Biglaw

There’s nobody I’ve talked to at Squire Sanders who doesn’t think Patton Boggs doesn’t have the potential to take the firm down.

– A disgruntled former partner of Squire Sanders who left the firm following its recent merger with Patton Boggs.

(Do other legacy Squire Sanders & Dempsey partners feel the same way?)

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We used to think that the Biglaw firm with the best-looking lawyers in New York City was Davis Polk, but then Paul Weiss brought sexy back in the Big Apple. Alas, their title was usurped in less than two years’ time by a challenger from another firm.

Who is she, and which firm does she hail from?

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Patent litigators travel frequently. I addressed the topic back in early March. Travel can be tiring, or fun, or a combination of the two. And travel episodes are sometimes good for a laugh afterwards. Sometimes, you can even learn a business lesson or two from a travel experience. On a recent trip, I was reminded that trying to save some money can be costly in other ways. And while it is nice to be running a firm that is a cheaper alternative to Biglaw, there is no excuse for letting that price differential compromise the quality of our services. We don’t, and never will, but reminders of that principle do not hurt either.

A few months ago, Zach and I needed to make a trip to meet with a client and separately deal with an issue in one of our cases. When I was in Biglaw, both of the firms I worked for had in-house travel agents, and because of the nature of my practice, I got to know the actual agents pretty well. If I had a business trip, all it took was an email or phone call, and everything would be arranged based on my travel profile and preferences. The occasional “can you get me an earlier flight” or “flight cancelled, get me home” situation was often handled seamlessly as well. And while I was never in the “client is paying for it, so it’s first class for me” camp, I also never hesitated while at Biglaw to incur additional travel cost when there was a compelling business reason for it.

So if it cost a bit more to take a flight at a certain time of day, so be it — especially if flying at those times would make me more productive, i.e., capable of generating billable hours. Or if an upgrade that would allow me to get some much-needed rest was available for a moderate cost, I would take it. But I could not stomach employing some well-worn Biglaw travel tricks, such as always booking refundable full-fare tickets in coach to pretty much guarantee an upgrade. As the years went by, of course, increased client focus on expenses cut out some of the marginally abusive practices. It is hard to worry about securing an upgrade — when you are trying to get the client to pay for the trip in the first place.

Things are different now that I have my own boutique firm….

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Casey Anthony

* Squire Patton Boggs has announced the new leadership structure of its lobbying and public policy practice. It’s really no surprise that the head honchos of the group hail from the Patton Boggs side of the recent merger. [Politico]

* “It’s funny how the Supreme Court reaches down and picks this case.” The most important digital privacy case of our time just happened to be filed by Stanford Law’s SCOTUS Litigation Clinic. Awesome. [San Jose Mercury News]

* If you’re caught on camera sleeping during a Yankees/Red Sox game, you can probably expect abuse from ESPN announcers. If you call someone an “unintelligent fatty” as an announcer, you can probably expect a $10M defamation suit. [New York Post]

* “I’m proud to do my job.” Madonna finally rescheduled her jury duty session in New York City, but she was dismissed early so as not to create a “further distraction for the courthouse.” [New York Daily News]

* It’s been three years since Casey Anthony was acquitted of her daughter’s murder. Let us remember this most amazing voicemail: “CASEY ANTHONY NEEDS TO ROT IN HELL! SHE NEEDS TO DIE!” [CNN]

An actual switchboard!

Most of you weren’t practicing Biglaw in 1981. Indeed, the vast majority of you weren’t practicing in 1981. Which is why this find is such a gem. Someone unearthed a home movie taken in the home office of a Biglaw firm in 1981.

How long ago was 1981? They still had a f**kin’ switchboard! Like, with wires and stuff.

If you’ve ever wondered what law looked like in an era before computers or basic standards of appropriate behavior, here’s your guide….

UPDATE (7/10/14 1:45 p.m.): Be sure to check out our update revealing the identity of the genius behind this time capsule.

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Complaining about profits per partner as a metric is a favorite pastime of Biglaw partners. Sometimes it can look like sour grapes by partners at firms that don’t excel in the PPP department.

But, to be fair, there certainly are things to complain about when it comes to profits per partner. For example, PPP is an average that can sometimes conceal a great deal of variability. It tells you exactly what its name suggests — average profits per partner, i.e., total profits divided by the number of partners – but it doesn’t tell you what the average partner takes home in a year.

