Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.
We all know that sometimes relationships end. Take Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper. As my friend (who is a divorce attorney) always says, if things are not working out, end it and do not buy real estate together.
This is true not only with bad relationships, but with bad jobs. I have received emails and had conversations with several small-firm attorneys who are unhappy. One woman emailed me that she worked at a small firm where she had to work in a poorly heated office with roaches and screamers (I guess she worked on a pirate ship). One man told me that he was repeatedly forced to cancel his vacations for faux emergencies. I have heard many different tales of experiences that range from unpleasant to abusive.
The idea of quitting a job (even a bad one) in this economy seems heretical to many. But, it shouldn’t. A recent study suggests that working at a bad job may be more harmful than being unemployed….
* Speaking of Debevoise, I probably could have used these tips on how to resign gracefully from my former firm. Instead, I think I stood up in the middle of a conference room and started shouting, “give us, us free.” [Corporette]
* Why do law school administrators act like telling the truth is one option among many, instead of a professional responsibility? [Vault]
There’s been so much talk of Biglaw women and baby making floating around the blogosphere this week that I think there must have been a “repopulate the species” action memo in US Weekly. Existentially, I blame the season. It’s January, and childless professional women just went through another holiday season getting bombarded with images of children on television (to say nothing of little nieces or nephews that might have been swarming like locusts when they visited family). They return back to their regularly scheduled lives, many of them with raises or bonuses for the new year, and now they’re looking around at their barren apartments and thinking, “What am I missing?”
You’ll see the same thing happen to men… after the Superbowl. They’ll watch the game and have fond memories of their dad or uncle or somebody teaching them fun things they can do with balls. Then post-Superbowl depression will set in, and you’ll see men sleepwalking through “honey-do” errands with vacant, suicidal looks on their faces. They’ll look around at fathers who don’t even seem to care which NCAA teams are on the bubble, and they’ll think, “What am I missing?”
But this week it’s women who are having replication pangs. Clear as I can tell, Vivia Chen on The Careerist started the ball rolling in the legal blogosphere by repackaging a Slate XX Factor article (by Dahlia Lithwick) that featured one woman telling other women that they were hobbling their careers by planning for a family before they had one.
And since women generally can’t stand to even be in the same room with each other, it wasn’t too long before everybody was rolling out their best women-dogging-other-women content….
Usually, the green pallor doesn't set in until she's been an associate for a year.
* Some tips for people who need to look older so potential employers and clients will take them seriously. Or you could actually live a little and let nature do her thing. [Corporette]
* Law as a business will survive this recession. Law as a profession probably won’t, not at the prices these law schools are charging. [My Law License via ABA Journal]
* Now that they’re getting a pay freeze, I expect the SEC porno-per-regulation ratio to shift even more heavily towards porn. [Dealbreaker]
* Lawyers need to be great at customer service. Having legs is optional with today’s modern advances. [What About Clients?]
* Remember that little wrinkle in world history where every civilized western nation had banned slavery except the United States? I thought about that when I read that the U.K. banned the exports of lethal injection drugs to America. Are we going to have to fight over this or can we peacefully agree that the Eighth Amendment is enough? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Above the Law has been nominated in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 contest. Thanks to all the readers who support us, and of course the ones who vote for us. Check out the full Blawg 100. Above the Law is in the news category. But if you if you click over to the niche category, you’ll notice that Kashmir Hill’s excellent work on privacy matters has also earned a much deserved nomination. [ABA Journal]
You may have noticed that people working in Big Law are more pissed off than usual lately. And I can’t say that I blame them. The threat of associate layoffs still looms large. A six-figure salary barely keeps you off food stamps. White shoe firms are crawling with bed bugs. And herpes. But it looks like there’s a new kid on the block — a pair of kids, actually — gaining traction as the latest target for Big Law acrimony, at least if the state of affairs in and around my firm is any indication: Boobs. Or more to the point, how front and center they should be when it comes to dressing for work.
Now, arguments over appropriate sartorial choices for the workplace, breast-related or otherwise, are nothing new. Panels have been convened over them. Entire websites have been launched about them. Lawsuits have been waged because of them. But when the argument focuses on the degree of exposure — or lack thereof — of female breasts in the workplace, especially in a legal workplace, that’s when tempers really start to get out of control.
