The statistics about women equity partners are bad. There is no shortage of “experts” opining on how to improve the statistics. The solutions often involve a cardigan (apparently the successful woman’s secret weapon), full-time nannies (the successful woman’s not-so-secret weapon), and a miracle.
There are some who offer more specific solutions. I personally love Skadden’s idea of hiring a “den mother” to mentor and guide their young female associates. Indeed, Sheli Rosenberg is correct when she channeled Madeleine Albright’s famous saying that “[t]here’s a place in hell for women who don’t support other women.”
I have had many conversations with small-firm attorneys about whether or not small firms may offer the solution to the gender gap among partners. Unfortunately, there is little to no research regarding the statistics of female partners in small law firms, so the discussions are based on personal experience as opposed to objective facts. Given the sources of the data, the results are, not surprisingly, mixed. Some say that small firms are better for women because the women have direct access to the decision-makers and clients, and there is less politics when it comes to promotion decisions in small firms. Some say that small firms are worse because the firms, unlike Biglaw, often do not disclose demographic information and so feel insulated — and because firm managers, who tend to be male, promotes their own….
A friend of mine is a plaintiff’s lawyer in Boston. We’ve opposed each other on several cases, and our interactions (always on the phone; weirdly, we’ve never met in person) are characterized by good-natured but acerbic jabs. Typically, he would bemoan my clients’ “colossally stupid” behavior. For my part, I would make fun of his firm’s name.
Don’t get me wrong: his firm is one of the most respected plaintiff’s firms in town. But its name follows the classic ego-gratifying law-firm style of putting all the partners’ surnames on the letterhead. With Biglaw firms, this doesn’t matter much, because the name partners tend to be, well, not-so-much alive. And the sheer number of partners at big firms means that ego notwithstanding, most aren’t getting their names on the sign.
But small firms have (by definition) fewer partners — with just as much ego. And they tend to be living. So the firm names are long and subject to frequent change.
Why is this a problem for small firms, and what they should do about it?
For the past week, a conversation has percolating around Skadden that has made its way into the ATL inbox. A Skadden corporate associate, Lisa M. Johnstone, died last week. Her obituary ran earlier this week in the San Diego Union Tribune. And her memorial service was yesterday. She died of an apparent heart attack, though we understand that her autopsy has not yet been completed. She was 32.
We’re talking about Lisa Johnstone’s death because reports indicate that she died while doing legal work from her home office on a Sunday. We’re talking about Lisa Johnstone because for over a week, Skadden associates have been talking about just how many hours Johnstone had been working. We’re talking about Johnstone because while the root cause of her death my never be known, many Skadden associates and others who know the story are taking this as an opportunity to assess their lives and their mental and physical well-being.
And that’s a good thing. The best advice I ever received in Biglaw was the partner who said: “You don’t have a thermostat”…
Allegations of criminal conduct can be made against attorneys from all walks of life. An innocent-looking solo practitioner in Illinois can be accused of prostitution. A partner in a well-regarded Minnesota law firm, the incoming president of the state bar association, can be accused of molesting a child (and convicted of criminal sexual conduct, after pleading guilty).
Such seamy accusations aren’t limited to the heartland; we also see them here in New York, at elite law firms. As we mentioned last night, Moshe Gerstein — a 35-year-old corporate associate in the New York office of Gibson Dunn, who also once worked at Skadden — has been charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office with child pornography possession. And we’re not talking about garden-variety kiddie porn, but images of a particularly disturbing nature.
Let’s learn more about the charges against this young lawyer, have a look at Moshe’s mug, and hear from some tipsters who know him — including a former colleague….
That year, Latham fell from #7 to #17 on the Vault 100 list of the most prestigious law firms. It was one of the biggest single year drops ever on the Vault list. At the time, I asked: “Is this as far as [Latham] will fall?”
Two years removed from that question, I’m staring at the brand-new Vault 100 rankings. Latham & Watkins is ranked #11.
Memory, my friends, is not something they screen for on the LSAT…
It’s not just the federal government that’s desperate for money. The states are, too.
One way that states are looking to fill their coffers is by auditing unclaimed property on companies’ books — so-called “escheat audits.” This isn’t the world’s sexiest topic, but an in-house lawyer might serve a valuable purpose by double-checking corporate escheat policies.
