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A little over a year ago, law firms came up with a unique plan to deal with the problem of too many associates and not enough work to go around: the deferral. It did not apply just to incoming associates; it was also offered up to those already at the firm who were open to a year-long sabbatical.

We know that many of you decided (or had to) seek out work in the public sector. But when the mainstream media picked up on the fact that law firms were paying their employees to go away from a year, they focused on those doing fun things, like the Skadden Sidebar associate planning a trip around the world. How many other deferred dreamers have taken the opportunity to do something offbeat?

Or something about beats. Rap Genius, a website that analyzes rap lyrics (called ingenious by Nick Antosca of the Huffington Post for its breakdown of Empire State of Mind), is the creation of a DL Pursuer. The site is now nine months old, and Mahbod Moghadam (Stanford Law ’08) is hoping it’s his escape out of law. Which would be a good thing, since Dewey & LeBeouf is having a hard time reabsorbing its DL Pursuits associates.

Moghadam is quite a character: he sent us a bizarre photo involving a carrot, he’s the ex-boyfriend of Victoria of Downtown Girls, and he convinced two Yale friends to quit their jobs (at Google and D. E. Shaw) to work with him on Rap Genius. What kind of Jedi mind tricks is this guy using?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A ‘Genius’ Use of Deferral Time”

Shearman & Sterling is setting off some fireworks at the start of this Fourth of July weekend. It sent out a memo this morning to its deferred associates from 2009. (Remember them? They got $65,000 last year if they volunteered to go away until September 2010.)

The deferred associates expected a letter two months ago telling them about their practice groups and start dates, as well as $15,000 salary advance checks starting on June 15th. Those dates passed with no information or money. Today, the firm finally contacted them.

It has announced the start dates for these folks and they’re not in 2010. A Shearman tipster sent along the memo noting:

Here is the text from the just received memo that is f***ing me over… I am so pissed that I can’t really talk about it right now.

So what’s the deal?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Shearman & Sterling Belatedly Sets Start Dates for Deferred Class of 2009″

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com

ATL,

I wasn’t going to send this in to ATL until I saw a post that informed me that some other schools will actually pay employers to try out their students post-graduation. Here at Northwestern U, graduates lacking jobs get insulting offers of $10/hr “for as many as ten hours” per week working for professors, which I presume is being done only an effort to avoid sinking NU’s post-graduation employment percentage. I don’t have a job…but should I take this $10/hr gig?

Fries With That

Dear Fries With That,

During the year and one month I was unemployed, I had rent to pay, a dog that required $120 haircuts called “The Trojan,” and a host of other expenses (waxing, highlights, youth serums, Lexapro, alcohol, etc) necessary to maintain my fierce looks and fresh personality….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: Too Good for $10?”


Working as a lawyer for the government is regarded by many as the life raft for riding out the recession. But thanks to shrinking budgets, attorneys in the public sector are also losing their jobs.

Yesterday the Bronx District Attorney, Robert T. Johnson, issued a letter announcing a layoff of 12 assistant district attorneys in his office, scheduled to take effect by the end of this month. The prosecutors who are losing their jobs have already been notified. Johnson blamed the New York City financial plan, which significantly reduces the office’s funding for the fiscal years of 2011, which started yesterday, and 2012.

The cuts were not unexpected, since Johnson had laid the groundwork for layoffs in a letter back in May. In that letter, first reported by the New York Daily News, Johnson predicted that he might have to lay off as many as 45 ADAs. So the cut of 12 ADAs could be seen as “good news,” since it’s smaller than some expected. (In his letter yesterday, Johnson said that he was able to avoid larger cuts thanks in part to some cost-saving measures in the office.)

But Robert Johnson announced another piece of news at the same time, which a number of veteran prosecutors found strange and upsetting….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: A Dozen Down at the Bronx DA’s Office”

It’s become clear that many college graduates make their decision to go to law school based on apathy, a critical misunderstanding of the legal market, and shocking hubris. As we’ve said many times, the decision to go to law school has become disassociated from the expected value of going to law school.

Prospective law students are flocking to law schools in droves. What’s going on at Duke Law School right now is just the latest evidence. Here’s part of a letter Duke Law sent out to people on its waitlist:

Since our tuition deposit deadline at the end of April, the class has been completely full. Although a few people have requested deferrals or otherwise changed their plans for the fall, we have not yet been able to make any additional offers of admission.

