Last year, St. Martin’s Press published The Partner Track, the debut novel of lawyer Helen Wan. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, I praised the book for being engaging, suspenseful, and — unlike so many legal novels — realistic. The paperback edition of The Partner Track became available last week.
I enjoy fiction about lawyers, as both a reader and writer — my own firstnovel comes out in a few weeks — and I’m deeply interested in how other writers work. So I interviewed Helen Wan about her book, her approach to writing, and how she managed to write a novel while holding down a demanding job as an in-house lawyer for Time Warner. I also asked for her advice on how women and minority lawyers can succeed in Biglaw.
Here’s a (lightly edited and condensed) write-up of our conversation.
* Our columnist Steve Dykstra opines that Roger Goodell is not going to get fired over the Ray Rice investigation/non-investigation. But what we really want to know from Dykstra is his opinion on how badly the West is going to beat the East in this year’s Grey Cup. [Steven Dykstra]
* Apparently, we’ve been banned by Reddit. I think as editors we’ve posted on Reddit maybe 3 times in the last year, so it certainly isn’t our fault. Reddit notes “above the law will no longer be receiving traffic or page views from here,” which I guess is supposed to be a threat. Hey, don’t fault us just because our content is so good. *cue unimaginative trolling* [Reddit]
I get it, Uber can be sketchy. There would seem to be a market opportunity for the new car service called “SheRides” (in New York City) or “SheTaxis” (in Westchester). The company will offer all female drivers for only female clients…
The statistics don’t lie. There is approximately a 50/50 split between men and women who graduate from law school and obtain entry-level associate positions at firms. However, many more women end up leaving after a few years and either never return to the firm environment or return to practicing law at all. We can point to a myriad of reasons, both personal to each woman and systemic of the general firm structure, but the bottom line is that women lawyers are a group that could use assistance in getting back into law.
Enter the OnRamp Fellowship. Founded by Caren Ulrich Stacey, the Fellowship is a re-entry platform that allows experienced, talented lawyers to return to the work force through a one-year, paid training contract. This platform allows lawyers to renew and increase their legal skills, while getting a resume boost that will help transition them to the next position at the same or different law firm. The Fellowship also provides lawyers with the opportunity to make valuable networking contacts and obtain professional references.
* Robert Manfred Jr., formerly a partner of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, is now the commissioner of Major League Baseball, and he beat out another former Biglaw buddy from Kelley Drye & Warren to snag the job. [Am Law Daily]
* “My past is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.” Michele Roberts is the first lady to lead the NBAPU, and you don’t want to mess with her. [New York Times]
* In case you haven’t heard by now, Governor Rick Perry was indicted on Friday on felony charges of abusing his power in office. Aww, poor guy. Not for nothing, but we can’t wait to see his mug shot. [New York Times]
* Quinnipiac Law has a new building that cost $50 million, and it’s designed to hold between 400 and 500 students. With only 292 students currently enrolled, that’s a lot of wishful thinking. [New Haven Register]
* “This is a lawsuit against the lawyers for being lawyers, for doing what lawyers do.” It also seems to be a lawsuit that’s allegedly about sex, lies, illegal video tapes… and Waffle House. [Daily Report (reg. req.)]
This week, a Texas campaign ad and a Pennsylvania death penalty appeal each illustrate what happens when lawyers lose sight of for what — and whom — they claim to be working.
Wendy Davis, in the final throes of her Texas gubernatorial race against Attorney General Greg Abbott, launched a controversial campaign ad a few days ago. The ad accuses Abbott of “siding with a corporation over a rape victim,” spotlighting a 1998 Supreme Court of Texas case brought by a woman seeking damages from a vacuum manufacturer after a door-to-door salesman of the vacuums allegedly raped her in her home. A background check should have revealed that the man had a criminal history. Abbott was then a justice on the Texas court. He dissented from the majority’s decision in favor of the woman. Davis’s ad ignited heated debate, with even her supporters questioning the propriety of the ad. Abbott’s campaign called the ad “despicable.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the United States Supreme Court on Monday issued a highly unusual order in a Pennsylvania death penalty case. The Court asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board to investigate and take appropriate actions against Marc Bookman, an attorney who filed a petition for review of Michael Eric Ballard’s death sentence. Ballard slaughtered four people in 2010: his former girlfriend, her father, her grandfather, and a neighbor who tried to help the family when he heard screams coming from the home. Ballard was sentenced to death in 2011. In November 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the sentence. On June 23 of this year, SCOTUS denied Bookman’s petition to review Ballard’s case, but the Court then ordered Bookman to file additional responses about his relationship to Ballard. Apparently not satisfied by Bookman’s replies, the Court referred the case to the state disciplinary authority.
So, what’s the problem in either of these situations? Why the controversy? And what do they have in common?
Law is one of the most conservative professions in the world, and in general, it is not a kind place for women. Every single thing women in the legal profession do is scrutinized, from the way they dress, to how they speak, and even the length of their hair. They say that women who are lawyers can have it all, but when we live in a world where we’re put up against such odds, it seems like an improbable, if not impossible, feat.
That’s why attorneys across the country are talking about a recent law school graduate who is trying to make her name in the legal community. This woman has a foot in two worlds — she’s a lawyer, but she’s also a bikini model, and she’s very upset that people may not take her seriously because of all of the skin she shows online.
Some are calling her an “HR nightmare,” but others are praising her for daring to dream. Who is she, and why should you care about her?
* Let’s get ready to rumble! Not wanting to be left out of the party, Oklahoma has also asked the Supreme Court to take a look at its same-sex marriage statute which was recently slapped down by the Tenth Circuit. [National Law Journal]
* Dewey know what financial restructuring adviser Joff Mitchell of Zolfo Cooper said to this failing firm’s partners right before it flopped for good? “Look, there is no way here to save this firm.” Ouch. That had to have sucked. [Forbes]
* The examiner who was appointed to monitor law firm billing for the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy is now questioning Dentons’ fees of up to $27K per month to talk to the press. Whoa there… [Detroit Free Press]
* Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers have released the latest ranking of the Top 50 Law Firms for Women. Vivia Chen feels “a bit dirty” after reading the list — and you probably should, too. [The Careerist]
* Leisure Suit Larry’s successors are here to stay for a while: Case Western Reserve Law’s co-interim deans will stay on in their current positions for the upcoming school year. [Crain's Cleveland Business]
* Utah appealed its same-sex marriage case to the Supreme Court, making it the first state whose law was smacked down by an appellate court to do so. Let the countdown begin. [National Law Journal]
* In the ruling that saved Alabama’s abortion clinics, Judge Myron Thompson likened the right to have an abortion to the right to bear arms. We can think of a few people who would take issue with that. [CNN]
* In case you’ve been wondering why tax inversions are hot right now, you can blame it all on some bicycling tax and M&A lawyers from Skadden — call them bikedudes at law, if you will. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Law schools tout the fact that their graduates are finding jobs in “J.D. Advantage” positions. Meanwhile, it remains unclear how much of an advantage a law degree actually offers in these jobs. [Am Law Daily]
* In a lawsuit peppered with crazy allegations, a law prof at Florida A&M claims in a gender discrimination complaint that male professors are “paid considerably more” than female professors. [Tampa Tribune]
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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: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!