Almost 2,000 votes were cast in the first round of our poll for the best legally-themed race horse name. We’ve winnowed the full field of 20 horses down to the top ten.
Now we’re in the final round. The polls will remain open through the Memorial Day weekend. Let the race begin!
In the last three installments of the Asia Chronicles, we’ve written about the perks and the (possible) disadvantages of working as a lawyer in Asia. We have been trying to give you a better idea of what it’s like to work over here and to help you decide if moving to Asia might be an option that you would like to explore.
But many of you have contacted us saying that you need to hear no more, you’re already convinced. You want to know what kind of skills American firms in Asia are looking for, and how to go about finding a job in this part of the world.
The most common question we get on this topic is about language ability: “How much of a difference will language skills, or lack thereof, make in the marketability of a job candidate?” As lawyers, none of you should be surprised that we can only answer this question with more questions: 1. How high is your language level, really?
We’ve seen a lot of job seekers come into our offices with resumes that describe their language skills as “proficient” or even “fluent,” but when we ask them even a basic question in that language, they often struggle to answer. In general, a few years of college language classes does not a fluent speaker make, and even people who have spent significant time immersed in a language environment rarely have learned the legal and business terminology that would be needed for common tasks such as reading due diligence documents, participating in a drafting session, or negotiating a comfort letter. Unless you are a native or legitimately fluent speaker, your language skills will honestly not be of much use to a law firm, and therefore will not balance out deficiencies in the core strengths of a candidate, such as graduating from a top-ranked law school with high grades or having valuable work experience.
That said, a glance at the attorney roster of many selective law firms in Asia reveals some lawyers with lower than average credentials but strong language and culture experience (time spent in the U.S. State Department is a common theme) that seems to have gotten them hired. However, having some lesser level of language ability could make a marginal difference with an otherwise qualified candidate because it may help convince a law firm that you are interested in and capable of living in a certain country and interacting well with people from that culture. 2. Do you really want to be hired based on your language ability?
One of the first hard truths that we learned after spending some time working in Asia is that having language skills might not always be something you want to advertise. We’ve seen many native and fluent speakers relegated to countless hours of foreign language documentary due diligence or translation because no one else in the office was capable of doing it. One of our colleagues has even been keeping her language ability a secret so that she can avoid being staffed on such mind-numbing projects. Lawyers who can speak and understand but cannot read or write (or at least pretend they can’t) have the advantage of being able to participate in the comparatively more interesting client meetings and negotiation while avoiding less enjoyable tasks.
Read more, after the jump.
* One helluva sexual harassment suit. Runner-up Lawsuit of the Day? [Jezebel]
* Jerry Springer’s Northwestern commencement speech. Also: Is tax law professor Paul Caron friends with Pete Wentz? [TaxProf Blog]
* The hidden talents of law students: hog wrestling? [Tex Parte]
Last year, we ran a popular series of posts on the Harvard Law Review. The gist of the coverage was that the Review’s new, left-leaning leadership “is running the journal into the ground with a cabal of radical ideologues, making the outgoing editors nervous about the future reputation of the journal.”
We got some flak for our HLR coverage. But in view of what the Review is publishing these days, as discussed extensively in the blogosphere — see, e.g., the Volokh Conspiracy and PrawfsBlawg — we can’t help gloating. Just a little.
Or a lot. A tipster draws our attention to a Note that was just published in the latest issue of the HLR:
I think you should break this story. It is a guaranteed comment clusterf**k.
This Note (PDF) basically says that anyone who doesn’t go in to public interest work is immoral and is killing babies in third world countries (most of this analysis is in section 4 of the article). I think it just came out in electronic form today, so you should get a jump on anyone.
Our correspondent’s summary is shockingly accurate. Check out the article for yourself by clicking here (PDF).
As it turns out, we’re not the first to take note of the Note. We believe that would be Professor Paul Horwitz, over at PrawfsBlawg. After alluding to the notorious Case Comment from several months ago, Professor Horwitz writes:
I am reading the latest issue of the Harvard Law Review [which contains] a Note titled, after an inscription on a statue in Cambridge Common, “Never Again Should a People Starve in a World of Plenty.” It’s unusually thinly sourced for a Harvard Law Review Note — not that I’m encouraging people to use more footnotes! And it has a certain voice (“There is injustice everywhere. The last place there should be injustice is in the justice system.”) and theme that . . . . well, I find myself wondering whether we have found our anonymous author once again.
