* Lady Kaga issues her first single: a ruling against a Chapter 13 debtor, in favor of his credit card issuer, affirming the Ninth Circuit by a vote of 8-1. The lone dissenter: Justice Scalia. Weird, huh? [WSJ Law Blog; ABA Journal]
* How do you prosecute a deaf, mute, illiterate man? Please, please, please let the answer include pinball. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Should law school final exams use made-up hypotheticals or real-life cases? Professor Howard Wasserman assesses pros and cons. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Illinois State Senate takes a syringe stab at repealing the death penalty. [Reuters]
* Guns used to shoot off penises > Guns used to shoot at attackers. [Gawker]
* Congratulations to the 13 new partners at Bingham McCutchen. [Bingham]
* Lateral Link is teaming up with Frank Kimball, the former McDermott Will hiring partner who founded Kimball Professional Management, to focus on partner placements. (Disclosure: Lateral Link is an ATL advertiser.) [Am Law Daily; Lateral Link (press release)]
Well, this is not going to make Bingham McCutchen partners happy. A judge today ruled that the marital agreement between Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and wife Jamie McCourt is invalid — and therefore Frank might not have sole ownership of the Dodgers.
We wrote about Bingham’s boo-boo back in September. Some copies of the postnuptial agreement use the word “inclusive” in a way that would have given Frank sole ownership, while others use the word “exclusive,” which would have made Jamie a co-owner.
Bingham’s agreement may have been thrown out by the court, but don’t think for a second that Frank McCourt is done fighting for sole control of the team…
* Congrats to Boies Schiller and Bingham, for their client Oracle’s record-setting, $1.3 billion verdict against SAP. It’s the largest 2010 jury award, the largest for copyright infringement ever, and the 23rd-largest of all time. [Am Law Daily; Bloomberg]
* MC Hammer was wrong – the TSA can touch this. On the eve of Opt-Out Day, the first of what could be many body scanner and pat-down lawsuits has arrived. [Washington Post]
* When you submit a “poorly written brief” to the Supreme Court, maybe you do need to go to three years of law school before you can sit for the bar exam. [The Hoya]
* Zynga, the creator of Mafia Wars, made Walt Disney an offer it couldn’t refuse to settle its trade secret litigation. Isn’t Zynga’s only trade secret the art of creating game pop-ups? [Los Angeles Times]
* Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Lawyer’s Edition. Stealing $300K from your law firm to pay your mortgage will not only get you disbarred, but it will also get you jail time. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
* Adrien Brody gets an injunction, and saves you the trouble of having to see him in another movie. Sorry, bro, your career already tanked, so no harm done. [ArtsBeat / New York Times]
* A lawsuit from the Bling King himself. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, except when you’re Courtney Love — then you just wish those rocks were made of crack. [New York Daily News]
The American Lawyer just released its annual summer associate job survey. Back in the day, law students paid a lot of attention to how summers before them enjoyed their summer associate experience. Of course, back in the day the summer associate experience used to be a 12-week-long recruiting event.
Now, it’s a 12 (or 10, or 8) week job interview. And the stress of that showed up in the summer associate surveys.
But despite a difficult job market, some summers still found time to bitch about the lack of lavish recruiting lunches. And Am Law looked at all the surveys and came up with a ranking of the top summer program.
Let’s take a look at the best (and the whiniest) summer programs…
It’s actually not the divorce of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the divorce of real estate mogul Frank McCourt and his wife, Jamie. Some call it the Dodger Divorce, however, since this bitter litigation could determine the fate of the storied baseball team — an asset worth hundreds of millions.
The couple is fighting over ownership of the Dodgers in a Los Angeles courtroom, aided by a long list of leading litigators. Frank McCourt is represented by Stephen Susman of Susman Godfrey, among others, and Jamie McCourt’s legal team is led by David Boies of Boies Schiller. (For a more complete listing of the lawyers involved, see here.)
But right now Susman and Boies aren’t the lawyers in the limelight. Rather, all eyes are focused on attorneys from Bingham McCutchen. The Boston Globe reports:
The high-powered firm is suddenly at the center of the drama because of work done by its lawyers. At issue is the wording of a document signed by both McCourts six years ago. According to media reports, three copies of the marital property agreement use the word “inclusive,” which would make Frank McCourt the sole owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and three copies say “exclusive,” which would make Jamie McCourt the co-owner of the venerable Major League Baseball franchise.
This is not the first time we’ve covered how a tiny difference in language — just two little characters, “in” as opposed to “ex” — could mean millions. Remember the single-digit error that could cost a real estate company tens of millions? See also the $900,000 comma and the $40,000 missing “L.”
Yikes. This is such stuff as lawyers’ bad dreams are made of. Law truly is a game of inches. (When bloggers make typos, commenters make fun of us; when lawyers make typos, people die lose money — sometimes lots and lots of it.)
The lead lawyer from Bingham McCutchen, Larry Silverstein — no relation to the World Trade Center real estate developer, as far as we know — admits that he messed up in preparing the marital property agreement (MPA)….
We’re doing our annual march through the Vault prestige rankings, to give ATL readers the opportunity to have their say about perks and pitfalls at these firms. If your firm actually let you swap your Blackberry for your iPhone, brag here. Or if your firm has such a strong stench that it makes you nauseous, vent here.
We’ve been doing open threads in batches of ten, but now we’re going to pick up the pace. Here are the Vault #41 – 60. This is when the prestige list gets a little more geographically diverse, with firms based in Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Palo Alto and even Pittsburgh:
When you step into the killing lockstep zone, your bonus disappears into a black box. A while back, we reported that Bingham McCutchen adopted a lockstep-merit hybrid approach to associate compensation. Base salary would still be lockstep, but the bonus would be merit-based.
When we reported on the Bingham bonus, we noted that the firm intended to pay bonuses generally on the Cravath scale to its associates, based on a number of merit-based factors instead of hours.
But now our tipsters are telling us that some Bingham associates received much less than a Cravath-level payout:
A peek inside the black box, bonuses are generally well below the Cravath scale. The only associates receiving bonuses in the vicinity of the Cravath scale are those that exceeded the 2,100 hour minimum by a few hundred hours. Even bonuses in those instances were barely above the Cravath scale. Amazing considering JayZ just told the Boston Globe that the firm “had our best year ever.” Guess we know where all that money went. Morale is definitely at an all-time low. I would be shocked to see any associates making much of an effort to bill above the 2,100 hour minimum in 2010. I think “why bother” has become the most uttered phrase around the halls of Bingham over the last week.
Maybe Toyota should take a lesson from Bingham McCutchen: don’t try to cut corners when producing a hybrid.
Back in October, Bingham announced that it would be adopting a new “merit-lockstep” hybrid approach to associate compensation. The plan came with the stamp of approval from Bingham partners and associates. And a majority of Above the Law readers also approved of Bingham’s hybrid approach.
Today, Bingham rolled out its hybrid system. The firm is providing true-up, lockstep raises for people who hit 1900 hours. The double bump extends nationally, across all of Bingham’s offices. People who hit 1500 hours will only be getting a single class bump in salary. We understand that only a small percentage of Bingham associates were low enough on hours to be affected by this stratification.
At the low end, people who billed fewer than 1500 hours will have their salaries frozen again.
On the bright side, all of the people who are frozen will have their hours reevaluated in June. If they’re on pace, they’ll get their money.
The Bingham McCutchen lockstep base pay structure is clear and straightforward (see chart after the jump). For bonuses, welcome to the black box that is merit-based compensation.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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