Rankings

The world keeps getting smaller, but the law firms keep getting bigger. The American Lawyer magazine just announced its Global 100, the world’s 100 largest law firms in terms of total revenue, and Biglaw seems bigger than ever.

Despite the challenging economic climate, law firms continue to grow. In three key categories — revenue, profits per partner, and attorney headcount — the top firm for 2012 boasts a bigger number than last year’s #1 firm….

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From buying their family’s love to buying luxurious lawyerly lairs, attorneys at the nation’s largest firms do a lot of things with their wallets — and now they’re voting with them, too. Earlier this month, we brought you a story about Obama v. Romney in terms of which presidential candidate was leading in the race to collect campaign contributions from the wonderful world of Biglaw.

At present, Obama has an advantage over Romney, with $1.9 million pouring in from America’s 20 biggest firms, as opposed to just over $1 million for his opponent. When we last wrote about this important issue, lawyers from DLA Piper proved to be Obama’s greatest supporters, while Kirkland & Ellis showed up strong for Romney. But what we really want to know is which other firms are opening their hearts wallets for these political adversaries.

With only a little more than a month until Election 2012, let’s take a look at the firms that are making some of the largest (and smallest) political donations….

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Last week, we searched this year’s Forbes 400, the list of the 400 richest Americans, for lawyers and law school graduates. Lat pointed out the newcomers and the dropouts since last year’s roundup, but there are still more than thirty other lawyers on the list.

Let’s take a closer look at these affluent attorneys. Their stories will either inspire you with visions of vast wealth or afflict you with jealousy at how many times over they could pay off your loan debt….

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Each year, Corporate Counsel compiles a list of the firms that the Fortune 100 companies use as outside counsel. These are the firms that corporate clients turn to when they’ve got bet-the-company litigation. From Exxon Mobil to Apple to Walmart, and everywhere in between, these are the clients with the deepest of pockets, and if you care at all about the business end of the law, then this is a list that you should care about.

But this time around, the list looks a little different. Due to the state of the economy, general counsel are now looking for more ways to reduce costs, and are constantly seeking out alternative fee structures. The firms on this year’s list may have been the ones that were most amenable to such changes.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at which firms topped this year’s list….

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‘I never look at those rankings.’

* Hey, “regular students” with “regular backgrounds,” you may be able to get a job as a SCOTUS clerk, because Justice Clarence Thomas is the Supreme Court’s honey badger in that he doesn’t give a sh*t about rankings. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

* Because $1.05 bill wasn’t quite enough, Apple is asking for additional damages in its patent war lawsuit against Samsung. Ohh, come on, Judge Koh, it’s just an extra $535 million. Everyone else is doing it, come on. Just give us the money. [Bloomberg]

* The D.C. Circuit suit about White House visitor logs is kind of like a recurring issue we see with law schools, in that transparency here means “[w]e will disclose what records we want you to see.” [National Law Journal]

* Skadden is teaming up with local legal aid groups to start a pro bono initiative in D.C. We hear they’ll be handing out gift cards as a show of appreciation to those who sign up. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* Sumner Redstone recently donated $18M to BU Law. Will his successor be as charitable? From Columbia Law to Shearman & Sterling to media mogul: meet Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom. [New York Times]

* “The employment statistics really are the collective impact of individual choices.” And one of them was attending law school anyway, despite all of the negative media attention they’ve received. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

* Remember the Harvard Law student who ran for Student Government President and pledged to resign after rewriting the organization’s constitution? Well, he graduated, but at least he got a draft in. [Harvard Crimson]

If you were a billionaire, you could sleep on a pile of these.

For whatever reason, this week has been heavy on stories about money. We’ve written about starting salaries for law firm associates, average pay packages for partners, and which countries have the highest paid lawyers.

So let’s stick with the theme. Today let’s take a look at the richest lawyers — or, to be more precise, the richest law school graduates — in America. (As we noted last year, many of these moguls never practiced law, or practiced only briefly, before making their fortunes in business.)

Our friends over at Forbes just released the Forbes 400, their annual ranking of the 400 wealthiest Americans. As in years past, the list contains a number of lawyers and law-degree holders. How many?

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Sneaking…

Recently, I was talking to the managing partner of a top, global law firm about our new Career Center, and mentioned that Above the Law readers would be filling out surveys to rate their firms. I mistakenly gave him the impression that somehow the firm would have to be involved in distributing and collecting the surveys (they are not). When he thought that I was asking him for that, his eyes turned a demon shade of red, his hair stood on end, and he bellowed, “Not another survey,” as the earth quaked.

I might be exaggerating slightly, but you get the point. Law firms are inundated with surveys to fill out. Am Law this, Vault that. Super Duper Lawyers of Jurisprudential Awesomeness. Most of the information we have about law firms come from self-reported sources.

Of course, law school deans have taught us a thing or two about relying on self-reported data. Some of the rules can be bent, others broken. Considering the fact that the American Bar Association can’t even make sure that its member institutions tell it the truth, you can best believe that some Biglaw firms have become very skilled at massaging the surveys that they do get.

They don’t lie, but firms can be very tricksy….

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Professor John C. Yoo

Some liberals view Professor John Yoo as a sadist. They cite Professor Yoo’s involvement in the so-called “torture memos” during his time as a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

But I think Professor Yoo is a masochist. Only a masochist would try to develop a citation-based system for ranking the relevance of law professors.

Relevant law professors? Yes, they exist!

Let’s learn about Professor Yoo’s ranking system and see who comes out on top. An added bonus: he also has a list of the top 50 most efficient law professors. Yes, law professors are efficient too!

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Less ‘mentally taxing’ than social events?

Things have definitely changed since the summer associate days of yore. There are no more Aquagirls, no more lesbianic lip-locks, and no more Katten kreeps. These days, we’re looking at a group of law students who were so scared about being no-offered that they actually wished their firms would’ve worked them harder instead of forcing them to have mandatory fun.

At least that seems to be the conclusion to be drawn from the American Lawyer’s 2012 Summer Associate Survey. Am Law polled 4,138 interns at 138 firms about their summer experiences and used the results to rank 111 summer programs. Truth be told, it seems like they were too anxious to really enjoy their time as summers, because when asked to rank their “worry level” on a 1-to-5 scale, the average was higher than it has been since 2009′s summer of discontent.

But even so, the overall rankings were still pretty good. If you’re a law student trying to figure out where to spend your summer, you’re probably asking: which law firms came out with the highest scores?

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If you take the blue pill, you wake up in law school and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you keep reading Above the Law, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Apparently no one can be told what law school is. You have to make the mistake yourself.

The ability to learn from other people’s mistakes is a mark of intelligence, but it’s not a skill shared by your average prospective law student. Despite an internet full of information, they continue to make the same mistakes when it comes to choosing a law school.

The fact that prospective law students quickly learn the error of their ways when they become actual law students only seems to emphasize their failure. By January, I’ll start getting the first emails from 1Ls saying, “I wish I had read you before I decided to go to law school.” By springtime, people who shouldn’t have started in the first place will be asking me whether they should drop out. By the time people graduate, they’ll be experts on all the things they should’ve thought about before matriculating to law school.

Kaplan actually has a new study out that confirms this obvious reality….

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