In an era when “disruption” is celebrated, the world of large law firms is one of the last redoubts of conventional wisdom. For a uniquely rule- and precedent-bound profession, this makes sense. Biglaw’s conventional wisdom has the added virtue of being reliable. For example, we can count on Cravath taking the lead — at least chronologically — on bonuses, and for DLA Piper to have the most random Third developing-world offices.
Another reflection of conventional wisdom is the way in which Biglaw lends itself to — and revels in — superlatives and rankings. There tends to be a generally acknowledged and perennially dominant player (or a few) in most practice areas: Wachtell Lipton for M&A, Weil Gotshal for Chapter 11 work, Patton Boggs for lobbying, and so forth. There’s no doubt that many worthy firms get overlooked.
Last year we took a look at which firms’ practice groups were considered “underrated” by peers in the field. Among the notable 2012 nominees: Cahill for corporate law, Arnold & Porter in litigation, and Proskauer for its bankruptcy and tax practices.
We wondered whether the same practice groups were still considered by practitioners to be unfairly underrated. Or are there other firms deserving more recognition?
This coming Friday, it is the inalienable right of all Americans to sleep off their hangovers, or riot at Walmart, or do anything at all rather than work for The Man. But Biglaw is a different country. As illustrated by Elie’s decision matrix, the “choice” of whether to work on this sacred day is, for the denizens of the law firm world, fraught with other pressures and expectations. We all know that Biglaw careers demand a Faustian bargain: in return for their fat paychecks (and bonuses?), lawyers are expected to work grueling, unpredictable hours. This time of year, that reality is brought into sharp relief: the “holiday season,” with those “family obligations” and so forth, is something that occurs elsewhere.
But law firm billable expectations are not homogeneous. There are significant differences across practice areas, seniority levels, and, of course, individual firms. So how do the various practices, employment statuses, and firms stack up?
Lawyer jokes notwithstanding, most lawyers are ethical, honorable, and competent. That’s why we tend to focus on attorney misbehavior in these pages; it’s more newsworthy. If a lawyer complies with the law or serves a client well, that’s not exactly “news”; it’s what lawyers are supposed to do, and what most lawyers do most of the time.
Alas, sometimes lawyers fall short of our profession’s high standards. Today we look at allegations of a high-ranking government lawyer abusing the perks of his office, a tax lawyer engaging in tax fraud, and a real estate lawyer who has people real mad — after taking $4 million from them.
Which of these attorneys deserves to be our Lawyer of the Day? We’ll describe their alleged misdeeds, outline the reasons for and against Lawyer of the Day honors, then let you vote for the winner….
* Tired of the National Zoo Panda Cam? A USPTO attorney has created the Substitute Panda Cam. I wonder if the cam will survive the shutdown. [Substitute Panda Cam]
* Well, wonder no more! Here’s a rundown of how the shutdown is treating the intellectual property world. [Patently-O]
* So if you’re part of the intellectual property legal regime that’s shut down (or any government employee off because of the shutdown), here’s a list of all the drinking specials in D.C. you can use to fill your day. [Washington Post]
* Some advice on handling terrible clients. Alternate title: 50 Shades of Grey. [The Careerist]
* St. Charles Parish Judge Michele Morel has finally agreed to recuse herself in a trial over the rape of a 10-year-old girl. And why should she have recuse herself? Just because she has a personal relationship with the defendant’s family? Pshaw! [Times-Picayune]
* Happy 100th birthday to income tax! Back then, someone with around $12 million (in 2013 dollars) paid about 7 percent in taxes. Meanwhile, today that same person would pay… well, with deductions and carried interest exceptions, probably about 7 percent. [TaxProf Blog]
* Lawyers from the DOJ are literally begging judges to stay their litigation cases because they’re not allowed to work unless it’s an emergency. How very lucky for U.S. Air. [Blog of Legal Times]
* FYI, the IRS wants to further screw victims of layoffs. If you were recently laid off and received a severance package from your firm, this is a SCOTUS case you’ll want to follow this Term. [Reuters]
* Which Biglaw firm has the best brand in the world? We’ll give you a hint: it’s not the new top dog on the Am Law Global 100 (and that glorious firm didn’t even finish in second place). We’ll have more on this later. [Am Law Daily]
* Yet another Biglaw firm just elected its first woman chair ever. Congratulations to Jami Wintz McKeon, the power litigatrix who will lead Morgan Lewis to great success in the coming years. [Am Law Daily]
