* Wait, auditors agree that auditor letters are pretty much a waste of time, but they still want them anyway? As I learned in Civ: “The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency.” [Going Concern]
* Yes, the legal world is still buzzing because one of the nine most powerful people in America deigned to utter a few words in court. I hope Justice Thomas appreciates that his obituary is going to prominently include references to his confirmation hearings and his well-documented muteness. [ZombieLaw]
* Bottom line, I don’t want to be on the side of praising SEC enforcement actions. [National Law Journal]
* I hope Obama is well armed, because the only thing that stops a politician in the pocket of the gun lobby are the people holding their votes to the heads of their Congressmen. [Blog Briefing Room / The Hill]
* Same-sex marriage should be legal because gay people should be allowed to save money too. [The Atlantic]
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. . . .
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…
* Man, the economy is so bad, monks are having to go to court to fight for a new revenue stream. [WSJ Law Blog]
* We have peace between a Texas auction house and the President of Mongolia over the ownership of a Tyrannosaur skeleton. While we’re here, should anybody wish to invite me to a pre-screening of their inventive dinosaur park, I’d like to note that I’m not the type of bloodsucking lawyer who leaves children behind. [Heritage Foundation]
* Did you know Sullivan & Cromwell got involved in the birther controversy? The first one, the legitimate one with Mitt Romney’s father. Not the ridiculous one that Romney’s been embracing. [Reuters]
* Speaking of Mittens, did you know he supports for-profit colleges? That’s like supporting people jumping off the Empire State Building, so long as they pay to get in. [Salon]
It’s one of the biggest cons going around. I cringe whenever I hear it. A lawyer laughs and says, “I’m not good with numbers — that’s why I became a lawyer.”
On the surface, it seems to make sense; it sounds like it should be true. For some, it might even be true. After all, the last time we used quadratic equations was back when loafers on bare feet were considered desirable footwear (thanks Don Johnson).
In-house lawyers should never, ever say they’re bad at math — even those who really are. After all, business people are preoccupied with numbers. As an in-house lawyer, telling a business person that you’re bad at math is like telling them you don’t care about the most important thing that everyone else in your company cares about, and if your company is publicly listed, what every investor in your company cares about — the company’s numbers….
Cops learn to hate people. Basically everyone they encounter is a criminal, so cops soon come to believe that everyone is a criminal.
Litigators — or perhaps litigators who are repeat players in a particular field — learn to hate people. Personal injury insurance defense counsel come to believe that all plaintiffs are lying fakers. Personal injury plaintiffs’ lawyers come to believe that all insurance defense counsel are tightfisted jerks who never pay a claim.
Maybe this is natural. If you spend eight hours every day repeatedly doing the same thing over the course of many years, you become what you do. It’s hard to break out of your role.
But this can cause trouble for in-houselitigators. If you become what you do, consider who in-house litigators learn to hate . . .
* If the mainstream media is afraid of speaking out against the TSA, it’s only because they’ve gotten used to simply regurgitating the spin fed to them by their precious government sources. [Popehat]
Congrats to Ronan Farrow and all the other members of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
* If this is what Forbes is publishing for its “30 Under 30 in Law & Policy,” then Above the Law should publish “20 Legal Leaders Under 20.” Look, here’s a college freshman who takes color-coded notes, keeps an extra raised hand in her purse, and has no womb — she’s a future SCOTUS justice! [Forbes]
During my 25 years litigating at law firms, I fretted about two words: “winning” and “losing.” (As one old-timer put it: “They don’t pay you twelve dollars a minute to lose.”)
Now I’m in-house, and I’m still fretting about two words: “probable” and “estimable.”
The accounting rules require corporations to take a reserve (which causes an immediate hit to revenue) when a “loss contingency” (which is accountant-speak for lawsuits, among other things) becomes probable and estimable. If it’s likely that you’re going to lose, and if you can estimate the amount (or, at least, the lower bound of the amount) of the loss, then it’s time to take a reserve.
Why do Brits think that filming people staring at other people in silence makes for compelling drama?
* Could stuttering actually help a trial attorney? Somebody should make a movie about this guy, only with fewer British people than The King’s Speech and more things Americans enjoy: like the stutterer/hero saying “My f-f-finger doesn’t stammer,” before he blows some fool away. [From the Sidebar]
* Ernst & Young accountants engaging in funny videos > Ernst & Young accountants engaging in fuzzy math. [Going Concern]
* I don’t trust “the market” as much as some other people do, but it can’t be any worse at running legal education in the country than the current system of letting a yearly ranking in U.S. News dictate how things work. [Truth on the Market]
* Just once in my life, I’d like to be able to vote for a Democrat with balls. [Huffington Post]
Litigatrix Ally McBeal
* There’s an irony in women litigators getting told they are not good at building relationships. [The Careerist]
* Before we accept Revelations, I’m going to want the state psychiatrist to take a look at St. John of Patmos. [What About Clients?]
* “Like most people who do these sorts of things, Linda Speaks Tribby had a good excuse, which is that she needed the money to buy a helicopter and a motor home, two purchases that seem slightly at odds but the heart wants what it wants.” [Dealbreaker]
* Loyola Law – L.A. is running Journalist Law School again. Kash went last year and recommends it. [Loyola Law School - L.A.]
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: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…