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Seyfarth Shaw LLP logo AboveTheLaw Above the Law legal blog.jpgLast week we brought you the rumor that Seyfarth Shaw and Squire Sanders were thinking of merging into “The Super S4 League of Justice.” Seyfarth has declined to comment on the rumor, but they have added a whole slew of attorneys in Los Angeles. Ken Youmans, managing partner of Seyfarth L.A., announced the new hires:

We are pleased to announce that our partnership voted today in favor of welcoming a group of attorneys to join our LA office. The group includes three equity partners, three income partners, four associates and two secretaries. While the group needs to act upon the partnership offer and the associates need to be offered an opportunity to work with us, the group is expected to start October 1, or soon thereafter. With the addition of these attorneys, we continue to strengthen our Corporate and Real Estate presence on the West Coast. We will share more specific information about our newest Firm members in the days and weeks ahead.

But where did these equity partners come from? Unfortunately all we have for you is more rumors, but tipsters tell us that Seyfarth’s new hires are Sonnenschein’s defectors.

As we know, it’s not a great time to be losing equity partners in California.

Seyfarth offered the following about the various rumors surrounding the firm:

In the course of running our business, we regularly explore a variety of strategic options for the firm. As a matter of policy, we do not comment on these matters.

There is a whole lot of whispering concerning Seyfarth. If you’d like to add your rumor to the mill, please feel free.

outsourcing biglaw aba tsunami.gifWe reported last month that the ABA made it easier for law firms to outsource legal work. But as many commenters pointed out, there would need to be a reason for firms to do that and risk a reputation hit.

Perhaps the market crisis has given firms the perfect opening to begin using low cost legal workers outside the United States.

The Hindu Business Line reports that India is “lawyering-up”:

At a time when the off-shoring industry is plagued with instances of employee lay-offs, companies providing legal process outsourcing (LPO) services are on a hiring spree as demand for litigation services from the US rises.

In the next six months to a year, several LPOs have plans to at least double headcount in order to cater to the increased work flow resulting from the recent turmoil in the US that has seen several financial institutions collapse.

The Wall Street crisis has resulted in increased litigation related to bankruptcy, mergers & acquisitions and other related aspects.

We’ve said before that the first front of this outsourcing battle would be fought over document intensive litigation, when clients demanded the lowest possible costs. Does that sound like a bankruptcy proceeding to anybody?

Indian businesspeople watch CNBC too:

For US companies and law firms, the pressure to put a throttle on costs is immense. By outsourcing to Indian vendors, companies can save about 70 per cent in costs vis-À-vis law firms in America.

After the jump, how Indian firms save 70 cents on the dollar.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “While Wall Street Collapses, Mumbai Picks Up The Scraps”

Harvard Law School seal logo.jpgLast week we told you that Harvard and Stanford law schools were enacting sweeping grade reform. Reactions came in from students and alumni from many top schools. One close friend emailed:

If Harvard had this when we were in school, I’d be emailing you from DPW right now.

Suffice it to say, the friend emailed from a little further down the Vault list.

But to be clear, HLS doesn’t have anything just yet. Dean Kagan announced, “the new classifications, much as at Yale and Stanford, will be Honors-Pass-Low Pass-Fail.” She did not speak on the crucial question of how honors would be determined.

On the other hand, Stanford did announce precisely how their honors would be determined (“book prizes”). Some commenters criticized the decision because it could not be mapped onto a traditional four-point system:

The important issue with any grading system is whether the grades can be aggregated into one number–the GPA–and the students ranked on that basis. The A-F system is mapped onto the 0-4.0 scale (or 0-8, at HLS, until now). The HP-F system is not mapped onto any numerical scale. This makes it impossible to precisely rank students (without developing your own formula).

HLS could still end up with a four-point system of some description. As one reader pointed out:

Honors = A

Pass = B

Low Pass = C

Fail = Elie

Unless you believe the deans’ quest for “pedagogical excellence,” there is an open question as to why two top institutions would radically change how law students are judged.

