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Harvard Law School seal logo.jpgWhen Harvard law school announced that they would be dropping their letter-grading system in favor of a pass/fail system, we noted that the school had not yet decided how to apply the new system to current law students:

But the crucial question is whether this new system will be applied retroactively to the classes of 2009 and 2010.

Well, today Harvard decided. After discussing the pros and cons of applying the new system to current 2Ls, Dean Elena Kagan announced:

In light of these strong arguments on both sides of the question, the School will adopt something of a middle course, suggested by a number of second-year students. (I should note that second-year students offered several other creative approaches to the issue, and we seriously considered all of them.) In 2008-09, members of this class will continue to receive traditional grades. In 2009-10, members of the class will receive grades under the new grading system, with the result that the entire school in that year will operate on this new system. Graduating honors will continue much as now, based on performance from all three years. This approach will allow students in the position I have described above to show the kind of improvement in their academic records most easily recognized by judges and other employers (because based on the same metric). At the same time, it will enable the entire Law School, including members of the class of 2010, to participate in, and gain the educational benefits of, the new system beginning next year. I understand that some may view this solution as akin to cutting the baby in half, and it will disappoint some students on both sides. But it seems to me to respond appropriately to the most powerful concerns on either side and thus to represent a judicious, even if by no means perfect, resolution of the issue.

This is a big difference from what Stanford instituted this September. Remember, SLS decided to retroactively apply their modified pass/fail system to the 1L grades of current 2Ls.

Harvard’s balancing act is designed to give 2Ls the best chance at getting jobs and clerkships in this tough market. But transcripts of 2010 law school graduates will still look … a bit weird. At least 2010 SLS transcripts will all be on the same system, somehow.

Which do you prefer?

Read Kagan’s full memo, including her discussion about what happens to 3Ls and LLMs, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “HLS Grade Reform: Splitting the Baby Was The Only Call”

Associate Bonuses law firms Above the Law.JPGA year ago tomorrow (Wednesday), Cravath kicked off the 2007 bonus season by announcing bonuses which ranged from $35K to $60K and “special” bonuses that ranged between $10K and $50K.

Don’t expect Cravath to come out of the gate early this year. We asked Cravath whether they would be bonus leaders this year, but they declined to comment, citing their longstanding policy of not talking about associate compensation issues.

But remember how surprisingly early last year’s bonus announcement was for Cravath. In 2007 they announced on October 29th, but in 2006 they didn’t announce until December 11th. In ’06, Milbank came out with the first bonus announcement, but they waited until December 8th to announce.

From what we are hearing, bonus announcements could come even later in 2008 than they did in 2006. Sources are telling us that their firms are trying to wait until the last possible minute to announce bonuses. Managing partners are still trying to lock down their fee collections, which are lagging given the economic difficulties.

In addition, some firms are still trying to figure out which clients will exist going forward.

With all the uncertainty, late bonus announcements seem likely.

More bonus speculation after the jump.

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dracula.jpg* A Guantanamo prisoner and his attorney are boycotting their own trial. They have to be in court, but they aren’t saying a word. It was not the best strategy for voir dire. [Associated Press]

* Musical chairs: Colorado Assistant U.S. Attorney Haley Reynolds to head to Iraq. [Denver Post]

* Edward “frying pan” Halverson pleaded guilty to beating his ATL Judge of the Day Hall of Famer wife, and will spend the next 3 to 10 years in prison. Apparently, the fight was a result of delayed dinner plans. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

* Auditors prepare to be sued. They are “classic litigation targets when finances go awry, and the swift collapse of seemingly sound financial institutions is expected to clog the courts for years to come.” [Compliance Week]

* If the Phillies end up blowing this thing, beleaguered Philadelphia sports fans will have an excellent cause of action for secession. [ESPN]

* A tale of a tax lawyer turned Dracula annotator. [Wall Street Journal]


Thelen LLP new logo.jpgWe’ve spent the day collecting our Thelen rumors. This morning The Recorder reported that Thelen chairman Stephen O’Neal has been in talks to move to the D.C. firm Howrey. Apparently, he’s poised to take 30 attorneys with him.

