Musical Chairs

There’s some big news this week in top law school land: Boalt Hall’s Dean Christopher Edley Jr. will be stepping down from his position at the end of 2013, and as of yesterday, has taken a medical leave from his duties due to some serious health problems. Edley leaves behind one of the best law schools in the nation — one which he helped guide into the top 10 in the U.S. News law school rankings.

Edley has served as dean for nearly a decade, and he’s navigated Berkeley Law through the legal profession’s boom and bust years. Dean Daniel Rodriguez of Northwestern had this to say of Boalt’s outgoing dean: “In a period of real challenge for that great public law school — with declining state support, a creaky physical plant, some key faculty loses, and, later, myriad problems stemming from the tough job market in California and nationally — Edley provided steady, creative leadership.”

Despite its overall success, Chris Edley’s tenure as dean was not without controversy. We’ll review some of the highlights of his career at the school in a bit. But first, why is he leaving so suddenly?

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Because football is better than job stats.

* In the latest round of musical chairs, Skadden Arps managed to scoop up products liability queen and top woman litigator Lisa Gilford from Alston & Bird. Congratulations! [The Recorder (sub. req.)]

* Is merger mania a thing of the past? With pocketbooks tighter than ever, “pseudo-mergers” are starting to look great. No one will complain about more lawyers with less liability. [Legal Intelligencer]

* Man, it’d be great if you could represent plaintiffs in a class action suit and keep all of the settlement funds without having to pay your clients a cent. Oh wait, you can actually do that? [New York Times]

* “It shows he’s adventuresome and he’s got good taste.” Peter Zimroth, the lawyer appointed to oversee the reform of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies, married very, very well. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The ABA approved Texas A&M’s acquisition of Texas Wesleyan’s law school. Hello to the Texas A&M Johnny Football School of Law! We hope to see the Heisman of employment stats. [National Law Journal]

* A judge says the woman who sued Paula Deen for racial discrimination was nothing more than an “accidental victim.” And like that, her race-based claims have melted away like butter, y’all. [ABC News]

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a new series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Today’s post is written by Michael Allen, the Managing Principal of Lateral Link, who focuses exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

From Q3 2012 through Q2 2013, we have seen approximately 7,500 lateral moves at the top 200 law firms. Approximately 4,500 (60%) were associates; 1,900 (25%) were partners; and perhaps most surprisingly, 1,100 (15%) of the lateral movement consisted of “counsel” or “of counsel” positions.

To clarify, some firms promote their senior associates to a “counsel” position based on seniority, but even excluding this pool of associates, that still leaves a significant number of counsel-level laterals finding opportunities within new law firms. From April 2012 to the end of the second quarter this year, Gordon & Rees had the largest number of lateral counsel transitions, with 34 (in large part due to the fact they opened seven offices in 2012 alone). Seyfarth Shaw, Greenberg Traurig, and Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker followed closely with 26, 23, and 22 counsel placements, respectively. Notably, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan had 11 counsel transitions in that same timeframe, 8 of them from a group of more than 15 Skadden Arps product liability attorneys who followed colleagues Sheila Birnbaum and Mark Cheffo, two heavyweights in the product liability world….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a new series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Today’s post is written by Michael Allen, the Managing Principal of Lateral Link, who focuses exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

An intriguing demographic dilemma is approaching a powerhouse law firm, Jones Day, as several senior partners and chairs are straddling the mandatory retirement age. The firm currently has over eight partners — including numerous practice leaders and partners in charge — above their proclaimed mandatory retirement age, and over ten partners nearing the cutoff, which probably signals that Jones Day gives some partners a pass when it comes to retirement. For example, Mark Sisitsky, Hugh R. Whiting, and Bob Mittelstaedt, just to name a few, are all very respectable partners who are refining with vintage.

Jones Day generally restocks from within by promoting partners in the first quarter each year. In 2013, the firm internally promoted 29 partners in the first quarter, each with an average of 12.5 years of experience. Although Jones Day is five months away from the next round of promotions, Lateral Link has identified around fifty associates who are in the running for a partner promotion (although only a handful will ultimately get the nod). We have an idea who fits in both categories and have been fairly accurate in our projections from the past….

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On the “Our Professionals” section of its website, Finnegan Henderson boasts that it has “375 lawyers focused on IP.” It may be time to revise that downward: “371 lawyers focused on IP.”

