Mitt Romney’s unfortunate comment at the most recent presidential debate, in which he boasted about receiving “binders full of women” while trying to build a diverse cabinet as Governor or Massachusetts, has become a wildly popular internet meme. If you’re looking for some good laughs, check out this Tumblr or this slideshow.
Happily, there’s a Biglaw connection to all of this. At which leading law firm can you assemble your own “binder full of women”?
Last night’s debate was fun to watch, and would have been that much better if the president had actually followed his instincts and decked Mitt Romney, à la “Two Tribes.” There was a lot of huffing and puffing and talking over each other and ignoring Candy Crowley, and that was all in good fun. But for me, the most pointed moment was when Mitt claimed to understand that the women in his precious binder needed to get home to cook dinner and get the kids. Here’s the transcript:
“But number two, because I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you. What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford…”
Holy crap. It is 2012, and we have a candidate for President of the United States not only completely avoiding the direct question regarding equal pay, but also claiming that women need flexible schedules to be employable? WTF?!
Staci here. Earlier this week, in response to a reader question, Vivia Chen at The Careerist engaged in a discussion about female lawyers who curse like sailors. She noted that she found cursing to be “rather cathartic,” but her takeaway was this: “If four-letter words just roll off your tongue, go for it. And if people have problems with your style, you can tell them where to stick it.”
And while staying true to yourself and unleashing as many f-bombs as you can may be alright in some circumstances (i.e., social settings), in the workplace, it can lead to some rather negative consequences — for both women and men. But that’s really beside the point, because cursing on the job is just plain disgusting, no matter which gender it’s coming from.
I know that I may get my bra-burning card revoked for this, but I think that it’s even more appalling when it’s coming from a woman. Of course, not everyone agrees with me — one of my fellow editors thinks women should be able to drop as many expletives as they want. Before you tell me where to stick it, let me explain…
The most shocking result of the recent survey on partner compensation conducted by Major, Lindsey & Africa was how much better the average partner does in firms with open compensation systems — almost $350,000 better on average, year in and year out. To me, that is the difference between retiring at 55 or 65. A big deal.
Have some fun. Tell your average law student that the average compensation for Biglaw partners at closed compensation shops (irrespective of equity status and seniority) was only $465,000, and see the reaction. Or pop an associate’s bubble. And realize that with demand for Biglaw services trending down, there is only so much time left before partner compensation generally starts to take a hit. I always knew about the disparity between open and closed firms, and I had heard about it anecdotally (I think Lat mentioned in an article a few years ago a personal friend who saw his comp climb dramatically after lateraling away from a closed comp firm). But I never really appreciated the scale until this survey came out.
I would think that anyone (especially younger partners with growing books) who could get out of such a firm would at least be trying to (ergo the need for a growing book). Even if your numbers are stellar, and your book is growing along with your traditional working collections, it is too easy for a closed comp chieftain to declare that you need to repeat the performance to make sure its sustainable. Whereas in a open system, you have leverage right away, and can convincingly argue to the compensation committee that failing to reward you would risk discouraging other potential achievers. And that you will leave — but one needs to be subtle on that front. Threaten to leave a closed comp place, and if they really like you, they’ll offer to match whatever new offer you get (thereby confirming they have been skimping on you all along)….
Out in Ohio, a woman’s campaign for reelection as county prosecutor has been marred by vicious rumors about her panties (or the alleged lack thereof). As the account is told, apparently Hocking County Prosecutor Laina Fetherolf experienced a wardrobe malfunction of sorts while in Judge John Wallace’s courtroom. It reminded us of the deposition in which counsel argued over a claim that one attorney’s shirt was so sheer the witness could see her breasts.
But in this case, Fetherolf was wearing a light-colored dress with dark panties, and a judge allegedly instructed her to fix her fashion faux pas. Okay, here’s where the story gets a little absurd. So, like any reasonable woman, Fetherolf reportedly ran to the men’s room (mmhmm), removed her panties (suuure), and returned to the courtroom, commando-style (give me a break).
Over the past few days, everyone has been talking about Jennifer Livingston, the Wisconsin morning news anchor who responded on the air to a male viewer’s email about her weight. In his letter, the male viewer told Livingston that she wasn’t a “suitable example” for young people because of her physical appearance. Her courageous counterpoint went viral, and ever since, she’s been making her rounds on the TV talk show circuit to address what she thinks is the root of the problem, and why people think letters like this are acceptable: bullying.
