You can’t charge exorbitant hourly rates to wealthy clients for routine legal work and still call yourself a “profession” instead of “just another business.” You can’t raise the price of legal eduction to the point where young lawyers have to mortgage their financial futures before they even sit for the bar and still attract cautious and temperate professionals. You can’t advertise on television and twitter, turn courtrooms into a reality shows, Latham careers before they even start, have partners auction themselves to the highest bidder, and outsource legal work product to India because it’s cheaper — and yet still expect to there to be some “professional dignity” involved when somebody dangles the opportunity to make a buck in front of some lean and hungry legal service provider.

In short, you can’t do all of the things the legal profession has done over the past 20 or 30 years and expect to get anything other than a big pile of Shpoonkle.

Shpoonkle is the name of a new website set to launch Monday. The site will allow clients to post their legal problems and receive “bids” from lawyers willing to represent them. The site was dreamed up by a New York Law School grad (one day, we’ll have a story about an NYLS grad who is actually a practicing attorney instead of a cupcake salesman or legal services entrepreneur). And there are already a bunch lawyers who can’t wait to join this race to the bottom…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘The eBay of Lawyering’ Is The Natural Devolution of The Profession”

The last two New York Attorneys General have become wildly famous. Everybody knows who Eliot Spitzer is, mostly for the wrong reasons. Before he became Governor Client Number 9, Eliot Spitzer attained the title “Sheriff of Wall Street.” Meanwhile, the current NYAG Andrew Cuomo was already famous because of his father. As AG, Cuomo has continued Spitzer’s legacy of asserting jurisdiction over anything that will help him run for Governor. The plan seems to be working, and Cuomo is the prohibitive favorite to become the next New York Governor.

Which means New Yorkers need to elect another attorney general. Unfortunately, nobody is paying attention to the Democratic primary (next Tuesday) where the winner will most likely be a shoe in for the job of top lawyer in New York. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 77% of registered Democrats have no idea who they’re going to vote for. More embarrassingly, 8% of respondents to an open-ended question about who they will vote for said they were going to vote for a person who is not actually running for NYAG. That’s double the 4% support “frontrunner” Kathleen Rice received.

Arguably, it’s the most important AG job in the country, the election is a week away, and 85% of the potential voters haven’t made up their mind or don’t know who is in the race. Think about that the next time somebody complains about “regulation” of Wall Street. I can’t blame Jamie Dimon if he’s not thrilled about listening to an AG who was elected by five guys who thought it would be a funny to show up and Ice election day workers.

So, as a public service to all the Above the Law readers who might actually have to deal with the NYAG, I’m liveblogging tonight’s Attorney General debate. Please check it out, I’m trying to be helpful…

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A paralegal tries to cool himself off.

It’s getting hot in herre
So turn off all your lights.
I am… getting so hot…
I wanna turn my lights off! [FN1]

Here on the East Coast, things are heating up. Unfortunately, we’re not talking about the legal job market.

We’re speaking much more literally. For the past few days, New York, Washington, and places in between have been in the grips of a brutal heat wave. On Tuesday and Wednesday, temperatures in NYC broke record highs, entering triple-digit territory.

Today, mercifully, has been a bit better. In D.C., temps will top out in the mid-to-upper 90s this afternoon. As a Washington Post reader quipped, “Only in the mid 90′s today… better grab a jacket before leaving the house!”

They say lawyers are cold-blooded creatures — but we get hot too. How are law firms and law schools coping with the heat?

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To check in to this morning’s coverage, please check in here.

The second part of today’s festivities — including the introductory statements from Kagan, after the jump…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Liveblogging the Kagan Confirmation Hearings: Opening Statements Session II”

  • 25 Jun 2010 at 5:22 PM

Non-Sequiturs: 06.25.10

* If Kenny Rogers was a patent lawyer, Kramer would still be the only person who preferred his chicken to the Colonel’s. (Or: some thoughts on Bilski.) [Patently-O]

* Even real estate lawyers don’t read their mortgage contracts. [Property Prof Blog]

* To a liberal, “you can’t take it with you” isn’t a clever saying; it’s a fundamental rule that will be enforced by the sword if need be. [Going Concern]

* And now comes the part where BP tries to pass liability off onto its friends. Other corporate offenders are starting to look at BP the way prison inmates look at child molesters. [WSJ Law Blog]

* But let’s keep the BP hate within the laws of physics and chemistry. It cannot rain oil from the sky. [The Rachel Maddow Show]

* The internet “kill switch” is making progress. But now the bill will come with a whole new cybernanny department organized under Homeland Security. [Huffington Post]

* The Blagojevich trial rolls on, embarrassing essentially everybody that has ever spoken with the man. [Althouse]

Lawyers like going the extra mile — and we’re not just talking about meticulousness in contract drafting. For whatever reason, many lawyers like to run. Some go long distances, like the marathon (an event where lawyers excel, especially at young ages). Others are in for the shorter haul — e.g., last night’s Lawyers Have Heart 5K, in Boston. (Congratulations to all the finishers — and to Bingham, whose team raised the most money for the American Heart Association.)

