Paul Hastings

Greetings from San Francisco, home of the world champion Giants, surprisingly noisy trolley cars, and the faint smell of cannabis pretty much everywhere. We’re in town to attend Ark Group‘s conference on “The Brave New World of Entry-Level Recruiting,” which examines how the world of law student recruiting by firms has changed (and will continue to evolve) since the onset of the Great Recession. Moderated by Bruce MacEwen, who kicked off the proceedings by framing the day as an opportunity for “frank conversation” between schools and firms, the conference featured an absolute Murderers’ Row of industry thought leaders, including Orrick‘s Ralph Baxter, legal academia’s apostate Paul Campos, NALP’s Jim Leipold, Indiana/Maurer‘s Bill Henderson, three Biglaw hiring partners, and deans from Berkeley, Stanford, and Hastings.

Read on for some highlights and takeaways from yesterday’s conference.

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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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‘Help me, I’m white.’

* Gloria Allred’s “October Surprise” for Mitt Romney didn’t exactly go according to plan, but that’s probably because she never filed the appropriate motions related to the gag order in this decades old divorce case wherein Mitt Romney testified. [Bloomberg]

* This Election Day, 16 Biglaw firms in offices across the country will be manning an Election Protection hotline to field questions, because despite the bad jokes about the legal profession, “lawyers can play a really valuable civic role.” [Am Law Daily]

* “We never make decisions to eliminate positions with any discriminatory conduct.” In other news from the CYA Department, Paul Hastings really doesn’t like getting sued by former legal secretaries who were laid off by the firm. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The assistant dean of academic support at TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law claims the school discriminated against her based on her skin color. Did we mention she’s white? [Courthouse News Service]

* Apparently the allegations of false reporting levied against TJSL are a “crock of crap” because the school claims the ex-employee who told on them never alerted the dean. Hmm… [Thomas Jefferson School of Law]

* A nice pipe dream: now that “the twilight of the generalist law degree is here,” perhaps law schools will move to a two-year model, with an optional third year for specialization purposes. [DealBook / New York Times]

Around here, one can’t mention the concept of something being “overrated” without reference to one of the weirdest and most enduring ATL comment memes, a play on the late, great Hitch’s assertion that the four most overrated things in life are “champagne, lobster, anal sex, and picnics.” So who are the, um, lobsters of Biglaw?

Last week, we had a look at what our audience considered to be the most underrated Biglaw firms, by practice area. Today, inevitably, we turn it around and have a look at what you’re telling us are the most overrated firms.

Among other things, our ATL Insider Survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with overrated practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, etc.

To be sure, these survey results need to be taken with some buckets of salt — we realize that, for some, answering this question might be a chance to take an easy shot at a more successful rival or competitor. Of course, there are crazy people who will tell you that such paragons as Benjamin Franklin or Tom Brady are “overrated,” but that probably says more about the person making that statement than anything else. But that said, these survey responses are a fun glimpse at which firms Biglaw attorneys think are more sizzle than steak….

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American Airlines: something bankrupt in the air.

Complaining about air travel has become a cliché — but it’s still fun. The other night, while flying out to San Francisco for an event I’m doing on Monday (to which you’re invited), I was delayed by two and a half hours — due to a plane turned “biohazard.”

My experience — with United Airlines, which I generally like — pales in comparison to what the novelist Gary Shteyngart experienced recently with American Airlines. He wrote about in a New York Times piece that’s horrifying and hilarious.

But some folks have much warmer feelings for AA — namely, the lawyers and law firms that are making millions from the American Airlines bankruptcy case. Let’s find out how much they are seeking in fees….

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Behold the Monkey!

* Martin Bienenstock, Dewey’s former bankruptcy head, offered some free legal advice to the firm’s bankruptcy advisers: “[P]lease get real about the unfinished business claims.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* In other interesting Dewey news, you’re never going to guess what Steve DiCarmine’s been doing since the firm went under. He of the orange skin tone is making it work at Parsons. [Am Law Daily]

* Remember Kenechukwu Okoli, the guy who slapped a Paul Hastings partner in the face during a depo and then sued him for assault? Yup, that suit got dismissed. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* NerdWallet has created an online law school comparison tool, but users will only get to choose from 50 schools, none of which are in the so-called U.S. News second tier. Guess they don’t think Cooley is the second-best school in the country. How rude. [Bucks / New York Times]

* Cecilia Gimenez, the woman from Spain who accidentally turned a fresco of Christ into a portrait of a monkey, is now seeking royalties from funds the church levied as entrance fees to see her “work of art.” [Telegraph]

* Bridget Mary McCormack, a candidate for Michigan’s Supreme Court, has a simple tip for putting together the best judicial campaign video ever: all you need to do is reunite the cast of The West Wing. Check it out….

