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Posner.jpgProcrastination is a terrible habit, and the internet is truly the great enabler. How many hours of productivity are lost to YouTube each year?
Judging from Law Firm March Madness traffic, lawyers are definitely among the office workers looking for distraction. Slate has gathered “procrastination rituals” from various professionals. One of the contributors is Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit. His ritual is not to procrastinate:

Procrastination is very unhealthy. It causes problems for the people who are counting on you to complete things in a timely fashion and it makes your own life more difficult…. It helps to be a little compulsive. Then you feel uncomfortable if something is hanging over you — that’s the opposite of procrastination, a compulsion to complete things and get rid of the albatross hanging over you…. I have that compulsion.

And that’s why he’s Richard Posner: circuit judge, law professor, author of almost forty (40) books, prolific blogger, and one of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals. And he even manages to sleep, about six hours a night on average.
“Don’t procrastinate.” Like so much good advice, it’s hard to follow. But we’ll try. Just after we’re done reading this article about a scientific formula for procrastinating, searching the videos that come up on YouTube when you search “procrastinate”, listening to the Posner-Lat podcast, and playing our turn in Scrabulous…
Procrasti-Nation []

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGEarlier this month, there was some discussion in the comments about law firms possibly cutting associate salaries to cope with the economic downturn. The scenario sounded far-fetched — but maybe it’s not as far-fetched as some might have hoped.
Look, we aren’t saying that the sky is falling. There’s a world of difference between a law firm based in Fort Lauderdale, with 128 lawyers and extensive exposure to Florida real estate, and the giants of Biglaw, with hundreds of millions (or even billions) in revenue, profits per partner well into the seven figures, and diversified practices.
But still, nobody would call this good news. From the Daily Business Review:

Attorneys at Becker & Poliakoff are being hit with a 12 percent pay cut for the foreseeable future to help the real estate-dominated firm deal with a drop in profitability and delays in collections.

Becker & Poliakoff is the first major South Florida firm to turn to its lawyers to make cuts to help it deal with the economic slowdown and real estate downturn. Other firms have trimmed staff jobs, including paralegals and secretaries, and cut back on other expenses to help cope with the economic landscape.

Alan Becker, the firm’s managing shareholder, informed attorneys and support staff about the pay deferment plan via podcast Wednesday. The cut took effect Thursday and affects only lawyers. No layoffs are expected.

So that’s the silver lining to the proverbial cloud. You’ve suffered a 12 percent haircut on your salary, but at least your job is secure.
We don’t know what the Becker & Poliakoff pay scale is, but we’re guessing it’s well below the $160K scale. Back in 2003, it looks like their starting salaries were in the $63K-$70K range.
But just out of curiosity, what would Biglaw salaries look like if they were trimmed in this manner? If a 12 percent reduction were applied to the first three steps of the standard New York pay scale, salaries would go from 160-170-185 to 141-150-163.
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Cut Watch: NY to 141?”

kfed.jpgThe inanity of Kevin Federline’s fame never ceases to amaze. He has achieved widespread recognition by shacking up with Britney Spears, making some babies, and creating some bad music.
K-Fed has garnered enough media attention that there’s some excess for his attorney. Mark Vincent Kaplan is interviewed by the AP this week. He talks about the custody proceedings over Spears and K-Fed’s two children and how the case has helped his career:

The case is arguably among the most significant in the attorney’s 34-year career, and Kaplan said it has inspired personal satisfaction and professional growth.

“Very few lawyers get the opportunity that this case has presented on every possible issue you can think of,” he continued. “Even fewer lawyers recognize the opportunity, and even a smaller percentage of those have the (guts) to go for the opportunity.”

Of course being around celebrity has perks of its own.

“It’s made it possible to not have to make reservations at a restaurant,” he said, “but that too shall pass.”

Celebrity divorces and custody battles seem like a nice niche. No reservations needed at restaurants. He gets to use the paparazzi to do his research instead of hiring private investigators (like that no-good Pellicano guy).
His quote seems a little defensive, though. Maybe because there’s a good percentage of attorneys who wouldn’t want their name followed by “aka K-Fed’s attorney.”
We spotlighted Kaplan previously as a Lawyer to Layabout Lovers. He also served as counsel to Chris Judd, another back-up dancer turned celebrity husband, in his divorce from Jennifer Lopez.
Federline Lawyer Candid About Spears Custody Case: ‘There’s Never Been Anything Like This’ [Associated Press via]

house home Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Senate reaches agreement on housing relief bill. [New York Times]
* Polygamists question fairness of custody laws. [MSNBC]
* SCOTUS upholds child porn law. [Washington Post; SCOTUSblog]
* SCOTUS upholds tax exemptions for municipal bonds. [TaxProf Blog; WSJ Law Blog]
* AG Mukasey wins first SCOTUS argument in terror prosecution. [Washington Post]

