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case western law school us news.JPGGary J. Simson, best known for his incessant bitching about the U.S. News rankings, is stepping down as dean of the Case Western Reserve School of Law:

We write to inform you that Gary J. Simson has agreed to resign as dean, effective at the end of this academic semester. Starting today, Robert H. Rawson Jr. will serve as Special Advisor to the Provost for the School of Law. Once, Mr. Simson steps down, Mr. Rawson will become interim dean of the school.

Mr. Rawson is a partner of the Jones Day law firm and served for 15 years as Partner in Charge of its Cleveland office. A Rhodes Scholar who graduated from Princeton University before earning his Juris Doctorate from Harvard University, he is highly regarded as a litigator, with particular expertise in antitrust matters. He also has deep appreciation and understanding of higher education, having spent 20 years on the Board of Trustees of Princeton, including 13 as chair of the board’s executive committee. We are deeply grateful both to Mr. Rawson and to the Jones Day law firm for this opportunity to tap his expertise during this time of transition.

We will launch a national search to fill the dean’s position, and note that Mr. Rawson has indicated he has no interest in being a candidate for the permanent post.

Simson has had a somewhat rocky tenure at Case Western. As one tipster put it:

Simson has been at the school for just over 2 years and has had an “uneven” response from the larger community, at best…

Simson was the dean who invited Ohio AG Marc “Dannimal House” Dann to come as a commencement day speaker. That offer was later rescinded. But he’ll be best remembered around these parts for his full frontal attack on the U.S. News rankings.

Gary, we hardly knew ye. The world can always use another Brian Leiter.

Read the full departure memo after the jump.

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Katten logo.JPGPerhaps the Clifford Chance layoffs were just the beginning. We’re getting multiple reports that Katten Muchin Rosenman is laying off associates in their Chicago office, today. Right now.

Katten representatives did not respond to inquiries made last night or today.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte-firm of Moore & Van Allen has laid off 20 staff members today. Though calls to Moore & Van Allen were not immediately returned, one tipster suggests that the layoffs were focused in the Wachovia practice group.

No word yet on the safety of associates at Moore & Van Allen.

We will update you as more facts become available. But do not trust to hope, it is forsaken in these lands.

Update (5:40): Moore & Van Allen tipsters want us to know that the Bank of America group was hit just as hard, if not harder than, the Wachovia group.

Update (6:05): While Katten is still not officially confirming anything, recently laid-off attorneys are telling us that they are hearing that between 20-25 associates where let go today in the Chicago office. The severance package: 90-days at full salary. Not good times today. Bad times.

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Clifford Chance (Redux) Twenty Litigators Laid Off, in NY and DC

minority women partners not.JPGA NALP report confirms what we see everyday: minority women partners barely exist. The National Law Journal reports:

Minority women remain the most underrepresented group among law firm partners, according to the report. They currently make up 1.88% of partners at law firms. By contrast, the report found that minority men make up 4.21% of partners, and women overall account for 18.74% of partners.

That. Is. Embarrassing.

Before everybody explains away the numbers by saying “there aren’t as many minority women in the pipeline,” note that there are a lot of minority women downstream:

In 2008, 45.42 percent of summer associates were women, 24.04 percent were minorities and 12.99 percent were minority women. In the associate ranks, 45.34 percent are women, 19.11 percent are minorities and 10.74 percent are minority women.

Many minority women start off on the Biglaw path, but they leave. To have babies? Not according to the ABA:

A 2006 study by the ABA Commission on Women, “Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms,” concluded that women of color are leaving the profession in droves because they are the victims of an uninterrupted cycle of institutional discrimination. Many women responding to the ABA survey said they felt they were denied the same opportunities to succeed as their male and nonminority counterparts.

More numbers after the jump.

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  • 15 Oct 2008 at 11:51 AM
  • Uncategorized

The Firms That Were Offered Bailout Love

SimpsonThacher.gifWe mentioned yesterday that Simpson Thacher has been chosen to advise the government on the massive $700 billion bailout plan. They were chosen on Friday and are already racking up billable hours on it.

