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Are your increasingly cost-conscious clients balking at five-figure bills for legal research? Here are some neat new resources you might find helpful:
Public Library of Law Fastcase Above the Law blog.jpg1. The Public Library of Law. Here’s a brief blurb, from Ed Walters (the former Covington associate who founded Fastcase):

One of the joys of disruptive technology is that it occasionally allows you to disrupt things. In that spirit, I’m pleased to introduce the Public Library of Law, which debuts today at www.plol.org. PLoL is the world’s largest free law library, with more than 7,100 miles of text in the cases alone.

PLoL works hand in hand with our (much larger) subscription library at Fastcase, which features power research tools as good or better than any in the world. PLoL has its virtues as well — it is ad supported and easy to use, and should be a great starting place to find law on the Web.

There’s a usage tutorial available over at YouTube, prior coverage by Robert Ambrogi at LawSites, and a comprehensive press release.
Precydent open law source AboveTheLaw blog.jpg2. PreCYdent. PLoL isn’t the only free law library on the web. From a tipster:

Have you posted about Professor Tom Smith’s new research tool, PreCYdent? It’s an amazing concept and it works quite well, even though only in its early stages.

A description from Professor Smith:

Right now our library consists of all US Supreme Court cases and US Court of Appeals cases going back to the 1950s (i.e. F.3d and F.2d). Automatic updaters are in place, so new cases are uploaded in slip opinion form as soon as they are released by these courts. We are working on having the last ten years of cases from all 50 states available soon. Everything is in XML.

It’s free. We believe that all law that is in the public domain should be available to everybody for free. Personally, I think I paid for it once already around April 15th or so.

More details here and here.
eDelaware Potter Anderson Corroon LLP Above the Law blog.jpg3. eDelaware. This last tool is a bit more focused than the others mentioned above; it’s all about Delaware law (of special interest to the corporate lawyers among you). From eDelaware’s press release:

eDelaware is free mobile software that will provide instant access to the full text of key Delaware statutes, along with case law summaries, through a BlackBerry® smartphone device. It is the first mobile software developed by a law firm that allows for seamless, wireless access to important statutes and case law summaries, all of which will be updated so as to provide the most current content possible.

Good stuff. As clients grow more cheap cost-conscious, expect free and/or low-cost research resources to grow in importance.
Update: One more link to add — the new Commercial Law Center, brought to you by LexisNexis. Much of the center is free — e.g., the Weekly Wrapup podcasts, the Insider Perspective blog, and many items listed in Featured Content (which currently includes a Sub-Prime Litigation webcast).
Public Library of Law [via Fastcase]
PreCYdent search engine [via The Right Coast]
eDelaware [via Potter Anderson & Corroon]
Commercial Law Center [via LexisNexis]

Fried Frank Harris Shriver Jacobson LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgIt’s not as lavish as holding your law firm retreat at the Ritz in Pasadena, like O’Melveny & Myers. Nor is it as exotic as an all-expenses-paid trip to Jamaica, like Boies Schiller.
But still, this is neat. From a Fried Frank source:

Fried Frank announced to its associates on Tuesday that it is sending all associates in their third year and above, plus some partners and special counsel, to New Orleans for its 2008 attorney retreat. I thought this was pretty cool of the firm to do, especially because there’s a mix of fun, workshops that sound useful, and community service to help the residents of New Orleans.

A cynic might say that the last thing a devastated city needs is to be descended upon by a bunch of lawyers (a la Bhopal). But between the tourism dollars they’ll bring in and the volunteer work they’ll perform, the arrival of the Fried Frank folk is clearly a good thing. John Edwards, eat your heart out.
Announcement memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Perk Watch: Fried Frank to… New Orleans!”

Valentine's Day love hearts Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re still in a Valentine’s Day state of mind, so we thought we’d toss out a poll question to the ATL readership: Should lawyers date other lawyers?
The obvious answer is, “it depends” — on the two (or more?) individuals involved, the nature of their relationship, the surrounding circumstances, etc. But that’s boring. So let’s consider the question in the abstract, and in more absolute terms.
There are obvious pros and cons to lawyer-on-lawyer love. On the plus side, it’s nice to be with someone who can understand your work, including its many frustrations. When you tell that horror story over dinner about opposing counsel’s speaking objections at your deposition, your partner might actually understand.
(Also on the plus side: If you’re both at law firms on the $160K scale, together you take home a very nice chunk of change.)
But the sheer amount of lawyer shop-talk may also be the most obvious minus of legal-eagle romance. Wouldn’t it be nice to escape from the law world every now and then, instead of curling up with it at night? Wouldn’t dating a non-lawyer add some welcome diversity to your life?
Of course, as a practical matter, some lawyers have little choice but to date a fellow lawyer (or paralegal, hehe). If you bill 2500 hours a year, having a personal life is tough — unless that person works down the hall. In fact, due to the rise of workplace romances, the idea of the “love contract” has developed. As explained by Alston & Bird partner Ashley Brightwell over at the WSJ Law Blog, a love contract is “a tool that employers use to protect themselves when an office romance goes sour. It’s a document that confirms that a relationship is voluntary and informs the parties of the company’s sexual harassment policies. It sets out a procedure if, at any point, the relationship goes south.”
Anyway, enough thinking about what might go wrong. Let’s think about the possibilities — for lawyer love! Please take our poll — and discuss attorney-on-attorney action, in the comments. Thanks.