Now, you may be asking yourself why I chose to write about this today. To be honest, when I first watched Livingston’s video on Tuesday night, I really had no intention to do so. I thought that she was a very strong woman who chose to stand up for herself, and really, for all overweight people, but that her four-minute segment didn’t need to be addressed here at Above the Law. (Not even after being asked in the comments yesterday whether I thought I was a “good role model,” an obvious jab about my own weight.)
But then I found out a little more about the man who emailed Livingston to criticize her weight. As it turns out, he’s a lawyer….
* According to a CNN poll, 67 percent of people who watched the debate thought Mitt Romney won, while only 25 percent thought Barack Obama won. Well, either way you slice it, there was definitely one loser: poor old Jim Lehrer. [CNN]
* If Barack Obama could’ve had his way, he would’ve put Osama bin Laden on trial to display American due process and the rule of law. We suppose that now he’ll just have to take credit for being the man who ordered the kill shot. [WSJ Law Blog]
* A handful of Biglaw firms advised on the T-Mobile and MetroPCS merger, but Telecommunications Law Professionals, a boutique firm, showed up to prove it could hang with the big boys. [DealBook / New York Times]
* From boutique to Biglaw? Joseph Bachelder, an executive compensation expert, shuttered his 10-lawyer firm in favor of joining McCarter & English as special counsel in New York. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Remember Ellen Pao, the former Cravath associate who sued Kleiner Perkins for sex discrimination? She now claims that the VC firm fired her. Of course, like everything else, KPCB denies it. [Bits / New York Times]
* A J.D. isn’t a hoax, but if law schools keep admitting huge classes, the degree will become one. The dean of UC Hastings Law thinks law schools should’ve reduced their class sizes a long time ago. [Huffington Post]
* If your fraternity has to hire a lawyer to hold a press conference to deny allegations of butt-chugging, and an extraordinarily uncomfortable video of the press conference makes its way online… you’re probably up s**t’s creek without a wine bottle paddle. [Outkick the Coverage]
* There’s no crying in baseball, and, in other creepily homoerotic collegiate news, there shall be no drunken teabagging in college football, either. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
* Obama has made more women federal judges than any other president in history. But he still has a long way to go to match Bill Clinton’s record for being judged by women. [Wall Street Journal]
* Let’s agree that neither of the people running for president should be a tax lawyer. [Going Concern]
* This story about law firms involved in a class action suit allows me to quote one of the great Abraham Lincoln lines, as retold by the late Shelby Foote: “There’s too many pigs for the tits.” [Forbes]
I recently met a young-ish female in-house counsel. She was a Biglaw refugee, married with an eye to starting a family, who had jumped at the chance to go in-house rather than submit to the particular pleasures of the partnership push. We got to talking, and while my instinct told me to go into sell mode, I decided to play things more coolly. A lot of active listening on my part ensued, as I was subjected to various and sundry complaints about life as a female Biglaw associate, followed by a discourse on how much better in-house life was. I kept the conversation light, injecting some shots at Biglaw (these met with laughter and approval), while letting her do most of the talking. I was consciously avoiding acting like a Biglaw partner, or showing any interest in her because of her status as potential client.
Things became interesting when she started discussing her dissatisfaction with her current outside counsel. Various and sundry became a litany, as she complained about the male partner’s inattention to her, the sloppy work of the female associate she was dealing with, and the size of the bills. Most importantly, she complained of feeling unappreciated by the Biglaw firm she was using — and suspected that the lawyers working for her actually hated her. She did not want to feel hated. I can’t blame her — nor would I be shocked if she switched firms in the near future.
We eventually parted ways, but like a good Biglaw partner, I followed up with an email and my contact info. The email differed from what I would send a male in-house counsel after an introductory meeting. My email to the in-house lawyer was much less formal, and was actually jokey — but I wanted to stick with what was apparently working in terms of getting her to open up to me. It worked, as she replied right away with a joke of her own, and warm acknowledgement of how it was good to meet. Looking good — until I decided to experiment with something….
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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 six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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