It’s the last day of December, so it’s a good time to look back on the year that was. And everyone else is doing it — e.g., the ABA Journal (the most popular stories of 2010); the National Law Journal (the defining moments at the Supreme Court in 2010); and the WSJ Law Blog (the key news themes of 2010).
We’ll do what we did last year and identify the ten biggest stories of the past year as decided by you, our readers. With the help of Google Analytics, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten posts for 2010, based on traffic (as represented by pageviews).
By the way, in terms of hot topics, the most popular category page for the year was Law Schools. In 2009, it was Layoffs. This seems like a sign of progress, since the former subject is somewhat less depressing than the latter (at least to most people; harsh critics of law school, such as the “scambloggers,” might disagree). It also reflects increased public discussion about legal education and the value proposition of going to law school.
What were the most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2010? Let’s find out….
Thus far we’ve looked at holiday gifts from the perspective of the giver. What (or how much) did you give to your secretary this year? Is it appropriate to get a present for your boss (and if so, what)? How about some holiday gift ideas for other lawyers in your life?
But it’s not really better to give than to receive, is it? As we know from our coverage of lawyer compensation and bonuses, our readers are greedy SOBs like getting as much as giving. So here’s an open thread for discussion of your favorite gifts from this holiday season. (I’m wearing one of mine right now — a toasty fleece that my cousin got me from Uniqlo.)
When it comes to Christmas / holiday gifts from professional contacts, folks at firms do fine. When I was at a firm, I’d get small gifts — a bottle of wine, a Tiffany money clip — from vendors hired by the firm for various projects.
But in-house readers probably make out the best in this season, since they get gifts from law firms with big budgets. In fact, the idea for this post came from an in-house reader: “[W]hy not have a holiday schwag column to show what in-house counsel are getting from firms this season? It may be an interesting contrast to the bonus (or lack thereof) news you’ve been reporting on.”
This reader got the ball rolling with the story of a pretty sweet gift he got from a law firm he gives work to….
We hope you’ve enjoyed following our series on Top Partners to Work For, as we’ve made our way around the country highlighting the law firm partners who are not only great at what they do, but are also great to work for. As we mentioned earlier, this survey is now closed — but we’ll run it again in the future, so keep an eye out for it.
Earlier this month, we introduced six Chicago partners for whom associates enjoy working. Today we wrap up our coverage by leaving you with top partners who shine in the legal markets of Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, New Jersey, and even Hong Kong. Although some of these markets may be smaller, the firms are some of the biggest and best in the profession: Fish & Richardson, Ropes & Gray, Goodwin Procter, Jones Day, Brooks Kushman, Skadden, and Drinker Biddle.
Let’s take one last look at the partners who made the list….
If you hate your job, then no one can pay you enough to make going to work every day worthwhile. And if you love your job, you won’t be sitting around fretting about your pay. I understand that this is America and all that, but within very broad limits, you’re nuts to accept one job over another because of a small difference in compensation.
(I understand that you may be trapped in a job, because of student loans, or kids in college, or the like. I understand; trapped is trapped. And I understand that I personally have been awfully lucky, because I’ve never had to worry about finding money to pay next month’s rent, so I speak from a particular point of view. Despite all that, I stand by what I said — if job A and job B are meaningfully different from each other in ways that matter to you, and you’re not trapped, you’re nuts to take one job over the other just to earn a few extra grand each year. Period.)
Naturally, since I’m not interested in the subject, you can guess the question I’ve been asked most often since Above the Law anointed me an in-house counsel guru:
How does in-house compensation work, and what questions should I ask about compensation if I’m interviewing for an in-house job?
I find it funny that firms that want to skimp on bonuses also expect associates to make sure they are helping the overall health and performance of the firm. At some level, why should associates care if the firm is up to date on its collections? It’s not like that money is going to trickle down to the time keepers once their hours are realized. Hell, we’ve got people in the comments claiming they are going to purposely underbill in order to hurt firms in 2011 for stinginess in 2010.
The firms aren’t wrong to be doing everything they can to get associates to enter in their hours in a timely fashion. Time keeping is more accurate when you do it every day (as opposed to trying to recreate your days at the end of the week or month). Firms are struggling to collect from their clients. And, for what it’s worth, billing hours is part of the job for attorneys. I just find it ironic that firms are trying to pressure their associates to produce more money for them even as they are sharing a smaller percentage of those profits with associates.