Office Romances & The Law: a Q&A With Ashley Brightwell [WSJ Law Blog]

Winstead PC Texas business law firm Above the Law blog.jpgThis latest layoff news may not be super-exciting to the associates among you, since it relates to staff rather than lawyer layoffs.The East and West Coast snobs will dismiss it as news from “flyover land.”
But as we previously observed, staff layoffs “serve as a ‘canary in the mine’ of sorts, with respect to a law firm’s financial health.” And the firm in question, Winstead, is one of Texas’s largest firms.
So this news merits mention (on a somewhat slow news day). From the Dallas Morning News:

Texas-based Winstead PC will lay off 20 support staff employees in its Dallas office, chief executive Denis Braham said Wednesday.

The firm also let a few associate attorneys go in the restructuring, but Mr. Braham said the firm typically cuts some associates each year.

Our tipster expresses skepticism: “Bulls**t. This is the same firm that came out after salaries increased last time to 160 and said, ‘we are not raising.’ I think they later caved.”
Winstead to lay off 20 in Dallas office [Dallas Morning News]
Winstead Says Yes to Bonuses, No to Raises [Texas Lawyer]

Samuel Alito 3 Justice Samuel A Alito Jr Above the Law blog.JPGEarlier this month, some controversy was generated when it was reported that Senator John McCain, the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, said he’d be happy to nominate justices in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts — but Justice Samuel Alito, not so much.
This resulted in speculation over exactly what Senator McCain meant by this. Several observers were confused, since JGR and SAA are jurisprudential buddies. As noted SCOTUS advocate Tom Goldstein pointed out, in the Court’s last full Term, Roberts and Alito “had the highest proportion of agreement of any members of the Court, 89 percent in pure agreement, that is to say, not just in the result but in absolute, complete agreement, every word.”
So here’s one theory. Maybe McCain doesn’t like Alito because of the justice’s taste in television? From the AP:

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. has convicted “The Sopranos” of spreading what he says are stereotypes about Italian-Americans. During a visit to Rutgers University on Wednesday, Alito complained that the hit HBO television drama not only associated Italian-Americans with the Mafia, but New Jerseyans, as well.

“You have a trifecta — gangsters, Italian-Americans, New Jersey — wedded in the popular American imagination,” Alito said at an event sponsored by the Italian studies program at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey.

But it was such a great show, Your Honor!
A bit more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice Alito on the Sopranos: Fuhgeddaboudit!”

Earlier this week, we told you about client contact, and asked you about your firm’s leave policies (that survey’s still live, by the way). In today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we explore whether you’d like to leave your firm to become a client:
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

Valentine's Day note card Above the Law blog.jpgNo, we didn’t forget. We love you too much, dear readers. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
Of course, this is a holiday fraught with peril. How should you celebrate? What gift should you get for your spouse or significant other? How do you handle the occasion if, say, you’ve been dating someone for just a few weeks — or if you’re seeing more than one person at the same time?
For many lawyers, Valentine’s Day is no big deal. A relationship — who has time for that?
But it does raise at least one issue. From a tipster:

Most attorneys get their secretaries / assistants a gift for the end-of-year holidays. But what about Valentine’s Day?

I suggest a thread on what people do give, should give, shouldn’t give, and should spend for Valentine’s Day gifts for their assistants. And whether attorneys need to give anything for this very Hallmark holiday.

