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….
Recently on my blog I have been posting differentviewpoints 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…
* 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]
* 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]
Earlier this week, associate bonuses were announced at McDermott Will & Emery. We’ve heard about the news from multiple McDermott sources — and, without exception, all expressed happiness with their bonuses.
“McDermott essentially matched market for average billers and beat market for above average billers,” said one source. “They also combined year-end and spring bonuses, and are paying out on March 16.”
Bonuses at McDermott are individualized, so there’s no bonus table to post. As you may recall, last year MWE announced its move to a non-lockstep compensation system with three levels, each with a different base salary: Level 1 at $145,000, Level 2 at $175,000, and Level 3 at $200,000.
At the time the new merit-based system was announced, some worried that it might just be a sneaky way for reducing overall compensation. But based on what we’ve been hearing, McDermott associates under this system are doing as well as or better than their counterparts on the Cravath compensation scale.
Sometimes lawyers at Cadwalader are the victims of theft. And sometimes they’re the ones doing the stealing.
Here’s the promised follow-up to yesterday’s post about Cadwalader’s successful raid on the energy law practice of McDermott Will & Emery. It’s big news in Biglaw. As of now, nine partners are moving — Paul Pantano, Karen Dewis, Greg Lawrence, Greg Mocek, Tony Mansfield, Ken Irvin, Rob Stephens, Daryl Rice and Doron Ezickson — but if they’re followed by associates, a few dozen lawyers could be involved.
In an email sent out on Wednesday by MWE leaders Jeff Stone and Peter Sacripanti, reprinted in full after the jump, McDermott tried to minimize the losses. Stone and Sacripanti pointed out that “[t]his group of partners focused mainly on one aspect of our overall energy practice, which was commodities and derivatives trading for financial clients,” and that “the departing partners’ total collections in 2010 amounted to about three percent of overall firm revenue.”
Still, three percent of total MWE revenue is nothing to scoff at. In 2009, McDermott had total revenue of $829 million, according to the American Lawyer. Assuming that 2010 revenue is similar (the Am Law numbers aren’t out yet), three percent amounts to $24.87 million. Dividing that out over nine partners yields revenue per partner of about $2.8 million — not a bad book of business.
One of our odd obsessions around here: real estate. Just take a spin through our Lawyerly Lairs archives, which chronicle the adventures of attorneys in the world of real property, residential and commercial. We may not be as real obsessed as the folks over at Curbed, but we’re getting there.
As a former resident of Washington (2006 to 2008), I take a particular interest in D.C. developments. And not just litigation between law firms and burger joints.
So I was interested to learn about McDermott Will & Emery’s big move — to a building that will be named after the law firm. How many law firms get naming rights?
(Not many. The most prominent example might be the Paul Hastings Tower in Los Angeles, which had a cameo in the Transformers movie.)
We’re doing our annual march through the Vault prestige rankings, to give ATL readers the opportunity to have their say about perks and pitfalls at these firms. If your firm actually let you swap your Blackberry for your iPhone, brag here. Or if your firm has such a strong stench that it makes you nauseous, vent here.
We’ve been doing open threads in batches of ten, but now we’re going to pick up the pace. Here are the Vault #41 – 60. This is when the prestige list gets a little more geographically diverse, with firms based in Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Palo Alto and even Pittsburgh:
In a couple of months, the class of 2012 will embark on its quest to find an elusive Biglaw summer associate gig. But let’s not forget that many in the class of 2009 are still sitting on the sidelines, waiting to start.
Most of McDermott Will & Emery’s 2009 class has started already. But last week a few of the stragglers received some bad news. A tipster reports:
Just a heads up, McDermott Will & Emery rescinded offers to most of their deferred 2009 graduates on Wednesday via a phone call.
We reached out to MWE, and their spokespersons strongly disagree with characterization that offers to “most” of the deferred associates were rescinded….
It’s summer time! A lucky few are being paid to warm seats in law firms across the land. (Very few — thanks to the minimal numbers of offers extended to law students in Recession Land.)
Some firms are very excited about their summer associates, to the point of issuing pressreleases about them. Firms are planning fun events. Hopefully, Williams & Connolly offers cooking classes at a culinary institute again this summer (for those who don’t get offers and may not be able to afford to eat out one day). We’ve got a round-up of our favorite summer “happenings,” after the jump.
But one thing firms may not plan to do this year is bill for summer associates’ time. Nate Raymond reports in the New York Law Journal that Citigroup Inc. has told its outside counsel that it will not pay for law students’ time. Citi does not stand alone:
J. William Dantzler Jr., a tax partner at White & Case who oversees hiring in New York, said with regard to billing clients for summer associates, it has been “a slide for 10 years.”
“More and more clients don’t want summer associates to bill to them,” he said. “When I started almost all clients would accept it. And it’s evolved to where a lot of clients don’t.”
Ironically, because of the huge decline in the number of summers brought in, they’re more likely to actually do substantive work this year. One Biglaw firm, for example, instituted a requirement last year that every summer associate produce at least one piece of seriously impressive legal writing. Which firm is it?
* Sen. Arlen Specter — a Yale Law School grad and former Philadelphia district attorney, by the way — loses the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania; ophthalmologist Rand Paul, son of Rep. Ron Paul, wins the Republican primary in Kentucky. [Washington Post]
* McDermott Will & Emery gets hit with an age discrimination lawsuit. [Am Law Daily]
* Lawyers at Weitz & Luxenberg, the prominent personal injury firm — perhaps you’ve heard their radio ads? — have donated heavily to the New York attorney general campaign of Kathleen Rice. [New York Times]
* Obama’s aunt will not be deported to Kenya. [CNN]
* Elena Kagan has submitted answers to the Senate questionnaire for her Supreme Court nomination (in a record five days). Her net worth is almost $1.8 million, a sizable increase from the last reported figure (apparently thanks to the sale of her Cambridge house). [Washington Post]
* A portrait of Lady Kaga as a young graduate student: in her Oxford thesis, she wrote that it was “not necessarily wrong or invalid” for judges to “try to mold and steer the law” to achieve social ends. [New York Times]
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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