Accounting / Accountants

For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to join Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances in a free webinar.

On September 10 at 3 p.m. EST, take the opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:

● The basics of accounting for lawyers.

● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.

● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.

● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.

● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.

Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing! We hope to see you on 9/10 at 3 p.m. EST. Click here to register.

Zach Warren

Back in March, we wrote the following about Zachary Warren, the young lawyer hit with criminal charges arising out of his post-college, pre-law-school employment at Dewey & LeBoeuf: “we’ve heard rumors that in the coming weeks the DA’s office will show more of its hand — in ways that could materially affect our perception of Zach Warren. We reserve the right to change our opinion of him after additional facts emerge.”

Now some additional facts (or at least allegations) have emerged. As we noted in Morning Docket, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office just laid more of its cards on the table, in opposing Warren’s motion to have his trial severed from that of his more notorious co-defendants.

We have a copy of the government’s opposition. What revelations does it contain?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “New And Juicy Details Of Zachary Warren’s Alleged Role In The Dewey Debacle”

* A guy who tried to get on the bench more than once was just busted in a prostitution sting. Oops. He also spells his name weird. [The Press Democrat]

* Tomorrow, Gibson Dunn partner Miguel Estrada will argue before the Second Circuit that private parties can’t get injunctions under RICO. For those keeping score, Gibson Dunn partner Randy Mastro hangs his whole case in Chevron v. Donziger on a request for an injunction under RICO. Time to play the Distinguish Polka. [Courthouse News]

* Wait until the RIAA realizes there are royalties to be made at CIA black sites in Uzbekistan. Because the only thing more torturous than being forced to listen to this music is the tenacity of the RIAA. [Slate]

* More on the legislative fight over accrual accounting versus cash-basis accounting for Biglaw firms. To the barricades! Swear your allegiance to Generalissimo MacEwen! [Adam Smith, Esq.]

* Is there a right to online anonymity? All the people out there trying to hire contract killers over the Internet certainly think so. [InsidePrivacy]

* Jay Edelson and Chandler Givens of Edelson PC examine the flawed law firm recruitment model. [Legal Solutions Blog / Thomson Reuters]

* Slip and falls at the IRS office. [Lowering the Bar]


* President Obama says he’s not changing his mind on the legality of marijuana “at this time.” I guess we need Biden to go on Face the Nation this time around to get some movement on the drug war. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* California lawmakers are looking to retool its “revenge porn” — the act of posting embarrassing sex pics/videos of a significant other who screwed you over — bill. Now California won’t be able to post all those amateur vids of the organizers behind Prop 13. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* New York just boasted the largest seizure of illegal guns in NYC history because a rapper used Instagram to show the world a whole mess of illegal guns. Sometimes you have to avoid that “pics or it didn’t happen” tweet. [ABA Journal]

* Michael Jackson’s estate is battling the IRS. The article coyly suggests that the estate has told the IRS to “Beat It.” What they don’t understand is the IRS, as a general rule “Don’t Stop ‘Til [They] Get Enough.” [TaxProf Blog]

* Inspired by our recent post on the 15 Reasons to Date a Lawyer, Going Concern has found eHarmony’s “15 Reasons to Date an Accountant” and given it a similar beatdown. [Going Concern]

* Congratulations to the M&A Advisor’s “40 Under 40″ award winners. Your families would be so proud if they remembered what you looked like. [The M&A Advisor]

* I was quoted in this week’s episode of This American Life. Host Ira Glass interviewed Sharon Snyder, the court clerk fired for helping free an innocent man. [This American Life]

* Bruce MacEwen explains the mid-year results for Biglaw as reported by Wells Fargo and Citi respectively. Video after the jump…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 08.23.13″

Tomorrow, I’ll be going into a meeting with the folks from finance, and they’ll ask me: “How much are we going to pay in the Smith case, and in what quarter?”

[Note to accounting purists: We'll assume that we could reasonably win Smith, so liability is not probable.]

To be sure that I have the most informed opinion possible, I call outside counsel and cleverly ask: “How much are we going to pay in the Smith case, and in what quarter?”

And outside counsel starts the usual spiel:

“Life is full of surprises. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Litigation is like a black box; you never know what’s inside until you’ve opened it, and by then it’s unstoppable.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I say. “But how much are we going to pay in the Smith case, and in what quarter?”

“Well,” says outside counsel. . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What Outside Counsel Don’t Understand”

“In four minutes, it would be another hour; a half hour after that was the ten-minute break. Lane Dean imagined himself running around on the break, waving his arms and shouting gibberish and holding ten cigarettes at once in his mouth, like a panpipe. Year after year, a face the same color as your desk. Lord Jesus. Coffee wasn’t allowed because of spills on the files, but on the break he’d have a big cup of coffee in each hand while he pictured himself running around the outside grounds, shouting. He knew what he’d really do on the break was sit facing the wall clock in the lounge and, despite prayers and effort, count the seconds tick off until he had to come back and do this again. And again and again and again.”

