Biglaw

Yes, Biglaw firms do use Twitter. And apparently some of them use it quite well!

But who is the Biglaw King of 140 characters? We came across an interesting infographic today that pits two of the hottest hitters in the law firm world against each other.

Which firms are they and how do they line up?

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If you believe traffic stats (we do), many of you have been enjoying our extensive coverage of the Dewey & LeBoeuf meltdown. One of our coverage hallmarks has been the consistently awesome puns based on “Dewey.”

The wordsmithing is largely the handiwork of David Lat. And it’s somewhat of a tradition around these parts. We employed the same linguistic device during the Howrey collapse last year.

So it’s only fitting at this point in the game to recognize a commenter who riffed off our puns particularly well. Dewey have a Comment of the Week winner? Yes, we sure do….

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As we mentioned earlier today, retired partners of Dewey & LeBoeuf received some potentially good news. These former partners, whose unfunded pensions were supposed to be funded out of firm profits, will have a voice in the firm’s bankruptcy proceedings. As reported by the WSJ Law Blog and Am Law Daily, the U.S. trustee’s office has appointed an official committee of former partners (in addition to the standard official committee of unsecured creditors). The four ex-partners on the committee are David Bicks, Cameron MacRae, John Kinzey, and John Campo.

What prompted the move? As legal consultant Edwin Reeser, whose analysis of the Dewey situation recently appeared in these pages, told the WSJ, “The retired partners have uniquely separate interests which warrant consideration as a special class of creditors.”

It’s nice that they have a seat at the table, but will the ex-partners end up with any money at the end of the process? That’s less clear. As Jerome Kowalski, another law firm consultant, told the Journal, “There has never been a law firm bankruptcy that resulted in any payment being made to the equity partners… They’ll have zero sway other than perhaps some moral imperatives, and moral imperatives don’t have much play in bankruptcy courts.”

The unsecured creditors might have more luck than the former partners. Who’s on the unsecured creditors’ committee?

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April’s showers were supposed to bring May’s flowers, but last month turned out to be nothing but doom and gloom for the legal world. Not only did we get to see the biggest collapse of a law firm in U.S. history, but we also caught a glimpse of some of the worst allegations of attorney misconduct that we’ve seen in quite some time.

So, which attorney called opposing counsel an “ignorant slut”? Who busied himself with drawing pictures of male genitalia during a deposition? Which attorney wrote a letter to a former opponent in order to call him an “a-hole”? And who referred to a female attorney as the c-word?

Find out this, and more, when you check out our nominees for May’s Lawyer of the Month competition….

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No, not that gavel...

* Dewey retired partners with unfunded pensions get a seat at the table for this bankruptcy circus? Yeah, but only because the U.S. Trustee did something unheard of and appointed a committee of former partners as creditors. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Yesterday was definitely a great day to be gay on the east coast. In addition to the First Circuit’s DOMA decision, a New York appellate court ruled that being called gay is no longer defamatory per se. [New York Law Journal]

* Milberg is the latest firm to dump Paul Ceglia of Facebook lawsuit fame, but Dean Boland, his other lawyer, says the Biglaw firm just “serve[d] as a distraction.” Somebody please give this man a dislike button. [Buffalo News]

* Humblebrag of the day by Judge Alsup of Oracle v. Google fame: he’s written lines of code “a hundred times before.” He also squashed Oracle’s API copyright infringement claims like bugs. [Courthouse News Service]

* Remember Kimberly Ireland, the Kansas attorney who falsely accused Judge Kevin Moriarty of waxing his gavel beneath the bench? She got a retroactive two-year suspension. [ABA Journal via Legal Profession Blog]

* Elizabeth Warren has confirmed that she told Harvard Law and Penn Law that she was a Native American, but only after she had been hired. She didn’t get any action of the affirmative variety, no sir. [Associated Press]

* Recent law school graduates are a little more desperate than we thought they were. At least 32 people have already applied for that BC Law job advertising a salary below minimum wage. [Boston Business Journal]

* Activision settled a lawsuit with two Call of Duty developers, but isn’t worried about an effect on its financials due to a strong third quarter performance. And you can thank your damn Elite packages for that. [PCMag]

The law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf now finds itself in Chapter 11, but the story of Dewey has not yet reached its end. We’ll now turn the pages in the Bankruptcy Reporter.

