Books

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of hearing words of wisdom from the Wise Latina herself. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, author of an acclaimed memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link), delivered the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture at the PEN World Voices Festival here in New York.

After Justice Sotomayor’s speech, she engaged in conversation with an eminent literary scholar, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. And after that, she signed books and met fans (including yours truly).

What did Her Honor have to say? Here are some highlights from Justice Sotomayor’s remarks, as well as photographs….

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The law school odyssey is coming to a close for many students this year, and before the focus shifts to studying for the bar exam and staring blankly into the middle distance contemplating disappearing job prospects, these graduates deserve some gifts.

Obviously, the best gifts for a newly minted J.D. would be “comprehensive debt relief,” “job offers,” or “straight cash, homey.” Unfortunately, you may not be able to deliver these gifts — at least not in amounts that anyone wants — or you may just not care that much about the graduate.

So we’ve compiled some gift ideas, ranging from serious to specious, for you to consider…

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First, an offer: I thought I had retired my “book talk” about The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law when I moved to London last fall. But I’ll be in the States for a few weeks in late May and June, and I’ve been asked to dust off the talk and give it a few times — at the annual meeting of the Association of Defense Trial Counsel in Detroit, and again in Chicago for Kirkland & Ellis and Greenberg Traurig. So long as I’ll have to flip through my notes and re-learn the talk, I might as well give it for your group, too. Please let me know by email if your law firm is interested.

Second, today’s thesis — and it’s a backwards one: Law firms think more highly of you for the years when you’re not working at the firm.

I’ll start with the easy example: I moved as a sixth-year associate from a small firm in San Francisco to a huge firm in Cleveland. When I arrived at the huge firm in Cleveland, partners treated me surprisingly well. Why?

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Earlier this week, President Barack Obama reiterated his interest in shutting down the prison at Guantanamo Bay: “I’ve asked my team to review everything that’s currently being done in Guantanamo, everything that we can do administratively, and I’m going to reengage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not in the best interests of the American people.”

President Obama isn’t alone in being troubled by goings-on at Guantanamo. This morning I attended an interesting panel discussion where a retired admiral, the former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, spoke out in favor of closing Gitmo….

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* A patent infringement suit filed over the “hairy visor.” The best idea for combatting hair loss since SNL’s Chia Head. [Lowering the Bar]

* The Hong Kong legal community is split over the continued donning of wigs. It’s nice how China allows them to think they have a choice on such matters. [Wall Street Journal]

* Crooks are decoding remote signals for keyless entry to cars and police are encouraging drivers to manually lock and unlock their cars. Screw that. I’m an American and a small risk of losing a car is not worth spending an extra 3 seconds unlocking a door like a schnook. [Legal Juice]

* Former U.S. Judge Paul G. Cassell called for a U.S. House of Representatives panel to ask the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn to explain why it “appears” to be engaging in “on-going violations of important federal crime victims’ statutes.” Jeez. You let a few tens of millions in white collar crime go unpunished and suddenly everyone’s jumping down your throat. [WiseLawNY]

* A sexual harassment suit can go forward against a supervisor who exposed himself to a subordinate. In his defense, she DID make the accusation that he “didn’t have any balls,” so she very technically asked for it. [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Fordham Law professor Thane Rosenbaum has a new book entitled Payback: The Case for Revenge (affiliate link). I thought they already wrote that book and called it “Game of Thrones.” [Thane Rosenbaum]

* Our very own People’s Therapist on TV! He’s chatting about the new poll identifying Associate Attorney as the unhappiest job in America. Check it out after the jump… [HuffPost Live]

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* Lat’s turning his serialized web fiction into a real live book, scheduled for publication in 2014. Congrats, Lat! [Supreme Ambitions]

* REMINDER: If you’re looking to enter the annual ATL Law Revue Video Contest, send us that submission by THURSDAY, APRIL 18, at 5:00 PM (Eastern time). That’s not a soft, law school deadline; it’s a hard, law firm deadline. [Above the Law]

* A reminder that yesterday’s events may be more aptly compared to the Atlanta Olympics bombing than 9/11, at least with regard to the targeting of a public event, regardless of the media’s inclinations. [Balloon-Juice]

* Employees around the country are wildly abusing Twitter’s new app, Vine, exposing themselves to retribution and disclosing confidential information. And I’m highly looking forward to the first “Biglaw associate abuses Vine” tip showing up in my inbox. [Connecticut Employment Law Blog]

* Congratulations CPAs! You’ve survived tax season and Broadway wants to punish reward you with free tickets to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. [TaxProf Blog]

* Bear Lawyer comments on the Bitcoin debacle. [Bear Lawyer]

* Congratulations to NYU Law for winning its 5th Straight Deans’ Cup over Columbia on a last second play. I’ve been waiting for video of this ever since I learned that the game ended on a buzzer beating three-pointer when an unknown NYU student informed me of it on the subway platform that night. Well, now we have our video and it is highlight worthy….

