Travel

You learn a lot of lessons practicing in Biglaw. A big one is that you can never be prepared enough. There is always another opinion of your presiding judge to read, or a brief drafted by your opponent in an earlier case to review. Anyone who makes it more than a few years in Biglaw learns that lesson. But as much as preparation is valued, and pursued with fervor as an ideal onto itself, there is absolutely no way for even the most idealistic Biglaw recruit to fully appreciate what they are getting themselves into.

As many know, law school itself has little to teach about the realities of Biglaw, other than to idealize it as a fantasy land of big paychecks and “interesting work.” And everyone’s Biglaw experience is so unique that anecdotal tidbits are of limited utility. Does the professor, who so proudly includes on his resume a two year stint as a M&A associate at a white-shoe firm two decades ago, have much actionable advice to give a graduating 3L headed for a first-year post at even that same firm? Not really, except to perhaps suggest that the best type of relationship with that firm is one where it is your former employer….

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When I moved last year from Chicago to London, my morning workout changed along with my postal code: Instead of lifting weights and jogging on alternate days, I now jog every morning, plodding through my lap around Regent’s Park. Either the new exercise regime or my appetite for British food has affected me: Although I hadn’t realized it, I’ve lost a fair amount of weight this past year. (I started at only 5’10″ and maybe 175 lbs; losing 20 pounds wasn’t necessarily a good thing.)

Here’s what I noticed when my wife and I recently visited Chicago: When you’re in your twenties and lose weight, your friends say, “Hey, Mark! You’re looking good!” When you’re in your fifties and lose weight, your friends whisper to your wife: “Pssst: Is Mark okay?”

Anyway, our son, Jeremy (you remember him), recently survived his medical school boards and visited us in London for a while. He joined me for a few of my morning jaunts. I sprinted; he jogged. We both went the same pace.

All of this prompted me to reflect on the differences between the States and the Kingdom. I’ve previously noted that the United States cleans the UK’s clock in a couple of areas, such as dryer and traffic-light technology. But the reverse is also true: The Kingdom beats the States in a couple of noteworthy ways….

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When was the last long trip you took? For many of you, especially those of you who work at law firms, it might have been you post-bar-exam trip or your honeymoon. But it was probably a really long time ago.

How would you like to go on a trip that never ends? How would you like to leave your office behind and visit different countries, learning about different cultures and expressing yourself along the way?

If you have a camera and a laptop, you might be able to turn this dream into a reality….

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It’s mid-April, and you all know what that means: some people are already starting to freak out about the July 2013 bar exam — but not about whether they’ll pass or fail. This time, people are losing their minds over their hotel accommodations, or the lack thereof.

Yes, you read that correctly. Bar examinees in New York are going to be forced to find alternate lodging during this most crucial of times, because most major hotels do not have a single reservation available between July 28 and July 31.

But what on earth could be more important than the bar exam? And which test sites will be affected by this disruption in service?

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Mickey Mouse, Esquire?

“I’m leaving the legal profession.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to Disney World!”

This is, in a nutshell, the story of the latest lawyer featured in our series on career alternatives for attorneys. But there is a lesson here of broader applicability.

Are you looking to leave the law? Your treasure trove of “useless” knowledge could be a valuable asset….

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Feel free to put this back in your carry-on luggage.

It’s been a while since we’ve written about the anti-rights disaster that is the Transportation Security Administration. But they’re still there, still abusing people’s rights under the guise of “making us safer.”

Ironically, I’m writing about TSA today because they are relaxing their restrictions. The TSA has decided to allow small knives and golf clubs on the plane.

So, for those playing along at home, you still can’t have liquids over three ounces on the plane. But knives, you know, THE THINGS THAT THE TERRORISTS ACTUALLY USED TO TAKE OVER THE PLANES ON 9/11, are okay now….