In the financial services industry, many companies must deal with unclaimed deposits and securities. But even outside that sector, most companies find themselves holding unclaimed property, in the form of uncashed vendor or payroll checks, undistributed benefits payments, or the like. Complying with escheat laws may pose a challenge.
States are now doing two things related to escheat laws to increase their revenue. First, they’re shortening the amount of time that a holder can retain unclaimed funds before turning those funds over to the state. Second, states are accelerating their use of “escheat audits” — auditing corporate books to see whether companies have complied with the applicable laws.
This has recently become big business — with implications for in-house counsel….
The case for same-sex marriage should rest less upon dollars and cents and more upon fundamental principles of fairness (as recently argued by Professor Jaye Cee Whitehead in a New York Times op-ed piece). But it’s certainly the case that money matters should not be overlooked when it comes to marriage equality.
We’ve previously discussed a non-salary benefit that we’ve nicknamed the gay gross-up. Here’s one concise definition: “A ‘gross-up’ for employees who enroll same-sex partners in the Firm’s health benefits plans to offset any federal, state and local income taxes paid on the value of the partners’ benefits which heterosexual spouses are not subject to.” (Currently gay couples in which partners receive employer-provided health benefits are taxed on the value of those benefits, due to the fact that, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), federal law — including federal tax law — doesn’t recognize same-sex unions.)
The gross-up is not a perk that affects a huge number of employees, to be sure. But having it sends an important message about a firm’s commitment to equality and inclusion.
Where did we obtain that handy definition of the gross-up? From the benefits page of a top law firm that recently started offering this benefit. It’s one of two elite law firms that recently boarded the gay gross-up bandwagon….
A tipster asked: “How is giving a potential future employer your Twitter ID a good idea?” Well, what if you’re getting free food?
The massive law firm of Skadden Arps is doing a fun little recruitment event at NYU Law School, during finals. They’re feeding the masses! New Yorkers have an affinity for eating food that is sold out of a truck because… well, only civilized people live with millions of strangers right on top of each other, on a rock infested with roaches and mice.
So, yeah, throwing pizza and hungry NYU students from a moving vehicle makes a lot of sense from a New York state of mind.
But would you be willing to give Skadden your Twitter handle? For a slice of pizza?
I recently met Ray Zolekhian at a wedding. He went to Harvard Law School, worked as an associate at Skadden in Los Angeles, and started his own law firm with a friend, Robin Hanasab.
As soon as I heard Zolekhian’s background, I immediately guessed that he started a personal injury firm. Isn’t that the most natural progression?
Apparently so. Founded in July 2009, Hanasab & Zolekhian, LLP began as a firm specializing in restructuring commercial real estate loans. The firm then transitioned to personal injury litigation, because the founding partners found the work interesting and lucrative. But Zolekhian had no background in personal injury; according to Zolekhian, the pair was “thrown into the fire.” They were not devoid of help, however, and benefited enormously from the resources and mentoring given by other attorneys in the close-knit plaintiffs’ bar.
Personally, I think it’s time for Biglaw associates in the class of 2010 to drink a tall glass of shut the hell up. They got jobs at a time when many of their classmates did not. They received $160K salaries just after there was a significant effort by some firms to push starting salaries down to $145K. Most of them got to start sometime in 2010… in the same year many of the people in the class of 2009 got to start. And, as far as we know, none of them have been Lathamed and had their careers aborted before they even started.
Are things as easy for the class of 2010 as they were for the class of 2006? No. But sometimes I think that the current n00bs forget that they could have been cast back down with the sodomites in the class of 2009.
But, that’s just me. And I’m old and irritable and have lost sight of the youthful exuberance that makes a person sing “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.” It turns out that first-year associates don’t want to wait until they mature into a class worthy of a full bonus at the end of 2011. They want whatever bonus money they can get out of 2010, and they are angry at the firms that are not paying up.
The Cravath-level spring bonus for the class of 2010 is only $2,500 at the firms that are paying spring bonuses to first years. And so we have two disgruntled groups: people who work at firms not paying a spring bonus to first years, and people who feel the $2.5K is “illusory” because it’s prorated based on when the associate started at the firm.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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