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demise of the billable hour.jpgThe troubled economic environment has led to layoffs, office shutterings, and the dissolution of Heller Ehrman. Now, the Washington Post is trotting out the idea of the death of the billable hour as a potential outcome of the financial crisis:

Since becoming commonplace in the 1970s, hourly billing has been the subject of criticism by clients and debates by legal experts, who say they give lawyers incentive to work inefficiently. But law firms have been slow to embrace alternative billing.

Until now.

That’s quite a definitive statement. We’re less certain. If there’s a fixed fee revolution going on, we haven’t heard about it. And as the article notes, this is far from the first prediction of the billable hour’s demise (e.g., Whither the Billable Hour?).

But these are desperate times, and everyone’s feeling the pressure. Is it enough pressure to push firms over the brink to fixed fee billing? More speculation, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Could the billable hour become another victim of the economic crisis?”

Jenner Block LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGThe hits to the Chicago market keep on coming. In the wake of Katten Muchin Rosenman laying off 21 attorneys, and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal cutting 25 attorneys and additional staff, Jenner & Block is getting rid of 10 partners:

The Chicago-based firm is asking about 10 partners, both equity and non-equity, to exit with the bulk of those affected currently working out of the firm’s biggest office in Chicago, the sources said. No particular practice area is more affected than others. The departures equate to about 6 percent of Jenner’s 155 equity partner headcount and 2 percent of the overall 490 lawyer headcount. The firm declined comment.

Remember that happy-happy-joy-joy meeting Jenner held earlier this month? According to a tipster, Jenner associates were told:

not to worry about the issues on wall st- they will not adversely affect Jenner’s bottom line. Jenner is having a great year and bonus are expected to be as good or better than last year.

Well how does that statement jibe with cutting 10 partners? As one commenter put it:

A rich man doesn’t need to tell you that he’s rich.

The flip side below the fold.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Jenner & Block Cuts … Partners”

Don King America.JPG* Citigroup wins … milk! [American Lawyer]

* Brits can still beat-up their kids. [BBC]

* AOL can’t put ads in personal emails, we hope. [Courthouse News]

* Drive-through voting. [Associated Press]

* … which of course should lead to drinking and driving and voting. Only in America! [Time]

gay marriage skadden.jpgWe’ve reported on how various lawyers are wading into the California Proposition 8 battle through internal firm communication. Last week we told you about a “Yes on 8″ Proskauer associate who emailed entertainment law blogger Russell Wetanson from his Proskauer email account.

Apparently, one missive supporting a ban on gay marriage wasn’t enough for the associate. The associate has sent out another email — from his Proskauer account — to a much wider distribution list which included other Proskauer attorneys:

The Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage did not just overturn the will of California voters (over 61% of them to be exact); it also redefined marriage for the rest of society, without ever asking the people themselves to accept this decision. As a lawyer I can tell you that those Four Activist Judges in San Francisco harmed the democratic process as much as they damaged traditional marriage. [Redacted] I know you and I agree on most things and I assume you still believe that it is a judge’s role to enforce the law not create it, but that is exactly what those Four Activist Judges did. They ignored the votes and voices of 4 million Californians and replaced it with their own. For that reason alone Prop 8 should be supported. If the proponents of gay marriage wish to change the law, let them do it properly not; through the people not through activist judges.

What people do on their personal time is their own business. But doesn’t this cat have a gmail account? There are a lot of attorneys who use the Star Jones-special “I’m a Lawyer” conceit to strengthen their argument, but why drag the firm into it?

More excerpts from this Proskauer associate after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Yes on Prop 8 Proskauer Associate Strikes Again”

  • 20 Oct 2008 at 5:49 PM

Non-Sequiturs: 10.20.08

Hot or Not Lawyers.JPG* What is the applicable hottness handicap for lawyers versus everybody else? [Sweet Hot Justice]

* Hiring freeze at William and Mary brings the global economic crisis home to law professors. [TaxProf Blog]

* I’ll believe in billable hour reform just as soon as I get my jet pack and flying car. [Wired GC]

* If Obama wins will JP Stevens retire? Better question: if Obama loses how much life force will JP Stevens have to vampire away in order to make it four more years? [How Appealing]

* What non-perishable/non-smelly/non-fattening foodstuffs can you keep in your office in case you miss lunch? [Corporette]

* Grading 2.0 [LexHub: BBLP]

Dewey logo.JPGToday Dewey & LeBoeuf announced that they would be closing their Charlotte, North Carolina office as of December 31st.

