It’s a subject of tremendous importance, since it has a major effect on the day-to-day lives of associates, but it doesn’t get talked about as much as one might expect. So to everyone going through the fall recruiting process right now, don’t be afraid to ask:
How does the law firm assign work?
It might not sound very sexy. But the assignment system employed by a law firm might determine whether you’re staying until midnight every night while the guy next door, who’s getting the same paycheck — and maybe even the same bonus, if you’re at a firm with lockstep bonuses — is leaving every day at 6 p.m.
There are many different ways that firms can handle the issue of assigning work. Some have an assigning partner (or partners); some have a non-lawyer administrator who makes assignments; some have a “free market” system. Sometimes assignments and hours are tracked by computer, and sometimes they’re not.
Please discuss the subject in the comments. To get the ball rolling, we reprint a recent memo from Bingham McCutchen that lays out their approach to the issue. You can check it out after the jump.
We’ve done relatively little about the nomination of former judge Michael Mukasey to serve as attorney general. While the WSJ Law Blog was dredging up his third-grade book reports — okay, not quite, but some college newspaper articles that he may or may not have written — we didn’t have much. But now we’d like to atone for that, with a piece we just did for the New York Observer.
We speculate that Michael Mukasey might be in D.C. longer than he might expect, especially if his good friend Rudy Giuliani wins the presidency (and possibly even if fellow New Yorker Hillary Clinton does). We discuss how he might have come to be picked as AG, despite not being a D.C. denizen like Ted Olson, Laurence Silberman, or George Terwilliger:
Mr. Mukasey was simply more of a known quantity to the White House than the typical Beltway outsider. The White House staff includes three former assistant U.S. attorneys from Manhattan, as well as other ex-New York lawyers who regularly practiced before Mukasey as a judge. Among the New Yorkers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Mukasey enjoyed great respect, and was viewed as ideologically acceptable too, especially on war on terror issues.
* O.J.’s really just pulling all of these stunts so that he can make it up to the Goldmans. [CNN]
* Jury hung for the moment in Spector trial; judge might send them back in to consider manslaughter instead. [BBC]
* To catch a predator-catcher. [Athens Banner-Herald]
* She needs to undergo some tests for crazy. [CNN]
* I say once you get old enough to play with it, it’s your call. [WSJ Law Blog]
In case you missed this story from last week, here’s a recap. Earlier this month, a plaintiffs’ lawyer in Montana by the name of William Managhan sent out the following email, to the entire Montana Trial Lawyers Association:
From: William L. Managhan To: Montana Trial Lawyers Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2007 6:32 PM Subject: [mtla_members_all] Firm Name Change
Managhan & Kortum-Managhan Law Firm will no longer be known as such. The name is returning to Managhan Law Firm as Santana Kortum-Managhan is leaving the firm. Turns out that she was having sex with Tim McKeon of Anaconda while attending MMLP hearings in Helena.
Call me silly but I no longer fill [sic] comfortable with her as my law partner or wife. Some will think this is an inappropriate announcement, but considering the small legal community in our state, I might as well preempt the roomer mill [sic]. Please address communication to William L. Managhan through Managhan Law Firm.
More discussion, including accounts of our telephone conversations with Bobbi Bonnington and Tim of Anaconda, after the jump.
* A Manhattan hedge fund manager — who would grunt loudly, cry out “Great song!”, and yell “You go, girl” during a spin class at Equinox — was thrown into a wall. And wonders why. (The alleged assault is being prosecuted as a misdemeanor, which he’s unhappy about.) [DealBreaker]
* Speaking of pain, owww. What kind of anesthesia do they use for that? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Between Lerach and a hard place: prison. [The Recorder; New York Times]
* Before writing The Nine, Jeff Toobin tried his hand at fiction writing — but that didn’t go so well. [SCOTUSblog]
Pro bono work is near and dear to your hearts. When we posted an open thread on the subject last month, it generated a slew of comments. Like this one:
I was actually told by the partner I worked for at my firm, in no uncertain words … “If you have time to spend on matters that firm isn’t collecting fees for, then you have time that I can be giving you more work that you should be collecting fees for.” And that was my official talk on our “pro bono policy.”
Well, who says that fee-earning work and pro bono work are mutually exclusive? From the Seattle Times:
Lawyers at Davis Wright Tremaine didn’t charge a parent group for seven years of work on a U.S. Supreme Court case against Seattle Public Schools: They took the case pro bono.
But now that the firm is trying to collect $1.8 million in legal fees from the school district, several national legal experts say the term — technically, “pro bono publico,” meaning “for the public good” — may no longer apply.
