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8 posts from January 2018

January 31, 2018

The Very Talented Don McGahn



I hate to admit mistakes, but I was so wrong about Don McGahn.

Remember when I wrote him that nice letter, urging him to quit his job as the White House counsel last spring? I did so because I thought that he was doing an awful, awful job counseling the president and serving the office of the presidency. I also told him that he was heedlessly flushing his career down the toilet in the process.

Boy, was I wrong! No, I’m not talking about my criticism of McGahn’s performance as White House counsel. I’m talking about the part in which I suggested that McGahn wasn’t protective enough of his career.

It turns out this guy is a brilliant careerist! Sure, the nation and the presidency might go to hell, but McGahn is going to come out of the quagmire smelling like a rose.

I mean, did you catch the recent coverage about his reported role in stopping President Donald Trump from firing special prosecutor Bob Mueller? Recently, The New York Times broke the story that last summer McGahn objected so vehemently to Trump’s plan to ax Mueller that he threatened to bolt. As a result, McGahn scored some rather positive headlines, such as: “Trump Wanted to Fire Mueller. The Top White House Lawyer Said No.” Overnight, it seems, McGahn has emerged as the brave knight who stood up to Trump—the voice of conscience in a sea of sycophants.

Oh, please.

I’ll grant that McGahn did the right thing, but does anyone believe that he acted out of a deep allegiance to the rule of law?

There’s certainly little in his tenure to suggest such a conviction. Remember, McGahn has been a consistent henchman for Trump from day one: McGahn ignored warnings about Michael Flynn’s lies about his foreign contacts, including one by acting Attorney General Sally Yates; played a central role in Trump’s firing of FBI chief James Comey; and pressured Jeff Session not to recuse himself from the Russian investigations. I won’t even go into McGahn’s role in facilitating/ignoring countless questionable ethical lapses during this administration.

So how is it that McGahn has been rechristened his own man—particularly when his act of defiance took place back in June?

People are skeptical about the timing of the revelation. Walter Shaub, former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, tweeted:

Before you canonize McGahn remember he pressured Sessions not to recuse. I bet his objection was not that firing Mueller was wrong but that it was dangerous. Also, this is not the 1st leak to paint McGahn in a good light at Trump's expense. If I were Trump I'd wonder about McGahn
I’m of the school that McGahn is behind the leak. My bet is that he is setting the stage to return to Big Law. (Remember, McGahn made close to $2.5 million at Jones Day.) Not only does he want to disinfect himself from this administration’s taints, he wants to distinguish himself from the pack, capitalize on his experience as a friend of big business and emerge as the savior of the day.

I think McGahn has been cool and calculating all along. His fingerprints are all over the Trump administration (in addition to the list above, he’s been very instrumental in filling the judiciary with super conservative judges), but he does it with a deft, invisible hand.

He stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s other key lawyers, who often seem rude, boastful and clumsy. Never did he make a fool of himself like Marc Kasowitz, (who sent a stranger, who urged him to quit, threatening emails, laced with obscenities: “You are fucking with me now Let’s see who you are Watch your back , bitch”). Nor was he brazenly careless like Ty Cobb, (whose rantings about the inner workings of the White House—”I think he’s like a McGahn spy”—were overheard by a reporter at a Washington, D.C., steak house).

And I certainly can’t imagine that McGahn would stoop to do the kind of errands that Michael Cohen did, like dispatching $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels so that she wouldn’t spill the beans about her alleged affair with Trump. (I know, Cohen is Trump’s personal lawyer while McGahn is a government lawyer. But does anyone believe that Trump has any problems crossing those lines?)

Which is to say that while McGahn might be a Trump tool, he’s selective about how’s he’s used. Clever fellow.



January 27, 2018

Yes, Male Clients Prefer Male Partners

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Female partners at major law firms ought to have more to show for their efforts by now. For about a decade, they've been knocking themselves out—attending seminars, getting coached, even taking up activities like golf—to gain an edge in business development. 

The upshot? A lot of commotion but not much else. As everyone knows, men rule on the rainmaking front, while women work at their pleasure as helpers. (Remember, men dominate the top earner spot at 97 percent of major firms, and nearly 70 percent of firms have one or no women in their top 10 earners.) 

