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pink gavel gay lesbian bisexual transgender lawyer attorney.jpgLast week, we attended OutLaws: A Discussion With Out Lawyers, held at the LGBT Community Center here in New York. The event featured “out lawyers sharing different perspectives and stories — how they got to where they are professionally, as well as what went right, what didn’t, how they’d approach things differently today, and the specific challenges they faced as an LGBT person.”

The panel was moderated by Lisa Linsky, a litigation partner at McDermott Will & Emery. She was joined by Michael Colosi, general counsel for Kenneth Cole; Phylliss Delgreco, associate general counsel and senior vice president at Citigroup; and Roberta Kaplan, a litigation partner at Paul Weiss.

The freewheeling discussion was quite enlightening. You can read about it after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “OutLaws: A Discussion With Out Lawyers (Part 1)”

champagne bottle Christmas party holiday party Above the Law blog.jpgThe New York Times reports on a growing trend in American business: the cancellation of holiday parties. With the stock market having finished its worst month since 1987, and with layoffs running rampant, there’s not much to celebrate. People, this is no time for egg nog.

Law firms that have canceled holiday festivities include DLA Piper (Chicago) and Fried Frank. Financial firms going Grinch include Morgan Stanley, Barclays, and American Express.

But some law firms won’t be bullied into relinquishing the Christmas spirit. From the NYT:

[S]ome companies see holiday gatherings, whatever the style and scale, as an important hedge against sagging morale — particularly at a time when raises and bonuses will likely be scarce.

“It’s important to get people together for a little social event at that time of year, especially when it’s been as tough a year as this,” said Peter Horowitz, a spokesman for the Wall Street law firm Shearman & Sterling, which is planning holiday lunches and dinners at less expensive restaurants this year. “But at the same time, you have to make sure that you don’t go overboard.”

Perhaps this bodes well for bonuses at Shearman? Hopefully S&S stockings will be filled with cash and not coal.

Or are holiday parties the opium of the masses for Biglaw? Throw everyone a big party, with lots of booze, then announce low bonuses the next day, when they’re too hungover to complain?

Forget Caviar: Holiday Parties Feel the Pinch [New York Times]

David Otunga Sidley Austin I Love New York Above the Law blog.jpgWhen we write about high-profile lawyers changing jobs, we’re usually talking about moves between law firms, or maybe between government and Biglaw. This latest transition is a bit different.

From MTO (which claims to be “the most visited black website in the world”):

Jennifer Hudson’s fiancé and VH1 reality star David “Punk” Otunga of the “I Love New York” series has a new occupation…. Punk has been training for months in WWE’s Florida Championship Wrestling developmental territory – and has now signed to a deal with WWE.

But don’t expect to see him in the ring anytime soon. Punk has been on a sabbatical from FCW due to the recent Hudson family tragedy.

One tipster is unimpressed: “From Harvard Law School to I Love New York to the WWE. Unfortunately the next stop is probably porn.”

But we think this is great — and extend our congratulations to Otunga (who, unlike many HLS grads, has the sculpted physique required by wrestling). He’s moving up in the entertainment world and developing his own independent career, so he won’t be known merely as the husband of a more famous female. Cf. Guy Ritchie.

One HLS grad is about to become the leader of the free world, and another is about to become the leader of world wrestling. Harvard Law School alums lead interesting lives.


Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of David Otunga (scroll down)

  • 01 Nov 2008 at 9:38 AM

Elie Mystal

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.

Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe LLP Above the Law blog.JPGWhen 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Orrick Stands Behind Bonus Structure”

Wendy Savage hot lawyer.JPG* 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]

Thelen LLP new logo.jpgThe 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 []

Earlier: Thelen Officially Dissolves

Powell Goldstein LLP Powell Goldstein Frazer Murphy.jpgWe 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Update: Powell Goldstein’s Internal Response to Bryan Cave Acquisition”

dont be an asshole.JPGYesterday 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.

We collected some of his impolitic quips in our prior post, and other anecdotes surfaced in the comments (e.g., here and here). For your reading pleasure, here are a few more stories:

  • 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.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How To Get Fired (or Asked To Resign) from Sullivan & Cromwell (Part 2)”

    knitting out of trouble.JPGInstead 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.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “University of Buffalo Law School Students Try To Learn A Trade”

    Brooklyn noir.jpgEarlier 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.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Alternatives for Attorneys: Writer / Author”

    Powell Goldstein LLP Powell Goldstein Frazer Murphy.jpgHeller 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.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bryan Cave to Acquire Powell Goldstein”

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