Yes, I have my Al Bundy-esque stories of high school sports glory. You’re not going to believe this, but I used to be a tailback. 4-year letterman, 3-year starter, with a sub-5.0 forty time good enough for D-III, probably could have made a D-II team if I really wanted it.
Yes, I used to … care.
But, by the time I got to Biglaw my athletic days were long gone (Mmm … college). By the time I got to Biglaw, I could pull a hamstring walking from my seat at Shea to the hot dog stand (Mmm … hot dogs). When I was a summer associate, a colleague broke his collar bone running out a grounder at the firm outing. I vowed that would not be me. Sitting is the better part of valor. So, I stayed clear of firm organized (non-beer pong) sporting events and leagues.
But I was glad they existed. Hyper-competitive people who are not me should release some of that energy on athletic fields and gyms instead of unleashing all of it in the office.
Sadly, this recession means cutbacks. Am Law Daily reports that one of the things being axed is firm sponsored teams in lawyer sports leagues:
New York’s Lawyers Athletic League, for instance, has seen the number of teams in its winter basketball league drop about 30 percent over the past two years, from 142 to 100. Participation in Los Angeles’ primary legal industry sports league, the Landau Lawyers League, has also experienced a decline in participation levels for its softball and basketball leagues. And in Houston, the basketball, softball, and football leagues organized by the city’s young lawyers association have all gotten smaller over the past 18 months.
One big reason the Houston leagues are shrinking: some firms simply don’t want to pay the entry fees required to field teams.
“The bigger firms don’t seem to have pulled in the reins,” says Earl Spencer, a lawyer with Weingarten Realty Investors who chairs the Houston Young Lawyers Association’ sports committee. “But at smaller firms, where 400 or 500 bucks makes a difference, there is more reluctance now.”
Even at firms that can afford to participate, the optics of paying for employed lawyers to have fun, while recently laid off lawyers cash unemployment checks, are not good.
Additional details after the jump.
Because when you want to argue against average Americans having access to a basic civil right, you want to make sure nobody sees you doing it. From the Associated Press:
The Supreme Court is blocking a broadcast of the trial on California’s same-sex marriage ban, at least for the first few days.
The federal trial is scheduled to begin later Monday in San Francisco. It will consider whether the Proposition 8 gay marriage ban approved by California voters in November 2008 is legal.
The high court on Monday said it will not allow video of the trial to be posted on YouTube.com, even with a delay, until the justices have more time to consider the issue. It said that Monday’s order will be in place at least until Wednesday. Opponents of the broadcast say they fear witness testimony might be affected if cameras are present. Justice Stephen Breyer said he would have allowed cameras while the court considers the matter.
Whatever. I’d be more worked up about this, but I’m still waiting for FIFA to realize that there is a thing called instant replay. Old people, organizations, and institutions tend to react really slowly to obvious technological changes. UPDATE: After the jump, SCOTUSblog opines on why the Court mandated the delay.
You can’t go two clicks on the internet today without hearing something about the new term of the Supreme Court (or the NFL playoffs, or porn). I’ve got to agree with the WSJ Law Blog’s Ashby Jones that the most interesting SCOTUS related piece comes via Bloomberg and talks about Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s willingness to defend shareholder rights. The Law Blog summarizes Kagan’s pro-shareholder stances:
Exhibit A: In a case against Merck, Kagan’s office is asking the court to let shareholders wait longer to sue companies for securities fraud. The justices are considering whether to allow a lawsuit by investors who say the drugmaker deceived them about the risks posed by its Vioxx painkiller.
But Exhibit B is the case folks are buzzing about: Kagan and SEC lawyers are urging the court to ease the way for investors to sue mutual fund managers over their fees. The fund industry aims to avert more lawsuits by the 90 million investors who together hold $11 trillion in U.S. mutual funds.
Why worry about potentially messy government regulation of business when you can just sue the bastards?
More details from the Bloomberg article after the jump.
It’s been a while since we debated which class of associates got screwed over the most because of the global economic meltdown. Is it the class of 2009? That was the class who enjoyed the first round of (sometimes indefinite) incoming first year deferrals. Maybe you think the class of 2010 is most screwed? That class ran into reduced (or canceled) summer programs, fewer hiring opportunities, and reduced salaries.
I don’t think the class of 2011 qualifies. Those people have had every opportunity to read the writing on the wall and adjust accordingly.
But what about the class of 2008? Remember them? That’s the class where a lot of people were just straight up fired. Some of those people saw their careers end before they even began. The website Visualize Law has a very interesting chart about what happened to people in the class of 2008.
Let’s take a look after the jump.
* Does moving Jay Leno back to 11:35 trigger Conan O’Brien’s (allegedly huge) buyout clause? [USA Today]
* I think the city of New York has an unhealthy interest in my diet. [ABC News]
* All rise … for a fun SCOTUS term. [National Law Journal]
* Ted Olson makes the conservative case for gay marriage. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Deposed football coach Mike Leach sues Texas Tech for defamation, wrongful termination, and fraud. [LubbockOnline]
* Once again, law school applications are on the rise. [New York Times]
* Chicago trains are still safe for adults. [Courthouse News Service]
We asked Randy Cohen, author of The Ethicist column at the New York Times, the following question:
When I checked into a hotel in California, I was starving, so I ate the $6 box of Oreos from the minibar. Later that day, I walked down the street to a convenience store, bought an identical box for $2.50, and replenished the minibar before the hotel had a chance to restock it.
