[O]ur winning firms have more lawyers working reduced hours (8 percent versus 5 percent nationwide) and also employ more female equity partners, who share in their firm’s profits (20 percent versus 16 percent nationwide)–and that’s just for starters. We salute these firms for recognizing that making the legal profession work for women is good business for everyone.
Stroking of breasts can (eventually) culminate in pregnancy. But, as far as we know, the breaststroke can’t.
Magdalena Kwiatkowska might disagree. She’s filing a lawsuit because her teenage daughter became pregnant during a recent trip to Egypt. From the Daily Mail (via Transracial):
A mother is suing a hotel claiming her teenage daughter fell pregnant simply from using a hotel swimming pool.
Magdalena Kwiatkowska says the 13-year-old conceived after coming into contact with ‘stray sperm’ in the water of an Egyptian resort.
If you’re sick and tired of paternity tests on every episode of Maury Povich, join the club — the baby mamas club, that is. In a decision by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, the court ruled that the trial court’s use of the term “baby mama,” along with other comments about the African-American defendant’s habits, could lead to the reasonable perception that the defendant’s sentence was impermissibly influenced by race.
A quick review of the exchange between the trial court and the defendant reveals that the trial court judge (the Honorable Joseph Wall) is a jerk. But damned if he isn’t a hilarious one:
THE COURT: Where are you working now? THE DEFENDANT: I’m unemployed right now. THE COURT: You’re unemployed still? THE DEFENDANT: Yes. THE COURT: Have you gotten a job since January? THE DEFENDANT: No, sir. THE COURT: You’re kidding. THE DEFENDANT: No. THE COURT: What do you do all day? THE DEFENDANT: I just stay at home with my daughter and that’s it. THE COURT: Where is her mother? THE DEFENDANT: At work. THE COURT: So the mother works and you sit at home, right? THE DEFENDANT: Yeah. THE COURT: And watch the child? THE DEFENDANT: I got all types of things goin’. My personal family. THE COURT: Where does the baby’s mama work? THE DEFENDANT: Metro Market. THE COURT: Did she finish school? THE DEFENDANT: Yes. THE COURT: Is she going to college, too? THE DEFENDANT: Yes. THE COURT: Where do you guys find these women, really, seriously. I’d say about every fourth man who comes in here unemployed, no education, is with a woman who is working full-time, going to school. Where do you find these women? Is there a club? THE DEFENDANT: No.
Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: time to announce Above the Law’s top two stories for 2008, on the gossip front. We’ve also been recapping the top stories on the business side of the fence, but stories about the business of law are available from many other outlets. Juicy law firm gossip is harder to come by.
Our two leading gossip stories were broken here at ATL. They were subsequently picked up by mainstream media outlets, but we covered them first.
We will now announce what we view as the year’s ten biggest stories in law-firm land. We’ve divided them into two groups: the top five stories on the business side, and the top five stories on the gossip side. Collectively these stories reflect the combination of edification and entertainment that we seek to provide here at ATL. We’ll start with the #5 stories in each group and work our way up.
The year that’s about to end has been full of “business and the law” stories. Most of the news has been terrible. But it really hasn’t been all doom and gloom.
Our fifth-place story on the business end of the legal industry is objectively positive news. Read about it after the jump.
If you’re tired of reading about Shinyung Oh, the former Paul Hastings associate who sent a now-famous farewell email, fear not. The story is on its last legs.
We just wanted to tie up a loose end. Earlier this week, we wondered about whether she was still at Paul Hastings. Here’s the answer, courtesy of Shinyung Oh herself:
I’m no longer with Paul Hastings. Because I didn’t sign the release, my termination was effective as of sometime last week. If I had signed the release, I would have technically stayed on (on an inactive basis) until the end of July.
We wish Shinyung the best of luck in her future endeavors.
We also contacted the firm for comment; they had none. (An aside: Contrary to what some folks apparently think, we welcome hearing from the law firms that we write about. We often reach out to them for comment, especially on sensitive items, but they should also feel free to contact us sua sponte.)
One final thing. In the comments on our various Paul Hastings posts, there was occasionally a “piling on” quality, with lots of commenters lambasting PH (and some attacking Shinyung Oh as well).
But the comments are not necessarily representative of the ATL readership at large. Please take our two quick polls. Feel free to take whatever considerations you want into account when casting your vote (i.e., the polls aren’t based solely on the recent controversy).
This is, like, WOW. We don’t quite know what to say.
This departure memo, sent by an associate leaving the San Francisco office of Paul Hastings, is extraordinary. It also confirms the rumors — which have swirled about for quite some time, but without confirmation until now — of associate layoffs at PH.
We’re reaching out for comment to the associate in question and to Paul Hastings. But we wanted to put this up ASAP, to break the story first.
Farewell email below (with a handful of minor typos corrected). “Transition Agreement and General Release,” after the jump.
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 10:14 AM
Subject: My departure
The circumstances surrounding my departure from Paul Hastings have been deeply disappointing. It is one thing to ignore an email sent as a colleague is waiting to have her uterus scraped after a miscarriage, but it is wholly another level of heartlessness to lay her off six days after that. [Partner X] is the only one who expressed any sympathy after my miscarriage, and I am grateful to him for that.
