As we recently mentioned, Above the Law is dramatically increasing its coverage of small law firms. Clients and lawyers are moving in the direction of smaller firms, and ATL is following suit.
In response to our posting for a new small-firm columnist, we received dozens of superb applications (and we thank everyone who applied for their interest). The pool of talent was so strong that we decided to take on not one but two new columnists — doubling our dedicated small-firm coverage, with posts on at least four out of five weekdays (in addition to our existing coverage of small law firms).
Let’s meet our new writers. One of them should be familiar to many of you, and one of them will remain shrouded in secrecy….
Above the Law’s second annual holiday card contest was a great success. Thanks to everyone who responded to our call for nominations, thanks to the finalists who created such great holiday cards, and thanks to all the voters.
The campaigning was vigorous. And the final winner actually wasn’t one of the two firms that was leading early in the voting. There was an eleventh-hour surge over the weekend from one of the contenders.
Our law firm holiday card contest is still underway, but we’re in the home stretch. Voting closes tomorrow, January 9, at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern time). If you haven’t done so already, review the finalists and vote over here.
In the our earlier post, we promised a post in which we’d (1) give shout-outs to some holiday cards that were strong but narrowly missed our cut and (2) poke fun at some of the Christmas cards we found especially disappointing. Here is the promised post.
Let’s look at some of these honorable and dishonorable mentions. Perhaps your law firm’s card is among them?
The holidays may be behind us (sigh), but Above the Law’s second annual holiday card contest remains in full swing. Thanks to everyone who responded to our call for submissions. The response was overwhelming.
Perhaps too overwhelming: we received dozens and dozens of nominations. I have literally spent several hours reviewing them all — hours of my life that I can never recover. While a few firms’ holiday e-cards impressed, charmed and even delighted me, the project as a whole made me nostalgic for document review. (It wasn’t nearly as fun as reviewing the entries for our law revue video contest.)
Readers, many of you did not follow contest rule #3: “Please limit submissions to holiday / Christmas cards that you view as worthy contenders. We’re looking for cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool; we aren’t really interested in cards that are safe.”
Alas, we received many cards that were safe. And boring. In a future post, I’ll poke fun at some of the worst ones. I’ll also give shout-outs to a few cards that were nice, but not nice enough to make the final cut. (That will be the “Honorable and Dishonorable Mentions” post.)
For now, though, let’s view — and vote on — our seven worthy finalists….
Don’t say I never did anything for you — I’m creating jobs. Okay, I’m creating a job. Well, not a full-time job, just a freelance writing gig. (But at least it pays more than this legal job or this one.)
Yes, after some deliberation, I’ve decided to step away from writing the small law firm column I helped start back in September. What alternative endeavor, you ask, could possibly draw me away from the highly lucrative world of blogging?
Glad you asked. In lieu of my twice-a-week column here (and my day job), I’ve accepted an offer to join the Army’s JAG Corps as a full-time, active duty sold… lawy… soldier-lawyer. Yes, like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men (except less attractive and not the Navy).
Yes, this is something I want. No, I’m not crazy — just want to do something awesome. The government is going to pay me to undergo weapons training, learn land navigation, stay in shape, and — oh yeah — be a lawyer. It’s a four-year commitment, and if anyone is interested, I’m going to try and chronicle with my journey over at my personal blog: (A)musing Dick. (I’m not sure how that will go because, as Lat knows, blogging and government work don’t always mesh very well.)
The important thing here is that there’s a writing opportunity available. Read on if you’re interested….
A small law-firm bonus, or a small-law-firm bonus?
It was almost two weeks ago that I, still fat from Thanksgiving turkey, wondered publicly about the status of bonuses at small law firms. Well, it’s time to get the results of that status check.
I recall Elie using the term “anemic” to describe Cravath’s bonus numbers (which were looking like the standard for Biglaw bonuses this year — at least until Cahill came along). Given that, I can only think the term “uber-anemic” is in order here.
It’s pretty clear that traditional large-firm jobs in big cities are still hard to come by. Even those cushy government jobs sometimes offered as a Biglaw equivalent are, as of last week, slightly less appealing. Well, fear not; the small law firm renaissance is here!
A recent article in Lawyers Weekly suggests that small towns are losing their lawyers faster than they’re being replaced. The article discusses small-town Canada, but based on this report from the WSJ Law Blog (which I previously mentioned here), as well as what I’ve heard from my sources, this observation is also true in the States.
The author seems hopeful that we are on the verge of a “renaissance in small-town lawyering,” and in support he offers a revised look at six of the traditional reasons why graduates and young lawyers often avoid smaller communities. Let’s see if he’s right…
Earlier this week, I had the chance to sit down with David Tanenholz, one of the co-founders and partners at Hardinger & Tanenholz LLP (H&T), which is one of the few firms — if not the first — to promote itself solely as “discovery counsel.” And with their experience as Biglaw alumni, the two founders may represent a glimpse into the future of how lawyers can carve out a niche by fusing technology and project management.
So what is it that puts them ahead of the curve? Let’s find out….
Small law firms have many of the same management issues as Biglaw firms, but often deal with them differently — for example, setting billable hour requirements and adjusting pay scales to keep their lawyers happy (or at least just happy enough not to quit). One such issue that keeps coming to my attention is social media marketing.
Biglaw firms have formal departments to handle logos, social media, and the overall direction of their firms’ brands. Small firms have… well, they have the attorneys and maybe a do-it-all firm manager (like we had at my old firm). Thus is born a market for the web and SEO experts.
But wait, this is not what you think! This is not another self-help article about how to fix your website or use Twitter (like a pro!). There are more than enough of those.
Instead, I want to explore a less popular position…
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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