Steptoe & Johnson

Hop in the DeLorean and travel back in time with us.

We’ve been enjoying the occasional trip back in time to look at Biglaw in ages past. In prior Flashback Friday posts, we’ve covered such topics as the most prestigious law firms in 1998 and billable hours in the 1990s.

And, of course, we have covered compensation. We’ve done two posts so far looking at associate comp in the 1990s, in New York and in other cities — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles.

Today we’ll close out the series with an overview of associate pay in the remaining markets of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco/Palo Alto, and Washington, D.C….

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There are approximately 3,500 law blogs in the U.S.

Many are struggling. Many are not worth reading — even by folks with a keen interest in the industry or area of the law being covered by the blogs.

These blogs lack emotion. They’re milquetoast.

Those of you as old as me may remember Joan Armatrading’s hit song, Show Some Emotion.

Show some emotion
Put expression in your eyes
Light up if you’re feeling happy
But if it’s bad then let those tears roll down

Perhaps not tears, but any lawyer who wants their blog read ought be ready to blog with some emotion—and passion.

If you’re not passionate about the area in which you blog, start over….

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Nadya Suleman aka Octomom

* Robert Wilkins was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit yesterday, which is significant because it marks the first time in decades that the court hasn’t had any judicial vacancies. Congrats! [Blog of Legal Times]

* Biglaw firms should be happy to hear about what the Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group has seen in its crystal ball: law firm profits are expected to grow by about 5 percent this year. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Unlike its stinky burger fiasco, Steptoe & Johnson managed to quietly converse with “three or four” firms about a possible merger, but the firm’s chairman refuses to kiss and tell. [National Law Journal]

* Take criminal disclosures on your law school apps seriously — after all, someone needs to worry about whether you’ll be able to pass C&F, and it won’t be your school if they just want your money. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Recent law grads working at the Chicago Justice Entrepreneurs Project might not be “rolling in money,” but they’re learning how be successful lawyers, and experience like that is worth millions. [Businessweek]

* The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, “a regulator that protects its industry from rules it deems unfair,” wants a list of all alcohol, everywhere. Treasury Department party! [DealBook / New York Times]

* Nadya Suleman, she of the clown car uterus, was charged with welfare fraud for failure to report income from her strip club appearances and porn videos. She’s the Octomother of the year. [CBS Los Angeles]

Washington, D.C. has the most densely concentrated population of lawyers in the nation. The capital has an astounding 1,356 percent more lawyers per capita than New York. One in 12 District residents is an attorney. The nation’s capital is home to just one-fifth of one percent of the national population but accounts for one in every 25 of its lawyers. Could there be some correlation between this total saturation of D.C. with J.D.s and the seeming contempt that the rest of the country holds for the place? Washington’s negative perception problem is such that Slate’s political gabfest felt compelled to devote this week’s podcast to explore the proposition “Washington Is Really Not That Bad.” Examples of this not-badness included the fact that people don’t have to bribe officials to get their social security benefits. So it was kind of a low bar.

In any event, D.C.’s lawyers work in myriad capacities in Congress, government regulatory agencies, non-profits, and lobbying firms. But obviously Washington is very much a Biglaw town as well. The frustration and malaise brought on by the sequester and partisan gridlock seem to be affecting the business of Biglaw. As Lat noted yesterday, large firms there are struggling: revenue, demand and productivity are all lagging at D.C.-based law firms when compared to firms nationwide. So this might not be the ideal time to check in on how lawyers at large D.C.-based firms perceive their professional experiences. But we’ll do it anyway.

Our ATL Insider Survey (13,500+ responses and counting) asks attorneys at firms to evaluate their employers in terms of compensation, hours, training, morale, and culture. After the jump, we’ll look at how firms in Washington stack up in these categories — and how they compare to the national averages…

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Sorry, no free entry, not even for prosecutors.

* Even though Obama wants to “make sure that [he's] not interjecting [himself] too much into this process,” the DOJ may still suggest that the Supreme Court overturn Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage. [Associated Press]

* Anheuser-Busch InBev and the Department of Justice are cracking open a couple of cold ones to settle their differences over antitrust concerns with regard to the company’s planned purchase of Grupo Modelo. [DealBook / New York Times]

* It looks like Steve DiCarmine is being forced to take a break from his rigorous class schedule at Parsons to testify at a Dewey bankruptcy hearing next week. He’ll be happy to hear orange is in this spring. [Am Law Daily]

* Represented by Steptoe & Johnson, Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty to misusing $750,000 of his campaign funds for personal use. Most interesting purchase: Michael Jackson memorabilia. [Blog of Legal Times]

* When it comes to recruiting new talent, the ability to maintain a “collegial culture” is apparently a selling point for midsize law firms. And here we thought douchebaggery was the way to go. Sigh. [National Law Journal]

* Protip: do not flash your prosecutor’s badge to bypass cover charges and lap dance surcharges at the local strip club. You’re going to get fired. We’ll probably have more on this later. [Riptide 2.0 / Miami New Times]

* Don’t worry ladies, if you’re about to be raped, just pee or puke all over your attacker — or better yet, tell him that you’re on your period. Yeah, that’ll work. These tips are almost as good as “don’t dress like a slut.” [CNN]

* “[T]his is a ridiculous sideshow that’s horribly unbecoming to the parties involved.” The NCAA is now suing over a new Pennsylvania law designed to keep PSU’s Sandusky fines in the state. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Paul Cravath does not approve of this post.