I can tell you’re already starting to get a little hot under the collar, aren’t you? OK, look, let’s all just calm down, take a deep breath, and take a tour of some photographic evidence….
* We know you love rankings. Here are the top 25 national universities and liberal arts colleges, according to the 2011 U.S. News college rankings. [TaxProf Blog]
* CHECK YOU ETHICS? In the seemingly endless Barbie/Bratz litigation, lawyers from Orrick, which now represents Bratz maker MGA, have accused Mattel lawyers from Quinn Emanuel of participating in an elaborate corporate espionage scheme. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Give her a gold-plated gavel: Wisconsin Law professor Victoria Nourse, nominated to the Seventh Circuit, has a net worth of almost $20 million. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
* Do you hate parking boots? So does this guy — and his taking a stand against them might bring about legal change in the U.K. [AltTransport]
Earlier today, on the Senate floor, debate took place on whether to confirm Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th Supreme Court justice. The Kagan nomination is not very controversial, due to the nominee’s impeccable credentials and the Democrats’ 59 votes in the Senate.
In the legal blogosphere, a far more divisive debate is raging, over a subject just as important as confirming the fourth woman ever to the Supreme Court: Are peep-toe shoes appropriate professional footwear? Can female attorneys wear them to the office? What about to court?
The debate was ignited over at The Careerist, by Vivia Chen (no style slouch herself — not many legal journalists own floor-length mink coats). Chen recounted this anecdote:
Waiting in line in the ladies room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel recently, I heard this discussion: “In my day, I always wore pumps to court,” said in a woman in her fifties. “Can you believe this associate went to court with open-toe shoes?” Her companion shook her head, then asked: “How did she do?” The first woman replied, “Her work was good, but her shoes weren’t right.”
Chen then surveyed a number of lawyers, from around the country, and they could not reach a consensus on the appropriateness of peep-toe shoes. The debate continued over at the ABA Journal, where a post by Debra Cassens Weiss generated a flurry of comments.
Given that so many law firms are business casual nowadays, it is probably safe to wear peep-toe shoes to the office. The fashion guidelines issued by the New York office of Weil Gotshal, for example, officially bless “open toe or open heel shoes.” (Still unacceptable: “Athletic shoes, clogs, beach shoes, flip flops, beach shoes.”)
But what about wearing peep-toe shoes to court? On this subject, we decided to turn to the experts: namely, a panel of fabulous female federal judges….
This month’s heat wave forced professional types to start desperately thinking about whether spaghetti straps and speedos are appropriate attire for the office. (Hint: they’re not.)
Many offices do go casual over the summer, though. At Weil Gotshal, for example, you can buy your way into a pair of jeans on Friday. Says a tipster (with some high-rise excitement):
did you hear that weil is starting jeans fridays for july and august as a test run and potentially forever! in order to participate, we must pay $5 to go to a designated charity each month. we have had these $5 jeans fridays in the past maybe every other month… but now it’s every friday!
The downside: Those who don’t turn up in jeans on Fridays are revealed as either ridiculously stuffy or too cheap to give to charity.
Need help with clothing choices this summer? A recent career newsletter from The Ladders had a useful feature on summer fashion, including dos and don’ts. The photo at right is among those featured. Is it a fashion do or a don’t?
* Latino Major League Baseball players are threatening to boycott the 2011 All-Star game (which is currently set to be held in Phoenix). If they want to really do something, they’ll boycott spring training complexes throughout Arizona. Remember, when the NFL threatened to pull the Super Bowl, Arizona managed to get its head out of its ass over Martin Luther King day. These kinds of protests can really have an effect. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Israeli victims of Hezbollah rocket attacks are bringing a lawsuit against Qatar-based Al-Jazeera over what they put on T.V. in Israel. Logically, this suit is being filed in the SDNY. [Legal Blog Watch]
* When is it appropriate to pull a summer associate aside and say “really, you’re wearing that to work”? [Corporette]
* When cops attack it really helps if they are not acting as cops. [Bad Lawyer]
* The alleged liberal bias among the mainstream media doesn’t seem to be doing Eliot Spitzer a whole lot of good. [Salon]
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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