Greedy Associates - The FindLaw Legal Lifestyle and Career Blog

May 2012 Archives

Ex-Skadden Lawyer's Misuse of Car Service Dooms Bias Suit Appeal

If you're going to sue your former law firm for discrimination, make sure you didn't abuse your perks first.

That's about all you can learn from Rita Gordon, a former litigation attorney at Skadden Arps. Gordon sued the firm for gender and age discrimination after she was fired in 2005. But the firm claimed it was her "liberal" use of its car service that led to the firing.

And as of this week, that reason stands. The New York Appellate Division has affirmed a grant of summary judgment in Skadden's favor.

The 3 Most Evil Fictional Lawyers

While most real attorneys aren't bad people, the same can't be said about those in movies and television. But which fictional lawyers are the most evil?

It's a question that's bound to elicit endless debates. Narrowing the list down to the top three may very well seem impossible to legal fiction buffs. But we here at FindLaw have done the impossible.

So who gets the dubious number one spot? Click onward to find out.

Judge Tosses Lawyer's Breakfast Lawsuit Against NYC Health Club

Omelets, pancakes waffles, yogurt, juice. Sounds like a good breakfast. But is it worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? Probably not.

Don't try telling that to Richard Katz, a Manhattan attorney who sued the Setai Wall Street Club and Spa in November 2011 after it stopped providing a full breakfast spread. He believes that, at $5,000 a year, the club owed him his morning coffee and yogurt.

Too bad a judge disagreed.

Should New Law Grads Get Networking Cards for Their Job Search?

Opinions differ about law students having "business" cards. But you're a law grad now -- and you desperately need a job. And in this economy, the only way you're probably going to find one is by networking.

Enter the contact, or networking, card. This little piece of stiff paper makes the entire process easier -- and it makes you seem less like an unprepared idiot. No, really. It does.

Scribbling contact information on a scrap of paper makes everyone look bad.

Why Are Law Grads Going to Small Firms? Right, They're Not.

Like clockwork, the ABA has released its latest employment placement data. And it looks like for recent New York law school grads, small firms are where it's at.

Almost 20 percent of 2010 New York law graduates were employed in law firms with 50 or less attorneys. Many of those firms had less than 10 lawyers. On the surface, it would seem that recent graduates have heeded the "sagely" advice of their contemporaries.

You've all heard (or are currently experiencing) the work-life balance issues that come with BigLaw. It's not always fun, but it certainly pays the bills. However, this apparent trend toward small firms isn't quite what it seems.

It's a high standard to meet, but a law school dropout has successfully argued "undue hardship" to get more than $339,000 in student loans discharged. Her undue hardship: Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, according to a judge's ruling.

As most current and former law students know, even filing for bankruptcy generally doesn't relieve one's duty to repay student loans. Only when a court finds an "undue hardship" exists will a student loan be discharged.

Carol Todd of Maryland met the undue hardship standard via her debilitating Asperger's syndrome, a bankruptcy judge has ruled. This despite the fact that Todd later obtained a master's degree and a Ph.D. after dropping out of law school.

Top 5 Ways for an Attorney to Avoid a Heart Attack

Anyone working in Big Law will tell you that stress is usually their constant companion. It's a career with a high rate of suicide and alcoholism.

One former Big Law attorney turned therapist, Will Meyerhofer, said that he would feel his entire body clench as he walked through the BigLaw doors.

Stress has even been a suspected murderer. Take ex-Sadden associate Lisa M. Johnstone, who died at 32. Coworkers claim that she worked 100 hours a week. She died of a heart attack and while the link between stress and her death isn't definitive, res ipsa loquitor.

So, how to manage stress when working at the firm? Here are some stress management tips for all you hour billers out there:

Dewey & LeBoeuf Preparing Bankruptcy Filing. Anyone Surprised?

Former BigLaw titan Dewey & LeBoeuf may soon be nearing its end. The New York law firm is reportedly preparing a possible bankruptcy-protection filing.

According to sources, the move could come down soon, The Wall Street Journal reports. Should the troubled firm take such a step, it would mark the beginning of its official liquidation.

While many of you associates out there probably aren't too surprised at this development, it does make one wonder why the sudden change?

With golf season in full swing, business golf outings can be a potential moneymaker for savvy rainmakers. So what are the best ways for attorneys to tee up and "close the deal" after a round on the so-called 19th hole?

It helps to think of golf as "a looking glass into how people think," a professional golfer told Inc. magazine. Games typically last four or five hours -- ample time to figure out if your fellow players are client-worthy, and if so, how best to win them over.

Here are seven tips to help you perfect your game when it comes to business golf:

Former Ohio State linebacker Andrew Sweat admits he had a hard time deciding between law school and a potential NFL career. But renewed concerns about the effects of concussions made law school a no-brainer.