yale law school 2.JPG* Which law schools are the most successful at placing their graduates in legal academia? You can probably guess. [Concurring Opinions]
* Speaking of law school faculty hiring, Dean Kagan and Harvard Law School have the hots for Jonathan Zittrain. [Legal Blog Watch]
* Prof. Ilya Somin to Californians: vote no on Prop. 99. [Los Angeles Times]
* Mistress Ruthie — who kinda reminds us of Chelsea Clinton — does Blawg Review (#160, if you’re counting). [Ruthie's Law via Blawg Review]

Elizabeth Halverson small Judge Elizabeth Halverson Liz Halverson Above the Law blog.JPGTwelve Angry Men, move over; now there’s someone meatier. A juicy judicial celebrity sighting, from the Las Vegas Sun:

Suspended District Judge Elizabeth Halverson returned to the Regional Justice Center on Friday — for jury duty.

While waiting for an assignment, Halverson, who can’t roll through the courthouse on her motorized scooter without attracting attention, turned quite a few heads, including those of several prosecutors at the district attorney’s office, which is on the same floor as the jury service room.

Las Vegas lawyers: If you’re hoping to have Halverson on your jury, sorry. Her Honor wound up being assigned to a civil trial that was subsequently postponed, “bringing an abrupt halt to her brief public service on the other side of the bench.”
Suspended judge can’t even get out of jury duty [Las Vegas Sun]

California Supreme Court gay marriage same sex marriage.jpgLast week, the California Supreme Court struck down that state’s statutory ban on gay / same-sex marriage. The court was closely divided, issuing a 4-3 decision. Six out of the seven justices were appointed by Republican governors, interestingly enough.
Here’s a potentially more accurate way to explain the result in the marriage cases than party affiliation. From an observant — and self-confessed elitist — tipster:

I found this breakdown amusing:

Law schools of judges in the majority: Stanford, USC, Berkeley (Boalt) / GW (first in her class at both schools), Stanford.

Law schools of dissenting judges: Hastings, USF, Hastings.

Correlation or causation? I’m just sayin’….

lesbian marriage Above the Law blog.jpgCorrelation or causation is a fair question. Did the four pro-gay-marriage justices reach a “better” decision because they went to “better” law schools? Or did their attending elite (read: liberal) law schools make these justices more sympathetic to what Justice Antonin Scalia has decried as the “homosexual agenda”? Feel free to opine, in the comments.
P.S. Ah, who cares about where these judges went to law school? Which ones are the hottest — or, to put it more crudely, more “do-able”? For some thoughts on this subject, see 23/6 (which has evaluated these judicial hotties in a manner reminiscent of Underneath Their Robes).
Inappropriate Hottie Rundown: California Supreme Court Justices []
Earlier: Breaking: California Supreme Court Upholds Gay Marriage

K&L Gates Kirkpatrick Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThanks to the worsening economy, law firms don’t have enough work for the lawyers already on their payrolls. Some firms have decided to save money by having incoming first-year associates start later than originally planned. What’s the point of bringing new kids on board, at starting salaries of $160,000 each, if you don’t have enough work to give them?
The latest Biglaw shop to push back start dates: K&L Gates. The original firm-wide start date was September 15; the new start date is October 20.
We contacted K&L Gates for comment. The firm’s director of recruiting, Roz Pitts, explained that the change was made not for any economic reason, but due to “crazy scheduling.” She explained that the firm’s partner retreat in Phoenix is taking place in early October, and they didn’t want the first-years to start work only to have the entire partnership disappear a few weeks later. She added that the firm stands by all its offers — i.e., no offers have been rescinded — and that all incoming associates will be notified of the start date change by today. (Some offices started notifying associates on Friday, which is when we learned of this change.)
But even if K&L Gates were making this change for economic reasons, would there be any shame in that? Other prominent law firms have already announced postponed start dates:

1. Pillsbury Winthrop: start dates pushed back, possibly as far back as January 2009 (the firm told the Wall Street Journal that it “is staggering start dates over several months”).

2. Thacher Proffitt & Wood: the start date for non-litigation first-years has been pushed back to October 20.

3. Thelen Reid: start dates for first-year associates pushed back from September 2008 to January 2009.

Do you know of a Biglaw shop that has announced it’s pushing back start dates? If so, feel free to drop us a line. Thanks.
P.S. When it comes to start dates, maybe there’s no way to please everyone. Back in February, some Sidley Austin associates complained about excessively early start dates.

