General Counsel

Liz Murray overcame tremendous odds as she transformed herself from a homeless teen to a Harvard graduate. Her transformation was portrayed in a 2003 Lifetime Television movie, From Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story, which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. Murray reduced her very personal story to writing in September 2010, in a moving, loving, beautiful autobiography, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard (affiliate link), which within one week landed on the New York Times bestseller list.

Murray’s accolades are numerous, including The White House Project Role Model Award, a Christopher Award, and Oprah Winfrey’s first-ever Chutzpah Award. Murray is the founder and director of Manifest Living, a company based in New York that aims to empower anyone who has the desire to change their life. She is also a motivational speaker and will be the keynote speaker on November 8, 2013, at the National Association of Women Lawyers’ Ninth Annual General Counsel Institute in New York….

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The future of elite Biglaw firms?

Historically, the elite Biglaw firms derived safety and security from the knowledge that they could depend on big fees from large institutional clients. After all, where would the big dogs feel confident sending their legal work if not to a giant, white-shoe firm, with a complete support staff and the cream of the law school graduating crop? It encouraged behemoth firms and no small amount of complacency.

No one doubts that we’ve entered a new normal and that Growth Is Dead (affiliate link), but a new study confirms that there’s even more bad news for the top Biglaw firms: GCs simply don’t want them any more…

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* The shutdown has shuttered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I’m not really comfortable living without those regulators. [Breaking Energy]

* Don’t bother Goldman Sachs’s general counsel with your silly little questions. [Dealbreaker]

* The decisions you make in your twenties are rarely life-threatening. So get out there and make some atrocious life-decisions, kids! [Legal Cheek]

* Lawyer sent to prison for plotting to help a client hide jewels. That sounds way dirtier than it is. [ABA Journal]

* In scary news, Adrian Peterson’s 2-year-old son was brutally beaten. [TMZ]

* In case you missed our round-up, here are ten more highlights from a recent interview with Justice Scalia. He’s apparently a big Duck Dynasty fan, which explains a lot. Video embedded after the jump… [Bloomberg Law via YouTube]

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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!

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

* “We’re in uncharted territory right now.” The federal courts made it through the first week of the shutdown, but they’re approaching “here be dragons” land in terms of funding. [National Law Journal]

* “It would be the most interesting case in decades.” Legal experts debate whether President Obama can ignore the debt ceiling for much longer. [New York Times]

* People are getting out of Biglaw while the getting’s good. Reed Smith’s global managing partner is leaving the firm for a general counsel gig after 13 years at the helm. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Law firm leaders met to discuss how to empower women attorneys, and agreed it’s wise to parade them around in front of clients. Getting to work on those clients’ cases is another question. [Blog of Legal Times]

* No debacles here, contrary to past precedent: Kasowitz Benson poached two superior legal minds from NBCUniversal and welcomed them to the firm to open an entertainment litigation practice. [Bloomberg]

* Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers want their client’s prison restrictions to be lifted and are raising a slew of constitutional claims. We think the members of his fan club are the only ones feeling sorry for him. [CNN]

Biglaw branding sounds painful, but thankfully, associates at the highest and mightiest of firms don’t have to sear their flesh with their firms’ logos. Biglaw branding is more about the image firms want clients to see when making hiring decisions, and partners are likely equally as worried about their reputations in the marketplace as their year-end profits.

The last time we spoke about law firm branding, we found out that Skadden had the most recognizable brand in the country. But we, loving rankings as we do, wondered which law firm had the best brand in the world. Luckily for us, hot on the heels of the release of the Am Law Global 100, Acritas published its 2013 Sharplegal Global Elite Brand Index.

Who’s got the best Biglaw brand on the planet? Let’s find out…

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Each year, Corporate Counsel compiles a list of the law firms that Fortune 100 companies use as outside counsel. This year, to change things up a bit, it seems like the list has been expanded to cover the entire Fortune 500. From Apple to Yahoo, and every billion-dollar company in between, these corporate clients expect nothing short of the best in terms of legal representation when dealing with high-stakes litigation and deals. If you’re looking to line your firm’s pockets, you better head to the RFP line when these companies seek lawyers.

Up until last year, only the most prominent Biglaw firms (like Cleary, Davis Polk, Cravath, and Simpson Thacher) topped the list of those that had the pleasure of doing business with the country’s biggest companies. Things changed rapidly, however, when Big Business tried to cash in on deals for legal services. The firms that were willing to cave to the pressure of providing alternative fee arrangements won in a big way, and the rest were left in the dust.

Have these prestigious firms changed their ways? Is Corporate America again willing to open its fat wallet for them? Let’s find out…

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* Leading litigatrix Kathryn Ruemmler will leave her position as White House counsel and return to private practice. Perhaps she’ll have more time (and money) to build her shoe collection. [Blog of Legal Times]

* If you care about the business end of the law, you’ll want to see which firms are representing Corporate America. This is a list that matters. We’ll have more on this later today. [Corporate Counsel]

* Biglaw firms in Chicago are shrinking, with headcount at the 25 largest firms dropping by 15 percent since 2008. Don’t worry, this is the “new normal,” everything’s fine. [Crain's Chicago Business]

* Show me your poker face: UNLV Law’s dean wants to raise the school’s profile in the eyes of new students by bulking up its gaming law program and letting the chips fall where they may. [Las Vegas Sun]

* It looks like the wage and hour ruling against Rick’s Cabaret has started an avalanche of lawsuits filed by angry, underpaid strippers. Now, they want $10 million inserted into their g-strings. [New York Daily News]

Business development sometimes seems like an impossible task. Winning new clients, or generating new business from existing clients, isn’t easy. If you doubt this, check out in-house columnist Mark Herrmann’s excellent column, Nothing You Can Say Can Cause Me To Retain You (explaining all the strategies for trying to obtain his business that won’t work). The challenge of getting new clients explains why so many firms resort to effectively trying to buy clients, by luring lateral partners and hoping their books of business come with them.

But still, every now and then a law firm does get hired by a new client. And every now and then a law firm gets fired by an existing or even longstanding client (even though it’s not easy to displace incumbent counsel, especially if they’re decent).

Why do clients hire and fire their outside counsel? A new survey offers some answers….

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The most recent rankings of America’s best-paid general counsel reflected healthy increases in GC compensation. But that data related to the highest-paid legal officers at the nation’s largest companies. What about rank-and-file in-house lawyers?

We’ve mentioned some anecdotal evidence of in-house counsel doing very well for themselves financially. But some of our in-house readers, as well as one of our columnists, questioned whether that data was representative of in-house lawyers generally.

Now we’re happy to bring you a more systematic and all-encompassing look at in-house compensation, going beyond just general counsel, courtesy of a new survey. There’s good news and bad news….

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