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19 posts from March 2011

March 31, 2011

Woman Power at Debevoise & Plimpton

Womenfist I'm used to law firms trying to sell me about how swell they are to their ladies. They tell me about their women's initiatives, mentoring programs, spa parties. Yada, yada. Too often, though, when you look behind those niceties, you find that women lack actual power (e.g., many don't have equity--or firms dodge the whole equity issue--and few sit on management committees and such).

But I have to admit I'm impressed with Debevoise & Plimpton's recent track record on women partners. The firm just announced its latest batch of partners--three partners, of which two are women. That could be dismissed as a fluke, except that women have made up 50 percent or more of new partners at the firm for the last four years.

Of the 15 partners Debevoise made from 2008 to 2011, nine are women. More significant, they are all equity partners (it is a one-tier firm). Here's how Debevoise measures itself against firms it regards as peers:

Debevoise partner Mary Beth Hogan says the firm's track record with women "isn't a surprise." She says it's the "result of having role models who have made it work, and years of advising, mentoring, and training by both men and women."

Certainly, Debevoise has an unusually long history of allowing part-time work. "We've had a part-time policy for 40 years," explains Hogan. "Barbara Paul Robinson, who made partner in 1967, asked to work part-time [informally] when she was an associate, and she got permission to do so."

For Hogan personally, the firm's policy of keeping part-timers on partnership track was critical: "I was part-time for five years from 1997, and I made partner in 1999, when my oldest child was 6." (The firm formalized part-time in 1987, and made it explicit that part-timers are eligible for partnership, without being put back for part-time, in 1995.)

What also makes Debevoise's part-time policy unique is that it is automatic; in other words, there's no approval process to go part-time. "You don't have to go to your boss and have that uncomfortable conversation and make it a big deal," says Hogan.

Wow. Imagine treating associates as responsible adults--without making them grovel for flexibility! Are we ready for something that radical and simple?

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.

Follow The Careerist on Twitter: twitter.com/lawcareerist


March 30, 2011

Harvard Law's Lonely Women


"Why do you keep saying you're shocked?" Lani Guinier (pictured center), a professor at Harvard Law School, prodded me during a recent phone conversation. I called Guinier (yes, she's the one who got pilloried by conservatives when Bill Clinton nominated her to be the assistant attorney general for civil right in 1993) to get her reaction about Harvard Law's latest milestone: granting tenure to its first Asian American woman--Jeannie Suk (pictured left).

Call me naive, but I was genuinely shocked that this big, prestigious bastion of liberalism didn't have a tenured woman of Asian descent until this year. (Harvard announced Suk's tenure last year, but few noticed, probably because everyone assumed that it already had tenured Asian women.) The much smaller Yale Law School, which has 60 full-time faculty members to Harvard's 100, has Amy Chua. Even more astounding, Harvard didn't have a tenured woman of color on its law faculty until 1998, when Guinier moved over from Penn. And Guinier held that fort all by herself until last year, when Annette Gordon Reed (pictured right) accepted a tenure position at Harvard.

Who cares about who gets tenure at some ivory tower? Well, I think it points to a systemic problem with diversity that plagues the whole profession. If minorities--particularly women of color--don't have status at one of the leading law schools in the nation, should anyone be surprised that they're not rising to the top when they enter practice? From the get-go, there's a dearth of role models for women of color.

Anyway, Harvard's rather pathetic record on granting tenure to minority women doesn't surprise NYU Law's Derrick Bell, who famously left his tenured perch at Harvard in protest over its poor record in promoting minority women. Bell e-mailed me:

Hiring Asians, men as well as women, has gone quite slowly even though Asians are an increasing percentage of students at the major law schools and generally perform very well. Hiring of any minority law teachers has proceeded quite slowly over the last ten or more years unless they have super qualifications of the traditional sort and are not outspoken or otherwise threatening to the still mainly white faculties.

