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True story: I didn’t leave Schulte to start ReplyAll, I left Schulte to work in the Houston office of BakerHostetler. As the father of three (two and a half at the time) kids living in a cramped apartment, moving to Houston was a no-brainer. The salary was the same, but the cost of living was a fraction of what it was in New York. But, after accepting the offer and traveling to Houston to find a house, I got this sick feeling in my stomach. During nights and weekends of the summer before I left Biglaw, my friend Ari Gold and I had been working on this little idea for a new kind of online conversation. Moving to Houston and starting another legal job would mean giving up on this idea, and I didn’t want to be sitting in a law firm seven years later wondering “what if?”

Calling Sameer Mohan, the partner at Baker who had recruited me, and telling him that I would not be accepting the offer was unquestionably the most difficult decision of my life, and I would by lying if I said I haven’t had my fair share of second thoughts. It’s not just the cash (although you know, the cash wouldn’t hurt). Despite the long hours, Houston firms (particularly Baker) value family and work/life balance in a way that I never saw at firms in New York (not just Schulte), or what I heard from friends who were working in other big markets like San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles. And because David Lat will be speaking in Houston next week, and since we at ReplyAll love to kiss the ass of pander to support and promote our partners, I thought it would be fun to invite Sameer himself for a conversation about the pros and cons of working in the Houston market.

As always, the conversation develops live, so check back over the next few days as the conversation unfolds….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Houston Is Hot: A Conversation With BakerHostetler’s Sameer Mohan”

* Because it’s been such a long time since the NFL has had a scandal, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is accused of sexual assault in a new suit. The Cowboys claim the suit is nothing but a money grab. No one knows a money grab like a franchise owner milking a new stadium partially financed by taxpayers. [USAToday]

* Dean Frank Wu explains why Hastings will survive the end of law schools. [SF Weekly]

* A pair of IP litigators, James W. Dabney and Stephen S. Rabinowitz, have jumped from Fried Frank to Hughes Hubbard. Will others be following Dabney & Rabinowitz out of Fried Frank? [Hughes Hubbard]

* “Lawyer’s ‘Torture Porn’ Past Pops Up in Pa. Governor’s Race.” OK, let’s see what you’ve got here. [Greedy Associates / FindLaw]

* An interesting breakdown of the legal scholars with the widest network of co-authors. Think of these as the most promiscuous scholars around. Actually, no. Don’t think that. [Ryan Whalen]

* Etsy sides with the USPTO and bans sales of anything branded “Redskins” on its platform. I’m not sure how smart this is since the economic teeth of the USPTO decision was to allow sites like Etsy to sell massive quantities of otherwise trademark-infringing stuff until Washington relented and opted for a new trademark-protectable name. [Etsy]

* Don’t throw peanut butter in my neighborhood (though I don’t understand the blotter… there’s no Bodega at that location). [Legal Juice]

* Lest you think law school is reasonably priced: “New IBR and PSLF provide benefits large enough that high earnings still result in nearly $100,000 in loan forgiveness for typical levels of debt for law school graduates. A lawyer earning at the 50th percentile with that debt level stands to have $147,282 forgiven, which is more than he borrowed…” [New America Education Policy Program]

* Keeping in touch with your inner child to relate to witnesses as humans. [Katz Justice]

* Closing out this football-heavy NS, friend of the blog Mitchell Epner discusses why Roger Goodell won’t (and shouldn’t) survive the fallout of the Ray Rice scandal. Check out the video after the jump… [CNBC]

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We recently asked readers to submit possible captions for this picture:

Now that you’ve voted on the finalists, let’s announce the winner….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Caption Contest Winner: Three Chiefs”

Lawyers and law firms need to measure their return on blogging. Too much time and money time is put into blogging to do it on a lark.

The ROI, or blog success, is not measured by traffic to your blog or increased traffic to your law firm website from your blog.

Blog ROI should be measured by five milestones. Look at the milestones at six months, a year, and again at two years. Business development success online is a marathon, not a sprint…

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Ed Sohn

If the legal industry today is the Matrix, which character would you be?
Oh, we are Morpheus. Definitely.

I spent 30 minutes with Morpheus Phil Weiss, founder of a group of over a thousand lawyers, policymakers, and technologists that meet up in bars, cafes, and creative workspaces from Brooklyn to San Francisco to Stockholm. They call their group Legal Hackers, and its mission is to hack the law.

What? Hack the law? Like, in public? In broad daylight? Is that legal?

