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Bruce Stachenfeld

This is a continuation of the past three articles I published in ATL over the past month or so. My first article argued that Profits Per Partner is a great servant for a law firm but a bad master. In my second article, I set forth our Profits Per Partner Emancipation Plan as an alternative. In my third article, I set forth what I believe is the highest level in law firm profitability analysis, which is to “embrace” the volatility inherent in the practice of law. In this final article, I will give some thoughts on how a law firm could indeed Embrace Volatility.

Before getting to that, I will mention as an aside that I wrote a few weeks ago in this column an article entitled “Are Lawyers Only Happy When They’re Miserable?” That article largely dealt with how an individual might in fact Embrace Volatility. This article is directed not at individuals but at law firms.

If you have been reading my past articles, you may be open to at least considering how Embracing Volatility might be a good thing for a law firm. But is this whole concept just a fantasy, like it would be nice to not be afraid of snakes but you can’t help it and just reciting “I am not afraid of snakes” isn’t going to work? I don’t think so. I think the following simple steps would do it quite nicely:

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The terrible way women lawyers are treated in the legal profession has been described in these pages ad infinitum. Whether their necklines are too low, their hair is too long, they’re giggling too much, or their maternity leave is considered an inconvenience, women lawyers aren’t taken seriously, and they certainly aren’t treated with respect by their fellow lawyers in this profession.

But just how much sexism do women lawyers face on a day-to-day basis? It’s astonishing…

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Keith Lee

The first step in putting yourself out there is knowing what you are about. You absolutely need to be able to present who you are to people in a simple, cohesive fashion. Otherwise, it can be difficult to make connections with people.

If you are stumbling on who you are or what you do, people lose interest. You need to be able to simply, and quickly, tell a story about who you are. Something that communicates what you are about — as a person and as a professional. You need to be able to express your personal narrative.

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We all face technology choices, but when you’re managing a law firm, these choices are all the more important, since the tools you settle on become a regular part of your day-to-day life. Making a bad decision about technology in your law practice can be particularly unpleasant since the effects are often long-term ones due to the high upfront investment required.

That’s why your decision regarding which computers and operating systems to use in your law firm is such an vital one. Once purchased, you’ll use those computers and compatible software for years to come. Making the right choice for your law firm can make all the difference.

Because PCs and compatible software dominate the marketplace, PCs are the computer of choice for most law firms. But some attorneys choose the path less traveled and opt to go with Macs. Eric Gold, a California estate practice and family law attorney, is one of those lawyers.

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In a criminal case in federal court, if you are acquitted at trial of almost all of the charges against you, you can still be sentenced as though you were convicted of all of the charges against you, when the judge disagrees with the jury’s decision. That is off-the-rails crazy.

The point of a trial, of course, is to figure out if someone is going to go to prison for doing something. The jury’s decision about what a person did should be what controls what crime the person is sentenced for committing. Yet that’s not what judges do.

To be sure, there are some cases where judges use sentencing decisions to express concerns, perhaps, about the jury’s verdict. Such as when Barry Bonds was given a light sentence for committing something that was probably not a crime. Or when a woman in Indiana was convicted in a highly questionable prosecution after being inappropriately skewered with unfair questions on cross.

But that’s a judge using her power to set a sentence while respecting the decision of a jury. She accepts what the jury decided, then takes that into account — in addition to other things — when imposing sentence.

When a judge gives someone more time in prison based on something that a jury already decided the person wasn’t guilty of, it’s very different. That’s an insult to the jury and is really hard to square with how the law of federal sentencing has been developing lately.

This week, the Supreme Court had a chance to fix that. It didn’t.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Supreme Court Lets You Go To Prison (Longer) For What You Weren’t Convicted Of”

John Grisham

* Dickstein Shapiro’s IP practice was raided by Manatt Phelps & Phillips, and now the struggling firm is down one practice group coleader thanks to its partner defections. [Am Law Daily]

* Contrary to popular belief, O’Melveny & Myers is not opening a Portland office. Instead, the firm is setting up a temporary shop to work on a local patent trial. [Portland Business Journal]

* You can turn an IPO into a gold mine for your firm using this one weird trick. Discover how you can turn that one deal into your future. Prepare to be shocked. [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Now isn’t the best time to enroll in law school. It’s also not the best time to rank law schools as “top” schools based on enrollment alone. Seriously, have you even heard of all of these law schools? [Birmingham Business Journal]

* Thanks to this Georgia appellate ruling, parents may now be held responsible for what their silly little children who weren’t supposed to be on Facebook are posting on Facebook. Dislike. [WSJ Law Blog]

* John Grisham says not all consumers of child pornography are pedophiles. Here’s a story about one of his law school pals: “He shouldn’t ‘a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys.” [The Telegraph]

Do you want to prove that you know more about the Supreme Court than anybody else? Do you just like money? Do you want to humiliate Above the Law editors?

If your answer to any of these questions was yes — and I suspect your answer to ALL of these questions was yes — then sign up at FantasySCOTUS and play against us predicting all the outcomes of the October 2014 Term.

There’s $10,000 in it for you if you’re good….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Play FantasySCOTUS With The ATL Editors”

* Looks like someone took a lesson from ATL’s Worst Law School bracket and put out a Worst Colleges in America list. We provide a very important service. [NPR]

* Converse is suing over 31 alleged Chuck Taylor imitators. Are they mounting a “full court press”? Get it? Yeah there was pretty much no way around that one. [Fashionista]

* Lawsuit reveals that struggling business couldn’t keep stores open but could shell out to keep CEO in her 4,560-square-foot home. [Seattle Times]

* Harvard Law faculty members join a statement protesting the university’s new sexual harassment policy. [Boston Globe]

* Is a sheath dress acceptable interview attire? Asking for a friend. [Corporette]

* Aaron Zelinsky’s interesting review of Lat’s upcoming novel, Supreme Ambitions, viewing the characters through the lens of William Deresiewicz’s Excellent Sheep (affiliate links). [Huffington Post Books]

* Which is more galling? That the magistrate tried to weasel out of performing a legal same-sex marriage or that the newspaper felt this worthy of a poll? [The Virginian-Pilot (Hampton Roads)]

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Judge Edith Jones

I did not say such things because I have never believed them and have never said them.

– Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit, denying she made offensive comments attributed to her by an ethics complaint. A panel of federal judges dismissed the complaint, but various civil-rights groups and legal ethicists are appealing the dismissal.

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