Bell's views seem to comport with the findings of Katherine Barnes and Elizabeth Mertz, who studied the tenure process in law schools (see Social Science Research Network). They found that although 70 percent of professors polled "felt that the tenure process was fair," female and minority tenured faculty found the process "less fair," and that "female professors of color had the most negative perceptions."

And what do Guinier and Suk make of all this? Guinier would only say that she's "delighted" that Suk, a former student ("one of the most gifted students I've worked with"), is joining her tiny club. Suk, for her part, discounts that race or sex played any role in Harvard's snail-pace approach to promoting women of color. "I can't say that I felt discrimination," she says, adding somewhat cryptically, "There are complex choices, and subtle signals about what you should do."

Though Suk projects a nonchalance about her elevation, she's also aware that tenured women of color carry symbolic weight: "When I was a student here, Lani was the only woman of color--and it made a difference to me. And now my students tell me that it makes a difference to them."

Related post: First Gay Student to Lead Harvard Law Review.

Editor's Note: Jean Koh Peters was mentioned in the original post as one of Yale Law's tenured Asian American female professors. Yale Law informed us that Peters is a clinical professor and that clinical faculty is not included in the tenured count for ABA reporting purposes. We regret the error.

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.

Follow The Careerist on Twitter: twitter.com/lawcareerist

March 29, 2011

Do You Have a Lawyer Personality?

FemaleLwyr Well, this is embarrassing. After all my rants about the character flaws of lawyers, it turns out that I might fit the lawyer profile quite nicely.

Like others who've dropped out of law, I've always been convinced that I was miscast for the lawyer role from the get-go. In fact, I thought my unsuitability was confirmed after I took the McKenna Long personality test that's administered to potential hires (the computer generated what I thought was a rather harsh review of my personality).

Now here's the really distressing news: My "negatives" make me lawyer material. At least that's my takeaway after reading Hildebrandt's study of lawyer personality traits, which was based on data from nearly 2,000 lawyers at four big firms, collected in 2009-10.

According to the Hildebrandt study, lawyers are:

High scorers on learning, "suggesting that they value education and enjoy academic activities";

Self-critical and temperamental;

Lousy on interpersonal sensitivity. They are task-oriented and speak their minds, coming across as "cold, critical, and argumentative";

Easily excitable, "becoming tense and overly critical";

Cautious to the extent they have a hard time taking risks and making decisions; and

Resistant to authority and skeptical of others.

Of all those factors, lawyers scored particularly poorly on interpersonal sensitivity, says Larry Richard, a psychologist (he recently left Hildebrandt), who conducted the research (psychologists Jeff Foster, Mark Sirkin, and Lisa Rohrer also worked on it). "They always argue with me about it, and they do it in insensitive ways, like, 'Oh, this is so stupid,'" says Richard. (For the record, I feel I'm fine on the sensitivity front--though others might disagree.)

Despite having a stressful job, lawyers don't adjust well to pressure, says Richard. "A high scorer on adjustment is someone who's steady under pressure--someone like Chesley Sullenberger [the U.S. Airways pilot]," explains Richard. "Scully was steady when he had to land the plane on the Hudson [River]. But lawyers would have said, 'My God, we're going to die!'"

Though some of the personality traits might seem self-evident, the study offers some surprises: Lawyers scored high on aesthetics and hedonism. But don't get too excited. Aesthetics in this context has a distinctly legal flavor: The report defines it as the "three C's: high-quality cases, high- quality clients, and high-quality colleagues." In a nutshell: Boring.

Still, the report finds that lawyers "prefer environments that are stylish, entertaining, and flexible"--though those preferences seem to be mainly expressed by associates rather than partners. In other words, by the time associates become partners, the vestiges of hedonism have probably been beaten out of them.

Do you get the feeling that most lawyers--even those who complain about the profession--fit the profile? Are lawyers just habitual gripers?

Hat tips: Above the Law and ABA Journal.

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.

Follow The Careerist on Twitter: twitter.com/lawcareerist

March 28, 2011

Eeny, Meeny--Corporate or Litigation?

