Hughes Hubbard & Reed

* Fine Print as “Surrealist Masterpiece.” Because sometimes you need legal analysis involving Foucault. [Concurring Opinions]

* Speaking of fine print, the story behind an attack ad in Virginia is all about fine print. Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli is running an attack ad against Terry McAuliffe connecting him to the collapse of Global Crossing. The problem is the former Global Crossing workers in the ad thought they were talking to a documentary film crew about the company, not making an ad attacking McAuliffe. Should have read that waiver form more closely! [Mother Jones]

* JPMorgan Chase is dropping out of the student loan business. Must be getting too difficult to package likely defaults into some kind of billion-dollar derivative these days. [American Banker]

* A New York attorney candidly tells the world that dealing with his kids “is not my problem” because he has a long-suffering wife for that job. See conservatives, gay marriage hasn’t destroyed all the traditional families. [Dealbreaker]

* More analysis on the legality of intervention in Syria under international law. Welcome to the art of writing listicles, Lawfare! [Lawfare]

* A Q&A with Ignatius Grande of Hughes Hubbard & Reed on the importance of Twitter for clients and law firms. Intriguingly, Hughes Hubbard doesn’t have an active Twitter account. What gives? [Commercial Litigation Insider]

* The NFL’s concussion settlement wasn’t just about screwing over the former players, but about the NFL covering up its business practices. But who cares, KICKOFF TONIGHT Y’ALL! [Grantland]

* We’re not saying you should drop out of school, but if you do, try to make it like these people. Video embedded after the jump. [Bloomberg via YouTube]

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Every year, the American Lawyer trots out its rankings at about the same time — first the highly influential Am Law 100 and Am Law 200, which are then followed up by the A-List. Think of this ranking as the legal professions’s Westminster: everyone is yipping excitedly over the possibility of being named “best in show” at this Biglaw beauty contest.

The A-List differs from the Am Law 100 and 200 rankings in that there’s only one financial metric here (revenue per lawyer). The other factors involved are pro bono work, attorney diversity, and perhaps most importantly, associate satisfaction. In years past, associate satisfaction has represented only 16 percent of a firm’s total A-List score, but taking a nosedive or making significant gains in this area can turn it into a game changer.

So, which 20 firms made the grade this year? Let’s find out…

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Continuing our annual tradition honoring March Madness, Above the Law is running a law-related bracket, advancing law firms or law schools based on the outcome of reader polls. If you’ve been around for a while, you know the drill. But remember, I’m the new guy, so I’ve made a couple changes to the format this year.

Last year, you hoisted the Lantern of Diogenes to find the Most Honest Law School, and determined that the University of Michigan Law School was the most on the level. And they backed your faith by admitting that one of their graduates had become a shepherd.

This year, it’s time to talk about law firms. Specifically, your collective editors pose this question: Which law firm has the brightest future? The economy is still fragile and people are writing books with scary titles like The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis (affiliate link). The firms in our competition may look healthy today, but we all could have said the same thing at one time about Howrey, Brobeck, Heller, or Dewey.

What firm’s future is so bright their senior partners gotta wear shades?

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Paul Cravath does not approve of this post.

Light years away and in the distant future, perhaps some alien grad student in Defunct Planet Studies will stumble onto the ATL archives. He’ll conclude, not unreasonably, that the legal industry was a sort of oligopoly. That there were only a handful of firms: Skadden, Cravath, Latham, Quinn Emanuel, Tannebaum Weiss, and those few others that get such a disproportionate amount of our attention. And of course, there were only 14 real law schools.

This singular obsession with “prestige,” this mindset that the most elite firms and schools are the only worthy ones, is detached from the experiences of the vast majority of lawyers practicing at the 50,000 other firms and the students at the 180+ other law schools. Back in December, we had a little debate about the effect of prestige in the legal industry. In the spirit of the “prestige obsession is bad” side of that argument, we thought it would be worthwhile to see which firms and schools outside of the very top tiers are, according to insiders, great places to work or learn.

Over the course of 2012, we received close to 10,000 responses to our ATL Insider Survey, where lawyers rate their firms based on compensation, culture, morale, training, and culture, and students and alumni rate their schools based on academics, social life, clinical training, career services, and financial aid advising. Based on our survey, the most highly rated firms and schools also happened to among the most prestigious (e.g., Stanford, Davis Polk), but there is certainly not a correlation between prestige and insider rating.

After the jump, we’ll see which schools outside of the T14 and which firms outside the Vault 50 were rated the highest by their own people….

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The bankruptcy case of the dying Dewey & LeBoeuf rolls on. As we mentioned yesterday, other Biglaw firms are getting business out of its burial. For example, Brown Rudnick is representing the official committee of unsecured creditors, and Kasowitz Benson is representing the official committee of retired D&L partners. (This group is separate from the 60 or so ex-partners who have hired Mark Zauderer to fight potential clawback lawsuits and other claims that the Dewey estate might bring against former partners and their new firms.)

If asked to name people who might be worried about owing money to the Dewey estate, some observers might cite “the Steves”: former chairman Steven H. Davis, and former executive director Stephen DiCarmine. Some have accused the Steves of mismanaging D&L’s affairs (or worse), contributing to the collapse of a firm that was once in the top 30 U.S. law firms by total revenue.

