Recently, I moved from Washington, D.C. back to Houston, where I’ll be living and working this academic year. The trip involved me, two long-suffering parents (who undoubtedly wonder how they get roped into helping move their 34-year-old daughter cross-country again and again), one elderly greyhound, a minivan, and a 26-foot Penske truck filled within mere cubic inches of its maximum capacity. As you might guess, a veritable multi-day laugh riot of good times ensued. Also, my parents are awesome human beings.
The trek we took wound through Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and, of course, Texas. While making the trip, we drove through the Shenandoah Mountains and at the edge of the Great Smokies. We drove through the piney woods of the Deep South and the swamplands of the Gulf Coast. We heard many accents, none of which match mine, as a Yankee by breeding. I wondered about the logistics of truck stops with coin-operated showers, quietly praying I will never require spare change in order to bathe. I questioned the market for rhinestone-studded denim vests at a gas station. I saw many Waffle Houses. So many Waffle Houses.
Driving through stretches of “flyover country” presents you with people living very different lives than you live. You quickly realize that if you are from urban areas, especially on the coasts, there are massive swaths of America that feel like a foreign country….
Last week, we toured the $5 million estate of a renowned plaintiffs’ lawyer down in Texas. We mentioned that this legal eagle was fleeing his finely feathered nest in favor of even better abode: a $14 million mansion, smaller in square footage than the old house, but with a much better location.
Now it’s time for us to check out the new digs. This mansion has “only” 12,000 square feet, compared to the former home’s 14,000 square feet, but it has many other things going for it….
* Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was chatty this week. In terms of same-sex marriage, the Notorious R.B.G. thinks “[t]he court handled both of those cases just the way they should have.” [Bloomberg]
* And just like a mean girl, Ruthie’s claws were out. After calling the Roberts Court “one of the most activist courts in history,” she offered comments on Justice Samuel Alito’s eye-rolling. [New York Times]
* Don’t cry for Argentina, the truth is it never respected you. After losing an appeal at the Second Circuit, the country has vowed to defy any of the court’s rulings with which it doesn’t agree. [Reuters]
* Texas takes the bull by the horns: the state’s Supreme Court will consider if it has the power and jurisdiction to grant gay divorces despite the fact that it bans gay marriage. [Houston Chronicle]
* “I have a temperament that doesn’t adapt well to politics. It’s because I speak my mind so much.” Joaquim Barbosa, chief justice of Brazil’s highest court and one of the most influential lawyers in the world (according to Time), isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. [New York Times]
* Since she was already acquitted of the murder of Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox (fka Foxy Knoxy) will not be returning to Italy for her retrial. That would be as silly as admitting to participation in orgies. [CNN]
* Following a settlement on undisclosed terms, the suit filed against Paula Deen has been dismissed. It’s too bad that the Baroness of Butter’s career sunk like a spoiled soufflé in the process. [Businessweek]
* New York’s AG filed a $40M suit against Donald Trump, a rich man who can’t afford a decent hairstylist and allegedly makes students at Trump University weep with his “bait-and-switch” tactics. [NBC News]
* Even the election law controversies are bigger in Texas. The Department of Justice is currently planning to intervene in one lawsuit and file another against the Lone Star state over its voter identification law and redistricting plans. [National Law Journal]
* Here’s an especially helpful ruling for people who have been living their lives without landlines (so, basically everyone). You can gratefully thank the Third Circuit for allowing you to block those annoying robocalls on your cellphones. [Legal Intelligencer]
* Well, that was quick — a Biglaw pump and dump, if you will. After only a year, David M. Bernick, former general counsel of Philip Morris, is leaving Boies Schiller and will likely be taking a position at Dechert. [DealBook / New York Times]
* “[L]ife got in the way.” Who really needs loyalty in Biglaw these days? More than half of the nearly 500 associates and counsel who made partner in 2013 started their careers at different firms. [Am Law Daily]
* Another one bites the dust. John McGahren, the New Jersey managing partner of Patton Boggs, just resigned from an office he opened himself after some major attorney downsizing. [New Jersey Law Journal]
* “In a community of 98,000 people and 640,000 partners, it isn’t possible to say there will never be wrongdoing.” Comforting. Microsoft is under the microscope of a federal bribery probe. [Corporate Counsel]
* Ronald Motley, a “charismatic master of the courtroom” who founded Motley Rice, RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]
Whenever we write about a lawyerly lair in New York City, our readers in Texas scoff. They mock the tiny size and high price. They observe that for the cost of a minuscule Manhattan studio, you could get yourself 3500 square feet — plus a Lexus! — down in Texas. And did you know that there’s no state income tax down there?
