In today’s New York Times, Adam Liptak writes about a new website that’s a kind of Zagat-type guide to lawyers. (The full article is behind the TimesSelect barricade, but you can read it for free here.)
The site, avvo.com, allows people to look up lawyers by specialty and zip code and see ranked lists of possibilities — and it allows lawyers to add information to their own profiles that may raise their rankings. And some attorneys have figured out how to manipulate the system:
[T]he suit is full of examples of curiosities and anomalies in the ratings. The dean of the Stanford Law School had a lower rating than a lawyer convicted of helping terrorists. One lawyer, the suit said, raised his rating by listing a softball award.
Avvo conceded that lawyers could temporarily raise their ratings with silly prizes but said its staff manually checked awards not already in its database. Any bump for a spelling bee championship will be short-lived, Avvo said.
My rating rose from 6.4 to 7.4, or “very good,” after I punched in a couple of degrees and a law review article, lifting me past not only the dead lawyer but also the initial rankings of Supreme Court Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, before the site stopped ranking them by number. It did not look hard to game the rankings.
Sounds like firms can go ahead and chalk up hundreds of hours of lost billing to lawyers logging on to the site and trying to get their rating past Adam Liptak’s. (E-mail us if your rating is particularly outstanding — or awful.)
All eyes turn toward President George W. Bush today, as a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit (Sentelle, Henderson, and Tatel) denied Scooter Libby’s request to stay out of an orange jumpsuit while he appeals his conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice.
Today’s decision further increases pressure on President Bush to pardon or commute the sentence of the 56-year-old lawyer who was Cheney’s right-hand man and an architect of the administration’s national security policies. The White House repeatedly has said that Bush is not intervening in the case, at least not yet, but many conservatives have been urging Bush to grant Libby some form of reprieve.
We’re sure it’s occurred to the White House that there’s a major holiday coming up. Whatever Bush decides to do, he should announce it tomorrow around 5:00 pm. That way it’ll be old news by the time Chuck Schumer pops up on Meet the Press this weekend.
LEWW is ashamed to admit that we have not followed the Charney versus Sullivan & Cromwell lawsuit with the attention it so richly deserves. Fortunately, there are other bloggers who’ve got you (and us) covered regarding coverage and analysis of this complex affair in Lat’s absence. Keeping Up With Jonas has a nice capsule summary of the three orders issued by Judge Fried in the matter yesterday, with links to the orders.
And Professor Art Leonard has this more detailed write-up.
Judge Fried denied without explanation a motion by Gera Grinberg’s attorney to have Grinberg’s deposition transcripts unsealed. Writes Leonard:
Attorney Grinberg worked closely with Aaron Charney as a fellow associate at S&C on a variety of client matters, and their close working relationship seems to have sparked the incidents upon which Charney bases his lawsuit. Grinberg was present at the meeting between Charney and S&C partners Vince DiBlasi and David Braff on January 31, the day before S&C discharged and sued Charney.
There is considerable dispute between Charney and S&C about what was said at that meeting, with Charney claiming that the only written record, which would back up his account, was made by Grinberg, who then turned his notes over to his attorney at that time for safekeeping. Charney has alleged that the Grinberg notes were improperly destroyed as part of a conspiracy between S&C and Edward Gallion, a lawyer S&C had retained to represent Grinberg. Amidst the skirmishing over motions to dismiss, Grinberg submitted to a deposition focused on what occurred at that meeting, but the transcript of the deposition has been sealed, and S&C’s lawyers criticized Charney for relying on and referring to that testimony in his amended complaint.
Leonard also reports that Grinberg, who was placed on paid leave by S&C, is no longer listed on the firm website.
please do a post of shearman’s pathetic clerkship bonus, currently at $15,000!!!!!!!
Okay, you got our attention with the seven exclamation points.
Lat posted a clerkship bonus List o’ Shame last week that featured the top firms below the new standard of $50k:
1. Wachtell ($0)
8. Latham ($35k) [see update on Latham here]
10. Kirkland ($35k)
11. Covington ($35k outside NY)
14. Wilmer ($35k)
15. Shearman ($15k)
16. Sidley ($35k)
17. Williams & Connolly ($25k)
18. Gibson ($35k)
19. Arnold ($15k $35k)
20. OMM ($35k)
22. Jones Day ($35k)
23. MoFo ($35k)
24. Hogan ($35k)
25. Ropes & Gray ($35K outside NY but $70K for 2yr clerkship)
Shearman has really separated itself from the pack — and not in a good way. Again, the list above is itself a list of shame, so that $15k is really eye-catching. What gives? Administrative note: The power just went out in our “office,” so in the grand tradition of ATL office hours, we’re hanging out at the Panera Bread in Greystone, Alabama. We trust we’ll be swamped with visitors soon!
