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Valentine's Day love hearts Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re still in a Valentine’s Day state of mind, so we thought we’d toss out a poll question to the ATL readership: Should lawyers date other lawyers?
The obvious answer is, “it depends” — on the two (or more?) individuals involved, the nature of their relationship, the surrounding circumstances, etc. But that’s boring. So let’s consider the question in the abstract, and in more absolute terms.
There are obvious pros and cons to lawyer-on-lawyer love. On the plus side, it’s nice to be with someone who can understand your work, including its many frustrations. When you tell that horror story over dinner about opposing counsel’s speaking objections at your deposition, your partner might actually understand.
(Also on the plus side: If you’re both at law firms on the $160K scale, together you take home a very nice chunk of change.)
But the sheer amount of lawyer shop-talk may also be the most obvious minus of legal-eagle romance. Wouldn’t it be nice to escape from the law world every now and then, instead of curling up with it at night? Wouldn’t dating a non-lawyer add some welcome diversity to your life?
Of course, as a practical matter, some lawyers have little choice but to date a fellow lawyer (or paralegal, hehe). If you bill 2500 hours a year, having a personal life is tough — unless that person works down the hall. In fact, due to the rise of workplace romances, the idea of the “love contract” has developed. As explained by Alston & Bird partner Ashley Brightwell over at the WSJ Law Blog, a love contract is “a tool that employers use to protect themselves when an office romance goes sour. It’s a document that confirms that a relationship is voluntary and informs the parties of the company’s sexual harassment policies. It sets out a procedure if, at any point, the relationship goes south.”
Anyway, enough thinking about what might go wrong. Let’s think about the possibilities — for lawyer love! Please take our poll — and discuss attorney-on-attorney action, in the comments. Thanks.

Office Romances & The Law: a Q&A With Ashley Brightwell [WSJ Law Blog]

Winstead PC Texas business law firm Above the Law blog.jpgThis latest layoff news may not be super-exciting to the associates among you, since it relates to staff rather than lawyer layoffs.The East and West Coast snobs will dismiss it as news from “flyover land.”
But as we previously observed, staff layoffs “serve as a ‘canary in the mine’ of sorts, with respect to a law firm’s financial health.” And the firm in question, Winstead, is one of Texas’s largest firms.
So this news merits mention (on a somewhat slow news day). From the Dallas Morning News:

Texas-based Winstead PC will lay off 20 support staff employees in its Dallas office, chief executive Denis Braham said Wednesday.

The firm also let a few associate attorneys go in the restructuring, but Mr. Braham said the firm typically cuts some associates each year.

Our tipster expresses skepticism: “Bulls**t. This is the same firm that came out after salaries increased last time to 160 and said, ‘we are not raising.’ I think they later caved.”
Winstead to lay off 20 in Dallas office [Dallas Morning News]
Winstead Says Yes to Bonuses, No to Raises [Texas Lawyer]

Samuel Alito 3 Justice Samuel A Alito Jr Above the Law blog.JPGEarlier this month, some controversy was generated when it was reported that Senator John McCain, the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, said he’d be happy to nominate justices in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts — but Justice Samuel Alito, not so much.
This resulted in speculation over exactly what Senator McCain meant by this. Several observers were confused, since JGR and SAA are jurisprudential buddies. As noted SCOTUS advocate Tom Goldstein pointed out, in the Court’s last full Term, Roberts and Alito “had the highest proportion of agreement of any members of the Court, 89 percent in pure agreement, that is to say, not just in the result but in absolute, complete agreement, every word.”
So here’s one theory. Maybe McCain doesn’t like Alito because of the justice’s taste in television? From the AP:

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. has convicted “The Sopranos” of spreading what he says are stereotypes about Italian-Americans. During a visit to Rutgers University on Wednesday, Alito complained that the hit HBO television drama not only associated Italian-Americans with the Mafia, but New Jerseyans, as well.

“You have a trifecta — gangsters, Italian-Americans, New Jersey — wedded in the popular American imagination,” Alito said at an event sponsored by the Italian studies program at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey.

But it was such a great show, Your Honor!
A bit more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice Alito on the Sopranos: Fuhgeddaboudit!”