"Concussion symptoms didn't want to risk it," Sweat, 23, tweeted after he skipped the Cleveland Browns' rookie mini-camp last week. "Health trumps football any day."

That's a complete reversal from Sweat's comments about a potential legal career last month: "I don't want to sit behind a desk," he told the Columbus Dispatch after he got accepted to five law schools. "I want to continue playing [football] as long as I can."

A "scary" incident last Friday, however, changed Sweat's mind for good.

Introducing our Ex-Lawyer of the Week: Susan Hanover.

A former corporate and labor-law attorney in her native South Africa, Hanover no longer crafts legal arguments for clients. Instead, she crafts a dazzling array of designer jewelry for customers and high-fashion retailers worldwide.

Hanover launched her first collection in 2005 after years of designing jewelry as a hobby -- and after moving with her husband to the United States, where she is not licensed to practice law. "So really I fell into this by default, you could say," Hanover said.

As prospective students consider their law-school options, some may be wondering about law schools that aren't accredited by the ABA. What's the difference -- and what's the big deal, anyway?

In general, earning a Juris Doctor from one of the 200 ABA-accredited law schools allows you to sit for the bar exam in any U.S. state. ABA-accredited schools are generally considered more "credible" in the legal world -- and usually come with higher tuition and fees.

By contrast, law degrees from schools not accredited by the ABA -- but instead accredited by a state bar or state legislature -- are usually only good in that state. But there are other differences as well.

As BigLaw firm Dewey & LeBoeuf goes belly-up, attorneys at other law firms may be looking for signs of trouble where they work.

One former Dewey employee claims the firm failed to provide proper notice before issuing mass layoffs, according to a class action lawsuit. But you may not need formal notice to realize your firm is about to collapse.

Another 10 or so BigLaw firms could fold like Dewey between now and the end of 2013, a columnist for ABA Journal recently opined. Here are five signs your firm may be next:

A Harvard Law grad is suing her alma mater over a reprimand for plagiarism -- a false finding that's left her unable to find a job, her suit claims.

Megon Walker, a 2009 Harvard Law grad, blames a computer virus for destroying a draft of her law journal article, Courthouse News Service reports. The journal's student-editors allegedly promised to let Walker revise the article because of the virus, according to her lawsuit.

But instead, the editors treated her draft as a final version and then accused her of plagiarism for failing to cite sources. The resulting reprimand has acted like a "scarlet letter" of sorts, costing Walker some lucrative job opportunities -- including a $160,000/year offer from a BigLaw firm, her lawsuit claims.

How to Spot a Layoff: 5 Warning Signs

With Dewey & LeBoeuf's seemingly imminent demise creeping ever closer, associates nationwide are understandably worried about their own job security. But fear not, you can ease your anxiety by figuring out how to spot layoff warning signs.

You're all smart people. After all, you made it through law school and the bar. So you already know shrinking profits and industry decline are good indicators of an impending layoff.

But these signals can often come too late, leaving you little time to protect yourself against the dreaded "resume employment gap." Here are five early warning signs that usually accompany layoffs.

There is Now 1 Lawyer for Every 257 Americans

You don't need to be an economist to know that having one lawyer for every 257 Americans isn't good news -- for lawyers, that is. If you're looking to hire an attorney, it's definitely a buyer's market.

Over the past decade, numerous big-wig law firms have folded due to declining profits. Some of them include Brobeck, Proffitt & Wood LLP, Thelen Reid, Thacher, Howrey & Simon, Arter & Hadden LLP, Phleger & Harrison LLP, and Jenkens & Gilchrist.

So who or what is to blame for the current overcrowded and volatile legal market?

Introducing our Ex-Lawyer of the Week: David Baldacci.

Baldacci is a well-known lawyer-turned-bestselling author. His first novel, Absolute Power, became a major motion picture in 1997; its plot, about a Secret Service scandal, may seem like it was ripped from today's headlines.

But the ex-trial lawyer prefers to write fiction. "I like to sort of blend my own stories together," Baldacci said on "CBS This Morning" last week. "But some of these facts [in the current Secret Service scandal] might end up in a book later on down the road."

TX Attorney Arrested for Ambulance Chasing

Texas State Representative Ronald Reynolds seems to have gotten himself into a bit of trouble. The managing partner and former municipal judge was arrested late last month and charged with barratry.

Yep, that's spelled correctly. Barratry, it turns out, is just a fancy word for ambulance chasing. And in Texas, it's not just prohibited by legal ethics rules -- it's also flat out illegal.

In fact, it's such a widespread problem at the Harris County Courthouse near Houston, officials recently erected signs warning attorneys that barratry is a crime.

