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November 2010 Archives

Sex, Drug Allegations Swirl Around Convicted Jet-Setting Attorney

Do you ever wish that you could run away from your BigLaw job for the life of a rockstar? Millions of dollars in income. A life of cocaine-fueled sex parties?

Perhaps the lesson of Tom Lakin will give you pause. It's the story of how not to be a power broker attorney. Tom Lakin was a successful Illinois personal injury lawyer. Now he is serving six years for a federal drug conviction. Lakin pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, distributing cocaine to a minor and for maintaining a drug house. State investigations are still going forward, as well as a civil suit against Lakin.

Are Lawyers Resistant to Gratitude?

Did lawyers struggle with being thankful this past Thanksgiving holiday? Some of them likely did, according to lecturer and psychology professor Robert Emmons. Emmons speaks to people from all walks of life and characterizes an individual's orientation as either negative or built on gratitude.

Interestingly, Emmons was asked whether he ever spoke to a group of lawyers. His response was simple and straightforward: he had one time and the only class of people he found less grateful that lawyers were teenagers. What makes lawyers resistant to gratitude? One postulation is that lawyers are people that emphasize self control and self reliance -- two characteristic that conflict with notions of gratitude.

BigLaw Big Love: Bonus Season Begins

Joy to the World, the bonuses have come.

Really, if you are part of BigLaw, you have your own bonus memo to look forward to. If you are toiling outside the gushing font of hours and moolah that is BigLaw, you might care, or you might not. In any case, the Recording Angel, otherwise known as Cravath, Swaine & Moore, has set forth its associate bonus levels for this year.

Cravath gave a early tidbit to The Wall Street Journal, which reports that this year's bonus levels were good news, even though they were up just $5,000 from last year for senior associates and "matching" (read, flat) for other classes. Here are the numbers:

Pre Law Students Place Law School Rankings Above All Else

You can't say we didn't warn them.

How many times have we spent warning about the dire statistics regarding employment opportunities for law school graduates? How much additional breath has been spent on the need for transparency of law schools to let prospective students know about fewer jobs and high debt?

And yet, it is all seems to be wasted breath. Some would have already reached that conclusion, but this story brings it home. According to a story on BusinessWire, a recent survey by Kaplan shows that the main issue, make that really the only issue, potential law students consider when picking a school is its place in the U.S. News and World Report Rankings. Not the employment rate, not the geographic location, not whether tuition will be more than a new BMW.

Miami Law School Creates 'Legal Corps' For Jobless Grads

It's a New Deal for the Great Recession. Law schools all around the country have been faced with high unemployment numbers for recent grads, but the University of Miami School of Law has decided to do something about it. The U of Miami has announced the creation of the Law Corps whose purpose will be to place graduates in public agencies, public interest organizations, and judicial chambers in Florida and throughout the country.

Those participating in the Law Corps will receive a monthly stipend of $2,500 and must also attend twice a week professional development sessions, according to the University. The sessions will be worth almost two years of CLE credits.

The fellowship positions granted to the Miami graduates last for six months, according to Miami Law Dean Patricia D. White. This length of time will allow the new members of the profession time to learn valuable skills and make connections. The Dean notes that the stipend is not large, but is on par with fellowship programs for post-docs in other fields.

'So You Want to Go to Law School' Becomes A YouTube Hit

What's the path to fame in the legal world? YouTube. It worked for a Virginia attorney who has become an internet sensation thanks to his hilarious "So You Want to Go to Law School," videos. The videos have gone viral, with the original coming up on 1,000,000 views on YouTube.

The videos are the work of aspiring novelist and Virginia attorney David Kazzie. Kazzie's practice involves disciplinary cases for health care professionals.

Latest BigLaw Perks: Free iPads

It's a bit early to fill Christmas stockings, but since Greedy is our name, what the heck. Reports out last week say that as one additional associate bonus, BigLaw firm Proskauer Rose is gifting its own with iPads as one potential work computing option.

Yes, the greedy and non-greedy associates at Proskauer will have the choice between an iPad and a desktop PC or a free laptop with docking station, reports Above the Law.

How Much Do Washington D.C. Lawyers Make?

What kind of coin are Washington D.C. lawyers making these days? Call it the spiritual home of lawyers, for the District is packed with some 80,000 attorneys. For an area with a population of 599,657, that's a lot of pinstripes. But is it a lot of dough? Most lawyers know that the stereotype of the Benz-driving, Bluetooth-sporting shark is not the whole story. There are attorneys dedicated (gasp) to public service who make far less than the public might guess. The flip-side is, once you have gone government, the return to private practice can be very welcoming indeed.

