Fabulosity

Certain firms are, in my opinion, routinely underrated in the Vault 100 rankings of law firm prestige. One of them is Williams & Connolly, currently #16, which strikes me as a top 10 firm. Another is Munger Tolles & Olson, which is all the way down at #34.

Munger is an amazing firm. Its attorneys work on major matters, including great pro bono cases, and its lawyers boast incredible pedigrees, with more Supreme Court clerks than you can shake a gavel at (wooed by $300,000 signing bonuses). At the same time, MTO gets top scores for diversity. These commitments to diversity and pro bono helped propel Munger to the #1 spot in the American Lawyer’s A-List rankings, which measure overall firm fabulosity (based on revenue per lawyer, pro bono work, attorney diversity, and associate satisfaction).

In light of all this, I’m still wondering why Munger doesn’t fare better in the Vault rankings (for whatever the Vault rankings are worth, and you’re free to argue about that). Perhaps MTO is hurt by its relatively small size and tight geographic focus, with offices in just two cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Or perhaps prestige is tied partly to partner profit, and Munger doesn’t hunger enough for money.

How much do MTO partners earn? Financial disclosures for two younger Munger partners, both nominated to the Ninth Circuit, shed a little light on this question….

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Orange is the new black.

For most people, sartorial elegance and automotive excellence equals legal expertise.

Stuart V. Goldberg, a criminal defense attorney who takes pride in his appearance by wearing Tom Ford suits and carrying Louis Vuitton briefcases. Goldberg also pays extra to park his Rolls Royce Phantom, Bentley, or Lamborghini across several parking spaces near the local courthouse.

(A picture of Goldberg’s silver Bentley, which features some incredibly gauche vanity plates that read “RNMAKER,” was presented without comment on our sister site, Dealbreaker, last summer.)

Fashion law is a quickly growing specialty practice area — a place where IP and corporate junkies alike can aspire to dress stylishly while honing their legal skills in the glamorous world of haute couture law. If you’d like to get in on the ground floor of this $250 billion dollar industry, or if you’re an experienced practitioner interested in learning best practices, then we hope you will attend our fashion law forum.

We are pleased to invite you to an evening of cocktails, canapés, and conversation focusing on the many ins and outs of fashion law. The event will take place in Los Angeles, California on November 12th from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. This event will be a great opportunity for attendees to hear legal leaders share their insights on success, meet members of the Above the Law team, and network with peers.

Our esteemed panelists confirmed for the event include:

  • Staci Riordan, Chair of the Fox Rothschild Fashion Law Practice Group
  • Jane Wald, Chair of Irell & Manella’s Trademark Practice Group
  • Deborah Greaves, Secretary and General Counsel of True Religion Brand Jeans
  • Erica Alterwitz, Assistant General Counsel of BCBG Max Azria Group Inc.

There is no charge for this event. Thanks to our friends at Recommind for their generous sponsorship.

Please RSVP below. We look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles!

101 Central Park West: home to celebrities, a billionaire’s daughter, and an in-house counsel.

Earlier this year, we wrote about a commendable initiative at Pace Law School called New Directions. It’s a program devoted to helping lawyers who have left the profession, many of them stay-at-home mothers, get back into the world of practice.

The New York Times profiled a few of the program’s graduates. One of them, Jeannette Rossoff, graduated from Boston University School of Law, worked at Shearman & Sterling for a few years, then left the workforce for twenty years to raise four children. After her children were grown, she completed the New Directions program, interned for the New York State attorney general’s office, then landed an in-house job with a nonprofit.

It’s nice that Mrs. Rossoff is back to practicing law, but it certainly wasn’t necessary. If you can afford to live in a $12 million apartment with monthly maintenance charges of almost $7,000, “work” is optional….

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For law students, nothing is more devastating than something happening to their precious laptops. They are the very tool that allow the future lawyers of America to survive the rigors of law school. A law student’s class notes are priceless, and if anything were to happen to them, it could have disastrous effects. Trust us when we say that you do not want to mess with a law student’s laptop. You could end up having the crap beaten out of you if you do.