Fotolia_24986711_XS The Careerist is continuing its series on readers' queries. Today, recruiters Matt Schwartz and Avis Caravello respond to a question about choosing practice areas:

Dear Careerist,

I am going to be a summer associate starting in May and I have no clue what practice area I want to go into.  It would be helpful to know career consequences for going into corporate vs. litigation in regards to lateraling to another firm or going in-house down the road.

Will one have more opportunities than the other? Is one more lucrative than the other? And who tends to get more responsibility as associates--litigation or corporate lawyers? Any other concerns I should be aware of?

I know a lot of fellow 2L's asking the same questions right now.

Thank you,

2-L Prospective Summer Associate

Schwartz, a recruiter who heads Garrison & Sisson's associate practice group, answers:

You will find a big difference between the two career paths. If you are ambivalent about what you enjoy more, corporate will definitely provide you more careers options but comes with a bit more risk.

Corporate probably increases your in-house marketability five- to tenfold. Companies rarely have a need for a pure litigator. Most, if not all, major litigation is farmed out to outside counsel. A large company may need a litigator to manage outside counsel if their litigation docket is substantial.

In most companies, there's more need for corporate activities such as securities filings, corporate governance, contract negotiation and management, etc. Plus, companies are more likely to keep their work “in-house” on the corporate side since the stakes are often not as high as in litigation.

Corporate lawyers tend to receive much more responsibility earlier in their career than litigators. A corporate agreement does not have to be perfect to be effective. Corporate “wins” and "losses" are not nearly as easy to score. As a result, work tends to flow downhill; the goal is to get associates to a point where, after four to five years, they can run their own deals. Litigators, on the other hand, worry so much about losing a case and client that even midlevel associates are rarely given court appearances and exposure to depositions.

Corporate lawyers also have a slight advantage in making partner, particularly given that the in-house market takes many associates away from firms.

The downside in corporate is that the practice is very cyclical.  When a recession hits, corporate lawyers are often the first to be laid off. Litigation is much steadier.

 Caravello, a recruiter who specializes in partner placements, answers:

One of the most important things to consider when thinking about your long-term career goals is engineering your future mobility. Seniority alone in law practice does not guarantee career stability. The partners in private practice who have the most options and control of their destiny are those who have been successful in business development. I can’t emphasize enough that a partner without portable business will have far fewer, if any, options in the lateral marketplace compared to his/her peers who have significant and consistent client origination credits in their column. Client development is difficult and necessitates a considerable nonbillable time commitment over and above one’s billable requirements. 

That being said, choosing an area of practice that you are passionate about or at least enjoy will likely make the commitment required to be a rainmaker a more manageable and successful endeavor.

Readers, do you have any advice? Are long-term prospects better in litigation or corporate?

 Related posts: Dumping Law for Finance, When Your Mentor Is Not Into You, Is Your Recruiter Calling You Back?, Resume Tips for Oldies.

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.

Follow The Careerist on Twitter: twitter.com/lawcareerist

Photo: Feng Yu / Fotolia.com

March 25, 2011

Legal Aid Programs at Risk

Lawyers who work for the public interest don't always get the recognition--or the funding--they deserve. During these still-difficult economic times, they're facing even tougher challenges than usual.

On February 19, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $70 million cut in Legal Services Corp. funding that, according to a LSC press release, would have taken a huge bite out of the $394.4 million in funding provided for LSC programs in fiscal year 2010. The LSC said the cut would mean that about 160,000 fewer low-income people would receive legal assistance, 80,000 fewer cases would be handled by LSC-funded programs, and about 370 staff attorneys at LSC-funded programs would face layoffs.

The funding cut was part of H.R. 1, which was defeated in the Senate on March 9. The defeat, however, doesn't mean an end to the ongoing budget battle. LSC funding could still face large cuts.