Are women just lousy at business development? Or are their firms not giving them the opportunity to shine? Well, here's another factor to consider: Male clients still favor male partners.

That's essentially the finding by Acritas, an international legal marketing company. Based on interviews conducted in 2016 with over 2,000 senior in-house counsel at $50 million-plus revenue companies across the world, Acritas reports the following:

- Mixed gender teams significantly outperform single-sex teams on all industry-recognized key performance indicators.

- Teams led by male and female partners performed equally well.

- But male clients are a third less likely than female clients to choose female lead partners. (Male clients chose a female lead in 17 percent of cases, while female clients picked a female lead in 25 percent of matters.)
That difference in the way male and female clients allocate work to their outside counsel is significant, says Acritas CEO Lisa Hart Shepherd. Male clients are choosing women to lead their work at a rate that's even below the national percentage of female equity partners (19 percent), she notes, while women in-house counsel are being much more proactive. "Women are trying to throw business to women, since the 25 percent rate is above the availability figure."
So for all the talk by general counsel and other senior in-house lawyers about how much they're pushing for more gender equality (and diversity) from their outside counsel, clients—at least male ones—are essentially doing squat to improve the situation. In fact, cronyism still rules.
None of this is surprising to women in law firms. "People give business to friends," says a former Big Law partner. "So, if a client is male—as most clients are—he will often give business to his frat brothers, law school roommates, golf partners, fellow club members, etc." The only "fix," she adds, "is to have women rise to more positions of power as clients." (Women make up about 23 percent of chief legal officers in corporations, reports Acritas.)
Acritas' Shepherd isn't so keen on waiting. She proposes a more radical solution: Quotas.

"People don't realize that they have this bias, and quotas would solve that problem," explains Sheperd. "The quota should be targeted at a level to help female partners." She proposes that both male and female clients mandate that one-third of the lead partners they hire be women. "This will start to balance the power and increase the chances of equity for women," she adds.

Sounds perfectly reasonable, but is corporate American ready for quotas? "The brave clients will do this," says Sheperd. "If clients use the power they have, the firms will listen."

Let's repeat Sheperd's words: "The brave clients will do this."

In other words, don't hold your breath. 

January 25, 2018

Go to B-School Instead!

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Oh, that perennial question: Is it worth the time and money to go to law school? (Or if you already did: Did you squander your time and money?) This week, I look at those issues—and more. Here are my takes on the news:

This is why you should go to business school instead. I've always questioned my judgement in getting a J.D. instead of an M.B.A. For a lot of reasons, an M.B.A. is a far less painful route. Let's start with the obvious: It's only two years, and you don't have to take the damn bar exam.

If you're on the fence, there's now an even more compelling reason to go to B-school instead: The money is flowing in the nation's leading business schools. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Top business schools are subsidizing the cost of two-year master’s degrees in business administration by setting aside millions in scholarships and financial aid to lure young professionals out of a strengthening job market.

The advertised price for a traditional M.B.A. can top $200,000 at the most competitive schools in the U.S., but some 61% of this year’s students are receiving scholarships based on merit, financial need, or a combination of the two, according to data from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the standardized test commonly taken by business-school applicants. That is up from 41% in 2014.

It also translates into real savings. "For the Harvard Business School class of 2019, the average fellowship award cuts tuition to $35,000 from $72,000 a year," reports WSJ.
So why are B-schools so generous? Because people aren't banging on their doors like they use to. WSJ says that "enrollment in full-time M.B.A. programs has fallen by more than a third since 2010, as wages for many workers have improved and shorter, specialized degrees have launched at business schools across the country."
Which brings up another notable comparison with legal education: Law schools are losing students too, but what are they offering? You hear about the crippling debt that law grads incur but you don't often hear about how law schools are opening their wallets—certainly nothing like the 41 percent increase in merit scholarship that B-school students are getting. 
Besides trying to enlarge the applicant pool by allowing GREs for admissions, what else are law schools doing?

They are still young and naive, but not totally stupid. At first, I thought the younger generation has become totally jaded about lawyers. "Law Grads Have Grown Skeptical of a JD's Value," blared the National Law Journal's headline. 