* Some corporate “girl on girl action”: ex-employees of the National Association of Professional Women are now suing the organization over a female manager’s sexual harassment. [DealBook / New York Times]
* New Jersey’s AG is desperately trying to delay the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses after a trial judge’s ruling last week. At this point, the Garden State’s arguments are just livin’ on a prayer. [Bloomberg]
* Law firms are getting out-hustled by a number of other service providers. [ABA Journal]
* Lawyers are terrible leaders. And if you don’t understand business, you can’t really be a good advocate. This also explains why firms are getting out-hustled per the prior item. [Fashion Law Blog]
* The Supreme Court Historical Society & The Historical Society of the New York Courts Present are hosting a CLE event called “Learned in the Law: Role of the U.S. Solicitor General…a New York Point of View” on October 25. Tickets are $30. [Historical Society of the New York Courts]
* Johnny Football failed to defeat Alabama on Saturday (though he was gentlemanly enough to keep Bama from covering the spread), but now he has a tougher foe in the IRS. [TaxProf Blog]
* Don’t be that guy who takes naked pictures of your girlfriend. And definitely don’t be that guy who takes naked pictures of his 16-year-old girlfriend while married to the girl’s older sister. In other words, don’t be this lawyer. [Legal Profession Blog]
* Are you an attorney on LinkedIn? Have people been endorsing your legal skills? Congratulations, you’re probably violating an ethical obligation! [IT-Lex]
* Another round-up of people with law degrees who decided to be famous for something other than lawyering. When the list kicks off with Geraldo Rivera and Jerry Springer, you know you’re in for a classy list. [Millington Star]
* One year later, a look at how the Steubenville rape case has affected the town. [Jezebel]
* The world of litigation finance suffers some setbacks as it turns out lawsuits might be the only investment less stable than the Twitter IPO. [Wall Street Journal]
* Time for some more legally themed poetry! This time, let’s get all Edgar Allan Poe up in here. [Poetic Justice]
* Following up on our event in Toronto last week, Bruce MacEwen recapped the evening’s discussion here. [Adam Smith, Esq.]
* Even at the top of the in-house food chain, women lawyers are still paid less than their male counterparts. But hey, at least they’re not being forced to cry poverty like their in-house staff attorney brethren. [Corporate Counsel]
* Neil Barofsky, the former King of TARP in the United States, is making the move to Jenner & Block, specifically because as opposed to all other firms, “Jenner took the side of really getting to the truth of the matter.” [Reuters]
* Luxury fashion is fun: four Biglaw firms, including Cleary Gottlieb, Cravath, Torys, and Proskauer Rose, all took Tim Gunn’s mantra to heart to make it work for the $6 billion sale of Neiman Marcus. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* If you want to try some lawyer, we hear that they taste great when poached this time of year. Speaking of which, Troutman Sanders just reeled in three attorneys from Hunton & Williams. [Richmond BizSense]
* Are you ready for some tax law?! The NFL and other professional sports leagues might lose their nonprofit status if new tax reform legislation makes it through the House and the Senate. [Businessweek]
* Man gets 30 days in jail for raping a 14-year-old who later killed herself. The judge explained that he’d already been punished with “the scarlet letter of the internet.” The new sentencing guidelines are really web-literate. [Jezebel]
* Infilaw is taking over Charleston School of Law eliminating all the pretense. [Post and Courier]
* On that note, Steven J. Harper discusses President Obama’s call to eliminate the third year of law school. Simpler Harper: Law schools and the ABA are too vested in ripping off students to listen to reason. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* The “most intimidating man in hip-hop” is a Columbia Law grad. Hip-hop has come a long way from allegedly dangling rappers off hotel balconies. [GQ]
Last month, we reported on the mounting evidence that NYU, both the university as a whole and the law school specifically, employed a number of charitable organizations to provide faculty and staff with what can be safely called sweetheart deals on real estate and loans.
The investigation is a little unfortunate, given that it arises from a political witch hunt directed by Senator Chuck Grassley against Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. But a Senate investigation is a Senate investigation and NYU needs to suck it up and comply.
But, according to Grassley, NYU has ever so politely given him the finger…
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
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