Ed. note: Please welcome Christina Gagnier, who will be covering small law firm practice. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.
My foray into writing this column for Above the Law is appropriately timed with a running Evernote scribble of speculative episodes that my partner and I have been sketching out about our lives managing a small law firm. Running a boutique tech law firm in San Francisco led by two women with a bunch of under 35-somethings is fodder for a half-hour “dramedy.”
Hopefully, through some storytelling, this column can provide inspiration, and perhaps to some, caution, about running a boutique/small law firm. Some of the things that happen to us are a little too unbelievable to be true, but I assure you, they happened and continue to make us laugh (or cry).
A little backstory. My partner and I met at law school and quickly came to the realization that we needed to get back to work, or the entire experience of simply reading a lot of old material and regurgitating it back on exams would quickly claim our souls. So, as is the San Francisco entrepreneurial way, we started our law firm, then solely a public affairs consulting firm, by incorporating in the back of our Evidence class.
The starting operating budget? $87 from an AT&T account deposit refund. We scurried to the nearest Bank of America and began to live the American dream of being lawyers in a big city. I guess it was the American dream if the American dream consists of crashing on office floors, sleeping in airports, and working out of Starbucks. It was 2008, and we thought to ourselves, in the midst of the greatest economic upheaval since the Great Depression, that we would simply walk out of law school and start a law firm. Well, we are still here…
Please join us at the Yale Club of New York City on March 14 for the inaugural ATL Attorney@Blog conference. Featuring opening remarks by preeminent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, Attorney@Blog will be a first-of-its-kind convocation of leading legal bloggers. Panelists will include Tim Wu of Columbia Law School, Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal, Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog, Vivia Chen of The Careerist, and many more.
Still in search of those hard-to-find ethics credits? We’ve got a solution for you: CLE credit will be available at the conference, complimentary with your admission. We will be offering up to SIX ETHICS CREDITS, courtesy of Marino Legal, for our first three panels. Attendees will have to check in with the company before and after each panel to confirm their attendance. Has anything ever been easier?
* The DOJ lifted its three-year hiring freeze yesterday. There are thousands of jobs out there waiting for the perfect applicant. You know what that means: apply to EVERY SINGLE JOB and see what sticks. [WSJ Law Blog]
* It looks like the ABA is going to move toward allowing paid externships for law students — because being paid to work is smarter than paying to work. Oh good, we’re glad someone finally realized that. [National Law Journal]
* Cleveland-Marshall’s solo practice incubator will be up and running in March. Ten lucky grads will pay rent to their law school to learn what they should’ve when they were still paying tuition. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
* If you think you’ve got it bad as a 3L here in America, think again. Canadian 3Ls in Ontario are looking at a 79 percent increase in articling and licensing fees, bringing the grand total to almost $5,000. [CBC News]
UPDATE (2/13/2014, 11 a.m.): Due to weather conditions and safety concerns, this event is being postponed to a future date. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
Valentine’s Day is just days away, and this year, instead of planning which drug stores you’ll hit for after-Valentine’s Day candy sales, you should consider stopping by the Above the Law Valentine’s Day Party in New York City, sponsored by the Business Law Center on WestlawNext™ from Thomson Reuters. It’s being held on Thursday, February 13th, so you’ll have plenty of time to message people on OKCupid so you can tell your mother that yes, you do have a date, and yes, you will find a nice person to marry someday.
Register using the form below, and we’ll send you an email with the exact time and location of our three-hour open bar.
If you can’t attend or aren’t in the NYC area, you can still register to win one of two grand prize swag bags filled with everything you could possibly need to make this Valentine’s Day a memorable one (awesome things like Russell Stover chocolates, ATL and Business Law Center t-shirts, and an iPad Mini).
Today’s Biglaw layoff story involves a firm that’s even more impressive. This firm has been recognized as a great place to work by Fortune, Crain’s, and Above the Law. In fact, it topped our list of the 12 top rated firms for 2013.
Which wonderful law firm is parting with some people, and why?
I’ve already written one piece about Cory Doctorow’s incredible column at the Guardian concerningdigital rights management and anti-circumvention, in which I focused on how the combination of DRM and anti-circumvention laws allows companies to make up their own copyright laws in a way that removes the rights of the public. Those rights are fairly important, and the reason we have them encoded within our copyright laws is to make sure that copyright isn’t abused to stifle speech. But, anti-circumvention laws combined with DRM allow the industry to route around that entirely.
But there’s a second important point in Doctorow’s piece that is equally worth highlighting, and it’s that the combination of DRM and anti-circumvention laws make all of our computers less safe. For this to make sense, you need to understand that DRM is really a form of security software.
* A guy who tried to get on the bench more than once was just busted in a prostitution sting. Oops. He also spells his name weird. [The Press Democrat]
* Tomorrow, Gibson Dunn partner Miguel Estrada will argue before the Second Circuit that private parties can’t get injunctions under RICO. For those keeping score, Gibson Dunn partner Randy Mastro hangs his whole case in Chevron v. Donziger on a request for an injunction under RICO. Time to play the Distinguish Polka. [Courthouse News]
* Wait until the RIAA realizes there are royalties to be made at CIA black sites in Uzbekistan. Because the only thing more torturous than being forced to listen to this music is the tenacity of the RIAA. [Slate]
* More on the legislative fight over accrual accounting versus cash-basis accounting for Biglaw firms. To the barricades! Swear your allegiance to Generalissimo MacEwen! [Adam Smith, Esq.]
The most important thing about a conference like LegalTech is the opportunity to interact with innovators and thought leaders in the dynamic field of legal technology.
With that out of the way, the really important thing about a conference like LegalTech is seeing what toys, promos, giveaways, and other swag the marketing geniuses have prepared to catch the eye of a wandering general counsel strolling the many aisles of booths. While some stuck to the tried and true approach of putting out some generic candy and offering an iPad raffle every day of the conference, others really stepped up their game. Here are my personal favorites from the conference. At the end, feel free to vote on who was the King/Queen of marketing at this year’s conference….
Greetings from LegalTech 2014! For those unfamiliar, LegalTech is an annual conference in the heart of Manhattan bringing together lawyers and tech geeks to discuss the lay of the land in law and technology and to give away free iPads every five or six minutes. It’s E3 if you replaced video games with demonstrations of predictive coding processes. It’s awesome!
There’s a curious vibe when lawyers mix with computer geeks. Two of the least sociable professions thrown into a crowded marketplace selling complicated solutions to legal problems that senior lawyers didn’t even realize existed. Thankfully there are enough PR professionals around to grease the wheels.
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: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.