Here’s your daily dose of schadenfreude. Associates aren’t the only ones suffering in the economic downturn; partners are getting axed too. From the Chicago Tribune:
Jenner & Block, a top Chicago law firm best known for its trial attorneys, has downsized its partnership for the second time in two years.
At least 10 partners have been told in recent weeks they will have to give up their equity in the firm, with some being asked to leave, according to people familiar with the discussions….
“We periodically review how each of our partners and associates are doing and act on those reviews,” [firm chairman Anton] Valukas said. “It’s nothing different this year than we’ve done in other years.”
* Skadden lawyers, take care. Police are investigating an explosion at the military recruiting station in Times Square. [AP]
* Loose lips leaks ship’s info, gets convicted. [IHT via WSJ Law Blog]
* Speaking of leaking, a Swiss bank has dropped its suit against Wikileaks. [San Francisco Chronicle via How Appealing]
* More FBI privacy screw-ups. [AP]
* Fidelity settles with SEC for $8 million in improper-gifts case. Among the gifts improperly received by Fidelity employees: a dwarf-tossing competition. [New York Times]
* An update on the troubles of Dickie Scruggs — who, by the way, hasn’t had such a great career in the post-tobacco period. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Law firm merger mania: McGuireWoods “merges” with Helms Mulliss & Wicker (although query whether it’s more of an acquisition — McGuireWoods has 750 lawyers to Helms Mulliss’s 145, and the new entity will keep the McGuireWoods name). [Charlotte Observer]
* Three days of jailhouse rockin’ for Elvis impersonator who shows up to court “apparently drunk, and sporting sunglasses and a rhinestone-studded shirt with a scarf draped around his neck.” Not clear whether he was held in contempt for the inebriation or the fashion missteps. [AP]
Here’s an interesting factoid. According to a quick search we ran over at the Public Library of Law (powered by Fastcase), the word “douchebag” has yet to appear in the pages of F.3d. [FN1]
That may be about to change, if the Second Circuit decides to publish in a case that was just argued. From the AP:
A teen who used vulgar slang in an Internet blog to complain about school administrators shouldn’t have been punished by the school, her lawyer told a federal appeals court…. [Ed. note: an "Internet blog" -- not to be confused with all those Non-Internet blogs.]
Avery Doninger, 17, claims officials at Lewis S. Mills High School violated her free speech rights when they barred her from serving on the student council because of what she wrote from her home computer.
In her Internet journal, Doninger said officials were canceling the school’s annual Jamfest, which is similar to a battle of the bands contest. The event, which she helped coordinate, was rescheduled.
According to the lawsuit, she wrote: “‘Jamfest’ is canceled due to douchebags in central office,” and also referred to an administrator who was “pissed off.”
When [the school board's lawyer] pressed [student council treasurer Pat] Abate on whether he had ever seen the famous douchebag posting, Abate’s responses included: “I haven’t seen it on my computer monitor, I haven’t seen it in my dreams.”
Guess he isn’t very imaginative.
[A lawyer] asked Abate and [senior class vice president Jackie] Evans to define douchebag.
“Stupid, moron, idiot, Abate said.
“Jerks,” Evans said.
Hmm…. They’re in the vicinity, but haven’t hit the definitional g-spot. We respectfully submit that the term “douchebag” carries a stronger sense of condemnation than the terms proffered by Abate and Evans. SeeUrbanDictionary.com (defining “douchebag” as “[s]omeone who has surpassed the levels of jerk and a**hole, however not yet reached f**ker or motherf**ker”). [FN2]
[FN1] Maybe someone with free Westlaw or Lexis access can confirm for us that F.3d is douchebag-free.
[FN2] Alternate definition of “douchebag” from Urban Dictionary: “A student or instructor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.” Well, as long as it’s not the law school…. Update: Thanks, commenters — F.3d is certifiably douchebag-free. Further Update: Oh wait… As this commenter notes, if you expand the search to include “douche bag” and “douche-bag,” you’ll see that F.3d has been thoroughly defiled. Appeals Court Weighs Teen’s Web Speech [AP] Defense Crumbles as Students Weather Cross-Examination [CT News Junkie] douchebag [Urban Dictionary] douche commercial [YouTube]
* Just like the Hillary Clinton campaign, one of our favorite legal blogs, Southern Appeal, has resurrected itself. Welcome back to the blogosphere, Feddie! [Southern Appeal]
* If Loyola 2L were still around, we’d direct him to this link, about a Loyola alum who has made good — very good. [LawCrossing]
* A pressing question in defamation law: “What is the standard for someone to accurately and factually be described as a slut?” [The Legal Satyricon]
* Getting into a public spat with a blogger is usually a bad idea. As John McCain once quipped when asked about Mitt Romney, “Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.” [Fire George Karl via WSJ Law Blog]
* A little bit more about our recent Facebook exile. [New York Observer]
Yes, it’s March already. Guess what that means? No, we’re not talking about March Madness. We’re thinking of… bonus news from Paul Hastings!
A tipster in a non-New York office summarizes:
It looks like we matched Latham’s base levels. I’ve also been told that NYC matched the special bonuses there.
Better late than never!
We got our grubby paws on the memo sent to associates in California, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Here’s the money (hehe) quote:
This year’s associate bonus pool of $23.3 million is the largest in Firm history – a 20% increase over last year’s pool – with approximately 81% of participating associates receiving a bonus. Additionally, bonus awards for your offices are higher than last year at virtually all levels.
