Texas

True story: I didn’t leave Schulte to start ReplyAll, I left Schulte to work in the Houston office of BakerHostetler. As the father of three (two and a half at the time) kids living in a cramped apartment, moving to Houston was a no-brainer. The salary was the same, but the cost of living was a fraction of what it was in New York. But, after accepting the offer and traveling to Houston to find a house, I got this sick feeling in my stomach. During nights and weekends of the summer before I left Biglaw, my friend Ari Gold and I had been working on this little idea for a new kind of online conversation. Moving to Houston and starting another legal job would mean giving up on this idea, and I didn’t want to be sitting in a law firm seven years later wondering “what if?”

Calling Sameer Mohan, the partner at Baker who had recruited me, and telling him that I would not be accepting the offer was unquestionably the most difficult decision of my life, and I would by lying if I said I haven’t had my fair share of second thoughts. It’s not just the cash (although you know, the cash wouldn’t hurt). Despite the long hours, Houston firms (particularly Baker) value family and work/life balance in a way that I never saw at firms in New York (not just Schulte), or what I heard from friends who were working in other big markets like San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles. And because David Lat will be speaking in Houston next week, and since we at ReplyAll love to kiss the ass of pander to support and promote our partners, I thought it would be fun to invite Sameer himself for a conversation about the pros and cons of working in the Houston market.

As always, the conversation develops live, so check back over the next few days as the conversation unfolds….

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For your information, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint.

– Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann, quoting Walter Sobchak in a footnote to Kinney v. Barnes (full disclosure: Kinney is an Above the Law advertiser, while Barnes is… well, this guy). While the movie may seem like a surprising citation for the conservative Texas bench, in their defense, Walter is a gun-toting crazy man so he blends in with a lot of their jurisprudence.

Photo by: Bernal Saborio

Photo by: Bernal Saborio

In Mindset Matters: Lawyers That Lead Well Are Receptive to Change, I brought forward the view that business executives might be better equipped to lead law firms through the turbulent change facing the legal industry.

The Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) recent recommendation that non-lawyers be able to own law firms underscores this view.

This CBA recommendation is refreshing when juxtaposed against the Texas State Bar ethics ruling stating that a Texas law firm may not use “officer or principal” in job titles for non-lawyer employees or pay profit-based performance bonuses. As Fred Headon, Assistant General Counsel at Air Canada and CBA President, urges:

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Professor Tim Wu

* Could Columbia law professor Tim Wu become New York’s next lieutenant governor? He has a shot, according to the Times. [New York Times]

* Which same-sex-marriage case is the best vehicle for Supreme Court review? [BuzzFeed]

* A federal judge takes the wheel in steering Detroit into the future. [American Lawyer]

* Is it “shameful” of the ALS Association to attempt to trademark the phrase “ice bucket challenge”? [ABA Journal]

* Jury deliberations are expected to begin today in the corruption trial of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. [Washington Post]

* Voter ID laws are back on trial, this time in Texas. [New York Times]

* Speaking of Texas, the state seeks to stay a recent ruling that struck down the requirement that abortion clinics comply with standards for ambulatory surgical centers. [ABA Journal]

* Dean Chemerinsky lays out how the Supreme Court is protecting local corruption. It’s what the Framers would have intended. [New York Times]

* In response to the latest article from Professor Michael Krauss, a former student suggests that maybe the so-called “justice gap” is a good thing. It kind of comes down to how much you believe in the efficiency value of the “American Rule.” [That's My Argument]

* The eternal question for female lawyers: do you dye your hair or embrace the gray? [Gray Hair]

* Boston’s drivers suck. [The Faculty Lounge]

* A well-written tribute to a Nashville civil rights lawyer. [Nashville Scene]

* This seems like a place to remind people that David’s going to Houston next month. [Above the Law]

* Here’s a new game to check out. It’s a twisted dirty word game called F**ktionary (affiliate link), so obviously it was made by a lawyer. It’s kind of like Cards Against Humanity meets Scattergories, which is just as fun as it sounds. The promo is after the jump….

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Raise your hand if you’ve been to Marshall, Texas. It’s on the eastern edge of the Lone Star State, not far south from Springdale, Arkansas, where Jim Bob and Michelle are raising 19 kids (and hopefully no more), and just west of Monroe, Louisiana, where the Robertsons play whack-a-duck every fall.

I see a few hands raised. Vacationing in Marshall, perhaps? No? Visiting family? No?

Then, I bet you’re patent litigators….

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As we’ve been covering in these pages, the Houston legal market is quite hot. So I’ve decided to pay a visit myself.

On the evening of September 15, I’ll be headlining an event in Houston sponsored by the Houston Urban Debate League (HUDL). In case you’re not familiar with it, HUDL is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that’s dedicated to re-introducing academic debate to under-served and at-risk students in Houston-area high schools.

You can purchase tickets via the link below. It’s a fundraiser for HUDL, so proceeds will be going to a worthy cause. I look forward to seeing you there!

UPDATE (9/6/2014, 1:45 p.m.): I’ll be having a conversation with Justice Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court. He’s brilliant and hilarious; for proof, follow him on Twitter.

A Night with David Lat, founder of Above the Law [Houston Urban Debate League]

On Friday, special prosecutor Michael McCrum secured an indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry, whose 2012 campaign is the first abortion Republicans have celebrated in years, is accused of coercion and abusing his office when he threatened to, and subsequently did, revoke funding for the Public Integrity Unit. That unit is charged with rooting out government corruption, and Perry took away its budget because the district attorney in charge of the unit — a Texas Democrat — was convicted of drunk driving and wouldn’t step down. Perry thought she should leave her post because she had lost the public trust over her conviction and not at all because she had been investigating possible corruption related to Perry’s signature project, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

If you don’t think this is shady and improper, you’re a hyperpartisan for Perry. Entirely obliterating the agency charged with protecting citizens from official corruption because you don’t like the person in charge — for whatever reason — smacks of overreach. Imagine Congress and the President zero-funding the Supreme Court because they wanted one justice to resign. It’s just cockroach hunting with a bazooka.

Still, is it criminal as opposed to just shady? That’s a different question. Law professors weigh in….

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* 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.)]

It’s not every day that a lawyer ad features a caber toss by the attorney. But then again, it’s not everyday you find this kind of lawyer. A Scottish gent who worked for an Australian law firm and practiced in New York before pulling up stakes and moving to Austin, Texas, to start his own firm.

And he has fun with the expectations of firm advertising. For a split second, the ad opens with the dreaded “guy in suit in front of books” before pulling the rug out from under us and taking the audience on a madcap journey of every bit of awesomeness that happens to him while he tries to get through Ronald Dworkin’s Law’s Empire (affiliate link).

Caber toss? Check. Rubik’s Cubes? Check. Bicycle kick goals? Damn right….

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