* Did you know that there was a Proposition 9 in California? With all these voter referendums, could somebody please explain again why California even bothers to have a state legislature? [Johnny California]
* A clients caring (about bonuses) roundup. [f/k/a]
* There’s an argument that law firms should double the bonuses from what were given last year. It’s not a good argument. But hey, until some firm steps up to stop the bleeding (please save us S&C) I choose to grasp at the elusive straw. [Law and More]
* How nerdy do you have to be to refer to lawyers as “non-nerdy?” I mean, at that point are you rolling at 1d10 to see if you can “score” with that woman at the bar? [Topless Robot]
According to Connecticut DUI lawyer James O. Ruane, I can’t breathe as well as white people. Based on this “analysis” Ruane has determined that the breathalyzer is a racist device.
Really. I’m not making that up. Ruane represents a black man who got busted for drunk driving:
A breath analysis administered at state police Troop G in Bridgeport found Brown had a blood-alcohol content of 0.188. The legal limit is 0.08.
In a motion filed Tuesday in Superior Court, Ruane asked a judge to suppress his client’s breathalyzer test results, contending the device used by the state police, and most other local police departments, the Intoxilyzer 5000, discriminates against blacks. Brown is an African-American.
I’m all for zealous defense of your clients, but I don’t see why you have to insult thinking people of all colors to make that defense. But Ruane argued:
[T]he lung capacity of a black man is 3 percent smaller than a white man and, therefore, black men’s test results vary from the sobriety standard set by the device.
He said Dr. Michael Hlastala, a lung physiologist at the University of Washington, examined research of other lung physiologists and, based on his studies, has determined the Intoxilyzer 5000 does not effectively test the blood-alcohol content of black men.
“He looked at all the research and came up with the bigger picture and found the common thread,” he said.
Mmm … blanket generalizations about an entire people. I wonder what Michael Jordan’s lung capacity is as compared to Alan Dershowitz?
Former Capitol Hill staffer/sex blogger/author/bankrupt babe Jessica Cutler has taken a husband. According to the Washington Post:
Jessica Cutler, 30, the Hill aide turned “Washingtonienne” sex blogger turned author, to Manhattan lawyer Charles Rubio, 28. … The couple plan to wed at New York City Hall on an early December weekday, followed by a happy-hour reception. (Not pregnant, in case you’re wondering.) How’d they meet? “Randomly in a bar,” Cutler told us. “I wish I had a more romantic story to tell you!”
Isn’t that always the way? You write stories about the exciting escapades of others while you yourself marry a lawyer you met in a bar. Yawn.
Timothy Pohl, part of Skadden’s ruling class, sounds confident that his firm is in the running:
Pohl says Skadden has historically done work for former Chrylser owner Daimler, which sold 80 percent of Chrysler to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in 2007 for $7.4 billion. Skadden also does work for Ford, says Pohl, adding that the firm has yet to be contacted by either automaker.
“I’m not convinced that any [of the Big Three] are hiring advisers yet,” Pohl says. “But between us, Kirkland, and Weil, I’d say that the three of us have the largest [bankruptcy and restructuring] groups with a big falloff after that.”
Obviously both Skadden and Kirkland have the chops to handle the work, but isn’t the real question “Why not Weil?”
It’s uncertain whether a potential Big Three bankruptcy might present a similar problem for Weil–and how the firm would manage to juggle its Lehman, Lenox, and other client obligations in the event of such a resource-draining retention. That’s especially true given that it’s unclear whether a potential Big Three filing would proceed on a liquidation track (a la Lehman) or as an infinitely more complicated corporate restructuring.
At some point, Weil has to run out of bankruptcy lawyers. Right?
Is there a pattern developing in Pittsburgh? A few weeks ago we reported that K&L Gates laid off a number of staff. Today, Gina Passarella of the Legal Intelligencer reports that another Pittsburgh powerhouse, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, laid off between 15 and 25 support staffers.
Buchanan Ingersoll CEO Thomas L. VanKirk confirmed the cuts. But in a move that makes a mockery of the English language, VanKirk refused to call the layoffs, “layoffs.” Instead:
VanKirk said that the cuts were not layoffs, but that the positions were being eliminated in order for the firm to get more in line with its goal of a 3-1 lawyer-to-secretary ratio.
Here are some links for Mr. VanKirk, provided free of charge:
The difficult economic environment and the severe dislocations in markets worldwide present unique opportunities, challenges and issues regarding fixed income securities, structured finance, synthetic, and hybrid products, whole loans, and derivatives. Now, more than ever, financial market participants need legal advisors with the knowledge and expertise to navigate the complex array of contractual rights, financial structures, and bankruptcy and regulatory issues associated with such financial instruments.
Well that’s a positive spin on a field of legal work that no longer exists. But hey, they’re Cadwalader. And you know what the firm motto was (from the other side of the T-shirt):
Cadwalader is a firm you can count on from the cradle to the grave (disclaimer: time and placement of the grave may not be of your own choosing). Our tipster reports:
This is a t-shirt (front & back) from Cadwalader (Charlotte)ʼs 2007 Capital Markets summer picnic. It is a size 3 toddler which makes it even more hysterical/ironic/classic.