Dollar_bite275 In a new special report on legal aid programs and their lawyers, "The Power of Hope,"  the National Law Journal highlights the political issues surrounding the funding crisis for legal aid programs, as well as examining the impact of legal aid programs on the clients they serve. The coverage includes articles on the struggle of LSC to find a champion in Congress and a Q&A with one of LSC's most persistent critics, Kenneth Boehm, who was once a senior official of the Legal Services Corp. and who is now chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center in Falls Church, Va.

On the more personal side, the NLJ's special report also includes articles that feature individual clients who have been helped by legal aid programs-- including Morgan Hitt, a woman suffering from serious health and financial problems who was assisted by Ryan Poe-Gavlinski, a staff attorney at Legal Aid of West Virginia. With Poe-Gavlinski's aid, Hitt obtained alimony payments that helped her launch a successful business selling handbags. Another article describes the help that attorneys Gladys Gerson and Laurie Yadoff of Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida gave Clary Fitzpatrick. A grandmother raising four grandchildren and caring for a bedridden daughter, Fitzpatrick was able to avoid a threatened eviction and obtain public assistance benefits for her daughter that she had previously been unaware of. The NLJ's special report details some of the important work that public interest lawyers do, and what is at risk with any significant budget cuts.

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger Vivia Chen at VChen@alm.com or deputy blogger Audree Wong at awong@alm.com.

March 24, 2011

U.S. News Releases Its Rankings, and Law Schools Grumble

We've been mulling over U.S. News & World Report's new rankings of the best law schools ever since the list was released on March 15. As reported by The National Law Journal's Karen Sloan, the top six schools on the list didn't change position at all: 1. Yale, 2. Harvard, 3. Stanford, 4. Columbia, 5. University of Chicago, and 6. New York University.

There were other changes, as compiled by Sloan:

• One of the more significant changes wasn't in the order of schools, but in how the magazine presented its rankings. It used to be the magazine listed its top 100 law schools, then broke down other schools into third and fourth tiers, listing the schools in each tier alphabetically. This year, the magazine only has two tiers: a first tier of 145 schools numerically ranked and a second tier of 45 schools only listed alphabetically.

• Among the top ten, University of Michigan Law School moved up two spots to No. 7, and the University of California, Berkeley School of Law moved down two spots to No. 9 to tie with The University of Virginia School of Law, which was at No. 10 last year.

University-rankings Within the top 50:

• The University of Colorado School of Law dropped nine spots to No. 47.

• Emory University School of Law moved down eight spots, to No. 30,

• Both The University of Georgia School of Law and the University of Wisconsin Law School fell seven spots, from No. 28 last year to tie for No. 35 this year.

• The University of Maryland School of Law moved up six spots to No. 42.

• The University of California, Davis School of Law gained five spots to No. 23.

• Indiana University Maurer School of Law-Bloomington (No. 23), Fordham University School of Law (No. 30), the University of Washington School of Law (No. 30), Washington and Lee University School of Law (No. 30), and Florida State University College of Law (No. 50), all moved up four spots.

Among the top 51 to 100:

• Both St. John's University School of Law and the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law dropped 23 spots, from No. 72 last year to No. 95 this year.

• Villanova University School of Law, whose administrators disclosed that they had reported inaccurate admissions data for a number of years, plummeted 17 spots to No. 84.

• Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law (No. 79), the University of Richmond School of Law (No. 67), and Chicago-Kent College of Law (No. 61) each jumped 19 spots.

Falling out of the top 100:

• Chapman University School of Law fell 11 spots to No. 104, to tie with Saint Louis University School of Law and the University of South Carolina School of Law.

• The University of Missouri School of Law fell 14 spots to No. 107. Two years ago, the school placed No. 65 on the U.S. News list.

