Happy news

When it comes to the debate over the wisdom of going to law school, I fall somewhere in between. I’m not as optimistic as Jordan Weissmann of Slate, but I’m not as pessimistic as Elie Mystal and Joe Patrice, two of my colleagues here at Above the Law.

Back in June, when I reviewed employment data for the law school class of 2013, I sounded some cautiously optimistic notes. I wondered whether a stable job market and shrinking law school classes could produce better employment outcomes for many law grads.

Could the jobs picture be even brighter than “stable”? Check out what looks like a big expansion of the U.S. Department of Justice’s prestigious Attorney General’s Honors Program, along with other opportunities to work as a lawyer for the federal government….

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Now we’ll unmask this superhero.

Longtime readers of Above the Law will recall the tale of Aquagirl. She’s the former Cleary Gottlieb summer associate who, while in a state of inebriation, stripped down to her underwear at a Chelsea Piers charity benefit and jumped into the Hudson River. This might have been an effort to demonstrate her swimming prowess (she was on the swim team in college), but ultimately she had to be rescued in a boat by either the Coast Guard or the NYPD. Her exploits are now the stuff of legend, the bar by which summer associate misadventures are measured.

In these pages, we’ve referred to Aquagirl simply by her nickname, in keeping with our general policy of anonymizing summer associate stories. But that policy admits of exceptions. We will now unmask Aquagirl because she’s back in the headlines for newsworthy conduct — this time heroic rather than scandalous….

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The Riling family

I cannot believe how, just how generous and nice that was because you don’t see that very much anymore. Most people don’t take the time of day to do very much for anybody else, especially a stranger.

Sunny Riling, a Florida mom whose family recovered their lost camera containing treasured photos — with the help of a Biglaw partner.

(Read on to find out how….)

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Last month, when we covered BuckleySandler’s midyear bonuses, we included a shout-out to Cahill Gordon. Cahill has paid out generous summer bonuses to its associates dating back to 2010, and we wondered whether the firm would continue the streak.

The answer: yes. Cahill just announced its latest summer bonuses. The timing is good, since rising 2Ls will soon be picking which firms to interview with during on-campus recruiting. (Note Cahill Gordon’s nice rise in the latest Vault 100 rankings, which are widely consulted by law students during the OCI process.)

How big are the Cahill midyear bonuses this time around?

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Hop in the DeLorean and travel back in time with us.

Earlier this week, the good folks over at Vault released their annual list of the nation’s 100 most prestigious law firms. As we noted in our analysis of the list, the top 15 for this year don’t look very different from the top 15 from last year.

Wachtell Lipton topped the list for the 12th year in a row. But as Vault noted, Cravath isn’t far behind — and could retake the crown that it relinquished to Wachtell back in 2004.

Yes, that’s right — Wachtell hasn’t always been #1. On this “Flashback Friday,” let’s look back at the Vault rankings from 2008 and 1998 and see how things looked in the past….

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It pains me to say this, given my own predilection for prestige worship, but here’s a question: does prestige matter as much as it used to? In an era of greater access to information, a law firm’s overall prestige arguably matters less than it once did.

If a client is looking for an excellent firm in a particular practice area, it can now easily access information about which firms, and even which individual lawyers, excel in which niches. It no longer has to rely on a firm’s brand name as a proxy for a specific strength. And other factors matter to the public as well. Is a firm a good place to work? How stable is its partnership, in this era of increased lateral movement? Is the firm growing or declining?

But make no mistake: prestige is still hugely important. Which is why the Vault law firm rankings are so eagerly anticipated each year.

The latest rankings from Vault of the country’s 100 most prestigious law firms just came out. How do they look?

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If you appreciate the information and entertainment provided by Above the Law, please send us tips. You can reach us by email or by text message (646-820-8477).

Sometimes folks ask us, “What’s in it for me?” For example, on last week’s story about the epic UVA email screw-up, one reader wondered why UVA students told us about it in the first place.

Well, venting about something can be therapeutic. But sometimes tipping ATL can help people out in more specific and concrete ways. Here’s a great story involving a reader who emailed us about a problem that we helped to get fixed….

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Ten years is a long time. Ten years can take a kid from birth to fourth grade. I wrote my first blog post ten years ago yesterday; it feels like a lifetime ago.

What does a decade mean in the career of a Supreme Court clerk? One law professor has done some stalking of research into the SCOTUS clerk class of October Term 2004 and what they’re up to today. Here’s what he found out….

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Like a recent law grad could afford this.

What’s the most exciting stunt you could pull off before receiving your law school diploma? If you guessed “a backflip,” someone’s been there, and done that. This 2013 grad from Baylor Law has got you beat. If your next best guess was “propose to your girlfriend in front of hundreds of people,” then nice job, you win.

When this soon-to-be graduate found out his longtime girlfriend, who graduated from law school last year, would be participating in his hooding ceremony, he knew he had to step up his game. He wanted his girlfriend to have and to hold, from that day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until debt do them part.

Keep reading to see the video that’s quickly making the rounds online….

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Sorry, hunters of Supreme Court clerkships. We’re pretty sure that the justices are done hiring for October Term 2014. After Monday’s hiring update, we received a slew of new tips, almost filing up the OT 2014 roster. It’s time to start turning your hopes towards October Term 2015.

As we’ve mentioned before, we devote extra attention to the last clerks whose hirings we hear about. It’s the SCOTUS clerk version of the NFL draft’s Mr. Irrelevant.

So who are we missing? Let’s look at the updated list….

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