Haynes and Boone

This coming Friday, it is the inalienable right of all Americans to sleep off their hangovers, or riot at Walmart, or do anything at all rather than work for The Man. But Biglaw is a different country. As illustrated by Elie’s decision matrix, the “choice” of whether to work on this sacred day is, for the denizens of the law firm world, fraught with other pressures and expectations. We all know that Biglaw careers demand a Faustian bargain: in return for their fat paychecks (and bonuses?), lawyers are expected to work grueling, unpredictable hours. This time of year, that reality is brought into sharp relief: the “holiday season,” with those “family obligations” and so forth, is something that occurs elsewhere.

But law firm billable expectations are not homogeneous. There are significant differences across practice areas, seniority levels, and, of course, individual firms. So how do the various practices, employment statuses, and firms stack up?

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories, brought to you by Lateral Link. This recurring feature will give notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.

Terry Conner serves as Haynes and Boone‘s Managing Partner and a member of its Board of Directors, and is an active member of numerous other committees within the firm. Terry has more than 30 years of experience practicing in the area of business transactions, including commercial loans, loan restructures and technology transactions. He has been an adjunct professor of commercial law at Southern Methodist University School of Law, a Director of the Texas Association of Bank Counsel, the co-editor of the Matthew Bender Commercial Loan Documentation Guide, the co-chair of the Southern Methodist University Law School Commercial Lending Institute, a lecturer on business law at The University of Texas at Dallas, and a member of the State of Texas Science and Technology Council appointed by then-Governor Bush.

1. What is the greatest challenge to the legal industry over the next 5 years?

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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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This has been an exciting week at the Supreme Court. But nothing on First Street matched the drama of the Texas State Legislature last night in Austin.

If you watch only television news, you might have missed it.

Wendy Davis, a Democratic Texas state senator from Fort Worth, mounted a one-woman filibuster trying to stop Texas from passing restrictive abortion laws that would have effectively closed all but five of the abortion clinics in the state. Her fight was a lesson in small-scale democracy, arcane parliamentary laws, and standard GOP tactics to change those laws when they feel like they’re losing.

But most of all, it was a lesson in the power of the people…

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The season of law firm holiday parties, for starters. And, better yet, bonuses. This year, Santa Cravath stuffed stockings with a goodly amount of cash.

But the parties and paychecks pale in comparison to what’s about to get underway: Above the Law’s fourth annual holiday card contest!

Last year, Haynes and Boone, a frequent finalist in the contest, took home top honors. Will they repeat in 2012, will a prior winner reemerge, or will a totally fresh face grab the Christmas card crown?

Read on — and read carefully, counselors — for the official contest rules….

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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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Even though the job market for new lawyers is still stagnant and depressing, going to and graduating from law school, especially a highly-ranked law school, is still looked upon by friends and family as a huge accomplishment. It’s something to be proud of, something to brag about.

After all, law school graduates have completed three to four years of relatively difficult work, and most take a state bar examination — neither of which is viewed as a simple feat by the general public. Factor into this equation being a middle-aged working mother, and these achievements seem even greater.

Imagine what would happen if someone claimed that she had finished all of this rigorous legal training, when in fact, she never had. It’s all pomp and circumstance until someone discovers that you’ve allegedly been lying through your teeth for years.

That is exactly what happened in Texas recently, and now campus officials are investigating a woman who claims that she attended a law school that was, until recently, a top 50 law school in the U.S. News rankings….

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Our law firm holiday card contest is still underway, but we’re in the home stretch. Voting closes tomorrow, January 9, at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern time). If you haven’t done so already, review the finalists and vote over here.

In the our earlier post, we promised a post in which we’d (1) give shout-outs to some holiday cards that were strong but narrowly missed our cut and (2) poke fun at some of the Christmas cards we found especially disappointing. Here is the promised post.

Let’s look at some of these honorable and dishonorable mentions. Perhaps your law firm’s card is among them?

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Late last night, we received a tip that has become all too common in the dog days of August. This tipster sent us this letter from the career services office at Georgetown Law:

Haynes and Boone, LLP has just informed us that they will no longer have a summer program in their Washington, DC and Austin, TX offices. Please contact me if you are interested in switching your interview to either the Dallas, TX, Houston, TX, or New York, NY offices or if you would like us to cancel your interview.

These late-breaking summer program cancellations, partial cancellations, or substantive summer-program changes really need to stop…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dear Law Firms: Canceling Summer Programs After People Bid on Those Programs Is Bad Form”

It’s still early in 2010, but the runaway leader in the clubhouse for feelgood Biglaw story of the year is coming out of Haynes and Boone. It was widely reported last week that Matthew Deffebach, a partner at Haynes and Boone, donated a kidney to the son of a staffer at the firm.

Deffebach didn’t know the staffer personally, but when another partner asked for volunteers to help this child, a number of Haynes and Boone partners were tested. Deffebach was a match. Texas Lawyer has this amazing quote from Deffebach:

Deffebach says he’s going through the surgery because he couldn’t stand the thought of the man’s son growing up without a father. “I met him the day after I found out how bad his situation was,” Deffebach recalls.

The reports say that the surgery went smoothly.

I can’t get enough of this good news story shining through in the middle of this bad news recession. After the jump, we’ve got some comments from the staffer, and a note from Matthew Deffebach.

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