Performance expectations are steep, thus receipt of a bonus is a significant achievement. Top level bonuses are the exception and are awarded to associates distinguishing themselves by consistently demonstrating exceptional performance that far surpasses the Firm’s standards. Approximately 10% of all bonus recipients distinguished themselves at this level and were awarded the top bonus.
We haven’t seen memos for other PH offices. A source in Atlanta, though, claims that the firm cut ATL bonuses by 50 percent. Perhaps that’s their way of balancing out the recent pay raise.
We also haven’t seen the New York numbers. But at a meeting “a while back,” Barry Brooks, the firm’s New York managing partner, effectively told associates they’d match shops like Latham and Gibson.
The full memo for California / Chicago / D.C. — plus additional discussion about Paul Hastings, including complaints about the timing of their class-year raises and bonus payments — after the jump.
Speaking of Penn Law School… Penn grad Anthony Ciolli, the former AutoAdmit.com executive, has gone from being a defendant to a plaintiff. He’s filed a civil action in Pennsylvania state court against the two Yale Law School “Jane Does” from the AutoAdmit case, their lawyers, and various other parties.
We just got our hands on his Complaint, filed earlier today in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. We’re still reviewing it, but we didn’t want to delay in breaking the news and sharing the pleading with you. You can access the Complaint by clicking here (PDF). Update (2:30 PM): You’ve done our job for us. There are lots of interesting observations, on both sides of the debate, in the comments. The WSJ Law Blog has also put up a post, which you can access over here.
To give you the flavor of it, here’s the caption and first page: Ciolli v. Iravani [PDF] Ciolli Sues Yale Law Students in AutoAdmit Scandal [WSJ Law Blog]
A bit of follow-up on goings-on at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. First, in yesterday’s post, we predicted: “[E]xpect Dean Fitts to send out some vague email offering blanket reassurances, but declining to say more due to federal privacy law. That seems to be par for the course for these incidents.”
Our prediction has been vindicated:
Sent: Wed 3/5/2008 12:01 PM To: [U. Penn. community] Subject: A Message from Dean Fitts
To the Law School Community,
As you may know, there was increased Public Safety presence at the Law School for a few days. Like most institutions, the University varies security on campus in response to changing situations and often does so out of an extra sense of precaution. We usually do not discuss these measures publicly. In this case, we did not do so out of respect for the privacy of a member of our community. Let me assure you that there were never any threats made nor were there any “incidents” at Penn Law. Our decisions in this case, as in others, are made and evaluated constantly with the intent of serving the best interests of our community. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to stop by
Have a great spring break,
Second, check out comment #7 on the Daily Pennsylvanian article, posted today at 12:04 AM. It purports to be from the student in question (who identifies himself by name). This individual writes:
Unless there was yet another mishap by Penn or Penn Law, I am the student who was placed on this leave of absence. This is nothing more than a staged proceeding to force me to make precedent in the third circuit by tarnishing my reputation.
I am not on any psychiatric medication nor have I taken any. If the University actually believes that I pose a threat to your safety, then it should protect you by requiring me to seek mental health treatment instead of invoking this policy. I am now alone and upset and near a campus full of bright and happy students.
Very curious. We do wonder whether some law schools, out of an entirely legitimate concern for the safety of their students, overreact to reports of unusual behavior. History is full of examples of mass hysteria, from the Salem witch trials to the day care sex abuse scare, that turned out to be unfounded.
We’re not disputing the need for law school administrators to be vigilant, especially in light of the horrific school shootings of the past few years. And we completely understand their concern: if, God forbid, something were to happen on their campuses, they would be held responsible.
We’re just playing devil’s advocate and tossing out some fodder for discussion. That’s all. Comments: Student prompts security increase [Daily Pennsylvanian] Earlier: What’s Going on at Penn Law?
Some of you may be tired of our little Miami blackout caption contest. But we agree with the commenters who suggested that a contest with 20 entries was unwieldy. We’d like to get it right this time.
Here’s what we’ve done. We’ve taken the top five vote getters — there was a clear drop-off after #5, with all other choices polling under 10 percent — and pitted them against each other in a final round.
If you feel like it, you can review the contenders, and vote for your favorite, after the jump.
Last year, we asked you whether work was busy at your firms, and found that patent attorneys were particularly busy nationwide, while associates in real estate and structured finance were pretty slow in many markets. In last week’s ATL / Lateral Linksurvey, we revisited the topic, and asked which practice areas are hottest (or nottest) at your firm. We received about 550 responses.
Not surprisingly, real estate and structured finance remain slow, but the malaise appears to be spreading to other transactional practices as well. Nationally, sixteen percent of respondents said real estate was the slowest practice at their firm. Corporate and structured finance were declared the slowest practice groups by twelve percent each. Capital markets and M&A were next, with approximately eight and one-half percent each. (While law firms may be slowing, in-housepositionsinthesepracticesabound.)
While deals are slowing down, disputes are speeding up. About seventeen percent of respondents said that commercial litigation was the busiest practice area in their firm, while another eleven percent said patent litigation was hottest. Bankruptcy was declared the busiest group by fourteen percent of respondents. Corporate, while slow at many firms, was still going strong according to five percent of respondents.
Check out some market by market results after the jump.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…