Back in February, our ATL / Lateral Link survey on politics in the workplace found that 74% of you were discussing politics in the workplace, but less than 3% of you felt any need to conform to a particular political view.
At the time, 20% of respondents said that their fellow associates had tried to convince them to vote for someone, and about 15% said that an associate had asked them to contribute to a campaign.
But those were the days of Hillary and Huckabee.
Now that we’re down to John McCain and That One, what do office politics look like today? Is there more pressure to attend events? Vote a certain way? Make a contribution?
Let’s find out.
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.
I work for two partners at my firm – a senior one and a junior one. The senior partner routinely assigns me less urgent work, but he expects his projects to be handled immediately. The junior partner assigns me more urgent deal work, which also must be done immediately. Both partners hound me to attend to their projects, and if I do the senior partner’s work before the junior partner’s, the senior partner is pissed off, and vice versa. I’ve sent an email asking them how I should prioritize the projects, and neither has responded. I feel like I’m screwed either way. What would you recommend I do?
Rock and a Hard Place
Dear Rock and a Hard Place -
Advances in sheep cloning give associates hope that they will soon be able to be in two places at once, double bill and send themselves for coffee. Alas, that glorious day is not yet upon us. For now, you have to pick one of the projects, tackle it first and piss a partner off. Thus the question becomes, which partner is it better to enrage?
Most people would probably tell you to do the senior partner’s project first, because while his work may be less pressing, he has more clout at partner meetings and owns two Ferraris. Prioritizing memoranda to files may keep the senior partner momentarily happy, but in doing so you’ll look like a slacker to the rest of the deal team. And when purchase agreements go out the door with brackets around Section 9.2.1 stating “pending IP review,” you’ll look like an asshat in front of the client.
Believe it or not, you were not primarily hired to preserve your own job, but rather to advise firm clients. The senior partner may have more hiring/firing power over you than the junior partner, but it’s your duty to convey to the senior partner that the deal team, the junior partner and the client cumulatively outweigh him, even if he is obese. Telling him “not right now” won’t be easy, but it’s nothing that his wife and lady friend haven’t done before.
David Kernell, the now infamous 20-year-old hacker who got access into Sarah Palin’s private email account, has been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Kernell is the son of the Democratic chairperson of Tennessee’s House Government Operations Committee.
The A.P. reports:
Kernell, an economics major at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a three-year term of supervised release.
What kind of emails is David Kernell sending around that made him think that a 44-year old woman would have anything newsworthy in her email account? She’s a grandmother. Did he really think that Palin would use email to send around scandalous photos?
Five years and $250,000 seems like the right price to pay for such rank stupidity.
Pundits and news junkies aren’t the only people talking about presidential politics these days. Some attorneys want to add their two cents as well.
We saw earlier what happened when Orrick attorneys used the firm-wide email list to espouse political views. But Jack Levin, a partner at K&E Chicago, apparently felt that he had learned from the Orrick situation. He sent around what can only be described as a partner’s version of a “HTH” firm-wide email:
From: Jack Levin
Sent: 10/07/2008 03:31 PM CDT
To: #FW Attorneys
Subject: Federal income taxes
In case clients ask you about likely tax policy for high-income folks should Obama be elected, I briefly summarize below Obama’s tax positions(announced 8/14/08) with respect to income tax on high end folks.
This memo is not intended to solicit votes or contributions to any particular candidate, but simply to permit you to converse knowledgeably with clients about Obama tax positions:
* Individual long-term capital gain (“LTCG”) top rate 20%, same as under President Bill Clinton.
* Individual dividend income top rate 20%, same as LTCG, lower than Clinton administration when dividends were taxed at ordinary income (“OI”) rates up to 39.6%.
* Individual OItop rate 39.6%, same as under President Clinton.
* Social security(FICA) payroll tax — currently imposed on individual’s compensation up to $102,000 per year (which amount increases slightly each year with inflation) at 12.4% rate (half on employer and half on employee) — Obama proposes no change for a decade and then (if necessary to save social security system) tax between 2% and 4% (half on employer and half on employee) on individual’s compensation in excess of $250,000 per year.
Is this useful information that the whole firm needs to know?
Mr. Levin failed to remind his K&E colleagues that he had previously been outed by Law.com as an Obama tax policy adviser:
At Kirkland, appellate and litigation head Christopher Landau is a member of McCain’s Justice Advisory Committee, while partner Jack Levin advises Obama on tax policy and Jewish community relations.
Reaction pours in from around the firm after the jump.
* One of the first big decisions to result from the Supreme Court’s Boumediene ruling. Judge Ricardo M. Urbina orders that 17 Uighur detainees be released by next week. [New York Times]
* California has had a Gold Ring Rush. Over 11,000 couples have married since the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in May, meaning more same-sex marriages than Massachusetts has had over four years. [New York Times]
* The latest bizarre twist in the corruption trial of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. [WSJ Law Blog]
* In case you’re tired of analyzing the debates along policy lines, here’s the rundown on Obama and McCain’s Nashville face-off in terms of body language, style, and vocal control. One candidate was a jazz musician while the other was the Energizer Bunny. [Los Angeles Times]
The case of the hurtful homosexuals v. SDFD ended yesterday in mistrial. The jury could not decide if four firefighters were victims of sexual harassment. The men were “forced” to march in a San Diego gay pride parade and also taunted during the march:
The firefighters claimed they were humiliated by taunts and sexual gestures from parade watchers in San Diego.