The firm is set to hold an all partner meeting on Tuesday to discuss their options:

A much anticipated all-partner meeting is being held Tuesday, according to a Thelen partner, although the agenda hasn’t been made available to rank-and-file partners. The meeting had been set for last Thursday, but was rescheduled at the last minute.

“It’s certainly clear to us as industry observers that Thelen has reached a tipping point,” said William Nason, a recruiter with San Diego-based Watanabe Nason Schwartz & Lippman. “It’s amazing to us how quickly firms dissolve when they get to that point.”

Distinguishing Thelen from other dissolution targets after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Weebles Wobble, But Does Thelen Fall Down?”

buddy jesus.JPG* Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Patterson, NJ apparently told his flock not to vote for Obama. If a priest speaks to Northeastern Catholics, and it is neither Christmas nor Easter, does he make a sound? [TaxProf Blog]

* New York City raised the fine on people who refuse to pick up after their dog for the first time in 30 years. The fine now stands at $250. The fine should be $1,000 and your neighbors being allowed to poop in your shoes for a week. [Animal Law Blog]

* Salient advice disabusing 1Ls from the notion that they will get a Biglaw job.

[Build a Solo Practice]

* Hang-overs should be unconstitutional as against public policy. [Foggy Monocle]

* This is the time of year when intelligent life forms migrate to warmer climes. Blawg Review is an intelligent life form. [UCL Practitioner via Blawg Review]

ted stevens guilty.jpgBreaking from CNBC, CNN, and NYT, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has been found guilty on all seven counts of making false statements on Senate disclosure forms.

More to come.

Update (4:24): The jury started to deliberate Wednesday. On Monday jurors noted a discrepancy between the indictment and the evidence. According to CNN:

The indictment accuses Stevens of checking “No” in response to a question about whether Stevens or his family had “any reportable gift … more than $260″ in 2001. But the form introduced as evidence in court shows he checked “Yes.”

The prosecution argued that the discrepancy was a mere typo, while the defense argued that the typo required the judge to throw out a specific count of the indictment. The judge was angry about the error:

But he did say the defense proposal went too far, instead deciding to tell the jury to match the available evidence with the appropriate charges in the indictment.

“The indictment is merely a charging document, it is not evidence. You must consider all the evidence and my instructions to determine if the government has proven each element in the indictment beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Stevens (R) is locked in a re-election battle in Alaska. Conventional wisdom was that Stevens would either lose his race or get drummed out of the Senate if he was found guilty. Politico reports:

And even if he wins reelection, Stevens could face an expulsion from the Senate. Of the four sitting senators who were convicted of crimes while in office, only one — Sen. Truman Newberry (R-Mich.) — continued to serve after being found guilty, and he was eventually hounded out of office in 1922 by senators seeking his expulsion.

The lead prosecutor for the Department of Justice was Brenda Morris, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center who received her JD from Howard University. Brendan Sullivan (JD GULC) of Williams and Connolly represented Stevens.

Jury finds Stevens guilty on corruption charges [CNN]

Jury: Stevens guilty on seven counts [Politico]

Something is going on over at Thacher Proffitt & Wood.

This summer, the firm had to deny a rumor of possible dissolution. The word is that the firm took an especially tough beating when the bottom fell out of the housing and credit markets. In September, just a week after Lehman Brothers collapsed, we reported that Thacher Proffitt was looking for a white knight to save them (King & Spalding).

Today brings word that Thacher Protfitt abruptly closed their office in White Plains, New York. The firm declined to comment on the closing, but this picture was on the door of the firm’s (former) White Plains office (thumbnail image; click to enlarge):

Thacher Proffitt Wood White Plains.JPG

A tipster reports:

Presently, there are no attorneys or support staff anywhere in the office — just boxes, empty ones being filled, and filled ones being shipped out.

Update: Back in April, we passed along a rumor that the White Plains office would be closing. The firm denied this, but the closing has now come to pass.

Where did all the cowboys go? After the jump.

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rain forest law firm.JPGThe Texas based law firm of Haynes and Boone moved their Dallas operations into a new “green” office today. Despite the laudable initiative, some lawyers and many support staffers have complained about the new “confines.” Apparently, personal space is at a premium in the new space. Administrative assistants are particularly annoyed, as they will be moved out of cubicles into an open floor plan, “fishbowl” situation.

