Greedy Associates - The FindLaw Legal Lifestyle and Career Blog

March 2013 Archives

Can a Lawyer Wear Leopard Print to Work?

Most industries no longer demand a formal dress code. Suits are rarely required, and corporate casual has simply become "casual." In offices across America, people are wearing jeans at this very minute.

But not you. You're stuck in a suit.

Congratulations: Law and finance are practically the only industries where formal business attire is still the norm. And yet, there's hope. Even the formal industries are starting to embrace a little sartorial flair.

Can that flair include leopard print? Why not? Leopard is a neutral now.

How to Add an Extra $10,000 to Your Starting Salary

You finish law school. You pass the bar. Suddenly, you need a job.

Your problem: The offer that comes in is $10,000 less than what you need to pay student loans, rent, and eat. Fear not: That's just a jumping off point to start salary (or any other) negotiations.

Judge Judy's Son Criticized in Putnam County Rape Investigation

If you're a district attorney, and you employ an illegal alien who is accused of raping a child, you can expect at least a little flack from the media.

If you're that district attorney and the progeny of the greatest pop culture judge of our generation, you can expect a backlash. Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy -- also known as Judge Judy's son -- is learning that lesson first-hand.

DLA Piper Caught (Joking About) Inflating Clients' Bills?

So that’s why they called this blog Greedy Associates. It’s all clear now. We never imagined that law firms would inflate bills, or stick unnecessary associates on cases for training or bill “churning” purposes.

Never.

The New York Times’ DealBook broke the “news” story: law firms inflate bills. More specifically, DLA Piper may have allegedly inflated the bills of a former client, Adam H. Victor. The client, who had a long-term relationship with the firm, hired them to handle one of his companies’ bankruptcies. The fee dispute became contentious, DLA Piper sued Mr. Victor, and he counter-claimed over the “sweeping practice of overbilling.”

Prosecutor Seeks Death for Groundhog: Are Meteorologists Next?

Compare and contrast: In Michigan, budget cuts have left Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worth unable to prosecute some felony cases because she doesn't have enough staff to try cases, The Detroit News reports.

In Ohio, district attorneys' offices are flush with funds, so a local attorney has decided to prosecute a groundhog for bad weather advice.

Oh yeah... and he's seeking the death penalty.

Unreasonable Fee: 'Master of Disaster' Stanley Chesley Disbarred

When you develop a reputation as the “master of disaster” for winning billions of dollars for tort victims, you have to expect that the those people you defeated in court will delight in watching you fall.

The people who had a bone to pick with “famed tort lawyer” Stanley Chesley must be rather delighted this week. Thursday, the Kentucky Supreme Court permanently disbarred Chesley for accepting an “unreasonable” $20 million fee on a $200 million settlement, the ABA Journal reports.

BigLaw Wardrobe on a SmallLaw Budget: Online Shopping

Earlier this week, Willie Peacock offered great tips to our gentlemen readers about building a professional wardrobe on a budget. The ladies, however, were none-too-pleased that Monsieur Peacock had no advice for filling our female readers’ closets.

To make it up to you, I’m going to start sharing my secrets on how, where, and when to snag the best deals. Since you’re reading this on the Internet, let’s start with tips about online shopping.

A Cynic's Guide: How to Deal with Office Gossip

This is the firm life. Even in boom times, advancement up the ladder was a numbers game. Today? When partners are being laid off? This is Lord of the Flies, and you ain't Piggy.

Does that call for sabotage? Rumor-mongering? Back-stabbing? No. Once you're labeled a snitch, no one will trust you - even if they benefited in the past from your loose lips. That doesn't mean you can't benefit from a little office gossip, however.

Building Your Professional Wardrobe on the Cheap

It's March. Many of you have landed a summer associate gig, clerkship, or internship with a small firm. The rest of you will soon (we hope). That means you're going to need to start preparing your wardrobe. After all, those ironic anti-lawyer t-shirts that read "Dewey Cheatem & Howe" and "Jack Schitt, Esq." aren't going to fly at most firms. It's time to step your game up - either to business casual or if you're really lucky, the BigLaw ballin' barrister look.

Now, you might be confused as to what business casual entails. We've got your back on that.

As for suits, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, don't buy online. You can't check fit online, and suits vary greatly from brand to brand. When you do check the fit, the jacket is by far the most important piece. Your shoulders should fit, with a bit of room to move, and not look like you are wearing linebacker pads. Also, you'll need to button the jacket without it looking like it's going to pop.

Which Types of Partners are Losing Money?

One might expect that partner compensation would decline in the present economy. After all, the legal industry hasn't exactly been thriving since 2009 or so. Industry-leading firms were shuttered, partners and associates were sent to the soup kitchens, and the legal lifestyle has been more madness than Mad Men.

And yet -- unless you are a woman, black, or a litigator -- your compensation likely went up between 2010 and 2012, according to a survey done by Major, Lindsey & Africa.

So You Want to Go to Law School. Do You Want a Job, Too?

Earlier this week, our own Willie Peacock explained why -- "despite the hysteria" -- it's a great time to apply to law school.

In some ways he's correct. Demand is in flux, but the supply is static: Law school applications have taken a nosedive, but most schools aren't cutting their class sizes. Applicants arguably have a better shot of getting into a better school.

But we need talk to talk about employment prospects after school, because you need a job to pay off law school loans. And eat.

More Confessions of a Patent Troll

Yesterday, we introduced you to "Sharon Underbridge," a self-described "patent troll." Today, we have five more confessions from Troll Underbridge. (Yes, she chose that name intentionally.)

Let's jump right into it, so you can debate whether patent trolls are evil, or just misunderstood.