Their complaint said parade participants included “a group of radical homosexual men” dressed in nun habits and others who yelled comments such as, “You’re making me hot!” and, “I can’t breathe, give me mouth to mouth!”
“Radical homosexual men?” Obviously these firefighters have never been to Chelsea (or even Hell’s Kitchen).
At the time SDFD policy was to make participation in the parade mandatory under anti-discrimination laws. SDFD has since made participation voluntary.
San Diego’s city attorney was happy with the outcome of the case:
City Attorney Michael Aguirre said the lawsuit “was about greed” and declared the jury’s deadlock a total victory. … Aguirre told jurors that the men were assigned to the parade after another crew backed out due to a death in one member’s family. He said the parade is a city-sanctioned event, just like celebrations of the Fourth of July and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The firefighters’ attorney said that they would seek a new trial.
But let’s flip the gender and orientation for a second. Would it be sexual harassment for a group of guys to shout “you’re making me hot” at women marching in a parade? It seems like the same standard should apply to a sexual harassment charge in both cases, if at all.
Heller Ehrman continues to stave off involuntary bankruptcy, despite not being able to pay employees their accrued vacation time. But Heller’s breakup continues to take weird twists.
The latest bizarre news comes from Seattle, where some associates have wondered whether they are about to be evicted from their offices. Tension was so high that Heller management had to send around a clarification email:
TO ALL HANDS (SEATTLE):
I have heard various rumors in the hallways to the effect that the Seattle office will close imminently and therefore that everyone needs to move out pronto. To clarify, here is the status.
The landlord has not issued a notice to vacate. If such a notice were issued, the notice period would be ten days. For reasons too long to explain, we overpaid rent throughout 2008. When those overpayments came to our attention, the firm asked that they be applied to cover (completely) the October rent obligation. The landlord has since asserted that the overpayments instead should be applied toward a fee that was due in connection with our give-back of space on 58. The Dissolution Committee is working with our outside counsel and communicating with the landlord to hopefully resolve this issue, and to clarify with the landlord any issues relating to removal of property from our space. To the best of my knowledge, closure of this office is not imminent and the date of closure remains to be determined, based on the pace of collections versus ongoing costs and also based on the banks’ decisions about what spending they will approve.
A law firm on the edge of solvency “overpaid” their rent? We hope that the explanation for this oversight is too long and difficult to get into, but we wonder if it is just too embarrassing.
Associates that we are speaking to say that it is just starting to sink in that they will be out of a job soon. Hopefully the Seattle associates will get as much time as possible to come to grips with this reality, instead of showing up at the office one day only to find locks on the door.
Update: The Blog of the LegalTimes reports that Arnold & Porter has picked up the latest Heller refugees. The big fish is Kenneth Chernof, Heller’s managing partner in the D.C. office. Any associates coming along for the ride?
We previously reported that firms are starting to launch global financial crisis practice groups.
But we wondered what (if anything) those groups would be able to do for their clients.
According to the National Law Journal, clients are just as confused about the bailout as everybody else. Even the ABA doesn’t actually know what to make of what Congress just passed:
Carlton Fields, which as nearly 300 lawyers throughout Florida and Georgia, is forming a “recovery task force” comprised of 15 to 20 lawyers. The task force was first proposed to be called a “bailout task force.” It will focus on “what kinds of opportunities will be available with the congressional plan,” said Jay Steinman, chairman of the firm’s Miami real estate and finance group.
The firm has been asked by the American Bar Association to create a “white paper” on what the bailout plans means. The analysis will be completed this week by Carlton Fields partner Sandra Porter, and the firm will do weekly updates.
Is it possible that a large part of the legal community is waiting for Carlton Fields to tell them what is actually happening? It’s been a weird month.
Unless you are in the top 3rd of your class at a top school, or in the top 10% of your class at a lower ranked school, fall recruiting is kicking your ass. After sifting through nearly 300 comments to our fall recruiting open thread, one dominant theme emerges:
What’s different this year is that the bottom 60% at top schools and the bottom 90% of lower-ranked schools is not doing well.
In Part I of our fall recruiting follow-up, we’ll explore some general themes and discuss which markets are particularly struggling. In Part II we’ll look at which law schools are doing fine, and which ones are not living up to their promises of milk, honey, and money.
Many commenters had stories of great fall recruiting success, much like I have awesome “stories” about that one time I had sex with this one girl … and her sister, in Canada. But even if we leave aside some of the unattributed tales of personal greatness, the consistent meme is that top students are still doing just fine.
