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Me football young and healthy.JPGYes, 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Recession is Hurting Lawyer Sports”

gay marriage skadden.jpgBecause 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Prop 8 Blackout”

Elena Kagan 3 Harvard Law School Above the Law Elana Kagan Elena Kagen.jpgYou 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Elena Kagan: Solicitous of Shareholders”

Great Gatsby book cover.jpgIt’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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Class of 2008: The ‘Lost Generation’ Revisited”

Conan Leno.jpg* 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]

Cookie Monster oreo hotel minibar is this ethical.jpgWe 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Ethical Transgression: The Oreo Thief?”

pink slip layoff notice Above the Law blog.jpgEd. 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.

But last year is last year, and we’ve already recounted its failings vis a vis law-firm layoffs.

What’s happening now? After the jump.

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lolmoney.JPGWe’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?

Drew Brees legal expert for Washington Post.jpg* The Washington Post’s newest legal expert: Drew Brees. The New Orleans Saints quarterback weighs in on American Needle v. NFL, which will be tackled by Team SCOTUS next week. [Washington Post]
* The secret to coming out of the closet at a law firm is to come out casually. [The Lawyer]
* Lawsuit of the Day: Don’t mind that brain. [Asbury Park Press]
* Another reason not to go to law school. [Legally Fabulous]
* Conde Nast only likes surgically-enhanced boobs on display in its magazines. [New York Post via Fashionista]
* Who actually thinks teachers should make more than lawyers? [True/Slant]
* Ellen Barkin cleans up divorcing Ron Perelman. [Gawker]
* The judicial system is all good. [John Roberts's End of the Year Report - PDF]
* To do: CHECK YOU FILINGS! [South Florida Lawyers]

sonia sotomayor above the law.jpgThe 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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SCOTUS Justice Sonia Sotomayor Has Star Power”

Ferrell.jpgHoly crap.
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:

1. Nicole Schreier and Matthew Kaplan
2. Rachel Lu and Jimmy Gao
3. Elizabeth Cronise and Joe McLaughlin

Check out these couples’ bios, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch: Rabbit, Rabbit”

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGOn 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.

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Plus news of their new partners.

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