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King (affiliate link)

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a longish piece on just what in the hell was happening at the IRS office in Cincinnati. A Kafkaesque tale of bureaucratic intrigue, the treatment does little to tell us why in the hell we care just what in the hell was happening at the IRS office in Cincinnati. I’ll leave that determination to the qualified pundits and their punditry.

But what the Times article does do is shine a light on what it means to be a lawyer. What it means to others and what it means to us. Completely by accident, the mess at the IRS tells us how important lawyers are. And how impotent we are. This makes little sense even as I type it. But bear with me. Please. It is not often that meaning comes so nicely gift-wrapped.

What does it mean to be a lawyer?

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* Lat’s turning his serialized web fiction into a real live book, scheduled for publication in 2014. Congrats, Lat! [Supreme Ambitions]

* REMINDER: If you’re looking to enter the annual ATL Law Revue Video Contest, send us that submission by THURSDAY, APRIL 18, at 5:00 PM (Eastern time). That’s not a soft, law school deadline; it’s a hard, law firm deadline. [Above the Law]

* A reminder that yesterday’s events may be more aptly compared to the Atlanta Olympics bombing than 9/11, at least with regard to the targeting of a public event, regardless of the media’s inclinations. [Balloon-Juice]

* Employees around the country are wildly abusing Twitter’s new app, Vine, exposing themselves to retribution and disclosing confidential information. And I’m highly looking forward to the first “Biglaw associate abuses Vine” tip showing up in my inbox. [Connecticut Employment Law Blog]

* Congratulations CPAs! You’ve survived tax season and Broadway wants to punish reward you with free tickets to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. [TaxProf Blog]

* Bear Lawyer comments on the Bitcoin debacle. [Bear Lawyer]

* Congratulations to NYU Law for winning its 5th Straight Deans’ Cup over Columbia on a last second play. I’ve been waiting for video of this ever since I learned that the game ended on a buzzer beating three-pointer when an unknown NYU student informed me of it on the subway platform that night. Well, now we have our video and it is highlight worthy….

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When I worked at a law firm, I knew that lawyers’ responses to audit letters — in which the firm confirms to auditors the status of litigation pending against a client — were a massive waste of time.

Firm policy dictated that we would speak only pablum in response to audit letters. We would identify each case by name, court, and number; explain that a complaint had been filed; list the causes of action; say where we stood in discovery and whether a trial date had been set; and then say that we didn’t have a clue who would win. (If we thought that the client’s chance of losing was either “probable” or “remote,” we were required to say so. I’m not sure we ever saw such a case.)

Every once in a while, a junior associate would receive an audit letter and write a real response to it — analyzing the lawsuit, the tactics, and who would win. When the powers that be learned about that mistake, there’d be hell to pay: “How could you write those things? Didn’t you run this past an audit letter review partner? We don’t actually provide information in those responses, you fool! Never do this again!”

As a partner at a firm, I knew that responding to audit letters was an expensive nuisance: A full-time audit letter assistant cranked out first drafts of responses to the letters. (That’s all she did, eight hours per day, 52 weeks per year — honest.) The appropriate client relationship partner reviewed each draft. An “audit letter review partner” (I had the misfortune to be one of those for four or five years) took another pass at the thing. Only then — after the letter had been stripped of all content — did the response go out the door. That was an awful lot of time and money invested to insure that the firm didn’t accidentally say something.

But I always assumed that someone — the client, the auditors, someone — thought those ridiculous letters served a purpose. Now I’ve gone in-house, and it turns out that audit letters serve no purpose at all. . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Stop The Audit Letter Lunacy!”

Back in April, we brought you a story about a family who had written to Dear Abby, an advice columnist, about their child’s law school loan debt. Apparently the mere thought of assisting their darling daughter with the repayment of her $100,000+ debt load was just too much to bear. The daughter had already ruined her own life, so why should they ruin theirs too? And yet, tens of thousands of students are still willing to look this student loan debt problem in the face and laugh.

Yes, in a time where the Executive Director of the National Association for Law Placement is forced to write entire columns about the fact that there is no conceivable way he could describe the current entry-level job market as “good,” others are still considering applying to law school.

For example, today we found out that the matriarch of another family sought wisdom from an advice columnist as to whether her husband should go to law school. How did she respond? Let’s just say Dear Prudence is a little more in tune with the realities of today’s legal job market than Dear Abby will ever be….

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Aww... does your head hurt? Maybe you'd feel better if you DID YOUR FREAKING JOB!

This has been one hell of a day for ridiculous lawsuits. We’ve already dealt with Octomoms turned strippers and thick girls who want to go to law school. Now we’ve got an office worker who claims that the pressure of her job led to her heart condition.

Accountant Tammy Armstrong is claiming wrongful termination and intentional infliction of emotional distress because her employer asked her to do a lot of work. She also wants to be paid overtime because her employer had the audacity to claim her as a salaried worker and then paid her a salary.

Basically, if she wins, then every single junior office worker in law or finance should be able to sue their employers. Which makes me think she’s not going to win…

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