Patterson Belknap

You might die on Mars, but you’d probably be employed.

* Due to the extreme polarization of SCOTUS, with its near constant 5-4 opinion line-ups, “it becomes increasingly difficult to contend … that justices are not merely politicians clad in fine robes.” Yep. [The Upshot / New York Times]

* Tim Wu, the Columbia Law professor who first introduced the term “net neutrality” to the world, had two of his clerkships (Posner and Breyer) “arranged” by Professor Lawrence Lessig. If only we could all be so lucky. [New York Times]

* We’re getting the sinking feeling that the lack of diversity in law school is one of those problems that everyone and their mother claims to be trying to fix, but the lack of momentum keeps it from ever truly improving. [National Law Journal]

* When contemplating what law schools would have to do to get a bailout, this law professor has three ideas, and they involve changing her colleagues’ lives in uncomfortable ways. Well played. [Boston Globe]

* Cole Leonard is struggling to decide between going to law school and going to Mars. Well, he’s more likely to have a job doing anything on Mars than here on Earth as a lawyer. HTH. [Dallas Morning News]

* The L.A. Clippers have a new CEO, for the time being. Say hello to Dick Parsons, the former chairman of Patterson Belknap, a man who the world hopes is not quite as racist as his predecessor. [Am Law Daily]

Oyez, oyez, oyez! It’s the first week of October.

* Say what you will about Justice Scalia, but the man is hilarious — more funny than his four liberal colleagues combined, according to a statistical analysis of oral argument recordings. [New York Times]

* The government shutdown is slowing down the judicial confirmation process, already famous for its speed and efficiency. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* More about news for Steven Donziger in his long-running battle with Chevron. Maybe it’s time to surrender, Steve? I hear Ecuador is a great place to retire. [New York Law Journal]

* Law firm merger mania continues, as Carlton Fields combines with Jorden Burt. [Carlton Fields (press release)]

* Herbert Smith Freehills says “you’re hired” to Scott Balber, the lawyer for Donald Trump who got mocked by Bill Maher on national television. [The Lawyer]

* You might see your dog as harmless and cuddly, but the law might see your dog as a weapon (and rightfully so, in my opinion). [New York Times via ABA Journal]

* Congratulations to all the winners of the FT’s Innovative Lawyers awards. [Financial Times]

* And congratulations to Heidi Wendel and Deirdre McEvoy, high-ranking government lawyers headed to Jones Day and Patterson Belknap, respectively. [New York Law Journal]

* Today the Supreme Court will hear argument in McCutcheon v. FEC, a major campaign finance case that some are calling “the next Citizens United.” Check out an interview with one of the lawyers behind it, after the jump. [UCTV]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Morning Docket: 10.08.13″

The idea of “happiness” is the basis of an ever-growing body of research. In fact, while economists traditionally measure a nation’s prosperity by looking at GDP, there is a growing movement for them to consider a different measure, something akin to “Gross National Happiness.” One of the best-known efforts to move away from a reliance on GDP as a measure of national welfare is the UN’s Human Development Index, which amalgamates three metrics: lifespan, educational attainment, and adjusted real income. Then there are dozens of much more subjective surveys of national happiness, many of which find Costa Rica to be the happiest country in the world. Others say it’s Norway. (Then there is this preposterous “Happy Planet Index,” which ranks the U.S. at number 113, between Madagascar and Nigeria.)

Of course happiness research is performed in more narrowly targeted ways, such as examining specific professions. Earlier this year, Forbes reported on a “Career Bliss” survey of 65,000 employees that ranked “law firm associate” as the unhappiest job in America. (See Joe’s take on that survey here.)

This week, over at In the Belly of the Beast, Steven Harper is asking “Are Lawyers Becoming Happier?” Harper takes a look at two recent studies that suggest the answer is “yes.”

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Many moons ago, around this time of year, I worked as a summer associate at Wachtell Lipton. I enjoyed many a fine meal that summer (although Wachtell’s program is more work-focused and less lunch-focused than many others). One of my favorite occasions was a dinner at Jean-Georges with partner Karen Krueger, her husband, myself, and a girlfriend of mine.

Oh how times have changed. It’s rare to see partners leave the gilded cage of Wachtell Lipton, where annual profits per partner regularly exceed $4 million. But Krueger had the guts to make the jump. She left the practice of law and now works as a nationally certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.