For everybody else there seems to be a clear move by firms to limit the size of their summer classes:
offer guarding seems prevalent; firms don’t want to accidentally end up with big classes that they have to no-offer because too many took summer positions.
T-20 school, top 20% w/ journal. I had 14 callbacks all within the V25 in NY. I ended up going on 9 of the 14 and took an offer at a V15 because I honestly was exhausted by the process and didn’t think I would take any of the remaining firms over what I had if they panned out. Of those 9 however, I only received 3 offers. I was told that last year 67% of callbacks in NY resulted in offers. I could be inept, but since I had around a 70% callback rate, I don’t think that’s likely. Additionally, almost none of my friends have offers. I really think the firms are trying to exercise more control by only extending offers to those they are certain are going to accept.
Reports about which legal markets are worth avoiding after the jump.
Here at ATL we like to start rumors, fan their beautiful flames, and hope to God that the winds do not change and burn the house down. Being a wet blanket is no fun.
But unfortunately we received one tip that was just too good to be true:
There’s a rumor going around that some NY scores have been leaked. I’ve seen it on a few message boards and my father (???) called me and almost lead me to crap my pants when he told me one of his … friends just found out she passed the NY bar.
I think it’s a load of crap, but maybe something worth noting?
We hoped that some students had been told they had passed, while others were left with the terrifying noise of silence. But a quick call to the New York Board of Law Examiners revealed that the rumor was untrue.
(Side note: When you call the NY Board of Law Examiners they put you on hold and play a little song. Ours was “I just called to say I love you” by Stevie Wonder. Has anybody ever called BOLE and said “I just wanted to thank you for administering that awesome bar exam. I thought it was a fair and accurate representation of everything a practicing attorney needs to know. I passed easily. I just wanted to say thanks.”
No, right? That has never happened. So why play that particular song to people who are most likely on the verge of tears and calling to bitch about something? Do they think they’re “funny?” The only song you should hear when calling BOLE is “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.)
Anyway, BOLE press person John McAlary had a good laugh when we asked him if NY bar exam scores had been leaked early. Once we convinced him that we were not “nervous T-10 1L” he assured us that no scores have been leaked because none are available:
We are still in the process of processing and grading the exams. If anyone says that they have their scores, they are lying. … I couldn’t even tell you today if any of the 11,000 exam takers passed … the results simply are not finished yet.
McAlary said that NY scores would be ready in November, just as they always have.
So don’t listen to the lies exam takers. No New York scores are available yet. But you don’t have to wait much longer. Just hope and pray New York doesn’t use some bastardized version of “iBaby.” We assume you’ll want to actually be able to see your scores once they are released.
Back in the eighties, the popular myth was that all Manhattan attorneys had a leather briefcase, a good blue pen, and a Scarface-sized bowl of cocaine on their desk. Sadly, by the time I got to Biglaw the briefcase had been replaced by a canvas bag with a gaudy firm emblem emblazoned on the side like the mark of the beast. The nice pen was replaced with a desktop computer designed to block The Onion. And the coke was replaced by the marvelous ephedrine they used to put into Red Bull.
But perhaps London attorneys are poised to relive the NYC glory days. A new study reports that hard drug use is on the rise in the U.K.:
One partner claims he knows “people who just make a phone call from their office and nip down to reception to pick up their delivery” — something that happens in every big law firm, he claims.
The survey, by the magazine Legal Business, also says that there is evidence of “cocaine clubs” in law firms’ basements and of partner-led games of poker and taking cocaine with clients. But it also finds that law firms are ignorant or indifferent to the problem. One lawyer is quoted: “I spanked £100,000 on cocaine in one year and no one noticed.
If a partner ever invited me to a coke and poker party I would still be in rehab a practicing attorney today.
The key similarity between Britain today and the America of yesterday seems to be the total professional indifference to drug use:
The legal profession, unlike other classic professions such as medicine and teaching, does not give a damn, as long as you are profitable.
Well, nobody wants a coked-up doctor trying to save you from a cocaine overdose. And nobody wants a coke-head teaching your kids. But if a little nose candy is going to make you work longer, why would partners particularly care what you do on the side?
Because you could die? Because partners care about your health? Right. You could be the last unicorn and you’d still bill 100 hours a week if there was work to be done.
Substance abuse problems that span the ocean 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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Things have changed recently in Korea – a few of our US and UK client firms are looking, very selectively, for a lateral US associate hire. Until just recently, there was not much hiring like this going on in Korea, since US and UK firms started opening offices there. We have already placed two US associates in Korea in the past month at top firms. Most of the hiring partners we work with in Korea do not actively work with other recruiters.
If you are a Korean fluent US associate in London, New York or another major US market, 2nd to 6th year, at a top 20 firm, with cap markets or M&A focus (or mix), or project finance background, and you are interested in lateraling to Korea to a top US or UK firm, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Our head of Asia, Evan Jowers, was just in Korea recently, and Evan and Robert Kinney will be in Korea in a few weeks. We are in the process of helping several firms open new offices in Korea (a number of which are interviewing our partner level candidates) and also helping existing offices there fill openings.
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
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● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!