Possible answers after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Grade Reform Reaction Roundup”

black hole.gifThose of you who follow science news are likely well aware of the Large Hadron Collider deep beneath the earth near Geneva. For the uninitiated, it’s a scientist’s wet dream: an $8-billion particle accelerator built to test the Big Bang Theory by smashing protons together at the speed of light. They fired it up this month, but it malfunctioned and is out of commission until next year.

For some, the machine is more nightmare than wet dream. Critics worry that it could create a sub-atomic black hole ending the world as we know it. In March, two guys filed suit in Hawaii to save the world. From the New York Times:

Last spring, Walter Wagner, a retired radiation safety officer who lives in Hawaii, and Luis Sancho, a science writer and professor in Barcelona, filed the lawsuit, claiming that the collider could produce a black hole that could eat the Earth or cause some other calamitous effect.

The federal judge who got the case chose to punt, “dodging the issue of whether it could actually cause the end of the world.”

The judge, Helen Gillmor, said in her ruling Friday that the court lacked jurisdiction over the Large Hadron Collider, which is located on the Swiss-French border and was built by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, with help from the United States and dozens of other countries…

Mr. Wagner and Mr. Sancho sued CERN, the United States Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Federal District Court in Hawaii. The Energy Department and the science foundation have contributed about $531 million of the collider’s estimated cost of $8 billion.

Judge Gillmor decided that the fraction paid by the United States was too small for the collider to constitute a “major federal action,” as defined by the National Environmental Policy Act, and so the court lacked jurisdiction on environmental grounds.

We hope someone else steps in to consider the possibility of a “planetary apocalypse.” At least it puts the cosmic crisis on Wall Street in perspective.

Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit to Halt Operation of Particle Collider [New York Times]

Nora Dannehy special prosecutor acting U.S. attorney Connecticut.jpg* Alberto Gonzales and pals cannot rest easy just yet. AG Michael Mukasey has chosen Nora Dannehy, acting U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, as special prosecutor to determine whether criminal charges should be brought in the firings of nine U.S. attorneys. [Associated Press]

* Many of us are tempted away from work during the day by Facebook. Lucky Kirkland and Ellis partner Ted Ullyot gets to go do the Facebook thing full-time. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Heath Ledger’s former lawyer sues for payment on a $10-million life insurance policy on behalf of Ledger’s daughter. [Canadian Press]

* Ladies, rejoice. Judge rules in favor of “ladies’ nights” in Manhattan. [CNN]

* Thirty-three pastors started a crusade against federal tax law this weekend. Slamming Sen. Barack Obama from the pulpit, they hope to start a legal battle that will lead to the end of a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship. [Washington Post]

* Which law firms lose out in the Wachovia sale to Citi? [AmLaw Daily]

orrick logo.gifLast week, we tangentially touched on the issue of California’s Proposition 8, which is titled: “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.” The issue touched off a firestorm of comments, with many strong opinions for and against the measure.

Apparently, senior attorneys at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe also hold strong opinions about Prop. 8. Political divisions at the firm came to a head when Dean Criddle, a tax partner in the San Francisco office, made a $5,000 contribution to the Yes On 8 campaign. Upon learning of Criddle’s contribution, his colleague in the tax department and San Francisco office, of counsel Cameron Wolfe, sent out this email:

Sent: Sunday, September 28, 2008 9:57 PM


Subject: Orrick and the Proposition 8 Campaign

The publicity attendant to the $5,000 contribution to the Yes on 8 Campaign by an Orrick partner damages the reputation of Orrick as a progressive law firm supportive of equal rights for gay and lesbian people. This can adversely impact the firm in many ways, including hurting our ability to attract gay and lesbian recruits; turning off clients, existing and potential, that support equal rights for homosexuals; and making our current gay and lesbian work force feel like second class citizens.

Chief justice George’s eloquent exposition of the reasons why same sex marriage is a right that should be guaranteed to all gay and lesbian people need not be elaborated upon here. Obviously, the partner who made the $5,000 contribution had a right to believe the Chief Justice to be wrong and to make the contribution he did. It can be debated whether he should have foreseen that this action could damage Orrick. What can’t be debated is that we should try to counteract the damage that has occurred.

One thing that we as individuals working at the Orrick firm can do is to make personal contributions to the No on 8 Campaign. If enough of us do so, that may be newsworthy enough to generate positive publicity offsetting the present negative impression in the community on this important issue.

