… switch sodas?

Over at Day Pitney, they’re taking the Pepsi challenge. Here’s an email recently sent around the firm by partner Ernest Mattei (Pepsi logo in the original):

Pepsico, Inc. is a firm client. We want to expand our relationship and increase the amount of business we receive from Pepsi. Currently we have matters for Pepsi that are being handled in several of our offices. We have had meetings in those offices with Pepsi attorneys and representatives.

We want Pepsi to know that they are important to us and that we are serious about representing them and developing our relationship. One obvious way to do this is to use their products. For that reason, the Executive Committee has approved offering Pepsi and Diet Pepsi at meetings when beverages and snacks are provided in our Connecticut and Boston offices. Coke will still be available in our vending machines.

We plan on informing Pepsi of the firm’s decision. Thank you for your anticipated support of this decision.

How is this news being received at Day Pitney? Caffeine-addicted lawyers can be very sensitive when it comes to their soda. Remember the near-mutiny at Foley & Lardner, after the firm decided to slash its soda subsidy?

And will Pepsi even notice that Day Pitney has switched?

UPDATE: A reader poll on Coke v. Pepsi, added after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Day Pitney Lawyers: No Coke for You!
What would your firm do to snag a client?

Career Center AboveTheLaw Lateral Link ATL.jpgDuring the past year, associates at many firms were too busy looking for work — any work — to be picky about what kind of work it was. Stories abound about real estate associates forced to learn bankruptcy law and M&A attorneys doing litigation doc review.

This week, our ATL / Lateral Link survey asks about how the economy has affected your practice area choices. We’ll use the information to update the ATL Career Center and bring you the results next week.

If you have information about your firm that you want to share with other Career Center users, please email us, at careercenter@abovethelaw.com.

Here at Above the Law, we’re used to seeing funny and fiery departure memos. But the one we were forwarded last night is truly a special treat.

Here’s the set up. The memo comes out of a small firm in the Atlanta area. It was written by a paralegal — we’ll call her “Blaze of Glory.” She had some very pointed things to say about one of the associates, who we’ll call “Attila.” A partner at the firm, “My Name is Pitt,” is also referenced in the memo. All the rest of the backstory comes from a tipster:

I am told that the ENTIRE firm was blind copied when this email was sent. Now there’s only about 20 or so attorneys at this firm, however, the firm also includes about [a much larger number of] paralegals/legal assistants. A few words cannot describe this email; you just have to read the email to believe it.

Oh, this is going to be fun …

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “When Paralegals Burn Bridges”

* The White House is launching a Law Blog and has chosen Eric Turkewitz to man it. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* International M&A lawyer gets in trouble for merger with a teenage boy. [Philadelphia Inquirer via Lawshucks]

* The Vatican says that the Pope is immune from testifying in sexual abuse trials. [Reuters]

* Linklaters likes lockstep. [AmLaw Daily]

* Sunlight coming to the SEC? [Washington Post]

* A Missouri couple is battling in divorce court and on the ballot. [Associated Press]

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