In our first two installments of 2008 law school stories, we looked back at our favorite law school students of the year and important trends. For our third post in the series of four, we’re indulging in one of our favorite topics: law school listservs.
When tightly-wound law students use the e-mail list as their forum for airing grievances, the back-and-forth can get rather catty. A mixture of Type A personalities, the desire to procrastinate, and extreme law school stress has resulted in some explosive exchanges in 2008.
Whether you call them list servs, list serves, listservs, listserves, list-servs, or list-serves, we call them extremely amusing. Find out which three law schools made the “Best of” listserv list, after the jump.
Evan Chesler, presiding partner at Cravath, is the latest to raise his voice against the billable hour. In an op-ed piece he penned for Forbes magazine, Chesler says:
I’m a trial lawyer. I bill by the hour. So do the associates who work for me. I have lots of clients, so I can pretty much work, and bill, as much as I want. This needs to be fixed. Yes, you read that correctly.
Of course, partners and clients and even journalists have been calling for or predicting the death of the billable hour for years. As Chesler himself contends in his piece, nobody really likes the billable hour:
The billable hour makes no sense, not even for lawyers. If you are successful and win a case early on, you put yourself out of work. If you get bogged down in a land war in Asia, you make more money. That is frankly nuts.
Of course, there is a reason that the billable hour won’t die. More on that after the jump.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Tuesday denied Skilling’s request that his convictions be overturned because they were based on an incorrect legal theory.
We don’t have our hands on the 105-page opinion, but apparently Skilling’s argument that Enron was just ahead of the curve on the whole global financial crisis thing wasn’t enough to overturn his convictions.
It happens every year. After first semester some 1Ls belatedly realize they need to “step it up” for second semester. Law school isn’t like college: there’s a curve, there are jobs to be wrested from the clutching hands of fellow students, and just because a professor starts babbling about Floridian Burger Kings doesn’t mean you can zone out.
Some people look inward for strength and resolve. Some people blame others. Those outward looking folks are the ones liable to send out emails like this one, which popped up on the University of Chicago Law listserve yesterday:
A friendly warning to fellow 1L’s: if you intend to play video games in class — especially graphics-intensive video games — please remember to sit in the back row so the rest of us don’t have to watch. Super Penguin Mario or Donkey Kong Country may, from your perspective, be a good way to while away a long class; to those sitting behind you, it is a distraction we’d rather not have to deal with.
Sorry to be That Jerk; for what it’s worth I know I’m not alone in strongly preferring this.
Back in October, we reported that Morgan Lewis & Bockius was one of the first firms to say anything about associate bonuses. The firm said it wasn’t going to make a decision about associate bonuses until sometime in January of 2009, but at least they said something.
Notably, at the time the firm also reported:
As in past years, base compensation adjustments will continue to be effective as of January 1 and will be reflected in your January paycheck.
We now know that the announcement was a much bigger deal than it seemed at the time.
Morgan Lewis has still not announced what they plan to do with 2008 bonuses, but the firm has announced that 2009 bonuses decisions will be made on a different basis. Instead of a 2000 hour requirement in effect for 2008, in 2009 associates will not be required to reach 2000 hours.
But on the other hand, hitting 2000 hours will no longer “guarantee” a full bonus.
This morning The Recorder is reporting that Bank of America and Citibank could lose $57 million because of a clerical error that could void the preferred status of BoA and Citibank:
A secured creditor must “perfect” its security interests with uniform commercial code filings and file updates every five years. The bank last submitted such a “continuation” in 2005, so another filing wasn’t needed until 2010. On Oct. 1, a week after Heller said it would dissolve, the bank filed a “correction statement” saying the 2007 filing was a “clerical error.” On Monday, the bank declined to discuss how or why the error occurred, or who made it — the 2007 filing required no signature.
The error would nullify BoA’s and Citibank’s secured creditor status:
The firm had paid the banks $51 million since announcing its dissolution and would owe them almost $6 million more if they remain secured creditors.
Closing the loop on Heller’s bankruptcy after the jump.
* Those crazy atheists are at it again. Eleven atheist groups have sued SCOTUS chief John Roberts and various Inaugural Committees to have “so help me God” taken out of the presidential inaugural oath. [Courthouse News Service]
* Barack Obama’s latest legal recruits: Harvard’s Elena Kagan, Indiana University’s Dawn E. Johnsen, and former Clintonites David W. Ogden and Thomas J. Perrelli. [Washington Post]
* The Minnesota Senate race ain’t over yet… and may not be over for months yet. Norm Coleman’s lawyer vows to file a lawsuit protesting the Al Franken victory declared by the state Canvassing Board. [KDBC News]
* Retired NBA star Charles Barkley has the best excuse ever for speeding. But not so much for the DUI. [The Smoking Gun]
* A Connecticut landlord-tenant attorney demonstrates “how one stupid mistake can mess up an otherwise exemplary life.” The mistake was a big one: running a child porn web site. [Connecticut Law Tribune]
Lawyer-politicians from Illinois are a mixed bag. One is Time’s person of the year and will be installed in the White House by the end of the month. Another has disgraced the governor’s office with federal corruption charges and the threat of impeachment. Today’s Lawyer of the Day was appointed by the latter to fill the seat of the former, and the Howard University law grad is adamant about filling that Senate seat.