But if you’re thinking that Steve DiCarmine wants to pay the Dewey estate some money and get on with his tanning life, think again. As it turns out, Steve DiCarmine is claiming that Dewey owes him money….

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(Plus pictures of his former office.)

QE's Kathleen Sullivan as Lawyer Barbie

* Dewey know the firms that have been tapped to represent the groups that this failed firm owes money to? Yes, we do! Brown Rudnick for the unsecured creditors’ committee, and Kasowitz Benson for the former D&L partners. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* The Ninth Circuit is supposed to be issuing an order today regarding an en banc reconsideration request on the Prop 8 case. They really ought to slap a big fat denial on that motherf’er and call it a day so we get some SCOTUS action. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* Matthew Kluger, most recently of Wilson Sonsini, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison, which is the longest sentence that anyone’s ever received in an insider trading case. Uh yeah, he’ll be appealing. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Hughes Hubbard & Reed has billed more than $17M in the first four months of its work on MF Global’s unwinding. Will the firm will be handing out spring “special” bonuses like they did last year? [Reuters]

* Mattel is appealing MGA’s $310M copyright award, claiming that the judgment was based on “erroneous billing invoices.” Don’t you call my billable hours into question, Kathleen Sullivan. [National Law Journal]

* Jerry Sandusky’s accusers will be named in court thanks to this judge’s ruling. But don’t worry — there’s no tweeting, texting, or emailing allowed in his courtroom. Like that’ll make a difference. [Legal Intelligencer]

* Trust me, I’m a lawyer: a now-disbarred Colorado attorney managed to scam a convicted con artist out of more than $1 million. Now that’s some pretty sweet karmic intervention for you. [Missouri Lawyers Media]

* A bus driver is suing a hospital because he claims that instead of treating his painful erection, the staff watched a baseball game on TV. Whatever, that was a really great Yankees game. [Associated Press]

In the nascent spirit of positivity around here, let’s take a look at where, according to our research, Biglaw’s happiest troopers can be found.

To be sure, lawyers are a notoriously depressive lot. Various studies — and presumably Will Meyerhofer — suggest that the characteristics that make a good lawyer actually correlate with clinical depression. Combine these alleged traits with crushing debt, an oversaturated job market, and an uncertain future, and the industry seems mired in malaise.

But what about those fortunate ones who’ve managed to snag a coveted Biglaw gig? Why, not only are they employed, but they have a realistic chance to pay off their loans. Are they any more upbeat than the industry’s rank-and-file? Our own survey data strongly suggests the answer is definitely maybe.

Respondents to our ongoing ATL School & Firm Insider Survey give their “firm morale” a mean rating of 6.81 out of 10. (By the way, if you haven’t yet, please take the survey here.) For context, lawyers rate morale a bit higher than “hours” (6.55) and bit lower than “training” (6.88). So, generally speaking, firm morale is not conspicuously singled out by lawyers as a negative.

But which are the happiest firms? And the unhappiest? Let’s have a look at the Biglaw shops getting top marks for esprit de corps….

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Welcome to our latest round-up of summer associate offer rate news. This post contains the latest list of law firms and offices with 100 percent offer rates. In future posts, we’re going to shift gears and focus on firms with lower-than-average offer rates.

An offer rate that’s lower than 100 percent is not necessarily newsworthy. The fall recruiting process by which summer associates are selected isn’t perfect. Sometimes candidates look great on paper and do well during interviews, but then do something during the summer — turning in disappointing work product, getting drunk and acting inappropriately — that causes them to get no-offered. And sometimes people get no-offered for reasons that aren’t their fault — office politics, discrimination. Stuff happens.

We’re not expecting 100 percent offer rates all around. At the same time, there is such a thing as an unusually low offer rate. If you know of an office with an unusually low offer rate — which we will arbitrarily define here as something under 66 percent, or two-thirds — please email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Offer Rate”).

Now, on to the updated list of firms and offices with 100 percent offer rates….

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(Now we’d like to hear about the no-offering….)

It’s that time of the year again: American Lawyer magazine has just released its A-List for 2011. The Am Law rankings attempt to evaluate which law firms have got the right stuff to become elite:

The A-List was created in 2003 in an effort to assess (and rank) the nation’s largest and most prominent law firms in a holistic way. It takes into account financial performance, which is represented by the inclusion of firms’ revenue per lawyer, and other important measures of law firm performance, such as attorney diversity, pro bono work, and associate satisfaction. The latter is measured by a firm’s results on our Associates Survey. Pro bono and diversity scores are also a reflection of a firm’s showing on our annual Pro Bono Survey and Diversity Scorecard.

So, which firms made the grade this year? And which firms are the true elite of the elite?

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Earlier this week, Hughes Hubbard & Reed finally got around to issuing spring bonuses. Oh, we can’t call them “spring” bonuses, because Hughes Hubbard is calling them “special” bonuses. But make no mistake, this is a spring bonus HHR has just taken a long time to get around to.

Unlike Cahill, which just gave their associates more money because they could, HHR is playing catch up to the 2010 bonus market. I can prove it: Hughes Hubbard’s special bonus is tied to 2010 performance and hours marks, not 2011.

I think if you are rewarding people for what they did in 2010, it’s pretty obvious that you are still trying to catch up to the 2010 compensation market…

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