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Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGYou’ve got to, get yourself together

You’ve got stuck in a moment,

And now you can’t get out of it

Don’t say that later will be better,

now you’re stuck in a moment

And you can’t get out of it

— U2

Heller Ehrman is in trouble. They’ve been spurned again and again by merger partners, entire practice groups have defected, and now more rumors are flying fast and furious. Today’s Recorder reports:

In office meetings on Wednesday, partners were told that dissolution is one of several options facing the 119-year-old firm, a Heller partner said. As a result, management said it was understood that partners would begin talking to other firms, and several individuals and groups have already begun talks, sources said.

Despite these talks, Heller continues to show a brave face to the public. In response to reports we had heard declaring that Heller’s D.C. office would be closing, a firm spokesperson said simply:

[T]here are no plans to close the D.C. office.

But the firm’s 2009 summer program seems to be up in the air. The Heller people we talked with had no direct knowledge of what was happening with the summer program, but one tipster sent us an ominous warning:

I am a 2L at Georgetown. I had a screening interview with Heller Ehrman almost a month ago and heard back earlier this week, within hours after the news about the failed merger. I warily accepted a callback with them. Just got a voicemail from their recruiting coordinator saying that they had to cancel the callback and that she didn’t have any more information about it. My theory is that they’re canceling the summer program

Ours too. But Heller’s associate recruitment department could not be reached for comment.

Employees still at Heller weigh in after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Heller Is Stuck In A Moment”

Davis Polk Wardwell DPW Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve been providing extensive coverage of the unfolding financial crisis (as have our colleagues at our sister site, Dealbreaker). In several recent posts — see, e.g., here and here — we’ve discussed the Biglaw winners and losers with respect to the Wall Street meltdown.

One evident winner: Davis Polk & Wardwell. Several DPW sources forwarded us an email that was circulated yesterday, trumpeting how busy the firm is these days and how many engagements it has landed arising out of what the memo calls “recent financial markets matters” (aka “the late unpleasantness”).

One Davis tipster writes:

[This email] went out to all lawyers. I suppose it’s their way of saying things are pretty great at the firm. Let’s hope bonus season will confirm this view!

The supposedly internal memo reads a bit like a press release. It was sent out not by a partner but by Kevin Cavanaugh, the firm’s director of business development.

We suspect that the memo is a bit of “blog bait” from Davis Polk. Naturally, we’re happy to take it.

Check out the full memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Davis Polk: Making Bank”

the innocent man.jpg* The fiscal crisis continues to escalate. The Fed and Treasury Department are making historic, rapid-fire decisions every hour. But in Congress, lawmakers are just sitting around, twiddling their thumbs. [Washington Post]

* John Grisham is deemed “the innocent man.” Judge dismisses libel suit against him. [Associated Press]

* It’s not just Biglaw sharing office space. Federal judges may have to start shacking up too. [Legal Times]

* In another sign of America’s waning global influence, the world’s courts are losing respect for SCOTUS. At least the world still loves Hollywood movies. [New York Times]

* In “a shocking invasion of the Governor’s privacy and a violation of law,” hackers raid Sarah Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account. Men everywhere despair at the lack of bikini photos. [Slate]

* The Congressional investigation of Judge Thomas Porteous (E.D. La.) is on. Will he become the first impeached federal judge in almost 20 years? Stay tuned. [Associated Press]


Rebecca cohn loss.jpgRebecca Cohn was a California assemblywoman representing Buena Vista, Burbank, Cambrian Park, Campbell, Fruitdale, and parts of San Jose and Santa Clara. After losing to Jim Beall, she decided to matriculate at UC Davis School of Law (King Hall).

Cohn said that her lifelong dream was to attend law school. But she apparently couldn’t shake the political monkey: she decided to run for 1L representative. Our friends at The Shark pick up the story from there:

No doubt recognizing the tough road ahead of her, Cohn ran her 1L Representative campaign with some enthusiasm that stunned some students. Her ascension to high profile student caused a commotion on campus that involved: a war over her Wikipedia entry, the re-use of signs from her assembly campaign, and several salacious rumors that are too inflammatory and unverified to repeat.

If we receive any “salacious” rumors, we will happily repeat them.

The Shark at least hinted at the tenor of the rumors swirling around Cohn:

Most of these rumors seem to stem from the report that her San Jose magazine cover … prompted two assembly aides to sue her for creating a sexually charged workplace. Cohn, who is single, seems to be avoiding this situation at King Hall: the San Jose Mercury News reported that she has not been asked out on a date by a single King Hall student.

