On Tuesday, Ropes & Gray was sued in Manhattan federal court by a former partner, Patricia A. Martone. Martone’s lawsuit claims age discrimination, sex discrimination, retaliation, and interference with protected retirement benefits in violation of ERISA (the basis for federal jurisdiction in the S.D.N.Y.).
As you might expect from an ex-Ropes partner, Martone has some high-powered counsel: Anne Vladeck, one of New York’s top labor and employment lawyers, widely regarded as the queen of employment discrimination law. Vladeck famously (and successfully) represented Anucha Browne Sanders in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Isiah Thomas and the Knicks.
Patricia Martone is a veteran intellectual-property litigatrix, a specialist in patent litigation, with almost 40 years of practice under her belt. She made partner at Fish & Neave, the well-known patent law firm, in 1983, and then became a Ropes partner in 2005, when Ropes absorbed Fish. She’s now a partner at Morrison & Foerster, which she joined in October 2010.
Why did she leave Ropes? Let’s have a look at Patricia Martone, and her lawsuit….
One reader wrote to me to complain. Surely, he said, there’s room in the world for a law firm that does work that’s “good enough for the occasion at a fair price.” Isn’t perfectionism the enemy of the reasonable bill?
That reader is undeniably correct.
Small matters, whether transactional or litigation, may not bear the freight of comprehensive factual or legal research. And lawyers who don’t recognize this — whether they work in-house or at firms — won’t last very long. For many matters, “good enough” is good enough.
But I’m not going to spend much time fretting about this, for three reasons.
First, there’s plenty of mediocrity in the world. Although it may engender outrage to type these words, the average lawyer is . . . well . . . average. You don’t have to search very far to find people who produce average work….
Although I now live in New York, I lived in D.C. for several years before moving back to NYC. And while I was in Washington, few trial lawyers were more renowned around town than Michele Roberts. A legendary litigatrix celebrated for her skill in the courtroom, Roberts was at Akin Gump — home to other top talent, such as John Dowd, now defending Raj Rajaratnam — from 2004 until recently.
Very recently. Yesterday the news broke that Roberts was leaving Akin Gump and joining global mega-firm Skadden. Skadden trumpeted the news in a press release, noting that Roberts “is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier trial lawyers,” with over 100 jury trials under her belt.
Roberts has a somewhat unusual background for a Biglaw litigation partner. Let’s learn more about her….
Sometimes you just have to whip it out and wait for somebody to bring over a ruler. That’s just a part of life.
But some lawyers seem to sit around all day just waiting for an opportunity to drop drawers and call for the chains.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at this guy from SNR Denton. He was reading the Middle East Practice Area ABA listserv and came across an innocent question and follow-up discussion. Instead of answering the question or providing any helpful information whatsoever, he shot off a quick little response about his firm’s own magnificence.
And to make matters worse (and hilarious), it turns out he didn’t even know what he was talking about in the first place…
I occasionally give “book talks” about my silly little ditty, The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law. During those talks, I explain that my book is written in the voice of a jaded old coot who rants at young lawyers about how to do their jobs. I explain that I would have liked to include in the book a chapter called, “How To Be A Crappy Partner.” That chapter would have been written in the voice of a young lawyer ranting at an older one about the ways the old guy messes up his job. I didn’t include that chapter because it would have required changing the authorial voice from an old coot to a young one, and I couldn’t figure out how to execute the switch.
(Why are there so many great words for nasty old men, but none for nasty young ones? We have “curmudgeon,” “coot,” “crank,” “grouch,” and probably a bunch of others for the old guy. But there are so few (that you can type in public) for the younger version of that character. I propose to add “snark” to the lexicon, meaning a nasty young coot.)
If I’d been able to include the missing chapter, I would have included many examples of how to be a crappy partner. For example….
This week, Seyfarth Shaw announced the arrival of two construction litigators from Howrey, David Mancini and James Newland Jr. The two partners have been on the Seyfarth website for a while, as we noted last week, but Seyfarth made it official on Monday with a press release.
The other big news this week at Seyfarth: payment of bonuses. Alas, this news isn’t being as warmly received as the Howrey partners.
“Very individualized and below market as usual,” said one source. “No mention of spring bonuses either.”
And now is the time on Above the Law where Elie gets to say “I told you so.”
About five months ago, I mentioned on this site that making $250,000 a year does not make you rich. People got angry with me for saying that. In the comments and around the internet. Apparently stating an obvious fact in a society that is dealing with a widening gulf between the haves and have-nots is controversial.
But at least I confined my financial musings to people in the six-figure range. A new report from Fidelity Investments says that people who are sitting on seven figures of wealth don’t feel rich until they have about $7.5 million.
Last week we reported on global megafirm Latham & Watkins heading into the Boston legal market. The firm will officially announce the opening of its Beantown outpost later this month.
We mentioned that Latham snagged Alex Temel, a prominent partner from Proskauer, to help start up LW’s Boston office. Now we’re hearing additional reports about attorneys who will be joining Latham in Boston, as well as the location of the office….
* Johnson & Johnson will have to fix several factories after an agreement with the FDA prompted by massive product recalls. This still doesn’t explain why my bottle of Tylenol may contain tree nuts. [Bloomberg]
* Charlie Sheen hammered out a custody agreement With Brooke Mueller. That’s nice. [People Magazine]
* Texas may consider a law that would make losers pay attorneys’ fees. Easy, New York Mets. Not all losers. Just those who lose lawsuits. [New York Times]
* A discussion of the legal complaints lodged against the Wisconsin Legislature for Wednesday night’s votes. You know who’s not complaining? This guy. [Wisconsin State Journal]
* A former assistant attorney general from Maine was sentenced yesterday in a child porn case. This is definitely the year of the assistant AG. [ABA Journal]
Happy Birthday Nino
* Not all people living in Idaho are racists, duh. Some are gangsters from Boston. [New York Times]
* Law firm profits and productivity were up in 2010, while demand was flat and revenue was modestly up. Someone named Dan DiPietro and someone named Gretta Rusanow tag-teamed a report all about it. [Am Law Daily]
* A former McGuireWoods partner pleaded guilty to falsifying a tax document. [ABA Journal]
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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