Sports and the Law 3 Above the Law blog.jpgI previously wrote (here and here) about Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic hopeful who was ruled ineligible to compete in the Beijing Games by the International Association of Athletics Federations (“IAAF”) because he uses Cheetah Flex-Foot prosthetic legs. With help from Dewey & LeBoeuf (disclosure: my previous employer) as his pro bono counsel, Pistorius recently challenged the IAAF’s ruling in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
On Friday, a three-person arbitration panel ruled in Pistorius’s favor, finding that Pistorius’s prosthetics do not provide him with “an overall net advantage” in violation of IAAF Rule 144.2(e). This opens the door for Pistorius to compete in South Africa’s Olympic trials using his prosthetics. The panel reserved the right to change its ruling if new scientific evidence emerges.
With this matter resolved for now, let’s take a look at the big winners and losers from the litigation:
Big Winners
Oscar Pistorius: Finally eligible for South Africa’s Olympic trials, the Blade Runner is a step closer to competing against the world’s finest. In addition, he is also a step closer to earning the kind of endorsement dollars that would make even Dan & Dave envious.
Ossur HF Company: The Iceland-headquartered supplier of the Cheetah Flex-Foot prosthetics is gaining all kinds of free publicity. Most of us have now heard of the Cheetah Flex-Foot. Can anybody name a competitor prosthetic? I didn’t think so.
Dewey & LeBoeuf: Forget the goodwill that comes with pro bono representation. By winning this case, Dewey & LeBoeuf has expanded its sports-law footprint across the Atlantic Ocean, as well as opened the door to secure new business in international sports arbitration.
Debevoise & Plimpton: Real kudos goes to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for their gutsy and articulate 18-page decision that does not pull its punches with the IAAF. David W. Rivkin, a partner in the New York and London offices of Debevoise & Plimpton, was one of the three named arbitrators in this dispute. His work could only look good for the firm.
Read the rest, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Pistorius is Finally Free to Run”

funny-pictures-cat-furniture.jpgWhile responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on summer associate programs continue to flow in (add your 2 cents here), let’s pause to consider what last year’s summer associates are going to experience over the next few months: bar exams (sorry), relocations, and sweet, sweet signing bonuses (or not).
We’ve received about a hundred comments and tips since we posted our “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Starting Bonuses But Were Afraid To Ask” table, which aggregated the results from our ATL / Lateral Link surveys on bar stipends and reimbursements, salary advances, and signing bonuses, relocation benefits and whether you have to pay it all back when you leave.
So today, we’re updating the table to fill in some more blanks.
The table below now shows six things for each firm:
  * which bar exam expenses the firm will reimburse (send us tips to fill in the blanks),
  * whether the firm pays new associates a summer stipend or a signing bonus or graduation bonus (not counting clerkship bonuses, which are discussed elsewhere),
  * whether the firm provides salary advances (i.e., loans) in any particular amounts,
  * whether the firm provides any particular relocation benefits,
  * whether the firm provides a pro-rated bonus (a “stub bonus”) for the period between your start date and the end of the year first year, and
  * whether the firm will make you pay it all back if you leave. As a general rule, payback requirements will apply to everything but a stub bonus, and will include clerkship bonuses.
And now, that introduction aside, read on to see the aggregated table of bar reimbursements, stipends and bonuses, salary advances, moving expenses, stub bonuses, and payback requirements. Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Everything (Else) You Always Wanted To Know About Starting Bonuses But Were Afraid To Ask”

Legal%20Eagle%20Wedding%20Watch%20NYT%20wedding%20announcements%20Above%20the%20Law.jpgNow that the wedding season is in full swing, it’s time for a poll to crown a Legal Eagle Wedding Watch couple of the month. We have two outstanding entries for April:

1. Keira Driansky and David Simon
2. Kristy Hong and Jonas Blank III

You can read all about these newlyweds after the jump. But if you’re ready to vote, here’s the poll:

And don’t forget, we’re still soliciting ideas for a new LEWW logo. Send your contributions here.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch: April’s Couple of the Month”

Barack Obama small Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.JPG* Microsoft proposes a new collaboration with Yahoo. [New York Times; CNN]
* Obama administration would pursue more aggressive antitrust regulation. [Reuters]
(But Sen. Obama maintains a monopoly on 80,000 person rallies. See MSNBC.)
* Judge orders arrest of terror operative in Yemen. [Washington Post]
* Previews of the Obama, McCain, and Clinton Justice Departments. [WSJ
Law Blog
* National Museum of Crime and Punishment opens in DC. [MSNBC]
* Outside companies allow Facebook users to access their data through other sites — but Facebook isn’t happy about it. [Techcrunch via Washington Post]

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