My years as a prosecutor were an extraordinary education in the negative capacity of humanity. You’re like a proctologist — looking at human beings through the wrong end.
– Scott Turow — former federal prosecutor, current Dentons partner, and critically acclaimed, bestselling novelist — at an interesting panel at this past weekend’s New Yorker Festival. The panel, moderated by Jeffrey Toobin, focused on writing about murder. Turow’s latest novel, Identical (affiliate link), is about a re-investigation of a murder many years after the fact.
Mr. Vance performed well. The collateral damage to the career of Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who resigned in disgrace from the I.M.F., was clearly unfair, but that was caused largely by his sensational arrest, which Mr. Vance had no choice about effecting….
Given the attention paid to Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, Mr. Vance deserves enormous credit for pulling the plug on a highly publicized prosecution, especially since he could foresee the political damage to himself.
In the new movie Up in the Air — which is worth seeing, if you haven’t already — Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, is on a quest to rack up 10 million frequent flyer miles. That’s a heck of a lot of miles. In the Walter Kirn novel the film was based on, it was a more realistic one million miles (but, as film critic Kenneth Turan notes, “that’s product placement and inflation for you”).
To some people, however, 10 million miles — or points, the credit-card version of miles, also redeemable for free air travel and other goodies — is chump change. From the Miami Herald:
[Ponzi schemer Scott] Rothstein (inset left) racked up 20,920,701 rewards points on his Amex card — and the feds want to grab them all to help pay back his victims. Generally, American Express doles out one point for every dollar charged on the card, which can be used to buy merchandise, airline tickets, hotel rooms, restaurant meals and gift cards.
So, what did Scott Rothstein do to accrue all those points?
Over the past few months, a number of you have written to us about A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar. It’s a critically acclaimed, independent documentary film about lawyers and the legal profession.
The movie made the rounds on the film festival circuit earlier this year, and now it’s out on DVD. Here’s a brief synopsis:
A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar… is a celebration of the law and triumph over adversity that follows 6 future lawyers of all ages and backgrounds as they undertake the rigorous and excruciating California Bar Exam while also dealing thematically with certain hot button issues in our profession. The [themes of the film] include, among other things, stress, big firm economics, substance abuse, law as a calling, frivolous litigation, bar exam economics, women in the law and other threads that you can likely intuit.
These subjects are all near and dear to the hearts of ATL readers. And there’s stuff in the film that ties into this week’s special theme, non-top-tier law school graduates:
The cast members run the gamut, from a former Marine who has taken and failed the California Bar Exam 41 times, to top and middle graduates of the Loyola and UCLA Law Schools, to a Latina activist from East L.A. who attended a non-accredited law school, to other diverse and interesting people.
Sadly, the film was produced before the rise to fame of Loyola 2L. But it features other legal celebrities, such as Alan Dershowitz, Scott Turow, and Nancy Grace — all of whom appear in this short clip:
To follow-up on the Fried Frank post about prompt submission of one’s time, a reader sent in this suggestion:
You should start a thread re: billing practices. For example:
1. Do you bill when you go to the bathroom?
2. Do you bill when a co-worker stops and talks to you for five minutes?
3. Have you seen partners bill for time not spent on actual client matters? (I know I have.)
4. Perhaps more commonly, have you noticed specific ways in which partners manage to lengthen conversations, hold extra internal meetings, or get people involved who really aren’t necessary to get the job done?
I guess we’re talking about a very subtle form of “padding” here. It would be interesting to know what associates have noticed — far more interesting than law firm policies about turning your timesheets in…..
Good idea. So here’s an open thread for discussion of billing practices. The billable hour has been widely criticized, even by Biglaw partners like Scott Turow (who, to be sure, probably earns more from his writing than his legal practice). But as long as the billable hour is still with us, questions like the ones raised above must be confronted.
The bathroom break question is an interesting one. When we worked at a firm, we would stop the clock when we went to the bathroom (which was often, due to heavy consumption of coffee and bottled water). But recently we were chatting with a friend in Biglaw who doesn’t, and she regarded the idea of stopping the clock when you go to the bathroom as laughable. The Billable Hour Must Die [ABA Journal] Bye Bye to the Billable Hour? [Concurring Opinions] Earlier: Fried Frank: Doing Hard Time
Last week we wrote about how John Jay Osborn, a law professor and author of The Paper Chase, sniffily dismissed One L, by Scott Turow. “One L is competent,” he said. “But it doesn’t have a HEART.”