Last night, the high-powered, intellectual-property-focused firm announced four notable partner departures. The Finnegan partners in question practice in the generally hot area of IP litigation (although we’ve heard anecdotal reports of cooling, including stealth layoffs of IP litigators — see here and here).

Who are the departing Finnegan partners, and where are they going?

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a new series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Today’s post is written by Michael Allen, the Managing Principal of Lateral Link, who focuses exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

Patton Boggs, the preeminent Washington-based lobbying law firm, is reeling from a slew of recent events, hinging upon their multi-million dollar litigation with Chevron. In 2010, the firm released a memo entitled “Invictus,” proudly proclaiming their new endeavor: the representation of Ecuador in a long-contested battle over Texaco’s culpability in creating nearly one thousand pits of oil in the jungles of Ecuador — a liability Chevron inherited when it purchased Texaco in 2000 for $36 billion.

But Patton Boggs’s plan to quickly enforce a settlement soon became more challenging than anticipated. Playing hardball, Chevron has continuously called Patton Boggs’s bluffs…

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Anthony Weiner, surprisingly not nude.

* Bernard Knight Jr., general counsel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will be taking his intellectual property talents to McDermott Will & Emery as a new — and rather cute — partner. Congratulations! [Corporate Counsel]

* The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a Texas man in a Monopoly money Bitcoin-related Ponzi scheme. Unfortunately for him, the associated jail time for the crime isn’t virtual. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* When applying to law school, it’s wise to have a unique personal statement topic. But considering the application cycle, you could probably get away with writing “LOL” and still get into the school of your choice. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Russia has granted NSA leaker Edward Snowden a pass to leave the Moscow airport’s transit zone. Be prepared to welcome borscht into your life, and be sure to always say spasibo. [Associated Press]

* Sorry folks, but Carlos Danger, more popularly known as Anthony Weiner, won’t be pulling out of the New York City mayoral race. I, for one, would love to see his AMAs on Reddit. [New York Times]

* It looks like Aaron Hernandez shot himself in the foot when lawyering up for a civil suit where he’s accused of shooting someone in the eye. His attorney specializes in banking litigation. [USA Today]

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for ever since Robert Khuzami left his gig as the Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement earlier this year. Now a Biglaw firm has signed him for big bucks (reportedly “more than $5 million a year”).

It’s like NFL Free Agency with less Deer Antler Spray and more lamentations over the revolving door between the government and the private sector…

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See ya, professor!

* Since summer’s start, Patton Boggs has been leaking lawyers like a sieve. Thus far, 22 partners and 11 associates have defected from the firm to Holland & Knight, Jackson Lewis, Arent Fox, and WilmerHale. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Considering the deadly force choke American health care reform legislation has supposedly put on employers, perhaps more lawyers ought to consider becoming Jedi masters of the Affordable Care Act. [Daily Business Review]

* The new normal for the ivory tower: Law schools are tackling falling applications by “voluntarily” decreasing their class sizes, or by “voluntarily” offering faculty and staff buyouts. [Wall Street Journal]

* But look on the bright side, professors, the ABA wants to amend its accreditation standards to save your jobs and offer greater protections. Too bad its unwilling to do the same for students. [ABA Journal]

* If you’ve been swindling clients for long enough, the law school you donated money to will try to scrub your name off its walls. That is what’s happening now at IU-McKinney Law. [National Law Journal]

* If you want to go to law school, you should base your ultimate decision on your financial future and job prospects. You may be very sorry if you don’t. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Judge Tom Greenwell, the Texas jurist found dead in his chambers, RIP. [Corpus Christi Caller-Times]

Last year, we covered the mystery departure of Lee Smolen — the prominent real estate lawyer, not the famed theoretical physicist — from Sidley Austin. It may have been related to the ethics charges filed against Smolen, accusing him of conversion and breach of fiduciary duty through alleged filing of false expense claims.

Amazingly enough, Smolen got picked up as a partner by DLA Piper. The firm admitted that it “was aware of this matter during the hiring process.”

In order to deliver to DLA’s bottom line, Smolen will need to avoid suspension or disbarment. So he has filed a response to the Illinois ethics charges against him. What does Smolen have to say for himself, and is it persuasive?

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