Six other firms were approached by the Treasury, but only two expressed interest. Zach Lowe at the American Lawyer reports:

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton confirmed Tuesday that it was one of the six firms the Treasury Department considered as candidates for a role as lead adviser on the $700 billion bailout plan.

Only two of those six firms pursued the work that eventually went to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Four of the six law firms have confirmed that the Treasury reached out to them: Simpson, Cleary, Davis, Polk & Wardwell, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The two others, including the firm the Treasury turned down, remain unidentified. Two of the most likely candidates — Sullivan & Cromwell and Latham & Watkins — would not comment on the matter. A third, Shearman & Sterling, has not responded to messages.

Lowe tracked down a lawyer at one of the firms that rebuffed the Treasury. The lawyer admitted it was “prime work,” but that they feared not being able to represent “regular clients on the program.” In the cost-benefit analysis, the potential billable hours to financial services companies clamoring for bailout money must outweigh the government possibilities.

But Simpson Thacher is not sweating it:

Richard Beattie, chairman of Simpson Thacher, says the Treasury did not put any pressure on the firm to drop clients and that the firm is not concerned about losing business.

“They did not say that,” Beattie says. “It’s ridiculous. We represent JPMorgan Chase and would not give up a client like that.”

AmLaw reports that Simpson’s other financial clients include Washington Mutual (now part of JPMorgan Chase), Lehman Brothers, and AIG. Given that list, we can see why the government is the more attractive client at the moment.

Cleary Confirms It Rejected Lead Adviser Role on Federal Bailout Plan [American Lawyer]

Simpson Thacher Wins Treasury Sweepstakes, Four Firms Decline [American Lawyer]

political-pictures-ron-paul-crowd-supporters-mainstream-media.jpgWe received just over 1,200 responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on politics in the workplace, and two things immediately became apparent.

First, there aren’t that many good political lolcats, so we’ve decided to make do with an lolronpaul (h/t punditkitchen).

Second, now that the general election is in full swing, political discourse is way up at law firms:

  * 86% of respondents reported that they discuss politics in the workplace, which is up from 74% back in February.

  * 92% noted that associates discuss politics (up from 80%).

  * 73% of respondents said that partners discuss politics (up from 64%).

  * 52% noticed that staff members discuss politics too (up from 38%).

But while conversations are up, actual campaigning is about the same:

  * Only 18% of respondents said that fellow associates had tried to convince them to vote for a particular candidate, and 15% said that associates had encouraged them to contribute to a campaign. This is about the same as what we reported in February.

  * Similarly, twelve percent of respondents said that partners had tried to swing their vote, but roughly sixteen percent reported that a partner had solicited a contribution. These, again, are the same numbers we saw in February.

  * About seventeen percent of respondents felt that their firms encouraged them to participate in political events, either for personal satisfaction or as a rainmaking opportunity. Only about 4% of respondents, however, felt the need to conform to any particular view.

Interestingly, only 9% of respondents said their firms were solidly Republican, in contrast to 50% who declared their firms Democrat territory. 24% of respondents said their firms were evenly mixed.

ATL’s readership has a similar liberal bent, with 60% of respondents deciding that Barack Obama won last week’s town hall debate, and 70% declaring that they will be voting for That One in a few weeks. 10% of respondents, however, were able to stay awake thought McCain won the debate, and 25% intend to vote for him.

But some of you would rather choose none of the above. One percent of respondents wrote in that they’ll be voting for Bob Barr, two people still look forward to voting for Hillary Clinton, three people will vote for Ralph Nader, and four people — not shown in the photo above — will be voting for Ron Paul.

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

chrysler cerberus building.JPGA lot of people have been asking how Schulte Roth & Zabel are doing during the economic downturn. It’s a relevant question given Schulte’s large book of hedge fund business.

But even as hedge funds are slowing down, Schulte could get a lot of work thrown their way if there is any fire to these G.M./Chrysler talks. According to AmLaw Daily Cravath is advising G.M. during the preliminary merger talks, while Schulte is advising Chrysler.

The high profile M&A work is being thrown Schulte’s way because of their longstanding relationship with the private equity giant Cerberus:

[Cerberus] bought Chrysler from Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler for $7.4 billion in 2007–roughly $30 billion less than Daimler paid for the company in 1998.