I don’t mean to be unduly gossipy about this sort of thing; it’s worth a two-paragraph blog post and not more. And I am not knocking the observation that injustice is bad; heaven forfend. Just the same, I’m curious whether this is the same author.
We don’t share Professor Horwitz’s shyness. We’re happy to write more than two paragraphs about the Note (ha — we already have). And there’s no such thing as being “unduly gossipy” in our book.
So gossip away, in the comments. Do you think this Note was written by the same author as the prior Case Comment? Do you feel that the Harvard Law Review — once headed by Senator Barack Obama, its first black president — is tilting too far to the left?
Or, if you prefer, don’t gossip; engage substantively with the arguments in the Note. Clearly the author wants associates and partners in large law firms to sit up and take notice, to think about whether what they’re doing professionally is worthwhile — or even morally defensible.
We’re sure the anonymous author will be grateful to us for bringing his or her work to the attention of ATL’s many readers in Biglaw. Whoever you are: you’re welcome!
That’s the title of our latest column for the New York Observer, which reflects upon recent television and film portrayals of women litigators.
It touches upon some of the same themes highlighted in Amy Kolz’s excellent American Lawyer article from last year, but it’s more focused on fictional female litigators, as opposed to real-life ones. Here’s how it starts:
Whatever happened to Ally McBeal? If recent movies and television shows are any guide, the life of a female lawyer has gotten a lot less pleasant since the carefree, charmingly neurotic days of dancing babies and bathroom kisses. But today’s portrayals may be more accurate, and certainly more critically acclaimed.
Last January, Glenn Close won a Golden Globe for her compelling performance as Patty Hewes, a fearsome and wildly successful plaintiff’s lawyer, on the addictive TV show Damages. The following month, Tilda Swinton snagged an Oscar for stepping into the pumps of Karen Crowder, a hard-charging in-house litigator, in Michael Clayton.
In March, Julianna Margulies (of ER) returned to television as aggressive defense lawyer Elizabeth Canterbury, the title character of Canterbury’s Law. Even Katey Sagal, who embodied the famously vulgar Peggy Bundy on Married With Children, reincarnated herself this year as Marci Klein, the sleek, powerful, and ruthless founding partner of the law firm on Eli Stone.
Herrera’s complaint — “for discrimination, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and fraud” — reads like a reality TV show pitch about the lives of paralegals. Herrera has been a paralegal in Weil’s Silicon Valley office since 2004. In his complaint, he talks about:
That’s a question that our friends at the ABA Journal are planning to tackle in a forthcoming article. Perhaps you can help?
Some background, from reporter Richard Acello:
We’re looking to do a story on law firms’ tech savvy or lack thereof. At a recent technology conference, some IT people complained about how their technological requirements were just not accepted by the older partners. But the young lawyers, used to more advanced technology, had no problem adapting when changes were made.
We’re looking for some examples from associates, as well as suggestions for new associates who come in and are appalled at how backward the tech is at their law firms. Yes, we will allow anonymity.
You can email Rich Acello, the writer on the story, at richace at cox dot net. Also feel free to comment on this post if you have some thoughts on law firms and how “with it” they are when it comes to tech.
The bad news continues to roll in. Becker & Poliakoff, which just announced across-the-board pay cuts for its lawyers, isn’t the only Florida firm that’s hurting.
From a report by Julie Kay, for the upcoming issue of the National Law Journal:
In another sign of the hard times facing the legal industry, particularly in real-estate heavy South Florida, two local law firms — Holland & Knight and Shutts & Bowen — have laid off non-lawyer staffers.
On a day that could be dubbed Black Friday in South Florida legal circles, Tampa-based Holland & Knight, one of Florida’s largest and most venerable firms with 1,150 lawyers, laid off 70 staffers Friday, including legal secretaries, IT and accounting staff. No lawyers were laid off.
The layoffs of about four employees in each of Holland’s 17 offices represented 5% of Holland’s non-lawyer workforce.
Shutts & Bowen, a 200-lawyer, Miami-based firm, Friday laid off nine people, all entry level file clerks or paralegal clerks. No lawyers or legal secretaries were affected.
Holland & Knight spokeswoman Susan Bass told the Daily Business Review that the firm “had some redundancies and inefficiencies.” Seventy staffers is a whole lot of redundancies.
