Biglaw

* Judge John D. Bates wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committee leadership “on behalf of the Judiciary” explaining why it’s important to keep FISA an opaque Star Chamber. Chief Judge Kozinsky, um, disagrees with that “on behalf” part, and calls out Judge Bates in this letter for mouthing off where he has absolutely no authority. [Just Security]

* The twisted, contradictory, desperate logic behind Halbig. In GIF form!!! [Buzzfeed]

* Two InfiLaw schools, Florida Coastal and our Twitter buddies at Charlotte, are offering refunds to students who perpetually fail the bar as well as a refund to students who don’t get clerkships or externships. That’s nice. A whole $10,000 for failing the bar twice and $2000 for not landing a position. Don’t bother comparing that too how much the students shelled out for their degrees because it’s too depressing. [JD Journal]

* Do you want to know how to survive Biglaw? [2Civility]

* Interesting advice on how to best take advantage of the more informal rules of mediation — let your clients build the narrative. [Katz Justice]

* Judge gives a speech and suggests a woman should become a phone sex operator. That’ll work out well for him. [Journal Gazette]

* Maybe we should be getting law degrees as undergrads? That way we might have minors that employers will care about. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Geez, lots of judges in trouble today — here’s an elected judge accused of lying about where she lived to get elected. She denies it, but her filings list three different addresses. Oops. [Times-Picayune]

We were facing increasing financial pressure. So we undertook a substantial restructuring, and that restructuring put us on a solid economic and financial footing, allowing us to do a combination to meet our strategic needs.

Many if not most of the U.S.-based law firms in the 350 to 600 or 700 lawyer-range are feeling a great deal of financial pressure. We felt it more than many because we had a number of very large cases—totaling, at the end of the day, nearly $80 million of a $330 million budget—settle and wind up through normal course. That dramatic decline in revenue exacerbated the pressure on us, but the financial pressure on all law firms today are very significant.

Ed Newberry, co-managing partner of Squire Patton Boggs, explaining in an interview with David J. Parnell of Forbes, why he led the charge to a Biglaw mega merger with Squire Sanders as managing partner of Patton Boggs.

Bruce Stachenfeld

There – I always wanted to write an article that had such a strange title that people would look at it and wonder what I was talking about. So here goes….

Everyone just loves to beat up on the big law firms. I keep reading articles everywhere that say:

They are overpriced.

They are inefficient.

Their partnerships destroy innovation.

They are terrible places to work – sweatshops – associates are worked to death until they quit.

Their business model is broken.

There was even a book that came out a year or so ago with a great title, The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis (affiliate link). To me the book described the law business as part of a dying profession that is enmeshed in a conspiracy to ruin the lives of all in it — except the fat-cat senior partners at the top of the pyramid. I admit I read it a while ago and it is a bit hazy in my mind, but the author, a former Kirkland & Ellis partner, clearly is not a fan of the current state of Biglaw….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Reinventing The Law Business: An Ode to Large Law Firms”

* Clearly we’ve got some problems, Cleary: Following Argentina’s default, the country is being advised to drop the law firm that said it was a good idea to default in the first place. [The Guardian]

* Lawyers have been flocking to Ferguson, Missouri, left and right to serve as “the eyes and ears of those who protect and guarantee civil rights.” That’s nice, but it’s kind of not working. [National Law Journal]

* “I really don’t know how the people who work there can keep a sense of sort of personal dignity.” American Law plunged in the rankings because of its “dubious employment prospects.” Ouch. [Washington City Paper]

* In case you’ve been wondering what the NFL’s response to all of the cheerleader wage-and-hour complaints are, here it is: “Labor law? LOL. The NFL is immune from state labor law.” [NBC Bay Area]

* Apparently there’s a national court-reporting championship that the world has been missing out on — until now. There was a major upset this year, and a new winner was crowned. Congrats! [WSJ Law Blog]

* Full, fair, and independent: In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed, Attorney General Eric Holder promised “robust action” in Ferguson, Mo., in light of Michael Brown’s killing. [National Law Journal]

* Biglaw firms have taken notice of the crowdfunding scene, and some have started up their own practice groups dedicated to the cause. Goodwin Procter just got in on the ground floor. [Crowdfund Insider]

* Who will be honored with induction to the American Lawyer’s Legal Hall of Fame in 2014? Take a look at a list of past winners of the title to see if you can guess which legal luminaries will be next. [Am Law Daily]

* “We are actively investigating. We will not rest until we bring this case to a close.” Police still have no leads or suspects in the tragic murder of FSU Law Professor Dan Markel. Sad. [Tallahassee Democrat]

* Is your fantasy football league legal? Like the answer to all questions of law, it depends. Not for nothing, but we’re willing to bet that you won’t really care if it’s legal if it’s going to impede on your fun. [Forbes]

Last week’s column discussed the underappreciated role that second chairs play in modern litigation practice. But how best to fill the role, once it is earned?