I urge each of you to make a contribution to No on 8, which can be sent as follows:

No on 8

Equality California

2370 Market St.

San Francisco, CA 94114

And be sure to indicate your affiliation with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.

Thanks for your help.

Cameron Wolfe, Jr.

We can argue about whether gay marriage should be protected by the Constitution, but isn’t it a little bit odd to be advocating one right while trying to step on a separate Constitutional protection?

Another Orrick lawyer weighs in, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Orrick’s Internal Battle Over Proposition 8″

black jesus.JPG* If I loiter outside my polling place dressed as black Jesus, does that count as electioneering? [The Sable Verity]

* If you thought the Farnsworth Invention was must see theater, you won’t want to miss Flash of Genius. It’s a riveting story about the patent litigation surrounding the first intermittent windshield-wiper, starring … wait a minute. Did somebody just make a movie about windshield-wipers? I have to finish editing my screenplay. [Patent Baristas]

* Let’s see exactly who voted against the bailout. [Dealbreaker]

* Of course there is going to be a special prosecutor in the DOJ firing scandal. I’m not entirely sure why we needed a 392-page report to figure that out, but it’s nice to see that our government still has some money to throw around. [BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]

* Somehow, there has to be a way to save the New York Sun. [Point of Law]

* Blawg Review commemorates the invention of the ball-point-pen — 70 years old, and still a great self-defense weapon in a pinch. [Securing Innovation via Blawg Review]

cap gown diploma graduate.jpgGiven the economic Armageddon happening right in front of our eyes, you might think that even your investments in your own education are depreciating faster than the Congressional approval rating.

But you’d be wrong. According to Karl Okamoto over at the Conglomerate:

Is law school a good value? That’s the question I ask my students to figure out, hoping to teach them a bit about finance. Using crude numbers, the answer looks like a resounding “yes.” As they say in the investment business, it looks like a “three bagger.” Even if you have to put $230,000 in, you get over $700,000 back!

That’s a cool $470,000 in net present value — a much better return than any American bank is likely to offer you this lifetime. The methodology is based on the Department of Labor’s statistics:

[T]he Wall Street Journal reported recently on salary statistics. While the median salary for persons holding just a BA has slipped to $47,240, those of us with professional degrees have gone up to $89,602. Even better, recent Labor Department numbers show the median salary for lawyers at $106,120. So, as I say to my students, think of your law degree as an annuity. It represents a payment stream that lasts for a career (say 40 years) that equals the spread between what you would have earned without your law degree versus what you can with it. Using the median salary numbers, that spread is almost $60,000. Discounted at 8%, the annuity has a present value of over $700,000. The present value of three years of tuition (at $40,000 a year), books and foregone salary (at the median) is about $230,000. So, as your stockbroker used to say about Lehman bonds, a “no brainer!”

Nice. Of course, that median salary is largely dependent on top firms paying their lawyers large salaries, based on the huge fees charged to wealthy clients.

Should a major economic collapse send the American economy back to the antebellum period, wealthy corporations might not be able to afford… well, everybody here understands we’re totally screwed the worst-case scenario.

If you are considering going to law school, it’s still probably a safe bet. At least it’s a better bet than being an I-banker right now.

What is the NPV of a JD? [The Conglomerate via TaxProf Blog]

Undergrads: Listen Up –Time To Think About Law School! [Millennial Money / CNBC]

recession california associate pay raises.jpgWe like to think of ATL as a place where lawyers can get together and discuss the compelling news of the day.

Well, the news of the day is that Wall Street will apparently not be receiving $700 billion dollars to cover their bad investments. The House rejected the bailout plan. The Dow is down by over 400 points as of this writing. And I think I just saw Jimmy Stewart beating the crap out of Mr. Potter.

Really, anytime Robert Reich and Newt Gingrich are agreeing on television, times are strange.

If they’re not going to pass this bailout, then what do you think is going to happen?

This post serves as my official request to start receiving my paycheck in gold bullion.

Update (3:30 PM): The Dow is now down by over 700 points, just over 6 percent. The S&P 500 is now down by almost 100 points, just over 8 percent.