There’s got to be more stuff like this floating around out there. Please send us your “ironic” firm swag to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As 7th year associates at Half-Skadden and Skadden-Mart come to grips with the fact that they will be getting a smaller bonus than 1st years at Skadden, let’s take a look at a curious article that came out on November 20th. The same day Cravath announced their reduced bonuses (and threatened their people about 2009) Chairman Chesler spoke to American Lawyer:
Evan Chesler, the presiding partner of Cravath Swaine & Moore, stresses that firms do not need lots of offices to be diversified. “It is too easy to confuse geography with geographic reach,” he says. “It is not the same thing.” …
Although Cravath has just one small outpost in London, the firm is highly diversified, Chesler maintains. “We certainly do Wall Street work, but we always have done work for companies not on Wall Street, companies that make things and are located all around the world, and will continue to do so.”
Apparently, for Chesler “it is too easy to confuse” words with deeds. Either the firm is diversified and is in a good position to weather this economic storm, or it is not. I’m sure that Chesler’s employees do not really appreciate Chesler running around publicly talking about the health of the firm, on the same day he sends around internal memos warning:
[A]ssociates should be prepared for the likelihood that the economy and the Firm’s financial performance next year will not show a significant improvement over this year and they may receive significantly reduced or no year-end bonuses next year.
If you want to criticize Cravath associates, don’t call them “greedy and entitled,” instead call them “foolish” for believing their own management. Believing their own firm is a mistake I’m sure most Cravath associates will not make again.
Amid all of the wailing and gnashing about who President Bush might pardon during his last days in office, today’s grant of 14 requests failed to live up to any of the hype. The New York Times reports:
Mr. Bush has been relatively sparing in his use of pardons compared to past presidents, and the latest round of actions continued that pattern. …
Those issued reprieves had been found guilty of mostly garden-variety offenses, like Leslie O. Collier, who was issued a pardon for a 1996 conviction for the unauthorized use of a pesticide in killing bald eagles. Others receiving pardons had been convicted, among other offenses, for income tax evasion, unauthorized acquisition of food stamps, drug offenses and bank embezzlement.
“Stars” such as Michael Milken and Marion Jones (two people whom I never thought would be in the same sentence) have applied for Presidential pardons, but they continue to wait. Meanwhile, there has been a growing worry that Bush would pardon every counter-terrorism official in the land (for crimes not yet made criminal), but that massive Constitutional crisis issue will have to wait for another day.
In the meantime, Bush’s use of the pardon power continues to be more conservative and less objectionable than his predecessors.
… So that makes two sentences I never thought I’d write.
‘Tis the season — not just for getting your holiday shopping started, but for many law firms to announce their new partners. Earlier this month, we commented on the announcement by Wachtell Lipton of six new partners. Given the firm’s relatively small size, six is a robust number, suggesting that all is well at WLRK despite the downturn.
Partnership announcements can shed light upon the financial health and practice-group priorities of law firms. Many firms like to say that they pick partners based solely on the talents of the lawyers in question, independent of such factors as the economy. Then again, many firms also like to say that dismissals of lawyers are strictly “performance-based.”
Some tipsters were even more helpful, offering analysis of what the partnership news says about the firm. For example:
Not sure if you’re are keeping track of how many partners firms are making, or if it’s even a good metric, but Ropes & Gray made 12 new partners, several in corporate and private equity — the press release is on their website. Also, their start date [as partners] has been confirmed and is not pushed back. Thanks for all the good work.
So it sounds like Ropes Gray is faring relatively well. But then again, we already knew that.
A dissection of the Wilson Sonsini partnership announcement, after the jump.
While the world waits for S&C’s bonus memo, here’s some interesting news from a person with a ground-level view at Sullivan & Cromwell: a contract attorney.
The blog Temporary Attorney has a post up about how the other half is living at S&C. An excerpt:
The economy is bad, so that means that down here at S&C, the clients are starting to dwindle, and the ones the firm has are having trouble paying their legal bills. New cases aren’t starting, which means that associates and litigation analysts don’t have anything to do. That means they’re starting to get the work that contract attorneys usually get.
This means that even “lifer” temps who have been working at S&C are being summarily dismissed, usually with little to no notice that we could lose the steady source of income that we’d come to expect. No notice, no severance. Your last day of earning is today. If you discuss this with lawyers not trapped in the temp system, or with basically anybody not on the inside, the situation smacks of outrageous and patent injustice.
Even during good times, the work of a junior associate doesn’t differ much from the work of a contract attorney. When things are slow, it makes sense to funnel even more grunt work to your highly paid juniors — who have nothing else to do.
And we expect that work is slow all over.
But work is not so slow that it’s going to make S&C think about pulling a Half-Skadden?
P.S. Speaking of S&C contract attorneys, as we mentioned previously (see the “P.S.”), we’re also working on an item about a former contract attorney supervisor at the firm. We already have multiple sources but would like a few more. If you can help, please email us (subject line: “Sullivan and Cromwell”). Thanks.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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