Accounting

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”

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”

* 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]

* This Die Hard director picked a bad day to try hard to stay out of jail. [Hollwyood, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]

* You know, there are laws against firing pregnant people. [Pregnant and Fired]

* 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. . . .

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

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Accountant Claims Wrongful Termination Essentially Because Her Job Was Too Hard”

* 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]

* Could an accounting firm pull a Dewey? [Going Concern]

* Have an idea for how to improve the Constitution? Share it with the good folks over at Slate. [The Hive / Slate]

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Moonlighting: Things Not to Say In-House – ‘I’m Bad at Math’”

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-house litigators. If you become what you do, consider who in-house litigators learn to hate . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Learning Who To Hate”

Susan Finkelstein is NOT a prostitute! Is that clear? NOT a prostitute.

* A Pennsylvania appeals court ruled that selling sex for Phillies tickets doesn’t make you a prostitute. She was already a Phillies fan, so calling her a whore was redundant. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Occupy Wall Street is looking for a few good accountants. Man, they are about six months from telling us that some of us are more equal than others. [Going Concern]

* 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]

* Move over, Memoirs of a Geisha; make way for Memoirs of a Gunner. [Smashwords]

* An interesting look at how five federal circuit courts manage their caseloads, by Marin Levy. [Jotwell: Courts Law and SSRN]

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