In her article, Sloan notes that the annual release of the U.S. News law school rankings prompts plenty of complaints and grumbling among administrators and other legal educators about their accuracy and usefulness. And as reported by Elie Mystal at Above the Law, U.S. News tweaked its methodology slightly to place a little more emphasis on employment after graduation this year. Some schools took a significant hit because of it--and apparently didn't like it. One of the most egregious examples of "whining" so far, as identified by Mystal, came from Emory Law School, which dropped from No. 22 to No. 30. Addressing the drop, School of Law Dean David Partlett wrote an e-mail addressed to law school students:

Emory's move to No. 30 is surprising, and on analysis is directly attributed to a change in the methodology U.S. News uses to calculate employment statistics. The employment numbers for the 2012 rankings are based on statistics from the Class of 2009. This year, U.S. News adjusted the employment rate calculations in an attempt to present a more accurate reflection of actual employment.

Historically, many of our students pursue careers in large law firms—the sector most impacted by the Great Recession. We remain optimistic in the improvements we are seeing in many of the country’s large firms.

Mystal notes "you don't hear Yale or Harvard or Stanford--all schools that send a large portion of their classes to Biglaw jobs--complaining that the Great Recession unduly affected their U.S. News ranking." And in a follow-up post, Mystal goes on to describe some of the dampened reactions coming even from law schools that did better in the rankings this year.

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger Vivia Chen at VChen@alm.com or deputy blogger Audree Wong at awong@alm.com.

March 23, 2011

Law School Tuition Yo-Yo

If you thought the planned tuition increase at Stanford Law of almost 6 percent seems steep, what about a 15-20 percent increase? That's the likely tuition hike predicted at William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas by its dean, John Valery White, as reported by Karen Sloan at The National Law Journal. The current tuition is $20,000 for Nevada residents and $33,400 for out-of-state students.

The predicted tuition increase would come in response to a $2.26 million budget cut for the law school that has been proposed by university president Neal Smatresk as part of a total $32.6 million in universitywide budget cuts. The silver lining--such as it is--for the law school is that, while the university plans to eliminate 315 faculty and staff positions, there is no plan to eliminate law school faculty or staff.

Smatresk outlined the proposed law school cuts in a letter to UNLV faculty and students on March 8. A summary accompanying Smatresk's letter says that the additional tuition increases "will undermine the law school's successful formula and render it a mediocre institution." Yikes. UNLV currently is ranked No. 71 in U.S. News & World Report's law schools ranking--the latest edition was published on March 15. (UNLV moved up this year from 78 to 71.)Icecube_money300

If you are shopping around for the best law school bargain, you might do better to look at three law schools that are bucking the trend of raising tuition and instead are freezing the cost for the coming academic year. As Sloan reports, University of Maryland School of Law committed in December to freezing its tuition costs; Ave Maria School of Law and University of New Hampshire School of Law announced similar decisions in February. The University of Miami School of Law already had implemented a tuition freeze for the 2010-11 academic year, and plans to keep tuition at current levels for its students in the next academic year. (While sparing law students, Maryland and New Hampshire are raising tuition for other academic programs.)

"The decision to hold the line on tuition increases is a significant step toward improving the value proposition of law school in these challenging times," says University of New Hampshire School of Law Dean John Broderick. "Given the current economic climate and the debt loads that law school graduates are facing, a tuition freeze is one very tangible way to demonstrate commitment to our students."

And how do the law schools holding the line on tuition increases fare in the rankings? They're all over the charts, according to U.S. News rankings: University of Maryland School of Law, No. 42; University of New Hampshire School of Law, No. 143; Ave Maria School of Law, rank not published (second tier); and University of Miami School of Law, No. 77.

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger Vivia Chen at VChen@alm.com or deputy blogger Audree Wong at awong@alm.com.

March 20, 2011

Do You "Look" the Brand?

Andrea_jung "Branding" is the new big buzz word among the legal set these days--it's up there with "teamwork" and "collaboration" and other concepts strange and exotic to most lawyers. Sure, we sort of know what "teamwork" entails (e.g., lawyers sharing Chinese takeout around a conference table), but does anyone really know what branding means for law firms and lawyers?

