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It’s not a change in concept for us. It’s a change in numbers in some ways.

– Professor Jeffrey Gutman, the director of George Washington Law School’s Public Justice Advocacy clinic, explaining the impact of the ABA’s new rules requiring students to rack up six credits in a clinic or some other “practical” experience before graduating. Speaking of changes in numbers, so much for all those lower-tier schools banking their reputations on their “practice-ready training” now that the top schools have to throw their money into clinical programs for every student.

Fictional depictions of high-powered executives and lawyers feature personal assistants with job portfolios more akin to “slave child” than “professional.” Sometimes these assistants are associates, but usually they’re in some other job — like legal secretaries, or whatever Waylon Smithers does. These jobs don’t usually exist in real life. Sure, a partner might ask a paralegal or secretary for a cup of coffee, but they aren’t really so full of themselves as to expect some low-wage employee to peel grapes and fan palm leaves.

Unless you’re this guy, of course. This guy is a partner who wants an employee to “reduce my stress level” by handling every task that he feels is beneath his lofty stature. Behold someone so out of touch with basic decency….

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The week before Labor Day is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Has been for a long time. Even during my decade-plus in Biglaw, a fact that may be shocking to those who believe that the Biglaw experience ranges from the tolerable to the miserable — and never enjoyable. But even for those who feel trapped in the ravenous clutches of the insatiable Biglaw billable hours beast, the end of August almost always offers a welcome, if brief, respite. Because late August is prime Biglaw vacation season, and offices nationwide are running on a skeleton staff.

Partners, and even some associates, are trying to squeeze in some family time before the start of school. The younger set is off for a final round of beach weekends, or just enjoying lazy days in the office, relishing the chance to kick out at a normal hour. With time to hit the gym, before a meal in a real restaurant, rather than a Seamless-delivered dinner in a takeout tray. During my Biglaw years, the end of August meant the last few days of commuting down to the Jersey Shore by ferry from Manhattan, with twilight views of the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Bridge. Moments of serenity, even in a city of perpetual motion.

The end of summer can be wonderful, and the temptation to milk the most relaxation out of the waning days of the season great. But it would be a mistake to view this period as only one of enjoyment….

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The last few years have helped me get very used to the passive-aggressive bigotry that homophobes still think they can get away with. “Just believing” that marriage is between a man and a woman conveniently leaves out the stunning antipathy to gay love and civil rights… but it doesn’t sound as “hateful” as it is. And the idea that gay marriage can somehow threaten straight marriages sounds more stupid than bigoted, even though it’s both.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to search very long for harsh anti-gay rhetoric. But in the refreshingly genteel environment of educated society, old-school, anti-gay hate speech comes off as particularly harsh.

Old-school, anti-gay hate speech captured over law firm email is downright surprising given the current environment. But then again, bigoted statements that a senior lawyer sent out to all attorneys at a law firm come back all the way around to “incredibly stupid.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this stupid, bigoted, dumbass, hate-filled, verbal feces slathered all over law firm email is… quaint.

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Qui Tam: Swag

Law firm swag. Ubiquitous and occasionally useful. Years later I still use a slim thermos that fits in my bike bottle holder, though the firm’s logo has long since worn off. But, I mean, who wants law firm branded stuff anyway?  Maybe a Wachtell tie might be nice, or a Slaughter & May pencil sharpener, but really, the market outside then-current employees is virtually non-existent. Meaning swag is usually a relatively harmless exercise in self-indulgent corporate team building. Usually….

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Isn’t discovery fun?

Attorneys can pretty much be broken down into two categories — those who have experience with doc review, and those who have been lucky enough to avoid it. But, there will be a point in the not too distant future when the latter group will become the ultra minority. I have been preaching for years now to attorneys: “Woe unto you who fails to understand the importance of metadata.” When I am consulting with attorneys on tech issues, be it trial technology related, practice management related, or e-discovery related, I always get a large portion of attorneys who tell me (usually with their eyes), “Look, son, I haven’t needed this is the past, I don’t need it now, and I’ll never need it. Change is bad.”

Finally, I have some authority to back me up….

