Pro Bono

* With the capture of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, many legal questions are being asked, like if he’ll be Mirandized, where he’ll be tried, and if he’ll be considered an enemy combatant. [New York Times]

* Thanks for kicking this keg, Mr. Baer: the Department of Justice and Anheuser-Busch InBev have settled their antitrust differences with respect to beer brewery’s planned acquisition of Grupo Modelo. [Legal Times]

* Which firm has a “generous tuition reimbursement” program? And by “generous,” we mean 100% of law school tuition, which is awesome. We may have more on this later today. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* Stan Chesley, the “master of disaster,” is retiring — not because he wants to, but because he’s disbarred in Kentucky and surrendered his Ohio license before the state could take it from him. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* California may soon follow in New York’s footsteps when it comes a pro bono mandate before bar admission, but the New Jersey Bar Association has an active hit out on the idea. [National Law Journal]

* In an effort to avoid a trial that would’ve lasted longer than their sham marriage did in the first place, fauxlebrity Kim Kardashian and NBA player Kris Humphries settled their divorce last week. [Reuters]

* Morris Kramer, an M&A pioneer and part of Skadden’s “Fab Four,” RIP. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Oh mon dieu, Justice Breyer was inducted as one of just 12 foreign members of France’s Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. C’est très chouette pour un Américain, non? [New York Times]

* Man, for a four-seeded firm that got knocked out of our March Madness competition after the Sweet Sixteen, Davis Polk is looking great in 2013′s first quarter as far as legal advising in M&A deals goes. [Am Law Daily]

* Brown Rudnick picked up a California boutique, and it’ll be doubled in size through lateral hiring. No layoffs are currently expected, but no one really advertises that as a merger selling point. [National Law Journal]

* The New York Times: bringing you last month’s news, today! South Dakota is offering a subsidy for law school tuition to keep lawyers in the state. Here’s our post from two weeks ago. [New York Times]

* Pace Law School’s “low bono” residency program was praised by New York’s Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, but if you’ve got other job offers, Dear Lord, take one of them. [New York Law Journal]

* AIG wants to prevent Hank Greenberg from suing in its name, probably because it’d prefer not to be known as “the poster company for corporate ingratitude and chutzpah.” [DealBook / New York Times]

* “[D]o I cover this really important story and maybe go to jail?” That’s the choice Jana Winter is facing after reporting on James Holmes’s massacre notebook and refusing to reveal her sources. [CNN]

Many good things can be said about Jenner & Block. Above the Law readers who work there give it an overall grade of A-minus. It’s a top law firm for diversity.

The firm has a long and distinguished history of pro bono work. And it’s a leader in the area of government service. Many of its lawyers used to work at the Justice Department, the White House, and other top governmental entities. And many high-ranking government lawyers, such as solicitor general Donald Verrilli Jr., used to work at Jenner.

But what if you’re less interested in public service and more interested in debt service — specifically, retiring your own substantial law school loans? Is Jenner the best place to work?

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We’re in the middle of what we previously referred to as the second wave of law firm bonus announcements. Later today, for example, we’ll write about the Latham & Watkins announcement from yesterday. (So far we’re hearing mixed things; if you’re at Latham and would like to opine on the bonuses, feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477).)

Right now we’re going to discuss the bonuses announced at Goodwin Procter (which actually just hired a partner, Brynn Peltz, away from Latham). The Goodwin bonus announcement came out on Tuesday of this week.

So what do 2012 bonuses at Goodwin Procter look like?

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First, because it’s required, Happy New Year. I don’t really care whether you had a nice holiday or New Year’s Eve, neither do the others that ask you and feign concern.

Now let’s move on to more important topics, like working for free.

We all do it. We all have the friend, the family member, the downtrodden college buddy out of work or just broke, or the person we owe a favor or for whom we want to do a favor because we just “feel bad,” or worse — we think something will come of it.

This week, a stat came out that there are 21,880 legal careers available for 44,000 law school graduates. I read it on the internet, so it must be true. If it is, it looks like there will be plenty of lawyers doing free work out of necessity, boredom, or as a marketing tactic.

For this discussion, actually, for most of the discussions here, I have to put in the “I know, moron” disclaimer. I know, moron, that there is no way to handle these situations with a bright line policy. For example, moron, I understand that pro bono work that you do to help the needy is not something for which you should consider charging a fee. But whenever someone writes anything on the internet, there is some moron out there who says, “But but but, what about the situation where… see, you’re wrong, you’re just wrong wrong wrong.”

