Skadden

Here at Above the Law, we sometimes write about career alternatives for lawyers. We’ve noticed a trend: former lawyers turning to the food service industry. But no, they’re not serving overpriced scones at Starbucks — they’re selling cupcakes out of trucks.

As it turns out, working at a cupcake truck can be a lucrative career. In the past, we’ve profiled several successful lawyers with mobile cupcakeries, like Lev Ekster, Sam Whitfield, and Kate Carrara.

And Temple Law School has apparently caught on to the fact that a lawyer can rake in the dough as a baker, so they’ve posted an exciting job opportunity on their Career Planning Manager. See what’s cooking, after the jump….

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Don't 'defamate' me because I'm beautiful.

* With four states sounding their emergency alarms, will this weekend’s hurricane be the next natural disaster to rain on the legal world’s parade? [Los Angeles Times]

* Should we deregulate the practice of law? Do you want someone like me to be an actual lawyer? Easiest debate ever. I should’ve been on moot court. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Even if Justice David Prosser needed to choke a bitch, he’s not going to face criminal charges over it. That’s one way to address workplace safety. [Bloomberg]

* Want a Biglaw job? There’s an app for that! Don’t say Skadden never gave you anything for free (sorry, but the pizza doesn’t count). [DealBook / New York Times]

* Man, it must be nice to have so much money that you can talk bribe kids into skipping out on college. Are all Stanford Law grads so generous? [Reuters]

* Rapper Pitbull was shocked when he found out that Lindsay Lohan was suing him. See that suit and tie? He’s an upstanding gentleman. He’d never “defamate” a soul. [Houston Chronicle]

A partner at Morrison & Foerster accidentally “replied all” to an email on which “List/Attorney/All” was cc’d. Emails sent to “List/Attorney/All” go out to all 1,000-plus MoFo lawyers around the world.

What the partner wrote in the email was probably not something that should have been shared with the rest of the firm….

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One of the lasting effects of the recession has been clients wising up on the value of first-year associates (or the lack thereof). Many at large law firms knew that junior associates contributed little more than manpower during their first couple of years at a firm. But only in the crucible of the recession did clients start asking why they were paying money to finish the training of junior Biglaw associates.

Of course, being able to bill out your new labor at high billing rates is a key part of the law firm business model. Firms are already in a bind: since American law schools insist on graduating students with little to no practical skills, the kids must be trained. Training them on the client’s dime (while the law firm partners pocket a profit) is just one of the ways it has always been done.

But those who do not innovate die. Today brings news that two major law firms are going to try something different with their first-years.

The first-years will get paid their usual $160K salary. But at least at the start, they’ll have to go through more training…

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* Howrey’s pre-Labor Day, everything must go, furniture sale. Don’t miss it. [Am Law Daily]

* CBS settles the case with two women suing Dr. Phil for unleashing a naked dinner guest on them for his show. I’m not sure if this is a case of two really uptight women or one really ugly dude, but I do know that alcohol would have solved this problem better than any counseling Dr. Phil could have provided. [Lowering the Bar]

* This is a touching little profile on life on the inside for Hacksaw McDaniel. [Macon Telegraph]

Obamacare!

* Obama is confident Supreme Court will uphold Obamacare? Did a justice die while I was away and nobody told me? [WSJ Law Blog]

* Do you think any of these new law firm models can use a thousand highly paid yet unskilled associates straight out of law school for a limited time until they go on to do actually interesting things with their lives? Oh, no reason, I was just asking. [Legal Blog Watch]

* This list of organizations who heavily contributed to members of the Deficit Super Committee includes Skadden. Actually, it looks like many lawyers are heavily invested with these politicians. [Maplight]

When I was in Biglaw, I always dreamed of taking part in a beauty contest. I do not really understand how it goes down, but it sounded very exciting (at least more than my fifty-state-survey.) According to YouTube, it looks something like this.

When I went to the small firm, I did not hear mention of beauty contests. Clients mostly came through referrals, and any client pitches were much more informal. For instance, I heard a story about two partners trying to get an FLSA class action, so they went to the employer’s factory and donned the poultry processor workers’ uniforms (and perhaps touched some chicken parts going down the conveyor belt). Unlike the stories of the Biglaw beauty contests, there were not lawyer teams from several other small firms lined up in their chicken-suits.