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* Congratulations to California Attorney General Kamala Harris who just got married last week to Venable’s Douglas Emhoff. [KCRA]

* Wishing a speedy recovery to former FBI Director Louis Freeh who suffered serious injuries in a car accident last night. [Associated Press via Philly.com]

* McDonald’s faces lawsuit over serving a serrated spear with their orange juice, which would be the most dangerous thing McDonald’s has served since McSpaghetti. [TMZ]

* Florida State begins classes without Dan Markel. [WCTV]

* The government’s $5 billion lawsuit against S&P has nothing to do with retaliating against S&P’s downgrade of the United States’ credit rating. At least according to the U.S. government. [Reuters]

* John Boehner is paying BakerHostetler $500/hour in taxpayer money to pursue this stupid Obama lawsuit. So much for fiscal responsibility. [NBC News]

* You don’t hear the word barratry very often, but when you do, it’s best when accompanied by “murder-for-hire.” [Texas Lawyer]

So, it appears that there are some people who have ignored my advice and are about to show up to law school anyway. Still more people never heard my advice from their pre-law advisor/philosophy major. Welcome to the suck.

Well, there’s nothing for it now. You’re in it now and if you have chosen poorly it’ll be years before you fully realize the gravity of your decision. In the meantime, what are you supposed to do now? Classes are starting and… hey, are you briefing a case? Are you briefing a freaking case before classes even start? Jesus. PUT THOSE HIGHLIGHTERS DOWN.

You’ve heard about “outlines,” right? Outlines allow you to copy other people’s work so you don’t have to do it yourself. This is the way of things. I say, cheating is the gift man gives himself.

It’s time for some tips…

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* The Minnesota Republican party banned their own candidate for Supreme Court from the State Fair. I just feel bad that she’ll never know who won the prize pig competition. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

* Lawyers are narcissists and that’s not good for their careers. [Law and More]

* A writer figures out that American University’s Law School is a trap. [Washington City Paper]

* Disturbing video of a judge ordering the illegal assault and arrest of a disabled, indigent litigant. The fact that this is the second “judge assaults a litigant” incident I’ve written about in a week is terrifying. [Sacramento Family Court News]

* Steph Cha’s new tale of old school noir, Beware Beware (affiliate link), is now available. Its setting is “a picture of desolation, of crushed dreams dressed in grimy fourth-hand garments.” And yet, somehow she’s not talking about the last days of Dewey. [LA Times]

* If you’re doing some kind of charity, do us a favor and shut up about it. [What About Clients]

* A Connecticut lawyer was barred from ever representing women again for the rest of his career. Now he may be disbarred for breaking that simple condition. [ATL Redline]

I enjoy the law school rivalry between NYU and Columbia, much like somebody in the SEC enjoys watching Big Ten Football.

Many students get into both NYU and Columbia. And then, when they don’t get into HYS, they have to make a tough choice. That choice will not define their career options: both groups of students do well in the job market. But the choice defines what they want to present to the world. NYU gives off a vibe of “Law School can be fun.” Columbia exudes the rational calculation of “the chances of surviving Harlem at night are 725 to 1.”

Because the choice is more about personality than options, the rivalry can last beyond 3L year. I meet more people at conferences that went to Columbia, but I get drunk at those conferences with more NYU kids. It’s hard to explain but easy to see.

In a message to incoming 1Ls, a recent NYU grad kind of summed up the difference in one email…

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When a firm starts losing partners to its rivals and slowing down their hiring (or even conducting layoffs), it’s usually a bad sign. But one Biglaw firm that’s lost a number of high-profile partners over the last year is touting its new, streamlined approach. You see, they meant to suffer all those defections and lose some of their biggest clients. It’s all part of reinventing the firm for the modern business climate.

Is this just good public relations, or are they on to something?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “One Biglaw Firm Is Shrinking And Feeling Pretty Good About It”

It feels like going back in time.

– Judge Donna Taylor describing her life as a rural lawyer, where a condition of her lease required her to raise chickens. It sounds like a lonely life serving in a town with only three lawyers. Still, Judge Taylor is hopeful that new debt forgiveness programs will help grow the market and put a dent in the justice gap.

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