Trusts and Estates

(c) Image by Juri H. Chinchilla.

Fancy a bit of history, old sport? The Great Gatsby was first published on April 10, 1925. Spoiler alert! The book’s title character, a mysterious young millionaire named Jay Gatsby, does not survive the novel, dying unexpectedly at the age of 32. Gatsby — a bachelor who spent his money on lavish parties at his mansion — presumably died without a will. This week, On Remand looks back at The Great Gatsby and the story of another mysterious magnate who died without a will. Or did he?

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Ascension to Biglaw partnership demands, obviously and above all, an enormous amount of first-rate legal work, in addition to political savvy, endurance, timing, and luck. A would-be partner’s chosen practice area also undoubtedly plays no small role. If firm leadership believes that there will be a spate of major Chapter 11 filings or trademark litigations on the horizon, obviously that will redound to the benefit of the potential bankruptcy or IP partners (although, as recent news reflects, partnership isn’t necessarily the lucrative, secure lifetime position it once was).

Late last year, ATL took a close look at the newly minted partner classes for the Vault 10 firms. Despite the great profitability and prestige of this select group, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the general direction of the legal market from the composition of these partnership classes. First of all, this is a small sample size. Second, we are witnessing an important shift in the allocation of the business within the market. A recent AdvanceLaw survey of general counsel at major global corporations found that three-quarters of general counsel were inclined to engage “less-pedigreed” firms (e.g., outside the Vault 10 or Magic Circle) for “high stakes” legal work. This survey of GCs (including those from Google, Nike, 3M, Unilever and Deutsche Bank) indicated their willingness to engage firms lower down the Biglaw totem pole.

Because of the apparent diminishment of the brand value of the most historically prestigious firms, as well as the broader trends toward disaggregation and unbundling of legal services, one must account for a larger set of law firms in order to see the fullest picture of the market for high-end legal services. With that in mind, today we look at the practice areas of the entire Biglaw partnership class of 2013….

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* With all the focus on law schools, medical schools are quietly dropping the last year of schooling. If they can cut out a year of learning how to keep people alive, we can drop a year of learning Jane Austen and the Law. [The Atlantic]

* MoFo lost a T&E team to Shartsis Friese. Hmm…. Maybe Shartsis should put ego aside and let Friese have his day in the sun. [Am Law Daily]

* Congrats to Bayan Alzahran, the first licensed female lawyer in Saudi Arabia. Soon she’ll be valiantly trying to keep people from being stoned to death with the best of them. [Al Arabiya]

* Good news, recovering criminals! As we mentioned earlier today (ninth link), mug shot extortion sites are getting whipped by Google. [Not-So Private Parts / Forbes]

* God needs a lawyer in federal district court? Paging Roy Cohn. [Forbes]

* If you’re interested in international law, International Law Weekend is coming up. Maybe Vladimir Putin will show up and learn a thing or two. [International Law Students Association]

Lex Luthor celebrates his purchase of the Washington Post.

* The Washington Post’s website was hacked by supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in what was apparently supposed to be a coordinated attack on Western media outlets. This marks the second time in 10 days that the Post has been brutally taken over by Internet geeks. [Washington Post]

* An 18-year-old girl took to Facebook to suggest that a 15-year-old girl has herpes. She was convicted of harassment. Putting aside all the hand-wringing over cyberbullying and the First Amendment, what kind of loser Senior is feeling threatened by a Sophomore? [IT-Lex]

* New Mexico’s Supreme Court would like to remind everybody that “not speaking English” is not an acceptable method of escaping jury duty. So stop practicing Klingon to get out of your jury summons. [FedSoc Blog]

* The Eminent Domain issues surrounding building a giant wall to keep out the giant inter-dimensional monsters from Pacific Rim. I’ll be damned if they obstruct the view from my beach house just because a 10-story hellbeast is sauntering out of the water! [Law and the Multiverse]

* Screwing around on a laptop during class can lead to as much as an 11 percent decline in attentiveness. It was so much easier to pay attention when we just had pen and paper and spent the whole class playing Dots and Boxes. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Mississippi police are on the hunt for someone managing a parody Twitter account mocking a couple of local politicians. Congratulations Mississippi! You’ve solved all the other crime problems and can turn to stroking the egos of butthurt politicians. [The Daily Dolt]

* Are you interested in being a trusts & estates lawyer in the Bay Area? Are you interested in making about $5/hr? Then we’ve got the firm for you! Screenshot after the jump in case this link gets taken down…

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325 West 52nd Street: modest on the outside, fabulous on the inside.

