Elie Mystal is editor of Above the Law.
His first name is pronounced like Eliot without the “it,” and his last name is pronounced like Cristal (the champagne).
Prior to winning the ATL Idol Contest, Elie wrote about politics and popular culture at City Hall News and the New York Press. Elie received a degree in Government from Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He still has a rash from all the poison ivy.
He used to be a litigator at Debevoise & Plimpton but quit the legal profession in lieu of stripping naked and lighting himself on fire.
Elie is a proud and basically competent husband. He is a contributor at True/Slant and enjoys the Mets, dogs, and arguing with strangers.
Elie Mystal is editor of Above the Law.
When we kicked off our associate bonus speculation, we mentioned that Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe had already locked themselves into a 2008 bonus structure. We wondered if Orrick might rethink their bonuses in light of the current state of the economy. Morgan Lewis has already announced that they will not be making bonus decisions until 2009, when they hope to have a better read on the economy.
Today, Orrick assured us that the firm would not look to change their bonus plan. A firm spokesperson put the issue succinctly:
We are committed to using the previously announced bonus schedule.
This year’s bonuses are secured, but Orrick is still considering a much longer term change: ending the lockstep structure of associate salary.
Orrick chairman Ralph Baxter has spoken about this issue before. In an article for the American Lawyer this summer, Baxter pointed out the value of the current, lockstep system. But he also said:
Given the changing nature of the law practice, the changing expectations of clients, the changing outlook of Generation Y, law firms would be remiss if they did not re-examine the associate model.
We understand that Baxter has been cautiously talking to people and gauging interest in this idea.
But it is not this day. More after the jump.
* Wendy Savage (pictured) is turning into Boston’s version of Joe the Plumber. [f/k/a]
* Samuel “Pyro” Pontier has finally been disbarred. [Legal Blog Watch]
* The law lags behind science. Especially weird science. [Drug and Device Law]
* Sarah Palin is sure the First Amendment applies to her. She’s not so sure about whether or not reporters should be protected though. [WSJ Law Blog]
* “Basically Kenny, you’re Keanu Reeves.” [Popsquire]
The Recorder has published the people who will be in charge of winding down operations at Thelen:
The three members of Thelen’s dissolution committee are David Graybeal, Douglas Davidson and Thomas Hill. The firm has also hired as outside counsel Peter Gilhuly, the Latham & Watkins bankruptcy partner who advised Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison on its dissolution half a decade ago.
We already know that some Thelen people have found a new home. It’s been widely published that Nixon Peabody has sent offer letters to 60 former Thelen partners and associates.
But all of those offer letters were sent to attorneys in Thelen’s Manhattan office. San Francisco associates haven’t yet been picked up in droves. In fact, the New York focus of the dissolution committee members is causing some consternation with other partners at the firm:
Some former Thelen partners voiced frustration over Hill’s inclusion as a member of the wind-down committee.
Hill was in a position of “running the numbers” in his former role, one former Thelen lawyer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “You would think that would be a reason to keep him off the committee.” People were not happy with the way Hill ran the office, the lawyer said, citing complaints that he didn’t consider other’s ideas and generally did not communicate.
Readers have cited Thelen’s expansion beyond their traditional San Francisco roots as part of the problem. Now, a cadre of non-San Francisco based partners will be overseeing the end.
Four Attorneys to Guide Thelen’s Demise [Law.com]
Earlier: Thelen Officially Dissolves
We reported earlier that Powell Goldstein is set to be acquired by Bryan Cave. We’ve been told to expect an official announcement from Bryan Cave on Monday.
PoGo has still not directly responded to ATL about the rumors that a number of associates, staff, and partners could be on their way out of the door. But we understand that they have sent around an internal email addressing some concerns in light of the merger information. A tipster tells us that the email offered the following clarifications:
1) Everyone has a job. This is a specific term of the deal.
2) BC wants to expand the Atlanta office. …
3) We have no problems at all with our finances. Credit is strong, bank relationships are strong, etc.
We have not gotten our hands on the merger agreement between PoGo and Bryan Cave. But the “promise” that every job is secured is encouraging. The email does not speak to our previous reporting that PoGo’s banks threatened to pull their credit line if a merger was not reached. But regardless of what could have happened, the firm’s contention that they are in a strong financial position is certainly worth noting.
The Chairman’s conference call after the jump.
Yesterday we introduced you to DB (not his real name — please keep it that way), formerly an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. At S&C, and in law school before that, DB became notorious for bragging about his wealth and making politically incorrect remarks.
In law school, at a firm reception in the Time Warner center, DB got drunk and started going on about how he was wearing crocodile shoes that cost thousands of dollars and how his brother drove a more expensive car than the partners at the host firm. At an S&C firm retreat, the same one where he made his comments about the ballet, DB was placed in charge of entertainment for one evening. This included brainstorming for the “S&C Superlatives” contest, which is supposed to feature innocuous, yearbook-style items like “Miss Congeniality,” “Best Smile,” or “Most Athletic.”
The items suggested by DB? “Sluttiest Partner” and “Partner Most Likely To Sleep With His Secretary.”
DB once said, to a highly attractive summer associate he encountered in the hallway, “You really aren’t that hot. Everyone thinks you are, but outside of here you really aren’t.”
In fairness to DB, he has his defenders and positive attributes. One tipster describes him as “a bright guy,” and another as “nice in a weird way,” as well as unusually generous and thoughtful at times. A third raves about his hotness, including “six-pack abs and amazing arms.” As for the sexist (and homophobic) quips, they may be best attributed not to malice, but to personal issues that DB is probably still working through.
His colorful comments, however, aren’t what got DB in truly hot water. Find out what did, after the jump.