If a team from Skadden or Sidley were lined up in chicken-garb, however, how would the small-firm attorneys best position themselves to win the contest? I asked some Biglaw-turned-small-firm attorneys for their best tips….

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Is this guy loving Citizens United or what?

* Is a Ropes & Gray attorney behind a shell company that gave $1 million to the Romney campaign? [The Docket / Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly]

* Working on the matter pro bono, Skadden wants greater cooperation from the NYPD in the case of a missing eight-year-old boy. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Breaking down the Alex Rodriguez poker scandal. [Legal Blitz]

* Can’t the ABA and NALP just get along? [Law School Transparency]

* How is that we have more lawyers than we can shake a stick at, but not nearly enough judges? Ian Millhiser looks at the numbers. [Think Progress]

Know who this guy is? Click on the picture to find out.

* Can’t all the people in same-sex marriages facing deportation just move to New York? [Stop the Deportations]

* Who is “the most important American you’ve never heard of”? Read a well-reviewed new book, Michael Toth’s Founding Federalist (affiliate link), to find out. [Ricochet]

* Great job Tea Party, no really. You guys sure you won’t want any social spending when you are living in the wonderful economy you’ve wrought for us? [Huffington Post]

* Don’t forget to sign up for our chess set giveaway. Or join us on Linked In. [Above the Law]

The statistics about women equity partners are bad. There is no shortage of “experts” opining on how to improve the statistics. The solutions often involve a cardigan (apparently the successful woman’s secret weapon), full-time nannies (the successful woman’s not-so-secret weapon), and a miracle.

There are some who offer more specific solutions. I personally love Skadden’s idea of hiring a “den mother” to mentor and guide their young female associates. Indeed, Sheli Rosenberg is correct when she channeled Madeleine Albright’s famous saying that “[t]here’s a place in hell for women who don’t support other women.”

I have had many conversations with small-firm attorneys about whether or not small firms may offer the solution to the gender gap among partners. Unfortunately, there is little to no research regarding the statistics of female partners in small law firms, so the discussions are based on personal experience as opposed to objective facts. Given the sources of the data, the results are, not surprisingly, mixed. Some say that small firms are better for women because the women have direct access to the decision-makers and clients, and there is less politics when it comes to promotion decisions in small firms. Some say that small firms are worse because the firms, unlike Biglaw, often do not disclose demographic information and so feel insulated — and because firm managers, who tend to be male, promotes their own….

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A friend of mine is a plaintiff’s lawyer in Boston. We’ve opposed each other on several cases, and our interactions (always on the phone; weirdly, we’ve never met in person) are characterized by good-natured but acerbic jabs. Typically, he would bemoan my clients’ “colossally stupid” behavior. For my part, I would make fun of his firm’s name.

Don’t get me wrong: his firm is one of the most respected plaintiff’s firms in town. But its name follows the classic ego-gratifying law-firm style of putting all the partners’ surnames on the letterhead. With Biglaw firms, this doesn’t matter much, because the name partners tend to be, well, not-so-much alive. And the sheer number of partners at big firms means that ego notwithstanding, most aren’t getting their names on the sign.

But small firms have (by definition) fewer partners — with just as much ego. And they tend to be living. So the firm names are long and subject to frequent change.

Why is this a problem for small firms, and what they should do about it?

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For the past week, a conversation has percolating around Skadden that has made its way into the ATL inbox. A Skadden corporate associate, Lisa M. Johnstone, died last week. Her obituary ran earlier this week in the San Diego Union Tribune. And her memorial service was yesterday. She died of an apparent heart attack, though we understand that her autopsy has not yet been completed. She was 32.

We’re talking about Lisa Johnstone’s death because reports indicate that she died while doing legal work from her home office on a Sunday. We’re talking about Lisa Johnstone because for over a week, Skadden associates have been talking about just how many hours Johnstone had been working. We’re talking about Johnstone because while the root cause of her death my never be known, many Skadden associates and others who know the story are taking this as an opportunity to assess their lives and their mental and physical well-being.

And that’s a good thing. The best advice I ever received in Biglaw was the partner who said: “You don’t have a thermostat”…

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