Jenner & Block

I’ve committed what is perhaps considered one of the cardinal sins of womanhood since 2011: I haven’t read a single page of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (affiliate link). But with all of the fanfare over the books’ overtly sexual themes, and given the fact that people are now naming their children after the BDSM-loving characters, I’m thinking about picking up a copy of the first in the series. Or, you know, maybe instead of doing all that reading, I’ll just kick back and watch the latest Fifty Shades of Porn flick.

“I’m completely shocked that there’s Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired porn,” said no one ever. Oh, come on, everyone knew that something like this was going to happen. Seriously, from the passages that were read to me by friends to convince me to read the scintillating tale, the series is essentially a softcore porn composition — “mommy porn,” if you will. So who really gives a damn if it gets turned into hardcore porn?

Universal Studios, that’s who, because the company owns the movie rights to the books. The motion picture empire brought a copyright infringement suit against Smash Pictures, a porn production company, earlier this week in federal court. Let’s check out the allegations, which our readers are bound to enjoy….

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In the next few months, we’re going to see a lot of lawyers switching jobs in Washington, D.C. Regardless of who wins the election — my current prediction is that Barack Obama will prevail (sorry, Anonymous Partner) — many lawyers will move into and out of government in the weeks before and after Inauguration Day.

For those who joined the Obama Administration early, three or four years is long enough to make them nostalgic for private sector paychecks. What use is a punched ticket if you never redeem it?

In fact, the movement has already started. Today we bring you news of two notable moves from the nation’s capital. One of them involves a lawyer leaving a top government post, and the other concerns an in-house lawyer entering the firm world….

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‘Standing with your arms folded is underrated.’

Hot air balloons, Ice Cube, new socks, Ray Guy, Uzbek food, Kevin Bacon, plus-size models, Pittsburgh… what do the items on this random list have in common? In some nook or cranny of the internet, someone is making the claim that they are “underrated.”

Apparently also underrated? The corporate group at Cahill Gordon, according to the ATL audience. Cahill received the most mentions as having an “underrated” corporate group in our ATL Insider Survey. Biglaw has a fairly stable roster of alpha dogs in each practice category (Weil in bankruptcy, Wachtell in M&A, etc.), but we wondered which firms’ practice groups deserve more recognition. So, among other things, our survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with underrated (and overrated) practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, tax lawyers do the same for tax groups, and so on.

Read on and have a look at the top three underrated firms in each practice area:

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Who wants to do some document review?

We’re entering on-campus interviewing season. If you’re a law student going through OCI, or if you’re a lawyer involved in your firm’s recruiting process, be sure to check out Above the Law’s new law student career center, a repository job search resources, and our law firm directory, where law firms get letter grades in different categories.

One area that interviewees are always interested in is diversity. Diverse attorneys — okay, that’s a bad way of putting it — minority attorneys want to know where they’ll feel welcome. Even lawyers who aren’t minorities want workplaces that are open and inclusive. And corporate clients are increasingly keen on sending their work to firms that show a commitment to diversity.

So which Biglaw firms are the biggest on diversity? Let’s check out the latest rankings….

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* There is a difference between being “insensitive” and being wrong. It’s more important and less obvious than you might think. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Is it harder to go to college in America today if you are a minority — or if you are poor? [Forbes]

* I live in Oakland, so I’m more surprised when a day goes by that I don’t see someone with marijuana sticking out of their pants. [Legal Juice]

* The finalists in the ABA Battle of the Bands sound pretty darn good. My vote will probably to go to Jenner & Block partner Joe Bisceglia rocking out to some old Chicago blues. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Uggs just won a $686 million judgment against counterfeiters. But for some reason, after years of asking every woman I know, no one has been able to explain to me why people insist on wearing them when it is more than 25 degrees outside. I just don’t understand the appeal. [Fashionista]

* It seems like NYU Law really doesn’t want to give up all of its employment data. Reminds me of playing “keep away” when I was seven, and specifically how the game always ended in shouting matches and damaged egos. [Law School Transparency]

* In other ping pong related news… [DealBreaker]

In the nascent spirit of positivity around here, let’s take a look at where, according to our research, Biglaw’s happiest troopers can be found.

