So who is Orrick’s new chair, and what do we know about him? For starters, he’s quite young….
My friend Pablo told me that when Monica, a partner, called his home at 9:00 p.m., he knew it couldn’t be good. Why not email? For an instant, he considered letting the call go to voicemail. Taking a deep breath, he answered.
Monica wanted to know “where he was” with the brief Pablo had been working on. She had not given him any particular deadline, so he explained that he expected to circulate the draft for review the following evening. The brief was a motion to dismiss, and he knew the deadline to file was still two weeks away. He was allowing the partner one week to review before she had to send to the client, who in turn would have another week to review.
The partner, however, had a different idea. “I want it on my desk tomorrow by 8 a.m.,” she told Pablo.” “Not a moment later.”
Every firm has them. And partners dutifully show up. Mostly for the free lunch. This month we are serving Tex-Mex. One percenters’s loading up on the free food like a Soviet-era pensioner given the keys to the potato warehouse. It can be a gruesome scene.
So what happens at these monthly gatherings of Biglaw’s barons and baronesses? Nothing important. (You want important stuff, you need to crash an Executive Committee meeting. Or for the increasingly common Biglaw dictatorships, you need to bug Chairman Mao’s office.) At least at the scheduled monthly partner meetings. “Special” partner meetings are a different story. You want those to be boring, like calling for a vote on a group of laterals. “Exciting” special meetings, while good for Lat, are not good news for the average partner usually. Stability is one of the biggest draws of a Biglaw partnership. Stability means no shocking announcements, over which you have no control.
Anyway, here is how the typical monthly partner meeting goes….
Law firms are not unique.
There are many professional services firms in the world, and there’s no reason to think that corporations would naturally be nicer than law firms.
But I’ve recently heard words spoken by in-house lawyers that I swear you would never have heard at a firm.
Get a load of this one: “The document that Galt distributed had many typographical and other errors. I believe Galt needs some coaching on document presentation.”
“Coaching on document presentation”???
I never heard the concept expressed quite so pleasantly during my decades at law firms.
And that’s just one of many times corporate life has recently seemed nicer than law firm life . . .
You gotta love the reviewer who wrote of my new Inside Straight book: “What John Updike was to the suburbs, Herrmann is to the legal sector.”
Maybe you have to question her sanity, too, but you gotta love her.
Enough of that. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program:
Many lawyers at firms believe that in-house life is like the Elysian Fields — where “life is easiest for men. No snow is there, nor heavy storm, nor ever rain.” And, in some ways, those perceptions are right.
In one sense, however, the outside lawyer has it easy. He tells inside counsel: “The rule is X. Have everyone do X, and you will have complied with the law.” And then he goes back to reading cases.
The in-house lawyer is left with the hard part: How the heck do I get 100,000 employees, in 150 countries around the world, to do X?
In-house lawyers are often asked to operationalize rules, and it’s not always easy . . .
- Bankruptcy, Biglaw, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Dewey Ballantine, Dissolution, Law Firm Mergers, LeBoeuf Lamb, Money, Partner Issues, Reader Polls
Meanwhile, back on Earth and/or the rest of the internet, industry observers have been feeling a bit like voyeurs at a pre-mortem autopsy. Everyone agrees that the downfall of this once-great firm is hugely sad (well, nearly everyone), but there is less of a consensus about who or what is to blame.
Last week we asked the ATL readership for their take on where fault lies. Here’s what you had to say….