– Henry Shields Jr., the Drinker Biddle partner accused in a lawsuit of assaulting opposing counsel at a deposition. Shields, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy, maintains that he was the victim of the assault rather than the perpetrator.
Small Law Firms
A complaint filed in Santa Monica Superior Court and reported on by Courthouse News Service accuses a Drinker Biddle partner of “robust, unlawful force” that resulted in opposing counsel breaking his wrist. The alleged assault happened at the Beverly Hills office of the Excelus Law Group, a small law firm based in southern California. Attorney William W. Bloch claims that Drinker Biddle’s Henry Shields refused to leave his conference room after a deposition, and then assaulted him — with “some kind of martial art move.”
Shields and other Drinker Biddle attorneys who were there deny all of these allegations. And affidavits submitted by Drinker Biddle attorneys, as well as the actual deposition transcript, seem to paint a different — and much more hilarious — version of events…
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?
In a column entitled Start-Up of You, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times made the case for a new model of career development. According to Friedman, this job market is “not your parents’ job market,” in which you could expect to move up the corporate ladder at a single company and then retire. In this job market, things are no longer so stable. To be competitive in this new market, Friedman suggests that you treat your career as if it were your own business. This means that you should constantly experiment and adapt, search for growth opportunities, and be resilient.
This is great advice for lawyers (both Biglaw and small-firm lawyers). This advice, however, can be taken even further. As many solo practitioners will tell you (and as one in fact did), having a law degree means that you can do more than treat your career as if it were a business; you can actually have a career where you have your own business….
Now, mind you, this was at Boston College Law School, where such things aren’t really emphasized. I mean, it’s not like at that school across the Charles, where people like the Winklevii both wear and file suits. At BC Law, which (at least back then) prided itself on being a kinder, gentler law school, it wasn’t really about who you knew, or who knew you. (Yes, one of those whos should really be a whom, but only someone at Harvard would actually say it that way.)
Still, it’s nice to have people know who are you are, and it’s a useful skill to develop for after school, when you need to know how to market your services as a lawyer.
So three weeks after school started, almost everyone knew my name. You see, I had a secret weapon.…
- Asians, Boutique Law Firms, Celebrities, Law Schools, Music, Northwestern University School of Law, Small Law Firms
When a law student is described as a “rock star,” this usually means she has a high-ranking position on law review and is going to clerk for the D.C. Circuit. The closest most lawyers get to rock stardom is playing Rock Band (a favorite pastime of Elie and Kash; I can’t quite get the hang of it).
Well, what if we told you that a real international pop star is in law school now? And that she’s currently summering at a well-regarded boutique law firm in Chicago?
Now let’s meet a pop-star princess, shall we?
Mistakes happen. Take, for example, the current eyesore in Pioneer Court on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. Sculptor J. Seward Johnson’s “Forever Marilyn” is a 26-foot-tall, 34,000-pound sculpture depicting the image of Marilyn Monroe in the Seven Year Itch. The sculpture has been described as “creepy schlock from a fifth-rate sculptor that blights a first-rate public art collection.” One author seeking to answer the question of what is wrong with the sculpture concluded “pretty much everything,” including that it is sexist, kitschy, and has nothing to do with Chicago. Even @ebertchicago (aka Roger Ebert) is tweeting about this terrible sculpture.
More important than the mistake, however, is how one corrects the problem (except maybe with Marilyn, yuck). Don’t believe me? Check out any of your friends’ favorite quotations on Facebook, and at least one of them will have an inspirational gem.
With summer here, bringing with it a possible loss of focus (and fantasies about being outside), I decided to ask a team of experts how they recover from making mistakes in their practice.
Find out what they do, after the jump.
I have a friend who is looking for a job at a small law firm. (No, this is not one of those instances in which a person refers to herself as a “friend.” Do you see any quotation marks?) Not surprisingly, she is finding it difficult to land said job. As reported on Vault’s Law Blog, June was a particularly bad month when it came to legal unemployment.
My friend’s situation is not great. Of course, I did not say this to her. Indeed, like most conversations with my good friends, I say this behind her back instead. I am, after all, a good friend.
While things may not be looking so rosy for my friend as an aspiring small-firm lawyer, they are looking pretty sweet for some employed small-firm lawyers….
Yesterday I was at a local coffee shop around the lunch hour. I spotted a man that I think was Morgan Spurlock. I am not positive that it was him, but he had red hair and the Horseshoe mustache. It is possible that I saw Danny Bonaduce, a mustached Alfred E. Neuman, or some other ginger. Nevertheless, my potential sighting of the documentary filmmaker got me thinking: What embarrassing secret would Spurlock uncover if he spent 30 Days at a small law firm?
To find the answer to this question, I reached out to my network of small-firm insiders and picked what I thought was the most embarrassing secret. What was it?
I’ve only been on one “retreat” of any kind. It was with my church. My parents paid for it because anytime you can pay the Catholic Church to take your kids into the woods and tell them about God’s plan, it’s something you have to do.
Of course, going to a voluntary retreat sponsored by a religious organization is one thing. Going on a mandatory retreat ordered by your employer is quite another. Traditionally, if your employer is going to make you go on one of these things, then the employer is going to cover the hotel and airfare of the employees. That’s just how corporate America works.
I bring this up because associates at one midsize firm seem to be getting the short end of the stick. Their firm is apparently forcing them to attend a two-night retreat, but the firm is only paying for a one-night stay in their hotel rooms….