Today our Texas tipsters will be happy. We’re visiting the $5 million, 14,000-square-foot mansion of a renowned plaintiffs’ lawyer — with room for many Lexuses, in the 13-car garage….
* A chat with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. Kozinski is the only interviewee who can talk about political oppression and reserve the real shock and horror for jury verdicts. [Concurring Opinions]
* On a serious note, a summer intern at Bank of America has died after pulling three all-nighters. Biglaw reminds associates that the lesson here is to get your work done faster. [Gawker via Instapundit]
* LeBron James thinks he’s actually above the law. What’s more despicable? Using celebrity to ruin everyone else’s commute so you can watch a concert or being part of the Heat? [Grantland]
* Case Western Reserve is changing its legal curriculum out of desperation an effort to revolutionize law school. [Cleveland Plain-Dealer]
* Women’s magazines make a ton of demoralizing helpful promises. What if lawyers inserted themselves into the editorial process? [The Tangential]
I was on a fast-moving segment on HuffPost Live this afternoon called “Legalese It,” where host Mike Sacks runs through a bunch of overlooked legal items from the past week. Since I was on vacation for half of the week, I learned a lot! For instance, did you know that Michigan had an anti-begging statute on the books from the 1920s that was just struck down so they can put a big “Spare Some Change” sign in Detroit?
Okay, that’s not why it was struck down, but still. Also it seems that North Carolina is trying to restrict voting to five white guys chosen at random by Reince Priebus and Obama is now in favor of legislative prayer, as if nobody told him he can’t run for a third term.
Looks like I missed a lot, but that didn’t stop me from talking about it on the web. Specifically, I got to talk about how Eric Holder and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott are now friends when it comes to stopping USAIR and American Airlines from combining to own all the railroads on the Monopoly board…
How are you fixed for Skittles and Arizona watermelon fruitcocktail (and maybe a bottle of Robitussin, too) in your neighborhood? I am fresh out of ‘purple drank.’ So, I may come by for a visit. In a rainstorm. In the middle of the night. In a hoodie. Don’t get upset or anything if you see me looking in your window… kay?
Today, we turn toward Texas. Texas is beloved here at ATL as an apparently bottomless source of colorful legal news. The state is a frequent battleground for high profileconstitutional fights while also generating a steady stream of tabloid fodder, from “judges behaving badly” to “tragic homicidal mayhem.” (Of course, there’s also the running joke among the ATL commentariat that, for what a New York Biglaw associate pays for his cramped studio apartment, one can buy a 3,500-square-foot wife house in Texas.)
But of course this is a limited, distorted view of the legal industry in Texas. Texas is a huge, diverse state with a relatively strong economy and a unique legal culture. Biglaw firms thrive in all three major cities, both local outposts of national firms, or more significantly, Texas-bred firms such as Baker Botts and Vinson & Elkins. Our ATL Insider Survey (13,000+ responses and going strong, thanks), asks attorneys at firms to evaluate their employers in terms of compensation, hours, training, morale, and culture. After the jump, we’ll look at how firms in Texas stack up in these categories — and how they compare to the national averages…
* This gem of a listing just showed up in the “legal/paralegal jobs” section of Craigslist. Be sure to send a “nude picture” with your résumé! Perhaps someone has been watching too many Maggie Gyllenhaal films. If it gets taken down a screenshot is here, and the klassy alternative picture in the listing is here. [Craigslist]
* From the “no good deed goes unpunished” department, Georgetown Law has figured out how to bilk taxpayers into covering the costs of increasing tuition. The federal government forgives law school debt for those in the public sector if they agree to make an income-based payment. Georgetown is covering those costs, passing it on to future students (who also won’t be paying it back), and then encouraging students to shelter income to guarantee the school comes out ahead. This is why we can’t have nice things. [Wonkblog / Washington Post]
* The always outspoken Judge Kopf shares his thoughts on Shon Hopwood’s selection as a clerk for Judge Janice Rogers Brown. Judge Kopf sentenced Hopwood to 147 months in the 90s. [Hercules and the Umpire]
* A delightful “man bites dog” story: a bank didn’t read a customer’s amendments to a credit card application before issuing him a card and went to court whining about how hard it is to pay attention to the fine print. Boo hoo hoo. [The Telegraph]
* How to deal with your mistakes. This only applies to associates, though. Partners have two steps: (1) find an associate; (2) blame the associate. [Associate's Mind]
* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including their misreading of the Supreme Court’s precedent. [Election Law Blog]
* China is way serious about prosecuting corruption. [Legal Juice]
* The Mets muscle man whose comic inability to open a water bottle went viral on YouTube is actually a lawyer from White Plains. If you haven’t seen the clip yet, it’s after the jump. Watching the water bottle battle is the only excuse for subjecting yourself to a Royals-Mets game…
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.