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Harvard Law School seal logo.jpgAmerica, welcome to your new national nightmare: a country run on the thinking instilled by Harvard Law School.

Noam Scheiber’s brilliant article in the New Republic takes the first stab at capturing what this turn of events could mean for the direction of the country. After pointing out some obvious differences between the Bush 41-Clinton transition and the Bush 43-Obama transition, Scheiber explains:

But part of the explanation also lies in the elite institutions that socialized them–namely Harvard and Yale, their respective law schools. The two schools stand on opposite sides of a cultural chasm in the academic world. Even more than that, they stand for different theories of governing.

Obviously, Scheiber makes his argument by using broad generalizations about the two schools’ methods of education. Yale is portrayed as intellectually curious if a bit absent minded and unstructured. Harvard is austere and disciplined and a place where happiness goes to die.

Individual experiences will certainly vary. As John Matteson offered in the Sunday Times:

I can’t tell whether Barack Obama suffered into self-knowledge at Harvard Law the way I did. Whereas I never discovered an academic comfort zone in Roscoe Pound Hall, he became president of The Law Review — a feat of intelligence and dedication I can regard only with awe.

The generalizations about the two law schools have particular import though. Remember, Obama is seemingly bringing the entire HLS faculty with him to Washington.

Additional thoughts after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Are We Ready For What Harvard Law School Is Selling?”

Tulane's Mexican party pic small.JPGTulane Law School finished third in our post about the Top Law Schools of the Year.

Apparently, they took that as a challenge. Some of the law students there decided to throw a little party. From Guanabee:

It’s racist party pics of a bunch of white law students at Tulane University dressing up like Mexican caricatures. It seems last weekend the President of the Tulane Student Bar Association…. attended (or threw?) a party whose theme was “The Border” according to a tipster who attends the same school. These pictures were posted on [her] Facebook profile under the title, “No we will not die like dogs! We will fight like lions!” Because Mexicans are a caricature from The Three Amigos.

Geez guys, if you want to make ATL that badly, you could always just steal another shoe.

I guess some people are not clear on the rules, so let me help those people out. If you are already clear on the rules, please skip right to the jump, to see the blatant rule violations that were posted on Facebook.

Anyway, if you absolutely must dress up as a racial stereotype, you first need to ask yourself:

A) Are you a mascot?

B) Is it Halloween?

If you answer “no” to both questions, then you generally cannot mock other ethnic groups via costume, unless:

1) You’re “one-eighth” of the ethnic group you are mocking and can provide sufficient documentation to that effect upon request.

2) You’re in a play or some other performance piece and can legitimately blame directorial choices for your dress.

3) You’re trying to make a crushingly ironic point about the currently state of world affairs (a/k/a The New Yorker Exception).

But note that if you are applying under the guidelines set forth in subsection three, you can still legitimately be called out by others who aren’t in on the joke.

That is all. Pictures after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Racist Tulane Law School Party? Ironic Tulane Law School Party? You Decide”

KL Gates would like that money back.jpgK&L Gates associates have not heard about their 2008 bonus or their 2009 raises yet. Bonus news is historically late at the firm, and raise news should come in March.

In the meantime, associates got an unexpected bonus along with their second paycheck of the year. This is an excerpt from the e-mail associates received yesterday:

Please see the email below regarding an error with the direct deposit of the January 22nd payroll. In short the issue is that your payroll appears to have been deposited 3 times and the firm is in the process of request [sic] 2 of those be returned. So, please be careful not to spend more then your normal pay until you see that they [sic] corrections have been made to your account.

On the downside, K&L uses an inept payroll company. On the upside, the firm’s cash flow must be nice and healthy if it can afford to triple pay all of its associates. Indeed, as we reported yesterday, profits per partner at K&L are up.

The associate who sent the e-mail along to us is a brave one:

they said they’d take it out by early next week. i think i could head up to atlantic city. triple it. then put it back in my account by next monday.

Sounds like a plan to us. Not a good plan, but a plan. Full e-mail from the director of payroll after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “K&L Gates to Associates: ‘That was not your bonus’”

Happy workers.JPGFortune has released its annual list of the top 100 companies to work for. Despite the general feeling of malaise in the legal industry, a few law firms made the cut.

