The holidays may be behind us (sigh), but Above the Law’s second annual holiday card contest remains in full swing. Thanks to everyone who responded to our call for submissions. The response was overwhelming.
Perhaps too overwhelming: we received dozens and dozens of nominations. I have literally spent several hours reviewing them all — hours of my life that I can never recover. While a few firms’ holiday e-cards impressed, charmed and even delighted me, the project as a whole made me nostalgic for document review. (It wasn’t nearly as fun as reviewing the entries for our law revue video contest.)
Readers, many of you did not follow contest rule #3: “Please limit submissions to holiday / Christmas cards that you view as worthy contenders. We’re looking for cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool; we aren’t really interested in cards that are safe.”
Alas, we received many cards that were safe. And boring. In a future post, I’ll poke fun at some of the worst ones. I’ll also give shout-outs to a few cards that were nice, but not nice enough to make the final cut. (That will be the “Honorable and Dishonorable Mentions” post.)
For now, though, let’s view — and vote on — our seven worthy finalists….
Don’t say I never did anything for you — I’m creating jobs. Okay, I’m creating a job. Well, not a full-time job, just a freelance writing gig. (But at least it pays more than this legal job or this one.)
Yes, after some deliberation, I’ve decided to step away from writing the small law firm column I helped start back in September. What alternative endeavor, you ask, could possibly draw me away from the highly lucrative world of blogging?
Glad you asked. In lieu of my twice-a-week column here (and my day job), I’ve accepted an offer to join the Army’s JAG Corps as a full-time, active duty sold… lawy… soldier-lawyer. Yes, like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men (except less attractive and not the Navy).
Yes, this is something I want. No, I’m not crazy — just want to do something awesome. The government is going to pay me to undergo weapons training, learn land navigation, stay in shape, and — oh yeah — be a lawyer. It’s a four-year commitment, and if anyone is interested, I’m going to try and chronicle with my journey over at my personal blog: (A)musing Dick. (I’m not sure how that will go because, as Lat knows, blogging and government work don’t always mesh very well.)
The important thing here is that there’s a writing opportunity available. Read on if you’re interested….
A small law-firm bonus, or a small-law-firm bonus?
It was almost two weeks ago that I, still fat from Thanksgiving turkey, wondered publicly about the status of bonuses at small law firms. Well, it’s time to get the results of that status check.
I recall Elie using the term “anemic” to describe Cravath’s bonus numbers (which were looking like the standard for Biglaw bonuses this year — at least until Cahill came along). Given that, I can only think the term “uber-anemic” is in order here.
It’s pretty clear that traditional large-firm jobs in big cities are still hard to come by. Even those cushy government jobs sometimes offered as a Biglaw equivalent are, as of last week, slightly less appealing. Well, fear not; the small law firm renaissance is here!
A recent article in Lawyers Weekly suggests that small towns are losing their lawyers faster than they’re being replaced. The article discusses small-town Canada, but based on this report from the WSJ Law Blog (which I previously mentioned here), as well as what I’ve heard from my sources, this observation is also true in the States.
The author seems hopeful that we are on the verge of a “renaissance in small-town lawyering,” and in support he offers a revised look at six of the traditional reasons why graduates and young lawyers often avoid smaller communities. Let’s see if he’s right…
Earlier this week, I had the chance to sit down with David Tanenholz, one of the co-founders and partners at Hardinger & Tanenholz LLP (H&T), which is one of the few firms — if not the first — to promote itself solely as “discovery counsel.” And with their experience as Biglaw alumni, the two founders may represent a glimpse into the future of how lawyers can carve out a niche by fusing technology and project management.
So what is it that puts them ahead of the curve? Let’s find out….
Small law firms have many of the same management issues as Biglaw firms, but often deal with them differently — for example, setting billable hour requirements and adjusting pay scales to keep their lawyers happy (or at least just happy enough not to quit). One such issue that keeps coming to my attention is social media marketing.
Biglaw firms have formal departments to handle logos, social media, and the overall direction of their firms’ brands. Small firms have… well, they have the attorneys and maybe a do-it-all firm manager (like we had at my old firm). Thus is born a market for the web and SEO experts.
But wait, this is not what you think! This is not another self-help article about how to fix your website or use Twitter (like a pro!). There are more than enough of those.
Instead, I want to explore a less popular position…
A small law-firm bonus, or a small-law-firm bonus?
While Biglaw types may or may not have had something to be thankful for over the holiday weekend, many small firm lawyers were feeling the Thanksgiving love via the SoloSez list serve.
There were numerous magnanimous emails coming through about what small firm lawyers are thankful for. I found myself wondering whether these warm-and-fuzzy feelings resulted from pure happiness — or whether they might reflect cold hard cash, in the form of small-firm bonuses.
So let’s gather some data about bonuses at small law firms….
While bonuses are burning up the comments here at Above the Law, there’s another discussion raging over at the ABA’s SoloSez Listserv — where solo and small firm lawyers from around the country share resources, practice tips and the occasional anecdote.
Claiming the debt load for the average ASU grad has increased by $40,000 since she applied, the 3L is “reaching out to the online community to help [her] pay for it.” Good choice, since everyone knows that bloggers are just rolling in cash.
Given its entrepreneurial nature, this seems right up the small firm alley. But the plan has been received quite poorly by a majority of practitioners.
More about the sponsorship, what she’s willing to do for it, and the identity of the student, after the break…
Brick and mortar is so last century. Nowadays, one can get an entire post-secondary education without ever leaving the comfort of home, including a law degree (no I’m not talking about Belmont) and an LLM. Then, with your degrees and fully developed agoraphobia in hand, you can move seamlessly into a fully virtual law practice and stay in your sweatpants all day — well, depending on what state you’re in.
From a reader:
Earlier this year, the NJ [Advisory Committee on Ethics] held that having a virtual office is not a bona-fide office within the meaning of the NJ Rules of Professional Conduct. This adds another significant cost to setting up your own shop since you have to rent a place all the time, not just for meetings. . . . I am not sure whether NJ is unique in this regard, but the decision seems wrong and anti-competitive to me and it is the smallest of firms which are the most likely to be effected by the rule.
New Jersey is not unique in this regard, but it is among a dying breed. Recently, its Delaware River neighbor issued an opinion that many small firm lawyers hope is yet another nail in the coffin of physical office constraints….
America is often called the “Land of Opportunity.” To many, that means cashing in on one’s education, ideas and talent as soon as possible. The corollary is that we frequently assume that folks who aren’t rich are only so positioned because they failed at all their attempts to become rich. After all, actually turning down a guaranteed payday out of altruism (or at least perceived altruism) is a rare enough occurrence that it’s often deemed eminently newsworthy. See, e.g., Tim Tebow, Michael Bloomberg, and my personal favorite, Pat Tillman.
Here at Above the Law, life is frequently viewed through a similar lens. Discussions of small firms start with the presumption that non-Biglaw types are so situated because they didn’t have the chops to make it in Biglaw. See, e.g., almost every comment to any post I’ve written for this site. We assume that “going small” — especially right out of school — is the last resort of a destitute, loan-burdened graduate who B-minus-ed his or her way through three years of law school. Students “end up” in a solo practice; they don’t strive for it.
Thus, when a law student wrote to tell me that she and two of her friends are spurning Biglaw in favor of starting their own firm, I thought, “Now, there’s a story worth telling.” They’ve graciously agreed to let me tell their story here….
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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