Dewey appears to be in full contraction mode, having already announced the closing of offices in Hartford, CT; Jacksonville, FL; and Austin, TX.

According to a firm spokesperson:

As part of its continuing review of global office locations, Dewey & LeBoeuf will be closing its office in Charlotte, North Carolina. The decision has been made in part due to the economic conditions in the market, which has seen the consolidation of several major banking institutions and a challenging structured finance market. The Charlotte office, which has eight attorneys, will close on December 31, 2008.

The Charlotte market, a burgeoning center of the U.S. banking industry, continues to take hits to its legal market. Last week, Moore & Van Allen laid off around 20 staff members.

According to one tipster, the 8 Charlotte attorneys will receive a 12-week severance package.

Update (5:19): A Dewey spokesperson now confirms that there are 11 lawyers in the Charlotte office. The associates will be laid-off while the firm evaluates relocation options for the partners.

Earlier: Dewey Stay or Dewey Go? D&L Decamps from Hartford, Austin, Jacksonville

Perkins Coie logo.JPGApparently, the activities of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are now a matter of national import. The group, best known for absolutely nothing prior to a month ago, is now poised to “threaten the fabric of democracy,” according to Senator John McCain.

One might have expected the Obama campaign to take the knuckleball in the dirt, but there is only one October. Last Friday, the Obama campaign called in lawyers from Perkins Coie to harass USAG Michael Mukasey into harassing McCain to stop harassing Obama.

Perkins Coie partner Robert Bauer asked Mukasey to instruct special prosecutor Nora Dannehy to add McCain’s recent conduct to allegations of partisan misconduct within the Justice Department. According to The Blog of the LegalTimes:

[The letter] alleges that Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign and the Republican Party made false claims of voting fraud as part of a Republican effort to influence the presidential election. The letter accuses Republican officeholders of calling on the Justice Department to investigate allegations of fraud, and Justice Department officials of spurring what he called “baseless” investigations.

The McCain camp responds after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Perkins Coie/Obama Fight McCain Over ACORNs”

Philip Straniere before and after.jpgSalaries for New York judges have been capped at $136,700 for the past ten years. We reported on their attempt to force a raise by suing the New York legislature. New York Supreme Court justice Edward Lehner ruled in favor of mo’ money in June and gave the legislature 90 days to up their pay.

The state’s chief judge, Judith Kaye, was the force behind the lawsuit. But a lesser-known judge, Philip Straniere, of Staten Island, did his part to support the movement. He grew a big, bushy protest beard. He’s been wearing it for the last 14 months.

Unfortunately for cash-strapped New York judges, neither the beard nor lawsuit have done the trick as of yet. According to the New York Law Journal, New York Governor David Paterson has appealed Lehner’s decision. The judges’ brief defending Lehner’s decision is due Friday, with argument scheduled for November.

Straniere has not given up the protest, but he has given up the beard, in order to look less like Father Christmas while he runs for a state Supreme Court judgeship. His shave made the news. From the Staten Island Advance:

Straniere scores points for his Family Guy reference with a shout-out to Peter Griffin’s bird-infested growth. Negative points for the barber for butchering Straniere’s chin.

Paterson Seeks Reversal of Order to Boost Judges’ Pay [New York Law Journal]

Shave and a haircut (not pictured) [Staten Island Advance]

Earlier: Judicial Pay Raise Watch: New York

susan herman aclu.jpgOn Saturday the American Civil Liberties Union elected a new president, Susan Herman.

She’s a constitutional law professor at Brooklyn Law School and had served as the ACLU’s general counsel prior to this promotion. It has been a long time since ACLU leadership changed hands:

Herman’s selection gives the organization a new public face for the first time in nearly two decades. Nadine Strossen, the ACLU’s longest-serving president and the first woman to hold the job, had led the group since 1991, overseeing a substantial rise in formal membership and national staff.

Herman intends to spearhead the organization’s outreach to the African-American community, and she believes that her professorial background will help encourage young people to become card-carrying members.