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Here’s one great benefit of blogging: Publishers send you free copies of books, hoping that you’ll review them!

I received and read, but now choose not to review, Steven J. Harper’s valuable new contribution to the literature: The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession In Crisis (affiliate link).

I’m not reviewing the book, but instead using it as a jumping-off point to discuss a tangent. Harper explains in his book two things that every sentient lawyer has noticed over the past several years: (1) students are graduating from law school buried under a mountain of debt, and many of those students can’t find jobs, and (2) many law firms have lost sight of the law’s noble history as a learned profession and are now obsessed with maximizing their profits per partner in the coming year.

Harper’s right about these things, of course, and this isn’t exactly late-breaking news to anyone who’s been following either Above the Law or Harper’s blog, The Belly of the Beast, for the last few years. Harper’s book advances the discussion, however, by exploring these issues in more detail than others have. He also proposes possible solutions to these problems, including “allowing the federal government to recover [law school loan] guarantees from a law school (and its university) whenever a student loan became the principal contributor to an alumnus’s later bankruptcy.” (Page 159.) Or encouraging law firms to release their “Working Culture Index,” which would show the percentage of lawyers billing more than 2000, 2100, 2200, 2300, 2400, and 2500 in the previous year (perhaps with separate totals being released for partners and associates). (Page 173.)

These ideas are well worth discussing, and I’m glad that Harper has taken the time to analyze these things. But I have another topic to highlight, which is an odd tangent to Harper’s two issues . . . .

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* “I don’t believe judges should be filibustered.” Tell that to the rest of your Republican pals, Senator Hatch. D.C. Circuit nom Sri Srinivasan faced little drama at the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. [Bloomberg]

* A bipartisan gun regulation deal has been reached in the Senate, and of course the NRA is opposing it — well, except for the parts that expand gun rights. The group really likes those parts. [Washington Post]

* Trolling for patent partners? Bingham recently snagged five IP partners from DLA Piper’s Los Angeles office, including the former co-chair of DLA patent litigation department. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Time well spent: while Detroit hangs on the precipice of bankruptcy, local politicians are worrying about whether retaining Jones Day poses a conflict of interest for their emergency manager (Kevyn Orr, formerly of Jones Day). [Am Law Daily]

* NYLS — or should we say “New York’s law school” — is revamping its clinical program to kill two birds with one stone (e.g., fulfilling pro bono hours and boosting job prospects). [National Law Journal]

* For all the talk of his being a hard ass, Judge Rakoff is a nice guy after all! The judge gave an ex-SAC trader permission to go on a honeymoon after his release from prison. [DealBook / New York Times]

* If you’ve ever wondered how Lat spends his free time, sometimes he’s off writing book reviews for distinguished publications. Check out his review of Mistrial (affiliate link) here. [Wall Street Journal]

* “Lindsay Lohan is the victim.” What the Heller you talking about? LiLo’s lawyer thinks there’s a conspiracy among the prosecutors on her case that’s resulted in leaks of information to TMZ. [CNN]

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories, a recurring feature that gives notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as information about their firms and themselves.

What do Bob Dylan, Jerry Seinfeld, and Facebook have in common? Orin Snyder is their attorney. Orin is a litigation partner in Gibson Dunn’s New York office, and serves as Vice-Chair of the Crisis Management Practice Group and Co-Chair of the Media, Entertainment, and Technology Practice Group. He is also a member of the White Collar Defense and Investigations, Appellate, and Intellectual Property Practice Groups.

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If you follow the world of large law firms, then you are probably familiar with the incisive and candid commentary of Steven J. Harper. Over at his blog, The Belly of the Beast, Harper offers excellent insights into the world of Biglaw.

Harper knows so much about that world because he spent his entire legal career in it. He joined Kirkland & Ellis after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1979. He practiced litigation at the firm for about 30 years, until his retirement in 2008, at the early age of 54 (which you can afford to do when you’re an equity partner at a firm as lucrative as K&E).

In addition to blogging, Harper has written four books. I spoke last week with Harper about his latest book, The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis (affiliate link), and about his views on the worlds of Biglaw and legal education….

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