Latest Stories

newspaper headline.jpgWe always appreciate mentions of Above the Law in other publications (and we get annoyed when ATL isn’t given proper credit for breaking stories.). Here are a few recent shout-outs:

1. Chill of Salary Freezes Reaches Top Law Firms [New York Times]

We previously linked to Eilene Zimmerman’s article in Morning Docket, but in case you missed it, check it out here. An excerpt:

Although many associates are angry about the freezes, others are relieved, said David Lat, founding editor of AboveTheLaw.com, a blog about law firms and the profession.

“There is this sense that firms didn’t act prudently during the boom and now they are getting religion, and that it’s better late than never,” Mr. Lat said. “Many associates we have spoken to think the freeze probably saved jobs.”

2. Gauging the net worth [Legal Week]

This article, by Alex Aldridge, focuses primarily on the social networking and blogging scene over in the U.K., but there is some discussion of what’s going on here in the States:

[T]he US legal blogging community is a fascinating case study in itself, having grown up in the wake of the controversial lawyer message boards Greedy Associates. So influential did the irreverent site come as a means for junior lawyers to pass around information that they were regarded as playing a key role in the pay wars of 1999 and 2000, as news of tit-for-tat pay rises among US law firms raced around the web.

3. Obama re-takes oath of office at the White House [CNN]

The always-playful legal Web site Above the Law asked readers to answer an online poll. About 48 percent blamed Roberts, just 17 percent blame Obama, and 35 percent said yes to the statement, “They both sucked.”

4. Back to School with Professor (and Federal Appeals Judge) Alex Kozinski [American Lawyer]

A short write-up, by Ben Hallman, of our recent event at Columbia Law School, an interview with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.).

Chill of Salary Freezes Reaches Top Law Firms [New York Times]

Gauging the net worth [Legal Week]

Obama re-takes oath of office at the White House [CNN]

Back to School with Professor (and Federal Appeals Judge) Alex Kozinski [American Lawyer]

Regent University school of law.jpgMaybe Stephen McPherson, former Assistant Dean for student affairs at Regent University School of Law, just likes working with young people. Really young people. The former Regent administrator pleaded guilty to sexually abusing children:

McPherson, 39, of Chesapeake entered guilty pleas to two counts of forcible sodomy and two counts of object sexual penetration. He is set to be sentenced May 22.

Regent University is the alma mater of such esteemed lawyers as Monica Goodling.

Back in June, McPherson was indicted on charges stemming from his work with distressed girls:

McPherson and his wife worked from August 1996 to August 2000 as house parents supervising a cottage of as many as eight girls at Hope Haven Children’s Home on North Landing Road in Virginia Beach, said Linda Jones, a spokeswoman for Union Mission Ministries, which operates the home. Hope Haven, founded in 1965, provides Christian-based care for children from “distressed family situations,” according to its Web site. …

After they left Hope Haven, the McPhersons adopted three girls over the objections of Hope Haven, Jones said.

According to the report:

McPherson must wear an electronic monitoring device while free on bond pending sentencing.

I hope that thing is not just strapped to his ankle.

Ex-Regent University official pleads guilty to sexual abuse [The Virginian-Pilot]

Former Regent assistant dean faces sexual assault charges [Ex-Christian]

piggy bank squeeze.jpg* The country’s top newspapers are full of law firm recession news. The New York Times looks at the salary freeze phenomenon at top firms, with some help from David Lat. [New York Times]

* And the Wall Street Journal reflects on the recession’s effect on law firms, focusing in on the demise of Heller Ehrman. The same thing that ruined baseball is putting the squeeze on mid-size firms: senior players shopping themselves to other teams. [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

* The Patriot Act has led to legal trouble for many a non-terrorist airplane traveler. The law has been used to prosecute plane passengers who spilled bloody Marys, used profanity, and engaged in “overt sexual behavior.” [Chicago Tribune]

* Public Service Announcement: Get free make-up at Dillard’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s thanks to a class action settlement over price fixing. [Virginian-Pilot]

* Contempt of court, moral turpitude charges, and a suspended law license won’t stop Andrew Fine. [Los Angeles Times]

* Edward Genson, Rod Blagojevich’s chief defense attorney, said good night and good luck to the governor on Friday, hinting that Blago refuses to listen to his advice. [Associated Press via Wonkette]

* Congratulations to the new batch of Skadden fellows. Harvard, NYU, and Michigan students make a strong showing among this year’s recruits to the “legal Peace Corps.” [Skadden Arps via PRNewswire]


Morgan Finnegan intellectual property IP law.jpgThe law firm of Morgan & Finnegan, a leading intellectual property boutique, will be dissolving imminently, according to several sources at the firm. Some (but not all) of its lawyers, including prominent partners John Sweeney and James Gould, will join Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell.