As Rod Blagojevich might say, Roland Burris has got something f***in’ golden, and he doesn’t want to give it up for f***in’ nothin’.
Today, Burris is going to the opening session of the 111th Congress and he wants his seat. His sheer audacity might be enough to qualify him for the ATL Lawyer of the Day honor, but Burris has even more going for him: a death mausoleum. From CBS News:
The 71-year-old has built a mausoleum listing his achievements. The granite structure, with two columns supporting a covered area and three tablets, list his political and business accomplishments — “First African-American in Illinois” to become the attorney general, state comptroller, vice president of Continental Illinois National Bank, etc. — with the term “Trail Blazer” chiseled in large type above.
Burris is hoping to add “U.S. Senator” to the list (and there is room in the granite for it), but there are several roadblocks on the way to Capitol Hill.
More on Burris’ fight for the Senate, and our suggestion for his mausoleum, after the jump.
Now that we’re a few days into 2009, we’re going to pick up the pace in our 2008 round-up posts. Some of you are getting impatient. Complained a commenter: “At this rate, we’re going to get to #1s sometime in June.”
So, onward. We previously wrote about the #5 gossip story in Biglaw. Today we’re going to hit two birds with one stone, announcing the #4 and #3 stories in law firm land (on the gossipy side; the hard news / business stories are on a separatelist).
Although they’re not in the top two, these tales were in some respects the most fun for us to cover. Take a trip down memory lane, after the jump.
* HLS graduate, public defender, and video game designer Melissa Brooks Batten was shot to death by her estranged spouse just days after obtaining a restraining order against him. David Giacalone writes “We certainly don’t often think about domestic violence reaching our profession, but when it does it should motivate all of us to work harder to help prevent domestic violence throughout our society, and to protect its potential and actual victims, through better procedures and education.” [f/k/a]
* AirTran removed passengers from a flight because they were talking about which seats were “safest.” Oh, did I mention that the passengers were Muslim? They were Muslim. What country do we live in again? [WebCPA]
* The IRS really needs to get one of them “take a penny, leave a penny” jars. [TaxProf Blog]
* Here are nine reasons not to attend law school. Shockingly “because business school is easier and shorter” didn’t make the list. [Legal Geekery]
* Apparently, Christmas used to be more fun before the church got involved. This week’s Blawg Review pays homage to that finest of pagan traditions. [Charon QC via Blawg Review]
A few bonus announcements trickled in over the holidays. Here’s a round-up of recent bonus announcements that have not yet been covered in these pages. If you have new news, e-mail us at email@example.com.
1. Sheppard Mullin (New York): Sheppard Mullin is paying above market rate for attorneys who racked up the hours this year. Baseline hours are 2000 in New York (and 2100 outside of New York, see below). Bonuses range from $20,000 to $70,000, plus discretionary bonuses of $20,000 to $50,000. Reaction at the firm, after the jump.
2. Sheppard Mullin (outside New York): Associates in California and D.C. had to rack up a few more hours than their NY brethren to qualify for bonuses, with 2,100 as their baseline. And their lockstep bonuses for additional hours are not as generous. Details after the jump.
3. Akin Gump (outside New York): We posted on the New York market/ half-Skadden bonuses for Akin New York associates, announced on New Year’s Eve. Associates outside of New York received an e-mail saying that “merit bonuses” will be given based on “productivity, quality of work and Firm citizenship.” Check out the e-mail, and news of a freeze watch there, after the jump.
4. Linklaters (all U.S. offices): This Magic Circle firm announced bonuses and salary increases for U.S. associates right before Christmas. The London-based firm is following Cravath’s lead, paying half-Skadden bonuses to all U.S. associates, with no hours requirement. The firm will have normal class-year raises. Per our tipster, “the firm had a good first half, including in NY, so a Latham-style salary freeze would have been pretty shocking.”
5. Arnold & Porter (New York): Associates outside of New York got individualized bonus memos last week. New Yorkers got their bonus announcement on Jan. 2. Per our tipster, “the scale was as expected, the half-Skadden, which is significantly less than the bonus in non-NY offices, but at least is “market,” unlike our salaries.” Our tipster says the first A&P paycheck of the year remains at 2008 levels.
If you think about it, it kind of makes sense. You’ve just been through the holidays, which is nothing more than an annoying reminder of all the love and happiness other people pretend to have. Meanwhile you’re sitting there trying to choke down a forkful of stuffing while your spouse drunkenly tells the exact same story you’ve heard on the order of 1400 times before, not counting the time you actually witnessed the described events.
So you try to zone out in front of the tube, but the Television God has determined that if you purchase a new Lexus you’ll feel like a kid again. As if some girl who is so rich her family could afford a real live pony is going to go all weak in the knees over a freaking SUV. But whatever, the economy is so bad you can’t even afford a canister of “new car smell.”
Holidays and poverty, they’re murder on marriages. In the U.K. the lawyers are prepared:
And with 17 per cent of divorced men blaming financial problems for the end of their marriage, the credit crunch is putting extra pressure on relationships in trouble.
The report doesn’t discuss how American divorce lawyers deal with the first full work week after Christmas, but in Britain they apparently call it “D-Day.”
The traditional New Year rush to end marriages after the stress of Christmas means divorce lawyers brand today D-Day, or Divorce Day, kick-starting their busiest week of the year.
After the jump, we’re reminded that divorce rarely if ever helps anything.
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.