To get a better sense of compensation for an average partner, we’d need to know the “spread,” i.e., the ratio between the compensation of the highest-paid partner and that of the lowest-paid partner. Thankfully, there is (some) information on that.

How do partner compensation spreads look these days at leading law firms?

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No, not that kind of chambers.

I’m in-house, so Chambers & Partners — one of the outfits that rates lawyers and law firms — sent me a free copy of their 2014 guide.

If you’re profiled in that book, you get to write your own (very short) bio. You get something like 50 words to convince the world to hire you. So what did one person, from the distinguished firm of Bigg & Mediocre, write? I’ll slightly alter the bio, to disguise the guilty, but you’ll get my point:

Charles Darnay has argued more appeals in the Second Circuit than any other lawyer at Bigg & Mediocre.”

This guy isn’t competing for business with other law firms; he’s trying to steal business from his own partners! His pitch is not: “I’m better than other lawyers in the world.” Instead, it’s: “I may not be better than most lawyers in the world, but at least I’m better than any of the other clowns you’ll find here at B&M.”

Very nice. But that’s not the best of it; Chambers conceals many secrets . . .

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The Am Law 100 average spread is 11.1 to 1.

* If you’ve been dying to know what the partner compensation spread looks like at your firm, then we’ve got your fix. Check out the insane 23 to 1 spread over at Perkins Coie. [Am Law Daily]

* “It’s a complete structural change, and it’s not going away. The end result is fewer graduates, and fewer law schools.” With enrollment still dropping, the end seems near. [Boston Globe]

* “I predicted the collapse of legal education, but I didn’t quite predict how bad it would be.” Dean Frank Wu of UC Hastings Law is fighting his way out of a rankings slump. Good luck. [The Recorder]

* Widener is the latest law school to roll out a solo / small firm incubator. Only grads from the class of 2014 may apply. Earlier grads are ineligible because they presumably have jobs… maybe. [PennLive.com]

* You may think Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia are “stuck in the past” and “disconnected from the real world,” but you may be wrong. You can read Uncertain Justice (affiliate link), by Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz, to find out why. [New York Times]

* A judge has denied bail for the Georgia man accused of sending sext messages during his seven-hour work day while his 22-month-old son was left to die in his hot car. Ugh, this is terribly sad news. :( [CNN]

River House

As we roll into the July 4th holiday weekend, it’s a good time for a Lawyerly Lairs post. What could be more American than great real estate? Great real estate once owned by a great American lawyer, in fact?

The River House is one of Manhattan’s most magnificent addresses. This elegant pre-war co-op, offering incredible views of the East River, has been rightly described as “one of the most luxurious, romantic and private apartment buildings ever built.”

As you can see from the building’s Wikipedia entry, its celebrity residents over the years have included Henry Kissinger and Uma Thurman. Legal eagles like Philip Bobbitt and Kermit Roosevelt [sorry, wrong Kermit Roosevelt] have also made their nests here. And this legal eagle, a Paul, Weiss partner whose penthouse is on the market for almost $15 million, might be the most high-flying of them all….

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Justin Flowers

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Justin Flowers is a Principal with Lateral Link. He oversees attorney placements (both partner and associate level) and client relationships with the top international U.S.- and U.K.-based firms in Asia, the Middle East and Emerging Markets. Justin also establishes and maintains relationships with firms new to the international markets in general, or to a specific market, who are in need of attorney placement services on an international level. In addition to his work in international markets, Justin also advises domestic U.S. boutique law firms on their strategic growth and hiring. He practiced law as a litigator for several years before becoming a recruiter. Justin earned a J.D. from NYU School of Law and an undergraduate liberal arts degree, cum laude, from the University of Oklahoma, where he attended the Honors College.

At the halfway point of the year, 2014 so far has been a perfect storm of big ticket corporate work, with the U.S. IPO market on record pace and global M&A activity surging to aggregate value levels not seen since 2007. This year’s torrid deal pace is already turning the normally relaxed summer months into a period of high recruiting activity.

No doubt about it, summer gets a bad rap as lateral seasons go. But whether or not you intend to take advantage of the current deal market driving demand, summer should be a time for action.

If you are considering a lateral move “early next year,” then there’s nothing to be done in the next couple of months other than take advantage of your firm’s renewed enthusiasm for the summer associate class, right? Wrong. Here’s why:

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