A business is a business, but it takes very little to convey some level of humanity to carry out even the most difficult business decisions. We are human beings first before we are partners or associates. Had you simply explained that the department is unable to sustain the number of associates in the office, I would have completely understood. Had you explained that the office had been directed to reduce the number of associates and I was chosen because of my high billable rate and low billable hours, I would have appreciated such directness, even though the consequences of blindly raising billable rates to an unsustainable degree is plainly predictable. What I do not understand is the attempt to blame the associate for not bringing in the business that should have been brought in by each of you and to hide your personal failures by attempting to tarnish my excellent performance record and looking to undermine my sense of self esteem.
The last few months have been surreal, at best. Just last year, I had celebrated my engagement and marriage with many of you. In fact, during the engagement party, the head of the department took my then-fiancée aside to express to him what a great attorney I am and what a great future I faced. Indeed, less than a week before this year’s bizarre performance review, I was again told by the same partner that my work is great and that the slow business in no way reflected on my performance. A week later, I was given a mediocre performance review and told that I should worry about whether I have a future at Paul Hastings. When I asked for specific examples of my alleged deficiencies, I received no response. When I asked for an explanation as to why I had been downgraded in so many performance categories when I received absolutely no criticism throughout the year and my prior year’s review was stellar, I was told that my prior year’s performance assessment may have been “over-inflated.” What a startling response.
After my miscarriage, I had discussed my concern with several associates that Paul Hastings may use that opportunity to lay me off quickly before I have a chance to get pregnant again. Those associates thought it unfathomable that a firm would be so callous and assured me that Paul Hastings isn’t that kind of a place. What a lesson this has been for them – and for me. I would not have anticipated that a partner would tell me one thing and completely renege on his words a week later. I would not have anticipated that a female partner (whom I had looked to as a role model) with children of her own would sit stone faced as I broke into tears just days after my miscarriage. Even a few words of sympathy or concern would have made a world of difference. What kind of people squander human relationships so easily?
If this response seems particularly emotional, perhaps an associate’s emotional vulnerability after a recent miscarriage is a factor you should consider the next time you fire or lay someone off. It shows startlingly poor judgment and management skills — and cowardice — on your parts. If you should ever have the misfortune of suddenly losing something or someone precious to you, I hope you don’t find similar heartlessness as I have.
As for your request for a release, non-disclosure, and non-disparagement agreement in return for three months’ pay, I reject it. Unlike you, I am not just a paid mouthpiece with no independent judgment. I will decide how and to whom to communicate how you have treated me. I find it ironic that you would try to buy the right not to be disparaged after behaving as you have. Your actions speak volumes, and you don’t need much help from me in damaging your reputation.
I attach the proposed release for any associate who may be interested in reviewing its details.
And that’s all she wrote. The release that Paul Hastings wanted this associate to sign, after the jump.
Update (5:10 PM): We have heard back from the associate in question, who had no additional comment.
Update (8:20 PM): Previously posted in the comments, but now we can bring it up to the main page. Here is Paul Hastings’s statement, from Eileen King, Global Director of Public Relations:
“We disagree with the person’s description of what occurred, but unfortunately we don’t comment on internal employment matters.”
Update (5/6/08): Blog reactions to this story are collected here. Additional discussion of pregnancy discrimination cases appears here. Lawyer layoffs at Paul Hastings are covered here.
Further Update (5/9/08): The author of the email, Shinyung Oh, has gone public and given an interview. See here.
A few more firms have joined the 18 Week Club. New and improved parental leave policies, from WilmerHale and O’Melveny & Myers, appear after the jump.
We admit we can be a little idiosyncratic in terms of which firms’ announcements we highlight. For more comprehensive information, check out Justin Bernold’s handy-dandy, continually updated tables of maternity leave and paternity leave policies at different firms.
Despite the recent turmoil in the economy and the stock market, all appears to be well at Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy. A tipster provided us with the highlights of chairman Mel Immergut’s “State of the Firm” address from last week:
1. Primary caregiver leave is now 18 weeks paid.
2. Blackberries will get replaced every two years instead of three.
3. “We’re not getting fired.”
It appears that Milbank has effectively made a “no layoffs” promise. It learned that lesson the hard way:
Mel stressed that in the last downturn, they had slowed hiring, and then found themselves at a loss for mid-level associates when things picked up later. So the plan is to continue to hire new people (our summer program is the largest to date at 100+) and retain, but not really hire laterals.
Will other firms make a similar pledge? We’ll see.
Today we address a fifth set of results, bypopulardemand: paternity leave.
As one tipster put it:
Can you also keep track of paternity leave? Firms will never really embrace work-life balance issues until they recognize that they affect both women AND men. Moreover, having lengthy maternity leave and poor paternity leave discriminates against gay couples and assumes that a woman will always be the primary caretaker.
But another comment suggests a (quickly refuted) rationale for providing shorter paid paternity leave:
The reason maternity leave is provided is because pregnancy is a legal disability. Therefore, employers (most of them) must provide you with the same rights as if you were disabled in any other way (if you’ve been there for a year), even though pregnancy is a voluntary disability. So if your firm has a 12-week disability, then it’s 12 weeks etc. (See Pregnancy Discrimination Act if I’m wrong on any of this, I’ve only seen it tangentially).
Obviously, there’s only one way to settle the debate . . . another running table. Check it out after the jump.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
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, 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.