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There have been many profiles of the latest Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, but this personal note to President Bill Clinton provides insight that a newspaper story can’t. It was among the documents released by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library today:

The tipster who pointed it out to us (among the 2000 pages it was buried in) noted that it reveals “the warmth and tact that she has supposedly mastered over her career.” (It may also explain why Bill Clinton seemed so supportive of Kagan as the nominee, back when Obama was mulling over his shortlist.)

Of course, Lady Kaga was not lucky enough to make it to the bench when Clinton nominated her to the D.C. Circuit, but things are looking far more promising this time around.

Last month, we reported that Skadden might be moving its Washington offices into the fabulous new CityCenter D.C. project. We expect their new digs to have a glamorous cafeteria, one that will rival Condé Nast’s Frank Gehry-designed extravaganza.

Or at least a cafeteria that’s compliant with the District of Columbia health code. From the Washington Post (not on the Post website yet; we found it through ATL advertiser Lexis-Nexis):

Thursday, June 10, 2010

These food establishments were closed because of health code violations. The list, compiled from health department reports, reflects actions taken by the departments.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom Employee Cafe
1440 New York Ave. NW

Should we steer clear of the Skadden D.C. bathrooms for a few days? Is Bob Bennett feeling relieved (hehe) over his move to Hogan right now?

Well, not so fast….

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Writers tend to use the word “literally” too much — and literally incorrectly.

In this case, the word is entirely appropriate. A lawyer literally shot himself in the foot. The ABA Journal reports:

An Ohio lawyer shot himself in the foot on Monday as he was retrieving his gun from a locker at the courthouse.

Toledo lawyer Paul Redrup had placed his 40-caliber Smith & Wesson in a storage locker before entering the Wood County courthouse, the Bowling Green Sentinel Tribune reports. As he was leaving, he took the gun out of the locker and put it in his pocket. The gun accidentally fired, and Redrup was grazed in the right foot.

Here’s a question: why the hell was a lawyer taking a firearm to a courthouse?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Shooting Yourself in the Foot > Shooting Your Mouth Off”

Ann Althouse was a law student once. (Photo by Richard Lawrence Cohen.)

We spend a lot of time telling prospective law students to carefully consider the decision to go to law school. And still they come. We tell prospective law students that law school is expensive and the job market is weak. But still they come, in record numbers.

What makes them come? NPR did a story on the difficult job market for recent college graduates. The article tells us about Hawaii college graduate Ryan Kam’s considered rationale for going to law school.

It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s downright pathetic…

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Forget Queer Eye and the Biggest Loser. When it comes to makeovers, we’re far more entertained when Biglaw firms overhaul their websites. Especially when they involve mind games (MoFo), body shots (Ballard Spahr and Cox Smith), or hotties (Davis Polk).

Cravath previously had an Internet 1.0-type website. It was extremely basic; its sole function seemed to be to list email addresses. The dull site failed to capture the arrogance prestige of this elite law firm.

The new site, on the other hand, does capture this aspect of Cravath. The Biglaw way is not to be the biggest, but to be the best, according to Cravath’s philosophy page:

At Cravath, we hire only the top students from the nation’s finest law schools, we train those associates through rigorous rotation of practice, we elevate partners exclusively from within and we compensate partners on a lockstep model throughout their careers. The Cravath model has been adopted by many prominent law firms and consulting firms. While some firms have abandoned the model over time to promote lateral growth and global expansion, we have not. We do not seek to be the largest firm by number of offices, lawyers or specialty groups. We promote excellence in client service, at the expense of short-term profit. We believe that maintaining a true partnership of the finest educated and trained lawyers is the single, best manner of handling our clients’ most challenging legal issues, most significant business transactions and most critical disputes.

The new site also has a newsy feel about it. Check out the front page — it looks like The Cravath Swaine Journal.

And Cravath has learned to embrace photos. At least for its partners and senior associates. Though Cravath attracts the best and the brightest young lawyers, as noted above, it doesn’t want to show them off on its website. If you’re a junior associate, no bio or photo for you on the site!

What’s up with that?

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We’ve done a lot of reports on schools that have instituted grade reform to make it easier on their students. But at DePaul College of Law, the administration decided to strictly enforce its curve as a way of combating wanton grade inflation.

Apparently not all of the professors were on the same page. Professor Howard Rubin taught Legal Profession this past spring and graded the class the way he always has. But his grades were curve-busting, and the administration asked him to lower those grades to match the school’s curve.

Professor Rubin refused to do this — and, well, now we’ve got emails…

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Why do people try to scam law firms? Is it because people know firms are flush with cash, or out of some deep-seated hatred of lawyers, or because they think law firm bookkeepers are stupid (since sometimes they are)?

Earlier this month, the FBI issued a warning to law firms about overseas scammers sending e-mails to lawyers asking for help collecting delinquent payments. Beware.

That one is a little complicated. A scam being run closer to home is simpler and stupider. The New York office of a Biglaw firm sent out a memo to its associates this week to beware of the “taxi scam.”

