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ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol smaller.jpgATL Idol, the “reality blogging” competition in which you will select the next editor of Above the Law, is nearing its end. The original six contestants have been winnowed down to two finalists: FROLIC AND DETOUR and SOPHIST.
We’ll open the polls later today. But first, let’s hear from your celebrity judges:
ATL Idol Judges AboveTheLaw Idol Above the Law Idol panel.jpg

  • Ann Althouse, Robert W. & Irma M. Arthur-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and author of her eponymous blog, Althouse;
  • Tom Goldstein, head of the D.C. litigation practice and co-head of the firm-wide Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump, and founder of SCOTUSblog; and
  • Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate (where she blogged at Convictions), author of two books, and a contributor to the New York Times and the Washington Post (among many other publications).
    See what they have to say about the last two competitors, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Idol: The Judges Speak (Week 3)”

  • tinkerbell Peter Pan.jpg* “Cinderella, Snow White, Tinkerbell and other fictional fixtures of modern-day childhood were handcuffed, frisked and loaded into police vans Thursday.” [CNN]
    * More on lawyers’ roles in the Edwards scandal. [New York Times]
    * Apple’s former general counsel, Nancy Heinen, will pay pay $2.2 million to settle SEC stock-option suit. Steve Jobs owes her big-time. [New York Times]
    * FAA plans to fine American Airlines $7.1 million for a laundry list of safety violations. [BBC News]
    * More details on former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg’s spy service. His main duty: “encourage and foment resistance.” [Washington Post]
    * Second Circuit reverses decision in John Steinbeck publishing rights case; copyright law misapplied. Congrats to Jenner & Block, counsel to the estate of Elaine Steinbeck. [Associated Press]
    * “The ABA plots a judicial coup.” [Wall Street Journal]
    * … and the ABA’s side of the story. [American Bar Association (video)]

    Hong Kong Island.jpg
    [Disclosure: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting -- sponsor of the Asia Chronicles, and an ATL advertiser. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email at asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]
    In an earlier article the Asia Corporate Lawyers (the prior authors of this column) discussed what life is like when you are an associate in Asia from their own perspectives. This week we are going to discuss what partners at U.S. or U.K. firms’ Asia offices seek when they are considering U.S. associate candidates. These topics are related in that the partners who interview candidates typically are looking to identify the people who will be most happy not only with the work that is presented by the Asia practice, but also with the style of practice and with their lives outside the office.
    Interviewing for an overseas position at any busy U.S. law firm or with the U.S. practice group of a UK firm is a bit different from interviewing for a spot in a domestic market for the same firm. As with any interview process, the gating factors at top U.S. practices in Asia are academics and law firm experience. Without impressive grades and top firm experience, you generally won’t be considered. But overseas partners are also looking for the right personality fit much more so than in a large domestic office. A major reason for this is because the offices are much smaller overseas, making it harder to hide a misfit (even a junior associate can be the face of the firm), but there are other reasons as well.
    At a basic level, the factors that are especially important to demonstrate in an interview overseas are these:

    • you have an entrepreneurial nature;
    • you have a high level of maturity for your experience level;
    • you have an outgoing personality (not overly “academic” in nature);
    • you are able to fit in with different cultures;
    • your personal presentation is generally positive; and
    • you are a team player (no prima donnas need apply)

    These are obviously all factors that are relevant in any interview at least as “plus factors”, but what follows is a discussion of why these particular factors are especially important in this environment. In our next article, we will discuss ways in which you can demonstrate (or fail to demonstrate) that you qualify based on your resume and interview performance. Some of our experience in this regard has been amusing as well as frustrating.
    Read more, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Interview Tips”

    London red double decker bus.jpg* Forbes’s foray into the college rankings game. Could law schools be next? Watch out, U.S. News. [Althouse]
    * D.C. gets its guns. [Wonkette]
    * Lawyer of the Day? Or, why you shouldn’t try to sell stolen property back to the rightful owner. [UPI]
    * Judge of the Day: Asian edition. But what’s so wrong with telling a co-worker to exercise good hygiene? [Mainichi Daily News]
    * Is London the new New York? Maybe — its banks are overextended and undercapitalized. [Portfolio via Dealbreaker]

    Seattle swingers.jpgWhere is the Institute for Justice when you need it? Or maybe the Pacific Legal Foundation?
    A libertarian public interest organization needs to defend two victims of intrusive government regulation. From the Seattle Times:

    Regan “Draco” Lane-Smith and “Naughty” Nonah Elliston outfitted their six-bedroom rental house with 15 mattresses, bondage crosses and sex swings. They built elaborate sets in their backyard for taking erotic photos. And they promoted the Hardwood Cabin online.

