Ed. note: Please welcome our newest columnist, Gaston Kroub of Kroub, Silbersher & Kolmykov PLLC, an intellectual property litigation boutique here in New York. He’ll be writing about leaving a Biglaw partnership to start his own firm.
This is a position I never thought I would be in. I am sure my partners feel the same way. If someone would have told me last Thanksgiving that within a year I would, together with two of my colleagues, give notice at my firm to start an IP boutique, I would have laughed. After all, Biglaw was all I knew, starting with my first full-time position as a first-year associate at Greenberg Traurig over a decade (and well over twenty thousand billable hours or so) ago. Leaving Biglaw to start my own boutique? I had honestly never given it a thought before this year.
Now that I am a whole week into the experience, I am happy to report that I have never been more excited for the next stage of my professional career. Even though I no longer have a large office with a view of the Statue of Liberty (and actually am working from home as we negotiate for space), there is something sweet about trying to build a business on my own terms, working together with partners that I have come to value and trust. After all, they had the courage to make the leap as well. While the decision was not an easy one, it already feels like the right one.
In an era when “disruption” is celebrated, the world of large law firms is one of the last redoubts of conventional wisdom. For a uniquely rule- and precedent-bound profession, this makes sense. Biglaw’s conventional wisdom has the added virtue of being reliable. For example, we can count on Cravath taking the lead — at least chronologically — on bonuses, and for DLA Piper to have the most random Third developing-world offices.
Another reflection of conventional wisdom is the way in which Biglaw lends itself to — and revels in — superlatives and rankings. There tends to be a generally acknowledged and perennially dominant player (or a few) in most practice areas: Wachtell Lipton for M&A, Weil Gotshal for Chapter 11 work, Patton Boggs for lobbying, and so forth. There’s no doubt that many worthy firms get overlooked.
Last year we took a look at which firms’ practice groups were considered “underrated” by peers in the field. Among the notable 2012 nominees: Cahill for corporate law, Arnold & Porter in litigation, and Proskauer for its bankruptcy and tax practices.
We wondered whether the same practice groups were still considered by practitioners to be unfairly underrated. Or are there other firms deserving more recognition?
They told me, if I could sit on the stage so nobody climbed over me, I could drink beer till the show was over.
– Gimme Shelter
Hells Angels are the Kleenex of biker gangs. Sure, there are the Mongols, the Outlaws, the Warlocks, the Diablos, the Cool Ranch Doritos. But all of those gangs take up relatively little space in the collective imagination. And one of those gangs isn’t even a gang. It’s a corn chip!
Anyway, the Angels’ ubiquity in popular culture means that when anyone anywhere thinks of roving gangs of motorcycle-riding degenerates, they think of the Angels. Hunter Thompson, Altamont, Sonny Barger and the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test placed the gang at the forefront of that fashion trend known as the 60s. And as Atticus Finch quipped, “Even bellbottoms need a lawyer.”
So it was that the New York Times banged out an extra-long feature on the gang and their litigious ways over the long weekend.
That last sentence was the closest I could get the words “gang” and “bang” together. Let’s see if I have better luck later in this post….
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?
* 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]
* CeeLo Green, through his attorney, tells the judge and prosecutors in his criminal case to, um, Forget themselves. He’s miffed that the judge and prosecutors set up cameras during his arraignment and left themselves out of the shot creating a false impression of guilt. This marks the first time this guy didn’t want a camera fixated solely on him. [TMZ]
* Samsung wants a mistrial in its case with Apple because Apple’s attorney, Harold McElhinny, implied in his closing argument that American-made jobs building TV sets moved overseas because companies failed to protect intellectual property. Samsung is arguing that this is racist. [Bloomberg]
* JPMorgan is awfully sorry for making the conscious decision to sell toxic securities that helped destroy the economy. “Our bad, y’all!” [Gawker]
* The justices who penned Bush v. Gore shamelessly admitted how terrible the decision was by trying to claim it had no precedential value. Unfortunately, no one listened to them. [Mother Jones]
* In addition to the many lawfirms that are contributing to Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts, several Asian-American lawyer groups are organizing a fundraising event this coming Monday. If you’re in New York, please consider attending! [Facebook; AABANY]
* In sad news, the son of Ninth Circuit Judge Jay Bybee shot and killed himself in the courtyard of the LDS Temple in Henderson, NV. Our thoughts are with Judge Bybee and his family. [Las Vegas Review-Journal (gavel bang: Las Vegas Law Blog)]
* Citi reports that firms saw a revenue jump of 2.7 percent in the third quarter. Revenue has now finally outpaced expenses for the year. Let the good times roll? [The AmLaw Daily]
* In regulatory fun, the Comptroller of the Currency issued some regulations on how banks can use consulting firms to comply with enforcement orders. In a nutshell, consultants should do their jobs rather than be a rubber stamp for the banks. Once again regulation arrives long after common sense required it. [Washington Post]
* A new company called Fantex Holdings might turn your fantasy football chatter into insider trading when it starts securitizing athletes. Now TacoCorp can endure an SEC investigation just like real companies. [Corporate Counsel]
* Microsoft’s IP counsel is opening a new office of Shook, Hardy & Bacon. Congratulations of the Ctrl+Alt+Deleting your career as an outside counsel. [Corporate Counsel]
* Harvey Updyke, the Alabama fan who destroyed Auburn’s landmark trees, owes $796,000 according to a judge. Roll Tide. [Courthouse News Service]
* Veterans applying to law school should take these tips to heart. [Blueprint Prep]
* The Amanda Knox trial has a ton of experts involved. No defendant, but a ton of experts. [The Expert Institute]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.