It’s pretty clear that being a part of a Biglaw firm isn’t a “team” proposition. Everybody for themselves; that’s how the partners act, and that’s how partners expect associates to act.
And so Hughes Hubbard is bringing a little personal punishment to associates who are late with their time…
* U.S. prosecutors arrested a California woman yesterday on insider trading charges. Immediately after the charges were filed, Michael Douglas’s ex-wife sued the woman for royalties. [CNET]
* A Los Angeles law firm, Glancy Binkow & Goldberg, is being sued for maintaining a hostile work environment and being generally pervy. The article raises several important questions. None more important than this: What the hell is a bikini bar? [Los Angeles Times]
* A primer on Bill Richardson’s possible pardon of Billy the Kid. Emilio Estevez hasn’t been this stoked since the Men at Work premiere party. [WSJ Law Blog]
Here in New York City, the headquarters of Above the Law, we’re still dealing with the aftermath of the Great Blizzard of 2010. Check out our slideshow for some images (like the one at right).
Although the snowstorm ended on Monday, and it’s now Wednesday night, many streets remain unplowed and many sidewalks uncleared. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, generally praised for his tremendous competence, is taking a lot of flak for the city’s inadequate response.
And that’s just in terms of politics and public relations. Wait until the lawyers get involved!
What possible causes of action could arise out of the snowstorm? Let’s discuss….
* Musical chairs: Epstein Becker & Green closes up shop in Miami, after managing partner Michael Casey defects to Duane Morris (with lawyers and staff in tow). [Daily Business Review (subscription) via ABA Journal]
* Law enforcement mistakes end in tragedy in Detroit. [Mother Jones]
* Justice Souter is still opposed to cameras in the courtroom. [Josh Blackman]
* As discussed by Steven Davidoff and Larry Ribstein, Abercrombie & Fitch wants to reincorporate from Delaware to Ohio. Hopefully this won’t affect A&F’s eye-catching catalogs. [Truth on the Market and Dealbook / New York Times]
Unfortunately, her reasoning has matters exactly backwards. She defers to government officials who regulate private conduct, but attacks those who run government facilities. That basic mindset shows bad intellectual judgment which will lead to a decline in economic and social fortunes that no amount of compassion can cure.
Since the holiday season is getting well underway, I was wondering… What is the expected gift-giving at the office?
Presumably every associate out there will give a nice sum in the form of cash, check or gift card to his assistant and paralegal(s) as appropriate. But what about those farther up the food chain? Is it appropriate or expected to give gifts to those who give you work?
– Cleveland Rocks
Dear Cleveland Rocks,
At firms, the s**t rolls downhill, as does gift giving. You’re expected to give your secretaries and admins gifts (pro tip: secretaries LOVE Precious Moments angel figurines), because they help you dodge phone calls and make less than you. And if you don’t give individual gifts, people will come around the office begging for alms “asking” you to donate to the gift fund for back office staff. Yet for reasons that defy logic, partners with whom you work closely are miraculously excused from giving their direct underlings – the associates – gifts during the holiday season, as if the “gift” of continued employment were more than enough. That’s like when my parents used to buy me socks and underwear, hide them in the closet until December and then call them Hannukah presents. It’s not a gift if they owe it to you….
Last week, Hogan Lovells announced its associate bonuses. It’s the first bonus season for the firm since the merger of Hogan & Hartson and Lovells. Unfortunately for some associates, the transatlantic deal apparently did not pay off for them at bonus time.
The memos are individualized, but the associates who have reached out to Above the Law are not happy. Here’s one tipster’s report:
Most people with whom I’ve spoken received $2500-$5000 less than the Cravath-model for billing around 2150 (our hours requirement is 1950). This is true no matter the class year.
A number of associates left the office as soon as the memos came out because they were so disgusted. I predict a mass exodus of associates leaving HoLove this coming year, because a lot of people have been pissed about the hours anyway and these bonuses are just insulting.
But according to a Hogan Lovells spokesperson, the HoLove bonuses matched the market. So why are associates upset?
(Please note that we’ve added some UPDATES after the jump.)
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.