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* Let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for 9/11, we’d already be allowed to leave our cellphones on during flights because before 9/11 we weren’t beaten and cowed by the rights abusing airline industry. [The Legal Satyricon]

* “The Child Support Lady” is the lady that helps Dads avoid paying child support by representing fathers. I think I’d prefer the child support lady who helps Dads avoid paying child support by passing out condoms. [Miami Herald]

* Check out his warning label on a doormat. [Overlawyered]

* Christmas isn’t a deadweight economic loss, because sometimes people surprise you. [Daily Beast]

* And now for the obligatory “look how lawyers would ruin Christmas if they could” posts. First, the oldie but goodie. [Tax Prof Blog]

* And now here’s an issue spotter about Santa Claus. [Constitutional Daily]

Biglaw lawyers behave badly sometimes. And Biglaw lawyers sometimes use travel as an excuse to behave badly. But no one likes to talk about the bad things they see their colleagues do. It is bad for business, especially since it is the rainmakers that usually behave the worst. Bad behavior is usually just ignored, and only gets revealed as confirming evidence of a former colleague’s failings — if and when the firm decides enough is enough and cuts ties with the evildoer. Sometimes that never happens, and the sociopath becomes a “firm leader.” Biglaw is a business, after all, and powerful people need to get away with the things powerful people decide they are entitled to do. So Biglaw lawyers and staff generally keep quiet.

When I was an associate, I was lucky enough to work with pretty decent people. Even though I did a lot of work traveling, with a variety of senior attorneys, I was never exposed to any behavior that was out of line. Back at the office, there usually was a spate of gossip following partner retreats, but that was tame stuff. To be honest, a group of pasty old partners hitting a strip club, or some millionaire partner sitting at the ten-grand-a-hand blackjack table, did not strike me as that scandalous. Especially when I was exposed in the office to blatant overstaffing of matters, do-nothing partners and associates “reviewing” things, and similar other profit-drivers that normal people would consider theft. (My firm was not so bad on the padding front; other firms I saw from cases I was on were far worse. But that is a discussion for another time.)

There was one time, however, when I saw openly unprofessional behavior, perpetrated by a pretty important Biglaw figure no less. And I kept quiet about it, despite the temptation to email Lat and expose what I saw. Now that I have this platform, I still intend to protect the identity of the Biglaw figure that I saw with my own eyes publicly debase his or herself and our shared profession. Why? For the sake of his or her family, clients, and firm. And for Biglaw — we don’t need more scandals, especially stale ones. And when there is innocent collateral damage to consider, I think it best to keep my mouth shut. If this person’s fate is to be exposed for other indiscretions, it will happen. Going by the lack of discretion they exhibited publicly (which I witnessed with my own eyes), there is a good chance they feel immune. Maybe they are. We’ll see — and I have no doubt that if things ever catch up to them, ATL will be there to capture the happenings.

So what did I see? First, some background….

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At this point, stuff like this doesn’t even make me mad. I’m just impressed. In a few years, I swear Ashton Kutcher will come out and that he’s been secretly working with the Transportation Security Administration on a new airport-themed reboot of Punk’d.

They dump grandpa’s ashes all over the floor. They accuse some guy of carrying a weapon, when it’s just his massive package. And now they apparently believe the massively overpriced, burnt Starbucks coffee you bought after getting ambiguously naked x-ray photos taken of you is SOMEHOW worth screening too.

[Stops to breathe]

OK. Let’s take a look. And, yes, OF COURSE we have video….

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I watched the sunset with my son last night. I told him that today would never come again, and that I was so happy to have watched the day end next to him. It then occurred to me that I had missed so many events since becoming a practicing lawyer; and for what? The easy answer is that I was such a hungry young turk, that I would always choose work over play because that is what lawyers do. Especially Biglaw attorneys. It was simply a rite of passage to regularly catch the 8:03 p.m. with a couple of oilcans of Foster’s Lager, arrive home after 9 p.m., and be up again at 6 a.m. to rinse and repeat.

Even more hardcore was pulling an all-nighter in an effort to prepare a brief for filing. Associates would lament, with an undercurrent of braggadocio, about how they had to cancel a vacation in order to complete a filing. And the funny thing is, I don’t recall any partners cancelling anything — ever. So, the hard (and candid) answer is that I was a fool….

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