Yet another article on unhappy lawyers: This time it’s from the UK, where it seems the legal profession has lost its “lustre.”
Nearly a quarter of you want to quit. In a desperately competitive recruitment market, that’s just about the last thing law firm managers need to hear.
Shocking? Yes. Not many apparently sought-after professions have a quarter of their members wanting to quit. The whole issue of work-life balance has now, surely, reached a tipping point – and not just for overworked associates who are looking for a way out.
Thirty one per cent of associates would like to leave the law; 20 per cent of partners would happily quit; 22 per cent of barristers fancy a change; and a hefty 29 per cent of in-house counsel would like a life outside the law.
There’s more on the survey from the Financial Times, which notes that UK salaries have gone up by 15 percent or more recently.
Meanwhile, in India, young lawyers are disillusioned by a cumbersome litigation system, with its “interminable procedural delays” and outright drudgery: “Many young lawyers complained that they only ended up carrying briefs for the senior counsels during their stint.”
Lawyers bitching about their jobs: the universal language.
Are WilmerHale summer associates missing out on the salary bump? Wilmer recently raised first-year salaries to $160,000, and you’d think the firm’s summers would be earning that salary as well. But maybe not. Here’s a disgruntled e-mail from a current WilmerHale summer:
I hope that this is tip-worthy – because it certainly is a topic of hot discussion amongst the Boston summers I know, and I’m curious what is going on at other firms… So here goes:
So I am a summer associate at WilmerHale in Boston. And as abovethelaw knows, after the big, drawn out jumping-of-Boston-firms to match Ropes at 160,000, Wilmer finally caved and went up as well. Now, for whatever reason, the general consensus among the summers is that we’ve been led to believe that the salary hike for associates applies to the weekly rate that summers are paid as well (meaning we should be getting 3100 per week). Wilmer said that the salary raise was effective June 1st.
Lo, however, the WilmerHale Boston summers have received 2 paychecks since then, and both have continued paying the 2800 a week.
More analysis from our WilmerHale contact, after the jump.
There are words you hope never to have to use in a legal representation, and surely many of them involve attire for the nether regions. To “thong” and “codpiece,” we can certainly add “diaper.” The attorney for Lisa Nowak, the country’s most notorious amorous astronaut, had to do just that, however, as he denied one of the most salacious tidbits of that sordid scandal:
“The biggest lie in this preposterous tale that has been told is that my client drove from Houston, Texas, to Orlando, Florida, nonstop, wearing a diaper,” Donald Lykkebak said after filing motions to suppress evidence in Nowak’s criminal case. “That is an absolute fabrication.”
There were toddler-size diapers in her car when she was arrested, but they were several years old, Lykkebak said. Nowak and her family had used them when Houston was evacuated in 2005 during Hurricane Rita, he said. Lykkebak didn’t say why he waited until now to dispute the police report.
So when he said that “Nowak and her family had used them,” did he mean that they had really, like, used them? We’re still confused, but in any event, our heart goes out to Mr. Lykkebak for even having to address this.
Two attorneys were reportedly kidnapped after leaving a nightclub in Atlanta Saturday night. They were found unharmed after one wrote a text message to his brother.
David Deganian, 26, and a friend, Herman Hoying, 28, stayed behind to pay a bar tab as everyone started to leave around 2:30 a.m., Arman Deganian said.
But David Deganian and Hoying never made it to the house. The truck they had arrived in was missing when Arman Deganian went out to look for his brother after receiving the text message.
Atlanta police issued a news release saying the two men were missing.
But by Sunday afternoon, Atlanta police had two men in custody. They were arrested in a store in southwest Atlanta when police say they used a credit card from one of the missing men, Arman Deganian said.
Text messages: Literally life-saving!
You wouldn’t think it from the image shown here, but Herman Hoying (the one on the left) is an associate at King & Spalding, the venerable Atlanta firm. Check out the picture on the firm’s site — Herman cleans up well!
We wonder: How much ransom would K&S have paid to get Hoying back? Update: Herman Hoying has a nice comment below:
I want to acknowledge the amazing work of both the Atlanta Police Department and SunTrust Bank, who worked together to quite literally save our lives. They did amazing work.