Was this proper? My view is “no harm, no foul.” In fact, my box was fresher: the Oreos I ate were going to expire three months before the box I replaced them with.
– DAVID LAT, NEW YORK
The Ethicist slapped us down, in today’s NYT. Do you agree with him?
Read more, and take a READER POLL, after the jump.
Ed. note: Above the Law has teamed up with Law Shucks, which has done excellent work translating all of the layoff news into user-friendly charts and graphs: the Layoff Tracker.
The year isn’t off to a good start, but it’s the same bad news it’s been for a while. Focus is increasingly turning to the underemployment rate, rather than the unemployment rate.
It’s the same old denominator problem. Unemployment looks not bad (relatively speaking) at first glance – it was flat at 10.2%. But 661,000 people left the US labor force last month and a similar number of jobs were lost. Had the denominator remained constant, unemployment would have been 10.4%. Overall, 1.7 million Americans left the workforce in the second half of 2009, which was a 1.1% decline, and the workforce as a percentage of total population hit the lowest point since 1985.
That could make for an interesting contrast – the unemployment rate may increase as disaffected people become optimistic about their prospects and re-enter the workforce, even as jobs aren’t actually opening up at the same rate. So higher unemployment may well be a positive indicator, to the extent it results from an increase in the denominator, rather than another decrease in the numerator. In other news, ignorance is strength and war is peace.
We’ve been reporting on firms that have announced pay freezes for 2010, but at some firms, the salary outlook for 2010 is still unclear.
For example, associates at Mayer Brown and Willkie Farr are huddled in the dark, not sure if they’re freezing. From a junior Willkie associate:
I’m a second-year associate at Willkie. I just learned that traditionally, associates are told about their imminent salary bumps at their year-end evaluations. I’ve discussed it with some friends, and nobody has heard anything about salary freezes or bumps at WFG.
And from an MB associate:
Mayer Brown’s still frozen. Granted they’ve put off addressing salary raises until February in the past, but we got our first 2010 paychecks today with no raises, and not a peep from the partnership to let us know they’ve even considered the issue. As of now I’m two years behind where I’d be at Dechert. This sucks.
We can’t confirm whether salaries at these firms are frozen for the year, but we can encourage a conversation about firms that are raising salaries. We hear from a Paul Weiss associate, for example, that an email went out letting them know salaries there are warm. Our tipsters says that PW checks this month will have the “usual bump” up.
Here’s an open thread for discussion of raises as usual. Who’s warm and toasty this January?
The most recent New Yorker features a profile of the newest resident of the High Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Given the tone of the piece, you might think One First Street is turning into Melrose Place. Journalist Lauren Collins describes Sotomayor as “the first celebrity Justice”: a “diabetic, a divorcée, a dental-bill debtor, a person who, the night before her investiture ceremony, belted out “We Are Family” in a karaoke bar at a Red Roof Inn.”
The profile covers some familiar territory, highlighting attacks on Sotomayor’s intellect during the confirmation process and indignation over her aggressive questioning during oral arguments since taking a seat on the High bench.
Overall, though, it’s more favorable in tone than the profile of John Roberts in the magazine last year. As the WSJ Law Blog notes, Sotomayor comes across as “eminently personable” and as a “stickler for preparation.”
Tina Brown of the Daily Beast, a former editor of the New Yorker, is a bit more graphic in her reaction to the piece for NPR:
Brown says the justice comes across as an “up-from-the-bootstraps woman who loves to bust out a poker game and knock back a scotch.” But, Brown adds, she also comes across as meticulous, rigorous and heavily influenced by her mother, a nurse, who emphasized education above all else…
“Sotomayor is not a great prose styler, not a fancy-flourish merchant,” says Brown. “She’s not a person who’s going to reinvent the philosophical approach to law, but she does believe that the law is to be understood by the common man in the street. And I think that there’s a lot to be said for that, actually.”
We concur with Brown’s ruling on the piece. We’ve excerpted our favorite anecdote from the profile after the jump. Clerking for Sotomayor sounds fun….
We did not Photoshop this picture. It actually appeared in a New York Times wedding announcement. Chuckle at it, if you must. But know that when you do, you’re fiddling while a venerable institution goes up in flames.
December isn’t a great month to get married, and this December was particularly bad. Still, our final Legal Eagle Wedding Watch couples for 2009 have some surprisingly strong Biglaw credentials. Here they are:
On Monday, a bonus announcement was made by Morrison & Foerster, in an email from chair Keith Wetmore. In New York, the firm is matching the Cravath scale, which is not terribly surprising.
In addition, New York associates will receive a “contribution bonus” to make them whole for the 2009 salary freeze. This was previously spelled out in the February 2009 memo that announced the freeze.
As for the rest of the firm, aside from the indication that there will indeed be bonuses for non-NY associates, it’s something of a non-announcement. MoFo associates outside New York who hit their hours in 2009 will receive bonuses based on a combination of seniority, hours, and performance. These bonuses will be communicated and paid in February 2010.
The full memo, plus discussion of MoFo’s new partner announcement, after the jump.
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 six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
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:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.