Astute Biglaw associates, and their fellow associates at boutiques and smaller firms, share an understanding with Tyrion Lannister. For those who don’t watch Game of Thrones, nor read the books upon which the popular series is based, Tyrion (played by the Emmy-winning actor Peter Dinklage) is the proverbial “second son,” whose father serves as the de facto ruler of the kingdom. His sister is the Queen Regent whose taste for wine matches only her disdain for her younger brother.
At this point in the series (spoiler alert — skip down two paragraphs if you are not up to date with the show), Tyrion stands on trial for alleged regicide. Rightfully skeptical of his chances of exoneration by the tribunal standing in judgment of him, Tyrion elects for “trial by combat” as a means of proving his innocence. While a smart choice, Tyrion is far from capable of physically defeating the literal “Mountain” man that his sister and accuser has selected to represent the “State” in Westeros v. Lannister. He needs a champion.
And he finds one, in the form of a visiting Prince who nurses a longstanding grudge against both Tyrion’s family members, and the man who will be his co-combatant — lucky for Tyrion, as his previous attempts to recruit others to stand as his champion had failed. When we see him at his moment of salvation, he is a desperate man, jailed, facing capital punishment at the hands of a blood-starved beast who disembowels malnourished slaves for sport. The appearance of a champion may not improve his situation all that much. But it gives him hope, and with hope comes the will to carry on.
Law firm associates may not have it quite as bad as Tyrion, but they share in common with him the need for a champion to secure their future….
Game of Thrones always touches on interesting legal issues. For instance, when the government’s dragons charbroil your flock of goats, you can totally recover damages under the common law theory of “trover.” Mhysa isn’t being nice, she just has a competent understanding of tort law.
Of far more importance to the Westerosi justice system is the idea of “trial by combat.” Apparently, any accused person can claim this “right,” and have champions fight on their behalf to determine their legal fate.
Trial by combat isn’t a mere invention of George R.R. Martin or other fantasy writers who find stabbing drama to be more interesting than “courtroom drama.” Trial by “battle” was a remedy under English common law, and by extension American common law.
And you know what, it was a pretty good idea! Not necessarily in the way it’s portrayed by HBO, but historical, real-world trial by battle was actually a fairly just and smart way of handling certain disputes…
Folks love Game of Thrones. Maybe it’s the intricate storytelling, the impeccable acting, the allure of high fantasy, or the fact that all the exposition is done by naked prostitutes. Whatever it is, the show is a hit and everyone clamors to watch it.
Unfortunately, lots of people want to watch it illegally. Even the New York Times is watching it illegally.
And when students use a school network to stream Game of Thrones, it can clog up the works and bottleneck the Internet faster than Walder Frey can lock down passage over the Trident…
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Sarah Powell helps new associates face their own unrealistic expectations about life in Biglaw.
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” — Bruce Lee
If you read Above the Law, you know that law school, the legal profession, and Biglaw especially are not like the movies, not like the grand old days, and certainly not like partners pitch it to you at on-campus interviews. Still, a main source of junior associate misery is false expectations. Some examples…
* The editors of Ramblings on Appeal give their takes on Shelby County. Rarely has truer legal analysis been offered than characterizing Roberts’s decision as, “Oh and I have five people on my side, you only have four, so take that.” [Ramblings on Appeal]
* UVA law professor Chris Sprigman has co-authored an op-ed calling out the NSA. Oh, that guy’s phone is getting tapped. [New York Times]
* The Expert Institute continues to draw from popular culture to coach expert testimony. This time it’s Game of Thrones. It’s a handy set of lessons, but “Never Trust a Frey” deserved mention. [The Expert Institute]
General Spoiler Alert: You may not want to read this column if you have not yet finished reading “A Storm of Swords” (affiliate link) or finished watching season three of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Care has been taken to eliminate any spoilers, but by definition spoilers are personal, and I don’t want to ruin anyone’s enjoyment of the books or show.
Imagine a conference room. Filled with lawyers, in this case an Am Law 100 law firm’s D.C.-based bankruptcy practice. Fifteen lawyers in total. Four partners, two senior counsel, and nine associates of various experience levels. All came to the firm four years ago, when the then-nascent mega-firm picked up an entire D.C.-centric firm in a merger. The bankruptcy guys decided to go with the new outfit, choosing to remain with old colleagues and hoping for some exposure to the new mega-firm’s promised synergies. Business has been okay, even as the current year has been a little soft. In their minds, it also would have been nice to have more fellow bankruptcy practitioners in other offices, but despite their relative isolation (in geography and practice area), the group has managed to pick up a big matter or two via referral from other groups. Things are plodding along.
The head of the practice is about to turn the reins of the meeting over to one of the associates — who will be summarizing some recent case law out of Delaware. It is a spring Tuesday, and everyone is eating, drinking, or doing the smartphone stare. All of a sudden, the door swings open. In marches the office managing partner, flanked by the office manager/HR liason, and one of the D.C.-based members of the executive committee — who closes the door and locks it….
Have you downloaded the Above the Law app? If so, you might want to check your “updates” and upgrade to version 1.1. And if you haven’t downloaded the app yet, now would be a good time. Because now the ATL app experience comes with comments and a tips button.
You can read comments on your phone or tablet device. You can leave comments on your phone or tablet device. That’s comments and tips that are completely untraceable by the people you work for. Yay increased anonymity, what could possibly go wrong?
Now that comments are more accessible than ever, we’ve decided to bring back our “Comment of the Week” feature. A free ATL t-shirt to the person who comes up with the best comment each week. As before, the criteria for Comment of the Week are whatever the heck we want them to be. Some weeks, it’ll be funny. Some weeks, we’ll care about who gets the most likes. Click through to see who would have won comment of the week last week….
* An anonymous Twitter account wreaks havoc on UK law students. One Tweet: “#LawTips: edit the Wikipedia page after copying it to avoid plagiarism.” Here’s a pro tip: if you’re copying Wikipedia for law school, you’re doing it wrong. [Legal Cheek]
* How out of control is tuition? At 26 law schools, recent graduates with $160,000 in annual income are STILL eligible for the federal IBR program intended to relieve the debt burden on impoverished students. [Constitutional Daily]
* You’d think the Republicans would be all for funding scientific endeavors to prove that rape victims in the animal kingdom “have ways of shutting that down.” [Jezebel]
* UNLV Law Dean Nancy Rapoport takes issue with Professor Derek Muller’s ranking of “Career Baristas” out of law school. If there was one dean who was going to know the statistical angles, it was going to be the one in Las Vegas. [UNLV Law Blog]
* Ever wanted to watch video of the folks from Lawyers, Guns & Money discussing Game of Thrones? Sure you have! And that’s why we invented jumps…
I have long spent my Sunday nights watching HBO. When I graduated from law school, The Sopranos was in its first season. More recently, I’ve been enthralled by Game of Thrones. For those who aren’t fans, Game of Thrones is a medieval fantasy series which won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, and a Golden Globe Award for “Best Television Series – Drama.” I guess this post needs a spoiler alert, because what follows are some legal lessons I think can be gleaned from the hit series.
That being said, let’s take a look at the six lessons that the legal world could learn from Game of Thrones….
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.