Dallas

For a couple months now, we’ve run an occasional series, drawing on the ATL Insider Survey, comparing firms and law schools in various geographic locales. Thus far, we looked at Boston, Chicago, New York, and “the South.”

Today, we turn toward Texas. Texas is beloved here at ATL as an apparently bottomless source of colorful legal news. The state is a frequent battleground for high profile constitutional fights while also generating a steady stream of tabloid fodder, from “judges behaving badly” to “tragic homicidal mayhem.” (Of course, there’s also the running joke among the ATL commentariat that, for what a New York Biglaw associate pays for his cramped studio apartment, one can buy a 3,500-square-foot wife house in Texas.)

But of course this is a limited, distorted view of the legal industry in Texas. Texas is a huge, diverse state with a relatively strong economy and a unique legal culture. Biglaw firms thrive in all three major cities, both local outposts of national firms, or more significantly, Texas-bred firms such as Baker Botts and Vinson & Elkins. Our ATL Insider Survey (13,000+ responses and going strong, thanks), asks attorneys at firms to evaluate their employers in terms of compensation, hours, training, morale, and culture. After the jump, we’ll look at how firms in Texas stack up in these categories — and how they compare to the national averages…

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It seems that the firm of Patton Boggs is stuck in the mud right now. Back in March, the firm announced significant layoffs of attorneys and staff — possibly the biggest in 2013, at least until this morning’s Weil Gotshal layoffs. Patton Boggs is also feeling some heat over its involvement in the Chevron / Ecuador litigation mess (fifth link).

And now we have news that a sizable number of Patton partners are heading for the exit. How many partners are leaving, and where are they headed?

Please note the UPDATE at the end of this post.

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Mike McLelland Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland

In an age of highly sophisticated criminal investigation techniques, showcased in CSI and similar shows, it would appear to be increasingly difficult to commit a murder and get away with it. This would be especially true for murders targeting people who work in law enforcement — individuals who know a lot about crime and who often take measures to protect themselves.

This is one of the reasons why the killing of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and and his wife Cynthia, which we noted in Morning Docket, is so shocking and so chilling. But there are others….

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The crime scene.

Yesterday brought word of a law firm shooting in Phoenix in which a partner was injured. Today we have news of more gun violence, this time from Texas, resulting in the death of a prosecutor.

This morning, an assistant district attorney in Kaufman County, Texas, was shot and killed outside the courthouse. Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was on his way to misdemeanor court when he was ambushed by two men and gunned down.

The situation is still developing, but here’s what we know right now….

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Back in 2011, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) produced an extremely useful chart for people trying to figure out where to start their Biglaw careers. The chart, which tracks buying power based on starting salaries for associates, is a great way to find out where you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you land a lucrative Biglaw gig.

NALP’s Buying Power Index continues to use New York City ($160,000) as the baseline. It takes the median starting salary for the class of 2011 and the cost of living index for NYC and sets that figure at 1.00. Cities with a better purchasing power than NYC have a value greater than 1.00. In all, 76 cities have been ranked.

When we first wrote about this, associates in New York City were crestfallen when they found out that their city was number 42 on the list — they realized they were essentially throwing their money down the drain. This year, NYC has tumbled even further down the list.

How badly are they getting screwed, and where can you go if you want greater purchasing power?

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Our coverage of lateral partner moves is admittedly somewhat idiosyncratic. To be honest, we tend to be most interested in lateral moves when we can be the ones to break the news, in advance of any official announcement.

(For moves where we aren’t first, we tend to be more discriminating and write up only the most major ones. So if you’d like us to cover some notable partners joining your firm, please email us well before you send out your press release, and give us the scoop.)

Today we bring you news of partner moves from the Lone Star State. Some seven partners are leaving the Dallas office of Haynes and Boone. Who are they, and where are they going?

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Welcome to your new home PTO!

Did you know that for years, the U.S. Patent and Trademark has operated almost entirely out of one location in northern Virginia? Kind of odd, seeing as out in California we’ve got that whole Silicon Valley thing going on. And Virginia is kind of far away.

But, no longer. The PTO announced that it is opening several new offices across the country. Can you guess where?

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Earlier this week, we started getting a few tips about an incident down in Texas alleging some pretty interesting police misconduct. In a nutshell, a motorcyclist says he was pulled over for no reason, then ordered by a Dallas Sheriff’s officer to give up his helmet camera as “evidence” for crimes committed by other motorcyclists on the road. When the man refused, the cop allegedly decided to arrest him on false pretenses.

Normally, this kind of thing would quickly devolve into an endless case of he said-she said. The situation here is different because — whoops — the helmet cam recorded the whole exchange.

Keep reading to see the video, as well as coverage of the situation from local Texas news. From where we sit, it doesn’t look too good for the officer….

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Thanks to everyone who responded to our recent request for information about 2011 bonuses at Morgan Lewis & Bockius. Here’s our report on bonuses at MLB.

As you may recall, Morgan Lewis pays individualized bonuses, so there’s no tidy table as there is for lockstep firms. Feel free to use this post as an open thread for MLB bonuses — you can compare amounts anonymously, in the comments.

How are Morgan Lewis associates feeling about their bonuses? We’ll get the ball rolling with some tips that we’ve received….

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As mentioned previously, the next few State of the Market posts by Lateral Link, as compiled by Director Gary Cohen, will focus on one of the country’s largest states — Texas.

The strongest market in Texas is Houston, with some of the strongest candidates being those with corporate, capital markets, or finance experience. A close second is Dallas, which is also the focus of this post….

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