Steven Harper

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

Like many unhappy lawyers, I find Cee Lo Green’s F**k You — which has been picked up by radio stations in a more family-friendly version, Forget You — to be a personal theme song (a la Ally McBeal). Indeed, I often fantasize that I am dancing around my office in an inappropriately short skirt-suit, belting out the chorus to many of my co-workers.

And I am not alone in appreciating the cathartic properties of this special song. We all saw those crazy kids at GWU Law School, in their feather-boa-filled tirade against law school gunners.

Steven Harper, a retired Kirkland & Ellis partner who now teaches at Northwestern Law (and blogs), is the latest to invoke Mr. Lo Green. He seems to be giving the F**k You to Biglaw — and maybe a little bit to former NU Law Dean David Van Zandt, too….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Size Matters: Forget You, Biglaw (oo, oo, ooo)”

Bill Lerach, looking sex-ay.

* Lawsuit lending, i.e., investing in lawsuits, is a booming business — but are plaintiffs getting screwed (again)? [New York Times]

* The “state secrets” doctrine goes before the Supreme Court tomorrow. [USA Today via How Appealing]

* Elsewhere in SCOTUS news, Justice Breyer gets a shout-out in the title of a new study: “‘People Did Sometimes Stick Things in my Underwear’: The Function of Laughter at the U.S. Supreme Court.” [Washington Post]

* The new year is off to a great start for M&A lawyers. [Am Law Daily]

Arthur Cutillo

* A second ex-Ropes & Gray associate, Arthur Cutillo, pleaded guilty on Friday to charges arising out of the Galleon Group insider trading scandal. (Brien Santarlas pleaded guilty back in December 2009.) [Bloomberg via ABA Journal]

* If Cutillo and Santerlas go to prison, what can they expect? Check out Nathan Koppel’s interesting interview with former high-flying plaintiffs’ lawyer Bill Lerach, which touches on Lerach’s time in the big house (including a story about how he got the prison TV switched back to CNBC). [WSJ Law Blog]

* Steven Harper, the Kirkland & Ellis partner turned blogger, writes: “Are law schools deceiving prospective students into incurring huge debt for degrees that aren’t worth it? Of course they are.” [The Belly of the Beast]

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Inside Straight, Above the Law’s new column for in-house counsel, written by Mark Herrmann.

I like what Steven Harper’s doing these days. After 30 years at Kirkland & Ellis, he retired from the fray, and he now comments on big law firms from an outsider’s perspective, at The Belly of the Beast. Although Harper’s critiques are often cutting, I think they reflect his underlying concern, not animosity, about law firm life.

But, to my eye, Harper recently missed a trick. In a recent column at the AmLaw Daily, Harper speculated that big law firms may prefer lockstep compensation to merit-based systems because merit-based reviews require partners to invest nonbillable time thinking carefully about associate performance. There’s no incentive for partners to invest that nonbillable time, says Harper, so firms settle for lockstep — and firms thus delay giving meaningful (and ultimately helpful) guidance to associates.

I think it’s worse than that. I think there’s actually an invidious incentive for partners at large firms to mislead associates about their performance. Why?

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