This morning we mentioned a lawsuit filed against litigation powerhouse Kasowitz Benson and two Kasowitz partners by Gregory S. Berry, a former first-year associate at the firm. Berry’s 50-page complaint, filed in New York state court, contains 14 causes of action, including wrongful termination, fraud, and breach of contract. Berry seeks a whopping $77 million in damages — $2.55 million in estimated lost income, and $75 million in punitives.
According to Berry’s complaint, he “immediately began doing superlative work” at Kasowitz. Alas, the law firm was unable to accommodate his “superior legal mind.” After he began seeking greater responsibility in a way that rubbed some colleagues the wrong way, he got canned.
This summer, sadly, the celebrity wattage seems to be considerably lower. Biglaw is less big than it was a few years ago, and landing a summer associate gig isn’t easy, even for the famous. But we still have a few names to pass along (and welcome additional submissions, by email).
This morning Elie referenced one of my favorite films: Mean Girls, starring the talented but now tormented Lindsay Lohan. This reminded me of one of our celebrity summers, who has had the pleasure of acting alongside LiLo. Unlike his famous co-star, however, he is now studying the law rather than breaking it.
Who is he, where is he a law student, and where is he working this summer? Let’s find out….
As you are all know, the University of Texas School of Law has moved into the “top 14″ in this year’s U.S. News law school rankings. It’s a bit of cheat for U.S. News: Texas is technically tied for 14th, which means that the magazine has actually managed to cram 15 schools into its top 14. I’d complain more, but I’m a fan of a Big (We Can’t Count To) Ten school.
While we all know that Texas is in the top 14, very few of you remember the significance of the top 14 in the first place. The top 14 isn’t as arbitrary as it sounds. Since U.S. News started publishing these law school rankings, no school that ranked in the inaugural top 14 has ever been ranked outside of the top 14, and no school that did not rank in the top 14 that first year has ever cracked that list. Until now.
The top 14 has been a way to distinguish elite institutions that are nearly interchangeable with one another from really good law schools that are just a cut below. When viewed that way, Texas’s inclusion was probably long overdue.
Let’s take a look at some of the other movement in this rarefied group of law schools….
As David Lat said earlier this week, “Here at Above the Law, we’re trying to help you.” Honestly, think of Above the Law as the MPRE, but for situations people in the legal community are actually likely to face. Don’t conduct sensitive firm business on a crowded train. Don’t offer hand-jobs in school-wide emails.
And here’s a good one: don’t reuse exam questions just because you are teaching at a different law school. It’s called “the internet,” professors. Your students have access to it and can find your old questions. If you put in just a little bit of work, you can come up with entirely new exam questions.
We were somewhat surprised to learn that this actually isn’t the most depressing day of the year. That honor goes to the third Monday in January, not the first. There’s a whole mathematical formula about it. Anyway, here’s some LEWW cheer to brighten your gray Monday.
Administrative note: Signs are indicating that LEWW will soon be presenting Mr. LEWW with another heir. Wedding coverage will be scaled back somewhat while we recover from the blessed event, but you won’t care because it’s January, and nobody gets married in January.
But some got married in December — like these three couples:
Biglaw isn’t all about high-stakes mergers and bet-the-company litigation. Many Biglaw firms take their commitment to pro bono very seriously. Obviously, these firms need to pay the bills, first and foremost. But when they can, many firms do try to give back.
As many of you already know, Skadden takes that commitment quite a bit further, with its Skadden Fellows program. We highlight this worthy program every year. The Skadden Fellowships are for law school graduates who want to devote their lives to public service, and the firm makes a major financial commitment to its fellows. From the Skadden Fellows website:
Fellowships are awarded for two years. Skadden provides each Fellow with a salary and pays all fringe benefits to which an employee of the sponsoring organization would be entitled. For those Fellows not covered by a law school low income protection plan, the firm will pay a Fellow’s law school debt service for the tuition part of the loan for the duration of the fellowship. The 2011 class of Fellows brings to 620 the number of academically outstanding law school graduates and judicial clerks the firm has funded to work full-time for legal and advocacy organizations.
It’s a sweet gig if you can get it.
And if you take a look at the list of Fellows — perhaps you know some of them? — you’ll notice that quite a few of them attend the top law schools in the country….
Our last installment of the Wedding Watch was almost unbearably non-elite, but we’re happy to announce that the Times weddings section has bounced back. Three prestigious law firms beautify our wedding update today: Jenner & Block, Boies Schiller, and the ever-fabulous Skadden Arps. And two of our grooms (there are four) are partners!
There’s also perhaps the most painfully stylish wedding we’ve ever come across. The bride is the daughter of modernist architect Richard Meier, who keeps his homes “very relaxed and casual but everything has to be perfect” — “[e]ven the Snapple bottles are lined up perfectly in the pantry.” (Oh . . . so not really relaxed and casual at all.) Watch the slideshow of the uber-posh wedding, and take note of those origami flowers; you’ll be seeing poorly executed versions in weddings near you for the next few years.
Now, our legal eagle couples. Here are the finalists:
Most weeks nowadays, the New York Times weddings announcements — and our coverage of same — focus quite properly on the newlyweds and their impressive accomplishments. But occasionally, a few announcements hearken back to a simpler day, when nobody cared much about the bride and groom, because the game of social one-upmanship was played on the parental level.
This is one of those weeks. Our featured newlyweds are impressive, but some of their parents are even more so. The finalists:
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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