Biglaw

I mentioned last week that I recently moderated a panel of in-house lawyers at Schnader Harrison’s annual retreat. Always happy to share, I’m gathering here my existing thoughts on writing articles to develop legal business plus some new ideas suggested by the panelists. And, because handy lists get clipped and saved, I’m putting those thoughts into a list.

What are the ten rules for writing an article that will generate legal business for the author?

1. Write about a substantive issue, not a procedural one.

No one in the history of the world has retained a lawyer because the lawyer was the world’s greatest authority on Federal Rule of Evidence 403 or how to remove an action to federal court. People hire 10b-5 lawyers, not removal lawyers. If you’re writing to generate business, write on a substantive topic, not a procedural one.

2. Write about a niche area of the law.

If you write an article about some clever provision that a real estate lawyer should put in a lease, potential clients will read your article, send your article to their existing real estate lawyers, and ask the incumbents whether the incumbents have considered this idea and are able to put it to use. Your article thus educated the world and may have generated business for incumbent counsel, but it didn’t generate any business for you.

Niches are better. If you write about a niche area of the law — I’ve previously suggested that Colorado escheat law is wide open — the client’s incumbent firm won’t be able to provide the service that you’ve written about. If you’re writing to generate business, you don’t want to just suggest ideas that other lawyers can easily use.

3. . . .

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* He may not have authoritah to respect! George Zimmerman received more than $200K in donations for his legal defense fund, but Judge Lester isn’t going to increase his bail just yet. [New York Times]

* Is Joe Amendola’s client, Jerry Sandusky, rubbing off on him? First he advises people to call a gay sex hotline, and now he’s spilling loads (of info) on boys all across Pennsylvania. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

* Thanks to an inquiry by the New York Post, Columbia Law has changed how it reports its post-grad employment statistics. Perhaps more publications should get their b*tch-slappers out. [New York Post]

* If every day were filled with science experiments, laser demonstrations, and art projects at Crowell & Moring, then maybe lawyers would think twice about allegedly embezzling millions. [Washington Post]

* Lawyers need to know how to be lawyers before they can be lawyers? “Way too meta, dudes,” say law school deans in California. Maybe next time, bar examiners, maybe next time. [National Law Journal]

* “With these grades, you could be a stripper.” That’s quite the report card! Guys Teachers in my high school used to allegedly sexually harass former students all the time, it was no big deal. [Connecticut Post]

* Walter L. Gordon Jr., a groundbreaking lawyer in the era of segregation, RIP. [Los Angeles Times]

The law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf, which is currently fighting for its life, might have good news to report — and we’re happy to share it with you. It seems that LeBoeuf is not yet cooked.

As we’ve previously mentioned, tomorrow, April 30, was supposed to be the deadline for Dewey to reach a new deal with its syndicate of bank lenders. The firm owes its banks a reported $75 million pursuant to a $100 million revolving line of credit.

So what’s the latest — and relatively upbeat — news about Dewey?

UPDATE (4:30 PM): Additional, less cheerful Dewey updates — about the talks with Greenberg Traurig, and about embattled ex-chairman Steven H. Davis — have been added after the jump.

UPDATE (6:00 PM): More Dewey debt news — good news, happily — has been added below.

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Elie here. In news that should shock no one, Dewey & LeBoeuf has canceled its 2012 summer program. Honestly, if you were a 2L who was planning on going to Dewey this summer and you are just now figuring out that it’s not going to happen, you should probably spend more time reading Above the Law and less time sniffing glue. (Pro tip: sniffing glue + reading ATL = total awesomeness.)

We’ve also got some additional information about a possible criminal probe into the Dewey situation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. (We briefly considered the headlines “Dewey Have Any Lube for this Probe?” or “Dewey Know Any Good Criminal Defense Lawyers?”)

Let’s get into it. I’ll turn the floor over to Lat….

UPDATE (5:25 PM): Additional info, appended after the jump.

UPDATE (4/30/2012): We’ve added some material to the memo about the cancellation of the summer program that was initially missing when we first published this post.

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(And additional info about a possible criminal probe.)”

If you’ve been thinking about having a family while working in Biglaw, most would have these words of wisdom for you: GFL. However, if you’ve decided to “pull the goalie,” then we’ve got some good news for you: at some firms, you can truly have it all.

