Greedy Associates - The FindLaw Legal Lifestyle and Career Blog

October 2012 Archives

Hurricane Sandy Closes Law Firms, But Attorneys Still Working

Hurricane Sandy knocks out many law firms, but attorneys keep working.

Manhattan is surrounded by water and many of the biggest law firms pay ridiculous amounts of rent for the low-lying real estate.

But every once in a while when a hurricane hits, the city shuts down. Expecting the worst, many Manhattan firms prepared for Hurricane Sandy by shuttering its offices. But instead of getting a vacation (remember, snow days?), attorneys were told to keep on working via BlackBerry's and computer, reports Reuters.

Who needs to go to law school anyway? After all, bearers of newly minted law degrees aren’t necessarily guaranteed a job in this economy — though they are increasingly likely to be burdened by debt.

In a recent survey touting the success of some famous law school dropouts, Above the Law’s Staci Zaretsky assures us that “if you were to drop out, you’d be in some pretty good company.”

Here are 10 law-school losers who later got the last laugh by rising to the top of other professions:

Women Comprise 70% of BigLaw Staff Attorneys: Survey

Women still struggle for equal representation at BigLaw firms, but a new survey shows that women are the majority in at least one position.

The relatively new position of "staff attorney," or associates on a non-partner track, is predominantly female. Women comprise about 70% of staff attorneys at the firms surveyed. The information comes from a report by the National Association of Women Lawyers, which surveys the presence of women at the country's Top 100 firms.

Even more interesting than the numbers themselves is what they say about the future of women in BigLaw.

Lawyer Busted for Using Westlaw Account after Leaving Job

For using his government-paid Westlaw account after leaving his government job, Everett Walton received a reprimand from the Oregon Supreme Court.

That's not too surprising until we realized Walton wasn't practicing in Oregon at the time.

The Westlaw account was purchased for Walton when he worked as a special prosecutor for the Republic of Palau which is associated with the U.S. He left that job to work for a legal aid organization in Hawai'i. But the reprimand was a reciprocal discipline.

How Not to Lose Before Opening Your Mouth in Court

Law students and new associates are heading into new offices for first jobs. Most of those positions involve at least some courtroom appearances which means it's time to brush up on etiquette.

Laugh all you want but knowing how to act in the courtroom is important not least of all because law is full of repeat players. Get on the bad side of a local judge and your career will feel much longer than you want.

Whether you're a green attorney or have thirty years of courtroom experience it's never a bad time to remind yourself of courtroom etiquette to set yourself up for success.

Justice Elena Kagan Goes Antelope Hunting with Scalia

Justice Elena Kagan had a lot to say in a presentation at the University of Tennessee on Friday, but the part everyone paid attention to was when she mentioned going hunting with Scalia.

During the talk on her life both in and out of the courtroom, Kagan mentioned that she has gone hunting with fellow Justice Antonin Scalia. She also admitted to plans to go hunting in Wyoming for big game with the hopes of bagging an antelope, much to the chagrin of some liberals.

Besides establishing herself as a hunting enthusiast, Kagan also had some interesting things to say about being a woman on the court and a few tidbits to share about herself.

5 Ways to Prep for your Harvard Law Skype Interview

Harvard Law School announced that they will be interviewing candidates next year via Skype.

Previously, the school held telephone interviews with prospective students, but now the school will have a chance to not only hear, but also see, eager applicants.

Harvard is already in the minority of law schools by conducting interviews at all, reports The Harvard Crimson. Now the university is pushing the envelope again with Skype interviews.

For prospective students who are about to appear on camera before Harvard deans and admissions officers, here are five tips to have a winning interview:

Lawyer Who Skipped Trial for Paris, Convicted of Contempt

A Minnesota lawyer who decided to skip a trial last year to attend her brother's wedding in Paris has been convicted of misdemeanor contempt.

After the verdict was read, lawyer M. Tayari Garrett said that "an injustice has been done" and indicated that she will likely appeal the ruling, reports The ABA Journal. She was sentenced to a year of probation and fined $1,000.

Garrett had claimed to be hospitalized, explaining why she could not attend the trial. However, the court found that the lawyer had flown to Paris instead, buying the ticket five days before a request to delay the trial was rejected, reports the Journal.

5 Reasons Not to Leave Your Miserable Firm Job

Working at a law firm can be miserable. You often deal with unreasonable partners, unreasonable hours, and unreasonable demands. But while you may be contemplating leaving your firm job, you should also be aware of some reasons to stick it out.

Before I put law firms behind me, my mother told me that it is really easy to quit a job, but a lot more difficult and rewarding to stick through one. I didn't listen and quit the next day.

