Insurance

Ascension to Biglaw partnership demands, obviously and above all, an enormous amount of first-rate legal work, in addition to political savvy, endurance, timing, and luck. A would-be partner’s chosen practice area also undoubtedly plays no small role. If firm leadership believes that there will be a spate of major Chapter 11 filings or trademark litigations on the horizon, obviously that will redound to the benefit of the potential bankruptcy or IP partners (although, as recent news reflects, partnership isn’t necessarily the lucrative, secure lifetime position it once was).

Late last year, ATL took a close look at the newly minted partner classes for the Vault 10 firms. Despite the great profitability and prestige of this select group, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the general direction of the legal market from the composition of these partnership classes. First of all, this is a small sample size. Second, we are witnessing an important shift in the allocation of the business within the market. A recent AdvanceLaw survey of general counsel at major global corporations found that three-quarters of general counsel were inclined to engage “less-pedigreed” firms (e.g., outside the Vault 10 or Magic Circle) for “high stakes” legal work. This survey of GCs (including those from Google, Nike, 3M, Unilever and Deutsche Bank) indicated their willingness to engage firms lower down the Biglaw totem pole.

Because of the apparent diminishment of the brand value of the most historically prestigious firms, as well as the broader trends toward disaggregation and unbundling of legal services, one must account for a larger set of law firms in order to see the fullest picture of the market for high-end legal services. With that in mind, today we look at the practice areas of the entire Biglaw partnership class of 2013….

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When I started my law firm twenty years ago, there were just five things that I knew.

I knew I didn’t have any clients. I knew that my husband and I could scarcely afford the loss of my paycheck, let alone come up capital for me to invest in my practice. I knew that I was way too mortified at having been laid off from my former firm to share the real reason for starting my own firm.  I knew that when I finally opened for business, in truth, I was just putting on a game face every day, biding my time until something else came along or until I got pregnant and could, like some of my other law school classmates, gracefully exit the law.  But I also knew, somewhere deep down, that I had it in me to be a good lawyer.

Those five things are all that I knew for sure when I started my law firm. Clearly I had a lot to learn.  And while there was plenty of information on the black-letter, nuts-and-bolts aspects of starting a firm, the kind of advice that I really wanted to know to jump-start my practice — specifically, whether the solo option was actually feasible — was in short supply.  Moreover, as an attorney with a traditionally big-firm practice (energy regulatory law and litigation), I was even worse off because attorneys familiar with my field and doing what I hoped to were particularly rare.

So to spare those of you starting out from what I went through, here are five things that I wish someone would have told me when I started out:

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* Dewey think you should’ve signed up for the partnership contribution plan? That probably would’ve been wise. One of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s ex-service partners has been forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy thanks to a clawback suit. [Am Law Daily]

* As long as the job market for new attorneys remains laughable, law schools will continue to make moves when it comes to deep tuition cuts. Say hello to a $30K drop in sticker price, Roger Williams University Law students. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Syracuse Law’s class sizes keep getting smaller, but it was “strategically managed” — just like the new law building was financially strategically managed on the backs of alumni and their tuition. [Daily Orange]

* A trial date was set for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friends who allegedly tried to cover up his role in the Boston bombings. No word yet on whether any stupid girls have set up fan clubs for them. [National Law Journal]

* The curtains are finally closing on the King of Pop’s life: Lloyd’s of London settled its insurance suit with Michael Jackson’s estate, and Conrad Murray’s involuntary manslaughter conviction was upheld. [AP]


Reema Bajaj

* In his year-end report, Chief Justice Roberts politely asked Congress to make it rain on the federal judiciary in fiscal year 2014, because “[t]he future would be bleak” without additional funding. [Reuters]

* Utah finally asked for Supreme Court intervention in its quest to stop gay couples from marrying, but Justice Sotomayor wants a response from the other side before she weighs in. WWSSD? [BuzzFeed]

* Perhaps Justice Sotomayor saw the humor in this: she just gave a group of nuns a temporary reprieve from having to give out birth control to a bunch of women who have taken vows of chastity. [Bloomberg]

* Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego Steven Davis? Oh boy, Dewey have some news for you! The failed firm’s former chairman is now the chief legal representative for Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “The Second Amendment does not preclude reasonable regulation.” A judge upheld the majority of New York’s new gun laws as constitutional. Opponents are ready to lock and load on appeal. [New York Times]

* Just because your law school isn’t ranked, it doesn’t mean you can’t dream big. Case in point: one of this year’s Skadden Fellows will graduate from John Marshall (Chicago) this spring. [National Law Journal]

* Reema Bajaj, the attorney who pleaded guilty to a prostitution charge, decided that she wasn’t in the mood to ride this Johnson any longer. Like her panties, the case has been dropped. [Daily Chronicle]

The Michigan Legislature recently passed the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act” into law. Under the new law, women and employers must buy an optional insurance rider for abortion coverage. Abortions will only be covered without a rider if the mother’s life is in medical danger. The law also specifically allows for the treatment of miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.

