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Facebook logo MySpace Friendster Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThat’s the question we tackle in our latest column for the New York Observer. Here’s an excerpt:

Among associates at large law firms, Facebook passed the tipping point sometime over the summer. Since the site opened to the public last year, adults everywhere have been joining—there are 40 million people already on Facebook, and about a million more every week. But lawyers seem to be particularly enamored of it (as is Microsoft, which is reportedly considering an investment that would value Facebook at as much as $10 billion).

It’s an expensive love affair…. Next year, the AmLaw 200 law firms are expected to hire 10,000 new associates. Let’s estimate, conservatively, that half of them spend one billable hour a week on Facebook. If we assume (again conservatively) an average hourly billing rate of $200, that comes to about $50 million a year in lost billable hours—and partner profits. Fifty million bucks will buy you a lot of Hermès ties.

You can read the rest of the piece by clicking here.
From Bluebook to Facebook: Social Site Seduces Firmland [New York Observer]

contract attorney temp temporary attorney lawyer work.jpgYesterday we declared this week to be Non-Top-Tier Law School Week at ATL. We’ll be focusing on the career prospects of graduates of non-elite law schools.
As noted, many such grads work in the field of insurance law. Here’s another popular option: working as a contract attorney.
We’ll kick off the discussion with a comment from a reader. Here’s one:

How about a post on JD’s who are doing contract work while waiting for bar results? There have to be more people like myself who don’t have jobs wit the Am 100, who once bar exam results emerge will be hitting the legal market in search of the dream job.

Maybe you would tap into a large section of people like myself who are presently in a legal no-man’s-land…. [F]rom what I hear, only about 20% of students actually have jobs coming out of law school or before bar exam results come out.

So, any takers? Are any of you similarly situated, doing contract work while waiting to hear from the bar examiners? Any recommendations about landing such gigs?
(We have fodder for more general discussion of contract attorney gigs, but we’ll save it for future posts. Feel free to send tips our way, by email. Thanks.)

Supreme Court 6 Above the Law blog.JPGWe have to step away for a bit. We’re attending this panel discussion, in which various Supreme Court experts will offer a preview of the upcoming Term. We also plan to attend another SCOTUS preview panel, taking place on Friday morning, focused specifically on the Court’s business-law cases.
But fear not; we’ve arranged for content to be posted while we’re gone. We wouldn’t dream of leaving you for two and a half hours without fresh procrastination material. So check back soon.
A Preview of the Supreme Court October 2007 Term [Federalist Society]
Annual Supreme Court Briefing [American Enterprise Institute]

Mikal Watts Mikal C Watts Law Firm Above the Law blog.jpgEven when they’re not getting indicted or pleading guilty, high-profile plaintiffs’ lawyers can still entertain us with their antics. From Walter Olson, over at Overlawyered:

Looks as if the legal tactics of one politically ambitious Texas plaintiff’s lawyer may have blown up in his face:

“Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mikal Watts of San Antonio once tried to pressure a legal opponent into a $60 million personal injury lawsuit settlement by claiming he would have an advantage on appeal because of his firm’s ‘heavy’ campaign financial support to an appellate court’s justices, ‘all of whom are good Democrats.’

Guess Brad Schlozman isn’t the only arbiter of “good”-ness. Anyway, back to Watts:

A “nine-page letter Watts wrote to opposing counsel in 2001 apparently was intended to make an out-of-state corporation think the donations could sway” the 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi. The letter was sent to a defense lawyer representing American Electric Power in an auto-accident case. “Politely put, south Texas venue by itself makes this a very dangerous lawsuit,” Watts wrote.

We commend Mikal Watts for his candor. Why should walking into a south Texas courtroom be a trap for the unwary?
Furor over Mikal Watts “judges owe us” letter [Overlawyered]

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft 2 CWT bed bugs bedbugs Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid blog.JPGGood things about Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft: profits per partner of $2.9 million, third behind Wachtell and Cravath. Visits from Cameron Diaz.
Bad things about Cadwalader: bed bugs. And $70 million malpractice lawsuits.
The indefatigable Anthony Lin has this report, in the New York Law Journal:

As the global slowdown in the market for mortgage-backed securities threatens a core practice area of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, the New York law firm is also wrestling with a $70 million legal malpractice suit brought by a major issuer of such securities….

Nomura Asset Capital Corp., a U.S. division of Japan’s largest securities firm, filed suit against Cadwalader last October in Manhattan Supreme Court over documents the law firm drafted for a 1997 securitization transaction in which Nomura pooled 156 commercial mortgages worth around $1.8 billion.