Several years after the fact, as the people I started with made partner, I now look back and wonder if I made the right decision. I still think I did, but the answer isn't that clear. With that being said, here are some things you may want to consider before taking that leap:

These young bucks still care about rankings. Turns out pre-law students value a law school's ranking as most important when deciding where to attend. According to a Kaplan survey, prospective law students who just completed the LSAT often stated that a law school's reputation was the most critical factor when choosing among different schools.

In an interesting twist, Kaplan also surveyed recent law school graduates to get their sense of what the most important factor should be when choosing law schools.

The survey revealed that law grads cited job placement and affordability of the schools as the two most important factors, reports The Badger Herald.

Judge Threatens to Strangle Lawyer, Then Tries to Take it Back

There's a fair amount of verbal abuse that comes with being a lawyer but you don't expect it to come from a judge. Well, at least not a judge threatening to wring your neck.

Attorney David Barron was certainly surprised by the threat made from the bench by Judge Martin McDonald. Barron apparently called the Judge McDonald on his cell phone without opposing counsel's participation, reports The Courier-Journal.

In addition to the strangling threat, McDonald called the case 'ridiculous', 'disgusting' and 'a huge waste of time.'

Then he tried to take it all back.

Attorney Email Etiquette You Can't Afford to Ignore

No matter how small your firm is, you probably use email to communicate which means you have some etiquette concerns.

The recipients aren't just your friends. They're your coworkers and more importantly your bosses.

Email between friends one thing but email at the office reflects on you professionally. That means you can't get away with the grammar and spelling errors that may invade your normal email.

It also means you need to be careful about how you come across when you make your response.

So let's go over some key points of email etiquette.

File this one under: law students being law students. Two Boalt Hall law students were charged with beheading an exotic bird in Las Vegas. With so many things to do in Vegas, why behead an exotic bird?

Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira were arrested in Las Vegas after being caught on tape killing the exotic 14-year-old helmeted guinea fowl. Ironically, the killing happened at the Flamingo Hotel.

The two law students are shown on tape throwing the bird back and forth while laughing and discussing how they would kill it, writes David Lat of Above the Law. Security officers later saw the pair emerge from a nearby grove with the decapitated corpse of the bird as well as the head itself.

So did they flex any law school knowledge at all?

Why Do Lawyers Drink So Much?

Maybe it's the high stress or the long hours but whatever the reason, it's clear that lawyers as a group drink more than other professions.

Part of it is probably culture. Lawyers spend excessively long hours at the office and generally make a comfortable salary so they can afford to buy a few rounds of booze. Unlike doctors or pilots who have to be awake and alert in the morning, no one will die if you show up to a corporate legal job hungover - although it may cost you your job in the long run.

Law school is also full of free booze and happy hours. Alcohol flows freely among the courthouse crowd. But perhaps the real answer is a little more serious.

In Case You Need More Reasons Why In House Life is Better...

We all know that in house counsel positions generally offer a better lifestyle option than law firms.

But besides having better hours, avoiding the pressure to bill, and not having the need to rain-make, Matt Herrmann at Above the Law provides reason number 1,000 (or was it reason number 1,000,000) as to why in house counsel positions are better -- law firms are unnaturally meaner.

No big shocker. But perhaps no one has ever put it down to pen and paper. Life as a lawyer at a law firm can be brutal simply because law firms have a culture of being mean.

Arkansas Judge Suspended Over Fistfight in Walmart

Once you become a lawyer your personal life is never completely separate from your professional life again. Circuit Court Judge Sam Pope is living proof that what you do outside the office can still hurt your career.

On Thursday Pope was suspended by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission as part of an agreement reached over an incident that happened to Pope in April.

Not only was Pope suspended for 30 days, the agreement also required that he attend anger-management class and write an apology letter. Given all that you'd expect that Pope is also dealing with a criminal case -- but he was never charged.

Attorneys Are Billing at $1,200/Hour, To No One's Surprise

A strange result to have come from the recent Apple Samsung lawsuit has nothing to do with patents. Instead, it's been the debate over attorney fees.

After Apple successfully defended its patents in federal court, news and rumors started to trickle out as to how much Apple paid its attorneys to litigate its case. Guesses ranged from Apple paying its attorneys as little as $30 million to as much as $500 million.

In addition, reports like "Apple Patent Battles Create Lawyer Boon at $1,200 an Hour"  gave notice to these apparently exorbitant fees. However, these attorney fees articles also led to a mini-backlash and then the defense of attorneys cashing in.

Desperate 2Ls Treat BigLaw Job Search Like a Full-Time Job

If you are a 2L right now, you are likely sweating out what to do for summer employment.

But if you want to get one of the coveted internships at Big Law, you may have to campaign like never before, reports The Wall Street Journal. That's because the days of resting on the laurels of your 3.70 GPA are long over.

Instead, many Big Law firms may not even be coming to your campus. And the ones that do may only have one or two slots open for hundreds of candidates.

