“The future is already here — it is just not evenly distributed.” If this William Gibson aphorism is true, then there was an extra heavy concentration of the future of the legal profession in Tribeca last Wednesday at the inaugural meeting of a new organization, the Forum on Legal Evolution. (The Forum is spearheaded by some names familiar to ATL readers, Bill Henderson (Indiana-Maurer/Lawyer Metrics), Bruce MacEwen (Adam Smith Esq/JDMatch), and Dan Katz (Michigan State Law/ReInvent Law).
While the rest of the business world has embraced off-shoring, Six Sigma, right-sizing, and what-have-you in pursuit of efficiencies and greater productivity, we are still waiting for the long-promised technology-driven transformation of the legal profession. When compared to other industries, actual changes thus far amount to so much fiddling around the margins. The Forum is premised on the idea that a way must be found to propel earlier and wider adoption of innovations.
The invitation-only Forum is intended as both a high-level networking community and as a resource for briefings on new technologies and trends. Think TED talks, but for senior in-house lawyers, law firm leaders, tech entrepreneurs, and academics. In other words, the entire legal supply chain. Without identifying them, we can confirm the room was sprinkled with the legal world’s equivalent of bold-faced names, including current and former Biglaw managing partners and Fortune 100 corporate counsel.
For such a forward-looking gathering, it was a little surprising then that it began by harkening back to Iowa cornfields during the Great Depression…
This isn’t what I meant when I said law students need a helping hand.
I know, that’s not really a fair question. In most cases, you have to submit yourself to three expensive years of law school before they will even allow you to cram for six weeks in order to pass the bar. I just wanted to highlight that the expensive part of becoming a lawyer is the three years — the last of which is completely useless — not that sprint at the end to pass the bar exam.
That’s why it doesn’t make sense for a state to sell a “no bar exam for in-state students” option as a cost savings for students. You want to help students? Get rid of the third year of law school. You want to incentivize students to remain in-state for law school during a highly competitive market for law applications? Then you follow Wisconsin’s path and offer to ignore your own bar exam if people would just please, please, please go to an in-state school.
Another Midwestern state is considering doing just that, because it helps the schools, not because it helps students….
* While we’re celebrating recently anointed Biglaw partner classes, let’s take a minute to call out the firms that haven’t bestowed the honor upon a single woman this year. Cheers, jerks. [Am Law Daily]
* The results of the NLJ’s Law Firm Billing Survey are out, and lo and behold, one of the top partners in the country is pushing $2,000 an hour for his services. Congrats, Ted! [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* Everyone’s buzzing about the federal law clerk who’s been accused of attempted aggravated rape and solicitation of a minor under 13. Don’t let that legendary 4.0 GPA go to waste. [Times-Picayune]
* Iowa is thinking about allowing law grads to practice ASAP instead of having to pass a bar exam. Paired with its recent tuition cuts, the Hawkeye State is looking better and better. [Des Moines Register]
* If you’re in the unfortunate situation of still having to look for a law job once OCI has ended, then you might want to start considering applying for some of the other law jobs that don’t want you. [Mashable]
Which is worse: to be unethical or to be stupid — really, really stupid?
Who says you have to choose? That’s the lesson of today’s story about a lawyer who fell for a Nigerian inheritance scam, dragged his clients into the mess as well, and just got his law license suspended by the Iowa Supreme Court.
Dear Friend: Please permit me to make your acquaintance in so informal a manner. This is necessitated by my urgent need to reach a dependable and trust wordy partner. We do not know each other, it does not matter.
My tale will not cause discomfort or embarrassment in whatever form, except to a monumentally moronic lawyer — who got cleared on some (but not all) of the ethics charges against him because he genuinely believed that a trunk full of money was going to magically show up on his office doorstep….
Whether an employee who has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction.
–No one. The Iowa Supreme Court revisited its December opinion in the case of Melissa Nelson’s firing for being too attractive and removed the above language. The new opinion limits the holding to the narrow facts of the case in order to prevent gender-based firings masquerading as “irresistible attraction” claims.
