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News/Gossip: Slaughter and May's Lady Problem; DLA's Naughty Partner; Bernie's KoolAid

The Careerist

April 27, 2016

It's been a while since we took a quick and dirty look at what's going on in the brave world of law. Here are some newsy and gossipy items that piqued our interest.
 
What's happening across the Pond:
Th-1
 1. Yo, where are the ladies? The good news is that U.K.'s most preeminent firm, Slaughter and May, has named an astonishingly large number of new partners: 10! The sad, and rather puzzling, news is that only one of them is a woman. The fair lady who overcame the odds is a corporate lawyer, Victoria MacDuff.  (Unfortunately, S&M's website only offers mug shots of partners, so there are no photos of the recently elevated associates. Is this a British thing, where only partners are to be seen?)
 
Senior S&M partner Chris Saul told RollonFriday that the gender breakdown this year was "entirely accidental," noting that last year the split was 50-50.
 
Another honorable mention for U.K.'s Bad Year for Female Partners award is Linklaters, another Magic Circle firm where there were only two women out of 24 new partners, as noted by Legal Cheek
 
To be totally fair, though, both S&M and Linklaters have pretty decent records with women partners overall. Counting the new partners, S&M will have 115 partners —91 male and 24 female. At Linklaters, 24 percent of the firm's partners are female. So let's be honest: If any major U.S. firms rise above the 20 percent female partner mark, we'd be dancing in the street.
 
Nicholas_west2. More trouble for DLA Piper's sexist partner. Remember Nicholas "Nick" West (left), that charming DLA Piper partner who called women “gash and “big-titted broads" in his email exchanges with his client Richard Scudamore, the head of the U.K.'s Premier League? As I noted in my past coverage, DLA was embarrassed, but then gave West no more than a little slap on the hand for his boorish behavior.
 
West might have gotten a pass from his firm, but not the U.K.'s Solicitors Regulation Authority. He will now face disciplinary hearings before the SRA for those email exchanges.
 
Now, you might think the SRA is overreacting to those private email exchanges. But according to NYU School of Law professor Stephen Gillers, an expert on legal ethics, the American Bar Association is adopting something similar.

"There are two recent examples of sanctions for sexist comments," Gillers told me. "There are others. And the ABA is now debating a specific ethics rule on such things to make the prohibition even clearer."
 
Law school news. Yes, it's about Harvard and Yale:
 
Images1. Way, way better than being an S&C partner. Good thing that former Sullivan & Cromwell associate Joseph Tsai (right) ditched the Big Law scene in the 1990s, went off to Asia and ended up in China as one of the founders of the Alibaba Group Services Ltd., the e-Bay of China.
 
The upshot: He's now worth $5.3 billion, according to Forbes. Yeah, eat your heart out, Rodge Cohen!
 
So what does a lawyer who's hit the big time do with the money? Give it to his alma mater, Yale Law School. As The National Law Journal reports, Tsai is giving Yale a whopping $30 million in honor of his father, Paul Tsai, one of Taiwan's legal luminaries.
 
Of course, honoring your parents when you become self-supporting is a very Chinese thing to do. But in most cases that I know, kids do so by buying their parents a Lexus or maybe a condo. Tsai has upped the ante on filial piety—considerably.
 
Dec-kool-aid-wave2. Someone is drinking a lot of Kool-Aid. I can only assume that they're taking a page from the Bernie Sanders's playbook. But instead of merely demanding free college tuition at public institutions, activists at at Harvard Law School are demanding that the school be tuition free. Reports The Harvard Crimson and The NLJ:
 
Members of the group Reclaim Harvard Law published an open letter Sunday addressed to Law School Dean Martha L. Minow and members of the Harvard Corporation—the University’s highest governing body—demanding an end to tuition.

According to The Crimson, the activists are proposing that the Ivy League school dip into its massive endowment or cut faculty salaries to fund the idea.

Not to be a killjoy, but are these folks high? And why is this group focused on just the law school? All things considered, I can think of plenty of other professions that are more deserving of free training than future lawyers. Another question: What law student has time for these quixotic pursuits? Guess they're not working them that hard at HLS.

vchen@alm.com
 

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Love your info on the gossip. Live for it. Keep it rolling.

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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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