To be sure, lawyers are a notoriously depressive lot. Various studies — and presumably Will Meyerhofer — suggest that the characteristics that make a good lawyer actually correlate with clinical depression. Combine these alleged traits with crushing debt, an oversaturated job market, and an uncertain future, and the industry seems mired in malaise.

But what about those fortunate ones who’ve managed to snag a coveted Biglaw gig? Why, not only are they employed, but they have a realistic chance to pay off their loans. Are they any more upbeat than the industry’s rank-and-file? Our own survey data strongly suggests the answer is definitely maybe.

Respondents to our ongoing ATL School & Firm Insider Survey give their “firm morale” a mean rating of 6.81 out of 10. (By the way, if you haven’t yet, please take the survey here.) For context, lawyers rate morale a bit higher than “hours” (6.55) and bit lower than “training” (6.88). So, generally speaking, firm morale is not conspicuously singled out by lawyers as a negative.

But which are the happiest firms? And the unhappiest? Let’s have a look at the Biglaw shops getting top marks for esprit de corps….

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I lift my lamp beside the golden door. Except in Arizona, where I slam your head into the golden door till you beg for mercy.

If you either listened to or read a good recap of yesterday’s SCOTUS arguments about the Arizona immigration law, and saw a mainstream media report about it, you are probably pulling your hair out. What seems to me as the most likely and reasonable compromise to the issue is being treated like a victory for the state’s radical immigration approach.

It seems there was consensus on the Court to allow Arizona officials to check the immigration status of people they’ve already arrested as a matter of state enforcement of already established federal law. I can live with that.

But here’s what’s not happening: the Court doesn’t seem to be endorsing the aggressive “show me your papers” approach that would lead to somebody writing the diary of Anita Franco. And the Court isn’t even taking up the racial profiling question, leaving that argument open for future debate. That’s a big, huge “technicality” that means we likely haven’t seen the last of the Arizona immigration debate.

I guess “SCOTUS Stakes Out Reasonable Compromise While Dodging Racial Issue” doesn’t make for a good mainstream headline. Instead, we’ve got: “Arizona Beats Obama While Verrilli Gets Punched In The Crotch By A Latina.”

Which begs the question: Does Don Verrilli still want this job?

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In late February, bonuses were announced at Jenner & Block. The firm has an individualized bonus system, so there’s no table to pass along.

And it’s harder to assess associate reactions to bonuses in a non-lockstep system. But we’ll give it a shot, and we’ll also share with you some information provided by the firm itself….

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Lawyers like to complain about the billable hours requirements at their firms. A common question seems to be what will count and what won’t. In this line of work, time is money, and many associates want to know if they’re wasting their time.

If the firm makes you go to a professional development event, are you losing out on hours? If you get wrangled into doing pro bono work, are your weekly billables for paid clients going to plummet? And will that ultimately get reflected in your bonus check?

Yesterday, we lamented the fact that we often report on depressing news about the state of the legal profession in this country. Today, we actually have some good news. Jenner & Block realized that their lawyers shouldn’t be toiling away in their dungeons offices and forgoing pro bono opportunities in order to meet their billable hours requirements.

The firm remembered that this profession is supposed to be about helping the less fortunate, and it has adjusted its policies accordingly….

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Ebony and ivory, billing together in perfect harmony.

We’ve talked a lot in these pages about the value of diversity. It’s important to clients, it’s important to law firms, and it’s important to the legal profession as a whole.

Given the significance of diversity, it’s not surprising that several organizations and news outlets focus on it, especially with respect to large law firms. In the past few weeks, we’ve discussed diversity data from Building A Better Legal Profession and from the American Lawyer, for example.

Today brings news of more diversity rankings, this time from the ranking gurus over at Vault. They’ve compiled a list of 25 best law firms for diversity.

Which firms made the cut? Is your firm on the list?

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