* An Iowa lawyer is disciplined for billing a mentally ill vet for attending his birthday party. In his defense, I wouldn’t want to go to a client’s birthday without getting paid either. [Omaha World-Herald]
* A new book tackles working in Biglaw by comparing it to Greek myth. Theseus (affiliate link) envisions the Athenian hero as a corporate securities lawyer. The partner with a bull’s head should watch his back, if you know what I mean. [Grayson Stevens]
* Rick Hasen explains that today’s decision in Arizona v. Inter-Tribal Council actually gave states way more power to disenfranchise voters than it appeared at first blush. So that’s how Scalia got in the majority. [The Daily Beast]
* Massive open online courses (MOOCs) may replace some law schools because getting a J.D. should be a lot more like unlocking an XBox achievement. [Legal Ethics Forum]
* Associates should hold themselves accountable more often. Honestly this article had me when it cast Littlefinger as a positive role model for working in Biglaw. [Associate's Mind]
* Looking for a cooking blog with legal puns? Then here you go! I’m going to go have a “Brownie v. Board of Education.” [Corpus Delicti-ble]
* The Federal Bar Association is hosting an event tomorrow asking, “Is Our Federal Justice System Being Dismantled?” [Federal Bar Association]
In 1920, Lydia C. Chamberlain, a woman from Des Moines who moved to Manhattan, donated her $500,000 estate to create a fellowship at Columbia University. The fellowship had a few restrictions. Notably, recipients were not allowed to study “law, medicine, dentistry, veterinary surgery or theology.” Ha. Seems reasonable. Oh, and the recipients had to be from Iowa and had to move back to Iowa after completing their studies.
This kind of dead-hand control should really not be allowed in our modern, global society, but that’s not why the “Lydia C. Roberts graduate and traveling fellowships” is making news today. It’s making news because the other restriction is that recipients of the fellowship have to be white. “Of the Caucasian race” is the exact formulation.
This isn’t just a story about racism, it’s a story about institutional advantages white people have that some of them pretend to not even be aware of…
– Melissa Nelson, the dental hygienist who was fired for being too hot (aka an “irresistible attraction”), in response to Daniel Tosh’s question — “Did you walk out real slutty?” — posed during this week’s episode of Tosh.0 on Comedy Central.
(Nelson, who lost her gender discrimination suit at the Iowa Supreme Court, received a Web Redemption on Tosh.0, where she dressed as a sexy dental assistant. Continue reading to see the clip.)
So, as many of you have heard by now, Iowa’s Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous opinion which disguises lecherous workplace behavior as a valid legal avenue to terminate employees. You see, bosses can now fire employees whom they deem to be “irresistible attractions,” regardless of whether the employee has ever engaged in flirtatious behavior. In Iowa, it’s now completely acceptable for bosses to fire employees simply for having sex organs that they, in their managerial roles, are unable to use as they see fit. Dear God, you’ve got breasts? You’re so fired. Your ass looks good in slacks? Don’t even bother going back to the office.
This seems a bit sexist, but we suppose these kinds of things do happen when your state’s highest court is a huge sausage fest. And before you start whining about how unfair and discriminatory this is, don’t even bother, because it’s not. Iowa’s Supreme Frat House has decided that this is sort of behavior is controlled by feelings and emotions, not gender. This can’t possibly be gender discrimination, because bosses that want to bone their female employees shouldn’t be expected to control their feelings and emotions.
And it doesn’t matter if that same boss wouldn’t feel the same way about a male employee because of his gender, because the bros on Iowa’s most important bench don’t even care if this opinion makes sense….
* Another year, another round-up of the year’s legal highlights from the National Law Journal. Perhaps after a year that was wracked with destruction for this supposedly noble profession, we’ll actually see some substantial change in 2013. [National Law Journal]
* Meanwhile in Iowa, failure to sleep with your horndog boss is “like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it,” so if he’s irresistibly attracted to your exotic lady parts car, you better be ready, willing, and able to find yourself a new job. [Washington Post]
* People were so pissed off about Instagram’s new terms of service that someone filed a class action suit. The app’s litigation filter must make exasperated attorneys and wasted dollars look shiny and happy. [Reuters]
* “It is not the perfect path to wealth and success that people may have envisioned.” As we’ve been stating here at Above the Law for years, being a lawyer is no longer the golden ticket that it once was. [Bloomberg]
* ASU Law will now offer a North American Law Degree that’ll prepare graduates to practice in the U.S. and Canada. Yes, ship your jobless grads north where there’s an articling crisis, great idea! [Associated Press]
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, 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.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…