Thanks to everyone who submitted possible nominees for our Lawyer of the Year award. We reviewed your 160+ comments and developed a slate of ten worthy candidates.
Before we reveal them, we’ll talk about a few folks we passed over. A number of you suggested Mike Leach, the lawyer turned football coach who was recently fired by Texas Tech University. Although Leach’s achievements on the gridiron are considerable, he’s more of a football figure than a legal figure, so he didn’t make the team.
A few of the lawyers you suggested, while certainly well-known, really belong to years prior to 2009. These include former New York governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in disgrace after his dalliances with prostitutes came to light; former administrative law judge Roy Pearson, of the infamous $54 million (originally $67 million) pants lawsuit; and prominent IP litigator Jeremy Pitcock.
Also named: Kathy Henry, a former Legal Secretary of the Day, whose alleged oversight could have cost PepsiCo a pretty penny — over a billion dollars (until the default judgment was vacated). But since she’s a legal secretary rather than a lawyer (or even a law student), we passed her over.
So who made the cut? Check out the nominees and vote for your favorite, after the jump.
The penalty for having a partner announce layoffs on a train was six spots according to Vault. There have been other Pillsbury cutbacks. But the Acela incident happened when associates had Vault surveys sitting on their desks.
After the jump, let’s take a look at some of the other firms in this group.
It’s going to be California dreaming for second-year law students hoping to work in the Golden State next summer. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman became the latest firm to curtail summer hiring, confirming Thursday it likely won’t host any summer associates in its West Coast offices in 2010.
Pillsbury was recently named a top law firm for women. But if you’re a woman in the class of 2011, getting a job at Pillsbury just got a lot harder.
The move wasn’t a surprise to some. Earlier this week, an ATL reader who bid on Pillsbury for OCI received this message from career services:
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is now focusing their recruiting on their East Coast offices and would like to know if you are interested in the NY or DC offices. In fact, it now looks like they may not have any summer programs in California. If you are considering the east coast, please email me immediately and specify the location(s) of interest (NY &/or DC).
According to the Daily Journal, Pillsbury plans to hire 15 to 17 summer associates to work in its New York, Washington, and Houston offices. This is a sharp drop from the 50 summer associates it hosted nationwide in 2009. (As for those summer associates, they’ll be hearing about offers by the end of August.)
So what’s behind the sharp reduction in summer associates?
If you’re leaving Biglaw and moving to New England to innkeep is not your thing, maybe you should consider moving to Los Angeles to promote music.
The American Lawyer has an interesting piece on a laid-off first-year associate, Brandon Dorsky. He was among the batch of Pillsbury Winthrop associates whose departures were inadvertently leaked by a garrulous partner on the train from D.C. to New York.
Dorsky was doing IP work in Pillsbury’s Los Angeles office. The Ohio native had moved to California with the intent to get into the entertainment industry and so he seized the opportunity provided by being laid off:
After leaving Pillsbury, Dorsky decided to build a practice geared to entertainment clients, while also managing musical acts. He e-mailed friends and business contacts looking for leads. Just three days after leaving the firm, he landed his first client, TRG Sports and Entertainment. A friend from the University of Michigan recommended him to the management company, which was looking for a lawyer to draft a recording contract….
“I’m out most nights,” Dorsky says. “I see five concerts a week. I’m out there looking for new clients and looking for opportunities for existing clients.”
Back in May, we reported that Pillsbury Winthrop wanted some of its incoming first year associates to defer until January 2010, some to defer until 2011, and others to take $60,000 to go away entirely.
The firm couched all of these options as “voluntary.” But notwithstanding the firm’s choice of language, we reported that Pillsbury needed at least 22 of its incoming class of 54 associates to take the go away money, or defer for a year.
Pillsbury said that it would announce which associates were starting in January 2010 on June 26th. That was Friday.
But according to my iPhone “date and time” application (how people did anything before the iPhone, I do not know) it is Monday, June 29th. And there is still no word from Pillsbury. Here’s one tipster’s report:
As of this AM, still no news from the firm. Yet again, evidence they can’t be trusted – or don’t care about incoming associates. Their written letters to us said we would know by by Friday. I hope this is not how the firm conducts business with clients.
Should Pillsbury associates expect the firm to actually tell them when they can start? Or should they just start hanging out on the Acela and hope to catch a clue on the wind?
