Paul Weiss

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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There hasn’t been much major good news on the associate compensation front over the past few years — since, say, January 2007. But recent weeks have brought pockets of minor good news for limited constituencies. Green shoots, anyone?

In Miami, Greenberg Traurig raised starting salaries by 16 percent, from $125,000 to $145,000. In New York, Sullivan & Cromwell and Skadden Arps started offering $300,000 signing bonuses to Supreme Court clerks.

And now $300K bonuses for SCOTUS clerks have spread, to other law firms in other cities. Consider this the new going rate for top-shelf talent….

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We’ve just entered August, so you know what that means: the start of on-campus interviewing season. If you’re a law student researching firms or a lawyer involved in your firm’s recruiting efforts, check out Above the Law’s law firm directory, where law firms get letter grades in different categories. Law firms might look alike on the surface, but there are very real differences between them, as our grading system reflects.

For example, law firms diverge when it comes to diversity. While every firm gives lip service to diversity, some firms have the goods to back up their claims, while others do not.

Let’s check out the latest diversity rankings, from two different news outlets, to see which firms are truly diverse….

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In the annals of “reasons to become a lawyer,” deciding to go to law school on a bet isn’t really the worst. Thinking you need to go to make $1 million is.

With summer programs in full-swing, lawyers are attending marathon lunches at high-end restaurants. But just because a lunch is expensive doesn’t make it awesome. There are foodies with a finer sense of cuisine out there who can find real gems for your all-expense paid lunch.

That’s why the best lawyer to bring along for a long lunch is this Paul Weiss alum who wrote a book about food around the world. She’s sort of like Anthony Bourdain with a law degree…

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The new mascot for the Roberts Court’s jurisprudence.

* Another interpretation of the Shelby County decision posits that the Roberts Court is a lot like the Walking Dead, just less entertaining. [Huffington Post]

* Dean David Schizer is leaving. [The Faculty Lounge]

* Missouri tried to “save Christmas” from heathens, but had its efforts stymied when the governor realized it could literally set the state on fire. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Cardinal Dolan, America’s most prominent Catholic bishop, apparently shifted Church assets to keep them from falling into the hands of abuse victims. Perhaps he could have exerted the same effort keeping abuse victims out of the hands of abusers? [New York Times]

* It looks like a Paul Weiss associate, Molissa Farber, is still alive in the $1,000 No-Limit event at the World Series of Poker. Maybe she’ll be able to pay off her loans sooner rather than later. [Poker News]

* Did you enjoy Milli Vanilli? Perhaps you’d like watching air guitar? The national semifinals are in New York tonight. [Bowery Ballroom]

Venue disputes aren’t normally entertaining. But then again, venue disputes don’t normally involve professional basketball players, embarrassing emails, a smattering of Biglaw firms, and delicious, delicious irony.

Former National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Billy Hunter, whose management of the union representing the NBA’s players is blamed by some for dragging out the NBA lockout that nearly derailed last season, may soon get kicked out of the venue where he filed a multimillion dollar suit last month. He’ll finally understand how the players felt.

His adversary, NBPA President Derek Fisher, has filed a motion alleging that Billy Hunter chose the venue because of his close personal relationship with the presiding judge.

It would be a shame for Hunter if they had emails to prove it.

Uh oh, Billy…

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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.

Next in our series on a taxonomy of law firms are the capital-markets centric firms.

If you think this moniker roughly translates to the classic New York white shoe elite, move to the head of the class.

But, as much in our world at the start of the 21st Century, it’s not exactly that simple. Here’s what’s different about these firms.

First, recall that we’ve hypothesized seven primary species…

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg takes a lot of heat. From the smoking ban, to the soda limit, to the bike share program, it seems like nothing he supports can avoid polarizing the public. I’m not defending every idea that the diminutive Mayor Tyrion proposes, just noting that every idea gets a lot of flack.

Bloomberg is so opposed in some corners that a Biglaw firm has taken directly contradictory positions against the city just to stick it to Bloomberg. And like many of Bloomberg’s rivals, the firm got smacked down by the courts.

It didn’t help the anti-Bloomberg brigade to submit a filing complete with some embarrassing typos…

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Go ahead and queue up the Luther Vandross, because we’ve reached the thrilling conclusion of our annual ATL March Madness.

Our newly expanded tournament pitted 32 teams in the hunt to be declared the law firm with the brightest future. After a string of close calls and upsets, it came down to second-seeded Paul, Weiss against fourth-seeded Gibson Dunn, the spunky underdog who’d knocked off the overall top seed Wachtell.

So who won?

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The basketball tournament may be over, but ATL March Madness still has one more round of voting. It all comes down to this. After four rounds of voting, we finally have our finals set. And it’s not the matchup I would have predicted.

Negotiating the harsh realities of a challenging economy is a tall order, and our readers think the two firms in the finals are the best equipped to come out on top.

No word yet on whether the partners of either firm in the finals have decided to get inked up if they win.

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