* Speaking of Tunisia, MLK Day is important and everything — but maybe, just maybe, U.S. officials in Tunisia should GO TO WORK ON MONDAY. Give them a floating holiday or whatever, but given current events, the U.S. Embassy there should probably stay open. [Gawker]
* Meanwhile, Australian lawyers are getting a flood day. [ABA Journal]
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….
Superstar Supreme Court litigator Thomas Goldstein — who has argued 22 cases before the high court, racked up numerous honors from legal and general-interest publications, and, most importantly, served as a judge of ATL Idol — is leaving Akin Gump. Goldstein has led the powerhouse firm’s Supreme Court and appellate practice and serves as presiding co-leader of the firm’s litigation management committee. He arrived at Akin four and a half years ago, back in May 2006, to much fanfare.
Why is Tom Goldstein leaving Akin Gump? And where is he headed?
Pennsylvania legal circles are buzzing over a discriminationlawsuit filed yesterday in federal district court by a partner in the Pittsburgh office of Reed Smith. One source who informed us of the suit referred to “some really interesting allegations” against the firm.
A corporate and energy law partner at Reed Smith, JoEllen Lyons Dillon, alleges that her firm pays and promotes women less than men. Yawn; that’s definitely not “really interesting.” While unfortunate — or even outrage-inducing — if true, one could say the same thing about dozens, if not hundreds, of large law firms.
Far more interesting is Dillon’s claim that “work was diverted … to female attorneys who were willing to engage in sexual relations with members of [Reed Smith] management or with whom members of [Reed Smith] management had sought to engage in such relations.” Dillon alleges that because she “did not engage in such relations,” she was professionally penalized.
Dillon decided instead to have “relations” with her husband, resulting in the birth of twins. After she took time off to take care of the two tots, “her total compensation decreased, by almost half,” according to the complaint. Dillon claims that when she objected to this pay cut, partner David DeNinno, former chair of the Business & Finance Department at RS, asked if she was “done having babies yet.”
That’s just for starters. Dillon claims to have more dirt on her firm….
Given all that bad news, let’s focus on something positive (it is the holiday season, after all). Akin Gump has announced associate bonuses, and the firm is matching the Cravath structure, at least in New York. That makes sense: Akin Gump partners are meeting the minimum standard of bonus payout, while Akin Gump associates are putting forth minimal effort towards updating their time entries. What’s fair is fair.
What’s potentially not fair is the timing of the bonus payments. Akin Gump associates will have to wait until 2011 to actually collect their 2010 bonuses….
Nothing says “Biglaw” quite like an old-fashioned partner threat. Biglaw partners, a self-important bunch if there ever was one, generally do little to mask their huge egos. But when those egos express themselves in the form of threats against underlings, well, that’s when you learn why people get paid $160,000 right out of school.
You see, in most situations you just can’t treat highly educated people like naughty schoolchildren and expect them to take it. Not if you are paying them $50,000 a year for some average, middle-class lifestyle. They’ll quit. They’ll tell you to take your BS job and shove it down your condescending throat. But when you pay people $160,000 (or more), then you can talk to them however you please. They’ll take it (and apparently thank you for it). Biglaw partners know that their associates are being paid more money than they can make nearly anywhere else, and so they have little incentive to consider how they speak to their associate colleagues.
Now most partners threaten or belittle people on an individual, face-to-face basis. But sometimes these communications are disseminated to a broader group, and on the rarest of occasions these partner meltdowns are captured over email and sent to Above the Law. And those are the best.
Well, that was fast. Last week we learned of preliminary merger discussions taking place between Akin Gump and Orrick. But this morning, spokespersons for each firm released the following joint statement (which differed only in which firm’s name came first):
[The firms] have mutually agreed to conclude preliminary discussions regarding the possibility of a merger. The firms appreciated the opportunity to have the discussions, which confirmed their mutual respect for one another. However, the firms have determined not to proceed.
For an assessment of the pros and cons of an Akin / Orrick union, see here.
Yesterday we discussed the merger talks that are currently taking place between Akin Gump and Orrick. We solicited your views on a possible combination, and we received some interesting feedback (in the comments and by other means).
Let’s start with the happy stuff. Here are some positive takes on an Orrick / Akin merger, from the comments (yes, positivity in the comments — it happens):
“I have been at both firms and I believe it would be a good fit both geographically and practice-wise. Orrick is almost all about finance, and finance is one key area that Akin lacks real depth.” [FN1]
“#1 Vacuum company in America + #1 brand of cocktail shrimp = unstoppable legal force.”
But it’s not all vacuums and cocktail shrimp, sunshine and puppies. Insiders with knowledge of both firms also identified downsides to a possible Orrick / Akin merger….
Last week we started to hear rumors of a possible merger between Akin Gump and Orrick. One tipster offered this unenthusiastic take: “Suddenly, the firm that is known for professionalism and California-style collegiality courts the firm whose softball team is named ‘The Cheatahs?’”
Meow! Well, it appears that the rumors are true. Spokespersons for each firm just confirmed to Am Law Daily and the WSJ Law Blog that Orrick and Akin are in “preliminary,” “exploratory” discussions about a merger.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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