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Holland Knight staff layoffs secretary secretarial firings.jpgThe bad news continues to roll in. Becker & Poliakoff, which just announced across-the-board pay cuts for its lawyers, isn’t the only Florida firm that’s hurting.
From a report by Julie Kay, for the upcoming issue of the National Law Journal:

In another sign of the hard times facing the legal industry, particularly in real-estate heavy South Florida, two local law firms — Holland & Knight and Shutts & Bowen — have laid off non-lawyer staffers.

On a day that could be dubbed Black Friday in South Florida legal circles, Tampa-based Holland & Knight, one of Florida’s largest and most venerable firms with 1,150 lawyers, laid off 70 staffers Friday, including legal secretaries, IT and accounting staff. No lawyers were laid off.

The layoffs of about four employees in each of Holland’s 17 offices represented 5% of Holland’s non-lawyer workforce.

Shutts & Bowen, a 200-lawyer, Miami-based firm, Friday laid off nine people, all entry level file clerks or paralegal clerks. No lawyers or legal secretaries were affected.

Holland & Knight spokeswoman Susan Bass told the Daily Business Review that the firm “had some redundancies and inefficiencies.” Seventy staffers is a whole lot of redundancies.
Read more — about prior layoffs at H&K, and the situation over at Greenberg Traurig — below the fold.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: More South Florida Suffering”

Bad Report Card.jpgAh, those inscrutable transcripts from the University of Chicago Law School — gotta love ‘em. They’re chock full of numbers, but they don’t use the standard “As = 90s, Bs = 80s” scale. For example, if your grades are all in the 80s, you’re a rock star.
Nobody can make heads or tails of the U. Chicago transcripts. So what’s wrong with a little “tweaking” here and there? From the ABA Journal (via TaxProf Blog):

A lawyer who attended the University of Chicago Law School has been accused in an ethics complaint of lying about his grades when he applied for a summer position at Sidley Austin.

Loren Elliotte Friedman is accused in a complaint filed May 6 by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. He was listed as an associate at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle in New York on the firm’s website earlier Tuesday, but his name was removed by the afternoon.

Joseph Pizzurro, managing partner of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, told that Friedman, a bankruptcy associate, disclosed the bar complaint to the law firm on Friday and submitted his resignation.

The complaint says Friedman altered transcripts of his law school grades in 20 classes to reflect better grades than he received. Friedman worked at Sidley Austin the summer of 2002, and the firm extended an employment offer for him to begin work as an associate in 2003.

The complaint also alleges that Friedman failed to reveal he flunked out of medical school in his application to law school, and that he failed to disclose the altered law school transcripts in his bar application.

It looks like medicine, and now law, haven’t worked out for Loren Friedman. What’s next?
Maybe betting on horse races? The Legal Profession Blog has dubbed his three alleged omissions a “trifecta.”
More details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Loren Elliotte Friedman”

funny-pictures-cat-loves-food.jpgLast week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on trimming summer associate programs is still open, but we’ve already been getting some interesting debate in the comments.
For law students, trimming the summer programs — or at least the summer salaries — would be a critical financial blow:

[L]aw School tuition is fucking EXPENSIVE. I take out 55k per year in loans here at CLS (45k of which goes to tuition + fees). Luckily, I have no undergrad debt. The financial aid office suggests that the average student take out 64k per year in loans. In sum, you misers need to talk to school adminstrations before cutting pay.

But once they’ve achieved permanent (or not so permanent) employment status, some associates would prefer to see a slimmer summer experience:

It’s not right that in a market where good associates are being kicked to the curb for economic reasons we’re throwing buckets of money at a bunch of kids who don’t know anything and just teaching them how to be (more) entitled. Shorten the summer and pay them a salary that has some correlation to what they’re worth – they are mere interns.

Other associates, however, are still in favor of lunch:

I thought ATL was on our side. The open budgets and free lunches are a perk to associates too.

