Old People

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series from Bruce MacEwen and Janet Stanton of Adam Smith Esq. and JDMatch. “Across the Desk” takes a thoughtful look at recruiting, career paths, professional development, human capital, and related issues. Some of these pieces have previously appeared, in slightly different form, on AdamSmithEsq.com.

One of the thorniest issues any leader has to deal with is telling senior-level underperformers that they’d be better off elsewhere. It calls on every skill in the manager’s bag of tricks, from financial analysis to subtler cultural and personality judgments, and accurate perspective on the impact on the organization overall of asking a high-profile person to leave.

To be honest, it’s also one of the most difficult challenges we deal with in advising firms about their paths forward. Although at times it’s crystal clear what needs to be done, far more often you have no such luxury of being able to shortcut analysis and judgment, and you have to work through all the potential interactions and repercussions to decide with some degree of confidence what to do. Then of course you actually have to do it. You’d be surprised — or maybe you wouldn’t — how often otherwise hard-headed and decisive leaders never quite get around to that part of it….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Across the Desk: Hard Conversations 101″

Biglaw firms have a problem. They can’t get their senior partners to retire. Or to pass along their clients to younger partners fast enough.

The reasons for this unwelcome phenomenon are straightforward. First, today’s Biglaw senior partners are making too much money. Would you retire if you were making seven figures and billing 1200 to 1500 hours a year? Of course not. Especially if you are helping to support your children. Or in this age of the 70-year-old rainmaker, a grandchild’s “education” as a communications major at the top party school in this year’s rankings.

Kidding aside, I know that many senior partners have very valid reasons for continuing to maintain their Biglaw practices. But that does not mean that what works for them at an individual level is what is good for Biglaw as a whole. In fact, I think the “sticky senior” issue is the greatest long-term threat to the continued viability of many Biglaw firms….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw’s Sticky (-Handed?) Seniors”

‘Don’t Tase these, bro!’

* A proposal to raise the retirement age for judges in New York was crushed by voters, but Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has vowed to continue fighting the requirement — just like a stubborn old man. [New York Law Journal]

* Which law schools have the highest percentage of graduates working as corporate directors or executive officers of companies? You might be surprised by some of the results. Or you might not. [National Law Journal]

* Dean Lawrence Mitchell of Case Western Reserve Law wants parts of the retaliation suit that’s been filed against him tossed for being “scandalous” and “salacious.” But those are the best parts. :( [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

* Thanks to a $25 million donation from an alumnus and his wife, Yale Law School is going to be getting dormitories for law students in the very near future. The thought of all of those coed nerdgasms between future SCOTUS clerks is a thing of beauty. [Fox News]

* Clark Calvin Griffith, the former adjunct professor at William Mitchell Law, has been suspended from practicing law for 90 days after exposing his penis to a law student. Stiff punishment. [Pioneer Press]

* If you were thinking of giving away guns on Facebook, then you should think again. The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun on the internet is with slideshows of the 572 best kitty cat gifs. [Corporate Counsel]

* A police officer in Arkansas ordered a woman to flash him her boobs while she was at work, and when she refused, he allegedly Tasered her repeatedly. She’s obviously suing now. [New York Daily News]


It’s Election Day today. Go vote. Go vote now, or make sure you go before the polls close. Whatever you are doing today isn’t as important as participating in your community. Sorry there’s no “president” on the ballot. Instead it’s just a bunch of local officials and local issues that affect your day-to-day life way more than the President of the United States. GO VOTE.

In New York, we’re going to elect a new mayor, I can only hope that Mike Bloomberg actually allows the new guy to take office.

But if you are going to vote in New York, make sure you flip the ballot over and vote on all the propositions. There are some fun things there: should we institute the regressive, idiot tax that is opening a casino? I say yes! We need money and regressive, idiot taxes are the only ones you can pass in this environment.

Gothamist has a good breakdown of all the New York ballot issues. But the one that’s most legally interesting is Proposition 6: raising the mandatory retirement age for judges to 80.

Eighty! That’s having somebody decide the latest issues in eDiscovery who was alive for D-Day.

Of course, judges are in favor of this…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Old Can Your Judges Be? Decide Today In New York.”

Justice Gaga?

That’s not a nice thing to call that lady.

– Justice Anthony Kennedy, recounting a story about what he said last year after he overheard someone refer to Lady Gaga by name. The SCOTUS jurist’s children and grandchildren think he’s a “cultural dinosaur.”

When I can’t do the job, there will be signs. I know that Justice [John Paul] Stevens [who retired when he was 90] was concerned the last few years about his hearing. I’ve had no loss of hearing yet. But who knows when it could happen?

So all I can say is what I’ve already said: At my age, you take it year by year.

– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, offering some cryptic comments on when she might step down, in an interview with Robert Barnes, Supreme Court reporter for the Washington Post.

(Do you think Justice Ginsburg, who is now 80 years old, should retire? Take our poll, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Retirement Watch: RBG Drops Some Hints”

It looks like this ‘real’ housewife needs to get a real lawyer.

* The debt “vultures” are still circling Argentina’s carcass, but later this month, the justices of the Supreme Court will convene to decide whether or not they’ll take up the country’s bond case. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Judge Robert Wilkins managed to sail through his D.C. Circuit confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee with great ease, but let’s see what happens when he gets to the full Senate. [Blog of Legal Times]

* An in-house attorney in Pennsylvania was suspended from the practice of law for six months because he attached a camera to his shoe to secretly film up women’s skirts. What a classy dude. [Legal Intelligencer (sub. req.)]

* Massive open online courses are trending in the world of higher education, and some law schools — e.g., Harvard and Northwestern — decided to get on the bandwagon while the getting’s good. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* “I’m prepared to drop everything and go to law school,” says the man appealing his age discrimination suit against Baylor Law School because his GPA predates grade inflation. [Texas Lawyer (sub. req.)]

* The man who represented cast members of the Real Housewives of New Jersey was arrested for the unauthorized practice of law. We bet these “reality” TV stars wish they had a real lawyer. [Bergen Record]

Here at Above the Law, we like to keep you informed of new and exciting opportunities for lawyers to get work. According to law deans, all you need is some practical training and a little gumption to take advantage of your super-valuable law degree, and we like to point you in the right direction.

Like Craigslist. Because nothing says three years of post-graduate education like fishing through Craigslist ads searching for employment.

Today, we’ve got a really good job for a part-time criminal and civil litigator. All you need is 30 years of legal experience under your belt…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Position Available: Only 30 Years Of Experience Required”

A jabot is great for catching drool.

Who is drooling on the bench?

– Justice Antonin Scalia, rejecting the idea of term limits for Supreme Court justices, in remarks delivered yesterday in Montana.

(Additional highlights from Justice Scalia’s speech, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SCOTUS Rules, Nobody Drools”

[T]here are those who argue that there have been permanent, structural changes to the legal market that will reduce the number of legal jobs, and there is no denying that law school tuition remains daunting. But the demographic factors suggest the real culprit in the law school graduates’ jobs dilemma of today may be the law school graduates of four decades ago.

Robert Anderson, a professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, explaining how research shows that the large Baby Boomer bulge and the fact that lawyers are retiring later in life are likely both major contributors to the employment woes of recent law school graduates.

Page 3 of 131234567...13