Interviews

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

Richard Wiley is the nation’s preeminent communications lawyer. He served as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, where he fostered increased competition and lessened regulation in the communications field. Mr. Wiley played a pivotal role in the development of HDTV in this country, serving for nine years as Chairman of the FCC’s Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Service. As head of the firm’s communications practice group (the largest in the nation), his clients include Verizon, AT&T, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Motorola, and CBS. Mr. Wiley is a graduate of Northwestern Law and holds an LLM from Georgetown.

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* A senior litigation associate at Paul Hastings, Ryan Nier, has decided to participate in something called the Death Race, and it has nothing to do with the drive for partnership. This Death Race is 50-mile mountain endurance/obstacle race that takes somewhere between 24 and 48 straight hours to finish. Only a handful complete the race every year, and Nier is determined to be one of them. From what we’re told, Paul Hastings has been entirely supportive of Nier, which is cool because he’s using it as an opportunity to raise money for charity. But who knows how supportive they’ll be when they realize he won’t have Blackberry access on top of the mountain for 48 hours. For more information about the Death Race, check out the website. [The Death Race]

* Law student golfing across the U.S. So, I take it summer associate gigs are still scarce? [Golf.com]

* “Guess What the Air Force’s Chief of Sexual Assault Prevention Was Just Arrested For…” Hard to top that headline. [Lowering the Bar]

* Harper Lee suing over “To Kill a Mockingbird” (affiliate link), alleging that the son-in-law of her literary agent botched the copyright. *Insert cheap Atticus Finch joke here* [Washington Post]

* Gigi Jordan case gets even uglier with misconduct charges flying around. [Thompson Reuters News & Insight]

* Dr. Phil is suing Gawker alleging that the website posted a video of the pop psychologist’s interview with Manti Te’o, stifling ratings. So Dr. Phil thinks his audience strongly overlaps with Gawker’s. I’m incredulous. [Yahoo! Sports]

* This is why an over-aggressive cease and desist letter can get you into more trouble. Enter the world of the “miniature war-gaming community.” [Popehat]

* A guide to the questions applicants need to be able to answer at OCI. The best? “Describe a situation when you had to think on your feet to extricate yourself from a difficult situation.” This provides insight into how the applicant will deal with virtually every situation that ever comes up in Biglaw. [Ms. JD]

The divide between “being a nice guy” and “being an asshat” is often found in the willingness to share. The compulsion to bombard everyone’s inbox with advice just to be smug friendly can turn even the most well-meaning effort into an inspiration for eye rolls.

Like a 1600-word screed directed at one’s schoolmates, offering unsolicited interview advice.

That would cross that line…

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Ed. note: Welcome to the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories, a recurring feature that gives notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as information about their firms and themselves.

Don Lents is chair of Bryan Cave LLP. His practice focuses on M&A, corporate governance, and securities law, with particular emphasis upon multinational and domestic mergers. He has been an adjunct professor at the Washington University Law School. He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard.

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Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.)

It’s hard out here for authors of judicial memoirs who are not named Sonia Sotomayor. Just ask Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.), a federal trial judge in Brooklyn since 1994 and the author of an appealing new book, Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge (affiliate link). In Disrobed, Judge Block describes his surprising rise from small-town Long Island lawyer to Article III aristocracy, where he has presided over cases involving the Crown Heights riots, Kitty Genovese, mob boss Peter Gotti, and other headline-making subjects.

The book has received several favorable notices. Writing in the New York Times, Sam Roberts described Disrobed as an “engaging” book that provides “a rare look behind decision-making on the federal bench.” Over at Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield called the memoir a “well-written,” “easy and quick read,” by a “quite well-regarded” judge. I’ve read the book myself, and I concur with Roberts and Greenfield.

But even though the book has sold well, exceeding the expectations of its publisher, Thomson Reuters, Disrobed hasn’t attained the bestselling status of Justice Sotomayor’s My Beloved World (affiliate link). And this makes Judge Block a little sad, as he confessed to me when I recently visited him in chambers.

Especially because Judge Block came painfully close to what would have been a big, big break….

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Tom Wallerstein

A long-distance friend of mine recently emailed me this question:

“I’m interviewing with a small boutique firm that just opened. They actually have a lot in common with your firm in that they have two partners who were at a big firm and left so they could do their own thing. I was wondering if there’s anything that jumps out at you as something you look for in job candidates for your firm that might not have been as important if you were interviewing them for a position in Biglaw?”

I thought that was a great question, and insightful, because there are indeed some very important differences between interviewing with a small firm or boutique and interviewing for an associate position in Biglaw.

