* Mississippi’s “personhood” ballot measure could ban not only abortion, but birth control, too. This is supposed to “protect women.” Protect women from what, their right to choose? [Huffington Post]
* This defense attorney has seen plenty of big cases before, but this may be his biggest one yet. Paul Bergrin has been given the green light to represent himself in his own racketeering case. [The Record]
* More doctors are facing criminal charges than ever before. Here’s an idea: stop helping cultural icons (yes, this includes Anna Nicole) OD, and we’ll stop prosecuting you. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* “One of the plaintiffs, Kyle Rooker, 14, has not declared his sexual orientation but . . . likes to wear glittery scarves and belt out Lady Gaga songs.” Most fabulous plaintiff ever? [New York Times]
* Why the hell does Baker & McKenzie think that its associates in Japan need spiritual guidance? Everyone knows that lawyers have no souls. [Careerist]
Without paralegals, legal assistants, legal secretaries, clerks, and receptionists, the entire Biglaw model could come to a screeching halt. Speaking as a former legal assistant and full-time law clerk, I know this for a fact.
For some attorneys, if members of the support staff weren’t there to assist, important letters would go unwritten, coffee mugs would go unfilled, pleadings would go unproofread, and envelopes would go unlicked. So attorneys, always treat staff members graciously and respectfully — you never know when you’ll need them to get you out of a bind.
All that being said, we were a little bit shocked when we learned about what is allegedly happening at one of the world’s largest law firms, Baker & McKenzie. Apparently some members of the support staff aren’t getting the kind of support they need….
* Baker & McKenzie is being sued for $600 million. First they were the inspiration for Philadelphia. Then they gave me a cold offer. Now this? Horrific mistakes, all. [Sports Money / Forbes]
* Meanwhile, Bingham McCutchen is preemptively suing Frank McCourt for letting them screw him over so badly. [Los Angeles Times]
* The middleman in the Matthew Kluger brouhaha, Kenneth Robinson, has pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges. No word yet on whether he is a gay dad. [Bloomberg]
* The Ninth Circuit ruled that the most controversial parts of the Arizona immigration law will remain blocked. [Washington Post]
* A man was fired from his job as a part-time urine monitor because he was born a woman. He’s suing (with help from Gibson Dunn), but has already found new employment. As a package handler. [New York Times]
* Speaking of packages, this employment discrimination lawsuit filed against a Dallas law firm is struggling with penis ID. [ABA Journal]
* NFL owners and players have been ordered into mediation by a federal judge. Who gives a sh*t? It’s a great band, it’s a bad band. It’s like pizza, baby! [ESPN]
And this year, there’s a new name at the top. Baker & McKenzie leapfrogged a number of firms to become the top-grossing law firm in the world (based on 2009 revenue numbers). Baker narrowly edged out Skadden for this honor.
Of course, Skadden people shouldn’t be ashamed of their second-place finish. Baker & McKenzie is huge: it leads the Am Law list of most lawyers by more than a thousand over its nearest rival, Clifford Chance. Skadden ranks #9 on the “most lawyers” list, with an attorney headcount that is almost doubled by Baker & McKenzie. Skadden gets to #2 in the revenue rankings by having a much higher revenue-per-lawyer figure.
Let’s take a look at the top ten in terms of revenue, and drool over these billion-dollar businesses…
We’re doing our annual march through the Vault prestige rankings, to give ATL readers the opportunity to have their say about perks and pitfalls at these firms. If your firm actually let you swap your Blackberry for your iPhone, brag here. Or if your firm has such a strong stench that it makes you nauseous, vent here.
We’ve been doing open threads in batches of ten, but now we’re going to pick up the pace. Here are the Vault #41 – 60. This is when the prestige list gets a little more geographically diverse, with firms based in Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Palo Alto and even Pittsburgh:
Last week, MSNBC ran an alarmist article entitled “Details of 100 million Facebook users published online,” after a hacker security consultant compiled a list of the 171 million Facebook users who have their profiles set to show up in a public search. Any story these days with “Facebook” and “privacy” in it tends to set the Internet afire. Sometimes, the hysteria is warranted. (And when I say “sometimes,” I actually mean “rarely.” People join the social network to be social and share information, after all.)
In this case, especially, the hysteria really wasn’t warranted. The list contained people’s names, addresses, Facebook profile urls, and in some cases, phone numbers. Next time Verizon drops off my new White Pages, I expect MSNBC to break a huge, angry story about it.
The file with Facebook users’ info was available for download on the security consultant’s site. Gizmodo was able to figure out the IP addresses of people downloading the file, and published a list of the many companies that appeared to be interested in the info. Among them were three law firms: Davis Polk, O’Melveny & Myers, and Baker & McKenzie. Quite a few ATL readers have sent this our way. Said one tipster:
I understand what a corporation which markets a product or non-legal service might be doing with this kind of data, but what purpose can it serve for a law firm? All the data collected was publicly available, but the whole thing is a little shady. Maybe ATL can figure out what their plans are for using all this information.
Okay, let’s take the conspiracy theories down a notch….
Baker & McKenzie’s incoming class of 2009 can no longer fool themselves. If they haven’t started at the firm by now, they are never going to start.
Back in September, we reported that 12 of the 18 members of the 2009 Baker & McKenzie class still waiting to start had been re-deferred until June. At the time, Baker gave these people an ominous warning (emphasis added):
Starting in January, 5k stipend plus benefits for up to six months. at ANY time during six months, MAY get a call from b&m, have 1-2 weeks to report to work, but absent a major bump in work, not likely to happen. If after June, no call from b&m, “the relationship will end.”
Well, it’s June, and it appears that the relationship between Baker & McKenzie and 11 of the 12 re-deferred incoming associates has, in fact, ended…
Over the last 24 hours, there have been some managing partner shake-ups at some notable large law firms. Let’s tackle the news in Vault order. First up: Baker & McKenzie.
The firm has gone international to find its next managing partner. The WSJ Law Blog reports:
[I]f anyone had any doubts about the firm’s commitment to its international presence, consider this: It recently elected São Paulo partner Eduardo Leite as the next chairman of the firm’s eight-person executive committee…
Leite represents the firm’s first Latin American chair. And we can’t think of any other U.S.-based law firm that’s picked someone based in Latin America to lead it.
You can access the various charts via this portal page. Aric Press and Greg Mulligan summarize the results:
It could have been worse. That’s the best that can be said for the performance last year of The Am Law 100, the top-grossing law firms in the nation. Three of the four key categories we’ve measured for 25 years — gross revenue, head count, and revenue per lawyer — fell, while profits per equity partner (PPP) barely increased by 0.3 percent, or $3,463, to $1.26 million.
So PPP was basically stable in 2009 — not a bad result given the continuing economic weakness last year. Perhaps law firm partners are better business managers than they get credit for?
Last week, the “normal-seeming” couple won our reader poll in a romp over the buttoned-up, hyper-achieving competition. No danger of that this week! All three of these contestant couples give off major type-A vibes and are firmly locked in prestigious-degree-accumulation mode. And oh, how we love them.
Here are the contestants:
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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