Instead of adding to the drumbeat of bad news, the University of Buffalo Law School has taken a novel approach to navigating the current economic climate. A UB student tipster reports:
Job prospects at the University of Buffalo School of Law are so BAD that the CSO has given up hope! Instead of looking for firms’ with availability, the CSO is now offering a course on knitting. Although students will soon be jobless and homeless post-graduation, at least we won’t be cold!
The Buffalo career services office confirmed that they were indeed offering their students an opportunity to learn a real trade:
To all you knitters, crocheters and other crafty ones out there:
As the weather cools and the snow starts to fly, doesn’t it feel good to have a nice warm, woolly UFO (un-finished object) on your needles?? If you understood that last sentence, and would like to spend an hour with like-minded knit-wits, please [Redacted].
We’ll be knitting, crocheting, or engaging any other textile-related, portable projects together. We hope that it will become a regular standing group, where we can sit, knit, chat, get help, find new patterns, share techniques and ideas, talk about our favorite LYS, and generally “commune with the yarn.” …
We had a great group of around seven people last year, representing the faculty, library, staff, and students. Some were expert knitters, and others were just starting out, so feel free to join us regardless of skill level, or if you’d like to learn…
As always, crocheters, needlepointers, quilters, macrame-ers, etc. are welcome
The rest of the memo, after the jump.
Earlier this year, we presented a series of threads on career alternatives for attorneys. As it turns out, there are things you can do with a law degree other than working for a large law firm — and now that large law firms are laying off lawyers and even dissolving, now is a good time to revisit the topic.
One career alternative we didn’t include in the first go-round was living by the pen — probably ‘cuz it’s pretty hard to pull off. As one commenter quipped about another daunting alternative (entrepreneurship), “maybe I should try out for the Yankees while I’m at it.”
Not everyone can be John Grisham or Scott Turow. Being a writer is not so much an alternative to being an attorney as it is something you can do on the side.
Unless your spouse is willing to let you quit your job and pursue the literary dream. Malcolm Gladwell of the New Yorker wrote a piece recently about creativity, and how it is not the sole provenance of the young. The piece revolves around an attorney who quit his job at Akin Gump to become a full-time writer and spent 18 years at it, eventually writing a book of short stories that won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award. All the while, his wife, a Thompson & Knight partner, acted as his literary patron (i.e., the family breadwinner).
If you have a patron, or if you have lots of creativity, or if you just love spinning tales, perhaps you should think about trying your hand at the writing craft.
Last night, we attended a panel discussion at the New York City Bar Association: Non-Fiction: True Crime Stories & the Truth about Being a Lawyer-Writer. Speaking were JD-holders Thomas Adcock of the New York Law Journal, former Brooklyn prosecutor Dennis Hawkins, and legal PR maven Rosemarie Yu. Thomas Adcock has written seven books, including Dark Maze, which received an Edgar award. Hawkins and Yu have recently had their work published in the non-fiction anthology Brooklyn Noir 3.
All three are patron-less, balancing work with writing. Check out their tips for other aspiring writers, from getting started to getting published, after the jump.
Heller Ehrman and Thelen dissolved after big time mergers fell through. While our readers have been speculating on the next capitulation to the financial crisis, it seems that Powell Goldstein has narrowly avoided a full scale dissolution thanks to Bryan Cave. A tipster reports:
Powell Goldstein, which has been an prominent firm in Atlanta since 1909, will no longer exist next week. PoGo partners voted last week to approve an acquisition by Bryan Cave, and BC will announce the acquisition on Monday.
Bryan Cave did not return multiple calls requesting comment on the story. Meanwhile, a PoGo spokesperson said “I have nothing to report” when asked about the acquisition.
As we understand it, the union between Bryan Cave and PoGo is not a “merger” so much as it is a buy-out. Additional tipsters have reported that nobody from PoGo — not staff, not associates, not even partners — is safe. Equity partners could be let go early next week.
Putting together the rumors after the jump.
* Texan Toxic Tort attorney Fred Baron has died. His profile went national this year due to his support for John Edwards (and his mistress) and his campaign to secure an experimental drug to treat his cancer. [Dallas Morning News]
* New York AG Andrew Cuomo is on the case of big executive bonuses in the wake of the bank bailout. [New York Times]
* New York divorce lawyers aren’t very good at making their marriage work. [Newsday]
* Ohio may be the new Florida this election. [New York Times]
* Here’s a horror story for you. Paralegal beheads a gang member, puts pieces of the body in plastic, and buries them. His attorney/employer is defending him, saying his paralegal “did not have a chance to call 911.” Happy Halloween! [Associated Press]
* Given the economy, it might be a good time to pull a Rip Van Winkle. [Corporette]
* Barack and Michelle Obama have incomplete lawyer profiles. Is a new attack ad in the making? [Legal Blog Watch]
* Law Professors who rule the blogosphere. [TaxProf Blog]
* Milberg Weiss hires a ringer to win a lawyer league basketball game against the Food Bank of New York. That adds up to a law firm cheating to win an exhibition against a charity. But the Food Bank lawyers responded in the only reasonable way. [Supreme Dicta]
* Don’t forget to bid for Item #16, a fun night with Kash and Lat while I drunkenly murder a homophone in the background. [Equal Justice Foundation]
In what could be a trend, DLA Piper has canceled the holiday party for their Chicago office. The move is similar to Fried Frank’s decision to scrap their holiday festivities, but there is no indication on whether DLA intends to donate any of their party money to charity (as Fried Frank did).
Spokespeople for DLA Piper did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s not just the legal community that’s scaling back on holiday cheer. Yesterday, Barclays announced they were canceling their holiday party too. For a complete list of the financial firms that have gone Grinch, see our sister site, Dealbreaker.
The holiday party is just one notch on the ever tighter belt. More after the break.