Earlier this week, we told you about client contact, and asked you about your firm’s leave policies (that survey’s still live, by the way). In today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we explore whether you’d like to leave your firm to become a client:
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

Valentine's Day note card Above the Law blog.jpgNo, we didn’t forget. We love you too much, dear readers. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
Of course, this is a holiday fraught with peril. How should you celebrate? What gift should you get for your spouse or significant other? How do you handle the occasion if, say, you’ve been dating someone for just a few weeks — or if you’re seeing more than one person at the same time?
For many lawyers, Valentine’s Day is no big deal. A relationship — who has time for that?
But it does raise at least one issue. From a tipster:

Most attorneys get their secretaries / assistants a gift for the end-of-year holidays. But what about Valentine’s Day?

I suggest a thread on what people do give, should give, shouldn’t give, and should spend for Valentine’s Day gifts for their assistants. And whether attorneys need to give anything for this very Hallmark holiday.

Hmm… maybe a nice box of chocolates (unless he or she is diabetic)? Steer clear of lingerie, unless your secretary is doing more than your time entry.
What are your thoughts on this pressing inquiry, so the delinquent among you can step out during lunch and grab a gift or card? Feel free to share ideas, or discuss your V-Day plans more generally, in the comments.
P.S. This is too late to be helpful for this Valentine’s Day, but for future reference, you can order personalized printed greeting cards at the Billable Hour. Check out their Valentine’s Day selection over here.
Earlier: Secretary / Administrative Assistant Gifts: Open Thread (270 comments — wow)

* House Democrats oppose Senate spy bill’s telecom immunity. [Washington Post]
* Justice Scalia approves of “so-called torture” under some circumstances. [MSNBC]
* Just a few months later, Senate committee gets around to admonishing Sen. Craig. [CNN]
* Clemens and McNamee go head to head before Congress. [ESPN]
* City’s scantily clad cowboy sues candy-coated counterpart. [WSJ Law Blog]

Jones Day Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLast week we put up a post about associate compensation issues at Jones Day. It generated a torrent of comments. As always, some were negative, some positive.
A few readers were upset by the negative comments and came to their firm’s defense. Here’s what one wrote:

I am a third year lawyer at Jones Day. I enjoy my job and am paid well (and I mean darn well) above market. I hesitate to respond to such mudslinging by persons who are either disgruntled or misinformed, but as a current happy third year lawyer at Jones Day, I felt the need to set the record straight.

People who are unhappy with their compensation at Jones Day are in fact underperformers. Believe me, if I were in charge, I would fire those people rather than giving them a $160,000 “hint” that they aren’t Jones Day material and should consider a career change. Because anyone who thinks that paying a third year lawyer the published salary of a first year lawyer is not a “message” about work quality is delusional. In no other profession do competent, mature people complain about being compensated based on their performance (or lack thereof).

To reiterate: I did not clerk. I have never billed more than 2100 hours. I have received bonuses despite billing slightly under 2000 hours. I have had many fantastic substantive opportunities (read: not two years of document review). I enjoy my job and colleagues. I am paid based on the quality (again, not quantity) of my work, which turns out to be more than most 4th year lawyers billing 2000-2100 hours at big firms in NY.

And the beauty of our confidential system is that other greedy jealous underperforming associates aren’t blogging about my pay stub. Instead, those “lawyers” have gotten the Jones Day “hint,” and are now spending their time at a new employer – not representing clients, but blogging about their ex-employer who figured out that they were worthless.

Ouch. That was way harsh, Tai.
But it’s a fair point. Why shouldn’t a firm pay associates what it thinks they’re worth on an individual basis, and if the associates don’t like it, they can leave? This is effectively what investment banks do with their personnel.
Additional commentary about JD, plus a photo of some of their paralegals at play, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Some Follow-Up on Jones Day’s Confidential Compensation Model”

* From a male law student’s manifesto: “I Am A Law School Girl (Snatch, Gunch, Clam, Whisker Biscuit — Pick Your Subject Synonym)…” Charming, isn’t it? [Jezebel]
* Are celebrity gossip sites developing consciences? [Media Law Prof Blog]
* Could Greg Fleming’s status as the “last guy standing” at Merrill Lynch spell legal trouble for him? [DealBreaker]
* “[T]he Hollywood Foreign Press Association and even NBC could be on the verge of taking legal action against the WGA for actions leading to the cancellation of this year’s Golden Globes. Really, could Jeff Zucker possibly be more of a putz?” [Deadline Hollywood Daily]
* Is Hillary doomed? Maybe not (yet). [Blogonaut]
* “This is a lesson on how to fool a jury. And how to get caught.” [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* Added as an update to the original post, but in case you missed it, there’s another side to the whole “bringing a gun to a deposition” story. [ESPN]

