Advice

When I come across internet slideshows with titles like “8 Coolest Things Ever” or “Top 10 Reasons Why Lady Gaga Is a Man” or “Yale Law School’s 7 Most Disgraceful Graduates,” I think, “Ugh, not more link bait. I already spend half my time on this trash.” But like everyone else, I click it anyway, feel unsurprisingly disappointed, and then wish for the last 45 seconds of my life back.

When someone sent me “6 Ways Your Car Can Spy on You,” I had little-to-no expectations. But it turned out the little slideshow actually had a few tasty morsels of knowledge.

Keep reading to learn how simply paying bridge tolls keeps you on the grid, and how police can assign liability based on an unexpected similarity between airplanes and your Honda Civic….

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Your company was just named in a new complaint, and there’s no obvious choice of counsel to defend you. What do you do?

You ask around internally to see whether any of our lawyers has worked with good counsel in the jurisdiction. Perhaps you ask a trusted outside lawyer or two for recommendations. You narrow the choices down to two or three candidates, and you decide to interview the top three firms.

This brings us to the subject of this post: What do you ask at the interviews?

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I have a confession to make.

Most of my friends are lawyers. Forrealz. To be sure, an increasing number of them, like me, no longer practice. But most of them still do, and I still like hanging with them.

When I would go to Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, or the federal district court across the channel in Southie, I would bump into classmates or colleagues more often than not. Later in my practice, it became increasingly common that I would already be friends with my opposing counsel. Some lawyers don’t like litigating against their friends, but I always did. It made it easier to get things done, and you didn’t have to waste time with unnecessary gamesmanship.

If you already had a level of trust with your opposing counsel, you could skip all the silly things that slow down litigation and make it more unpleasant. Discovery disputes, for example, drop down to zero. Settlement talks start sooner and are more meaningful. Extension requests are automatically given. Cases get resolved faster and easier.

But do you know who doesn’t like it when opposing lawyers are friendly with each other?

Find out who — plus big news about this column — after the jump.

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Can you name the Biglaw firms with great lifestyles, supportive and friendly partners, lots of mentors, a commitment to parenting, salaries high enough to pay off your debts in 6 years with no pressure to develop business, and a guarantee of partnership (and frequent sabbaticals)? This tough question cannot be answered. There is no perfect law firm — and despite the warm fuzzy noise of recruiting, every law firm has strengths and limitations.

You have chosen a demanding field where clients expect the best advice from the best lawyers. The explosion in associate compensation caused significant and permanent changes in law firms’ expectations for new associate performance, the tolerance for slow starters, and the likelihood of promotion. This generation of new lawyers will work harder, compete harder, and be under greater pressure to contribute (produce business) than was ever present in the past. That’s the reality of practice in the new millennium. But the desire to find the best law firm in an imperfect world is a legitimate quest.

Before deciding on which firm to join, consider these tips, provided by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former hiring partner….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center: Finding the Perfect Firm – Does Work Life Balance Exist in Biglaw?”

Martin Luther dropped out of law school and he did just fine for himself.

Not all of our coverage of law schools is depressing; we bring you happy stories as well. In recent weeks, we’ve written about one law school dean’s creative (and healthy) student outreach program, a law student demonstrating kindness to animals, and someone having fun — perhaps too much fun? — in the library.

Let’s continue the good cheer. Back in the spring, we wrote about a law student who was thinking of dropping out of school. He sought our advice — and, surprisingly enough, my colleague Elie Mystal advised this fellow to stay in school (even though Elie is generally not a fan of legal education).

Some commenters disagreed with Elie (shocker), and urged the kid to drop out. But now we bring you an update suggesting that perhaps Elie’s advice was sound….

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Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to [email protected].

Dear ATL,

One of the partners in my practice group is very involved with a charity. About once a month or so, we get hit up with various updates on the cause, requests to donate, attend charity events, subscribe to newsletters, etc. He’s even made a few presentations about the charity during practice group meetings. This charity has absolutely nothing to do with legal work and frankly it’s getting really annoying.

As an associate, is it OK to unsubscribe from his charity’s email (not sure how I was signed up in the first place)?  Will he know?  Will it affect my partnership chances?  Am I obligated to donate?  Will he know?  Will the other partners know?

-Hit ‘Em Up Style

Dear Hit ‘Em Up Style –

Part of the reason they pay you associates so much is that your exorbitant salaries already factor in the bullsh*t expenses that come with the job: student loan payments, business wardrobe, personal training, late night online electronics purchases, therapy, top shelf alcohol so as not to be totally incapacitated when you get a work email the next day… and partner pet projects. And yes, they’re watching….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: The Panhandling Partner”

The job market remains challenging for graduating law students. Here at Above the Law, we try to do what we can to bring opportunities to the attention of 3Ls. In recent weeks, we’ve discussed judicial clerkships and the DOJ Honors Program.

Granted, clerkships and the Honors Program are opportunities that are (1) fairly obvious and (2) extremely competitive. Some of you might be asking: Have any other bright ideas, Team ATL?

As a matter of fact, we do….

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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.”

What happened?

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.

This can make in-house life odd….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Projecting Defeat”

The information age we live in can be a blessing and a curse. Few fields demonstrate this truth more persuasively than the realm of electronic discovery.

During a panel here at the Legal Technology Leadership Summit on the theft and exfiltration of intellectual property, the panelists discussed the exponential growth in information densities, the increasing importance of IP, and the challenge that evolving technology presents to the governing legal frameworks. As one panelist noted: “Technology leaps, the law creeps.”

What does rapidly changing technology mean for the e-discovery world? And what are some considerations that in-house lawyers should keep in mind when responding to e-discovery requests?

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When is a litigator thinking most keenly about a specific witness’s testimony?

There are two days: The day you’re taking (or defending) the deposition of the witness, and the day — months or years later, if ever — when you’re examining the witness at trial. So when should you be making notes about the witness’s testimony and your reaction to it? That question answers itself: You should make quick notes of key points during the deposition, and you should write notes to yourself immediately after the deposition ends. “Immediately after”: Not later in the week; not the next morning. Now, when your brain is fully engaged.

Those notes don’t have to be comprehensive, but they have to memorialize the things that you noticed during the deposition that you’re likely to forget by either the next morning or the day, a month later, when you’re reviewing the transcript. The notes are quick and easy. Write an e-mail to yourself that says: “Today I took Smith’s deposition. These were the highlights: (1) He admitted A; (2) He denied B; remember to create some other admissible evidence on that point; (3) He evaded on C; there’s something fishy going on there; (4) Opposing counsel started interrupting when I got near D; we should press harder on that point; (5) His testimony opens up issue E; let’s do some legal research.” There might be a half dozen points; there might be a dozen. But the key is to record immediately the fleeting ideas that you had while your brain was most in gear.

During the deposition, you’re as attentive as you’ll ever be. Don’t lose the moment; capture it.

What do you use those notes for?

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