More on Cohn’s campaign craziness, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Former Assemblywoman Loses Bid for Barbiedom”

Antonin Scalia headshot Justice Antonin Scalia Above the Law blog.JPG* Yeah. Justices are “impartial” all the time. You’ll never ever see a respected SCOTUS Justice openly campaigning against a particular political candidate. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Projected 2009 tax brackets are out. Plan your charitable giving accordingly. [TaxProf Blog]

* Female paralegals don’t get paid as much as male paralegals. There is not even an acceptable bad “reason” for this. [The Common Scold via Legal Blog Watch]

* Fellow legal blogger Lavi Soloway, who covered L’Affaire Charney so thoroughly, gets a shout-out in an article about gay dads. [Time Out New York]

* Merger abortions would never happen if law firms had family values. [Wired GC]

aig.jpgAnother day, another market massacre. Right now the SEC is meeting about “improper short selling” of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs stock. The Dow is down nearly 450 points.

We have definitely entered the “dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria” phase of this meltdown.

But while everybody is running around trying to CYA, the government is giving away the store. Professor Bainbridge has nine excellent questions about the AIG bailout; questions that the government lawyers seem to be willfully ignoring. Here are some crucial ones, maybe we can help Bainbridge (and our country) out of this mess:

* On what basis does the Fed have authority to use the discount window to bail out an insurance company?

* Who would have standing to challenge the Fed action, if anyone?

* Why was AIG to big too fail but Lehman wasn’t? Was AIG’s role in the credit default swap market really that important?

* Has the federal government ever taken an equity stake–let alone a controlling stake–as part of a bailout before? Was there any equity stake in Chrysler?

See the rest of Bainbridge’s probing questions here.

There are a lot of smart men and women here. Does anybody have any idea how the federal government just shoved AIG down our collective throats?

Things I don’t Understand About the AIG Bailout [Stephen Bainbridge]

Charles Whitebread.jpgWe’d like to take a moment and acknowledge the great life and career of Professor Charles H. Whitebread. Professor Whitebread passed away Tuesday, in Santa Monica, California.

Professor Whitebread was a legend at the USC Gould School of Law, but most attorneys will remember him for his BAR/BRI Criminal Law lectures. We fondly remember the bow-tied professor for adding a bit of levity at a time when we were stressed beyond belief.

He is survived by his life partner, John Golden, and his devoted friend Michael Kelly.

The USC Gould School of Law will hold a memorial for Professor Whitebread at a date still to be determined. Donations to the Charles H. Whitebread Memorial Scholarship may be sent to the law school.

law clerk judicial clerkship Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgSome of you might remember that there is a presidential election going on. Turnout is expected to be high and many voters will be participating for the first time.

However, if you are a federal clerk you had better keep your political opinions to yourself. Free speech does not exist for you. One of our readers pointed out:

I just accepted a position as a federal law clerk for the 2009-10 term. I also have an Obama sticker on my bumper and an Obama sign in my yard. According to Ethics for Federal Judicial Law Clerks (p.20), I would be violating Canon 5 of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees if I were currently clerking.

Pretty much. The scope of political activity is curtailed not just by the canons of judicial ethics, but also by the Hatch Act. As a clerk, you are discouraged from giving money, attending events, you’re not even allowed to wear a campaign button to work.

We’re all for judicial impartiality, but making clerks say “I don’t know nothin about birthin’ no babies” seems a bit undemocratic (small “d”) to us. Federal clerks participate in some of the most important decisions about how we live, and we expect them to be able to weigh both sides without passion or prejudice. But a bumper sticker removes the veil of ignorance and reduces clerks to partisan hacks? A legal fiction is one thing, this is a legal farce.

Luckily for new clerks like our reader, this is not a problem for 2009-2010 clerks. They can go nuts until they are “official” federal employees. But current clerks can attest to the exact moment where free speech falls to the illusion of impartiality.

Update: If you’re interested in learning more about clerkships, and if you’ll be in Washington on Saturday, October, 4, this free event may be of interest to you.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of clerkships

shared office space copy.jpgWe’ve noticed a conversation in the ATL community page about Biglaw associates who have been forced to shack up in shared office space. According to the community post:

Dewey & LeBoeuf [FN1] has informed us that first, second and third year associates will be sharing 12X12 offices. In a meeting we were basically told ‘like it or leave it’ but were shortly there after reminded of the slumping economy’s effect on top tier law firm associates job market. Is any other top tier firm pulling this crap or it is just these soul sucking greedy slobs here?”

