Okay, so you didn’t graduate (1) from a top-tier law school or (2) at the top of your class from a non-top-tier law school. Please don’t get discouraged, even in the face of depressing newsarticles.
Before you leave the law to become an electrician, consider this inspirational tale, from an ATL reader:
Finding a job after graduating from a lower tier law school might be harder, but it is certainly possible. A lot of it depends on what type of job you wish to pursue. Knowing I wanted to practice in a law firm who actually tried cases, throughout law school I worked for several small firms and solo practices and gained experience.
The summer studying for the bar I found a part time clerkship with an attorney who practices business litigation. After the bar exam he offered me a position full time. I don’t make anywhere near the big firms in terms of salary. But I make plenty for my first year out, and I get a percentage of our contingent fee cases (which will actually put me a little less than big firm salary if all goes well).
Also, I get great experience. My first week I attended two hearings on motions for summary judgment in court, and a month after I pass the bar (hopefully!) I already have an assignment to participate directly in a trial. The salary is not “equal”, but I feel I am gaining better experience and enjoying my quality of life much more than if I was in a mega firm.
Good stuff — and a reminder that Biglaw isn’t the be all and end all of legal practice.
Also, we have a question about working as a paralegal, from a different reader. Check it out, after the jump.
In case you’re wondering what happened to the litigation support guy at Quinn Emanuel, who sent around an office-wide email reprimanding an associate for allegedly rude treatment, here’s an update:
The lit support guy got his walking papers almost immediately. The litigation associate to whom he directed the email was baffled by the entire event.
Apparently, he just told the guy that there was a mistake and that it needed to be fixed ASAP. Knowing this associate pretty well, I say it’s pretty inconceivable that he would treat someone like a “dog,” or even unprofessionally.
So maybe the associate didn’t do anything wrong, and the litigation support guy was just a bit unhinged — a beleaguered support staff member, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Cf.The Patton Boggs librarian.
Since the litigation support guy got fired over his email, we hope he derived a lot of satisfaction from sending it. Earlier: ATL Practice Pointers: Be Nice to the Support Staff
First, it’s the right thing to do. Second, if you’re mean or rude to support staff members, they might start talking trash about you behind your back — not good for your reputation at the firm. They might also handle your projects with less care or speed in the future.
If you REALLY piss them off, they might tell you off directly. And cc everyone at the firm, just to make you look like a total d-bag (even if you’re generally known as a nice guy among your colleagues).
The following email was sent out this morning by a litigation support team member at Quinn Emanuel to a litigation associate. Copied on the message were (1) the entire New York office and (2) litigation support firm-wide.
From: [Litigation Support Guy] To: [Litigation Associate] Cc: [New York Office]; [All Litigation Support] Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 09:15:46 -0700 Subject: Respect
I don’t care who you are and what your title is…
Have respect for people when you speak to them. Education should teach you such life lessons. No one is your dog. If you want a dog go buy one or visit the zoo.
Sorry I did not see your wonderful screen shot as Trial Graphix did not see it either. People are human and make mistakes and I am sure you have made a few such as not providing the Bates number for us to cross reference.
Enjoy, [Litigation Support Guy]
We like this cheeky message, but we have a quibble. The zoo? Dogs aren’t really exotic enough to be in the zoo. Maybe try Michael Vick’s house?
Oh, sorry — you want a live one…
(The usual rules apply. Please don’t identify either the sender or the recipient of this message. Thanks.)
On its official website, Akin Gump proudly bills itself as a “full-service” law firm. And it boasts: “Our growth has come by understanding client problems and solving them with a unique combination of… practical… skills.”
Truer words were never spoken. From ABC News:
A legal secretary at one of Washington’s most prominent and well-connected law firms, Akin Gump Strauss Houer & Feld LLP, has been suspended after telling her bosses she secretly worked at night for the escort service run by the so-called D.C. Madam, Jeane Palfrey.
The woman both serviced clients and, at times, helped to run the business, Palfrey told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast on “20/20″ Friday.
The firm said it would not make her name public.
But do YOU know the name of this enterprising employee, or anything else about her? If so, we’d love to hear from you, by email (subject line: “DC Madam”).
A few more comments, after the jump.