In fact Cerberus could be the key to the whole deal:

[P]eople close to the merger talks said that Cerberus had proposed to contribute cash to GM-Chrysler in addition to the estimated $11 billion in reserves that Chrysler has on its books. In return, Cerberus would receive equity in the combined company and become a large shareholder.

It’s important to remember how young Schulte Roth is, having just been established in 1969 (compared to Cravath’s nearly 200 year history). A huge deal like this probably won’t offset the general slow down in hedge fund work, but it does show that Schulte has a couple of clubs in the bag to get through the current downturn.

Cravath, Schulte Roth Involved in GM-Chrysler Talks [AmLaw Daily]

Cerberus’s role crucial as GM-Chrysler merger talks continue [International Herald-Tribune]

conflicts resolution day.JPG* Even if pro-bono work is masturbatory, can it be any worse than fellating paid clients? [Legal Blog Watch]

* A quick history lesson. [Cracked]

* Chief Justice Roberts has some fun with his dissent. [The BLT: The Blog of the LegalTimes]

* Nichols Kaster could help laid off Heller Ehrman employees get their accrued vacation time. [Legal Pad]

* Shameless plug: If you are in Charlottesville tomorrow, feel free to attend Lat’s talk at UVA Law. [Facebook (registration required)]

* Happy International Conflict Resolution Day. Here’s Blawg Review #181. [Mediation Channel via Blawg Review]

Obama smoking.JPGWe’ve discussed that under Barack Obama’s plan, taxes on Biglaw associates are likely to go up. But a cursory glance over on Open Secrets shows that many law firm partners are contributing towards the Obama campaign.

One associate we’ve talked with has a pretty interesting idea on how to deal with Biglaw partners that support Obama’s plans to take extra money away from “greedy” associates:

So a sixth year associate, who currently makes $250k and will receive a raise to $265k in January will see a larger chunk of that extra $15k disappear to taxes (via the new 39% tax bracket and and the 6.2% FICA tax). This will probably amount to a couple of thousand dollars per associate. I know this has been a lot of information, so bear with me …

My challenge to the lawfirm partnerships who are voting for Obama: bump senior associate salaries to compensate associates for the tax hike/salary cut they favor. This will no doubt be portrayed as the greediest of greedy associate complaints, but why should I pay for their preferred social policies?

Baseball teams do this all the time. New York and Boston often bump up players’ salaries to compensate them for the high state tax rates in New York and Massachusetts (as compared to places like Florida or Texas).

Of course, there are many (many) flaws with this idea. If you are angry about having your taxes raised, the preferred outlet for redress is the polling booth (or Boston Harbor), not your boss. And (ahem) associates are probably more worried about keeping their jobs right now than making their salary “whole” depending on the presidential administration.

But we take the point. Senior associates are likely to get hit under the Obama tax plan, and some people still vote their pocketbook. But look on the bright side. At least we are not staring into the abyss of a socialist nationalization of the private banking industry.

Earlier: Calculate Your Obama Tax Cut!

Don’t Bother Earning Money

columbia law school logo.jpgEarlier, we told you that Harvard and Stanford were replacing letter-grades in favor of a “we’re all winners” system. We then reported that the NYU Law School student newspaper published essentially an open letter, begging Columbia not to follow suit.

As you might imagine, Columbia is totally unconcerned with NYU law students and their opinions. The CLS student senate is conducting a poll to gauge where their classmates stand on grade reform:

Recently, both Stanford and Harvard law schools have announced that they will be eliminating letter grades and implementing differing pass/fail systems. This joins Yale in the ranks of upper echelon schools that “do not have grades.” Columbia Law School has considered eliminating letter grades in the past, and in light of these recent developments, the issue has again begun receiving increased scrutiny. Please take a moment to take this very brief, two-question survey at, and let us know what you think! The poll will close on Friday, October 17, at 5:00 pm, and the results will be published in next week’s issue of The CLS Black Letter.

Pedagogical benefits are fun to talk about, but law school is still a professional school. People go there to get jobs. Is a modified pass/fail system going to help CLS students get jobs? That seems to be the only relevant question.