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* Little known fact of the day: the late comedienne Phyllis Diller apparently had a storybook romance with Paul Hastings name partner, Robert Hastings. She once said that her longtime Biglaw beau was the “love of [her] life.” [Am Law Daily]

* The Federal Trade Commission has closed its antitrust review of Facebook’s proposed Instagram purchase, clearing the way for the social networking site’s users to post grainy pictures to their hearts’ content. [Bloomberg]

* A former Vancouver lawyer serving a 15-year sentence for money laundering claims that one of the Mounties who investigated his case played a game of “hide the Canadian bacon” with Judge Ursula Ungaro. [Province]

* A judge who resigned in April has been retroactively removed from office for admitting to having sexual contact with his five-year-old niece. He presided over family court matters. Figures. [New York Law Journal]

* Which accomplishments and activities should you leave off your résumé? A) law review editor in chief; B) second in the class; C) 4.05 GPA; D) nonprofit executive director; E) child porn aficionado. [Willamette Week]

* Stabbing your lawyer is so last season. Another criminal defendant reportedly attacked his defense attorney in court, but this time chose to whack his own counsel in the head with his handcuffed hand. [Boston Globe]

Which law firms are the best law firms to work for? The ones that pay salaries (ideally in excess of $10,000 a year). In a still-challenging job market, law students and young lawyers will generally work for whichever law firm will have them.

But some prospective employees of Biglaw have the luxury of choosing between multiple employers. And for these privileged and talented few, things like quality of life — to the extent that one can have a quality of life, or a life at all, while toiling away at a top firm — do matter.

Last month, our friends at Vault issued their closely watched Vault 100 rankings, ordering the nation’s major law firms by perceived prestige. Now they’ve followed them up with their annual “quality of life” rankings, expressed as a list of the best law firms to work for.

Which firms made the top ten?

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Even Lance Armstrong reads ATL.

* As it’s told, the Supreme Court never leaks, but two sources who were close to the Affordable Care Act deliberations thought this tidbit was worth sharing with the public. Perhaps Chief Justice Roberts isn’t so noble after all, because he was originally batting for the conservatives. [CBS News]

* In fact, many are comparing Chief Justice Roberts to Chief Justice Marshall, but Professor John Yoo thinks he’s more comparable to Chief Justice Hughes, in that he “sacrificed the Constitution’s last remaining limits on federal power for very little.” Ohh, sick burn. [Wall Street Journal]

* The Department of Justice will not be filing a criminal contempt case against Attorney General Eric Holder, despite Congress’s seal of approval. Alas, if looks like you need to do a little bit more than piss off a few legislators to get prosecuted for a criminal offense. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Is fear of accidental spittle from a close talker enough to warrant slapping a Biglaw partner in the face? Yup, and it seems it’s even cause to file a lawsuit with allegations of slander and assault. [Am Law Daily (reg. req.)]

* A judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of a new law that could have shut down the only abortion clinic in Mississippi. It’s refreshing to know the judicial system is willing to bring out the kid in you. [Washington Post]

* What do you do when the U.S Anti-Doping Agency has filed formal charges against you? Take to Twitter and link to an ATL post about one of the anonymous Review Board member’s pervy predilections. [ABC News]

* “It was an accident, it was an accident, it was an accident.” That may be the case, but much like your law school loan debt, you can’t take it back. Jason Bohn was arraigned for murder. [New York Post]

As we mentioned earlier today, retired partners of Dewey & LeBoeuf received some potentially good news. These former partners, whose unfunded pensions were supposed to be funded out of firm profits, will have a voice in the firm’s bankruptcy proceedings. As reported by the WSJ Law Blog and Am Law Daily, the U.S. trustee’s office has appointed an official committee of former partners (in addition to the standard official committee of unsecured creditors). The four ex-partners on the committee are David Bicks, Cameron MacRae, John Kinzey, and John Campo.

What prompted the move? As legal consultant Edwin Reeser, whose analysis of the Dewey situation recently appeared in these pages, told the WSJ, “The retired partners have uniquely separate interests which warrant consideration as a special class of creditors.”

It’s nice that they have a seat at the table, but will the ex-partners end up with any money at the end of the process? That’s less clear. As Jerome Kowalski, another law firm consultant, told the Journal, “There has never been a law firm bankruptcy that resulted in any payment being made to the equity partners… They’ll have zero sway other than perhaps some moral imperatives, and moral imperatives don’t have much play in bankruptcy courts.”

The unsecured creditors might have more luck than the former partners. Who’s on the unsecured creditors’ committee?

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