The highest ranked law firm (number 21 overall) is Arnold & Porter. Fortune reports:

Law firm offers world-class benefits to staff and attorneys: 18 weeks’ paid leave for maternity and adoption, $5,000 for adoption fees, $30,000 for fertility services, free onsite fitness center, on- and off-site child care.

I guess a salary freeze that their peer firms in the Vault 20 are largely avoiding doesn’t trump a free gym.

Fortune also released a list of the top 20 companies that are great places to work and still hiring. No law firms made that list.

So I guess we’ll focus on other law firms in the top 100 after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fortune Lists Top 100 Companies to Work For”

pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgA couple of weeks ago we reported that Mayer Brown’s failure to reflect a salary increase in associates’ initial January paycheck could be an indication of a coming salary freeze. A tipster told us:

Today was the first pay day in 2009 for Mayer Brown NY. In the past, our first pay check of the year automatically reflected salary increases. No such increase today. Smells like a pay freeze?!?

In response, some commenters made it very clear that the failure to increase salaries in January had nothing at all to do with a salary freeze:

The fact that THIS year you don’t have an increase yet WITHOUT any firmwide announcement (which has NEVER happened, btw) doesn’t mean anything. It is what happens normally at every other MB office every year (and also has happened in NYC in the past). Sure, it is possible (maybe even probable) that MB will announce a freeze, but keep your panties on; the fact that a raise isn’t in your paycheck doesn’t mean anything other than that there hasn’t been an announcement yet (which we already knew). Hence, this is not newsworthy.

A firm spokesperson even jumped in on the general theme:

Mayer Brown spokesman Bob Harris says the firm “has not yet announced its plans for lawyer compensation in 2009″ and that it usually makes the decision in February.

A funny thing happened on the way to the normal, put the panties on, non-announcement of a decision usually made in February that is not at all newsworthy: about an hour ago, Mayer Brown announced a salary freeze.

In this market, it might be time to rethink previous definitions of normalcy.

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Freeze Watch: Mayer Brown
You Heard It Here First”

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft new logo CWT AboveTheLaw blog.jpgHonestly, we’re not trying to pile on Cadwalader, but they just keep making news.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog is reporting today that the firm has fired nine associates: three in New York and six in Charlotte:

“Cadwalader confirms limited terminations of a few associates in the Charlotte and New York offices; and adjustments to our Charlotte-only compensation schedule,” wrote firm spokeswoman Nicky McHugh in an email.

There are still associates in Charlotte? Maybe they should have taken the pay cut.

Our tipsters report that most of the layoffs hit the real estate practice group.

How are Cadwalader associates dealing with all the bad news? We’ve heard rumors of everything from Career Builder to Duck Hunt. Let us know about your Cadwalader coping mechanisms.

Cadwalader to Cut Nine More Associates [WSJ Law Blog]

Earlier: More Pain Coming to Cadwalader?

Prior ATL coverage of law firm layoffs

sweet hot justice logo.jpg[Ed. Note: The following piece was authored by "The Legal Tease" of Sweet Hot Justice fame. You can check out all of Legal Tease's other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]

My first intervention went down pretty much exactly like the ones you see on TV. Well, except that there were no cameras. Or tears. Or therapists. And it took place in a shoebox office in a law firm instead of, say, in my living room, surrounded by friends and family. Still, the core elements were the same: I had a serious issue and it needed addressing. No, I wasn’t a junkie, or an alcoholic, or addicted to fetish porn. My issue was far more dangerous. More destructive. More worthy, apparently, of the powers that be at the firm stepping in to make sure the situation didn’t get further out of control.

The issue? My billable hours were too high.

It was a couple of years ago, when it was actually possible to have billable hours, no less ones that were too high. The day started like any other: sitting at my desk on three hours’ sleep, mourning my former life as a person who…had a life, and wading through diligence for a massive public company merger that had consumed every billable, no less waking, hour of my life since I’d started working at the firm a few months back. I heard a knock on my door and looked up to see Bess, a senior associate I’d never met, smiling at my door.

“Hey there!” she chirped. “How’s it going?”

I looked down at the heaps of SEC filings covering every inch of my desk. How does it look like it’s going?

She kept smiling. “Sooo, gotta sec?”

No. “Sure.”