Yesterday we did a quick item on lawyers and law firms participating in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in New York. We solicited your tips about interesting attorney participants in the race. Several readers wrote in to identify the finisher they believe to be the fastest runner from a large law firm.

Who is he, and where does he work?

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Back in February, we reported that Marc Zwillinger and Christian Genetski, who previously headed up the internet practice group at Sonnenschein, were leaving to start their own firm, Zwillinger Genetski LLP. The firm is only a few months old, but it’s already at seven lawyers — and growing.

The Blog of Legal Times reports:

New Internet law boutique Zwillinger Genetski is bulking up with the addition of three attorneys, including Yahoo! Inc. associate general counsel Elizabeth Banker. The new hires nearly double the size of the three-month old Washington-based firm, bringing its headcount to seven.

The usual migration is from a law firm to an in-house job (often for lifestyle reasons). But sometimes we see moves in the reverse direction. E.g., Daniel Cooperman, who went from Apple back to Bingham McCutchen; Bear Stearns refugees, who wound up at various firms.

Elizabeth Banker is just one of the three new hires at Zwillinger Genetski….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Internet Boutique Spun Off from Sonnenschein Goes on Hiring Spree”

This past Monday, middle-aged housewives, quadriplegics who were not able to turn the channel, and yours truly tuned into the 763rd 20th season of The Bachelor franchise.

This season stars Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky, an unemployed 25-year-old who quit her job at Facebook and moved back in with her parents to be on the show. Fans of the series will recall that Ali was a castoff from last season’s Bachelor, where she endeared herself to fans by wearing low-cut dresses, crying frequently, and vaguely resembling a poor man’s Reese Witherspoon as seen in dim light through cataracts. Anyhow, she’s back this season and more determined than ever to find love with one of 25 white bachelors, not including the one Hispanic dude, Roberto.

Figuring that regular guys might be intimidated by Ali’s professional ambition and success, the Bachelorette producers assembled a squad of gentleman callers that simply cannot fail to impress. There is the “outdoorsman,” the “dental sales associate,” the “medical sales associate,” the landscaper, the “internet account executive,” and even the weatherman. Also vying for Ali’s heart are two of our very own kind: LAWYERS.

So, who are these guys?

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We’ve all known this was coming — especially after Judge Diane Wood got a fateful phone call earlier tonight. And now that one of the big networks has declared it, we consider it reportable news (sort of like election results).

Above the Law commenters, consider the Kagan released. From NBC News (via SCOTUSblog):

President Barack Obama will nominate U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to serve as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, NBC News’ Pete Williams reported late Sunday night.

Kagan, 50, served as the Dean of Harvard Law School from 2003 to 2009. Obama nominated her to serve in her current post as solicitor general early in 2009, and she won Senate confirmation by a vote of 61-31. She is the first woman to serve as solicitor general of the United States.

The foregoing paragraph says it all. The case for Kagan can be made “by the numbers,” namely, two numbers: 50 and 61….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Obama to Nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to U.S. Supreme Court”

I spend quite a bit of my time tracking complex litigation. I would say that I do it so I can keep material fresh for my blog, but that would not be whole truth. I keep current with happenings in the litigation market for survival. Since I contract often to make my way in this world, knowing when that market is busy or slow is an absolute must.

Well, what a difference a couple of years make. Back in 2008, it seemed like the sky was falling. Above The Law, partnering with Law Shucks, reported almost everyday on associate layoffs. At the time, I was hunting down document reviews as a legal recruiter for a small staffing outfit. Several of my contract attorney friends called me, and most of those calls were very depressing. People were begging for work, having been unemployed for months in a D.C. market that normally kept attorneys steadily working. Many were emotionally upset, having watched their savings dwindle down to their last few dollars. When would the market pick back up? When would the economy turn around?

Now, fast forward to the present. Events in this country are sending litigation toward a perfect storm. I’m talking sea-change. Something we have never seen in this market before. So much so, this next decade may be one of the best for legal technology and Biglaw. I will give you six reasons after the jump.

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