Bailout plan rejected [CNN]

Cantor Blames Pelosi, Boehner Blames Jews [Dealbreaker]

Thelen LLP new logo.jpgWhat’s going to happen to Thelen? That is the question many are asking in the wake of Heller Ehrman’s untimely demise.

As we have previously reported, Thelen has not yet been able to merge with another firm, while suffering through a slew of partner defections. They’ve even canceled their 2009 summer program.

Today brings more bad news for Thelen. Pillsbury announced that they have acquired Thelen’s China practice group:

[A] group of approximately 20 attorneys, including partners Tom Shoesmith, Meg Utterback, Joe Tiano and Lou Bevilacqua, to be based in Pillsbury’s Shanghai, Washington, DC and San Francisco offices.

This may not be as crippling as losing a rainmaking IP practice group like Heller did. But the losses are adding up for Thelen.

Thelen’s attempt to quell the rumors, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is Thelen Next?”

It takes two lawyers to schedule a deposition. And while a third-year associate might view a deposition as the most important event scheduled in a calendar year, most seasoned attorneys can be expected to show some flexibility when it comes to scheduling conflicts.

After Hurricane Ike struck Texas, attorneys at Markland Hanley and Tekell, Brook, Matthews & Limmer tried to reschedule a deposition. But the people at Markland Hanley wanted Tekell to reimburse them for travel expenses.

Hilarity ensued when Tekell attorney Jeff Murphrey responded to Markland Hanley’s request for reimbursement fees:

I am sorry that a hurricane hit Houston

I am sorry that upon returning to my home Monday, September 22, 2008, I discovered a roughly 50ft. x 6ft. swath of human excrement, used condoms, and all the other niceties that come with a raw sewage leak into one’s backyard which drains into one of the main bayous in Houston.

I am sorry that I had to threaten City of Houston officials with lawsuits and local news exposure in order to get them to even agree to meet with me about cleaning up the problem.

I am sorry that these city officials chose a date that interfered with our deposition and gave me no other options.

Murphrey goes on to explain the extraordinary steps that were taken to cleanse his backyard. He also claims that he agreed to pay reasonable travel expenses.

Murphrey then adds:

I am sorry that you think the judge should be involved in this matter. I wonder if the judge will be sorry about that, too.

We don’t know all the details of the back and forth between Markland Hanley and Tekell. But maybe they need to add a “hurricane aftermath” section in the MPRE.

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Houston: We Have A Problem.”

funny-pictures-cat-hopes-you-kept-the-receipt-for-the-baby.jpgWe have some bad news for this year’s incoming associates. Based on last Wednesday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, attorneys at your new firm like you even less than they liked summer associates.

We received 765 responses, and the number of practicing attorneys who said “First-year associates, hate ‘em” beat the number of practicing attorneys who said “First-year associates, love ‘em,” by a margin of 25.55% to 21.88%. In comparison, summer associates had managed a more even 25.06% to 24.82% love-hate response in an earlier survey.

Like ‘em or not, respondents sure did think there were a lot of ‘em.

  • Overall, 58% of practicing respondents said that their firms had hired too many new associates, with 29% saying “way too many.”

  • Only 10% thought their firms had hired too few.
  • And just under a third of respondents, 32%, thought their firms had hired just the right number.

In comparison, about 53% of practicing attorneys thought that their firms’ summer programs were too big this year, with 21% calling them “way too big.”

Alarmingly, the people most likely to think there are too many first-years were also the people most likely to be making hire-and-fire decisions. While 57% of second-year associates thought their firms had hired too many new associates, that number exploded to 74% among attorneys who had been practicing since before 2000.

So, if you think that partner you’re working with right now might really want to fire you, you’re probably right. Have fun at work today!

Similarly, the more seasoned the respondents, the more likely they were to actually dislike their newest colleagues. 30% of second-year associates actually said “love ‘em” to the new first-years, and only 15% said “hate ‘em.” But among attorneys who had been practicing since before 2000, only 11% said they liked first-years, while a whopping 48% declared, “hate ‘em.”

So, if you think that partner you’re working with right now might really want to fire you, you’re probably right. Seriously, have fun at work today!

Read more, below the fold.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Welcome To The Firm! Or Not.”

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