Reporting on a poll of more than 10,000 college graduates, NLJ's Karen Sloan writes that J.D. degrees aren't quite as coveted as they once were. AccessLex Institute (a legal education nonprofit) and the Gallup, which conducted the poll, said in its report: "While a law degree is still held in high esteem, it is now seen as a riskier investment than in the past.” 

So how many college grads are truly skeptical about the worth of a law degree? Are we talking about a majority of them?

No! A whopping 88 percent still consider a law degree to be valuable. In fact, reports NLJ, the J.D. ranks "second only to a M.D. among advanced degrees, outpacing MBAs and doctorates." (Among college grads, 98 percent rate the medical degree as valuable.)

I think most of us can understand the high regard for the medical degree, but an 88 percent approval rate for the J.D.? Where is that coming from?

To be fair, the youngsters aren't delusional or stupid. While they seem to place the law degree in a lofty position (for whatever reason), they're not jumping into law schools. In fact, NLJ reminds us that "first-year enrollment at American Bar Association-accredited law schools plummeted nearly 30 percent between 2010 and 2016, and has remained essentially flat for the past two years."

So maybe it's all good: They have a healthy respect for the legal profession (again, who knows why) but they're smart enough to stay away.

Finally, a Big Law female partner says #Me-Too. Remember how I lamented that none of Alex Kozinski's former female clerks now working in Big Law would comment about the allegations that he behaved inappropriately while he was a judge on the Ninth Circuit? At the time, I wondered if it's just too risky for a female lawyer at a major firm to add her voice to the #Me-Too choir.

Early this year, a former Kozinski clerk did speak out. Katherine Ku, now a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, spoke out loud and clear in n a Jan. 5 essay in The Washington Post. She also spoke with my colleague Ross Todd about her decision to go public.

I don't know how difficult it was for Ku to come out. It's never easy being the first. So kudos to her! And may more follow. 


January 16, 2018

My Funniest, Saddest and Most Loathed Careerists Posts for 2017


Another year down the toilet. That's how I look at the start of a new year. 

So before all my hard work for 2017 is consigned to oblivion, I present to you some of my most memorable and outrageous Careerist posts for the past year:

My most ridiculously popular post: How to Deal with Assholes. I don't think this was a particularly penetrating look at the issue but, somehow, the topic is forever young to those who work in law firms. My interview with Stanford University's management professor Robert Sutton, the leading academic on assholes in the workplace (I'm serious).

Runner-up: Death to Performance Reviews (Well, One Can Hope). What would you rather do for 30 minutes: Get reviewed by your manager or be knocked out for a colonoscopy? Can you guess which one I pick?

My most contrarian post: Kellyanne: Victim of Sexism. Yes, that Kellyanne. And yes, I think she got slapped around and dumped on in a sexist fashion. I don't mind trashing her, but I do believe in doing so in a fair way.

The post women loved: Take Your Pick: 1) Ditzy Broad or 2) Angry Bitch. Because we all know there is no middle course.

The post (some) women hated: Hello Pink Ghetto. I called the practices where women tend to be well-represented (e.g., immigration, labor/employment and family law) "respectable" but "pedestrian"—and some thought those sounded like sexists judgments. Oh well.

My most personal post: The Ordeals of a Trump Supporter. I've been told many times to "go back to where you came from"—and I just had to write about it when a white woman said she endured the same line as a Trump supporter in Washington, D.C.

My dirtiest post: Mike Pence, Lust and Big Law. Isn't there's something creepy and inherently dirty about a man in a position of respect who has to impose all sorts of rules on himself in order to avoid the temptation of the flesh? 

My most depressing post: Let's Talk about Kozinski's Victim: Heidi Bond. A look at a career that might have been.

Runner-up: David Boies's Mea Culpa Doesn't Cut It. A look at a legendary career marred.

Runner-up: Love, Lost and What She Wore. My interview with Karen Dunn, the woman who would have been White House Counsel, if Hillary had won.

What you shouldn't miss: My four part series on blacks in the profession. When Big Law Elects a Black Leader; Black Harvard Law Grads Are Doing Fine (Mostly); It's Lonely at the Top; and Black Female Lawyers. Believe it or not, I'm not always fun and jolly. Sometimes, I do tackle serious topics, and, to me, the plight of black lawyers is one that deserves more coverage.

Happy (or should I say Happier) Chinese New Year!





