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accounting accountant CPA.jpgJust how versatile is a law degree? To quote one applicant for our new writer position: “If I had a nickel for every time someone told me ‘you can do a lot with a law degree,’ I’d have enough to pay for about a semester of law school.” [FN1]
As just discussed, many law school graduates are up to their ears in educational debt, but can’t land — or don’t want — Biglaw gigs. If they aren’t interested in working as contract attorneys, what other options are available to them?
To help answer this question, we’ll be doing a series of open threads on career alternatives for attorneys. If you have a suggestion for one, please email us (subject line: “Career Alternatives”). Please include some information about the alternative career path you’re nominating — e.g., how to get into the field, pros and cons, how much it pays, etc. — so if we use your suggestion, we have some material to kick off the conversation.
Today’s career alternative: working for an accounting firm. The Big Four accounting firms hire a fair number of J.D. holders. One popular specialty for lawyers at such firms is tax, where a legal education, although not essential, comes in handy.
If you’re curious about this possible career path, read more, after the jump.

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  • 16 Jun 2008 at 5:44 PM

Non-Sequiturs: 06.16.08

* The fall guys for Bear Stearns: hedge fund managers. [Ideoblog via Dealbreaker]
* An AutoAdmit update, and a cautionary tale for anonymous commenters: the motion to quash of “AK47″ has been denied. [Big Law Board]
* Leona Helmsley’s “rich bitch” is a bit less so (rich, that is; still a bitch, as far as we know). [New York Post via WSJ Law Blog]
* Justice Talking no more. [Justice Talking]
* Check out Blawg Review #164, especially if you’re a James Joyce fan. [cearta.ie via Blawg Review]

Blackberry 8800 Crackberry Treo iPhone wireless handheld device.jpgLast week’s post about Biglaw and iPhones got us thinking about another device that lawyers love (and love to hate): the Blackberry.
Ah, Blackberries: Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. The little devices liberate you, allowing you to leave the office while remaining in touch with work. For example, if you work in midtown Manhattan, and if you’re having a slow day — or week, or month (take our survey on slowness) — you can step out for a quick visit to the MoMA, or get some holiday shopping done on Fifth Avenue. If you’re needed, the Bberry will vibrate, and you can be back in your office within minutes (i.e., in less time than it takes for that septuagenarian partner to return from his newspaper-reading bathroom break).
But Blackberries aren’t a total blessing. They make it that much harder to truly leave the office behind. People check them at the dinner table, or during their kid’s school play. You’d also be surprised by the number of exotic vacation destinations that have strong, consistent Blackberry reception.
This got us thinking: What are some of the strangest places and/or situations that you have sent and/or received Blackberry messages from? Here are three real-life examples we’ve heard about:

1. An associate has all four of his wisdom teeth removed (in a single procedure, to obviate the need for multiple, time-consuming visits). Minutes after the painful procedure is over — before the anesthesia has even worn off, and while still seated in the dentist’s chair — he’s shooting off emails to paralegals about binders.

2. An associate gets married. He and his wife jet off to a tropical locale for their honeymoon. He takes his Blackberry with him, then proceeds to send dozens of messages from the beach. (Hopefully he didn’t get sand in the device — or take the Blackberry into the honeymoon bed.)

3. A partner goes out on maternity leave. Half an hour after popping out her baby, ensconced in her comfy, adjustable hospital bed, she sends out a slew of work-related emails to her beleaguered associates.

Do you have a tale to tell about Blackberrying from an unusual destination, or under extraordinary circumstances? If so, please share it, in the comments.

ACS.gifWelcome to the latest post in our recent series on the 2008 National Convention of the American Constitution Society. We attended lots of excellent events as part of the conference. Prior posts appear here and here.
One of our favorite events was the Saturday lunch panel, “Covering the Court.” It was moderated by Thomas Goldstein, of Akin Gump and SCOTUSblog fame, and featured the following distinguished members of the Supreme Court press corps:

  • Robert Barnes, of the Washington Post;
  • Linda Greenhouse, of the New York Times;
  • Dahlia Lithwick, of Slate; and
  • Tony Mauro, of the Legal Times.
    For the Court-watchers among you, a detailed write-up is available below the fold.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “At the ACS National Convention: Covering the Court”

  • Alex Kozinski small Alex S Kozinski Judge Above the Law hot hottie superhottie federal judiciary.JPGApologies for the downtime. We were off being interviewed by CNN Headline News about the controversy surrounding Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit. We’ll post a link to the interview if and when it becomes available.
    Speaking of Chief Judge Kozinski, here’s the latest news:

    The 9th Circuit judge, who posted sexually explicit material on his own site, according to a Los Angeles Times story yesterday, has just released this statement:

    I have asked the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit to take steps pursuant to Rule 26, of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and Disability, and to initiate proceedings concerning the article that appeared in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times. I will cooperate fully in any investigation.

    Is it unusual for a judge to call for an investigation of himself? Sure. But it’s a testament to Chief Judge Kozinski’s integrity and forthrightness; he’s not trying to hide anything underneath his robe. This is a smart move, a lesson in good crisis management.
    Kozinski Calls for Investigation of Himself [WSJ Law Blog]
    Judge wants panel to investigate his porn postings [Associated Press]

    Ms. B copy.jpgThis may not happen to men, but many a woman has put on an outfit and discovered later that it is more sheer than she realized in the dim light of her home. In sunlight, or in an office’s bright fluorescent glow, the underthings suddenly become visible — if one is lucky enough to be wearing underthings. Usually, a good friend will point this out to the inadvertently scandalously-clad woman.

    A reader sent us an excerpt from a recent deposition transcript, currently making the rounds by email, which apparently captures an occurrence of just this sort. It seems that the not-to-be-named lawyer, aka “Ms. B” (pictured), did not have a good friend to point out the sheerness of her attire.

    Instead, an expert witness did so, at the end of a long deposition. Then “Ms. G,” counsel to the witness, echoed her client’s concerns.

    The exchange got a little testy. Check out the depo transcript, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘Respectfully, I think he’s just referring to the fact that he can see your breasts.’”

    parking.jpgLike so many ATL Lawyers of the Day that have been honored before him, Gerald Hamelburg falls into the camp of attorneys who practice the law but don’t respect it. Hamelburg has gotten caught up in a “disabled placard abuser” sting.
    A similar scam was run in this episode of Desperate Housewives. Gaby Solis (Eva Longoria) takes advantage of her husband Carlos’s blindness to get a disabled parking sticker and score sweet parking spots.
    But Hamelburg had it even better — he got to park for free, too. From the Boston Globe:

    He lives in one of Wellesley’s most exclusive neighborhoods, owns a $1.8 million Nantucket vacation home, and has a small fleet of luxury cars at his disposal. But when Gerald Hamelburg drives downtown, he doesn’t like to pay his way, according to investigators with the state inspector general’s office.
    The Boston lawyer, they say, uses his deceased mother’s handicapped placard to park his Mercedes convertible, free of charge, at meters near the High Street firm that bears his name…
    According to an investigator’s report, Hamelburg seemed unclear about what he had done wrong.
    “He denied that he was ‘displaying’ the placard,” wrote the investigator, who videotaped this week’s exchange, “and stated that it was merely ‘hanging there.’ He questioned why he was being sanctioned for the use this time, saying that he had used it ‘half a dozen times’ before that and ‘no one’ had ever had an issue with his use of the placard before. [The trooper] asked him why he believed that was an appropriate defense to his having committed a serious violation by using the placard illegally. Hamelburg had no response to his question.”

    Not the most impressive defense skills there. We assume that this is his law firm: Greenbaum, Nagel, Fisher and Hamelburg, though he gets no love (or bio write-up) on their website. The Massachusetts crackdown turned up hundred of placard abusers, and Hamelburg wasn’t the only attorney among them: “Among the worst violators were a state lawyer and his wife.”
    This may sound cold-hearted, but we can’t help wondering: We understand the disabled getting premium parking spots close to building entrances, but why do they score free parking, too?
    Disabled placard abusers targeted [Boston Globe]

    Harvard Law Review small Andrew Crespo Above the Law blog.jpgIn the wake of a former Harvard Law Review president securing the Democratic nomination for United States president, it’s timely to do an update on the Harvard Law Review Note controversy (or Statue-Gate, as Glenn Reynolds dubbed it). If you haven’t been following the story, background appears here, here, and here.
    Whenever a leader stumbles, bloggers swarm. The mini-scandal at America’s top law review has spawned a cottage industry of blogs. First there was a blog claiming to be written by Note author Phil Telfeyan, Do the Right Thing at Every Moment. It was under password protection for a time, but it’s once again open to all. And now there are at least two other blogs dedicated to covering perceived scholarly lapses at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Law Review, Harvard Clown School and Harvard Law Review Review (both via Prettier Than Napoleon).
    There have been all sorts of rumors going around about Phil Telfeyan, his Note, and the blog dedicated to the Note (which may or may not be his). We made an effort to get to the bottom of some of them, talking to people with firsthand knowledge of the situation, including current and former HLR editors. We didn’t find out everything we wanted to know, but we learned a few new things.
    If you’re curious — some of you may be tired of this story, and we don’t blame you — you can read more below the fold.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Few More Tidbits About the Harvard Law Review Note Controversy”