The Yale Law Women are out with their annual list of the top ten family-friendly firms. We cover this list every year (click here for our posts in 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008). This year’s list has changed dramatically from last year’s — only four firms have returned, with six new firms joining them.

But which firms made the cut? Which firms had the best options available to both men and women? Let’s take a look at the latest ranking for the most family-friendly firms….

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If you consider Sullivan & Cromwell’s Spring Tip as if it were a real tip on a meal that cost $160,000, S&C tipped at .6%. Not 6%, but .6%.

Cravath Swaine & Moore should be able to match that if every partner at the firm went home and shook the loose change out of their couches.

So, I’m not even going to ask if they’ll match. That’s a pathetic question. I’m going to ask if Cravath will beat the S&C spring bonus.

I mean, it’s not hard. S&C has set the bar so low that Cravath can crawl over it. For the love of God, I’ll get a better “spring bonus” from Breaking Media than S&C associates are getting.

If Cravath moves, we can assume S&C will follow….

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On Thursday morning, while talking to my therapist — no, not the People’s Therapist — I mentioned that I’ve been quite busy at work these days, covering the fast-moving story of a law firm implosion. I started to explain, but he interrupted.

“You mean Dewey?” he asked. “I know all about it. An old friend of mine is a partner there. He just asked me for a referral.”

Sign #1 that a law firm story has gone mainstream: your shrink knows about it. Sign #2: it’s getting covered by esteemed general-interest outlets like Slate and the Economist. (In Slate, Reynolds Holding argues that the experience of Ruden McClosky, the Florida firm that pulled off the bankruptcy-cum-merger maneuver last year, could provide helpful lessons for Dewey.)

Aside from a report that some partners want criminal charges brought against chairman Steven H. Davis, as noted in Morning Docket, things have been relatively quiet on the Dewey front over the past day or two. Perhaps too quiet, for some people….

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Yeardley Love

* Dewey get to see a member of this firm’s chairman’s office strut for a perp walk in the near future? After all, partners reportedly say that it’s thanks to him that D&L may close up shop “as early as next week.” [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* De-equitize this: Oh, how Biglaw firms in America wish that they could return to merry old England, where mandatory retirement policies for old fart partners are the norm, and the courts agree. [Legal Week]

* “We’re about to beat a dead horse here.” Even the judge presiding over the John Edwards trial got pissed when the defense repeatedly asked variations of the same question on cross-examination. [MSNBC]

* Ain’t no shame in his game (well, actually, there is). Judge Wade McCree’s lawyer says he’s sure the judge is sorry for his sext messaging. Yeah, sorry he got caught. [Detroit Free Press]

* Is this the first test of the “ministerial exception” in the Perich case? A teacher at a Catholic school was fired for getting in vitro fertilization treatments, and now she’s suing. [CNN]

* Insert your own UVA joke here, bro. Yeardley Love’s family has filed a $30M wrongful death suit against former college lacrosse player, George Huguely V. [Washington Examiner]

Lat here. In late March, I wrote a story with this title: “Sullivan & Cromwell Will Pay Spring Bonuses — But Will They Be Too Small To Be Worth Matching?”

I’m sad to report that my prediction has come to pass. Sullivan & Cromwell has announced spring bonuses, but they’re nothing to write home about. They are probably too modest for other firms to bother matching. The spring bonuses of Quinn Emanuel will surely exceed the S&C amounts.

Sullivan promised spring bonuses in its 2011 year-end bonus memo, and it reiterated that promise on subsequent occasions. But the powers that be at S&C never said anything as to amounts, leading some to forecast wimpy payouts.

So how much are we talking about? Let’s find out, and get some color commentary from my colleague, Elie Mystal….

UPDATE (4:20 PM): We’re continuing to update this post. Go after the jump and refresh.

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Federal judges don’t take kindly to misstatements by counsel appearing before them. And when the judge is unhappy, the client is unhappy. And when the client is unhappy, outside counsel gets cashiered. It’s not a pretty process.

Let’s travel down to south Florida, where an allegedly incorrect statement by a partner at Greenberg Traurig has incurred the wrath of a federal judge — apparently resulting in the client replacing the firm, and the firm parting ways with the partner.

It’s a cautionary tale for litigators….

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