Cleary Gottlieb

Many fine things can be said about Cleary Gottlieb. It’s prestigious (#8 in the latest Vault rankings). It’s profitable (#10 in the recently released Am Law 100 profit-per-partner rankings). It’s pleasant, known for a nice firm culture.

So what are the downsides of Cleary? Here’s one: the firm might be a bit… boring.

As you can see from our archives, we don’t write that much about Cleary. And when we do, it’s not always exciting stuff — e.g., Cravath-matching bonunses. Yawn.

Well, today we bring you some news about Cleary that might be at least slightly juicy: a mysterious partner departure, and possible stealth layoffs….

UPDATE (2:30 p.m.): Now with an important update, a statement from the partner in question.

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Well, the tournament has been a “shocker,” right? I know folks from Wichita State and they are psyched to flash inappropriate gestures on national TV for another round.

Sadly, Oregon got bounced out of the Sweet Sixteen, which made me a little sad, though not as sad as my whole bracket getting bounced when Indiana lost by double digits. I’d finally put my faith in the Big Ten and they repaid me with that?!?

In any event, the ATL bracket finally got some action too, with a couple of upsets. Including my beloved Cleary…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March Madness: The Law Firm With the Brightest Future — Round Three”

The Biglaw grind is not unlike being in Shawshank prison. It involves years of lockdown, with the occasional rooftop beer or comfortable library, interspersed with terrifying conversations that end with a partner saying, “Or am I being obtuse?”, and then locking you in solitary confinement.

After such an experience, everybody deserves a redemption.

Today’s excellent departure memo comes from a former comedian who decided to leave comedy to go into a top Biglaw job. That’s not a joke.

Now, he’d rather be at the bottom of an ocean….

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Last week my NCAA bracket soared to the lead in our office bracket pool. And then crashed to reality when my New Mexico Final Four pick got cut down by Harvard. It was a bitter pill to swallow when I have to talk to Harvard grads daily.

At least the Ducks are still in the tournament.

Meanwhile, the ATL March Madness bracket rolls into the Sweet Sixteen. At least so far, you all love the chalk….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March Madness: The Law Firm With the Brightest Future — Round 2″

Continuing our annual tradition honoring March Madness, Above the Law is running a law-related bracket, advancing law firms or law schools based on the outcome of reader polls. If you’ve been around for a while, you know the drill. But remember, I’m the new guy, so I’ve made a couple changes to the format this year.

Last year, you hoisted the Lantern of Diogenes to find the Most Honest Law School, and determined that the University of Michigan Law School was the most on the level. And they backed your faith by admitting that one of their graduates had become a shepherd.

This year, it’s time to talk about law firms. Specifically, your collective editors pose this question: Which law firm has the brightest future? The economy is still fragile and people are writing books with scary titles like The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis (affiliate link). The firms in our competition may look healthy today, but we all could have said the same thing at one time about Howrey, Brobeck, Heller, or Dewey.

What firm’s future is so bright their senior partners gotta wear shades?

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Client service. The heartbeat of Biglaw. The area where every firm has to improve. Perpetually. Biglaw hamsters in overdrive. All to make the clients happy. Sit back and admire your Biglaw firm’s willingness to go the “extra mile” by listening to its clients. We might even see a client paraded before our partners once a year. (See my column on improving partner meetings by having guest appearances from clients.)

We are taught happy clients are well-paying clients. And clients that will refer their dissatisfied colleagues at other companies to experience our brand of Biglaw magic. We love clients. Almost as much as the consultants do on House of Lies, a show that provides outrageous, if funny, explorations of the client-service provider dynamic in modern-day America. (A fun business development-training program would involve watching a series of client-interactions from the show and learning from them. Better than listening to Rainmaker X pretend the reason for his multimillion-dollar book was not his maternal grandfather’s business dealings and connections.)

Truly thinking about client service can be all-consuming, especially for a younger partner like myself. No one is giving me clients. I have to fight for them in the marketplace. I love it, but it is difficult and you need patience.

But rather than focus on the process of developing clients, let’s discuss the art of “superpleasing” clients….

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Ted Olson and David Boies: adversaries, then allies, then adversaries again.

After covering the Dewey & LeBoeuf bankruptcy hearing on Wednesday morning, I walked a few blocks uptown to the Second Circuit for another exciting event: oral argument in the closely watched Argentina bondholder litigation. It was a Biglaw battle royal, pitting Ted Olson, the former solicitor general and current Gibson Dunn partner, against a tag team of top lawyers that included David Boies, Olson’s adversary in Bush v. Gore (and ally in Hollingsworth v. Perry).

Here’s my account of the proceedings, including photos….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clash of the Biglaw Titans: Ted Olson and David Boies Meet in Second Circuit Showdown”

* Dear professors, please try to understand that most people who experience normal, human emotions are more concerned with the future of American law students than they are with whether or not American law schools can survive by bilking the hell out of foreigners. [PrawfsBlawg]

* In Canada, they raided somebody’s Super Bowl party to bust up an illegal gambling ring. They never would have done this during the Grey Cup. [CTV News]

* Apparently some kind of law something happened on Downton Abbey last night? I missed it, because staring at a dark stadium is literally more interesting than that freaking show. [Law and More]

* Thomson Reuters is getting out of the academic book publishing business. If only law professors would do the same thing. [TaxProf Blog]

* Is Washington & Lee’s “experiential” curriculum working? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Just to be clear, torturing people only works in the movies and television. [Politics USA]

* Cleary might become an ATL feeder firm. [Legal Cheek]

* Here’s an excerpt from a fun interview with David Lat, in which he talks about asking Richard Posner out on a date. [California Lawyer]

And there’s video, which you can watch for CLE credit, after the jump….

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The late, great James Stockdale put it best: Who am I? Why am I here?

You’re probably wondering the same thing as you read a Monday post from the heretofore “Thursday morning guy.” Well, I’m pleased to announce that I am your new ATL assistant editor. Moving on up from humble contributor to a spot on the masthead.

I will cover all manner of subjects, but with a particular eye on legal tech. Basically I’m the Kreiger of the ISIS operation that is ATL.

And yes, I’m going to be upping the Archer references at this publication because Archer is awesome.

More about me, including a real picture and my résumé for your crippling judgment, after the jump.

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Congratulations! You made it!

Few people are happier about the world’s surviving the Mayan Apocalypse than new partners at top law firms. Can you imagine slaving away in Biglaw for almost (or even over) a decade, finally winning election to the partnership in late 2012, and then having the world end before your hard-won partner status took effect?

Fortunately that didn’t happen. Heck, we didn’t even go over the fiscal cliff. But some people will have to pay higher taxes this year (and for many years to come).

Like these people: the talented and hardworking lawyers who, as of January 1, 2013, became partners of their respective law firms. Let’s find out who they are, so we can congratulate them….

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