Gooooooooood morning, legal community! Lat has zipped away to an undisclosed location again, and he tossed us the ATL keys this time.
We’re delighted to be spending the day with the few of you who aren’t also on vacation. That said, this has all the makings of a slow news day. And we are woefully out of touch with the state of the salary wars.
So if you spot some news, or if you want posts on money matters (and we know ATL readers always want posts on money matters), you must help us out by sending us your tips, rants, idle speculation, perceptive analyses, lists of shame, etc.
* Mark Cuban sues Warriors coach, seeking to enjoin him from coaching against Dallas. [Star-Telegram]
* Meanwhile, documentarians sue “We Are Marshall” creators for copyright infringement. [SI]
* And in Vegas, Pacman Jones’ troubles continue…he’s getting sued by a bouncer who alleges Pacman chomped his ankle. [SI]
Okay, working at the U.S. Department of Justice may not be a party these days. But the recently announced, imminent departure of Assistant Attorney General Rachel L. Brand — her last day at the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy is July 9 — had nothing to do with recent controversies (contrary to some insinuations).
As tout le monde in D.C. legal circles knows, the fabulous Brand — known to some as the Prom Queen — was planning to step down for some time. The reason? She and her husband, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Cohn, are expecting a baby boy next month.
The lede of this Reuters report, while technically accurate, is therefore misleading. Thankfully, the Washington Post was more accurate:
[T]he Justice Department announced that Rachel Brand, assistant attorney general for legal policy, is resigning….
Justice officials said she plans to leave July 9 and stay at home with her first child, due this summer.
Brand, who worked on the renewal of the USA Patriot Act last year and the confirmation of two Supreme Court justices in 2005, is not known to have played a direct role in the U.S. attorneys’ removal.
“[N]ot known to have played a direct role” — maybe because she didn’t? If she had, rest assured that Chuck & Friends would have invited her over to Capitol Hill for a televised chat.
[D]epartment officials have said that Gonzales’s former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, asked her whether she might want to replace a Michigan prosecutor who was forced out. Though interested at first, Brand did not apply for the job.
Yes, Brand shrewdly did not throw her hat into that ring. As we previously noted:
In declining to be considered, Rachel Brand showed the excellent judgment that has taken her so far, so fast. Had Rachel Brand replaced Margaret Chiara, she would have been the victim of a mainstream media pile-on. The New York Times editorial board would have derided her as a Bush Administration political hack with no prosecutorial experience (albeit a hack with impeccable academic credentials, including Harvard Law School and a Supreme Court clerkship with Justice Kennedy).
So what’s next for Rachel Brand (in addition to a bouncing baby boy)? She’s rumored to be meeting with various private law firms — and any of them would be lucky to snag this young legal superstar.
Brand has devoted the past six and a half years of her career to government service. She leaves the Bush Administration even more highly esteemed, on both sides of the aisle, than when she came in. This is no small feat, given the controversies that have shaken the DOJ, as well as the highly partisan atmosphere currently prevailing here in Washington.
We congratulate Rachel Brand on her successful leadership of the Office of Legal Policy, and we wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors — including motherhood!
(Disclosure: We’d mention that we are friendly with Rachel Brand, but we know from past experience that many of you don’t like such disclaimers, which come across as shameless name-dropping. So we won’t.) Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously identified Jonathan Cohn as Deputy Attorney General, rather than Deputy Assistant Attorney General (his correct title). Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand Announces Departure [U.S. Dept. of Justice (press release)] Bush Is Told to Justify Executive Privilege [Washington Post] DOJ Loses Brand [The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times] Seventh official quits Justice Department [Reuters] Justice Department Official Resigns [Associated Press] Earlier: Rachel Brand: The Prom Queen Stays Out of Trouble
Thanks for your responses to our recent call for memos. Here are two more firms that have announced associate pay raises:
1. Crowell & Moring: Starting salaries to $160,000, effective August 1. Minimum billables to 1900 hours, effective September 1. Associates who do not wish to meet the new minimum are invited to reach “alternative arrangements” with the firm.
2. Dow Lohnes: No, Rupert Murdoch is not trying to buy them. Dow Lohnes is an AmLaw 200 law firm with a significant presence in Atlanta. Will their move to the $160K scale encourage other Atlanta firms to follow suit?
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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 six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
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