The truly big bucks for D.C. lawyers, it comes as no surprise to learn, comes with the big names, both firm name and famous partners, reports The Washingtonian. According to their list of who makes what, big firm partners ring in high, with examples like Wilmer Hale at $1.16 million, Williams & Connolly at $1.18 million or Gibson Dunn & Crutcher at $1.91 million. Major rainmaking partners with recognizable names like former solicitor general Theodore Olson, make even more than the average worker-bee partner at Gibson.

US News Still Ranks Law Schools, Stops Hard-Copy Subscriptions

U.S. News & World Report is one step closing to becoming yet another publication that moves entirely online. Forgive me if that sounds ominous, it doesn't seem like a bad thing. As we've seen with the rise of reading news by computer and recently tablets, it is inevitable that publications will go digital. And so we'll cut down fewer trees and be able to carry many newspapers and magazines at once. The future is now, or something like that.

Back to the U.S. News & World Report, they're not actually killing off all print production, they're still going to print a small number of issues like the school rankings, which remain popular.

Law students and attorneys are no strangers to the U.S. News & World Report school rankings issue. Many law students recall the obsession over school rankings: the methodology of the system, whether law schools should fight aggressively for higher rankings, or whether they should dismiss concern over rankings entirely.

The Mindful Lawyer: Can Meditation Help With Your Billable Hours?

How is this for a mantra: OMMMM, OMMMMM, OMMMM My God I Will Never Make My Billables this Month?

Thoughts like this are not terribly relaxing, are they? At a recent conference at U.C. Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, about 200 lawyers, professors and judges learned a bit more about what might actually be relaxing, mindful of how it can positively affect their careers.

This year's "Mindful Lawyer Conference" at Boalt was sold out, reports The San Francisco Chronicle. The conference was designed to educate legal professionals about how meditation practice can help them manage the stress of their work. And how to cultivate compassion. The conference offered scholarly presentations, discussions and guided meditations.

Partner Fired by Brother for 10 years of 'Abject Laziness'

Lawyers have been called many things over the years: greedy, argumentative, out of touch, cold, mean spirited, etc. A recent case from New York will do little to dispel that portrayal.

A top partner at a law firm, Andrew Finkelstein, 45, fired his own brother, Joel Finkelstein, 50, calling him lazy and saying that he displayed "flagrant acts of disloyalty," and "[did] little or no productive work for nearly a decade." Andrew Finkelstein also accused his brother of extensively playing Scrabble at work instead of doing his job, calling it abject laziness. Ouch--that's harsh.

His brother wasn't about to take the firing lying down. He filed a $7 million lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court against the firms and their partners. The three firms are Fine, Olin & Anderman; Finkelstein & Partners; and Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices. How one becomes an attorney at three different firms at the same time is a mystery to me, but kudos to anyone who can pull it off, especially while having time for Scrabble on the side. I can only wonder whether he was playing it online or if he just brought in a board and was playing in the conference room during depositions.

Law Students Nationwide Argue to Legalize Pot

Proposition 19, the California proposition on whether the Golden State will legalize marijuana, is finding support from law students nationwide, according to Forbes. If passed Prop 19, officially known as the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, would allow California cities and counties to adopt their own laws regarding the sale and manufacturing of marijuana.

Now enter the law students. Members of Georgetown University's Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) have spent the week calling across the country to urge California voters to pass the highly-publicized proposition. Although many, if not most, of the law students are directly unaffected by Prop 19, their arguments are based on the following theories: economics, law enforcement and legitimizing the legal system. Members of other chapters of SSDP across the nation have taken up similar telephonic campaigns.

Going to Law School Used to be a Sure Thing. Not Anymore.

So you are thinking of going to law school? At one point a JD was a virtual guarantee to a great job. Now it is not a guarantee to any job, legal or non legal. To put it bluntly, going to law school used to be a sure thing. Not anymore. In all fairness, the same can be said for a lot of graduate degrees, but there is something more depressing about the struggles recent law school graduates have experienced in the work force.

A recent article in the Washington Post sums up the life and times of the unemployed JD: "The job market for lawyers is terrible -- and that hits young lawyers the worst. Although the National Association for Law Placement ... reports that employment for the class of 2009 was 88.3 percent, about a quarter of jobs were temporary, without the salaries needed by most new lawyers to pay off crushing debts. Another 10 percent were part-time. And thousands of jobs were fellowships or grants provided by the new lawyers' law schools."