When I started my law firm twenty years ago, there were just five things that I knew.
I knew I didn’t have any clients. I knew that my husband and I could scarcely afford the loss of my paycheck, let alone come up capital for me to invest in my practice. I knew that I was way too mortified at having been laid off from my former firm to share the real reason for starting my own firm. I knew that when I finally opened for business, in truth, I was just putting on a game face every day, biding my time until something else came along or until I got pregnant and could, like some of my other law school classmates, gracefully exit the law. But I also knew, somewhere deep down, that I had it in me to be a good lawyer.
Those five things are all that I knew for sure when I started my law firm. Clearly I had a lot to learn. And while there was plenty of information on the black-letter, nuts-and-bolts aspects of starting a firm, the kind of advice that I really wanted to know to jump-start my practice — specifically, whether the solo option was actually feasible — was in short supply. Moreover, as an attorney with a traditionally big-firm practice (energy regulatory law and litigation), I was even worse off because attorneys familiar with my field and doing what I hoped to were particularly rare.
So to spare those of you starting out from what I went through, here are five things that I wish someone would have told me when I started out:
* Choose your own adventure: Will you read this to see how many times Justice Alito recused himself during OT 2013? Or will you read this to see Justice Alito’s doofy-looking picture? [National Law Journal]
* Hackers took down the entire PACER system as well as various federal court websites on Friday. No, the FBI says it was “technical problems.” Oops, nope, still hackers. [Switch / Washington Post]
* It seems the best way to train new associates is to do the opposite of what Biglaw has been doing for decades. Take Stephen Susman’s word for it — you could probably end up with a $40k bonus. [The Careerist]
* “Everybody’s been very nice to us, even though we’re lawyers.” Shocker. David Boies, Ted Boutrous, and Ted Olson had fun at the Sundance Film Festival promoting “The Case Against 8.” [Associated Press]
* Finally, a happy ending to an absurd science experiment. Over the weekend, a judge ordered that Marlise Munoz, a brain-dead pregnant woman in Texas, be removed from her respirators and ventilators. [CNN]
Other than when it’s on television or in a movie, the legal system is a place where rules are supposed to be followed so that justice might be done. Legal dramas where attorneys get creative with how to prosecute alleged criminals make for interesting entertainment, but nobody facing legal action wants to see much in the way of a deviation from the accepted practices. Yet, that seems to be what’s happened in cases involving anyone who has engaged in rap music.
The First Amendment’s wording remains the same, but the world of free speech online is constantly changing. Last week, the Ninth Circuit issued an important new opinion about the First Amendment protections applicable to bloggers.
If you’re interested in free speech, the First Amendment, or media law, you should attend Above the Law’s inaugural Attorney@Blog conference. One of the nation’s preeminent First Amendment litigators, Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon, will deliver opening remarks. And then I will moderate a panel on free speech online, featuring the following distinguished panelists:
Marc Randazza of the Randazza Legal Group, a leading First Amendment lawyer — he has represented ATL in various matters — and editor of the the Legal Satyricon;
Nabiha Syed of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, recently recognized by Forbes as “one of the best emerging free speech lawyers,” for her work representing such clients as the New York Times and The Guardian U.S. (of WikiLeaks fame); and
The panel will discuss emerging free speech issues and offer practical advice on how to avoid legal pitfalls online. If you’re a media lawyer, a journalist, a blogger, or just someone interested in these topics, you should definitely attend.
For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. CLE credit will be available, and early bird pricing remains in effect until February 1. We look forward to seeing you on March 14.
* GEEZER FIGHT!!! (Still not as good as the all-time classic embedded after the jump) [Lowering the Bar]
* Judge Boyce Martin apparently racked up nearly $140,000 in improper expenses. Now he’s gone from the Sixth Circuit. At least he finally has some time to travel. [Talking Points Memo]
* The University of Wisconsin got smacked with a lawsuit over its decision to get rid of student government because student governments are useless application padding for tools for no reason. I want this to go to trial just to hear everyone “Badger” the witness. UPDATE: So this is UW-Milwaukee so they’re technically the Panthers. I stand by the original joke because nothing will badger the witnesses more than reminding them that they didn’t have the grades to go to UW-Madison. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]
* Thomson Reuters Concourse is getting serious. They just added Drafting Assistant, Westlaw Doc & Form Builder, and WestlawNext Practitioner Insights to the platform and promise more on the way. At this rate, I’m expecting a big “WestPhone” & “WestPad” unveiling in a few weeks. [Legal Current]
* The story of the late Duke law student whose family was hounded by Sallie Mae for repayment may have come to a conclusion. [Think Progress]
* “You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Love a Kosher Prison Meal.” [New York Times]
* Some law students at the University of Utah Law School have created a humor journal. Here’s the latest issue. I wonder what current events issue law students in Utah are going to write about… [The ScoffLaw]
* Ed Kilgore of the Progressive Policy Institute weighed in on how Chris Christie’s BridgeGate stemmed, in part, from his experiences as a prosecutor and cited our article on the subject in the process. [Washington Monthly]
The very first copyright law in the US was officially called ”An Act for the Encouragement of Learning.” Indeed, that was the actual stated purpose of copyright law at the time. It wasn’t supposed to be a system for protecting the revenue of artistic folks. In fact, it didn’t even cover most artistic works at the time. It was limited to “maps, charts and books.” Music? Not protected. Paintings? Not protected. Sculpture? Not protected. That’s because it wasn’t about artwork, but about the spread of knowledge through learning.
Yes, the idea was to provide a limited monopoly to incentivize the initial creation, and the exchange was that it would then be given into the public domain soon after, such that everyone could learn from it. Yesterday, we covered the importance of the public domain, and today’s topic for Copyright Week goes hand in hand with it: the idea of open access.
Join us at the Yale Club in New York City on March 14 for the inaugural ATL Attorney@Blog conference. Featuring opening remarks by the preeminent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, Attorney@Blog will be a first-of-its-kind convocation of the leading legal bloggers. Panelists will include Tim Wu of Columbia Law School, Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal, Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog, Vivia Chen of The Careerist, and many more.
In addition, the conference will provide space for attendees to network, socialize, and, of course, blog the proceedings. CLE credit available! See here for more details and tickets. Early bird pricing in effect until February 1st.
Free Speech Online
Moderator: David Lat
This panel will discuss emerging free speech issues in addition to practical advice on how to avoid violating libel statutes and other related legal pitfalls.
The Trolls: Confronting (or Ignoring) Racism and Sexism
Moderator: Staci Zaretsky
This panel will explore the various strategies and best practices (along with their intellectual underpinnings) available to legal bloggers in managing the dark side of the internet: the “trolls” who engage in offensive and hateful (albeit protected) speech.
Blogs as Agents of Change
Moderator: Elie Mystal
This session will explore the degree to which blogs and bloggers are a by-product or prime mover behind the way in which the profession is being forced to challenge some of its basic assumptions.
Emerging Technical Trends & Best Practices
Moderator: Joe Patrice
This panel will explore the intersection of technology and the law. Topics to include the use of social media for business development as well as practical tips on content strategy, SEO, blogging platforms, and other topics.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
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: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.