In addition to the lack of privacy, Haynes and Boone issued new policies regarding how secretaries use the personal space they still have. Most of the new rules meet an accepted standard of “petty.”:

2. There will be a sufficient number of small plants that Gensler will place in appropriate areas around our floors. You may have one 8-inch potted plant in your office or on your desk–none on the ledges.

3. Please do not put any objects or plants on ledges or the tops of your cabinets. Two framed pictures and a small candy dish may be placed on your desk, but no beanie babies on desks.

You’re moving into new environmentally friendly offices, but you’re going to regulate the number and types of plants employees are allowed to have? That’s not directly contradictory, but it’s certainly annoying.

Additional regulations after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Haynes and Boone: ‘Green’ Offices. ‘Orwellian’ Controls”

Charles Fried angry Harvard Law School professor.jpgDoes the legal academy suffer from a dearth of ideological diversity? It’s a question raised by the defection of prominent conservative law professors — including Doug Kmiec and now Charles Fried (pictured), who both held top positions in the Justice Department under Ronald Reagan — to the candidacy of Barack Obama.

From a post on Friday entitled “Charles Fried’s Absurd Obama Endorsement,” by conservative law professor Stephen Bainbridge (rhetorically addressing Fried):

Let me see if I understand this. You throw over the beliefs of a life time and vote for somebody who’s arguably the most radical national ticket Democrat since Henry Wallace because you’re having a hissy fit about Sarah Palin? [Ed. note: In explaining his support for the Obama-Biden ticket, Fried cited McCain's "choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis."]

First Kmiec and now Fried have betrayed the Reagan Revolution. They’ve tossed the principles they purported to hold under the bus to endorse a guy who is the antithesis of those principles and who will burden us with activist judges that will dismantle all the achievements the conservative legal movement won in the last three decades.

Is this a fair critique of Professors Kmiec and Fried? And what do their endorsements say about legal academia?

Read more, after the jump.

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128294720808907500callmahlawyur.jpgEarlier this month, an ATL / Lateral Link survey found that 86% of you were talking about politics in the workplace. And 18% of you reported that a fellow associate had tried to convince you to vote for their favorite candidate.

But are politics just seeping into your workplace, or will you be taking your profession to the polls? As the Obama campaign recruits lawyers to join the world’s largest law firm next week and the McCain campaign recruits its own Legal Response Team, how are you and your firms planning to spend the day?

Will you be policing the polls for pro bono — or billable — credit?

Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.

UofC Law School logo.JPGThe University of Chicago Law School is ranked as the seventh best law school in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report.

As we have extensively reported, the top-six schools (Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, NYU, Berkeley) have all moved away from letter grading towards a modified pass/fail system, or are contemplating such a move (Yale and Berkeley have had pass/fail systems for some time).

The University of Chicago Law School, which currently has a grading system that defies rational understanding, is the next logical school to face the growing tide towards grade reform. On Friday, an all faculty meeting took place to discuss the matter.

According to tipsters, one professor discussed the meeting with his class. The professor suggested that the administration felt they had to consider the issue with an eye towards remaining competitive with their peer institutions. The professor then asked the class if they shared those concerns:

Interestingly enough, the professor who mentioned this to us did a straw poll of students (mostly 2Ls) and the vast majority were in favor of staying on our current system. It’s not like anyone knows what our system really is/means, so why change it?

The Dean responds after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Grade Reform Comes to the University of Chicago?
Not So Fast My Friends”

john_mccain.jpgIn a National Law Journal piece published today, Senator John McCain wrote at length about the law.

McCain said he was committed to three priorities:

I want to concentrate on what would be three important priorities in a McCain administration: keeping the Department of Justice politically neutral, focusing law enforcement programs on addressing important issues of the day and appointing strict constructionist judges.

The Justice department line sounds like another clear break from the policies of George W. Bush, a distinction McCain has been making more and more in the closing days of the campaign:

My first objective would be to ensure that the department is, and remains, above the political fray. The department must function with integrity and effectiveness above all else.

More from McCain after the jump.

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