Hunger Games

Partners versus associates in Biglaw. I am not referring to the annual end-of-summer softball game. This is more serious. Many groups are flat or slow. Even though associates leave firms and get replaced very slowly, or not at all, and even though incoming associate classes have shrunk, Biglaw firms make every effort to keep associates as busy as possible. For one, associates are expensive, with their high salaries and real benefits packages. Plus, it is always easy to generate some make-work for them, particularly when there are not as many around as there used to be.

These efforts are surely welcomed by associates, but at what cost to the firm’s other timekeeping employees — the partners? Does the fact that a partner “got elected,” has the title, signed a partnership agreement, and has money (either their own or a friendly bank’s) in the firm’s capital account mean that he or she should have first dibs on all available work? Put another way, do I have the right to insist that a fellow partner assign me work rather than an associate? Do I need to make sure my fellow partners are all fully busy before I assign some of my hard-earned client matters to them? Assuming that the clients do not care about who services a particular matter (e.g., it is a new client who only cares about the price and not who is providing the service), these are very difficult questions. Unfortunately for many in Biglaw today, they are also timely….

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Voted ‘Mr. Congeniality’ by a panel of Biglaw partners.

The best competitions reward the winner with something related to their skill. If you win American Idol, you get a recording contract. On Project Runway, you get a clothing line. In the Hunger Games, you get to be alive.

Tying the tested skills to the ultimate reward is a concept so strikingly obvious that even we at Above the Law grasped the concept. In 2008, we held a competition among writers, which we called ATL Idol, and we hired the guy who won.

At Case Western Reserve University School of Law, the Career Development Office has announced a “Job Idol” competition, to determine which lucky Case Western Spartan has the chops to earn a law firm job.

We had a similar competition when I went to school. It was called “Early Interview Week,” and the top 98 percent of competitors won a job.

So what do the winners get at Case Western? We have the official advertisement for the competition.

Spoiler alert: They don’t get jobs….

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Earlier this week, we asked readers to submit possible captions for this photo:

On Wednesday, you voted on the finalists, and now it’s time to announce the winner of our caption contest….

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* A warning label for law school: hey, why not? [Tax Prof Blog]

* What are the laws of the world’s smallest nation? [Ars Technica]

* If we end up with no health care reform, do we have right-wing bloggers to blame? [The Atlantic]

* Speaking of the Obamacare arguments, would a simpler approach have worked for Don Verrilli in front of SCOTUS? [Recess Appointments]

* A new law school on Daytona Beach? Well, I’m sure that school will attract a lot of “talent.” [Daytona Beach News-Journal]

* Professors Miriam Cherry and Paul Secunda ask: Are law review submissions like the Hunger Games? [SSRN]

* Are professors working hard or hardly working? [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Global warming creates jobs? [Slate]

Earlier this week, we asked readers to submit possible captions for this photo:

Let’s have a look at what our readers came up with, and then vote on the finalists….

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This weekend, hundreds of thousands of teenyboppers flocked to movie theaters for the premiere of The Hunger Games. In the film, based on a novel written by Suzanne Collins, teens in a post-apocalyptic world are selected to compete in televised battles against one another, and only one can survive.

Hm, that kind of sounds like what Biglaw interviews have come to in our own post-recession world. But would death matches be a more appropriate way to screen candidates? Apparently, at least one firm thinks so.

Here’s the photo for our latest caption contest….

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