Now a prominent blogger has come to Turow’s defense. In this Times Select column, grande blogress diva Ann Althouse defends Turow — and, in the words of a tipster, “cattily trashes John Jay Osborn, author of the Paper Chase, for his suggestion that law profs not teach via the Socratic method in order to make students ‘happier.'”
Money quote, comparing Osborn’s “The Paper Chase” to Turow’s “One L”:
I preferred the memoir [of One L], the account of an ordinary man as he encounters some interesting, fallible human beings who did the work that both Osborn and I do now.
Though none of the law professors I know are much at all like Kingsfield, Osborn chided us law professors for making our students so unhappy: stop calling on them; listen only to volunteers; don’t dictate how they should think; let them tell their own stories.
Law should connect to the real world. But that doesn’t mean we ought to devote our classes to the personal expression of law students. The cases we read for class are always based on factual disputes that arose in real life….
So law is not abstract unless one makes the mistake of turning it into an abstraction. We law professors tend to worry about seeming like Professor Kingsfield. But we ought to worry less about that prospect and more about preserving and respecting our own tradition of teaching from the cases.
The students who come into our law schools are adults who have decided that they are ready to spend a tremendous amount of time and money preparing to enter a profession. We show the greatest respect for their individual autonomy if we deny ourselves the comfort of trying to make them happy and teach them what they came to learn: how to think like lawyers.
Good stuff (even it it’s not as catty as we had hoped). It’s worth noting that Professor Althouse, whose own excellent blog is less academic than many other law professor blogs, is not opposed to “personal expression.” It’s just that she believes, and rightly so, that there’s a time and place for everything.
P.S. Random aside: Professor Osborn’s daughter, Meredith, is a Harvard Law grad now clerking on the Ninth Circuit.
P.P.S. We had the pleasure of meeting Professor Althouse at the NYLS conference last week (see photo at right).
More photographs from the conference, of superior quality, are available at Althouse and Soloway. ‘A Skull Full of Mush’ [Times Select] At the “Writing About the Law” conference [Althouse] Ripped From the Headlines [Soloway] Earlier: John Osborn to Scott Turow: “Game On, Bitch”
We just got back from a most engaging luncheon talk at the NYLS legal writing conference by John Jay Osborn, a law professor at the University of San Francisco and author of the 1973 novel, The Paper Chase (which led to a movie and television series).
Here’s the Westlaw headnotes version of John Osborn’s talk:
Law students, you need to rediscover and take back your narratives. Law school is all about forcing you to give up your narrative and play by someone else’s rules. Don’t let them do that to you.
Osborn covered a number of topics during the course of his remarks — legal education, law and literature (especially Bleak House), the trajectory of legal careers, the genesis and evolution of The Paper Chase. Great stuff.
Here are a few money quotes. On Scott Turow’s One L, which someone raised in Q-and-A:
“One L is competent,” he sniffed. “But it doesn’t have a HEART.”
Osborn, a former associate at Patterson Belknap, left the legal world for a year to write. He encourages lawyers not to be afraid of trying new things or stepping off the treadmill:
“The nice thing about the law is you can go away and come back… Don’t be afraid to go off and do different things. They’ll ALWAYS take you back. They ALWAYS need associates.”
Finally, Osborn shared with us a great quote from John Houseman, the actor and producer who won an Oscar for his work in The Paper Chase.
Some folks wanted Houseman to perform a scene in The Paper Chase that he didn’t like. He refused, declaring: “I’m too old and too rich to put up with this bulls**t.” Author of The Paper Chase Joins USF School of Law [USF School of Law]
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
The JOBS Act created new tools for companies to publicly advertise securities deals online. As a result, thousands of new deals have hit the market and hundreds of millions in capital has been raised, spurring a wealth of new business development opportunities for attorneys.
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The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) went into effect in 2013 and permits Regulation D offerings of securities to be advertised publicly. This means that funds and companies can now use social media, emails and web sites to market transactions to new “accredited” investors.
However, with these new powers come new pain points. InvestorID FirmTM provides a secure, fully hosted, cloud-based platform with a breadth of tools for your clients, including: