Everyone enjoys the law firm gone bad. Think Wolfram & Hart; Bendini, Lambert & Locke; whatever the firm was that Devil was in charge of… Cravath? All right, it was really Milton, Chadwick & Waters, but whatever. The lawyer-hating masses like to see their biases lived out in the extreme, and lawyers enjoy the competence porn of thinking a law firm can really have an evil master plan. But these firms only exist in fiction, right?
So what the hell is going on with this firm?
Accusations are flying that this law practice was massively overfilling clients, instructing clients to harass and intimidate government officials, tailing people with P.I.s to accuse folks of traffic violations, and bugging people’s cars with GPS trackers.
It’s not plotting to birth the Antichrist, but it definitely sounds like bad news…
It was one of those calls where the Customer just wants to vent to someone perceived to be in authority. They are upset at your Company for something or other, and have already taken the sales team to task. Now, it’s your turn. Some might say that the weight of the Customer on your bottom line should determine the amount of obsequiousness you serve. I would argue that in the scheme of things, it really does not matter the size of the Customer, falling on one’s sword can repair damage quicker than a protracted rant session that ultimately devolves into he said, she said.
Complaining openly and presenting a negative persona is not a good strategy for the office or most places, for that matter. Even if you have every good reason to complain, people do not want to hear it.
Regular readers of Above the Law are well aware of the bimodal salary distribution curve of starting salaries for new lawyers. Lawyers understand why the curve looks the way it does: there are a few “elite” firms that essentially engage in salary collusion at the very top (don’t everybody start thanking Above the Law at once), while most lawyers will struggle to find a job in the $40K – $60K range.
When non-lawyers see this curve, they are surprised. The curve popped up on Mother Jones the other day, and author Kevin Drum called the $160K spike “pretty weird.” Then the commenters on his post — actually HELPFUL commenters who managed to weigh in without personal attacks on the author — explained to Drum why it was so.
But that’s kind of the problem: people only become aware of the bimodal salary distribution curve after they’ve been to law school (and done things like become a regular reader of Above the Law). They don’t get the information before they commit to law school, when the information could be useful. In a world without time machines, hindsight is blind.
Still, even people who have already committed to their dread fate can benefit from an understanding of history. Do you know what the salary distribution curve looked like in 1991, during the last “great” lawyer recession? Do you think the people who are charging you money to go to law school have seen it?
Mayor Senator Cory Booker has been in the spotlight for quite some time, and for very good reason. For the prestige-obsessed among us, his undergraduate degree is from Stanford, he attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and his Juris Doctor is from Yale. He saves both dogs and damsels in distress. To complete this near perfect package, he’s got dashing good looks. And yet, he’s still single… or at least we thought he was, until this morning.
Who is this rising political star rumored to be dating? She’s got beauty and the brains to match…
Tennessee law enforcement authorities recently seized approximately 53 snakes, most of them poisonous, from the Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tennessee. The young pastor of the church, Andrew Hamblin, was arrested for violations of Tennessee Code § 39-17-101, which makes it an offense “for a person to display, exhibit, handle, or use a poisonous or dangerous snake or reptile in such manner as to endanger the life or health of any person.” The offense is a Class C misdemeanor.
The Pentecostal pastor and his flock believe that an oft-neglected passage of Scripture, Mark 16:15 – 18, instructs followers of Christ to handle poisonous “serpents” as a part of their worship, as a confirmation of their faith. Specifically, the verses read, “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.And these signswill accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons;they will speak in new tongues;they will pick up snakeswith their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands onsick people, and they will get well.”
“I believe in the power of God and that it’ll let you heal [the sick] and it’ll move and it’ll cast out devils. It’ll move in tongues, it’ll move and take up serpents,” said Hamblin. “Here I am I’m getting snakes took, I’m facing jail time, I’m facing being taken away from my wife, my children, I’m facing being pulled out of my church just simply because I went out in the woods and caught a rattlesnake and I brought it to a service because I believe the Bible said they shall take up serpents.”
Hamblin is scheduled to appear in court on November 15. The charges carry with them fines of up to $2,500 per count and 11 months and 25 days of jail time for each of the 53 counts. He vows to fight the charges in court, arguing that his religious liberty has been violated. Does he have chance in Hell of prevailing?
* So we’ve had some technical difficulties this morning. Sorry all. So let’s kick off this abbreviated morning docket with news that Robert Dell will retire from Latham & Watkins at the end of 2014 after helming the firm for 20 years. [The Am Law Daily]
* Dwayne Bowe was arrested for alleged marijuana possession. He’s still going to start on Sunday though in case you were relying on his almost unnoticeable fantasy football impact this year. Remember when I didn’t understand the “Weeden Wayne Bowe” joke. Good times! [Kansas City Star]
* Whitey Bulger considers his trial a sham. He’ll be sentenced this morning. [LA Times]
* Former NBCUniversal General Counsel Lawrence Tu was named top lawyer at CBS. Congrats on “pulling a Letterman.” [Deadline]
* Sean Coffey is joining Kramer Levin. He previously headed up a litigation financing company. So when David asked if litigation finance was the hot new trend, apparently the answer is “no.” [New York Times / Dealbook]
The best law school professors have practical experience that allows them to draw from personal memory to bring a lesson to life for students. One professor who often lectures students on their ethical obligations can now draw from her own experience to tell students about what happens when lawyers lie to federal judges to help clients perpetrate a fraud.
The irony is scrumptious.
You’d think that getting busted for lying to a judge and benchslapped silly would doom a law professor, but that’s premature. She’ll probably lose her job for failing as a professor first….
* I’ve never heard of a “copyist.” Apparently it’s what you call people who “steal” intellectual property that isn’t actually protected. I’d care, but I’m too busy trying to figure out how The Onion would write this blurb. [You Thought We Wouldn't Notice]
* And now time for your annoying “why do LAWYERS get money instead of PLAINTIFFS??????” post: The Stop-and-Frisk edition. While I wait for some of you to get off the turnip truck, I’ll note that I don’t begrudge the lawyers who helped bring to light the horrible NYPD tactics one cent. [New York Observer]
* Tom Cruise’s lawyer almost got Tom Cruise’s ass beat down by Mark Wahlberg’s fists. [Gawker]
* IED explodes in a district attorney’s office in Oregon. No one was injured. So jokes about Stanford blowing up Oregon’s BCS title chances remain totally appropriate and cool. [ABA Journal]
* Every year, people ask if the February LSAT is “too late” if you want to start law school the next fall. And every year, I want to say “How in the f*** can you not get your s*** together to take the LSAT earlier, but just have to start attending law school as soon as possible?” [LawSchooli.com]
Alex Rich has a whole “worst job” thing going for contract attorney gigs. So far, that little contest has turned up lawyers getting paid minimum wage. That is pretty dismal.
But what about getting paid zero?
While some federal judges are making tentative steps toward ending the exploitation of regular folks at the hands of unpaid internships, others feel you shouldn’t have to pay for a cow when you can get milk from desperate cows hoping that giving away their labor might increase the dim likelihood of securing a decent wage somewhere else in the long-term for free.
If you’re looking to work for free, maybe this job listing is for you. If you just want to hate on a federal judge for taking advantage of lawyer misery for personal gain, you may want to read on as well…
Ed. note: This is the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories, brought to you by Lateral Link. This recurring feature will give notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.
Jami Wintz McKeon is chair-elect of Morgan Lewis and leader of the firm’s litigation practice. She is responsible for the strategic and day-to-day operation of the litigation practice, made up of 700 litigators in 25 global offices.
1. What is the greatest challenge to the legal industry over the next 5 years?
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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