“We call it extra-legal mechanisms. Not illegal. Extra-legal.” Weiss, a good-natured young lawyer (Brooklyn Law ’12, associate at Friedman Law Group), had the savvy of a well-read academic but the easygoing manner of a millennial.

So, extra-legal, huh? But “hacking the law” was still a bizarre concept for me. “Look,” Weiss patiently explained as my brain struggled to grasp the vision, “we just bring technologists and lawyers together to explore and create solutions at the intersection of law and technology.”

I started to understand. We’re not just talking about alternative career paths for lawyers; we’re talking about paradigm-shifting innovation to re-terraform the stodgy, old-school legal industry. We’re talking about a movement, a framework.

So let’s hack the law… whatever that means.

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We’ve been hearing rumblings about it for weeks, and now there’s something to report: Locke Lord and Edwards Wildman Palmer have signed a letter of intent to merge.

Some folks at Edwards Wildman must be breathing sighs of relief (and hoping that nothing scuttles the deal). The past year or so has been challenging for the firm. In the spring, the firm laid off 52 lawyers and staff. In 2013, the firm experienced lots of partner defections and a significant dip in gross revenue.

It’s nice to see a troubled firm get rescued through a merger — e.g., Patton Boggs — instead of suffer the fate of Dewey. What do we know about the possible Locke Lord / Edwards Wildman deal?

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David Bowie said it this way:

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

(Turn and face the strain)

Ch-ch-Changes

I know you’ll be humming that song a couple hours from now (and thanking me for it). But, it underscores that clients are demanding ch-ch-ch-change from the legal profession on both sides of the border. We can’t ignore it any longer. We need to turn and face the strain head on. We need to meet the challenges of globalization and technological innovation and transform our industry.

It looks like Canadian lawyers are making an attempt to join the twentieth century — sorry, I mean the twenty-first century. The Canadian Bar Association recently released its Futures Initiative report that sprung from two years of consultations by lawyers and legal profession experts. The Futures Report makes twenty-two recommendations for helping the Canadian legal profession break away from its horse and buggy business model (developed by Gen A) to join a world where you can watch video of a horse online before purchasing it with Bitcoins…

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We can help you waste thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to fight for what you sort of believe in.

– “William Hostetler,” the fictional voice of the very real law firm BakerHostetler. BakerHostetler, recently hired by congressional Republicans to spearhead their infamous lawsuit against President Obama, got a send-up on last night’s Tonight Show with a phony ad in the style of every ambulance-chasing firm ever committing to help you, the viewer, work out your frustrations with a frivolous lawsuit against President Obama.

(The whole bit is available after the jump….)

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‘Hey, everybody! I just wanted to let you know I’m an a-hole!’

Law is a profession that attracts some of the most cunning of linguists modern society has to offer. The ability to speak eloquently about dense legal concepts is an art that takes years to perfect, and is a skill that some lawyers can only hope to someday achieve. Until that time rolls around, other lawyers are happy to roll up their sleeves and employ the usage of a language they’re all fluent in to prove their respective points: sarcasm. It’s the lazy lawyer’s key to success — but it can also serve as his undoing.

Sometimes, being overly sarcastic can earn a lawyer a reputation for being a loveable jokester. Other times, being overly sarcastic can earn a lawyer a seat at his very own disciplinary hearing. For example, asking opposing counsel if he’s “grow[n] a pair” yet would probably land a lawyer in the hot seat.

The subject of today’s foray into ethical lapses definitely grew a pair of his own, because not only was he censured for his over-the-top sarcastic remarks, but he also admitted that he’d been ignoring his work in favor of golf trips and exotic vacations. Fore! Watch out for that legal career hitting the sand trap…

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I thought now would be a good time to give a progress report on my job search. It’s been a little over five months since the race began, and I still have not reached the finish line. All of the jobs openings I applied to have been filled. By someone else.

Recently, I wrote an email to an attorney named Stephanie whom I have known for many years and think of as a role model. Since I have been feeling discouraged and cynical lately, I thought it would be best to be direct with her and not beat around the bush. I was curious what kind of response and advice she would have, if any.

Read onwards to read my email and her response…

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Welcome to working in South Carolina!

Stop it South Carolina. Okay, not like everyone in South Carolina, but based on the tips we keep on getting it appears to be one of the worst markets for contract attorneys. This is not the first time the Palmetto State has been featured as one of the worst jobs, and I fear it won’t be the last. Once there are a few bad jobs (particularly as “bad” relates to wages) in a regional market it can trigger an avalanche effect and even staffing agencies and vendors that used to consistently offer projects above the market rate start to heed the downward market pressure.

And I know exactly how it happens…

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