Shared office space is certainly not the ideal. It’s distracting to hear the type, type, typing of your office mate’s computer and to listen in on their calls. And you can’t really let it all hang out when the door is closed (or get up to the mischief detailed in this Skadden urban legend).
Firms usually cite space reasons as the culprit behind pairing associates up. Some have also claimed that a senior office mate can be an asset, one who provides guidance and can answer small questions that come up. Perhaps they also like the monitoring aspect: associates may be less likely to spend an hour on the phone talking about the weekend’s events if they’ve got a colleague within earshot.
At least it means that your firm is doing well, and buzzing along at full employment, as there aren’t empty offices to go around. Dewey’s not the only one. See another on-topic e-mail after the jump.
What’s the trend at your firm? Is office sharing common, and if so, for how long? And you know, of course, that we treasure on-the-job vignettes, so if you have any amusing or horrible office-sharing moments to spill, please do.
[FN1] The firm’s name was disclosed in the comments on the post. We reached out to them for comment, but are still waiting to hear back.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Open Thread: I Vant to be Alone
(Or, Unwanted Officemates)”

recession california associate pay raises.jpgMore law firms are benefiting — at least in the short term — from Wall Street jumping the shark.

The WSJ Law Blog has a roundup of the newest firms to come away with a piece of the bankrupt pie. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton advised Barclays on their scavenging Lehman’s North American business, while Davis Polk & Wardwell helped your nominally “free-market” government bail out AIG.

But the financial crisis is far from over. Which firms are still left to benefit as the financial sector careens down the off ramp of success? We know Simpson Thacher has done a lot of work with Washington Mutual, and we know WaMu is about as stable as Courtney Love after a Seattle rainstorm. Will Simpson be able to cash in on a WaMu sale, or will Weil just add another bloodied notch to their belt?

Anybody else with their hand out? After the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Open Thread: Will Your Firm Get Some Scraps?”

waterless urinal of sadness.jpgKids running for office say the craziest things. Even when that office is for student government at the S.J. Quinney School of Law at the University of Utah.

This election isn’t going to come down to which student candidate will do the best job at providing low-cost outline alternatives to disadvantaged 1Ls. Instead, membership on the Student Bar Association will be based on toilets and tacos. According to one “undecided” at the law school:

I don’t want to sound cynical (okay I do), but in my experience concerning any type of “student government” (which experience is unfortunately extensive), “representatives” don’t really amount to much.

If there power could equal the power they think they have, then that would be something. I’ll tell you what counts for me: tuition costs, book costs, and the fact that there aren’t enough bathrooms in this place. Let’s be serious, the SBA will not build new bathrooms or lower costs. My “representative” may wish to pad their resume with another feather in their hat, but unless you can save me money or time, I understand how limited the SBA’s influence truly is and subsequently couldn’t care less. God bless America…

P.S. You get a taco cart up here for lunch and you’ll win.

Let’s address the last thing first: I was unaware that there were any schools out there still without reliable access to a taco cart. This is America! A taco cart is a law school birthright.

After the jump, we delve into the incredible waterless toilet.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is The Market For Toilets Drying Up?”

untitled-5.jpgAs the Fed steps in to save the financial world with a bridge to nowhere AIG, we pause to reflect on the results from Monday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, which asked whether the woes of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch would hurt your career.

We received 830 responses, and quite a few of them looked like this one:

It’s the end of the world.

Overall, 42% of practicing attorneys said the demise of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch would hurt their careers, which is way up from the 27% who said the same about Bear Stearns back in March. Law students are even more concerned, with 50% of 3Ls, 68% of 2Ls, and 63% of 1Ls feeling fearful.

While a third of New Yorkers were afraid about the impact of Bear Stearns back in March, the more recent collapses have frightened 55% of the Big Apple’s Big Law respondents. In fact, fear has risen dramatically in every market:

Responses by market: Are you afraid that the recent collapse will hurt your career?


City/Region
After Merrill Lynch    
& Lehman Brothers    
After
Bear Stearns
Austin
20% yes
-
Dallas
20% yes
-
Miami
20% yes
-
Boston
31% yes
16% yes
Houston
34% yes
-
Washington, D.C.    
37% yes
20% yes
Bay Area
38% yes
13% yes
Chicago
39% yes
8% yes
Los Angeles
41% yes
24% yes
Philadelphia
44% yes
17% yes
Atlanta
54% yes
25% yes
Charlotte
54% yes
-
New York
55% yes
33% yes

Additional discussion, including selected comments from survey respondents, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Life After Lehman Brothers?”

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