Nicholas Del Vecchio Judge Nick Del Vecchio Above the Law blog.jpgWhat happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Unless it involves an allegedly misbehaving judge, in which case it makes these pages.
If the allegations are true, today’s Judge of the Day puts the “Sin” in Sin City. From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

The Family Court judge accused of making a 14-year-old girl perform oral sex on him and years later coercing her into a sexual relationship remained on the bench Monday as court officials considered his future.

Court officials talked about taking away the caseload of Nicholas Del Vecchio but haven’t made any decisions, said Chuck Short, county court administrator. The court doesn’t have the authority to remove Del Vecchio. Only the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission can remove or suspend a sitting judge.

As Judge Elizabeth Halverson well knows.
You’d think that allegations of oral sex with a 14-year-old would be sufficient to prevail as Judge of the Day. But you can read more about Judge Del Vecchio’s alleged misadventures, including claims of surreptitious audio recordings and nude photography, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Nicholas Del Vecchio
(And a digression on judges and oral sex.)”

Hey, if they can make it past the metal detector at One First Street, it’s all good. Is that a gavel under your robe, Your Honor — or are you just reviewing the Joint Appendix?
This is certainly one of the more interesting circuit splits out there. Let’s hope for a cert petition and a speedy grant.
Dildoes Going to the Supreme Court? [Volokh Conspiracy]

Cleary Gottlieb Steen Hamilton LLP CGSH Above the Law blog.jpgThe venerable law firm of Cleary Gottlieb, which has always been known as a kinder, gentler sort of place — at least by Biglaw standards — has fired a shot across the bow of its peer firms.
Cleary just announced their move to the new “market” rate of 18 weeks of parental leave. But they didn’t stop there. They also rolled out all sorts of perks and fringe benefits that associates are sure to love. From a Cleary source:

See attached. Cleary ups parental leave and adds other programs on flex-time, telecommuting, professional development, career counseling, management training — and free lunches on Mondays!

And from a tipster at a rival firm:

Cleary announced a new flex-time policy open to all associates above the second-year class, plus a two-day-a-month telecommuting policy for all associates. Other changes and boring stuff I skimmed through in the attached…

I hope my firm takes the hint!

Check out the memos for yourself (links below). Kudos to Cleary!
Will other top New York law firms follow suit? Only time will tell.
New Initiatives to Improve Professional Development and Quality of Life [PDF]
Parental Leave Policy [PDF]

Shih Tzu dog stolen steal dog Puddle Alice Texas Above the Law blog.jpgThe main villain this story is the client rather than the lawyer. But the facts are too good for us not to mention it. From today’s New York Times:

ALICE, Tex. – Rustling has been frowned upon in this South Texas cow and cotton town since long before it was named for the youngest daughter of the founder of the nearby King Ranch.

So when the mayor, Grace Saenz-Lopez, agreed to take care of her next-door neighbors’ sick Shih Tzu and ended up keeping it, telling them the dog was dead and buried, it was bound to get ugly.

Particularly after the mop-haired critter, Puddles, turned up quite alive — and renamed Panchito — at Ms. Saenz-Lopez’s twin sister’s ranch 14 miles away.

As one of our tipsters quips, “It’s nice to know that abuse of power is alive and well in Texas… This is the same town that rigged an election for LBJ back in the day.”
But there is a role for the lawyer in this story:

[Ms. Saenz-Lopez] said she had no regrets [for taking the dog from a flea-infested home]. “If we can’t be the voice of the people any more, let us be the voice of animals.”

Her lawyer, Homero Canales, wearing a black T-shirt with the words “No Culpable” — Spanish for “Not Guilty” — quibbled slightly. “You could have handled it better,” he said.

Ms. Garcia looked surprised. “Thank you, counselor,” she said.

More about Homero, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Homero Canales”

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