3 Things You Should Never Do at a Deposition

Whether you're a young associate or a veteran attorney, knowing what you should and shouldn't do at a deposition can be tricky and nerve-racking. Not to mention expensive if you screw up.

After all, it's one of the most important first interactions you'll have with witnesses and opposing counsel. And it's arguably where cases can be won, lost, or settled, depending on the outcome.

That's why whenever you conduct a deposition, you should keep the following things in mind.

Top 5 Lawyer Mom Blogs Just in Time For Mother's Day

In the spirit of Mother's Day, we're bringing you the top five blogs for female lawyers, specifically, for lawyer moms.

Any female lawyer who is also juggling the job of being a mother will tell you that "juggling" is the right word. The career of law is difficult enough as it is, without the struggles of motherhood.

Some of these blogs talk about legal issues, others talk about the struggles of being a working mother.

When it comes to a new lawyer's first job, size doesn't seem to matter. Nearly two-thirds of new grads who go into the private sector are going to small law firms rather than BigLaw, an analysis of ABA data shows.

For the Class of 2010, more than 18,000 newly minted JDs — 42% of total graduates — were employed by private law firms, according to the ABA's law school placement survey. Results for the Class of 2010 were posted in mid-April.

Of those 2010 graduates who landed private-sector jobs, 62.6% got jobs at small firms — those with 50 or fewer attorneys, a FindLaw analysis of the data shows.

Just Don't Pad Your Resume Like Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson Did

Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson is in some hot water over padding his resume. And his shining example shows why all you job-hunting associates should think twice before bloating your credentials.

Third Point, a Yahoo! shareholder firm, accused Thompson of lying about his college degree, CNNMoney reports. Thompson's Yahoo! bio stated that he possessed a Bachelor's degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College. But his degree is only in accounting. Third Point discovered the discrepancy in the midst of its proxy fight with the Internet company.

Ouch. Yahoo! says it's investigating the matter. But both Thompson and the company have got some 'splainin' to do.

And so do you if get caught in a similar mess. The fallout from Thompson's debacle can pass along some value lessons to jobseekers.

Pro Bono Work Now Required to Pass NY Bar

Becoming a New York lawyer just got a little tougher. Aspiring attorneys will now be required to do pro bono work in order to pass the NY bar, Reuters reports.

This is on top of the state's already tough two-day exam. Applicants will have to volunteer at least 50 hours of free legal services as part of admission to the bar. The initiative will take effect in 2013, so 2012 examinees can breathe a sigh of relief. The requirement's goal is to provide more legal services to the growing number of poor people.

New York's requirement is the first of its kind in the nation. But could it also be the beginning of sweeping pro bono reform for the rest of the country?

Law Partners Getting Richer. Associates Not So Much

All you lowly associates take note: you are getting poorer. That is, compared to what your firm's partners are getting. A new survey reveals the gap between hourly associate rates and rates for partners is widening. So while partners become richer, those at the bottom aren't.

In 2011, the top 25 percent of law partners charged an average of $873 an hour, according to the survey conducted by analytics firm TyMetrix Inc. Attorneys at the bottom 25 percent earned only $204 an hour. The figures are based on responses from 4,000 law firms.

So what could be causing the gap?

Top 5 Reasons Not to Go to Law School

Law school is hell. That's enough reason not to go to law school. Post over, good night folks.

Just joking. While law school can be a bad decision for some people, this isn't necessarily true for everyone. There are a lot of students who actually enjoy the experience. However, there are some things about law school that even these people dislike.

So if you're thinking about sentencing yourself to a life of lawyering, take a moment to consider these five reasons why you shouldn't go to law school.

What happens in a jailhouse interview room, doesn't always stay in a jailhouse interview room. A Georgia lawyer learned that the hard way, after an inmate snitched on him for allegedly trying to trade contraband for sexual favors.

Michael Stuart Winner, 45, of Sandy Springs, Ga., was booked into the Cobb County jail after allegedly making indecent proposals to two female inmates at the jail, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Winner met with the inmates in the jail's attorney-client meeting rooms, where he offered to smuggle items like drugs or tobacco in exchange for sexual favors, according to an arrest warrant. He then allegedly showed that he was serious.

How to Be a Rainmaker: 5 Spots to Meet Business Contacts

Networking is an art. It's not for everyone but if you're working at a law firm, chances are that you're going to have to start rainmaking sooner or later.

If you find yourself in the inevitable position of trying to develop clientele but you have no clue how to be a rainmaker, then read on.

There's more to networking than handing out your card. Step 1 is to get out there and meet people. Step 2 is to build the relationships and close the deal (this can sometimes be a two-step process).

Here's a top 5 list for the best spots to get out there and start networking.