Detractors referred to the bill as requiring “rape insurance.” Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D – East Lansing) said, “This tells women that were raped and became pregnant that they should have thought ahead and planned for it.”

If there were such a thing as rape insurance, I surely would buy it. What woman (or likely future prison inmate) wouldn’t? No, this is abortion insurance, not rape insurance.

What the opponents of the new Michigan law seem to conveniently overlook when choosing their inflammatory and misleading rhetoric: (1) Abortion does not fully, meaningfully address the harms of rape. (2) Rape does not necessarily, or even usually, involve abortion. (3) Foreseeing an individual need for abortion insurance does not require extraordinary foresight. But let’s look a little more closely at what’s going on in Michigan . . . .

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Megyn Kelly of Fox News

* “Those of us from the Midwest think it’s actually easier to hide a child in New York.” Many of the current Supreme Court justices are from New York. How does it affect their jurisprudence? [Washington Post]

* The percentage of women associates in law firms may be down nationally, but in California, the demographic is on the rise — except in Silicon Valley, which is really hardly surprising. [The Recorder]

* Megyn Kelly, who’s been compared to a “brilliant supermodel,” is now considered the brightest star on Fox News, with more than 2.5 million viewers. Albany Law School must be so proud. [Washington Post]

* Class action powerhouse Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll hired Matthew S. Axelrod of DOJ fame (most recently as Associate Deputy Attorney General) to join the firm as a partner. Congrats! [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* “The fact that rape insurance is even being discussed by this body is repulsive.” Yep. Rape insurance. Apparently that’s a thing in Michigan now, which is pretty unbelievable. The more you know. [MSNBC]

* Here’s a helpful hint for our readers: when you’re trying to get released on bail prior to your jewel heist trial, you probably shouldn’t list your occupation on a court form as “jewelry thief.” [Los Angeles Times]

* You’d think that when discussing major reforms to the patent system, the director of the USPTO would be there, but you’d be wrong. You’d also be wrong if you thought we had a director right now. [National Law Journal]

* Welcome to the future of Biglaw: Allen & Overy has realized that it’s a waste of money to keep hiring in a weak market, so the firm is recruiting its alumni to serve as contract attorneys in times of higher legal demand. [Legal Week]

* Dean Gregory Maggs, the interim leader of George Washington University Law, is being lauded for increasing first-year enrollment by 22 percent in a time of crisis. Excellent work, sir. You flood that job market. [GW Hatchet]

* Just because you have a law degree doesn’t mean you’re “entitled to rise up and become partner.” Getting a job in the new normal involves having a good attitude and social graces. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Ladies, if you get pregnant after a fling with an Olympic medalist and move out of state, please know your “appropriation of the child while in utero [will be deemed] irresponsible, reprehensible.” [New York Times]

* GTL stands for “Gym, Tan, Laundry,” but the owner of these Jersey Shore clubs thinks it stands for “Gym, Tan, Lawsuit” — thanks to losses uncovered by its insurer in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. [Newark Star-Ledger]

* Judge Richard Posner is the latest judge to have admitted to making a possible error (which he later endlessly recanted), but hey, if he was wrong, at least he was wrong in a “responsible, informed, and fair-minded way.” [National Law Journal]

* After being unceremoniously tossed off New York’s stop and frisk case by the Second Circuit for her supposed “partiality,” Judge Shira Scheindlin has been replaced by Judge Analisa Torres. Best of luck — you might need it. [New York Law Journal]

* Will Judge Scheindlin’s removal have a chilling effect on judicial speech? Lat thinks it would cause judges to “hide underneath their robes” even more than they already do. [Room for Debate / New York Times]

* The Biglaw gay gross-up marches on: it’s funny that the most conservative industry is outpacing others in terms of progressive benefits for LGBT employees and families. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* “The U.S. is facing a paradox surrounding access to justice,” says ABA President James Silkenat, who is trying to kill two birds with one stone by pairing unemployed lawyers with poor clients. [Am Law Daily]

* Bernie Goetz (aka the New York subway vigilante) was arrested on pot charges after allegedly offering to get an undercover cop high. We’ve got a feeling his new nickname will be “Burnie.” [New York Daily News]

That a major law firm would engage in such shenanigans distresses us. The firm’s argument regarding the amendment to the National Union insurance policy is censurable, and we hereby censure it.

– Judge Richard Posner, writing on behalf of a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit, issuing a harsh benchslap to Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft for the firm’s “frivolous interpretation” of an endorsement to its client’s Commercial General Liability insurance policy.

Does anyone really like insurance companies? The answer is, of course, no. Sure, some people tolerate their carriers, but no one really likes them.

Probably because they do things like send lawyers to watch trials and creep out the jury.

That’s the charge in this case, where the judge called the observing lawyer to the stand to confront him over the jury’s concern that he was “stalking” them.

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