* The Guber Downward-Facing Dog Trial coming soon. [De Novo; MSN]
* If you don’t know who’s the “real lawyer” at the table, it’s you. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Kosher-ness may be inapplicable to porn, but I would not want to venture a guess as to Mr. Cohen’s idea behind his trademark. [Likelihood of Confusion]
* Another reason hedge funds are shady? You don’t say. [Professor Bainbridge]
Today’s New York Times has an interesting article on Brian Valery, the bestest paralegal ever. The article may actually say less about Valery and more about the general uselessness of junior associates. Consider this:
Steven Maass, who hired Mr. Valery’s former law firm, Anderson Kill & Olick, after Mr. Maass’s electronic trading business was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, thought Mr. Valery unimpressive but chalked it up to inexperience.
“All first- and second-year attorneys are pretty terrible,” Mr. Maass wrote in a recent exchange of e-mail messages.
True enough — even though you’re paying several hundred dollars an hour for that awfulness. In Valery’s case, he was billed out at $300 per hour. Anderson Kill is in the process of negotiating financial settlements with about 50 former “clients” of Valery.
What should be frightening to defenders of the monopoly that bar-admitted lawyers have upon the provision of legal services is that Valery, despite never having attended law school or taken the bar, didn’t do that badly for himself. Maass found him to be no more useless than the typical junior associate. And Anderson Kill has not yet had any clients come forward to claim that Valery screwed up their cases. (Of course, given how little responsibility junior associates are given, perhaps that’s not surprising.)
Some food for thought:
Connecticut authorities debated what Mr. Dubois called the “metaphysical question” of whether they could even disbar someone who was never a lawyer and had only temporary privileges to practice in the state. They decided they could, and should, to keep other states from issuing privileges based on the faulty Connecticut credentials.
Back in November, we named Brian Valery an ATL Lawyer Paralegal of the Day. The enterprising and ingenious Mr. Valery, who had neither attended law school nor taken the bar exam, successfully posed as a lawyer for two years. He “practiced” at Anderson Kill in New York.
Here’s the latest news about Brian Valery:
A man who prosecutors said had been representing clients of a prominent New York law firm for two years was arrested here on Wednesday and charged with impersonating a lawyer, state prosecutors said.
The man, Brian T. Valery, 32, of Massapequa Park, N.Y., surrendered to the authorities and was charged with perjury, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and practicing law without being a lawyer, a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of two months, according to David I. Cohen, the state’s attorney for the judicial district.
Our big brother brings to our attention an interesting article, from New York magazine, about urban professionals and burnout. And no article on the subject would be complete without a discussion of Biglaw attorneys:
An epidemic of malaise among bankers and lawyers is far more likely to inspire jokes—Wouldn’t it be nicer if it were terminal?—than concern and rafts of psychological studies. (And the few studies out there are funny, if inadvertently. In a special “burnout” issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology six years ago, the essay on lawyers was most notable for the “Select References and Recommended Reading” that followed—four of eight were about masochism.)
Not surprising in the least — although where are the sadism articles?
[C]onsider lawyers for a moment: According to the New York Bar Association, turnover rates among mid-level associates in this city’s law firms is 36 percent. The whole system is predicated on burnout. Why even bother treating associates well?
Sad but true. We’re reminded of one of our all-time favorite reader comments, in a thread discussing whether Paul Weiss is a gay-friendly firm. Here’s the comment:
Paul Weiss isn’t a magnet for gays, but it is a great place to get f*cked in the ass no matter what your sexual orientation is.
Brian T. Valery is our hero. He figured out a way to save $100K on a legal education — namely, by not getting one. From Law.com:
Brian Valery is under fire for his pro hac vice appearance in a 2005 complex litigation case heard in Stamford, Conn. His motion to appear, which went unopposed, was based on his affidavit stating he was an attorney in good standing at the New York City firm of Anderson Kill & Olick. He also claimed to be a member of the New York Bar with no history of discipline.
As it turns out, Valery not only isn’t a member of the Bar, there’s no record that he ever applied or sat for the bar exam in New York or even set foot in a Fordham Law School classroom, which he told Anderson Kill partners he was doing at night to advance his career beyond that of a paralegal, Connecticut grievance officials say….
Valery, after working at Anderson Kill [as a paralegal] since 1996, told the firm in 2004 he had passed the New York Bar. Partners at the 132-lawyer firm have conceded to Connecticut grievance authorities that they regrettably took Valery at his word.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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