January 12, 2018

Trumpers' Go-To Guy and the Truth About Roy Moore's "Jewish" Lawyer

I just got back from Mexico, so my knives might not be as sharp as usual. (Yes, I had many Margaritas on the beach.) But no worries: After being back in gloomy New York for less than 24 hours, that vacation feeling is quickly fading.

I am back in the saddle with my weekly picks of what I find piquant in the news:

Why do Trumpsters flock to the same lawyer? With all the hot-shot lawyers in Washington, D.C. and New York, why are three key players in Trump's orbit picking the same lawyer?

The Daily Beast reports that Quinn Emanuel partner Bill Burck is advising Stephen Bannon on his upcoming interview with the House intelligence committee. In case you forgot, Burck (center) also represents White House counsel Don McGahn (right) and former chief of staff Reince Priebus in the Russian investigation.

I don't know if each of these guys just happen to pick Burck as the One or if McGahn referred Burck to Bannon. (I assume Priebus didn't make the referral, since he and Bannon don't seem to like each other.)

Though this seems like a situation rife with potential conflicts, I assume they all gave Burck the green light. And maybe there's a grander scheme. The Raw Story reports that "Bannon could be an incredibly valuable witness for the special counsel, especially if his testimony matches up with McGahn and Priebus—who took the highly unusual step of keeping contemporaneous notes throughout his six months as chief of staff."

Will Bannon, McGahn and Priebus all stick with the same story? If so, how long? Curiouser and curiouser.

Who's really a Jewish lawyer? Remember how Roy Moore's wife Kayla tried to prove that she and her husband weren't anti-Semitic by saying at a campaign rally: "Fake news will tell you that we don’t care for Jews. . . I just want to set the record straight. One of our attorneys is a Jew!"

The Washington Examiner identified the "Jewish" lawyer-friend as Richard Jaffe, an Alabama defense lawyer hired by the Moores in 2016 to defend their son, Caleb, against drug charges. (Whoa, the Moore's son faced drug charges?!?)

But here's the news bulletin: Jaffe told Washington Examiner that he was a "passionate supporter" of Moore's opponent Doug Jones. 

Embarrassing, right? Stay with me.

It gets more complicated. After that story came out, Kayla Moore told the Examiner that it had made a mistake. She said the "Jewish" lawyer she was referring to is Martin Wishnatsky, not Jaffe.

Wishnatsky is a die-hard Moore supporter. But the sticky part is that he's long renounced his Jewish faith. Though born Jewish, Wishnatsky became an evangelical Protestant Christian (and before that, a Mormon). He's now a staff lawyer with the Foundation for Moral Law, which is run by the Moores.

So here's my query: Can the Moore rightly make the claim that they have a "Jewish" lawyer?  I don't mean for this to be a theological/legal discussion, but I am intrigued.

Bad-Date-Ruined-Art-Article-201801102004Only in Texas can this land you in prison for life. I'm sorry to pick on my home state, but Texas always stands out in strange ways. A few weeks ago, Lindy Lou Layman (by the way, love the alliteration!) was arrested after she allegedly destroyed $300,000 worth of art at Houston plaintiffs lawyer Tony Buzbee’s home in River Oaks (that's the super fancy part of town, if you didn't know). 

Texas Lawyer now reports that Layman (left) could get a life sentence, if convicted: "According to the Texas Penal Code, punishment in criminal mischief cases are determined by how expensive the property a person destroys." If the property is worth less than $100,000, it's only a misdemeanor; but if the property is over $300,00, it's a first-degree felony, which could mean the slammer for life.

"Basically it’s a rich people statute to make it worse if rich people get stolen from or if their property gets damaged," Chris Mulder, a Dallas criminal defense attorney, told Texas Lawyer. "I guess it discourages from stealing from the wealthy instead of stealing in general."

Of course, the rich deserves extra protection! Think of all they do for the rest of society! And that's why we've revised the tax code!

Anyhoo, don't worry about Lindy Lou. According to Mulder, it's not a law that's really enforced to the letter. 

Don't mess with Chinese moms.
 As every good Chinese child knows, you are suppose to care for your parents in their old age. So what happens if the child reneges? Sue!

That's what one mom did, and she just won her case before the Taiwan's Supreme Court, which ordered her son, a dentist, to pay up big time.

