One of the things that was always interesting about Biglaw was just how much the skills of senior partners were celebrated, even in the absence of any verification. Or rigorous comparison to their peers, for that matter. Such exaltation of abilities was not limited to individual lawyers, of course, but extended also to practice groups and even other firms. In fact, a fair amount of Biglaw’s “prestige” is pollinated by secondhand anecdotal evidence, many times passed along by people who have either never seen their subjects in action or who are not qualified to distinguish between a great performance and a mediocre one.
Of course, I do not doubt that many, if not the vast majority of, Biglaw reputations are well-earned. For example, even though my knowledge of real estate law is severely limited, I would feel comfortable hiring some of my old colleagues at Greenberg Traurig in New York for real estate help, should I ever be in a position to acquire or dispose of some commercial real estate. I admit that I have no frame of reference, other than reputation and some personal relationships, supporting such a prospective choice. But it is not like I could “shadow” a closing and figure out which set of lawyers is doing a better job anyway. “Wow, those guys really put out a nice refreshment spread in the room with the closing binders” would be the level of my analysis. Probably not a good idea to choose counsel solely on that basis.
* The Eighth Circuit axed a $900K jury award after a lawyer recounted her tale of sexual harassment by a law professor at Drake University Law during closing arguments. Well, that sucks, but we’d really love to know which professor this was. [ABA Journal]
* If flat is the new up, then mergers must be the new growth. The new year is upon us, and law firms are on track to either meet or break the merger record set in 2013. Thus far, 22 firms have announced mergers or acquisitions in 2014. [Washington Post]
* A lawyer in Minnesota who’s been in trouble with the bar quite a few times was recently charged with setting his girlfriend on fire. Yikes, someone’s way too excited about the Fargo mini-series. [Star-Tribune]
* Oscar Pistorius took the stand in his murder trial yesterday, revealing that when he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, he was really trying to protect her. This case gives us the sads. [New York Times]
* Sorry we’re not sorry about the toupee: Paramount wants this Wolf of Wall Street suit dismissed since it’s undeniable the plaintiff was part of “bizarre travesty that was Stratton Oakmont.” [Hollywood Reporter]
Olympian Oscar Pistorius’s trial in South Africa for allegedly murdering his girlfriend continues on, despite Pistorius throwing up during witness testimony. He vomited after seeing disturbing photographs of his dead girlfriend. It is undisputed that he shot his girlfriend, model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp, four times. His defense is that he thought she was an intruder when she woke up to use the bathroom…
One of Biglaw’s calling cards is the ability to marshal resources quickly to handle nearly any kind of legal issue. Going to trial and need some immediate help with responding to a host of motions in limine filed by your adversary? Even in these days of reduced associate classes, at most firms it would be no problem roping in the necessary support. Need to put a team together on short notice to respond to a preliminary injunction motion? Not a problem. An email or two to the head of the group and a fellow partner or two, and you can have all the resources you need.
With some luck, you can even benefit from assistance in multiple time zones, always a plus when dealing with court deadlines in “foreign” jurisdictions, as is commonly the case in patent matters. Just ask any East Coast-based patent litigator whether they appreciate the extra hour for filing they get in their Eastern District of Texas matters. I know everyone is super-organized and never files at the last minute, but sometimes “unexpected delays” can result in a litigator making full use of the allotted response time for a filing or two.
While the Biglaw beast can be roused to quick action on occasion, it often prefers to move very deliberately towards a target. Patent cases are a good example. While there may be a flurry of activity surrounding an important hearing, or the close of discovery, or trial, there is also a lot of “preparing the case” time. Cases that take years just to get to trial are normal, and when you factor in appeals, it is not unusual for a Biglaw patent lawyer to go from associate, to counsel, to partner during the pendency of a single case. I speak from personal experience on that point….
Gentlemen, have no fear, because the forced motorboating stops here. Never again will you be asked if you want to sample your female superior’s “duck taco.” Never again will you be asked if you want to lick spilled Coke off a female colleague’s “cannooki.”
Ladies, you can’t get away with this stuff anymore just because you’re women…
In his latest courtroom appearance, Trump schlepped down to Florida, testified as a trial witness, and prevailed. But now the losing party in that case has filed a motion for new trial, arguing that the presiding judge fawned over the Donald in front of the jury and, in doing so, “transgressed basic principles of impartiality and fairness.”
* Dewey know who Zachary Warren is? Per this failed firm’s insiders, he seems to be a “man of mystery” who apparently worked in the “bowels of the bureaucracy” that ultimately led to D&L’s demise. [Am Law Daily]
* “You can cross-examine the witness. You can’t cross examine an email.” Defense of the Dewey defendants may be tough when it’s time for trial — and you can bet your ass there’ll be a trial. [New York Law Journal]
* Fear not, friends, because Patton Boggs has found a way to weather the storm. It’s the same way most barely buoyant firms stay afloat: more layoffs. Expect more on this news later today. [National Law Journal]
* Paul Ceglia, the man who claims he owns half of Facebook’s fortunes, can’t toss his criminal charges. Sometimes wheeling and dealing with allegedly faux contracts will land you in the clink. [Bloomberg]
* Because no father wants to see his daughter become “tabloid fodder”: Rachel Canning, the New Jersey schoolgirl who sued her parents, is being “savaged” by the public. Aww, poor little Millennial. [Daily Record]
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.