Last month, we mentioned the possibility of a merger between the two firms. It now appears that it won’t be a complete merger, but a selective acquisition of certain lawyers (a la Sonnenschein’s absorption of Thacher Proffitt & Wood attorneys when TPW dissolved). As a result, Morgan & Finnegan lawyers who aren’t offered spots on the Locke Lord life raft will be out of jobs.

John Sweeney will become the deputy managing partner of Locke Lord’s New York office, while James Gould will assume the role of co-head of the intellectual property department. At least 11 other Morgan & Finnegan partners will also be making the move. Joining Locke Lord as equity partners are Matthew Blackburn, William Feiler, Peter Fill, Harry Marcus, and Steven Meyer. Coming aboard as income partners are Seth Atlas, Robert Goethals, James Hwa, John Osborne, Richard Straussman, and Andrea Wayda.

Rumors of dissolution have been swirling around Morgan & Finnegan for quite some time. Back in August, the firm engaged in staff and attorney layoffs.

As for how the word got out, something rather strange happened on Friday. An email from an anonymous address was sent to a large number of M&F associates, attaching the Locke Lord offer letters to Sweeney and Gould (posted below — but you may have seen them already, since they were in wide circulation over the weekend, sent to us by multiple correspondents). From one source:

Morgan & Finnegan is dissolving on Monday. They are sending termination letters to everyone. Then, a number of those people will receive offer letters from Locke Lord (so it is not really an acquisition).

Not everyone will get offers. A large number of staff and attorneys will be laid off on Monday. Rumor has it around 70 people. Most first years, and some other associates. Pretty much all staff. LLBL just wants the lease and some of the partners….

Interesting that [Sweeney and Gould] are making off with $1+ million apiece at the cost of most of the jobs of their employees. Needless to say, most people are disgusted. John Sweeney is the person who has kept saying that people should not worry and the firm is fine. Now he is cutting his losses and running.

More discussion — plus links to the James Gould and John Sweeney offer letters, which are an interesting read, especially if you don’t know what a lateral-partner offer letter looks like — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Dissolution Watch: Morgan & Finnegan?”

deirdre dare expat allen and overy.jpgDeidre Dare is a senior lawyer in Allen & Overy’s Russia office. Like many an expat, she’s been maintaining a website, presumably to keep folks back home up to date on her life and to share the splendor of living abroad with random strangers on the Internet.

On the website, Philosophy Can Be Sexy, she posts poetry, photos of herself in lingerie, “philosophy” (if a quote from the “Marriage Delusion” counts), and a serialized novel about the expat life in Moscow.

Allen & Overy was not too pleased to discover the novel. Per the Daily Mail:

Miss Dare, who is thought to earn £150,000 a year at the firm’s Russian office, is calling her steamy online novel, Expat: A Weekly Serialized Novel About Living in Moscow.

It describes the sordid lifestyle pursued by staff at a British-led professional firm in the capital.

Miss Dare’s promiscuous heroine describes herself as a ‘part drug addict, part alcoholic’ who regularly turns up for work hours late and hungover.

She and her colleagues are constantly seeking new sexual conquests, attend obscene sex shows involving donkeys and dwarves, blow fortunes at expensive restaurants and gossip about where they are planning to get drunk next.

Sounds like working abroad is like being a summer associate all year long. An erotic excerpt for the grammarians among you, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day Weekend: Deidre Dare”

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgWe haven’t yet gotten our hands on the Chadbourne & Parke bonus memo, but a firm spokesperson confirmed what the general numbers look like. According to the spokesperson:

“Our bonuses are on Cravath, Half-Skadden, scale. Individual bonus determinations are based upon individual performance and pro rated for part time attorneys and attorneys who have been with the firm for less than the full year.”

I wonder if somewhere, Cravath’s Evan Chesler is thinking about ways to kill me?

Meanwhile, Chadbourne also announced a salary freeze:

As you know, the world economic outlook for 2009 is uncertain. Accordingly, as a matter of prudence, the Firm is reserving decision on associate salary levels for 2009. We will make a decision on this matter within the next several months as the global economic picture becomes clearer.