When the reigning champion of our douchiest law school competition is getting inundated with applications, you can see why law schools are quite comfortable charging more and more tuition…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Duke Law Waitlist Proves There’s No End in Sight To Lawyer Oversupply Problem”

* Since Senate Judiciary Republicans seem to want to discuss Thurgood Marshall so much, Bingham McCutchen attorney Thurgood Marshall Jr. decided to speak up. [Washington Post]

* The ABA has high praise for Elena Kagan. [ABA Journal]

* The NRA does not. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The unemployable unemployed. [New York Times]

* Being LeBron’s lawyer must be fun. [Am Law Daily]

* A person emailed me to complain that during the Kagan confirmation liveblog, I took the Lord’s name in vain. I told the guy: “The power of the Establishment Clause compels me. The power of the Establishment Clause compels me.” [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* No-Fault divorce looks like it will finally come to New York State. [New York Daily News]

A lot of ink (virtual and otherwise) has been spent the last couple of days grading the performance of Elena Kagan at her Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate. If confirmed, this week is the last time Kagan has to talk to the people, so it’s right to focus on how she did.

But there seems to be a media blind spot when it comes to grading the Senate Judiciary Committee itself. These 19 elected representatives are entrusted with the awesome responsibility of being the people’s voice in a process that ends with a lifetime appointment. Yet few seem to care if these guys are doing a good job — or if they even know what they are talking about. Sure, we’ve got to live with confirmed SCOTUS Justices for the rest of their lives, be we have direct electoral control over the Senators who do the confirming.  Is it too much to ask that we find 19 people in the entire U.S. Senate that actually understand what judges do for a living?

Let’s get this ball rolling. Which Senator best fulfilled his or her duty to all of us, and which ones need to be transferred to Foreign Relations — where only our enemies and allies have to suffer under their stupidity?

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* If you’re feeling frustrated with a partner, and don’t have time to draft a letter that can never be sent, vent with this video. We award major points for this compilation of the 100 best insults in cinematic history. [Pajiba via Gawker]

* Rant and rave and win $500. [New Threats to Freedom Contest]

* They can’t fly and want to know why. [Threat Level/Wired]

* Constitutional law redux. [Slate]

* Lady Kaga’s top ten hits. [CBS News and New York Magazine]

* Examining the evidence in the case against Sea World suspected-serial-killer whale Tillikum. [Outside]

* We’ll let you know if the “Twilight effect” applies for our stories today. [Appellate Daily]

As an officer of the court, I must bluntly state that you appear to have serious mental issues involving extreme narcissism and illusions of grandiosity which effectively interferes with your ability to act as a Judge.

– Illinois lawyer Melvin Hoffman in a letter to Judge Patrick Murphy, earning him a recommended six-month suspension.

(Gavel bang: Legal Profession Blog via the ABA Journal.)

Yes, you read that headline correctly. Out of nowhere, Cahill Gordon & Reindel has decided to give out a mid-year bonus. Not Cravath, not S&C, but Cahill Gordon. The same Cahill Gordon that is one of the few firms to have significant layoffs in 2010. This is the firm that could push the market towards mid-year bonuses?

Apparently so. A tipster reported the bonus scale to Above the Law. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it’s something….

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The appeal of working in-house is two-fold: decent hours and decent $$$ enough money to live on. How much money exactly? A new survey out from legal recruiter Laurence Simons (gavel bang: WSJ Law Blog) has the median salary ranges for those in-house, with experience ranging from zero to 21+ years. It’s six figures throughout, but barely in those baby years.

As we’ve noted before, salaries in-house remained flat in 2009. The Global Salary and Benefits survey [PDF] included responses from 1900 in-house lawyers world-wide, and breaks its results down by country.

Corporate Counsel reports that bonuses were uncommon in-house in the U.S. last year, so base salary reflects fairly reliably what these folks actually made last year. So what do those base salaries in-house look like?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Salary Scale and Recession Survival Tactics for In-House Counsel”

As we noted yesterday, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, on track to be the newest justice of the Supreme Court, apparently hasn’t been bitten by the “Twilight” movies. When Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) tried to get Kagan to weigh in on the case of Edward v. Jacob, Kagan declined — a little forcefully. This won’t help White House efforts to depict the Divine Miss K as a girly girl.

But perhaps other legal types have a weakness for the series of vampire romance films. On Wednesday, the Washington Post had an article on the hard-core “Twilight” fans who came out in force for Tuesday night, post-12 a.m. screenings. Reports the Post:

After “Eclipse” was over, moviegoers gave it mixed reviews.

“It was a lot more frustrating than I thought it was going to be, ” said Bill Murray, 31.

“I thought it was fantastic,” said Gus Golden, 33. “It had a little bit in it for everyone.”

It seemed odd to find thirtysomething men at the midnight screening of a film aimed at teenage girls. To be sure, Robert Pattinson is ridiculously hot, and Taylor Lautner is quite the butterface (butHISface?), with abs that should be illegal under the Model Penal Code (hehe — penal). But then a little bird told us: “Gus Golden and Bill Murray are both rising 3L’s at Georgetown University Law Center.” And suddenly it all made sense.

The “Twilight” films are supposed to be juvenile and insubstantial — not typical cinematic fare for lawyers and law students. But before we started on a post heaping scorn upon these GULC students, and cracking jokes about how a fall from the so-called “T14″ is imminent, we decided to do some digging….

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