We’ll spare you the details of the suit, since they’re boring and kinda hard to follow. CWT is represented by Cravath, and they’re moving to dismiss.
More discussion — including talk about associate layoffs, triggered by the generally grim climate for mortgage-backed securities work — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cadwalader Hit With $70 Million Malpractice Suit”

It’s not as great as this lawyer ad. Nor does it rise to the level of the Nixon Peabody non-theme song.
But this lawyer advertisement, spotted in a Houston area convenience store, is pretty cute. And in a world in which software license agreements have choice-of-law clauses like this one, who’s to say that it won’t be effective?
(The attorney behind the ad is Wayne Heller, who appears to be a solo practitioner focused on criminal defense work.)
Trust me, I know… [Flickr]
Wayne A. Heller [FindLaw Lawyer Directory]

Larry Birkhead Anna Nicole Smith Above the Law blog.jpg* SCOTUS to hear some pretty interesting cases next term. [Washington Post; New York Times; CNN]
* Apparently, Ross Perot owns the Magna Carta, for now. [CNN]
* Jack Bauer arrested for DUI, was allegedly speaking in an urgent, raspy tone. [MSNBC]
* Attorney sues Larry Birkhead for defamation. [MSNBC]
* Calls for campus paper editor to resign. [CNN]

100 dollar bill Abovethelaw Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWe’re sorry to report that we haven’t heard serious and credible raise rumors lately. In fact, we’ve heard more gossip about layoffs in recent weeks than about associate pay increases. The rumors of “NYC to 190″, which used to flood our email inbox, have gone the way of Testa Hurwitz.
But here is some reason for optimism. From the National Law Journal:

Nearly two decades ago, [Georgetown law professor] Philip G. Schrag said he saw the need to help law students with crippling law school debt….

Help is finally on the way with the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. Passed by Congress on Sept. 7, the bill aims to help law students and other graduates with high debt through an income-based loan-repayment plan. The bill also would allow for loan forgiveness for qualifying employees after 10 years of service to government agencies or nonprofit organizations.

Tex Frank explains why this might be good news for some of you, at Overlawyered:

Bush has indicated he’d sign the bill.

The market currently reflects a private-public pay gap reflecting the fact that public jobs are generally considered to have better working conditions and that private-sector law firms need to offer substantially higher pay to encourage attorneys to work there. If the government is providing thousands of dollars of loan subsidies to government and non-profit attorneys, the private sector will need to raise its salaries to continue to compete, some of which will be swallowed by the partners, but most will be swallowed by the clients, who, increasingly facing bet-the-company litigation, have inelastic demand for top law firms. Too, as attorney salaries increase, and loans are subsidized by the government, law schools will be empowered to extract some of that surplus by raising tuition.

Winners: most attorneys, law school employees, and some clients of non-profits. Losers: taxpayers, clients, partners at non-top-tier firms.

Do you concur with Ted Frank’s analysis? And what about graduates of non-top-tier law schools, who are the focus of this week at ATL — how will they be affected by this legislation?
(We’d think that they would be thrilled by anything that might ameliorate crushing loads of educational debt. But if this change could be bad news for non-top-tier firms, it could indirectly be bad news for non-top-tier grads, insofar as non-top-tier firms provide jobs for so many of them.)
Taxpayers to provide additional subsidies for law-school education [Overlawyered]
Law School Loans About to Be Lightened for Some [National Law Journal]
Bush Will Sign Loan-Relief Bill for Public-Interest Lawyers [Daily Journal (subscription)]

Vanessa Hudgens Vanessa Anne Hudgens Filipino Filipina Above the Law blog.jpg* We know you guys never tire of talking about the tough job market for graduates of non-top-tier law schools. Here is Sam Kamin’s take on Amir Efrati’s WSJ piece. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Can’t get a Biglaw gig, perhaps because you’re a Tier 2 (or Tier 3 or Tier 4) grad? Why not hang out your own shingle? [Build A Solo Practice, LLC]
* Still on this week’s non-top-tier law school theme, Dave Hoffman wonders: “[I]s there a point to law school beyond sorting students?” [Concurring Opinions]
* Vault is beloved not just by prestige-obsessed law students, but by investors, too. A private equity firm just bought a stake in Vault that values it at $60-$85 million. [alarm: clock]
* We have no difficulty believing this SCOTUS clerk gossip. [BeldarBlogs]
* Maybe Vanessa Hudgens should pay her lawyer in kind. Autographed nudie pics would surely fetch a pretty penny on eBay. [E! Online]
* Wondering whether there’s a double jeopardy issue with respect to the state charges against Michael Vick? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Want to pick up some advice on the voir dire process — and catch up on the last week of legal blogging at the same time? Check out Blawg Review #127, by trial lawyer and jury consultant Anne Reed. [Deliberations via Blawg Review]

Gibson Dunn Crutcher LLP Above the Law blog.JPGIt appears that Quinn Emanuel isn’t the only law firm with a snazzy new website. The WSJ Law Blog reports:

Okay, we’re not necessarily proud of our law-firm Web site fetish, so forgive us for spilling a few pixels over the spanking-new page the folks at Gibson Dunn put up.

