McDermott Will & Emery

An awning taken down by Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy hit the legal world hard, as we’ve chronicled in these pages. And many lawyers and legal employers are still feeling its effects — quite literally. If you work at one prominent downtown law firm, for example, we hope you’re wearing thermal underwear.

As we mentioned on Friday, some individuals have been exploiting the Superstorm Sandy crisis to take advantage of others. The Justice Department and the SEC have issued warnings about various “Sandy scams.”

On the opposite end of the decency spectrum, some lawyers and law firms are stepping up to the plate and supporting Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery efforts. Let’s see what they’re doing — and give them some well-deserved kudos for their work….

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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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Linda Doyle

[A] brick-and-mortar LL.M. would be far more beneficial than an online LL.M. at this point.

Linda Doyle, a hiring partner at McDermott Will & Emery, commenting on the utility of pursuing an online LL.M. degree. Washington University recently made headline news for its introduction of an online LL.M. degree.

Which former White House official lives in this charming abode?

As we move deeper into election season, more of the nation’s attention is turning to Washington. So it seems only fitting for Lawyerly Lairs, our peek into the homes and offices of top legal talent, to follow suit.

In our last visit to D.C., we looked at residences worth around $500,000, a perfectly respectable sum. But today, to enhance the voyeuristic thrill, we’re upping the price point. We’re limiting ourselves to seven-figure residences.

Let’s have a look at some million-dollar homes in the Washington metropolitan area, shall we?

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Yes, we know: everyone is waiting for, hoping for, and praying for spring bonuses. We’ve been banging on that drum repeatedly in these pages, but let’s be honest: aren’t we just waiting on Sullivan & Cromwell? As far as we know, S&C is the only firm that stated, in its year-end bonus memo, that it “currently expects to pay a bonus in the Spring.” If Sullivan moves, others will; if it doesn’t, then we’ll be waiting a long time.

Anyway, here’s a sign of how late spring bonuses are. Last year, McDermott Will & Emery issued a consolidated bonus announcement, in which it combined year-end and spring bonuses. This time around, well, there’s nothing to combine.

But let’s get into it anyway. Last week, McDermott informed individual associates of their bonuses. What do MWE associates think of their pay?

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Disclosure: This obituary has been provided by Lateral Link, an Above the Law advertiser.

We are very sad to inform the legal community that Frank Kimball, a true leader in our legal industry who influenced thousands of attorneys, from law students to managing partners, during his successful career, passed away last Friday, October 28.

In addition to contributing to Above the Law, through a popular series of career advice posts, Frank provided search services, project consulting and training for leading law firms for almost two decades. He interviewed, hired, placed, or counseled more than 11,500 law students and attorneys. Frank was a partner with McDermott, Will & Emery from 1986-1992, served for six years on the hiring committee, ran two summer programs, and was chair of the national hiring committee in 1990-1992.

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Last week, the American Lawyer shined a spotlight on extensive partner departures from McDermott Will & Emery. According to Brian Baxter of Am Law Daily, a whopping 38 partners have left MWE in 2011 so far.

Some of these defections have come in clumps. Most notably, as we mentioned back in January, nine partners left McDermott for Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, as part of CWT’s raid on MWE’s energy law practice.

But that explains just a quarter of the year-to-date partner departures from McDermott. Let’s look at some of the others, explore possible implications for the firm, and discuss what might be motivating the movement toward the exits….

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A wise man once said: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

I think of this whenever there are claims of attorneys royally screwing up e-discovery. It’s easy to indulge in some schadenfreude and say, “What suckers!” But truthfully, many firms — even the big, prestigious ones — are more vulnerable than they’d like to admit.

This month, McDermott Will & Emery ended up in the bright, unpleasant spotlight, because a former client sued the firm for malpractice.

Why, you might ask? The firm allegedly botched a client’s e-discovery.

Keep reading to see how the Am Law 100 firm became the e-discovery dunce du jour….

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Recently on my blog I have been posting different viewpoints as to whether the e-discovery industry should have its own specialized certification. In the past year there has been a push by several organizations to establish standards of testing in the industry.  In fact, a few weeks ago, the newly formed Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists or ACEDS (prenounced “A-Saids”) held an inaugural conference in Hollywood, Florida. Although ACEDS was just founded last year by the Intriago Group, led by a former McDermott Will & Emery partner, Charles Intriago, the meeting had over 300 attendees — not bad for a first conference.

I had the chance to speak with two attorneys who spoke at the ACEDS meeting. They provided me with a better understanding of whether the movement toward certification is simply a passing trend or a sign of things to come…

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Judge Linda Van De Water

* Musical chairs: Orrick partners to Dechert and Gibson Dunn; Weil Gotshal partners to McDermott. [Am Law Daily; McDermott Will & Emery]

* Some of the questions in this survey, designed to assess how law students use online media when evaluating law firms, are amusing. If you’re a law student, please take the survey — you can win a gift card — and talk about how important Above the Law is to your assessment of firms. [Survey Gizmo]

* Judge of the Day candidate #1: Linda Van De Water, for allegedly “kicking and jumping on her ex-boyfriend’s car after confronting him outside the home of another woman.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

David Zornow

* Judge of the Day candidate #2: Tom Carney, for allegedly wielding a gun like a gavel, in an incident with another motorist. And don’t forget that snazzy pink necktie. [Erie Times-News]

* Peter Lattman looks at David Zornow, the global head of litigation at Skadden, and Zornow’s obsession with Bob Dylan — reflected in a mock indictment of “The Judges,” drawn up by “special assistant U.S. attorney Bob Dylan.” [DealBook / New York Times]

* There’s a new post up on the blog of Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, daughter of Yale law professors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld. Critics of Amy Chua have speculated about whether her “Tiger Mother” ways have damaged her daughters psychologically. But based on her blogging, young Sophia seems grounded, charming, and funny. [new tiger in town]

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