This is what I told her.

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Manti, summer associates on our team are expected to have sex with real women.

I saw Magic Johnson yesterday. I was standing on the first floor of the building I work at. I won’t bore you with the details of my job, but it involves quite a bit of non-legal work. If you’re picturing a Spanish-speaking gentleman wearing a sandwich board that advertises cheap men’s suits, you wouldn’t be far off. I mean, I was technically hired as an attorney. And I do a fair amount of nominally legal work. Suffice to say, however, that the name tag I was wearing yesterday when I saw Magic Johnson does not… aver that I’m an attorney.

Anyway, I saw Magic Johnson yesterday. He strode like a behemoth across the marble floor and the first thing I thought was, “This man is enormous.” And I don’t mean that he’s fat. Although it’s clear he’s gained a good amount of weight since Showtime. I mean that he’s unbelievably tall. I would have pegged him at seven feet easy if I didn’t already know his listed playing height of 6’9″.

The second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth things I thought were “HIV virus.” The audio of that press conference can be recalled at a moment’s notice. Especially the way that he unnecessarily appended the extra “virus” onto the end of that seeming death sentence, thus joining the other 20th century sporting legend who had made a public announcement full of echo regarding his impending death.

Today, do I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth? For seeing Magic? No way. Nothing makes up for me having to wear a name tag.

Let’s talk sports….

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

Theodore Boutrous, Jr. is co-chair of Gibson Dunn‘s appellate and constitutional law groups. He is also a member of the firm’s executive and management committees.

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

For law firms to maintain strong, lasting bonds with clients and distinctive brands and cultures rather than transforming into large, largely fungible, faceless, bottom-line business enterprises.

2. What has been the biggest positive change to the legal profession since the start of your career?

Technology has revolutionized the legal profession, enhancing productivity, and improving the quality of work, life and client-service capabilities.

3. What has been the biggest negative change to the legal profession since the start of your career?

The demise of law libraries as special sanctuaries for thinking and contemplating and generating ideas.

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

Peter Kalis is the chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates.

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

Although I’m tempted to do a passable imitation of a legal consultant and talk about globalization, innovation and the New Normal, all of which are important, in fact the fundamental challenge facing our industry over the next five years and beyond is to preserve the Rule of Law in a world in which an increasing number of globally significant economies have no comparable tradition and in which some governments don’t respect rights of individuals and enterprises. The world, our industry and our profession would be much different if norms we associate with the Rule of Law were defined downward as a by-product of globalization. I know it’s a stretch for an audience focused during difficult times on real and immediate career challenges to shift gears and focus on a seemingly abstract concept such as the Rule of Law. The times tend to divert all of our gazes inward. But there is no one reading this who is more self-absorbed than the least self-absorbed law firm managing partner.

We all need to do a better job when it comes to talking about and vindicating the Rule of Law in our day to day lives. I know that I do. With all of the misguided talk about vocationalism in legal education, moreover, I also worry that our law schools are not pounding away sufficiently at the foundational importance of the Rule of Law or the role of U.S. lawyers, among others, as its missionaries.

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, in the first of five related articles, Casey Berman, founder of Leave Law Behind, a blog and community that focuses on helping unhappy attorneys leave the law, discusses the first step attorneys can take to leave the law.

Through Leave Law Behind, I work with many intelligent, driven, personable, resourceful, knowledgeable but nonetheless unhappy, dissatisfied, unmotivated, upset, and burnt out attorneys. They tell me that they want to leave the law behind and explore a completely new line of work. They tell me that they want to change their current practice of the law in order to enjoy their work more.

I tell them that there are five main steps to leaving the law. Five time-intensive-but-manageable, build-on-each-other-to-grow-your-confidence, incremental, rewarding (baby) steps one can take to leave the law behind for a fulfilling professional (and personal) life.

And the first step involves money.

Before polishing your résumé, or looking at potential jobs, or interviewing with a recruiter, or doing anything else, the first step in properly leaving the law requires becoming as confident and exact as possible in understanding (i) your expenses and (ii) your safety net and other sources of financial support you can call upon if needed.

Why the initial focus on money? Because one of the main obstacles lawyers face in leaving law behind is a fear around money: A fear of the unknown, a fear of a lack of financial literacy, a fear of facing their bad spending habits, a fear of having the “money talk” with their spouse, a fear that they can’t make money in any way other than being an attorney, a fear that if they leave their job as an attorney they’ll soon be financially ruined.

Read more at the ATL Career Center….

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