[Ed. note: Racy stuff, esp. for the Wall Street Journal! That sentence -- with its references to a "fetish," "spilling a few pixels" (hehe), and "spanking" -- is chock full of double entendres.]

We’re not sure it offers more or better content than the average firm site… but check out that design! We’re big fans, from the newspapery layout to the McSweeney’s-esque literary feel to the overall minimialist aesthetic….

Take, for instance, the six videos on firm diversity. There’s one entitled Out, with gay partners talking about their sexual orientation. And then there’s one called Red & Blue, about the firm’s political diversity, including an interview with former Congressman Mel Levine (Blue) and former Solictor General Ted Olson (Red)…

Unlike those rascals over at Quinn Emanuel, the GDC folks haven’t pulled their videos. And hopefully they will leave them up, even after we poke (gentle) fun of them.
Which we proceed to do, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Methinks that Gibson Doth Protest Too Much”

Double Indemnity Insurance Law Defense Coverage Litigation.jpgAs we previously mentioned, this week is Non-Top-Tier Law School Week at ATL. Even our open threads on job hunting will reflect this theme.
One graduate of a non-elite law school sent us this suggested topic:

Lots of non-top tier law students end up working for insurance companies.

The dumb ones end up doing insurance defense (hired by insurance company to defend slip and fall, med mal, etc). The smart ones do insurance coverage (represent the insurance company which denied coverage).

How about postings where we can compare salary info? Salary info at these firms is much more guarded. I have no idea what anyone else makes.

So, what ARE salaries like in this area? From our tipster:

I’ll get the ball rolling from the insurance coverage perspective. When I started as a first year at one NYC insurance coverage firm, I was making $75,000 with no bonus (and a billable hours minimum of 1900).

Now, I am a fifth year doing insurance coverage at a different firm in NYC, my salary is $128,000, and our firm offers a $7,500 bonus to associates deemed the cream of the crop at year end. Name partners are rumored to make a boat load of cash, but other partners are rumored to be nothing more than senior associates. Our minimum billables are 2100.

More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Where Do Non-Top-Tier Grads Go? Hello, Insurance Law!”

Bachelor Bachelorettes Above the Law Blog.jpgNo wonder the producers of The Bachelor are so eager to have a lawyer as the Bachelor. With their impressive educational pedigrees and generally high incomes — even non-top-tier law grads earn more than the average American — lawyers are a desirable demographic. And relying upon the contestants to keep lawyers watching might not be a smart idea, since legal eagles keep getting shot down on the show.
From a tipster (a distinguished law professor, which goes to show that even geniuses enjoy trashy TV shows):

[O]n last night’s season premiere of the Bachelor, both of the law students were sent home in the first cut. The Phoenix Suns dancer stayed.

I only caught the beginning, when they were all being introduced, and I noticed the two law students – couldn’t figure out for sure what schools they were at. I’m guessing this show was taped over the summer, so this may have been their substitute for a summer associateship. In hindsight, a bad decision….

I was on the phone the rest of the time, and only learned later that they were both cut. They were decent-looking, though, so I wonder if it was their winning law school personality that made the difference…

We agree. The eliminated contestants — Juli, 24, of Chicago, and Natalie, 25, of Duncanville, TX — are quite comely. We’re guessing they go to non-top-tier law schools, which have hotter students.
We don’t watch The Bachelor; we prefer to spend our trash TV time on Gossip Girl. But if you saw the season premiere, and paid more attention than our tipster, we welcome your thoughts on why the law students got cut.
Update: From another source:

“Not sure what law school Juli attends (I believe it’s Michigan, but I don’t have confirmation on that), but I CAN confirm that she was a summer associate at Katten’s Chicago office. She left partway through the summer to film the show, and she STILL got an offer. True story.”

Hopefully she left Katten early enough to avoid having her ass grabbed.
Season Premiere: Episode Recap [The Bachelor (ABC)]
Earlier: Here’s One Way To Escape from Biglaw

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