Yesterday Judge Martin Glenn of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court allowed Dewey to use cash collateral to fund its wind-down operations, even though this collateral should really be seen as belonging to the firm’s secured creditors. Judge Glenn initially denied this request, at least when it was coupled with giving the secured creditors a lien on recoveries from future litigation. In deciding to let Dewey tap into the cash, Judge Glenn did not decide what the lenders might get in exchange for letting the firm use their money. That will be decided later, at a June 13 hearing.

With things quieting down on the Dewey news front, let’s turn to analysis. Here are some insights into what brought Dewey down and what other firms can learn from its fall, from a former managing partner who now works as a consultant to the legal industry….

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Tom Wallerstein

Everyone knows the expression “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” The proverb claims that whatever we don’t have always seems more attractive than what we do have.

If the proverb were true, then we might expect that Biglaw associates would pine to work as solos or in small firm boutiques. But do they really?

It’s no secret that many lawyers are miserable. Some people like Will Meyerhofer have made careers out of trying to reassemble the shattered psyches of victims of Biglaw excesses. But as miserable as an associate’s life might sometimes be, I’ve rarely heard attorneys wistfully musing what it would be like to practice on the other side of the fence, so to speak. Nor do many solo or small firm attorneys often say they wish they worked in Biglaw.

I can’t help but chuckle at the self-rationalizing that seems to overwhelm so many attorneys. Many of them are so cocksure of their career paths and so defensive when challenged, you have to wonder if they doth protest too much. And indeed, although I’m not a shrink, I do have my theories as to why lawyers especially seem prone to criticizing other lawyers whose career paths are different than their own….

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We have been covering the Justice Department’s case against Megaupload, the formerly massive file hosting site, ever since the government shut it down in January.

We have seen the government’s piracy case devolve from a slamdunk into a slopfest with what appears to be less and less of a chance of successful prosecution. Although charismatic CEO Kim Dotcom is still under house arrest in New Zealand, judicial officials there are getting frustrated with the United States. And the company’s attorneys at Quinn Emanuel are still continuing their assault against the Feds. The firm filed two important briefs yesterday, which could significantly impact the future of the case…

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I recently got a lift to the airport from a lawyer at a mid-sized firm who I’d met only earlier in the day. “It must be a pleasure to work for you,” he said.

On the one hand, that seemed strange, since I work so hard to establish a public persona that I’m a pain in the neck. (Frankly, that’s not much of a charade.) On the other hand, this seemed not at all strange, since I’ve now grown accustomed to lawyers at firms sucking up to me.

But I figured I’d play along: “Why would it be a pleasure to work for me?” I asked, innocently. “I’m pretty tough on our outside counsel.”

“Because you can tell good from bad. You worked in private practice for 25 years, and you’ve labored in my field. I suspect that, back when you were playing the game, you could write a pretty good brief. When an outside lawyer sends a bad brief to you, you may criticize it, but at least when a lawyer sends a good brief to you, you’ll recognize that it’s good. I work with an awful lot of clients who can’t distinguish good work from bad.”

Ha! Here’s an issue that I’d noticed when I was in private practice, but never really thought about. And it’s an issue that arises frequently in-house, because an in-house lawyer’s clients typically are not lawyers. My chauffeur may have thought that he was currying my favor by flattering me, but in fact he was doing something much, much better — he’d given me fodder for a blog post.

What should lawyers do when their clients can’t tell good legal work from bad?

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'F**k this f**king sh*tty bonus!'

* “Our assets went home every night, until one night, they went home and never came back.” Aww, Dewey shed a tear for this bankrupt law firm? Nah. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* It looks like SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas decided to kiss and make up with his alma mater, Yale Law School. He’ll be the keynote speaker at an alumni dinner in D.C. this summer. [Reuters]

* And the marriage equality battle has finally arrived in Obama’s former stomping grounds. Lambda Legal and the ACLU are challenging the ban on gay marriage in Illinois. [Associated Press]

* The biggest news out of the John Edwards trial yesterday was that Judge Eagles told the alternate jurors they didn’t have to show up anymore. OMG, boring. Give us a verdict already. [ABC News]

* Kim Dotcom and his company’s defense against the DOJ’s charges is coming together piece by piece. If only Megaupload were a torrent site, this would be a much better nerd joke. [Media Decoder / New York Times]

* The ABA Journal wants to know if you curse in the workplace, and if so, in what situations. We bet that a fair share of Biglaw associates were dropping f-bombs left and right over this year’s bonuses. [ABA Journal]

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