How does it work?

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* Americans are warming up to Lady Kaga: public support for confirming Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court has reached 58 percent. [Washington Post]

* But two Republican senators have issues with some of the memos Kagan wrote as a law clerk to Justice Marshall. [Associated Press via How Appealing]

* As new estimates double the rate of oil flowing into the gulf, the gusher of lawsuits against BP continues — aided by ad campaigns from plaintiffs’ lawyers. [New York Times]

* Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder insists that “the American people will not pay a dime toward the cleanup of the Gulf region” because “BP will be held responsible.” [The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]

* has been tagged with accusations of tolerating child pornography; New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo may sue. [Wired]

* He loves to work for people who fly and it shows: former Delta lawyer John Varley becomes the new general counsel of Virgin America. [Atlanta Business Chronicle]

Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are examples of female lawyers who have it all: success in both their personal and professional lives. They both reached the pinnacle of the legal profession — a seat on the Supreme Court — but also raised families, blessing the world with judicial opinions galore, children, and grandchildren. They had time for dicta and… Well, you get the picture.

What about the most recent two females anointed with the holy SCOTUS water: Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor? They both have incredible résumés, which helped get them to One First Street, but neither one had a family to move down to D.C. with them.

On the other hand, the most recent male nominees to the Court, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, are both married with children. They did not have to sacrifice family for profession. (Of course, that’s assuming you see “no children or significant other” as a “sacrifice.”)

Some studies have shown marriage is advantageous for men, but disadvantageous for women. Single women often make more than single men. An old article from Forbes points out:

Without husbands, women have to focus on earning more. They work longer hours, they’re willing to relocate and they’re more likely to choose higher-paying fields like technology. Without children, men have more liberty to earn less–that is, they are free to pursue more fulfilling and less lucrative careers, like writing or art or teaching social studies.

Andrews Kurth partner Kathleen Wu recently offered career advice in the Texas Lawyer. As Ashby Jones points out at the WSJ Law Blog, the most valuable piece is to “get real about balance.” Wu wrote:

It is next to impossible to balance a full-time legal career with marriage, children and regular trips to the gym. It’s no coincidence that the two women most recently nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court — now-Justice Sonia Sotomayor and nominee/U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan — are unmarried and childless.

Can women not have it all? Elie — married and male — and Kash — single and female — opine and offer a poll, after the jump.

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* Super 9/11 lawsuit settles. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Prospective jurors still need to show proper respect for the judge. [Bad Lawyer]

* The “Shaggy defense” isn’t quite as fun as the Chewbacca defense, but it’s just as effective. [Slate]

* Measuring judicial ideology. [Concurring Opinions]

* More evidence that in-house counsel love Facebook (and so law firm rainmakers better love it too). [Marketing Strategy and the Law]

* There’s a lot of money in licensing online legal resources. But who will step up and take the pot? [Law Librarian Blog]

* If you’ll be in D.C. on Thursday, June 24, go to the Black Cat for Banding Together 2010: Battle of the Law Firm Bands. It’s a fun evening — and it’s for a good cause. [Gifts for the Homeless]

There’s a reason why our weekly column by Law Shucks has been retitled from “This Week in Layoffs” to “This Week in Biglaw.” The pace of law firm layoffs has slowed dramatically. They haven’t stopped completely, and we suspect that many firms are still conducting “stealth layoffs” (which we welcome tips about — just email us). But many firms have stopped cutting, and some are even hiring again. Last month the legal sector added 300 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In terms of the bigger picture, we’re not out of the economic woods just yet — Europe’s economic troubles have led to increased chatter about a possible double-dip recession — but things are definitely improving. Here’s one sign, reported earlier this week by the Associated Press:

One sign of better economic times is when more people start finding jobs. Another is when they feel confident enough to quit them. More people quit their jobs in the past three months than were laid off — a sharp reversal after 15 straight months in which layoffs exceeded voluntary departures, suggesting the job market is finally thawing.

In addition to the strengthening job market, there’s another reason for increased voluntary movement: overwork and discontent among those who managed to hang on to their jobs in the recession….

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Here at Above the Law, we like to provide a service to our readers. Sometimes things happen at a law firm that you just can’t talk about to your colleagues. But you can always tell us.

Last week, we corresponded with a frustrated attorney. Despite the fact that he’s quite senior and has changed firms looking for a better situation, he’s still dealing with the kind of casual disrespect most associates all across the land must suffer:

I sit here today at my new law firm, still disgruntled, I find myself writing a fictitious response to a real email sent to me on Monday by my boss. I actually sent the fictitious email to my brother, for pleasure reading, and not to my boss of course. I thought I would share it with you.

The very real email he received from the partner in question seems innocuous enough:

From: [Redacted]
Sent: Monday
To: [Redacted]

Please let me know if you are licensed in Kansas. I have some work that needs to be done over there.

It’s a harmless enough request, until you learn a little bit more of the backstory that this associate just wishes he could explain to the partner…

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