And one tipster wonders just how free those lunches are from firm to firm:

Might be a good time next week or two weeks from now to do a post about summer lunch budgets. I just heard on the grapevine that we’re having $25/person limits, with anything over it coming out of the associate’s pockets. I know some other firms have a $30 or $50 limit.

So, today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey focuses on both lunch and morale. How much can you spend on lunch with the summer associates, how often do you do lunch, and would associates at your firm be upset if the summer program went away?
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

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

Vines.jpgJudge Carlton Vines presides over traffic violations and DUIs in Chattooga County, Georgia. It’s a tiny county with a population of just over 25,000. The local newspaper, The Summerville News, has an ongoing investigative series examining the county’s drunk-driving phenomenon and growing number of DUI arrests.
Unfortunately, Judge Vines has become a part of the phenomenon. He was arrested in November of last year for driving drunk and leaving the scene of an accident after swerving into another car. The coppers just released the dash-cam video from the arrest. The man was trashed, slurring, and stumbling… though still cogent enough to refuse the breathalyzer.

From WBS TV:

Vines pleaded guilty to DUI charges in April. He has since spent three nights in jail, paid fines, done community service and was on house arrest.

On the tape, Vines can be heard admitting he has had “over the limit.” At one point on the tape, an officer asks, “Do you remember the wreck you were involved in?” Vines can be heard responding, “I’m not going to admit or deny it but I will take responsibility.”

A nolo plea — or just good drunken logic? Vines is under voluntary suspension, and the Georgia State Judicial Commission gets to decide whether he returns to the bench.
Judge Vines makes some bizarre comment about sharecropping at the end of the YouTube video. Can someone from rural Georgia please explain?
Caught On Tape: Georgia Judge Arrested For DUI [WSB TV]
Drunk Judge Arrested []

* Justice Department report details FBI objections to interrogation techniques used on terror suspects. [Legalities / ABC News; McClatchy]
* Jurors get a bit too much evidence in R. Kelly trial. [CNN]
* Officers in Sean Bell case face NYPD charges of misusing firearms. [New York Times]
* Florida woman gets seven years for enslavement. [CNN]
* Clinton takes Kentucky, but Obama grabs Oregon and the majority of pledged delegates. [MSNBC; New York Times]
* Should Obama promise Hillary a SCOTUS nomination? [Washington Post]

Bingham McCutchen Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThis isn’t as sexy as lawyer layoffs and associate pay cuts. But today has been a bit slow on the news front, so we’ll take what we can get. From Legal Pad:

Bingham McCutchen just confirmed to us that it laid off staff last week in at least two Bay Area offices — 12 in San Francisco and five in Silicon Valley.

San Francisco Managing Partner Geoffrey Howard said the S.F. layoffs constituted between 5 and 10 percent of the staff there and affected three departments: support services (e.g. copy/fax, mail room, catering, etc.), accounting and records.

They laid off people in catering? One might expect Bingham to pay increased attention to food and beverage, in the wake of Roofiegate.
Bingham Lays Off Bay Area Staff [Legal Pad]

R Kelly child pornography kiddie porn ATL.jpg* A summary of jury selection in the R. Kelly kiddie porn case: “I haven’t heard of jurors this stupid since the O.J. trial.” [Supreme Dicta]
* Really, there’s no cause for alarm. ATL comes in peace. [Tex Parte Blog]
* Cisco GC Mark Chandler feels the heat on Capitol Hill. [Washington Briefs]
* Recent Fantasy Baseball rulings by the Honorable Marc Edelman, ATL’s resident sports columnist. [SportsJudge Blog]
* For those of you who deal with the Malaysian judiciary (all three of you), take note: “[B]usiness as usual in Malaysia is no longer acceptable.” [Wall Street Journal Asia (subscription)]

pink slip layoff notice Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re not the only ones obsessed with layoffs these days. So is the New York Times, which has published two meaty articles on layoffs in the past few days — one in the Business section, and one in Sunday Styles.
The upshot of the business piece: Wall Street firms are increasingly relying upon “stealth layoffs” (like their brethren in the law, as we’ve discussed). Louise Story and Eric Dash report:

[E]xactly how many jobs have been or will be eliminated [on Wall Street] is unclear. In the past, banks typically made sharp reductions all at once. After the 1987 stock market crash, for example, employees were herded into conference rooms and dismissed en masse.