Read more — about prior layoffs at H&K, and the situation over at Greenberg Traurig — below the fold.
Ah, those inscrutable transcripts from the University of Chicago Law School — gotta love ‘em. They’re chock full of numbers, but they don’t use the standard “As = 90s, Bs = 80s” scale. For example, if your grades are all in the 80s, you’re a rock star.
Nobody can make heads or tails of the U. Chicago transcripts. So what’s wrong with a little “tweaking” here and there? From the ABA Journal (via TaxProf Blog):
A lawyer who attended the University of Chicago Law School has been accused in an ethics complaint of lying about his grades when he applied for a summer position at Sidley Austin.
Loren Elliotte Friedman is accused in a complaint filed May 6 by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. He was listed as an associate at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle in New York on the firm’s website earlier Tuesday, but his name was removed by the afternoon.
Joseph Pizzurro, managing partner of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, told ABAJournal.com that Friedman, a bankruptcy associate, disclosed the bar complaint to the law firm on Friday and submitted his resignation.
The complaint says Friedman altered transcripts of his law school grades in 20 classes to reflect better grades than he received. Friedman worked at Sidley Austin the summer of 2002, and the firm extended an employment offer for him to begin work as an associate in 2003.
The complaint also alleges that Friedman failed to reveal he flunked out of medical school in his application to law school, and that he failed to disclose the altered law school transcripts in his bar application.
It looks like medicine, and now law, haven’t worked out for Loren Friedman. What’s next?
Maybe betting on horseraces? The Legal Profession Blog has dubbed his three alleged omissions a “trifecta.”
More details, after the jump.
Last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on trimming summer associate programs is still open, but we’ve already been getting some interesting debate in the comments.
For law students, trimming the summer programs — or at least the summer salaries — would be a critical financial blow:
[L]aw School tuition is fucking EXPENSIVE. I take out 55k per year in loans here at CLS (45k of which goes to tuition + fees). Luckily, I have no undergrad debt. The financial aid office suggests that the average student take out 64k per year in loans. In sum, you misers need to talk to school adminstrations before cutting pay.
But once they’ve achieved permanent (or not so permanent) employment status, some associates would prefer to see a slimmer summer experience:
It’s not right that in a market where good associates are being kicked to the curb for economic reasons we’re throwing buckets of money at a bunch of kids who don’t know anything and just teaching them how to be (more) entitled. Shorten the summer and pay them a salary that has some correlation to what they’re worth – they are mere interns.
Other associates, however, are still in favor of lunch:
I thought ATL was on our side. The open budgets and free lunches are a perk to associates too.
And one tipster wonders just how free those lunches are from firm to firm:
Might be a good time next week or two weeks from now to do a post about summer lunch budgets. I just heard on the grapevine that we’re having $25/person limits, with anything over it coming out of the associate’s pockets. I know some other firms have a $30 or $50 limit.
So, today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey focuses on both lunch and morale. How much can you spend on lunch with the summer associates, how often do you do lunch, and would associates at your firm be upset if the summer program went away? Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.
– Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.
Judge Carlton Vines presides over traffic violations and DUIs in Chattooga County, Georgia. It’s a tiny county with a population of just over 25,000. The local newspaper, The Summerville News, has an ongoing investigative series examining the county’s drunk-driving phenomenon and growing number of DUI arrests.
Unfortunately, Judge Vines has become a part of the phenomenon. He was arrested in November of last year for driving drunk and leaving the scene of an accident after swerving into another car. The coppers just released the dash-cam video from the arrest. The man was trashed, slurring, and stumbling… though still cogent enough to refuse the breathalyzer.
Vines pleaded guilty to DUI charges in April. He has since spent three nights in jail, paid fines, done community service and was on house arrest.
On the tape, Vines can be heard admitting he has had “over the limit.” At one point on the tape, an officer asks, “Do you remember the wreck you were involved in?” Vines can be heard responding, “I’m not going to admit or deny it but I will take responsibility.”
A nolo plea — or just good drunken logic? Vines is under voluntary suspension, and the Georgia State Judicial Commission gets to decide whether he returns to the bench.
Judge Vines makes some bizarre comment about sharecropping at the end of the YouTube video. Can someone from rural Georgia please explain? Caught On Tape: Georgia Judge Arrested For DUI [WSB TV] Drunk Judge Arrested [YouTube.com]
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
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.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.