What's a Law Firm Pricing Director? A Must-Have, BigLaw Accessory

Law firms are hiring again but the new hires for many BigLaw offices aren't only new associates. What most firms are looking for is a pricing director.

If you don't recognize the title, you aren't alone. Pricing directors are a new thing for many firms that are realizing the need for better billing analytics. The pressure to cut costs and justify high fees isn't going anywhere so this new executive position is meant to directly address that.

A pricing director's job is to determine how to price the services a law firm provides, but how will that affect your day-to-day work?

Disabled Civil Rights Attorney Sued for Sexual Harassment

Scott Johnson, a quadriplegic attorney from the Sacramento area, best known for representing the rights of disabled individuals has been sued for sexual harassment.

Johnson has sued thousands of businesses for violating the rights of the disabled, but he now finds the tables turned as four of his former legal assistants have named him in a sexual harassment lawsuit, reports the New York Daily News.

The plaintiffs claim they were forced to dress and undress Johnson, place him in swim trunks, and rub lotion on his body, writes the Daily News. They also say that Johnson would look at them in a sexually suggestive manner.

City Attorney Drops Joint in Court, Cited for Pot Possession

New Orleans city attorney, Jason Cantrell, may have committed the ultimate error in court. No, he didn't forget a key piece of evidence or forget to address the judge as "your honor." Instead, while chatting away with police officers in criminal court, a joint tumbled out of the attorney's pockets.

Cantrell was apparently lost in conversation with police and did not realize either that he was carrying marijuana or that it was on the verge of falling out.

Already standing in a criminal court surrounded by police, Cantrell was cited for marijuana possession, reports NBC.

Would You Buy a Zombie Law Casebook?

Reading through dry and dull law casebooks can feel like a slow-death at times but it may not be as bad if the subject itself were the dead, or rather then undead. Zombies to be exact.

After all, there's 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,' why not a law casebook on Zombies. It sounds at least more exciting than civil procedure.

Don't dismiss the idea as an amusing flight of fancy. Attorney Joshua Warren is working on getting the book published and he just might do it.

Not only that, you could be part of making a zombie law casebook reality.

An Attorney's Survival Guide to Document Review

So you didn't get that dream law firm job coming out of law school.

Your Plan B involved responding to a Craigslist ad for an attorney doc review project, and you ended up getting the job. Congratulations. Or are condolences in order?

At first blush, the money seems great and you're technically employed.

But you just spent 8.25 hours your first day intently reading documents and using everything you learned in law school to determine if an email is "responsive" or not. And now you are wondering just how you're going to survive the entire length of the project. 

That's where our doc review survival guide comes in.

President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both Harvard Law grads, are set to face off in their first debate Wednesday. But they aren't the only lawyers looking for votes this fall.

From coast to coast, dozens of J.D.s are seeking public office. While lawyers-turned-lawmakers aren't a new phenomenon, there's actually been a decline in lawyer-legislators in some states, as a recent article in Virginia Lawyers Weekly pointed out.

Of course, lawyer-candidates aren't just limited to legislative races. Judges and district attorneys are also up for election in many jurisdictions. Here are just a few notable races with lawyers on the ballot:

Woe is Me: Median Starting Salary at Big Law Drops to $145,000

For the past several years, the median starting salary at Big Law has been at the storied $160,000 mark.

But for the first time since 2009, less than half of Big Law (firms with more than 700 lawyers) actually gave out these $160,000 paychecks. Instead, the median starting salary at these firms is now $145,000 for starting associates, according to a NALP survey.

The $145,000 median starting salary matches the median five years ago in 2007. This backslide may prove that the laws of gravity do apply to lawyer pay and that the starting salaries for associates will not continually march upwards. But more likely, this year may only prove to be a glitch in the inevitable climb to $175,000 and even $200,000.

Is D.C. Leading the Law Firm Recovery?

In two separate instances, Washington D.C. law firms leased millions of square feet of additional real estate in the nation's capitol and partners at these firms are earning 14 percent more than they did in 2010. Are these signs the Washington D.C. legal market is booming?

Some say the health of an industry can be measured by how much office space they lease. In Washington D.C., there has been an ongoing pull-back in office leasing by federal agencies and government contractors, reports The Washington Post.

Yet, Washington D.C. law firms have been busy signing some of the biggest leasing deals in the region.

Mini Law School: Now You Can Get a Mini Degree for $35

If you want to know what lawyers do and how they think without shelling out the big bucks to go to law school, enrolling in the University of Colorado's "Mini Law School" may be the answer for you.

The mini law school is based on the university's popular mini med school that has been going on for the past 25 years.

Students of the mini law school will learn about the law and is designed to help them navigate the basics of the legal system, reports the Colorado Daily. But is the mini law school worth your money?