Anna Nicole Smith: her candle burned out long before her legend ever did. And the great beauty’s legend continues to grow, over three years after her untimely death in February 2007, as litigation involving her estate contributes to the development of a rich body of law regarding bankruptcy and probate law — in a tribunal no less distinguished than the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear an appeal from the estate of Anna Nicole Smith, the late Playboy model and TV reality-show star, in the decades-old dispute over an inheritance from her tycoon husband.
The action, involving a sensational set of characters in an otherwise dry case at the intersection of probate and bankruptcy law, came on a day of varied court business that included acceptance of 14 new cases for the 2010-2011 term that officially begins Monday.
Sounds scintillating. Let’s get all up in Anna Nicole’s business, shall we?
We’ve come a long way from the days when federal courts issued orders banning racial discrimination. Now federal judges hand down orders mandating, or at least encouraging, race-based discrimination.
As reported in the American Lawyer, earlier this week Judge Harold Baer (S.D.N.Y.) issued an unusual order. On Monday, Judge Baer directed two firms serving as lead counsel in a securities class action to “make every effort” to staff the case with at least one minority and one woman:
ORDERED that Co-Lead Counsel, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Labaton Sucharow LLP, shall make every effort to assign to this matter at least one minority lawyer and one woman lawyer with requisite experience….
If federal judges can run school districts and prison systems, law firms should be a piece of cake, right?
Usually when we report on jobs that have been posted on Craigslist, we’re talking about some kind of horrifying example of how the open market values attorneys at about the same level it values responsible high school girls. But today we have a legal job that most lawyers couldn’t have performed in high school. At the very least, one needs to be of legal drinking age to compete for this position.
The job ad is from the firm Strike & Techel. The homepage of the San Francisco-based shop claims that the firm “practices exclusively in the field of alcohol beverage law.”
So put down your tobacco and firearms, crack open a cold one, and ponder the wonders of making a living off of alcohol… and law and stuff…
Like the return of law firm perks. Sources report that Edelson McGuire — a Chicago-based boutique with some high-profile clients, like Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich — is giving away iPads to everyone at the firm. The lucky recipients include attorneys, administrative staff, and even some law students who are working for the firm part-time.
This is not ordinary behavior — the trend among law firms is still to roll back perks, not to expand them — but Edelson McGuire isn’t an ordinary firm. How many firms have conference room tables that convert to ping-pong tables? Or have a neat firm website, where each attorney profile contains such fun facts as daily coffee consumption, favorite time of day to work, and “pre-court ritual”?
Is giving away iPads a new law firm trend? Edelson McGuire isn’t the first firm to do this in 2010….
Last week, I made the decision to jump right into the substantive portion of this column. Based on the queries and comments hitting my inbox, though, I thought I would take another shot at explaning my intentions behind this column, before returning to your regularly scheduled programming.
The following email came in earlier this week from a reader who practices at a small law firm:
Can you clarify what “small law” means? Do you mean law in a smaller city/town? Or smaller-sized firms in larger places? Or are we talking about law firms that deal with clients who have less wealth (i.e., I do divorces vs. I did Madonna’s divorce)?
Lawyers love definitional questions. So let’s get into it….
I graduated law school in 2006 at the same time as a close friend. We’ll call him Brian, since that’s his name. Brian went to a top five law school; I went to a… well, not a T-5. He took a Biglaw job in Manhattan; I moved home to Georgia, where I ended up in Small Law. Having used each other as sounding boards throughout law school, it only made sense that we’d continue to do so as we transitioned into our respective practices. We shared many of the same fears and growing pains. For example: Did I pass the bar exam? Am I handling this issue correctly? What work am I allowed to, or even supposed to, hand off to a paralegal/secretary?
Beyond those general issues, I was surprised at how different our worlds really were on both a macro and micro level. Most of you have heard or been a part of discussions on the general differences that Small Law is supposed to provide: better hours, less pay, more freedom, etc. I want to move past broad generalities and share some of my actual experiences as compared with Brian’s, as a means to jump start a discussion. There have been some very thoughtful comments attached to the first twoposts, and I hope that trend continues here.
This will be the first of several posts dedicated to a deeper dive into the world of Small Law and how it measures up to its Biglaw counterpart. Let’s start with…
Welcome back to Above the Law’s coverage of small law firm practice. I was pleased with the comments and emails I received in response to Tuesday’s opening volley. After debating on the subject matter for today’s post, I decided that since Small Law attorneys are quite comfortable, often by necessity, with diving right into the deep end of things, let’s get down to brass tacks: Are there actually jobs at small law firms and, if so, what should you consider before making the switch?
The WSJ Law Blog picked up a Tuesday post from Eric Cooperstein, over at The Lawyerist, discussing one lawyer’s thoughts on the State of the Small Law Union in his home state of Minnesota:
One was a complaint about how difficult it is to attract new lawyers to join law firms in rural areas. The other was the lawyer’s prediction that in the next ten years, half the lawyers in her quarter of the state were going to retire from the practice of law.
Cooperstein follows up with his guess that this problem — or wondrous happenstance, depending on what side of the fence you find yourself — probably isn’t unique to the Gopher State. He speaks the truth. I spent my Small Law years at a firm with 20 to 25 lawyers, most of whom will retire in the next five years. In speaking with my former partners and associates, I’m told the same is true for many of their contemporaries in surrounding counties.
So what do you do if you want to be one of their replacements?
This isn’t the first time Above the Law has delved into the world of small law firms, but now we’re going to attack it regularly and with passion. This column will appear on Mondays (appearing today due to the holiday) and Thursdays, as a catalyst for discussion of life in Small Law – the commonalities, the salaries, the benefits, the pitfalls, etc.
I believe that, like Biglaw, there is a certain shared culture in Small Law, one that’s part of a growing but still-fragmented dialogue in the blogosphere. It’s our hope that, in time, this column becomes a lighting rod for those who are working in Small Law — and those who want to work in Small Law. And, of course, Biglaw attorneys are welcome to stop by and express their obvious jealousy in the comments.
So who am I, and what are my qualifications? Let the judging begin…
People are talking about an interesting Slate article entitled “Leaving Big Law Behind: The many frustrations that cause well-paid lawyers to hang out their own shingles.” It’s currently the most-read piece on the site. But it’s actually quite similar, even down to some of the sources, to an article that appeared a few days earlier in Crain’s New York Business:
A lawyer’s hourly billing rate used to be a badge of pride — the higher the number, the more valuable (and supposedly brilliant) the lawyer. But over the past 18 months, a strange phenomenon has been sweeping the legal arena: Partners at major law firms are quitting because they want to be able to charge less for their services.
This is, of course, not a new development. Kash and I wrote about it in a December 2009 cover story for Washingtonian magazine, in which we interviewed a former member of the $1,000-an-hour club who left a large law firm and started his own shop so he could offer clients better value. But all the recent coverage — in Crain’s, Slate, and elsewhere — suggests that the trend is picking up steam.
Which kinds of lawyers are leaving Biglaw to hang up their own shingles? Why are they doing it? And how’s it going for them?
The financial services boutique of BuckleySandler, which launched just a little over a year ago, is expanding at a rapid clip. At the time of launch, it had about 50 attorneys (most of them from the firm formerly known as BuckleyKolar); now it’s approaching 100.
The two latest hires are noteworthy. From the BLT:
BuckleySandler is continuing its push to recruit top-level lateral partners. Today, the firm brought on David Krakoff, who previously co-chaired Mayer Brown’s white collar litigation practice, and Christopher Regan, also a former Mayer Brown partner.
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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 email@example.com 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.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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