More on Susan Herman’s background after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ACLU Looks To Brooklyn Law For New President”

Edward Nottingham Judge Edward W Nottingham Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgChief Judge Edward Nottingham is a familiar figure for long-time ATL readers. The Colorado federal judge has starred in past posts such as “Chief Judge Nottingham: Putting the ‘Ho’ in Your Honor?” and “Chief Judge Nottingham Likes Strippers; Handicapped People, Not So Much.”

A quick recap of “Naughty” Nottingham’s misadventures: being too drunk to remember how he spent $3,000 at strip clubs over two days, calling 911 on a paralyzed lawyer in a wheelchair after she confronted him for parking in a handicapped space, and having his name show up on a list of clients of a Denver prostitution business.

Well, he’s back in the news, folks, and though we’ve retired him from Judge of the Day, we’ve decided to give him a nod at the request of many tipsters. The Department of Justice has launched an investigation of “Naughty” for asking a prostitute to lie on his behalf. He wanted her to say they met at a restaurant in Denver and went out a few times and that they were only “good friends.”

From Colorado’s

The woman claims she had sex with Judge Nottingham for $250 to $300 an hour once a week from February 2003 through November 2004 at the former escort agency Bada Bing of Denver….

[T]he former prostitute says Judge Nottingham asked her to help fabricate a story to tell investigators.

“We just decided to agree that we met at a bar. I don’t remember which one. We decided to say that we just, over the years, had become friends and on occasion would go out on dates,” the woman told 9Wants to Know. “The truth is that I met him when I was an escort for an escort service and he did visit me regularly and he did pay to be with me.”

“It just seems ridiculous that someone in his position would ask someone to lie,” the former prostitute said. “He’s there to uphold the law and he’s breaking it.”

Such a sweet sentiment. Obviously, this former prostitute is not a regular reader of our Judge of the Day feature.

Several newspapers have reported that Nottingham is expected to resign any minute now. But as of Monday at noon, the Colorado District Court’s Clerk Office had not heard anything from him.

Government investigating allegations against Nottingham []

Earlier: Previous ATL Coverage of Edward Nottingham

1159667323241.jpgSo far this year, we’ve found that an awful lot of ATL readers get in the billable spirit over the holidays. Back in January and February, we learned that about a quarter of you worked on Christmas, almost a third of you worked over New Year’s, and more than half of you worked on Martin Luther King’s Birthday. This summer, we found that 42% of you worked over the Memorial Day weekend, and 40% of you put in patriot hours over the Fourth of July weekend. And just last month we learned that 45% of you labored over Labor Day Weekend.

In today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we continue our exploration of the holidays. Last week, a number of commenters were even more scandalized than usual when ATL took Columbus Day off. But were all of you really working that weekend?

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.

New York University Law School NYU Law School Above the Law.JPGRemember the barely watchable movie Major League II? Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn arrives at spring training with an assortment of off-speed curveballs and change-ups, abandoning his 100-mph-plus fastball essentially because he’s gone soft.

That (terrible) plot is being carried out by the nation’s top law schools. We’ve reported on HLS and SLS moving away from letter grades. We scuttled a poll by Columbia Law School trying to ascertain whether students there wanted to move to a modified pass/fail system. Now, despite earlier protestation from some members of the student body, NYU Law is now moving towards their own version of grade reform. The hope, apparently, is sterling transcripts for all, academic competition for none:

In Fall 2007, the Executive Committee of the faculty re-evaluated the NYU grade curve as part of a broader charge. The Committee concluded that the curve appears to be somewhat out of line with peer schools, and expressed concern that an unintended effect could be that it systematically disadvantages our students applying for clerkships and some other jobs.

Is there no end to this madness? In essence, that letter represents a bunch of students saying:

Whaaaa. Law school is hard. I want my clerky-ships. How come Johnny gets all the good grades? Whaaaa!

And NYU is caving. They’re throwing a curveball in a 3-1 count instead of having the guts to throw a hard strike.

Getting good grades is not a right. And it shouldn’t be a gift. Some people have the talent and focus to get good grades, other people have the social skills to get laid. What precisely was wrong with that system?

Read the full NYU Law memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “NYU Law Grade Reform: Another Law School Loses Its Fastball”

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