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Chicago looks nice -- why is everyone fleeing?

Young lawyers of Chicago: What the heck is going on with you people? You seem to be losing it. Has the brutal Chicago winter driven you crazy? Do we need to put The People’s Therapist on the next plane to O’Hare?

Let’s look at the evidence. You’re quitting prestigious and lucrative law firm jobs to hike across the country with dogs. You’re getting involved in embarassing litigation with your ex-fiances (after allegedly hooking up with shady Vegas ladies named “Danielle”).

And you’re leaving Chicago — a city with excellent shopping and superb restaurants (I was at Alinea a few weeks ago, and it was amazing) — to go “find yourselves.” In the Himalayas.

Check out this latest departure memo, from an associate who just left Skadden….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Another Great Departure Memo: Skadden Associate Trades Chicago for… Nepal?”

Yes. The voting started today at 11:30 AM (Eastern time) and remains underway, according to Am Law Daily. We will keep you posted, either by adding updates to this post or publishing a new post.

Meanwhile, the CEO (and poet laureate) of Howrey, Robert Ruyak, gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal about the apparent downfall of his firm. As summarized by the WSJ Law Blog, Ruyak blamed Howrey’s troubles on a combination of (1) experiments with contingency fees and alternative fee arrangements, (2) impatient and risk-averse partners, and (3) discovery vendors.

Are you finding it hard to keep track of where all the Howrey partners are ending up? Join the club. Luckily, there’s a new resource out there that can help….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

Let me tell you about a couple of cases I lost. Now, wait: before the Commentariat sharpens its knives (“This guy couldn’t get a big-firm job, then loses all his cases. No wonder he’s writing for ATL. Heh.” — Guest), let me point out a few things. In 17 years as an employment litigator, I’ve won plenty more cases than I’ve lost. But I didn’t learn as much from the cases I won; I learned much more from the ones I lost.

So this post covers the single most important lesson I’ve learned in litigation, and now I’m sharing it with you. You didn’t learn it in law school, and you’re not likely to find a CLE on it. But the lesson these two cases illustrate can prevent you from making the most common mistake lawyers make.

And learning that lesson will help you win more cases.…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Firms, Big Lawyers: It’s Not About the Law”


Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon.

I receive a steady stream of disaffected lawyers who want to change careers. They come to me for “the answer.”

The question is: “How do I get out of law and do something different?”

What gets under my skin is the expectation this is going to be easy. It isn’t.

Remaining in law and looking for something better poses challenges. You realize by now you can’t call a headhunter and go to a “lifestyle firm” — they only exist in the imaginations of fee-hungry “staffing professionals.” Hyphenated jobs, like “environmental-law” or “entertainment-law,” are misnomers. Choose anything fun and attach the word “law” to it — “food-law,” “sex-law” — and it’s still law.

More realistic “remain-in-law” solutions, like an in-house position or a government job, are hard to find because everyone’s thought of them. You can get there with sufficient determination — but it’s tough, and I can’t make it not-tough. No one can….

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You don’t have to be a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars to have predicted that Warner Bros. — the company that produces Two and a Half Angry Men and, not un-coincidentally, Looney Tunes — would fire Charlie Sheen from the show. And on Monday, that’s exactly what happened. Writing on behalf of Warner Bros., Munger Tolles (specifically, partner John Spiegel) fired off an 11-page letter immediately axing Charlie from Two and a Half Laughs, Ever Men.

But even if someone wields a machete from a roof or requests a battle in the Octagon, you can’t necessarily fire him for cause just because he’s crazy. For instance, Tom Cruise jumps on couches and he has gone on to not be fired from several lackluster movies, most notably Valkyrie. Warner Bros. needs cause to fire Charlie under his $1.8 million per episode contract, and in the letter, they offer up a kitchen sink of it.

A lot rides on the outcome here: if Charlie prevails in arbitration and proves that Warner Bros did not have cause to fire him, he stands to get paid for the ten remaining episodes in the show’s ninth (!!) season. And if the reports are accurate, he also has a “Michael J. Fox” clause in his contract, which specifically permits a washed-up 80s actor to continue to draw paychecks from humorless sitcoms that remain in production after the actor has left the show to fade into obscurity – a hold over from the days when Sheen replaced Fox in Spin City and Fox continued to get paid. If Warner Bros. prevails, they may seek 10 episodes worth of lost revenue from Charlie, though admittedly it will be difficult to convince an arbitrator that anybody watches the show, must less pays to advertise on it.