Confessions of a Patent Troll

Patent trolls have a bad reputation. Run a search for the term, and you'll find headlines about misconduct and the death of innovation.

But is there another side to trolling?

Recently, I was surprised to hear an established intellectual property litigator describe herself as a patent troll, and curious about her side of the debate. She graciously agreed to answer a few questions. To protect her identity -- hey, even trolls need job security -- we'll refer to this attorney by her super-secret pseudonym, Sharon Underbridge.

Despite the Hysteria, Now is a Great Time to Apply to Law School

Whaaat? Did he just say that? The guy who blogs constantly about the barren job market?

Yeah. But before we get into it, there is one small qualifier: now is the time to go to law school if you have great admissions numbers. If you're rocking an LSAT score in the 140s, sure, you might get into an accredited school now that no one else is applying. However, you'll still graduate with a mountain of debt and no employment prospects whatsoever.

Disclaimer aside, this is the ultimate "buy low" time on a legal education.

Law School Rankings DO Matter - if You're Doing it Right

Au contraire, Mrs. Cain. The rankings matter far more than you think.

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding on a law school. The rankings shouldn't be the beginning and end of the process, but the truth is - they are.

For you, dear 0L, the most important thing should be money. How much of a scholarship can you squeeze out of the school? After all, you better be pre-JD because of your desire to help people or love for the learned profession -- not to get rich quick. The current and near-future job market makes paying back hefty student loans and building wealth a dubious proposition.

Law School Rankings Don't Matter. Or Do They?

The U.S. News and World Report law school rankings are out, reports Above the Law. Suddenly, the universe has meaning.

Except a school ranking doesn't make you more employable if you're years out of law school. It doesn't make your student debt disappear. It doesn't make you more likely to pass the bar exam should you ever have to sit for it again. (If that fate befalls you, hopefully it happens before the MBE changes in 2015.)

Yale Law School is still number one. Harvard and Stanford are tied at two. Whether you're associated with one of these three schools or not, the world will still continue tomorrow. Why should we care about law school rankings?

Law Schools Starting Small Firm Incubators - Good Idea?

Despite the desolate job market, many of my recent-grad friends have yet to make the plunge into hanging up their own shingle. For some, they are working crap-law jobs and biding their time until something better comes along. Others are still mailing out resumes en masse and hoping for the best. For those who did take the plunge, one has been doing general practice for a few years and is thriving. Another friend is just getting started, but his firearms law firm (practice area envy!) sounds both promising and exciting.

The reasons why new lawyers are reluctant to jump in to small firming are obvious: getting clients, understanding balance sheets and deciphering tax requirements are all terrifying. Beyond that, most law schools just don't prepare students for running a firm. Some would argue that schools don't prepare them for practicing law, though that particular concern is slowly eroding as more schools add practice-based education and clinical opportunities.

Taking the Bar in 2015? Get Ready for the New MBE Format

In Mean Girls -- you know, the Heathers of the early aughts -- Janis warns the protagonist about the meanest girl in school, Regina George. "She's a life ruiner. She ruins people's lives."

The same could be said of the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBEX).

This week, the NCBEX warned law school deans that the long-rumored MBE civil procedure section will become a reality in February 2015, according to Above the Law.

Budweiser Lawsuit: Blame it on the (Lack of) Alcohol

So many naive law students start law school thinking that they will change the world in a public interest career. They will fight the good fight. They will represent the little guy. They will MAKE. A. DIFFERENCE.

And then they end up doing doc review in a windowless office because they need a job to pay off their loans and (ideally) pay for food and rent.

But today, we have a story of attorneys — nay, heroes — who found a way to stand up for the one thing that law students and lawyers alike hold dear.

Alcohol.

3 Not-So-Serious Ways to Defeat Student Loan Debt

The University of Michigan School of Law just ruined our morning. Though not a day goes by without us considering our crushing debt, Michigan had to go and create a calculator to show us just how hopeless it actually is. The Debt Wizard combines practice area, cost of living for a selected geographic area, and salary to spit out your chances at repaying your student loans. The news, surprisingly enough, wasn't pretty.

Since there is no hope, and the financial aspects of our lives will continue to suck in perpetuity, we figured that there has to be a way out of this situation. Obviously bankruptcy isn't an option -- student loans generally can't be discharged, except in cases of undue hardship. Nabbing a $160,000-a-year BigLaw gig isn't likely. That leaves us with three options:

'Politically Incorrect' Dean Resigns From Saint Louis University

He says that he is “politically incorrect.” Others might have other adjectives to describe the trial lawyer and former interim Dean of SLU Tom Keefe.

Some of his best moments include reportedly telling Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly that he wouldn’t be the University President’s “butt boy” and later claiming that he “got drunker than 10 big Indians.” When announcing his resignation, he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “The truth of the matter is that to the extent that folks are after my scalp for saying inappropriate things, chances are the size of my mouth I might as well have said all of them.”

Bryan Garner Thinks We All Lawyers Can't Write So Good

In a long, long rant published on the ABA Journal's website, famed legal writing deity Bryan Garner accuses the vast majority of attorneys of being sorry scribes. He supports this proposition by citing the Dunning-Kruger effect, a well-known psychological principle that can be summed up in a few words:

The more you suck at something, the better you think you are, especially in relation to others.

Wait, so Garner is saying lawyers are arrogant about their abilities? Color us shocked - and mildly insulted to boot.

Legal Day Job Got You Down? Put on a Pro Bono Happy Face

Being a lawyer sucks, law school was a terrible mistake, and you're drowning in debt.

It's a popular refrain. I've been leading the chorus for years. Maybe it's time for an attitude adjustment.

Before you dismiss me as a cockeyed optimist who references musicals while doling out advice, hear me out.