Washington D.C.

We don’t do enough reporting about the struggles of contract attorneys. We should do more, because that’s where the jobs are. Biglaw firms have been able to keep traditional associate hiring down thanks to an explosion in the use of contract attorneys. Getting one of these hourly wage jobs actually represents success in a market saturated with underemployed attorneys.

Now I remember why I don’t do a lot of reporting on contract attorneys: acknowledging that these, and not high-paying traditional associate salaried positions, are the jobs coming back in the “recovery” is terribly, terribly sad.

This might come as a shock to you, but being a document monkey on an hourly wage is not all that it’s cracked up to be. These hard-working people generally want to work as much as possible (kind of the opposite of traditional associates) for obvious reasons. But they are often frustrated by all sorts of bureaucracy and poor treatment in their quest to wring some value out of their J.D. degrees.

We have some emails detailing the struggles of one group of contractors working on projects in D.C. Hopefully, this will inspire other contract attorneys to share their experiences with “the new normal”….

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One could argue that justices of the United States Supreme Court are underpaid. After all, their former law clerks get wooed with $300,000 signing bonuses upon leaving One First Street, which is more than what the justices earn in a year (as just noted by The Economist).

Despite being arguably underpaid, the justices still like to shop. In recent weeks, we’ve seen Justice Sotomayor checking out olive oil in Annapolis and Justice Kagan hitting the Apple store in Georgetown.

The court’s first woman member, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, has more time on her hands since retiring. Through an organization she founded called iCivics, she’s advocating for improved education about civics, a cause that’s near and dear to her heart.

Even though she’s supposedly “retired,” the super-energetic Justice O’Connor remains exceedingly busy, occupied by iCivics work, sitting by designation in circuit courts, and promoting her new book (affiliate link). But she still has some free time — including time to go to the grocery.

Let’s hear from a tipster, plus see some photos….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a new series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Today’s post is written by Larry Latourette, Executive Director of the Partner Practice at Lateral Link.

Over the last several decades, corporations have increasingly realized that having a voice in Washington is imperative. Lobbying the federal government can yield lucrative returns; studies have estimated the ROI at more than 2,000 percent. Attending to Washington can also prevent or reduce the harmful impact of government lawsuits or investigations that can occur when D.C. is ignored (take, for example, the DOJ’s antitrust case against Microsoft before it had a meaningful voice in Washington). In response, companies have set up Washington offices and joined or augmented industry trade associations to represent their interests.

Following their clients, D.C. law firms in turn have significantly beefed up their lobbying efforts and personnel to meet these increased demands. Some firms, like Patton Boggs, Akin Gump, K&L Gates, and Holland & Knight, now have scores of lobbyists on the payroll that have made major and, until recently, growing contributions to the bottom line. It’s probably no accident that D.C. is one of the only jurisdictions allowing non-lawyers to be partners in law firms.

Recent congressional gridlock, however, has posed difficulties for law firms and policy shops that depend on the flow of legislation for their revenue….

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Working as a lawyer for the federal government can be a pretty sweet gig. The work is interesting, the hours are reasonable, and the pay is good (at least by public-sector standards).

But it appears that there are sweeter jobs — literally as well as figuratively. Earlier this month, we told you about Warren Brown, who left his position as a lawyer for the Department of Health and Human Services so he could launch CakeLove, the successful bakery chain.

Today we bring you the story of another lawyer for the federal government who is getting her just desserts. We hope you’ve eaten lunch already, because hearing about her crazily creative flavors of ice cream will make you hungry….

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What should unemployed law school graduates do when they can’t find work and can’t feed themselves? A certain great French princess — although not Marie Antoinette, FYI — might say, “Let them eat cake.”

But not everyone can afford cake. Debt-burdened young (and not-so-young) lawyers don’t want to spend dough; they want to make it.

Perhaps literally as well as figuratively. Do you have some talent in the kitchen? Here’s an inspiring story for you….

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We should have known that the Fisher opinion was going to be a letdown — a “great big dodge,” as my colleague Elie Mystal put it. Instead of readying herself for an historical moment, Justice Elena Kagan spent yesterday doing some window-shopping.

Where did she go, and what merchandise did she check out? Here’s an eyewitness report….

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After a year-long break, we returned to law-related vanity license plates about a week ago. You heeded our call for submissions, and while we’ve been overrun with them, we’re always looking for more photos. If you’re a fan of the Law License Plates series, please send some in via email (subject line: “Vanity License Plate”).

Today, we’ll be taking a look at what some of the lawyers in our nation’s capital have displayed on their vanity plates. Unlike some of the submissions we’ve spoken about in the past, these plates aren’t direct invitations to get rear-ended, but that’s only because they’re too cryptic for laypeople to understand.

Get ready for some constitutional law nerd action….

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Is D.C. the capital of… crazy lawsuits?

People love to complain that D.C. is a dysfunctional city. That may be a bit harsh. Despite the partisan gridlock, sometimes deals can be reached in Congress — for example, the new gun control compromise measure in the Senate.

And the city itself is a much more appealing city to live in these days. The recent, taxpayer-financed boom in D.C. has led to improved restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and residential options. (I used to live in D.C., from 2006 to 2008, and I continue to visit frequently.)

But the lawsuits coming out of the nation’s capital — well, they’re still pretty crazy. Time for some quick updates on the insanity….

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Despite his status as an Article III demigod, Chief Justice John Roberts is a man of the people. Instead of reclining on a divan while eating frozen grapes fed to him by eunuch law clerks, which is how I’d roll if I were the Chief Justice of the United States, JGR patronizes places like Cosi, Au Bon Pain, and Carmine’s.

And the chief even goes to Starbucks — where His Honor recently revealed something surprising about himself….

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D.C.’s largest lawyerly lair?

A few days ago, conservative political bloggers had some fun with the news of left-leaning commentator Matthew Yglesias buying a $1.2 million condo. But I tend to agree with Jonathan Chait: unless you’re a full-blown communist, there’s nothing inconsistent between being somewhat liberal and owning a nice place. I don’t even have a problem with so-called “limousine liberals” (although owning a $1.2 million apartment is hardly limousine land).

The news of Yglesias’s real estate purchase first appeared in Washingtonian magazine, which has fantastic coverage of the D.C. real estate market. The same column also contained news of several lawyers cutting seven-figure housing deals….

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