We’re pretty sure there’s a special place in hell for anyone who would dare to steal a law student’s laptop, and this week, someone at one of the top law schools in the nation earned a ticket straight to the inferno. You’re probably a disgusting human being if you think it’s alright to steal a law student’s laptop. You deserve to be punched in the face.

So what happens when a fellow law student’s most prized possession in the world is taken away?

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Oral argument before the Supreme Court is ripe with dramatic possibilities. If you doubt this, check out Arguendo, the new work by Elevator Repair Service that just received a rave review from the New York Times. I saw “Arguendo” last weekend, before I participated in an on-stage conversation with director John Collins, and I was impressed by how well the play captures the drama, comedy, and even athleticism of appellate argument. (Buy tickets here — but act quickly, since they’re going fast.)

If oral argument is a form of theater, then the U.S. Supreme Court is Broadway — the biggest and best venue in all the land. And we’ve just learned about a brilliant understudy who will be making her debut at One First Street next month.

Expectations are running high for this talented protégé of a celebrated SCOTUS litigator. Who is playing Eve Harrington to Paul Clement’s Margo Channing?

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Earlier this week, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced this year’s roster of MacArthur Fellowship recipients — the winners of the so-called “Genius Grants.” According to the Foundation, it awards the prestigious grants to those who “have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.” MacArthur fellows receive $625,000 stipends, with no strings attached . . . except, you know, continuing to be brilliant.

Past MacArthur Genius Grant winners include minds as diverse as paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould; computer scientist and physicist Stephen Wolfram; writers like Cormac McCarthy, David Foster Wallace, Susan Sontag, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; filmmaker Errol Morris; cognitive scientist Amos Tversky; dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp; philosopher Richard Rorty; drummer and jazz composer Max Roach; statistician Persi Diaconis; literary critic Harold Bloom; and composer John Zorn. Basically, it’s a hell of a fantasy dinner-party guest list.

One of this year’s MacArthur geniuses is a lawyer. Who is it?

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Scrooge McDuck: he is the 1 percent (but not a lawyer).

Becoming a millionaire a few months after graduating from law school is pretty amazing. But can you imagine being a billionaire?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be a member of the Forbes 400, the richest people in the United States? Then you can party on a yacht with models and bottles donate $20 million to the law school that helped launch you along the path of professional success.

We’ve written before about the lawyers and law school graduates on the Forbes 400. Earlier this month, the magazine released the latest rankings, and lawyers made a strong showing.

But there aren’t as many lawyers on the list as there used to be. What happened?

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Reasonable minds can disagree on how to reform law school, but here’s one thing that almost everyone can agree upon: the tuition is too darn high. In an ideal world, legal education would be much more affordable. Not everyone has wealthy parents who insist on paying for college and graduate school.

Alas, we’re probably not going to see major change on that front anytime soon. As long as the federal government keeps the loan money flowing, law schools have little incentive to lower tuition.

So, at least for now, we’ll have to settle for more modest measures at controlling cost. For example, law schools can and should devote greater resources to scholarships, which lower the effective price tag of a J.D. degree.

One leading law school just received a gigantic gift — which it’s putting towards scholarships, to its credit. Which law school is on the receiving end of this largesse, and how much is it getting?

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Andrew Kravis, recent Columbia Law School grad and new millionaire.

Congratulations to Andrew Kravis. He graduated from Columbia Law School this past May, but he’s already earned enough money to pay off all his student loans.

And no, he doesn’t work at a hedge fund or private equity firm. He doesn’t even work in Biglaw. He’s a public interest lawyer, about to start a fellowship at Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization working for LGBT civil rights. He was honored upon graduating from CLS as one of two students “who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the furtherance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.”

So how did this outstanding do-gooder also do so well? How did he earn enough money to pay off all his student loans, and then some — a cool $2.6 million, to be exact?

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