Lee Pacchia

A law professor’s reaction to the post-graduate employment market.

You learn a lot about people and institutions when they are desperate. You learn a lot about people by the way they respond to adversity. You learn a lot about people when they are backed into a corner, staring into an abyss, as the walls are crumbling around them. Some people rise to the occasion: England during the blitz, Ali in the jungle, that one time I needed to do a shot at the Cancun airport to complete my “100 drinks during Spring Break” pledge.

When faced with real adversity, most people, most of the time, soil themselves and end up a bloviating mess of hypocrisy and protectionism: McCain picking Palin, The French, me begging for a ‘C’ in French even though my wife did all my homework.

I think the vanguard of the American legal academy has reached that sad, embarrassing stage where they are willing to say anything, to anybody, in a desperate attempt to prop up the notion that law school is a good idea. Today we’ve got video of a guy, an associate dean, “defending” the current system of legal education with a full assault on reason.

And I think it’s sad. A people should know when they’re beaten. Instead of fighting for an old way that hurts students, you just wish people like this could seize this opportunity to talk about a new system that isn’t based on taking advantage of people. Instead, it’s just another law professor who is still hoping that prospective law students are “too stupid” to understand math and logic…

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Axiom is a mysterious animal in the legal market. It’s not quite a law firm, but it’s not quite a low-end outsourcer. Axiom has over 1,000 employees, over $150 million in revenue, and has started handling entire deals. The only thing that’s certain is that it’s a force to be reckoned with, and one that might change the face of Biglaw.

CEO Mark Harris is now admitting that, one day, in the future, Axiom might go public.

A bold future is being charted by a company willing to address, right or wrong, the hard questions facing the industry

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It’s either this sad box or the poor ‘Layoff Lady.’

Are the Weil Gotshal layoffs a harbinger of a rough second-half of the year for Biglaw? Early signs are not encouraging. Since last week we’ve seen office closings, secretary firings, and the amibiguous WilmerHale goings-on. There is a palpable tension in the wake of the Weil cuts. Where do we go from here? What, if any, will be the follow-on effect of Weil’s move?

In the wake of the Weil cuts, our friend Bruce MacEwen gave an interesting interview to Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia. Bruce speculated that there is possibility of up to 10% overcapacity in Biglaw, and the supply and demand curves for legal talent have permanently shifted. In Bruce’s view, Weil is “very much ahead of the curve.” Ominous tidings for associates everywhere. There’s an interesting point in the interview where Pacchia wonders whether the legal profession will ever return to a “halcyon era” where law firm partners’ immediate self-interest is minimized in favor of long-term stewardship. Bruce, channeling Clubber Lang, responds that the only thing that will return us to that golden era, if it ever existed, is more pain.

Last week we conducted a research poll asking for your take on whether the Weil layoffs signal an oncoming reprise of the Biglaw bloodbath of 2008-09 or a singular phenomenon. Let’s look at the results of our poll and some choice highlights from your responses….

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Lawyers are supposed to read. The best lawyers are usually the most voracious readers. One of the tragic consequences of life as an associate is the loss of time for leisure reading. Except for that hard-earned four-day vacation around Thanksgiving time. Or that quick beach jaunt in late August when you realize that not only are all the partners gone for their yearly family vacations, they are not even bothering to answer emails or calls. So you may as well take a long weekend yourself. Pretend you have a life. Endure your friends talking about how their corporate “Summer Fridays” are already tired out, and how they long to get back to a regular schedule after Labor Day. Admit it — you are not doing any serious reading on the beach, or in the airport, or sitting on someone’s pool deck with a homemade margarita. More likely, your brain is fried, and the appropriate level of reading material for you at that stage is a “men’s periodical” or some celebrity rag.

Partners have it a little better. The intellectual ones rekindle their loves for serious fiction, or Ulysses Grant biographies, or even high-priced gardening books so they can converse semi-intelligently with their illiterate (but highly skilled and inexpensive) landscaper. Other partners read junk, or choose not to read at all, only buying glossy magazines for the pictures of high-priced items they are thrilled they can now afford. Or for the cocktail recipes, now that the liquor on their “drink rack” is of better quality, all while their need for a nightly drink or two or three goes up. Leisure reading, or not, however you like.

But there is another kind of Biglaw reading. The type that all partners really should engage in. Daily if possible. It is accessible. Via browser. That’s right — legal blogs. Biglaw partners (and ambitious associates) need to be on top of what is going on in our industry. You know, the one that is changing rapidly. Where there is a battle for survival going on, even between firms that would normally be considered extremely successful, and that in and of themselves are many times larger and more successful than at any point in their own histories. Information is power on this battlefield. Get reading. Some suggestions….