What is the Alexander Technique? If you suffer from pain, perhaps as a result of your stressful law firm job, it could be your salvation. And it might help you with your poker game, too….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Wachtell Lipton Partner Leaves the Law For….”

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the American Lawyer recently released its Am Law 200 law firm rankings — a list that’s still closely watched, but not quite as prestigious as being a ranked member of the influential Am Law 100. Sorry, but being a part of the “Second Hundred” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

While the Am Law 100 celebrated a year of “slow growth” in 2012, it looks like the Am Law 200 will be known for its “bets on bulk.” When all of the big boys were busy playing it safe, perhaps out of fear of becoming the next Dewey, firms in the Second Hundred were gobbling up talent like there was no tomorrow.

Of course, as could’ve been expected, this kind of aggressive hiring had some pretty major effects on firms’ financial performance. So how did the Am Law 200 stack up? Let’s find out…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The 2013 Am Law 200: A ‘Hiring Binge’ Hangover”

Behind door number one, an actress turned lawyer.

When I receive the sections of the Sunday New York Times that get delivered on Saturday, the first one I reach for is Real Estate. And one of the first features I read is The Hunt, Joyce Cohen’s delightful column chronicling the victories and defeats of those who dare to take on the New York City real estate market.

A recent installment of The Hunt featured a lawyer who was previously a movie star. With two daughters and a penchant for entertaining, she and her husband had outgrown their three-bedroom condominium on the Upper East Side. They wanted a townhouse. But with a budget of no more than $2 million, they had their work cut out for them.

Who is the actress turned attorney — a star of one of the most iconic films of the 1990s, in fact — and where is her new home?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Two Kitchens, One Couple
(Or: An actress turned lawyer’s uptown abode.)”

So far, no firm has stepped up and paid out bonuses early to help people struggling with Hurricane Sandy. Given the Nor’easter, associates might just burn the money to stay warm.

But at least one firm is being proactive about adjusting expectations because of the crazy weather patterns. Sandy essentially took a week away from billables, and so the firm is knocking a week off the minimum hour requirement….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Are Hours Requirements Getting Blown Back?”

Now is the time on ATL when we dance — around the subject of money. With just two months left in the year, law firms are focused on collections, associates are focused on bonuses, and partners are focused on profits. Even though money is not the be-all and end-all of law practice, as we have emphasized in these pages before, it’s a topic that people follow — and a topic that we will therefore be covering closely in what remains of 2012.

Earlier this week, the American Lawyer magazine touched upon a topic that doesn’t get as much attention as it should in the world of Biglaw: compensation for non-equity partners. Let’s take a look at Am Law’s findings….

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The world of large law firms isn’t all about prestige and pay. Although the Vault 100 prestige rankings and the Am Law 100 profit-per-partner rankings are closely watched, there are other ranking schemes out there — and some of these frameworks adopt a kinder, gentler outlook on Biglaw.

For example, take the American Lawyer’s A-List. Although the A-List rankings take law firm financial performance into account, they also factor in diversity, pro bono work, and associate satisfaction.

Associate satisfaction: that’s the driving force behind another important set of rankings, Vault’s just-released “Best Law Firms to Work For” list. The notion of “quality of life” at a law firm might seem laughable to some — but let’s face it, some firms are generally better workplaces than others. (Of course, your mileage may vary: some lawyers have great experiences at firms known for being awful, and some lawyers have awful experiences at firms known for being great.)

Let’s check out the Vault top ten, shall we?

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I consider myself to be pretty fashionable. Indeed, I (like so many others) pray to the patron saint of fashion, the Duchess of Cambridge. I am well versed in the laws of fashion. For example:

1. Thou shalt not wear a romper after age 22.
2. Thou shalt wear white any season.
3. Khakis are sad.

And I have learned the hard way about the fashion of law (i.e., what to wear at a law firm). It probably involves a khaki sack-turned-skirt but certainly does not involve hoop earrings. (Sorry Jay, but I think dress codes are still alive and well in small firms, at least if you are a woman.)

Yet I did not know what fashion law was. So I got a crash course from an expert, Charles “Chuck” Colman of Charles Colman Law PLLC.

What did I learn from Chuck?

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