    Up to 60 guests at a time came to mingle, sunbathe nude by the pool and have sex with fellow swingers and fetishists, Elliston said. Parties were frequent enough that the couple’s laundry service was cycling through 50 bedsheets a week.

    But the couple shut down the sex club last month when they were cited for running a business without a license and threatened with fines of up to $513 a day.

    So it was the commercial component that got them in trouble. A post-bar-exam orgy, or some German prison role playing, would have been just fine.
    There are legal connections to this story in addition to the licensing and zoning issues. Read more, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Needed: Pro Bono Representation for the ‘Hardwood Cabin’”

    * The John Edwards sex scandal: the plot thickens. Ted Frank has unearthed some nice nuggets about mysterious real estate dealings involving the supposed father of Rielle Hunter’s baby. [Overlawyered]
    * Is Kathy Rentas an Obama supporter? [New York Magazine]
    * A new reason to avoid law school: “the quality of the Latin used in English law books [is] so very bad.” [Language Log]
    * Some fallout from the scandal of the allegedly breast-licking professor. [TaxProf Blog]

    Mikhail Saakashvili Georgian president Georgia.jpgHere is a short Intelligencer item we just wrote for New York Magazine, about the two years that Mikheil Saakashvili, president of Georgia, spent in New York. It begins:

    Fifteen years before his country was invaded — or, perhaps, reinvaded — by Russia, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili was learning about the American system of law and living on the Upper West Side. He arrived here in 1993, spent a year at Columbia earning a master’s in law, and then worked one year as an associate at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler before returning to the newly independent former Soviet republic.

    How is Saakashvili remembered by the professors and partners who knew him back then? Find out by reading the rest of the piece, available here.

    Tbilisi on the Hudson: What Georgia’s president learned as a New York lawyer. [New York Magazine]

    Shearman & Sterling logo Above the Law blog.jpgLately we’ve been hearing various rumors about Shearman & Sterling. Some appear to be true, and some not.
    Here are the rumors, followed by the firm’s responses, in blockquotes.
    1. Have start dates for incoming first-year associates been pushed back?

    Start dates for incoming first-year associates for fall 2008 are October 6, 20, 27 and November 3.

    We don’t know what the 2007 start dates were (and the firm didn’t provide them), but we’re guessing they were earlier. But the 2008 start dates are not particularly late. Compare them to these firms’ postponed start dates.
    2. Have there been any layoffs at the firm, of lawyers or staff?

    There have been no lay-offs at Shearman & Sterling, of either attorneys or administrative staff.

    This makes sense to us. Shearman did layoffs back in the early 2000s, which it later came to regret, when memories of the layoffs harmed the firm’s recruiting efforts once the economy came roaring back. So, having learned their lesson, we’d be surprised to see mass layoffs from Shearman now.
    (But we wouldn’t be surprised if there have been some performance-related dismissals lately, especially on the corporate side.)
    3. Did the firm make offers to all of its summer associates?
    (We had previously heard, through the grapevine, that the firm had 135 summer associates and made offers to all of them.)

    This summer we had 144 summer associates. There were four summer associates whose academic commitments precluded their joining the firm in fall 2009. We made entry-level offers to all but one of the summer associates available to join the firm.

    Based on the high percentage of offers to summers, north of 99 percent, it seems that Shearman is doing just fine these days. But we are curious about that one SA who got no-offered.
    Might there be a juicy but undiscovered summer associate scandal? Perhaps a new and improved version of the Shearman & Slur-Man? If you have info, feel free to email us.
    (If it’s garden-variety incompetence, that’s of little interest to us. But if there’s an entertaining or salacious tale, we’d like to hear about it. Thanks.)
    Earlier: X-Summers: Shearman & Slur-Man

    Update / Clarification: Some commenters have complained about a formatting problem in an earlier version of this post. If you encountered this formatting problem, it’s time for you to enter the 21st century, ditch Internet Explorer, and adopt a better browser, like Firefox (download it here). Or get a Mac.
    But just for the record, the formatting error was your editor’s fault, not that of FROLIC & DETOUR. We apologize for the mistake (which you should not hold against F&D).
    *******************
    After Tuesday’s discussion, readers submitted some beautiful examples of the bureaucratic glory that is character and fitness:

    On my 2003 application I reported that I had lived in one location until “June 1996″ and another location starting “July 1996.” I got a call saying I had failed to account for where I lived for almost two months. When I asked them what they meant, they said they were missing addresses for the period between June 2, 1996 and July 30, 1996.

    I got grief from C&F for failing to disclose a citation for failure to wear a seatbelt. It was a $10 ticket that I got 6 years before applying to the bar.