In any event, down to brass tacks. Here are the various allegations Warner Bros. makes in the termination letter to assert that they have cause to fire Charlie under his contract, along with my evaluation of their merits….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Charlie Sheen’s Bitchin’ Termination Letter”

Gov. Pat Quinn

* The opening of the RaJabba Rajaratnam trial will be gripping, apparently. [Reuters]

* The S.E.C. is being attacked again about its ethical standards. It’s not like these problems started with Cam Newton. I mean, the S.E… what’s that? The Securities and Exchange Commission? What? No, I don’t even know what that is. What does that have to do with football? [New York Times]

* Horrifying syphilis experiments keep coming back to haunt the United States government. That’s so syphilis. [Charlotte Observer]

* Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation today ending capital punishment. I couldn’t think of a joke here, but this cat thinks it’s a frog. [Chicago Tribune]

* In Buffalo, a fight over attorney pay. I blame Norwood. [Buffalo News]

* A judge helped cut an attorney out of his father’s will and claimed he was still able to act impartially on a case the attorney was handling. That sh*t-eating grin on the judge’s face every time the attorney spoke? Oh, that was just a joke he remembered. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Former U.S. attorney (S.D.N.Y.) and Davis Polk litigator S. Hazard Gillespie, R.I.P. [New York Times]

Harvard Law is #1, according to law firm hiring partners.

We mentioned them briefly in Morning Docket but didn’t do more, figuring that perhaps you might have rankings fatigue. But we were wrong; apparently you can’t get enough of law school rankings. (This really shouldn’t surprise us, based on the traffic we got for this rankings post, and even this one.)

We’ve received several emails asking us for more coverage. And our friends at the ABA Journal and the WSJ Law Blog devoted full posts to them.

So let’s get into them: the latest law school rankings generated by U.S. News & World Report, namely, law schools ranked by law firm recruiting personnel. Which schools made the top ten?

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Raj Rajaratnam

* The epic insider trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam got underway today. Bess Levin, of our sister site Dealbreaker, comes up with a (rather hilarious and bizarre) list of possible character witnesses for Raj. [Dealbreaker]

* Speaking of the Rajaratnam trial, who were those mystery men observing the proceedings in the courtroom? [Clusterstock]

* In other insider-trading news, a former Dewey & LeBoeuf associate, Todd Leslie Treadway, has been hit with civil insider-trading charges by the SEC. [National Law Journal via WSJ Law Blog]

* Talk about a benchslap: “Mr. Redlich continues to display an apparent disregard for the time and resources that this court must expend in interpreting his poorly-drafted pleadings and analyzing his sloppily-constructed and thinly-researched memoranda.” [Albany Times-Union]

* Four important lessons, for lawyers and technologists, that can be drawn from Michelangelo’s sculpting of The David. [Ben Kerschberg / Forbes]

* Musical chairs: Sean Patrick Maloney — former aide to Governor Paterson, Governor Spitzer, and President Clinton, and a former candidate for New York Attorney General — joins Orrick from Kirkland. [Orrick (press release)]

* Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? [In Custodia Legis]

* On a more festive note, Happy Mardi Gras! [Twitpic]

* Congratulations to Omar Ha-Redeye of Law Is Cool, winner of the 2010 Blawg Review of the Year. [Blawg Review]

We’re hearing reports — not yet confirmed, so please take them with the proverbial grain (or shaker) of salt — that Winston & Strawn has rescinded some or all of its offers to partners of Howrey.

The supposed catalyst for the collapse: antitrust star Sean Boland, who had been leading the talks on the Howrey side, pulling out of the deal. It has been rumored that he might take his team not to Winston but to Baker Botts (which has already absorbed other Howrey talent).

What we do know for certain is that the partner exodus from Howrey continues. Here is the latest confirmed news.

UPDATE: Various updates have been (and are still being) appended — after the jump….

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Whether you’re a junior associate just barely surviving Biglaw, thriving in Biglaw, or somewhere in between, this Career Center Tip of the Day series is for you.

For many of you junior associates, the extent of your experience with Biglaw layoffs was reading about them on Above the Law from the safety of your law school classroom.  But now that you can call yourself a cog in the Biglaw wheel, perhaps you’ve wondered what you can practically do to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack, just in case the economy takes another turn for the worse.

Or maybe you’re the superstar of your class, and you never worry about getting the ax. These tips are for you, too. The more valuable you become to your firm, the more control you will have over the direction of your career.

Now, on to the first tip….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How to Become an (Almost) Indispensable Junior Associate (Part 1)”

One day, after I had been questioned for weeks at a time, I was so frustrated I looked at my assistant and said ‘I think they already know the color of my underwear.’

– Justice Sonia Sotomayor, complaining about the intrusive questioning she was subjected to during the Supreme Court nomination process, in an appearance yesterday at Northwestern Law.

No, wrong Boston Market.

The global megafirm of Latham & Watkins is in full expansion mode. The firm recently picked up a trio of real estate partners from Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, for example.

And even though it’s not yet listed on the firm website, we understand that LW has quietly opened a Boston office. The official announcement will be made later this month, according to the Boston Business Journal.

This news shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Latham loves geographic reach, and it has been mulling over a Beantown presence since late 2007, as noted by Am Law Daily.

Tipsters tell us that Latham has already been scooping up talent from different firms around town. We have at least one name that we don’t believe has been publicly announced yet….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Latham & Watkins Enters the Boston Market”

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