Here at Above the Law, we write about judges who bring shame to the judiciary all the time, but the subject of today’s foray into judicial misconduct is a wicked pisser — literally. We know things must get boring out in flyover country, Iowa specifically, but this is just crazy (and sad, but mostly crazy).
Let’s meet a judge who once got so wasted as she attempted to report to work at the courthouse that she later spent three days in an intensive care unit for severe alcohol intoxication…
* NO, NO, NO, NOTORIOUS! Previously unpublished documents from the Clinton White House have been released, and it looks like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was criticized for her “laconic” nature. Not cool, Bill. [Legal Times]
* Document review jobs aren’t going anywhere, folks. Exhibit A: Winston & Strawn’s e-discovery practice is bringing in the big bucks, earning the firm more than $20 million in revenue last year. [Capital Business / Washington Post]
* More lawyers are being treated for substance abuse for drugs and alcohol than ever before. In fact, a founding partner of Farella Braun + Martel, one of California’s largest firms, was once a “functioning alcoholic.” [Am Law Daily]
* A Florida jury apparently set on “sending a message” to tobacco companies awarded $23.6 billion in punitive damages to a chain smoker’s widow against RJ Reynolds. That was a costly message. [Reuters]
* June 2014 marked the fewest people who sat for the LSAT in 14 years, but it may get even lower if a new ABA proposal which would allow the test to be waived for 10% of students passes. [Central Florida Future]
During the final year of law school, those who are about to be handed their degrees are desperately seeking legal jobs of any kind so they can be counted among the few, the proud, the would-be lawyers who are employed at graduation.
Considering how terrible the job market is, those who are lucky enough to find a job are likely do anything they can to keep it. They might even be willing to deal with some “disgusting and grotesque” sexual comments for a while.
But how much is too much? It’s quitting time when the boss starts demanding sexual favors…
Sadly, lawyers are a group vulnerable to succumbing to addictions. In fact, according to one study, while 10% of the general population suffers from alcohol addiction, this number increases to 20% among lawyers. That’s right: one in five lawyers are alcoholics. At this point, you may be starting to wonder who in your firm proves this statistic. I would advise against this game, however. Although it may seem mildly entertaining at first, you’ll quickly realize that it’s actually pretty sick. This is because, of course, the statistic is true.
I remember being warned about the problem of substance abuse in the legal profession during the first week of 1L orientation when we watched a video about addicted attorneys. Unfortunately, this movie — which followed high functioning alcoholics and a woman with a shopping problem — failed to have its intended effect. That is, instead of scaring me away from drugs and alcohol, the film left me with the misguided impression that being a lawyer is easy. After all, if those people could practice law when they were completely wasted, doing it sober must be a breeze.
Notwithstanding my experience during 1L orientation, I do realize that drug and alcohol abuse is a serious issue in our profession, and not one to be taken lightly. If you or anyone you know has dealt with an addiction, you know how hard it can be. The question is, why are lawyers at such a high risk?
We haven’t seen a good Student Bar Association scandal in a while, but that’s all about to change. In case you’re not aware, the law students who are elected to serve on their school’s SBA are tasked with organizing fun events that will make their peers happy, and those events usually cost a lot of money. What can I say, alcohol and vomit clean-up fees are expensive.
So understandably, when that beer money starts to get mysteriously low — in this case, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars inexplicably missing — people start to panic. At what point do you realize the girl responsible for managing your organization’s finances has embezzled more than $30,000?
Probably when she admits to you that she spent the cash to fuel her drug and alcohol addiction…
Back when I was at the law firm, billing more hours than I knew were in a week, there were people who thought I was “gunning” for partnership. I billed a ton of hours, had basic social skills and a good mentor, and hey, I’d look pretty good in any “diversity” partner puff piece. Just add ten years of sustaining a maniacal pace, learning how to generate rain in a shrinking market, and navigating the political minefield of kissing the right people’s asses, and maybe I could have had a shot.
Suuuure I would have. Making partner at the Biglaw firm that you started with is functionally impossible. It happens so infrequently that setting it as a goal is about as realistic as children saying they want to walk on the Moon when they grow up. The odds were long before the economic crisis that caused partnerships to close their ranks and protect their profits like dragons hoarding treasure.
It’s not going to happen, but trying to get there ruins a lot of people. They can be having perfectly fine, perfectly serviceable Biglaw careers, but then somebody starts dangling the possibility of “partnership” in front of them, and suddenly they are trying to schmooze late into the night and kick their billable hours up into the 3,000-a-year range. And maybe if they’re lucky they’ll be able to get into a less prestigious firm, slog another couple of backbreaking years as “counsel,” and then get equity at some other shop.
Am Law Daily has the story of a man who finally got his shot at the brass ring, was fired over his alcoholism, and died a short while later. It’s a sad and extreme story, but many people fall in all sorts of ways on the path to partnership….
Earlier this week, a tipster sent us a link to a Greedy Associates post entitled “Why Do Lawyers Drink So Much?” My initial thought was “Ugh.” Honestly, somebody writes that article every three months, and every six months we have to write another version of the same story.
The reasons given for lawyer alcoholism are always the same. “Lawyers are only alcoholic because they’re super TYPE A badasses.” “Lawyers hate their jobs and drink to forget.” “It’s not the law that makes people alcoholics, it’s alcoholics who choose the law!”
I was going to ignore this latest Drunks and the Law story, but then the scotch in my coffee kicked in and I thought, “Hey, isn’t it just that lawyers drink because they can?”
Think about it: being a lawyer is a great job to have if you want to drink as much as possible while also having a job…
Professor Joel P. Trachtman (JD Harvard Law School) has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
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 view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this 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!
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!