    above the law logo.JPGTime flies. It’s hard to believe, but Above the Law turns two this summer. We started writing for ATL in July 2006, and the site went live in August 2006.
    We’re happy to report that things are going swimmingly — so swimmingly, in fact, that we’d like to (and need to) hire another full-time writer. Law firms are firing, but ATL is hiring. This gig may not pay $160K, but we guarantee it’s more fun than document review or due diligence.
    This is a full-time position. The pay is quite competitive for a media/journalism job, and standard benefits — health insurance, a 401(k), abuse from anonymous commenters — are included. If you’re looking to transition from law into the writing life, this is an excellent opportunity.
    If you’d like to apply, please email us (subject line: “New Writer Application”). Please describe yourself and your background, and explain why you’d be a great addition to ATL. If you have a particular vision for the site or ideas for new features, do share. Feel free to include a résumé, a writing sample, a link to your own blog (if you have one), or any other information you think might be relevant to evaluation of your application.
    We will take applications through Friday, June 6 (and will probably throw in another plug for this next week). Thanks for your interest; we look forward to hearing from you.

    bored no work law firm Above the Law blog.jpgBack in December, we conducted a survey focusing on how busy those of you who work for large law firms were. The results were somewhat comforting. A majority of you said work at your firms was not slow, and 78 percent of you said you weren’t afraid of losing your job.
    That was about seven months ago. Have times changed? In addition to all the recent law-firm layoffs, here is some anecdotal evidence that they have:

    Given the hard economic times, you guys should do a story about associates that have no work. And I’m not talking about light billable hours, but NO WORK.

    I work for [a large firm] and I’m currently relegated to surfing the internet, reading ATL, and looking for new incarnations of ceiling cat. I’ve begged and pleaded with partners to give me work, but to no avail.

    I’d be curious what other associates around the country who are slow are doing to drum up work or, better yet, kill time.

    Have any suggestions for this frustrated reader? This person already knows about legal blogs as a procrastination aid. Given the uncertain economy, online shopping binges probably aren’t smart. IM’ing with friends at other firms is fun, but not everyone has that option.
    If you know of other ways to pass the non-billable time — and please, safe-for-work proposals only — feel free to share them in the comments. Thanks.

    DLA Piper logo Above the Law blog.jpgThese aren’t the best of times for Biglaw, in case you hadn’t noticed. The most recent evidence: staff and lawyer layoffs at Sonnenschein, news that we broke last night (and might write more about, so feel free to email us with info).
    But here is a tiny sliver of good news. In response to our open call for information about delayed start dates for incoming associates, which some law firms have been using to reduce expenses, we received very little.
    First, we learned that DLA Piper has instituted a nationwide start date of October 1. This isn’t terribly exciting, since October 1 isn’t that late. Other firms that have announced delayed start dates have gone for late October or even January.
    The change also doesn’t appear to be economically motivated. From DLA spokesperson Jason Costa:

    The changes were made to provide a uniform start date across all our offices. The new collective date allows us to have a uniform orientation process. We think it will also be good for the associates, since the shared start date will probably lead to a tighter knit class.

    Our tipsters mentioned the availability of pay advances if needed, which Costa confirmed: “We are more than happy to give pay advances to any incoming associates who had planned to start earlier than October, and who may need the extra cash.”
    Second, we received more details about Pillsbury Winthrop, which previously said it was spacing out start dates “over several months.”
    Read the rest, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Update on Start Dates: DLA Piper, Pillsbury Winthrop”

    tarot card.jpgWe heard through the grapevine that Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit gave ATL a shout out during a Federalist Society lunch earlier this month. According to our tipsters, “his biggest advice to any summer associates in the audience was ‘don’t show up on David Lat’s blog, Above the Law.’”

    Well, the first summer associate tale of 2008 has made its way into our tips inbox from Atlanta. A summer associate at Alston & Bird decided to share his quirky sense of humor and alter ego with the rest of his summer class. Our tipster explains:

    [This e-mail] was sent by an Alston & Bird summer… (as his cross-dressing alter-ego Divljan Shatterhand Steele) to the entire Atlanta summer class. The email, besides being super weird, is pretty innocuous. However, the pictures on his Facebook account could give him some serious trouble — besides the multiple pictures of him dressed in drag as his alter-ego, there is a picture of a pie with a gummy-bear swastika…

    Needless to say, the email has already been widely circulated. A&B has a progressive reputation, but this might be a bit much. Given the current state of the market, Alston might be regretting hiring such a huge summer class (look at the recipient list, which likely only includes the summers who are working the first half) in Atlanta. This guy isn’t doing himself any favors.

    The bizarre e-mail, involving tarot cards and multiple personalities, is available after the jump. If you’ve been wondering about the history of neckties, you’ll definitely want to check it out.

    We have redacted the SA’s name and ask that you not identify the person in the comments. Feel free to refer to him as “Divljan” only. Thanks.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Summer Associate of the Day: Alter Ego ‘Divljan Shatterhand Steele’”

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