    And my personal favorite:

    When asked why I left the Dean campaign I wrote “Iowa, the Scream.” They asked for more details.

    Thanks for the stories. But since this is the last post of ATL Idol, I’m cutting to the chase. It was clear from Tuesday’s comments that readers were more interested in my character than in character & fitness. So let’s talk about that.
    To clear up some misconceptions, I’m not Miss Alli/Linda Holmes. I have a B.A. and J.D. from Harvard, and I don’t know whether I know Sophist. I really did interview fired biglaw partners who knew I was writing for ATL (Lat knows who they are). I’m done with legal practice whether I’m the Idol or not. And whatever happens this weekend, I’m grateful to all the voters who think my garbage stinks a little bit less than the competition’s garbage. I feel like a bacterium that survived a three-week penicillin bath.
    avatar Frolic and Detour ATL Idol.jpgFinally, I have to address the reader accusation that I am an anti-Semite. I have to admit, this one is true. Those schmucks in my mishpocheh give me nothing but tsuris.
    [Ed. note: This post is by FROLIC & DETOUR, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Frolic & Detour's avatar (at right).]

    On Tuesday, I profiled worthless classes that most everybody had to take. Today, the readers weigh in on classes that allow law schools to bilk you for additional years full of totally useless information.
    Many commenters also suggested which lessons law students should really be focusing on, if they want to succeed in Biglaw.
    With an honorable mention to “Elements of the Law,” after the jump, I rank the classes readers can do without, and the replacements that everyone needs.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Back to School: What is the Most Worthless Class You Could Have Avoided?”

    WilmerHale Wilmer Hale billing rate.jpgWe know that attorneys at top firms like WilmerHale can charge stunning rates — up to $750 an hour for litigation chair Howard Shapiro.
    But if you ask them, that’s a bargain.
    Wilmer moved for an award of attorneys’ fees after winning a $90 million verdict in a False Claims Act case. The usual lodestar method of calculating fees, logically enough, is to multiply the attorneys’ standard billing rates by the number of hours they spent on the case. But Wilmer argued that its standard billing rates grossly undervalue the superhuman skills of its legal team. It asked the court to perform the lodestar calculation and then award twice the result in attorneys’ fees. In other words, according to Wilmer, its clients who pay by the hour get a 50% discount off the true value of the work.
    Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the district court in D.C. didn’t buy the idea that Wilmer’s entire litigation practice is a pro bono program in disguise. The judge kicked Wilmer around for 169 pages before putting the fee petition to rest. He wondered why, if the attorneys had such extraordinary abilities, it took so many of them to get the job done:

    Assigning eleven different attorneys to work on one deposition, however crucial the witness, can hardly be characterized as efficient. . . . WilmerHale [used] fifty-two lawyers and thirty paralegals in this case.

    Judge Lamberth further ruled that Wilmer’s record-keeping was too vague and sloppy to support awarding even the lodestar amount. Plaintiff’s counsel in the McAfee v. WilmerHale overbilling case must be kicking themselves for not filing in Washington.
    Judge Lamberth did note that the members of the Wilmer team were “graduates of prestigious law schools and/or former judicial clerks.” But apparently even members of the Elect — including Mike Gottlieb (OT 2004 / Stevens), Jonathan Cedarbaum (OT 1998 / Souter), and Robert Bell (OT 1981 / White) — aren’t worth $1000+ an hour.
    avatar Frolic and Detour ATL Idol.jpgWilmer’s going to be OK; they’ll get about $7 million of the $20 million they asked for. But we should feel some sympathy all the same. It must be tough to hear that you’re only worth 100% of what the market will bear.
    [Ed. note: This post is by FROLIC & DETOUR, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Frolic & Detour's avatar (at right).]

    Deborah Epstein Henry.JPGThis week, Working Mother magazine, in association with Flex-Time Lawyers, released its second annual Best Law Firms for Women rankings.
    Some of the firms on this year’s list are notorious sweatshops, more likely to help women freeze their eggs than they are to aid either sex in raising a family.
    I contacted Deborah Epstein Henry (pictured), founder and president of Flex-Time Lawyers and co-author of the list. Henry said that her results reflect more than firm PR. The rankings score firm programs based on how many attorneys actually use those programs.
    In Henry’s view, ranking the best law firms for women is more than just a women’s issue.
    “What we are looking for is firms that have work/life policies that are both gender- and racial [sic] reason-neutral,” Henry said. “I firmly believe that the more we can move work/life issues away from being a ‘mommy’s issue’ the better off we’ll be.”
    More on Henry’s efforts to make law firms responsive to lifestyle concerns after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Woman’s Place Is… At Cravath”

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