Your firm is probably paying consultants a bundle to figure out this brand thing. But I'd like to talk about an aspect that they probably wouldn't touch: your looks--and how they affect your personal brand.

Yes, it's a shallow topic, but looks always play a role in the game of success. But it's not just about looking "decent" or "good"--it's about looking the part. Do you have a "look" that says you are one-hell-of-a-litigator, or the go-to corporate strategist? Is your suit, tie, dress, shoes, briefcase--the whole package--delivering the message that you merit that $800-plus hourly rate? And is your look keeping up with the clients you serve?

The new look of power, according to a recent article in the business section of The New York Times, is to dress down--or, at least, unconventionally. Among those singled out by the NYT for their unique personal brands: Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne (sweaters and pressed shirts); Apple founder Steve Jobs (jeans and rumpled black cotton turtlenecks); Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (hoodies and sneakers); and Avon CEO Andrea Jung (fitted sleeveless dresses, sans jacket), who's also famous for her long hair with a sweep of side bangs.

All these execs can afford to wear anything they want, "yet the bare-bones personal uniform is being seen in some corner offices as the ultimate power suit," writes the NYT. The upshot is that the more powerful you are, the more license you have to be casual, even sloppy.

So are lawyers ready to follow their example? Not yet. For most lawyers, the uniform is still the conservative suit (though women can get away with a dress and jacket). Image consultant Diana Jennings says it's a uniform that conveys the "message of authority, precision, and stability that lawyers need to communicate."

But Jennings warns that dressing conservatively doesn't mean being outdated: "If you're not current in your presentation, the perception is that you are not current in thinking." She advises getting a stylish haircut and wearing current styles, "or you'll be seen as stodgy or staid."

Think of that uniform as a canvas for personal expression, says Susan Scafidi, the director of The Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School. "Everyone can pick out signature accessories," she says, but adds, "Figural jewelry should be tasteful. Unless you represent major gambling interests, skip the cuff links shaped like dice or dollar signs."

So let me see if I have all this straight: Dress conservatively, but make sure you're conservative in a trendy way. Also, wear distinctive accessories, but don't be gauche or Donald Trump-y about the jewelry.

Lawyers need a distinct look, a little wow factor--but they can't be obvious about it. It's all a delicate balancing act, isn't it? No wonder lawyers are still stuck in the 1980s. For men, it's the old starched white shirt (often with those pretentious monograms on the pocket or cuffs), an expensive but unmemorable tie, and cuff links. For women, the defaults remain clunky gold jewelry and St. John knit suits. A bit pathetic, no?

But its tough for lawyers to broadcast a "look." Even my stylish friend Jennifer, an entertainment lawyer in L.A., voices ambivalence about showing a bit of flash: "I think that we should look professional, but not draw attention to our appearance. Service providers need to focus on service and advancing their clients' objectives, not creating their own 'brand.' That's not our job!"

Readers, do you think a signature look will help a lawyer's career? Do you know lawyers whose looks helped develop their brand?

Related posts: Fashionistas on the Leash, The Power Look--White Males Only?, Pretty Enough for This Job Market?

March 17, 2011

News Updates--The Sweet Life

  Cupcake Maybe it's just me, but I find something heart-warming about the idea of high-powered lawyers tied up in apron strings, stirring batter in the kitchen. That's probably why I got so excited when I read in The Blog of Legal Times that 14 Washington, D.C., firms participated in the eleventh annual Cooking for Kids Bake Sale and Taste-off Competition, a charity event organized by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Arent Fox, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, and Beveridge & Diamond took the top prizes.

But, alas, I was mighty disappointed that none of the winning bakers were lawyers. Instead, the winning treats were baked by a law librarian (Courtney Keaton of Arent Fox for chocolate chip cookies/brownie bars); a lawyer's wife (Dede Smith, the spousal unit of Wilmer litigator Stephen Smith, for cherry chocolate cake); and the assistant to one of the partners (Linda Bettencourt of Beveridge & Diamond for blueberry pie).