Light years away and in the distant future, perhaps some alien grad student in Defunct Planet Studies will stumble onto the ATL archives. He’ll conclude, not unreasonably, that the legal industry was a sort of oligopoly. That there were only a handful of firms: Skadden, Cravath, Latham, Quinn Emanuel, Tannebaum Weiss, and those few others that get such a disproportionate amount of our attention. And of course, there were only 14 real law schools.

This singular obsession with “prestige,” this mindset that the most elite firms and schools are the only worthy ones, is detached from the experiences of the vast majority of lawyers practicing at the 50,000 other firms and the students at the 180+ other law schools. Back in December, we had a little debate about the effect of prestige in the legal industry. In the spirit of the “prestige obsession is bad” side of that argument, we thought it would be worthwhile to see which firms and schools outside of the very top tiers are, according to insiders, great places to work or learn.

Over the course of 2012, we received close to 10,000 responses to our ATL Insider Survey, where lawyers rate their firms based on compensation, culture, morale, training, and culture, and students and alumni rate their schools based on academics, social life, clinical training, career services, and financial aid advising. Based on our survey, the most highly rated firms and schools also happened to among the most prestigious (e.g., Stanford, Davis Polk), but there is certainly not a correlation between prestige and insider rating.

After the jump, we’ll see which schools outside of the T14 and which firms outside the Vault 50 were rated the highest by their own people….

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A Biglaw football commercial?

* Dewey know whether this revised partner contribution plan will be well received? Well, from the looks of it, the firm’s executive committee members are being asked to repay a greater sum of money, so people will probably be happier. [Am Law Daily]

* Arnold & Porter’s William Baer, the man nominated to lead the DOJ Antitrust Division, received a warm reception from the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it was all because of his “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. [National Law Journal]

* What do you get when you cross a Biglaw patent associate from Steptoe & Johnson with an NFL Redskins quarterback? A pretty cool hobby, and a new Adidas commercial. [Capital Business Blog / Washington Post]

* Up next in this judicial gong show, Madam Justice Lori Douglas’s lawyer has asked the Canadian Judicial Council to recuse itself and terminate the legal ethics inquiry against her client. [Full Comment / National Post]

* You saw this coming: attorneys for the man identified as Victim 2 in the Jerry Sandusky trial have released voice mails allegedly left by the former coach, and plan to use them in a civil suit against Penn State. [CNN]

* A lawyer’s former mistress who attempted to kill his wife on several occasions is expected to take a plea deal today in exchange for a 20-year prison sentence. Sounds like a soap opera plot. [Houston Chronicle]

* “Don’t say another word, because you’re just pissing me off.” Former adjunct law prof Clark Calvin Griffith said some interesting things to a judge during his indecent exposure sentencing hearing. [Pioneer Press]

Lawyers tend to overindulge in the finer things in life — things like designer clothes, fast cars, and luxurious lawyerly lairs. Unfortunately, lawyers also tend to overindulge in alcohol. In fact, according to the ABA, about 13 percent of lawyers qualify as alcoholics. Keeping that in mind, practicing law may be fine preparation for a new career in the wine bar business.

Meet Elizabeth Banker. This former in-house lawyer for Yahoo! and current counsel at ZwillGen is putting her legal career aside to follow something she’s been passionate about since her college days: wine. (Despite sharing a surname, apparently she’s not a fan of Banker’s Club vodka.)

Back in the day, Banker drank gallon-sized jugs of Chablis. Since then, her “tastes have evolved,” and now she’s more of a high-class sommelier. Let’s learn more about Banker’s new business, and find out when opening day will be….

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Steptoe: No soup burgers for you!

As previously covered in these pages, earlier this week a D.C. Superior Court judge ordered Rogue States Burgers to cease grilling operations at its Dupont Circle location. This news was met with sadness by burger lovers in the nation’s capital, but by relief from the employees of Steptoe & Johnson. Steptoe had sued Rogue States, claiming that fumes and smells from the burger purveyor were a nuisance requiring abatement.

Rogue States complied with Judge John Mott’s order. But this may not be the final act in the drama….

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Steptoe pwns burger joint.

This afternoon brings some major news for hamburger lovers in the nation’s capital. In the lawsuit brought by Steptoe & Johnson against Rogue States Burgers, in an effort to stop Rogue States’ rogue smells from infiltrating law firm airspace, Big Law has triumped over big beef patties. Judge John M. Mott of D.C. Superior Court just ruled that the burger fumes from Rogue States must be abated immediately.

Judge Mott ordered Rogue States to stop its grilling operations by the end of today. Due to the unavailability of easy solutions to the smell problem — an alternate ventilation plan has been nixed by the building landlord — Judge Mott “effectively issued a death sentence for the Dupont Circle burger joint,” as noted by Tim Carman of the Washington City Paper.

A disconsolate reader emailed this reaction to us: “sad. i am pleading to obama, burger lover president, to intervene.”

(Don’t hold your breath. Despite his willingness to talk to them without preconditions, Obama isn’t known for his love of Rogue States. We’re not talking about Ben’s Chili Bowl.)

It would be easy to snark on a large white-shoe law firm — represented by another large law firm, Pillsbury Winthrop — going to court to beat up on a local burger joint. But Steptoe might be a more sympathetic plaintiff than some might think….

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