These are challenging times for print journalism. The Boston Globe, which the New York Times acquired in 1993 for $1.1 billion, recently sold for $70 million (or perhaps negative $40 million, as Matt Yglesias suggests). Jeff Bezos just bought the Washington Post for $250 million, a fraction of its former worth (and he may have paid four times its true value).

But print journalism was good to many people for many years. In the glory days of magazine writing, publications would pay several dollars a word for features that were thousands of words long. These generous fees might explain how a prominent magazine journalist amassed enough cash to buy a four-bedroom apartment Manhattan, which he recently sold to a law firm associate for just under $2 million.

That’s a sizable chunk of change for a young lawyer. How many sixth-year associates can afford $2 million apartments? Let’s learn more of the facts….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories, brought to you by Lateral Link. This recurring feature will give notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.

Rob Romanoff is Managing Partner of Chicago-based Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC. He is also a partner in the firm’s Trusts & Estates Group. Rob has extensive experience in estate, gift and income tax planning and broad-based wealth transfer planning for high net worth individuals and owners of closely held businesses and their families. Rob is a fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC).

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Friendly reminder: Mother’s Day is this Sunday. If you haven’t done so already, you should buy your cards or gifts — and make your brunch reservations — NOW.

In honor of this occasion, we bring you an interview with a working mother whose professional journey is nothing short of remarkable. She went from working as a law firm switchboard operator to becoming the first woman partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore….

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* If an armed society is a polite society, then Nelson, Georgia has the most polite motherf**kers in the country. [Constitutional Daily]

* Professor X is breaking the law? You know, he really should have seen that coming… [Law and the Multiverse]

* Speaking of people who should have seen it coming, Dionne Warwick, former spokesperson for the Psychic Friends Network, has filed for bankruptcy. [Celeb Legal Issues]

* Incest is best when kept in the family. So go ahead and adopt your girlfriend. [Lowering the Bar]

* “Your Honor, I’d like my dong stricken from the record.” [OC Weekly]

* A slick recap of how completely screwed the legal industry is right now, by Axiom Law (via Bruce MacEwen). [Adam Smith, Esq.]

* On a personal note, as a debate coach myself, congratulations to everyone involved with the Emporia State debate team for becoming the first team ever to win both national championship tournaments (by way of analogy the “U.S. Open” and “The Masters”) for the same year. [Associated Press]

‘They tried to make me go to rehab, and I said… sure, it’s better than going to jail!’

* President Obama nominated Thomas Perez, the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, to be the next secretary of labor. Republicans, of course, are all butthurtt, calling this a “needlessly divisive nomination.” [New York Times]

* Let’s get ready to RUMBLE! Be prepared to see some legal heavyweights next week when the Prop 8 and DOMA cases are argued before the Supreme Court, including Paul Clement and Ted Olson. [National Law Journal]

* How appropriate that Justice Scalia should break out the Spanglish for an Arizona voter registration law that requires proof of U.S. citizenship. Our beloved Wise Latina probably wasn’t too thrilled by this. [New York Times]

* To promote pay equity in law firms, the ABA is encouraging bar groups to hold conferences on the topic. The question on everyone’s minds, of course, is whether those conferences are billable. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Law schools aren’t the only places where transparency is lacking. Jeh Johnson, the DOD’s former general counsel, thinks the secrecy swirling around drone strikes is bad for the government. [At War / New York Times]

* The members of Debevoise’s displaced trusts and estates practice team have been picked up by Loeb & Loeb. Enjoy your new home, and your new — presumably lower — compensation package. [Am Law Daily]

* Lindsay Lohan took a plea deal yesterday, and instead of going to jail, she’ll be going to rehab to be kept under lock and key for 90 days. I’d say this is bad for her career, but who are we kidding? [Los Angeles Times]

* Casey Anthony’s trustee just answered my prayers. He wants the ex-MILF to sell her story to pay off her debts. I demand that LiLo be cast in the role! She’s the only one broken enough to pull it off. [Washington Post]

It looks like the trusts and estates department at Debevoise & Plimpton needs a last will and testament. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the firm is pulling the lifeline on its T&E department.

The move surprised some, given the kind of place that Debevoise is. As Peter Lattman put it, “it seemed to run counter to Debevoise’s reputation for a strong partnership culture. At a time when many large law firms have discarded the traditional partnership model and embraced a more bottom-line approach, Debevoise has been seen as retaining an old-school ethos — a genteel law firm known for its camaraderie and decency.”

We have some additional information about the wind-down process. On the bright side, it’s being conducted in a genteel, decent, Debevoise sort of way….

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