This time, companies are making many small cuts over the course of weeks or even months. Some people who have lost jobs, and many more struggling to hold them, say banks are keeping employees in the dark about the size and timing of layoffs.

Sound familiar, law firm associates?
Read the rest, below the fold.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Misery Loves Company”

Fiver.jpgWhen traveling abroad for the first time, it seems every American is struck by the brilliance of creating paper money with a correlation between the size of a bill and its value. “That must be nice for blind people,” we think.
Well, the D.C. Circuit thinks the same way. In a 2-1 ruling (PDF) issued today, it affirmed a district court decision holding that the U.S. discriminates against blind people with its uniformly-sized bills.
The American Council for the Blind sued the Treasury Department six years ago. If the decision stands, vending machines everywhere will have to be redesigned!
That seems like a better defense than the one the Treasury Department used. From the Associated Press:

The U.S. acknowledges the design hinders blind people but it argued that blind people have adapted. Some relied on store clerks to help them, some used credit cards and others folded certain corners to help distinguish between bills.

The court ruled 2-1 that such adaptations were insufficient. The government might as well argue that, since handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask for help from strangers, there’s no need to make buildings wheelchair accessible, the court said.

Apparently, that huge ugly number five on the new five-dollar bill was the Treasury Department’s first stab at meeting the needs of the blind. Unfortunately, it discriminates against good aesthetic taste.
What do you think of the decision?

Court says money discriminates against blind people [Associated Press]
Amer Cncl Blind v. Paulson, Henry [PDF]

chart 1 graph pie chart bar graph.GIFWe realize that we’re constantly sending surveys and polls your way. That’s because blogging is an interactive medium — which is a good thing. We talk to you, and you talk back to us. We couldn’t do our jobs without all the tips and info we get from you, via email, comments, and yes, surveys.
Anyway, we hope that one more survey won’t kill you. Please take a few seconds to fill out our anonymous reader survey, which gives us a sense of our readership demographics. You can access the survey by clicking here.
And please don’t overlook the final question, in which you can offer us editorial feedback — what you like, what you dislike, and what you’d like to see more or less of in these pages. Thanks.
P.S. In case you find the educational categories a little confusing, “post grad work” means you’ve done some post-graduate work, but aren’t done yet (e.g., you’re in law school). “Post grad degree” means that you have completed at least one post-graduate degree. If you have one such degree, like a JD or a master’s degree, but are in the process of getting another, like an LLM or PhD, check off the “post grad degree” box.
Above the Law Reader Survey []

Dewey LeBoeuf LLP logo D&L DL Above the Law blog.jpgProps to our friends over at Dewey & LeBoeuf. Sure, Denim Day is great at all, and their wine-and-cheese events sound like a lot — maybe too much — fun.
But DL also thinks of the less fortunate. From an internal email that went around recently:

As news of the devastation in China and Myanmar spreads, and in support of our colleagues and clients in Asia, we recognize a responsibility to support and assist the many thousands of individuals and families in need at this time. Current news reports suggest that the massive earthquake in the Sichuan province of China has already claimed the lives of more than 20,000 people, with numbers that could soar to as many as 50,000. The deadly cyclone of the Myanmar delta region has already claimed over 75,000 lives, with more than 55,000 people still missing and over 1 million people in need of aid.

The firm will match all donations made by our lawyers and administrative staff up to $200,000 to the following four funds designated for relief in China and Myanmar….

Perhaps other law firms are undertaking similar efforts? If your firm is, feel free to note that in the comments.
The complete Dewey & LeBoeuf email, including links to four relief organizations that you can support, appears after the jump.
Update: As noted in the comments, Heller Ehrman is one of the firms stepping up to the plate. The firm is matching employee donations to the Red Cross up to a total of $50,000. Memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Humanitarian Crises in Myanmar and China: What’s Your Firm Doing?”

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 []

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