Clifford Chance LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAbout a year ago, Clifford Chance was one of the first firms to conduct layoffs (at least openly, to their credit). In November 2007, the firm laid off six associates in structured finance, one of the first practice areas to get hit by the credit crisis.

Today Clifford Chance is announcing additional cuts. Individual and group meetings have been and are being held, in both the New York and Washington offices. Litigation is one of the affected departments.

Interestingly enough, Clifford Chance recently snagged the #1 spot on the American Lawyer’s list of top-grossing global law firms (ranked by 2007 revenue). Will its proactive response to economic turmoil help CC keep the top spot for 2008? Or are the cuts a sign of deeper troubles at the firm?

We have calls and emails into the firm requesting details about the layoffs. We will update this post as soon as we hear more.

Update (2:30 PM): One tipster tells us that the layoffs have affected “at least 20 associates.” This source adds that the layoffs have affected the classes of 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Update (2:45 PM): We’ve received a statement from the firm. It reads, in part:

Clifford Chance today told 20 associates in the firm’s U.S. Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice they would be laid off as sluggishness in litigation matters continues despite market volatility that historically has produced countercyclical balance. There will also be a reduction in Business Services staff that follows in the fourth quarter.

Those attorneys in New York and Washington, D.C. affected by today’s decision are held in high regard by the firm. These layoffs were not performance-driven, and those affected will receive severance packages and outplacement services.

You can read the complete statement after the jump.

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Twenty Litigators Laid Off, in NY and DC

  • 14 Oct 2008 at 1:37 PM
  • Uncategorized

Controlling The Narrative: Cleary Gottlieb

Cleary Gottlieb Steen Hamilton LLP CGSH Above the Law blog.jpgOn Friday we told you the story of 2 Cleary associates whose late night mistake caused problems for Cleary Gottlieb and their client, Barclays. Many were sympathetic to the associates and pointed out that blame should be shared with Cleary partners.

Cleary has declined to respond to the story, but that doesn’t mean they are unconcerned about what is said about them in the press. They are not shy about capitalizing of the global financial crisis either; their website now links to a financial crisis resource center. Yesterday, the firm sent around a hyper-positive email to all new Cleary offerees:

Congratulations on your offer to join Cleary Gottlieb!

We thought you may be interested in some recent media coverage of Cleary Gottlieb’s deals and cases.

The message goes on to list all of the great press stories Cleary has received since the firm’s attorneys first discovered fire. What do you think of this effort at firm PR?

Read the full message after the jump.

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Copyright_night_ripper_illegal_art.jpgStanford law professor Larry Lessig had an editorial in the Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition, “In defense of piracy.” Lessig starts off hating on the lawyers who went after the mother in the dancing baby/YouTube/Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” case. (Background here.)

How is it that sensible people, people no doubt educated at some of the best universities and law schools in the country, would come to think it a sane use of corporate resources to threaten the mother of a dancing 13-month-old? What is it that allows these lawyers and executives to take a case like this seriously, to believe there’s some important social or corporate reason to deploy the federal scheme of regulation called copyright to stop the spread of these images and music?

The answer: Crazy copyright law.

Lessig goes on to defend others whose creativity is derived from others’ creativity, like Danger Mouse and mash-up artist Girl Talk, whose latest album samples from 300 different songs. No rights acquired.

Midway through, the editorial goes into “Braveheart” mode. There’s a war going on, says Lessig– the “copyright wars.” Kids these days are sharing copyrighted material through peer-to-peer networks, while the art world is embracing a rampant remix culture.

This war must end. It is time we recognize that we can’t kill this creativity. We can only criminalize it. We can’t stop our kids from using these tools to create, or make them passive. We can only drive it underground, or make them “pirates.” And the question we as a society must focus on is whether this is any good. Our kids live in an age of prohibition, where more and more of what seems to them to be ordinary behavior is against the law. They recognize it as against the law. They see themselves as “criminals.” They begin to get used to the idea.

That recognition is corrosive. It is corrupting of the very idea of the rule of law. And when we reckon the cost of this corruption, any losses of the content industry pale in comparison.

That’s heavy. Lessig’s suggestions for ending the war, saving our lawless kids, and encouraging creativity, after the jump.

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