I know lawyers are awfully busy--but having your wife, office assistant, or librarian do the baking? That's pretty lame. Don't you guys have any pride? I mean, is this 1965?

Speaking of baking, there seems to be an ongoing love affair between lawyers and cupcakes. In fact, the baking business seems to be emerging as the alternative career of choice for lawyers.

David Lat at Above The Law noticed the trend last year, when he recounted various cake-baking enterprises started by former lawyers. (Sadly, as Lat recently reported, one of those ventures, Cupcake Stop by New York Law grad Lev Ekster, just folded. But Crumbs, started by another NY Law alum, Mia Bauer, is a success.) I noticed that trend myself--recently, Weil, Gotshal & Manges partner Jaclyn Cohen told me that she looked into the Buttercup Bake Shop franchise before opening a knitting shop, and back in 2004, I profiled Warren Brown, the government lawyer turned proprietor of bakery CakeLove in D.C.

It seems now that even lawyers across the Pond are getting into the cake act. Former Linklaters associate Harpreet Baura writes in Legalweek that she started a Web-based cupcake company called Crumbs! Couture Cupcake in 2009 and that business is thriving.

But if you think baking is easy, take note of these words of caution from Baura:

My job can still be very stressful, and it still involves long hours. There are huge nerves and a lot of stress involved in doing exhibitions such as the National Wedding Show. And we have also had to work through the night preparing cupcakes for photo shoots. There are often weekends at the peak of the wedding season where we have to prepare and set up about 800 cupcakes in one weekend. Law does teach you how to deal with stressful deadlines and pressure, which prepares you well for the discipline required to run your own business.

Finally, for those who'd rather have their own pastry chef bake the stuff: If you're still dreaming of dumping law for a career that will make you an obscene amount of money, check out The Wall Street Journal's FINS, which recently published a user-friendly guide to the world of finance. The post is a good primer on careers in I-banking, private equity, and hedge funds. It's a nice supplement to our earlier posts about how lawyer can break into finance (Dumping Law for Finance, Part 1 and Part 2).


Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.

Follow The Careerist on Twitter: twitter.com/lawcareerist

Photo: Ruth Black / Fotolia.com




March 16, 2011

NYU Law Student Unrapped

Sheen2 I'm not a hip-hop fan, but NYU third-year law student Eli Northrup could change my mind. Northrup and Josh Raff, members of the band Pants Velour, just produced a fantastically hummable, danceable video called "Charlie Sheen: Always Winning" that's become a bit of a YouTube sensation (see below for video). 

I thought it was terrific--fast and saucy--especially amazing coming from a serious law student who'll be clerking for a federal judge (Robert Patterson of the Southern District of New York) this fall.

I was so intrigued by his rapping talent that I tracked Northrup down in Greenwich Village and cornered him for a cup of coffee. Let me just say that he wasn't what I had expected. In person, he seemed quite sweet--a sort of fresh-faced Conan O'Brien without the annoying smirk.

But under that mild demeanor beats the heart of a real rapper. Despite the demands of law school, Northrup has regular gigs. Pants Velour, which has seven members (pictured above from left to right are Northrup, Niki Darling, and Raff)), has played at the Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia and clubs on New York's super-cool Lower East Side. "We have a manager, and we're fairly serious about our music," Northrup told me.

Until Above the Law ran a short blurb about the Sheen video recently, Northrup kept his rapping under wrap from the NYU law school community. "I was a bit concerned about the racy subject," he said about the video. "Besides, I'm not sure the professors know who Charlie Sheen is."

And what about that nice judge he's clerking for in the fall?  "He's 89, so I don't think he's seen it," said Northrup. "He still uses books--he doesn't use a computer."

Someone, please clue the good judge in so he can start learning the beat!

Anyway, I loved the video. Here it is:


Related post: Lawyer Behind YouTube Hit

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.

Follow The Careerist on Twitter: twitter.com/lawcareerist

About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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