Whiny lawyers

I worked for twenty years at the darkest of the black-box compensation law firms: No one knew what anyone else was being paid, and the firm forbade talking about compensation. Here’s the curious part: We obeyed.

I saw the raised eyebrows of partners considering moving laterally to my firm: “Right — no one talks about compensation. You guys must talk about it all the time, just like we do at my firm. It can’t be a secret.”

Wrong. We really, honest-to-God did not talk about compensation. The subject just didn’t come up.

I’ve heard second-hand that this is true for other black-box firms, too. The managing partner of a different large, black-box comp firm recently told one of my colleagues: “Once you take compensation out of the limelight and forbid people from talking about it, then people stop talking about it. The subject drops off the table.”

That sets the stage: At firms where lawyers are permitted to talk about each other’s compensation, they do. And at firms where lawyers are prohibited from talking about compensation, they don’t.

Riddle me this: In corporate law departments, we are not prohibited from discussing each other’s compensation, but we don’t do it anyway. Why is that?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Kvetching About Comp”

Star Jones thinks some of you are whiners.

When William Robinson, president of the American Bar Association, gave an interview in which he suggested that unemployed or underemployed law school graduates “should have known what they were getting into,” he was widely criticized. His emphasis on “personal responsibility” didn’t go over too well in some quarters of the legal profession and blogosphere.

But in defense of Bill Robinson, other people share his views. And some of these people are prominent personages.

Take prosecutor turned television personality Star Jones, who seems to have little sympathy for jobless law grads….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Are Disgruntled Law School Graduates a Bunch of ‘Whiners’?”

Gregory Berry

Kasowitz Benson comes to bury Berry, not to praise him. The firm has moved to dismiss the $77 million lawsuit filed against it by Gregory S. Berry, the former first-year associate at Kasowitz who claimed that the firm wrongfully terminated his employment due to its inability to handle his “superior legal mind.” Berry also alleged fraud, breach of contract, and a host of other claims.

On Wednesday, Kasowitz Benson filed its motion to dismiss Gregory Berry’s complaint, accompanied by a 22-page memorandum of law. The firm’s brief is fairly straightforward, advancing the arguments you’d expect it to make.

But there are a few fun tidbits here and there. Let’s have a look, shall we?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Berry v. Kasowitz Benson: The Empire Strikes Back”

Gregory Berry

One of the most compelling characters to populate our pages lately is Gregory S. Berry. As you surely recall, Gregory Berry is the Penn Law grad and ex-associate at Kasowitz Benson who is now suing his former firm for a whopping $77 million.

Thus far, reader sentiment doesn’t seem favorable towards Berry. According to Above the Law sources, Greg Berry wasn’t popular at Penn Law, where he was known for sending strange emails about his traffic court misadventures to his classmates. A tipster who knew Berry during his first career, as a software engineer who “conquer[ed]” Silicon Valley, expressed the view that Berry was “very inflexible,” lacking in a sense of perspective, and “not a good fit with the dot.com 1.0 work-style.”

In fairness to Berry, however, we have heard more positive opinions as well. For example, one Penn classmate described Berry to us as “a nice, smart dude, and a go-getter.”

And now a second source has contacted us, also to defend Greg Berry — and to criticize Berry’s former employer, Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense of Gregory Berry (Plus a few more funny stories.)”

You didn’t think we’d just get one day out of the Gregory Berry story, did you?

Since we posted about Berry, the former Kasowitz Benson associate who is suing the firm for $77 million, Above the Law readers have been sharing their opinions about working with him.

Some of our readers went to Penn Law School with Berry. Others worked with him when he was busy “conquering” Silicon Valley. They remember an interesting guy.

Let’s take a look at their opinions….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Remembrances of Gregory Berry”

Gregory Berry: the $77 million man.

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.

After working as a software engineer in Silicon Valley for several years, Gregory Berry matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He graduated from Penn Law in 2010 and was admitted to the New York bar in 2011. He summered at Kasowitz in 2009 and started working at the firm full-time in September 2010. Less than a year later, in May 2011, he was fired.

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.

“There’s simply no room in a big law firm for an intelligent, creative lawyer with real-world experience,” Greg Berry told Thomson Reuters News & Insight. “I had to find that out the hard way.”

Let’s have a look at his interesting allegations, plus hear from some tipsters….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Ex-Kasowitz Associate With ‘Superior Legal Mind’ Sues the Firm for $77 Million”

* The tried and true accounting method of finders keepers, losers weepers prevailed in an appeals court win for Irving Picard in the Madoff case. [Bloomberg]

* Why in the world did you think it would be a good idea to file a $77M lawsuit against Kasowitz Benson? Are you out of your “superior legal mind”? [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Apparently racism still exists, even at prestigious university like NYU. Skip the damn banana, I’ll take $210K instead, thanks. [New York Daily News]

* First they came for the eggs, and I didn’t speak out because I don’t like breakfast. Then they came for the turkey, and I flipped out because my freezer is full of it. [Los Angeles Times]

* Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but Christian Louboutin plans to appeal last week’s ruling on his red-soled shoes. You go girl, because I don’t want to pay for an imitation. [Daily Mail]

* What kind of a neighbor goes after Girl Scouts for selling cookies in their own driveway? Apparently the kind you don’t want to live next to anymore. [Daily RFT / Riverfront Times]

At big law firms, people gripe. It’s a way of life.

Junior associates gripe about being condemned to do scutwork. Senior associates complain about friends having been screwed out of partnership. Junior partners bellyache about not being invited to participate in client pitches. Senior partners grouse about their peers, who don’t work very hard and aren’t very good lawyers, being paid too much. The law firm’s “owners” — the half-dozen guys who actually run the joint — moan that all those other lawyers should quit their whining and get back to work. And everyone kvetches about opposing counsel, unreasonable clients, and working too many hours.

(You’ll note that nobody b*tches about anything. I offer the preceding paragraph as evidence that we needn’t degrade the level of discourse to express ourselves.)

At corporations, this just doesn’t happen. People occasionally whine, of course — there’s a reason why they call it “work” — but griping is not the order of the day, every day, year in and year out.

Why not?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: The Absence Of Griping”