“Great! I figured we could just go grab a coffee and talk for a bit.” Oh, Jesus Christ. What the hell is this about? I don’t have time for this.

Turns out, that was the whole point.

Having a life, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sex, Drugs, And Billable Hours!”


* Obama made the order to close Guantanamo within a year and former U.S. attorney David Iglesias has been hired to prosecute suspected terrorists held at the prison. [The Associated Press]

* Caroline Kennedy withdrew her Senate bid, so all that press was much ado about nothing. [The New York Times]

* The Chinese court sentenced two to death and one to a life prison sentence for their role in the tainted milk scandal. [The International Herald Tribune]

* SCOTUS refused to reconsider COPA Wednesday, and agreed that a Massachusetts family could sue the school district for sex discrimination.[The Associated Press]

* A Bank of America shareholder is accusing the bank of withholding information about Merrill Lynch’s $15.3 billion in losses before the shareholders voted on its acquisition. [Bloomberg]

oath.jpgThe second time was a charm. Constitutional crisis averted.

Okay, it was hardly a “constitutional crisis.” But it was probably wise to take a mulligan on the oath, to avoid crackpot claims of illegitimacy. In the words of law professor Jonathan Turley, who recommended retaking the oath:

He should probably go ahead and take the oath again. If he doesn’t, there are going to be people who for the next four years are going to argue that he didn’t meet the constitutional standard. I don’t think it’s necessary, and it’s not a constitutional crisis. This is the chief justice’s version of a wardrobe malfunction.

Turley seems to place blame for the screw-up on Chief Justice Roberts, as does CNN (see their headline below). Based on the results of yesterday’s reader poll, ATL readers concur.

Obama retakes oath of office after Roberts’ mistake [CNN]

Experts say Obama should retake the oath [San Francisco Chronicle]

Reading of the Presidential Oath, Take Two? [WSJ Law Blog]

Earlier: Whoops. How does that Constitution go?

Santa Clara Law Logo.JPGAre you familiar with Second Life? It’s a virtual world where real people can interact and do business with other real people, without the pesky interference of “the mortal coil.”

Santa Clara Law has decided to take this phenomenon to what I suppose is its logical conclusion. Competing to attract the best students, Santa Clara will host an application workshop in Second Life tomorrow. From the press release:

Posing as her own self-created avatar, “Penny Canucci,” SCU Law School Dean of Admissions Jeanette Leach will play host to prospective students who sign in for the event, taking place from 6 to 8 p.m. at “Santa Clara Island” on Second Life.

They’ll view a video welcome from Santa Clara Law Dean Donald Polden (appearing in real-life video footage, not as an avatar). After Leach’s workshop, participants will be able to ask questions of the admissions office staff and gather information about applying to Santa Clara Law.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when dealing with a digital generation that finds face-to-face interaction “a little weird,” I guess your only choice is to jack into the Matrix.

More on Santa Clara’s Second Life strategy after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Santa Clara Law School Gets Creative”

Alex Kozinski David Lat Los Angeles.jpgIf you missed our recent event with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.) in Los Angeles, and if you’re here in New York, feel free to swing by Columbia Law School at around noon tomorrow:

A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence

When: Thursday, January 22, at 12:10 PM
Speakers: The Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Ninth Circuit; David Lat, Founder, Above the Law
Where: JG 106, Columbia Law School, 435 West 116th St. (at Amsterdam Ave.)
Cost: Free and open to the public. Lunch will be served.

Thanks to the Columbia Law School Federalist Society for hosting the event. We hope to see you tomorrow.

Update: If you missed the talk, here’s a write-up, from Ben Hallman of the American Lawyer.

A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence [Columbia Law School Federalist Society]

Earlier: Kozinski & Lat: The Podcast

Obama freezes.JPG* Scientific research is now available about people who post “first” in the comments. [Graph Jam]

* Given my flare flair for misspellings and grammatical train wrecks, I’ve got a lot of sympathy for President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts. Don’t let the commenters get you down, guys! [Language Log]

* Litigation is up in response to the faltering economy. In other breaking news, I’m freaking freezing. [May it Please the Court]

* How many associates got a first draft of the MLK Day closing memo? [Courtoons]

* Maybe President Obama reads ATL? He just froze salaries too. [Law and More]

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