More reactions after the jump.
The extent of the cuts isn’t clear; the 716-lawyer firm said reports on Above the Law that the cuts ranged between 10 and 20 percent aren’t “entirely accurate,” which isn’t exactly an outright denial.
Today, we have more news about the salary cuts going on at Pillsbury. It now appears that the cuts range between 5% and 20%.
So, that’s marginally better, if you are close to making your hours.
What are those hours cutoffs? We have more details after the jump.
In these tough economic times, I’m sure many people have been tempted to sightly exaggerate their credentials, experience, and competence.
But you shouldn’t lie exaggerate to clients. At least not if you want to be a member of the bar in good standing. The National Law Journal reports that a former Pillsbury associate is getting his law license pulled for 60 days:
A former Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman associate who told clients that he was senior counsel at the law firm will have his license pulled for 60 days.
A District of Columbia attorney disciplinary committee has recommended that Garland H. Stillwell hand over his license for misrepresenting his employment status at the Washington firm.
But there were other aggravating circumstances to Stillwell’s case:
The committee also found that Stillwell charged personal expenses to Pillsbury Winthrop’s pro bono accounts and represented a client in a matter that created a potential conflict of interest within the firm without disclosing it or seeking a waiver.
Stillwell is not at Pillsbury anymore. That’s hardly surprising.
But he is still employed at a law firm. Let’s check-in after the jump.
This news has been percolating around for over a week, but Above the Law is now able to report that Pillsbury Winthrop has in fact cut associate salaries.
We don’t have the official memo, but multiple sources at the firm confirm that salaries have been cut 10% – 20% based on associate utilization rates. A tipster reports:
[T]he pay cut is between 10-20% depending on current hours. The memo gave associates ranges of hours and the paycut percentage if you fell in that range. The problem [is] that no one knows how much of their pro bono (which most associates have been turning to during slow times) will count as billable so many associates are unclear what their paycut will be. The Firm looked at hours from Jan through May to make its cuts.
Other tipster report that if your utilization rates were at 90% or higher — essentially, if you are close to hitting your target hours — you received no pay cut. So, to get hit with the 20% pay cut, you had to be particularly slow.
Of course, some people were particularly slow. More details after the jump.
* Musical Chairs: Kirkland & Ellis loses the majority of its West Coast bankruptcy and restructuring team to Jones Day. Six L.A. lawyers and one N.Y. associate are making the Jones Day jump. [American Lawyer]
* A personal injury firm in Connecticut has sued Google for selling its name to a competing firm. Stratton Faxon is also trying to get an injunction to prevent Google from selling law firm names as adwords at all. Note that this firm specializes in personal injuries and not IP law. [Connecticut Law Tribune]
* SCOTUS lifts restrictions on questioning suspects without their lawyers present. [Seattle Times]
* A transcript of a conversation between Roland Burris and the brother of Rod Blagojevich proves that Burris likes Titanic quotes. The Senate Ethics Committee and a state attorney get to decide if it also proves Burris made improper offers in exchange for Obama’s vacated seat in the Senate. [Courthouse News Service]
* A 53-year-old martial arts instructor in Texas is quite the middle-aged ladies’ man. He has his hair, a flat stomach, a Corvette, and a French accent. Unfortunately, he also has AIDS and has been convicted of six counts of sexual assault for knowingly infecting his partners. [Dallas Morning News via ABA Journal]
* Back in her Yale days, SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor had a nasty OCI with the firm formerly known as Shaw Pittman, now Pillsbury. [Los Angeles Times]
Back in February — after the Acela fiasco, before the layoffs — Pillsbury offered a voluntary departure program to its associates. The program didn’t really work, and the firm ended up laying off 55 associates (155 employees in all), in March.
Undaunted, Pillsbury is offering another “voluntary” program, this time directed at its incoming first year associates. The firm has already delayed start dates for all of its incoming first year associates to January 2010. But now the firm is offering a cash payment to associates to go away entirely. Multiple sources report that Pillsbury is offering $60,000 to incoming first years to voluntarily quit the firm.
At the beginning of May, Stroock offered $75,000 to encourage people to fall on their own sword. If my math is right, Pillsbury is offering significantly less money for the same option.
What happens to people if they don’t take Pillsbury up on its offer? We have additional details after the jump.
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.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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