McKool Smith

Making the guest list and checking it twice.

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, the holiday season is underway. And you know what that means: law firm holiday parties, and all the mischief they entail.

(And also the Above the Law holiday party, sponsored by Superior Discovery and Prestige Legal Search, where any mischief that might occur is off the record. For details and to request an invite, just click here.)

Every holiday party is preceded by an invitation. And this year two prominent law firms are pushing the envelope in this department.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

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As we recently mentioned, Biglaw is not all about the benjamins. There is so much more to the practice of law than the monetary rewards. Focus on doing the best work you can for your clients and your colleagues, and the money will take care of itself (well, at least most of the time).

Of course, it’s much easier to take a relaxed attitude towards money if you have a good amount of it. It’s easy for well-paid partners to tell young associates not to worry about money, when the partners enjoy seven-figure paychecks while the associates struggle under six-figure student loans.

If you’re a young lawyer dealing with educational debt, you know that every extra dollar counts. Every dollar earned means you’re one buck closer to liberation from loans.

Which leads us to today’s question: which law firms pay the largest starting salaries to their associates?

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LEWW is back, plus one more adorable kid and minus a lot of sleep. Prime wedding season is nearly upon us, but today our task is to get you caught up on some of the nuptial fabulosity that occurred in our absence.

(And by the way, if you missed the NYT’s December feature on the bride and groom who met at their kids’ nursery school and left their spouses to be together — and the whole should-we-celebrate-infidelity uproar that ensued — get your fill here. Good stuff.)

Today’s finalists:

Lauren Tortoriello and Jason Ertel

Eboni Marshall and Rossie Turman III

Elizabeth Raskin and Benjamin Warlick

Check out these newlyweds’ pictures and résumés, after the jump.

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A portrait of Judge Kozinski as a young man.

* Hans Bader of CEI is fine with the bar exam — congrats to everyone who just finished, by the way — but wants to ditch the requirement of graduating from law school. After all, “[e]ven students who seldom studied, and reputedly were on drugs, managed to graduate from my alma mater, Harvard Law School.” [DC SCOTUS Examiner]

* For people who profess to hate law school, they sometimes act like they’re still in it: anti-law-school bloggers get caught up in a catfight. [Confessions of a Laid-Off Lawyer]

* A collection of entertaining legal opinions. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski appears multiple times, of course. [Google Scholar Blog]

* Chipotle is delicious — but does it violate the ADA? [Cato @ Liberty]

* Can Wall Street wipe out street language? [Law and More]

* Attention litigators: McKool Smith is hiring for its New York office. [ATL (sponsored content)]

Thank you, bonobos!

Thanks to this week’s advertisers on Above the Law:

If you’re interested in advertising on Above the Law or any other site in the Breaking Media network, download our media kits, or email advertising@breakingmedia.com. Thanks!

Have you fallen off the Biglaw bandwagon and can’t get up? Were you lucky enough to hang onto your Biglaw job and are just now realizing that the blessing was actually a horrible curse on your lifestyle? Well, then maybe you’re in the mood to downsize to a midsized law firm, but you just don’t know where to look.

If so, the National Law Journal has you covered. It’s hard to distinguish one midsized law firm from another, but the NLJ has compiled a list of the twenty “hottest” midsized law firms.

Don’t everybody send your résumés all at once…

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Gary Cruciani

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including awards for lawyers who sue firms for making misleading promises during the wooing period.

Gary Cruciani sued asbestos litigation firm Baron & Budd and its managing partner Russell Budd in 2008, for luring him away from McKool Smith with “negligent and fraudulent misrepresentations,” according to a lengthy Texas Lawyer article:

Cruciani alleges Budd “completely misrepresented the compensation system at Baron & Budd and the upside that allegedly existed there,” and Budd showed his “greed” when he paid himself a $50 million bonus in December 2005, which was 75 percent of the firm’s bonus pool that year.

Note to partners with a wandering eye: If a firm describes its compensation system as “Hully Gully,” be wary. In addition to misrepresenting the firm’s compensation system, Budd also neglected to tell Cruciani that there was bad blood between him and co-founding partner Fred Baron.

After hearing a host of counterclaims during a six-week trial, the jury sided with Cruciani, and decided the lost income and the impact on his future earnings warranted a $8.8 million award.

According to the Dallas Observer, the local legal community was shocked by the size of the award. Why was it so big?

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* The Chicago Tribune takes a close look at the Tribune Company’s bankruptcy bills, and doesn’t like that Sidley Austin has charged $110,000 for photocopies. [Chicago Tribune via Romenesko]

* The lawyer behind the legal discovery that has brought sex abuse in the Catholic Church — and Pope Benedict XVI’s knowledge of it — to light: Jeff Anderson, whose own daughter was molested by a priest turned therapist when she was eight. [Associated Press]

* Florida attorney Gary Dorst had a blast this weekend. Well, almost. [WESH via ABA Journal]

* Obama takes Chief Justice Roberts’s advice and makes some recess appointments, including controversial lawyer Craig Becker. [Economist, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

* Obama’s lawyers can’t agree on tactics against terrorism. [New York Times]

* A former police officer and his wife can’t stop the Jersey Shore from going global. [Asbury Park Press]

* McKool Smith is on a roll, thanks in part to patent law being so hot right now. [Dallas Morning News]