Bill Lee

In the dark days of 2009, we had frequent occasion to discuss the difference between “layoffs” and “performance-based dismissals.” Layoffs are generally understood as economically motivated, large-scale reductions in headcount, while performance-based dismissals involve specific individuals being asked to leave for cause. (Some see this as the difference being getting laid-off versus getting fired, although I’ve sometimes heard layoffs referred to as firings.)

The distinction can be a fine one. Unless cuts are made based on factors like seniority or practice area, layoffs often target weaker performers, so they can look a lot like performance-based terminations. There’s no bright-line cutoff, in numerical terms, for what constitutes a round of layoffs. And you can’t let firm characterization control, since many firms find it in their reputational interest to deny layoffs (unless the cuts are so large as to be undeniable; see, e.g., last week’s Weil Gotshal layoffs).

Today we bring you a story that captures this ambiguity. Several lawyers and staffers, totaling a number believed to be in the double digits, have been asked to leave a firm — but the firm denies that it’s conducting “layoffs.” We’ll present the facts and let you be the judge….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Layoffs? What Layoffs?”

On Friday afternoon, after just under three days of deliberation, the Apple v. Samsung jury came back with a tidy little verdict awarding just over $1 billion to Apple. Meanwhile, Samsung got nothing on its counterclaims.

It was a big win for Apple, and it came surprisingly quickly. As Elie pointed out, it would take many smart people more than three days to even understand all the the terms within the 109 pages of jury instructions. Aside from the jury itself, it seemed no one was ready for the verdict. One attorney for Apple even showed up in a polo shirt.

Let’s have a post-mortem run through of the case (and a quick-and-dirty look at the massive attorneys’ fees incurred by both sides)….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Apple v. Samsung: Where Do We Go Now?”

What. A. Day. Long long ago, in a time before lunch, I again trekked down to San Jose to watch the closing arguments in Patent Super Bowl 2012: Apple v. Samsung. That, and go through the most boring morning of my life, as close to 40 attorneys, dozens of spectators, reporters, and the unseen masses in the overflow room, sat through a reading of 109 pages of jury instructions.

But after lunch, we finally got what we hoped for: four hours of impressive performances from Charles Verhoeven, Bill Lee, and Harold McElhinny. We’ve probably got a year’s worth of Quotes of the Day from this afternoon, but by the end of the day, one phrase, one idea was abundantly clear: “The world is watching.”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dispatch from Apple v. Samsung Closing Statements: The World is Watching”


Well, it’s that time. Cue the Gladiator theme. Testimony in Apple v. Samsung is over, and closing statements are tomorrow. Any and all attempts at settlement have failed epically. Assuming I can get a seat, I’ll be down in San Jose watching and tweeeting the proceedings tomorrow. First, let’s take a look at some predictive analysis of how the world could change depending on who wins the jury’s favor.

It’s still anyone’s ball game, so journo-pundits, unleash the hyperbole and high-minded rhetoric!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “It’s the Final Countdown in Apple v. Samsung”

Every day it seems the Apple v. Samsung trial couldn’t get any more exciting, but somehow every day, the court proceedings seem to ratchet up the ridiculousness. Samsung has rested its case, and commentators expect closing arguments to happen on Tuesday.

But the trial won’t close out quietly. The vitriol from all sides shows no signs of slowing down — least of all from Judge Lucy Koh, who has quite simply had it up to here with the tech giants’ bickering.

Yesterday she again tried to convince the parties to settle, without much success. Today, the judicial badass inquired as to whether or not counsel was on drugs. Good times!

Can you guess which side received the verbal beating?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: Are You On Crack?”

Here we go. Spring bonuses are making now making their way into firms that are not strict lockstep firms. They’re making their way into firms that are not predominately based in New York City. They’re making their way everywhere.

Yay. If you will allow me to channel my inner Oprah: you get a spring bonus, you get a spring bonus, you get a spring bonus!

WilmerHale is the latest firm to get in on spring bonus mania. The firm’s approach to associate compensation is merit-based. So if you had a crappy 2010 at WilmerHale, well, your life just got comparatively worse, vis-à-vis your more meritorious peers…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: WilmerHale Jumps Into Merit-Based Spring Bonuses”

Is “phishing” running rampant throughout the legal community? A few weeks ago, Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School fell victim to a phishing scam. As the HLS Help Desk helpfully explained at the time, “Phishing emails are fraudulent email messages claiming to be from a legitimate source that ask you to send confidential information such as username, password, date of birth, etc.”

The latest high-profile victim of a phishing attack is a leading law firm, WilmerHale. A mass email is going around, purportedly from “Brian Willmer” of “Willmer Hale,” regarding an alleged subpoena. The email is a fraud; as far as we know, there is no “Brian Willmer” of “Willmer Hale.” It contains a link that you definitely do not want to click on.

Let’s look at the fake email — and the very real response, from the managing partners of WilmerHale….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Public Service Announcement: Watch Out for ‘Brian Willmer’ of ‘Willmer Hale’”