Half-Skadden bonus, Latham salary — but no layoffs, so there’s that to be happy about.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of associate bonuses

Prior ATL coverage of associate salary freezes

Choate.JPG* Today, there were layoffs at Choate. No, not that Choate (well maybe that Choate, it’s not like that Choate is Andover or Exeter) but the other Choate. [Boston Common Law]

* Traffic stats of law blogs. Yay readers! [Avvo]

* I wonder if I would understand this better if I had ever seen the inside of a courtroom? [Courtoons]

* They’ve revoked Wesley Snipes’s passport. Could someone please take away his SAG card as well? [TaxProf Blog]

* This would never happen at GULC. [Litination]

* I can’t promo this link any better than this: “LaBeouf needs La Chauffeur!” [Popsquire]

Lindsay Harrison front steps SCOTUS.jpgLindsay Harrison at One First Street. Photo by Patrice Gilbert.

To paraphrase the controversial Campari ads at issue in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (aka The People vs. Larry Flynt), everyone remembers “their first time” — arguing in open court, that is. It’s a rite of passage that all young litigators must go through. At large law firms, associates (or even junior partners) typically tackle something minor for their first oral argument — e.g., a non-critical discovery motion — and then work their way up the ladder.

But that’s not the case for everyone; some people start at the top. Meet Lindsay C. Harrison. She’s a fifth-year associate in the D.C. office of Jenner & Block, who just had her very first oral argument — which happened to be in the U.S. Supreme Court. On Wednesday, she appeared before the nine justices to argue the case of Nken v. Mukasey (or, technically, Nken v. Filip; more on the name changes later).

Read our interview with Lindsay Harrison, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Jenner & Block Associate Argues Her First Case – In the Supreme Court”

Practical Law Company PLC logo.jpgFree food. Free drink. Ample networking opportunities. What’s not to like?

Practical Law Company (PLC) — a U.K.-based company that just started offering its services here in the U.S., which we’ll be writing more about later — is holding a launch party next week here in New York. The festivities will be attended law firm folks (partners and associates), in-house lawyers, legal journalists, and others connected to the profession. The party will be held on Wednesday, January 28, from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

If you’d like to attend, please RSVP. The first 25 ATL readers to respond will be placed on the guest list. If you’re in the first 25, you’ll receive a confirmation email. (We will also append an update to this post after all the spots are filled.)

If your firm canceled its holiday party last year, here’s your chance to chuckle at inebriated law firm partners. Several members of the ATL crew will be in attendance. We hope to see you there!

P.S. Disclosure: PLC is an ATL advertiser.

Update: The 25 spots have been filled. Thanks for your interest!

The Innovation Agenda: Practical Law Company Sets Up Shop in NYC [Am Law Daily]

champagne glasses small.jpg

Last weekend, while most of you were lining up for the Inauguration, a few oddballs were elsewhere, engaging in nuptial activities. Obviously, pretty much every superstar lawyer in the country was preparing to report for duty in the incoming administration, so we must warn you that this week’s wedding announcements are a little short on prestige. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t lots of weirdness and dysfunction to mull over.

Here are this week’s finalists:

1. Rachel Natelson and Seth Fogelman

2. Courtney Shea and Stephen Ball Jr.

3. Elyssa Sims and Vincent Dunleavy

More about these newlyweds, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 1.18: We LoVermont!”

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgLatham & Watkins might be leading the charge for salary freezes, but that’s not going to stop the firm from paying out associate bonuses. Right?

Latham is not a lockstep bonus firm. As a tipster explains it:

Our bonuses are not lock-step- so those people working their tails off usually do end up doing better than market … It’s usually those who are at the threshold (1900 hours) who do worse than market or get no bonus at all.

Well bonus information just went out and it looks like those hours thresholds have shifted. Latham goes through great (and ultimately futile) lengths to make sure that the firm’s bonus information doesn’t appear in the press. A tipster explains:

The way they announced them was via an email with a link in it that took you to a page that listed both your specific bonus, as well as an “un-cut-and-pasteable” bonus memo.

After the jump, we post the first screenshot of the Latham bonus structure.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Latham & Watkins”

Not Hiring sign.jpgThus far, the University of Chicago Law School has been immune to the fever of grade reform. While other law schools bend over backwards to make the same level of education look better on a transcript, Chicago has held the line.

But it’s not like U of C Law is just ignoring the economic realities of the day. Another trend among top law schools it to make their on-campus interview process start earlier so firms don’t “fill up” on other candidates. Chicago is officially moving in that direction:

The fall 2009 on-campus interview program may seem very far away during the Chicago winter, but the Office of Career Services has begun planning in order to maximize your opportunities during this important phase of the job market for students exploring law firm careers. This planning has led to a notable calendar change: The University of Chicago Law School’s fall on-campus interviews will be held August 17-28, with an orientation to the program scheduled for August 15th.

After the jump, Chicago Law makes its intentions clear — but there are other problems with changing the timing of OCI.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “University of Chicago Law School The Latest to Change Fall OCI”

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