The easy answer is fanatical preparation. Meaning you will need to prepare for every hearing, no matter how minor, as if you were going to be handling the argument yourself. Or if you are at trial, and supporting another lawyer on the testimony (be it direct or cross) of a witness, preparing as if you were conducting the examination. Apply the “laryngitis test” if you need motivation, as in what would you do if the first chair woke up that morning without a voice? Knowing that you could be thrust into the spotlight on short notice should be motivation enough for thorough preparation.

But you also need to put that preparation to good use. Arguing in open court is difficult, for even the most seasoned advocates. If you are being asked to sit at counsel table, the idea is not for you to admire the wood paneling in the courtroom. The expectation is that you will put your knowledge of the case to work, by anticipating the flow of the argument, and making sure that whoever is arguing has any needed information readily available for immediate use. When your partner is speaking, that means keeping track of whether they will need to refer to a document along the way. Or whether they have forgotten to raise an important point. For that latter reason, working out a non-intrusive note passing system in advance can be worthwhile. The key is not to disturb the flow of the argument, but to enhance its effectiveness. If you have nothing to contribute, you should not be sitting there wasting the client’s money. The need to be “active” does not give license to hijack the hearing or cause distraction, of course. Engaged listening at all times and sparing active participation are the better approach in almost all cases.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Beyond Biglaw: Warming the Chair (Part 2)”

* In this summer’s Biglaw lawsuitpalooza, real estate and conflicts took the lead as headliners. Poor Boies Schiller had double the trouble when it came to ethics complaints. Ouch. [Am Law Daily]

* New Jersey taxpayers owe Gibson Dunn & Crutcher about $6.5 million thanks to Governor Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal. Thanks for the pain in our pocketbooks, chief. [Daily Report (reg. req.)]

* “It’s been a minor inconvenience to us, but of course I don’t like somebody hijacking my name and using it to hurt someone else.” Two Florida law firms are investigating why someone sent out 42 anonymous state bar complaints against one firm using the other firm’s mailing address. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Charleston School of Law is starting a new academic year with even more confusion than it was in last year, considering that its InfiLaw buyout is in a state of flux. Maybe that’s a good thing. [Post and Courier]

* Three ex-Lingerie Football League players have filed class action suits against the club, alleging minimum wage law violations. Come on, pay these half-naked athletes a living wage. [National Law Journal]

Now we’ll unmask this superhero.

Longtime readers of Above the Law will recall the tale of Aquagirl. She’s the former Cleary Gottlieb summer associate who, while in a state of inebriation, stripped down to her underwear at a Chelsea Piers charity benefit and jumped into the Hudson River. This might have been an effort to demonstrate her swimming prowess (she was on the swim team in college), but ultimately she had to be rescued in a boat by either the Coast Guard or the NYPD. Her exploits are now the stuff of legend, the bar by which summer associate misadventures are measured.

In these pages, we’ve referred to Aquagirl simply by her nickname, in keeping with our general policy of anonymizing summer associate stories. But that policy admits of exceptions. We will now unmask Aquagirl because she’s back in the headlines for newsworthy conduct — this time heroic rather than scandalous….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Aquagirl Is Back In The Headlines — For Heroism!”

When you work at a law firm, you must actually solve problems.

If you’re paid to win a case, you must identify the route to victory and develop the facts that take you there. (“They don’t pay us $15 a minute to lose.”) If you’re arguing an appeal, you must anticipate every possible question and figure out a persuasive answer to it.

There’s no place to hide and no one to whom you can push hard issues.

Not so in a corporation: If an issue is insoluble, just send it to the law department! That puts the matter to rest, and you didn’t have to figure out the answer!

Remarkably, I’ve seen this solution proposed not just by folks who work in-house, but by outside counsel, too . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “If The Issue Is Too Hard, Just Send It To Law!”

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