Hmm… maybe a nice box of chocolates (unless he or she is diabetic)? Steer clear of lingerie, unless your secretary is doing more than your time entry.
What are your thoughts on this pressing inquiry, so the delinquent among you can step out during lunch and grab a gift or card? Feel free to share ideas, or discuss your V-Day plans more generally, in the comments.
P.S. This is too late to be helpful for this Valentine’s Day, but for future reference, you can order personalized printed greeting cards at the Billable Hour. Check out their Valentine’s Day selection over here.
Earlier: Secretary / Administrative Assistant Gifts: Open Thread (270 comments — wow)

* House Democrats oppose Senate spy bill’s telecom immunity. [Washington Post]
* Justice Scalia approves of “so-called torture” under some circumstances. [MSNBC]
* Just a few months later, Senate committee gets around to admonishing Sen. Craig. [CNN]
* Clemens and McNamee go head to head before Congress. [ESPN]
* City’s scantily clad cowboy sues candy-coated counterpart. [WSJ Law Blog]

Jones Day Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLast week we put up a post about associate compensation issues at Jones Day. It generated a torrent of comments. As always, some were negative, some positive.
A few readers were upset by the negative comments and came to their firm’s defense. Here’s what one wrote:

I am a third year lawyer at Jones Day. I enjoy my job and am paid well (and I mean darn well) above market. I hesitate to respond to such mudslinging by persons who are either disgruntled or misinformed, but as a current happy third year lawyer at Jones Day, I felt the need to set the record straight.

People who are unhappy with their compensation at Jones Day are in fact underperformers. Believe me, if I were in charge, I would fire those people rather than giving them a $160,000 “hint” that they aren’t Jones Day material and should consider a career change. Because anyone who thinks that paying a third year lawyer the published salary of a first year lawyer is not a “message” about work quality is delusional. In no other profession do competent, mature people complain about being compensated based on their performance (or lack thereof).

To reiterate: I did not clerk. I have never billed more than 2100 hours. I have received bonuses despite billing slightly under 2000 hours. I have had many fantastic substantive opportunities (read: not two years of document review). I enjoy my job and colleagues. I am paid based on the quality (again, not quantity) of my work, which turns out to be more than most 4th year lawyers billing 2000-2100 hours at big firms in NY.

And the beauty of our confidential system is that other greedy jealous underperforming associates aren’t blogging about my pay stub. Instead, those “lawyers” have gotten the Jones Day “hint,” and are now spending their time at a new employer – not representing clients, but blogging about their ex-employer who figured out that they were worthless.

Ouch. That was way harsh, Tai.
But it’s a fair point. Why shouldn’t a firm pay associates what it thinks they’re worth on an individual basis, and if the associates don’t like it, they can leave? This is effectively what investment banks do with their personnel.
Additional commentary about JD, plus a photo of some of their paralegals at play, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Some Follow-Up on Jones Day’s Confidential Compensation Model”

* From a male law student’s manifesto: “I Am A Law School Girl (Snatch, Gunch, Clam, Whisker Biscuit — Pick Your Subject Synonym)…” Charming, isn’t it? [Jezebel]
* Are celebrity gossip sites developing consciences? [Media Law Prof Blog]
* Could Greg Fleming’s status as the “last guy standing” at Merrill Lynch spell legal trouble for him? [DealBreaker]
* “[T]he Hollywood Foreign Press Association and even NBC could be on the verge of taking legal action against the WGA for actions leading to the cancellation of this year’s Golden Globes. Really, could Jeff Zucker possibly be more of a putz?” [Deadline Hollywood Daily]
* Is Hillary doomed? Maybe not (yet). [Blogonaut]
* “This is a lesson on how to fool a jury. And how to get caught.” [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* Added as an update to the original post, but in case you missed it, there’s another side to the whole “bringing a gun to a deposition” story. [ESPN]

Nicholas Del Vecchio Judge Nick Del Vecchio Above the Law blog.jpgWhat happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Unless it involves an allegedly misbehaving judge, in which case it makes these pages.
If the allegations are true, today’s Judge of the Day puts the “Sin” in Sin City. From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

The Family Court judge accused of making a 14-year-old girl perform oral sex on him and years later coercing her into a sexual relationship remained on the bench Monday as court officials considered his future.

Court officials talked about taking away the caseload of Nicholas Del Vecchio but haven’t made any decisions, said Chuck Short, county court administrator. The court doesn’t have the authority to remove Del Vecchio. Only the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission can remove or suspend a sitting judge.

As Judge Elizabeth Halverson well knows.
You’d think that allegations of oral sex with a 14-year-old would be sufficient to prevail as Judge of the Day. But you can read more about Judge Del Vecchio’s alleged misadventures, including claims of surreptitious audio recordings and nude photography, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Nicholas Del Vecchio
(And a digression on judges and oral sex.)”

Hey, if they can make it past the metal detector at One First Street, it’s all good. Is that a gavel under your robe, Your Honor — or are you just reviewing the Joint Appendix?
This is certainly one of the more interesting circuit splits out there. Let’s hope for a cert petition and a speedy grant.
Dildoes Going to the Supreme Court? [Volokh Conspiracy]

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