Making people think you are not horrible is a full-time job for lawyers. Gallup did a poll on the most trustworthy professions in the United States and, you guessed it, lawyers are near the bottom. You know who’s the most trusted profession? Doctors and nurses, and they are the number 3 cause of death in the United States. Even historically, two hundred years ago, lawyers were drafting and signing the Declaration of Independence and doctors were using leeches to heal people. I’m pretty sure that, on top of killing fewer people, the average person will be overcharged in their life more by doctors and nurses than by lawyers, but whatever. So, again, making people think we are not horrible is an uphill battle for us.
The Internet is helping some of us tip the scales in one way or the other. Each one of these topics could be their own article, but for now, I wanted to give you a short primer on how to shrug off the shroud of horribleness we have as lawyers.
On Monday, we noted the surprising news of a young partner leaving Wachtell Lipton to start his own boutique firm. Given the rarity of partner departures from the super-lucrative Wachtell, my colleague Staci Zaretsky described the news as “basically like seeing a unicorn.”
Why did Jeremy Goldstein, a 40-year-old partner in the firm’s executive-compensation practice, leave WLRK? The American Lawyer piece about Goldstein’s move painted a happy picture of a lawyer striking out on his own to be more entrepreneurial and to run his own business.
But we wonder if there’s more to this story than meets the eye….
The ongoing legal fight, in which a bunch of US tech and internet companies — namely Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and LinkedIn — are suing the US government, claiming a First Amendment right to publish some details on the number of requests they get from the NSA under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, as well as the number of users impacted by those requests, is getting ever weirder. The government had filed its response back at the end of September. And, you might notice, large portions of it are totally redacted. For example, here is page 13 of the document (though, numbered page 8):
* Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Oklahoma. [CNN]
* The IRS and the Treasury Department better watch out, because it seems that the “next logical step” for the tea party victims of heightened scrutiny leads right up the courthouse stairs. [ABC News]
* #Whatshouldwecallme after advising on the $1.1 billion Yahoo/Tumblr deal? Kind of a big deal. The Biglaw firms doing the underlying legal work are Simpson Thatcher and Gunderson Dettmer. [Am Law Daily]
* The Mirena MDL judge thinks female attorneys should be on the all-male executive committee. If this is “strategic gender placement,” the strategy is to look bad publicly. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* The Travers Smith trainee who was fired for getting pregnant is due in court this June to find out what type of compensation she’ll receive for being discriminated against by the firm. You go girl! [Daily Mail]
* There’s trouble in paradise: lawyers in the Jodi Arias case unsuccessfully attempted to get a mistrial and withdraw from representation — for the second time — during its punishment phase. [Fox News]
* Legendary union leader Marvin Miller died today at the age of 95. This is a guy who lost a huge case at the Supreme Court fighting against Major League Baseball, and still found a way to win. He wasn’t a lawyer, but he mastered the law. [USA Today]
* Jersey Shore residents are suing over sand dune protection from storms. They’re not suing because they’re weren’t protected enough, they’re suing because the new sand dunes block their ocean view. [Asbury Park Press]
* Yahoo! and NBA lawyers might need to talk about what, precisely, the NBA is endorsing. [Marc Edelman Blog]
* I’m going to go on and vote “no” on the question of whether or not the U.N. should get to “govern” the internet. Wait… I don’t get a “vote” on what the U.N. should do? Well, that sounds like a good reason to go back to not giving a crap about anything the U.N. says. [The Volokh Conspiracy]
* Looks like the wheel finally came ’round on InTrade. [Dealbreaker]
Lawyers tend to overindulge in the finer things in life — things like designer clothes, fast cars, and luxurious lawyerly lairs. Unfortunately, lawyers also tend to overindulge in alcohol. In fact, according to the ABA, about 13 percent of lawyers qualify as alcoholics. Keeping that in mind, practicing law may be fine preparation for a new career in the wine bar business.
Meet Elizabeth Banker. This former in-house lawyer for Yahoo! and current counsel at ZwillGen is putting her legal career aside to follow something she’s been passionate about since her college days: wine. (Despite sharing a surname, apparently she’s not a fan of Banker’s Club vodka.)
Back in the day, Banker drank gallon-sized jugs of Chablis. Since then, her “tastes have evolved,” and now she’s more of a high-class sommelier. Let’s learn more about Banker’s new business, and find out when opening day will be….
Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo!, is pregnant. And she took the job knowing she was pregnant. And the board hired her with full knowledge that she is pregnant. Holy hell, what is the world coming to? Read the following:
“She joins a small-but-growing group of women leading major public companies in the U.S., pushing the number to 20 female CEOs out of 500, or 4%. However, she sets a precedent as the first woman to ever take the top position while pregnant. Will having her first baby impact her performance or perception as the strong leader that Yahoo desperately needs?” -Forbes.com, July 17, 2012.
Are you kidding me right now? Let’s play Mad-Libs and change some of the words in that paragraph to “first black woman” and “[w]ill being black impact her performance or perception.” Is the new paragraph more or less offensive? I would argue that both are disgusting….
* Yahoo! continues to try to save its fading empire… by filing a patent lawsuit against Facebook. [Dealbook / New York Times]
* Dispatch from SXSW: employing homeless people as Wi-Fi hotspots. I see no problems here. [New York Times]
* Dick Cheney has canceled a trip to Toronto. Because Canada is “too dangerous.” It’s actually kind of reassuring that the former Vice President, who drunkenly shot his friend in the face with a shotgun, is just as much of a wuss as the liberals he has mocked for the last 12-odd years. [National Post]
* A new United Nations report says Wikileaks suspect Bradley Manning endured “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment during the months he was incarcerated before his trial. The report comes just in time for the Department of Defense to completely ignore it and continue throwing the book at Manning. [Threat Level / Wired]
This week, we learned from a couple news stories that advocates from both sides of the internet aisle have turned to lawyers and the court system to defend their causes. Earlier this week, some OG internet pioneers testified to a jury, and a major media company executive has begun courting law professors for support.
I’m not sure whether I think the fact that people have decided the legal system is a good place to argue high-level, fundamental internet freedom questions is impressive (give yourselves a pat on the back, attorneys, you are hip to the tech set now), or a little bit scary (do these people realize how technophobic lawyers can be?).
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.