So I will say this, most (he said “most”) of the time, doing work for free is a mistake….

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As law firm associates and partners rejoice over their bonuses and profits, we urge you to keep in mind the importance of giving back this holiday season. The law firm of Skadden Arps certainly does, through its support of the Skadden Fellowships. It’s fitting that word of the new Skadden Fellows always comes out around this time of year.

In case you’re not familiar with it, the Skadden Fellowship program has been described as “a legal Peace Corps.” It was established in 1988, in honor of Skadden’s 40th anniversary as a law firm, and it supports graduating law students committed to public interest work as they embark upon specific projects at sponsoring organizations.

How many fellowships were awarded this year? Which law schools do the fellows come from?

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* In a move to “end the vacancy crisis,” one week after being reelected, and one day after the Senate returned to session, Barack Obama nominated seven people for open seats on federal district courts, including two S.D.N.Y. slots. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Dewey know how much the Los Angeles Dodgers will have to pay the now defunct firm for its work on the team’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case? About $13M — the equivalent of their pitcher’s salary, or 62% of their first baseman’s pay. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Which Biglaw firms in the Am Law 200 are the most LGBT friendly? Overall, of the 145 firms that participated in the Human Rights Campaign’s survey, 71 received perfect scores. Absolutely fabulous! [Am Law Daily]

* The American Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education wants to know what should be done about law schools. This is a time to keep it simple, stupid: change EVERYTHING! [National Law Journal]

* The New York Court of Appeals invoked the Major Disaster Rule for the first time ever, allowing out-of-state attorneys to perform pro bono services for Hurricane Sandy victims. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* William Adams, the Texas family court judge who got caught beating his daughter, returned to the bench yesterday after a year-long suspension. At least he won’t get physical abuse cases, anymore. [Fox News]

* John Coffey, Senior Status Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, RIP. [Journal Sentinel]

An awning taken down by Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy hit the legal world hard, as we’ve chronicled in these pages. And many lawyers and legal employers are still feeling its effects — quite literally. If you work at one prominent downtown law firm, for example, we hope you’re wearing thermal underwear.

As we mentioned on Friday, some individuals have been exploiting the Superstorm Sandy crisis to take advantage of others. The Justice Department and the SEC have issued warnings about various “Sandy scams.”

On the opposite end of the decency spectrum, some lawyers and law firms are stepping up to the plate and supporting Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery efforts. Let’s see what they’re doing — and give them some well-deserved kudos for their work….

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Every firm has them. And partners dutifully show up. Mostly for the free lunch. This month we are serving Tex-Mex. One percenters’s loading up on the free food like a Soviet-era pensioner given the keys to the potato warehouse. It can be a gruesome scene.

So what happens at these monthly gatherings of Biglaw’s barons and baronesses? Nothing important. (You want important stuff, you need to crash an Executive Committee meeting. Or for the increasingly common Biglaw dictatorships, you need to bug Chairman Mao’s office.) At least at the scheduled monthly partner meetings. “Special” partner meetings are a different story. You want those to be boring, like calling for a vote on a group of laterals. “Exciting” special meetings, while good for Lat, are not good news for the average partner usually. Stability is one of the biggest draws of a Biglaw partnership. Stability means no shocking announcements, over which you have no control.

Anyway, here is how the typical monthly partner meeting goes….

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In May, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman of the New York Court of Appeals announced that a new bar admission hurdle would be foisted upon the state’s would-be lawyers in the form of a 50-hour pro bono requirement. Last month, we found out that the new rule was “much better than it could have been,” since it allowed for the mandatory pro bono hours to be completed anywhere and at any time, including during bar admittees’ law school years.

That really doesn’t sound as bad as everyone thought it was going to be. The “justice gap” will be closed, the importance of public interest work will be stressed to new lawyers (even though existing lawyers will continue to maintain only an aspirational call to perform pro bono work), and everyone will hold hands, sing “Kumbaya,” and call it a day. At least that’s how Lippman envisioned it.

But now that everyone’s gotten used to the fact that New York’s pro bono rule is here to stay, some additional analysis has been performed by law schools statewide. Oh, you thought that the state’s “justice gap” was going to just disappear? Yeeeaaahhh, about that….

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