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The legal economy right now is not unlike the economy writ large. People with small or non-existent paychecks are suffering, but those at the top are actually doing just fine for themselves.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it might just be reality. As David Brooks put it in a recent New York Times column, “[t]he meritocracy is overwhelming the liberal project.” He argues that in our current, rapidly changing economy, people who are smart, well-educated, and hardworking just end up doing better and better for themselves — and there are practical limits on how much redistributive policies can “fix” this situation.

Sorry for that digression — back to Biglaw. Let’s take a look at how the rich are getting richer….

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Happy New Year from your ATL editors: David Lat, Staci Zaretsky, and Elie Mystal.

We were pleasantly surprised by how many of you seemed to be interested in the pictures from our New Year’s party, and because we’re gluttons for punishment, we’ve decided to give you some more of what you want. And this time, you’ll have the opportunity to offer your delightful insights and commentary on our pictures.

So without further ado, we present to you some additional party pics for your viewing pleasure….

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Your ATL editors: David Lat, Staci Zaretsky, and Elie Mystal.

Thanks a lot to everyone who came out on Wednesday night to attend the Above the Law New Year’s party!

The festivities were well-attended, and the bar was full of action — no seriously, there may or may not have been a couple making out the whole night. Thanks to our sponsor, Lateral Link, for such a great evening.

Yeah yeah, we know, it’s the internet, so of course this post is “WWOP.” So let’s get some pics up in here….

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Housewife: best job ever?

* Go to BuzzFeed to see pictures of cute animals, or go to BuzzFeed to see some quality journalism — like Chris Geidner’s profile of Edith Windsor, plaintiff in one of the landmark gay-marriage cases before the Supreme Court. [BuzzFeed]

* “A python is fairly dangerous. There’s definitely a turn-on about hunting something carnivorous that could, in theory, eat you,” says the NYU law student heading to Florida to hunt pythons for prize money. [Bloomberg]

* Looking for work? It’s time to head south, before everyone else does. Word is starting to get out about Texas, which boasts a low cost of living, no state income tax, and jobs — yes, actual freaking jobs. [Instapundit]

* But there’s no shortage of jobs in the housewife sector. If that’s what you want to do, then be fruitful, multiply, and remove your résumé from consideration at the jobs you’ve unwillingly applied to. [The Careerist]

* Although a reference from this century would’ve been appreciated, both Lat and Elie agree that I’m pretty damn great at “mak[ing] everything be okay.” Where’s a cute hat to toss when you need one? [Law and More]

* Lat sometimes dabbles in Biglaw predictions (despite the risks of being wrong). If you’re interested in seeing more, watch him in this interview with Lee Pacchia of Bloomberg Law….

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These days, traveling for work can be a real pain thanks to the efforts of the Transportation Security Administration. With all of the electronic gadgets you may be carrying with you to your destination, having to unload and reload your bags and pockets during every business trip you make can get old, and quickly at that.

If only there were something — perhaps an article of clothing — that would allow you to carry everything you could possibly need, from work-related tech gear to personal items and more. All you’d have to do is take it off at security checkpoints and then be on your way without the usual hassle. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

As it turns out, that piece of clothing exists, and it was created by a former corporate and real estate lawyer….

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* Just in case you haven’t seen enough responses to the Case Western Law dean’s New York Times op-ed, here are some more. (Plus, with this, you’re getting the additional bonus of an incredibly sad letter from a young lawyer.) [Associate's Mind]

* Oh mon dieu! Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s legal team is now denying that that there was ever a settlement in the hotel maid’s sexual assault suit civil suit, and especially not a $6M settlement — because that’s apparently “flatly false.” [Slate]

* You’ve probably led a sad and lonely existence if you’re laying on your death bed and worrying about who will inherit your iTunes library. Don’t worry, they’re headed to a “legal black hole,” anyway. [Legal Blog Watch]

* The Supreme Court might be taking the phrase “don’t judge gay people” a little too literally. [WSJ Law Blog]

* And in other news, some teenagers are so obsessed with their tech gadgets, like cellphones, that they’d allegedly be willing to kill their family and pry the damn thing from their cold dead hands. [Legal Juice]

* Please remember to vote for your favorite law blog (coughcough Above the Law coughcough) in the Blawg 100 in the News/Analysis category, and all the rest of the sites you read in other categories, too! [ABA Journal]

* After the jump, Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia speaks with law firm consultant Tim Corcoran of the Corcoran Consulting Group about the future of rainmaking and business development in Biglaw….

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