The firm’s effort has put a local lens on a national debate: If attorneys get paid for pro bono work, is it still pro bono?
The full article, which lays out both sides of the argument, is quite interesting. You can check it out here.
Some argue that financially strapped school districts shouldn’t have to shell out millions of dollars to line the pockets of law firms. But others argue that making them pay fees will discourage them from violating rights in the future (and that the law firms can donate the fees to charity). Thoughts? Billing in “pro bono” cases is fodder for ethics debate [Seattle Times] Earlier: Biglaw Perk Watch: Pro Bono Work
Here’s a twist on clerkship bonus news, from a reader:
With all the talk about rising bonuses for domestic clerkships, I was wondering if any firms were extending bonuses for foreign clerkships. I am clerking at a major foreign supreme court in a common law country and my BigLaw firm says it only offers bonuses for US or Canadian clerkships.
So, does anyone know if firms that provide bonuses for foreign clerkships? We’re not really aware of any. But if anyone can help out this reader, please pass along info in the comments.
I don’t have any information on the case, but thought you might be interested in this minor tidbit on Sullivan & Cromwell.
The Lavender Law conference (the annual GLBT CLE fest) was in Chicago last weekend. S&C did not send anyone for the conference itself, as far as I know, but they flew in several associates just for the closing ceremonies.
They also offered the nicest swag of any firm: gift sets of Kiehl’s products. Seems they are trying to repair some damage with the gay community, even if it’s only through cosmetics.
“Only” through cosmetics? Kiehl’s products are no ordinary cosmetics. S&C is shrewd: they know the way to our hearts is through our pores.
Sure, that Aaron Charney might seem cute and well-meaning. But who wouldn’t kick him to the curb for a lifetime supply of Facial Fuel? Correction: According to various commenters, Sullivan & Cromwell personnel were present for the job fair as well. “S&C was front-and-center at Lav Law. A friend of mine called me from the fair to tell me how pallid and haggard they looked.” Kiehl’s [official website]
It’s me, Ernie — Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers. And I’m suing your divine ass! From the AP:
The defendant in a state senator’s lawsuit is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still. He can be sued in Douglas County, the legislator claims, because He’s everywhere.
State Sen. Ernie Chambers sued God last week. Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, Chambers says he’s trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody.
Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.”
And he pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda, and microwaved a few pooches. Jonathan Lee Riches, holla!
What relief is Chambers seeking? The WSJ Law Blog reports:
The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against God, ordering him to cease certain harmful activities. Chambers asked the court to waive personal-service requirement. Because God is omniscient, he argues, he will have actual knowledge of the action.
And you thought the $54 million pants lawsuit was crazy. If God’s deposition ends up being taken, can someone ask him about the proper construction of this contractual provision?
P.S. Props to the AP reporter who conferred a Jesus-like halo upon Senator Chambers. You win the prize for Most Creative Use of an Electric Fan as a Background Element.
[AP via WSJ Law Blog]
A University of Florida student was Tasered and arrested after trying angrily and repeatedly to ask U.S. Senator John Kerry about the 2004 election and other subjects during a campus forum….
Videos of Monday’s incident posted on several Web sites show officers pulling Andrew Meyer, 21, away from the microphone after he asks Kerry about impeaching President Bush and whether he and Bush were both members of the secret society Skull and Bones at Yale University.
“He apparently asked several questions he went on for quite awhile then he was asked to stop,” university spokesman Steve Orlando said. “He had used his allotted time. His microphone was cut off, then he became upset.”
We continue our occasional series on Ex-Lawyers of the Day, with this interesting email from a Biglaw tipster:
In the interest of lawyers turned novelists turned vigilantes — this is for all of us who have received several calls an hour from headhunters — the email below deserves a mention in your blog.
Rudy Delson is a former Simpson attorney who left law firm life for fairer pastures in Brooklyn to write a novel. His book is being published today. There are lawyers in the book. I understand it may even be literature.
Here’s an explanatory email, from Delson to our tipster:
So, check this out. When I worked at Simpson, I saved the email address of every headhunter who ever contacted me. And then this morning, I was able to send them this…
Rudy Delson’s blast email / spam to the headhunters, after the jump.
* I sense a lucrative products liability niche practice area. [CNN]
* Both New Yorks sue Vioxx. [Jurist]
* ACLU takes a wide stance in favor of Larry Craig. [CNN]
* California can’t sue the car companies for breaking the planet. [New York Times]
* Lerach to plead guilty in Milberg Weiss case. [WSJ Law Blog]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…