Reports the New York Times: "The case attracted considerable attention because the mother and son had put down in a written contract — signed when he was 20 — what is often left unsaid, particularly in a heavily Confucian-influenced society that emphasizes filial piety. The principle is backed up by law in Taiwan, where adults are legally prohibited from abandoning their parents."

The upshot is that the son must now fork over almost $1 million to mom ($754,000, plus interest, "bringing the total award for his mother to more than $967,000") for an "upbringing fee."

Hey, it all sounds reasonable to me. Are you listening, my darlings?


January 9, 2018

Crystal Ball, Oh, Crystal Ball


It's that time of the year again—when I peer into my crystal ball to see what's in store for the legal profession in the new year. Here are my predictions:

Big little lies will become part of the legal culture. The legal profession will be more tolerant/understanding/forgiving of omissions, misstatements and flat-out lies on resumes, documents, disclosure forms, whatever. It will be no big deal to inflate GPAs or I.Q. scores on C.V.s, omit a felony conviction on a questionnaire or exaggerate the size of the audience at your moot court competition. 

Hey, if folks in high public office (e.g., Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner and the POTUS himself) or candidates for the federal bench (e.g., Brett Talley) can forget or distort the facts, why not the rest us? 

All law schools will accept GREs—and SATs, PSATs, etc. Once Harvard Law School announced that it will take GREs, you knew that the LSAT as the gold standard for law school admission was finito. But law schools won't stop with the GREs. Spooked by that big dip in law school applications following the recession, law school officials will cast a wide net.

So expect law schools to accept SATs, PSATs, ACTs for future admissions. And it won't be long when they'll also take the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam)—you know, that silly test your kid takes to get into a posh private school. 

More hype about how millennials will change the evil ways of Big Law. Women, people of color and the otherwise disfranchised will insist that millennials will transform law firms into more egalitarian, open and humane work environments.

Don't worry, law firm managers: Millennials are needy and want approval. Just give them constant feedback, tell them their opinions are important and keep doing what you've always done. They'll fall into line—like you did. Hey, weren't Baby Boomers suppose to bring on the revolution too?

More hype that clients will insist that law firms diversity. The same group above (women, minorities, etc.) will pin their hopes on clients to make law firms more inclusive. The hope goes like this: Clients really, really care about diversity and are telling firms that they better get on the diversity train or lose business.

Again, no worries: Clients will scold you but they won't do anything drastic, like firing your firm. You white, middle-aged boys have been doing a dandy job, so why rock the boat?

Women will spend more time analyzing why they lag so far behind men. Firms will gladly send their female lawyers to all-day, all-week or all-season seminars, conferences, workshops and therapy sessions on why women aren't succeeding.

This will get the women out of the office so that men can do client development in peace.

Every firm will have a chief sex czar. Though the #MeToo moment hasn't really hit Big Law, firms are scared that there might be sleeper-Harveys in the ranks. To save their business, the latest must-have will be the resident sex czar. Move over marketing mavens and diversity directors!

Besides forcing everyone to undergo hours of tedious sexual harassment training, the sex czar will track the sex lives or potential sex lives of all lawyers. It will mean the end of office romance as we know it—a sad state of affairs for busy lawyers who have little chance of hanky-panky outside of the office. Alas, people will have to lust only in their hearts.

Law firm events will get (even more) unbearable. Because of the fear that alcohol will lead to indiscretions and lawsuits (see point above), all law firm events will be dry. That means no-booze at firm outings, holiday parties and dinners.

Yes, you will really have to sit stone sober next to that drooling 90-year old retired partner and feign amazement as he tells you (again) about how Cravath, Swaine & Moore unleashed a Pandora's box by upping the starting associate salary to $35,000 during the Stone Age.

The Trump administration will legalize sexual harassment. While law firms and the rest of corporate America scramble to grapple with sexism in their workplace, President Trump will change the rules of the game. He will nominate judges to the federal bench who believe that sexual harassment is a form of free speech that deserves First Amendment protection.

Yo, don't Neanderthals deserve be a protected class?



January 5, 2018

News & Gossip: Associates' Outrage, Royal Finances and Cooley's Coolness

Unnamed-22Bonuses Are Tied to Hours: The Outrage! I don't know whether Big Law associates really feel this way or if the media is egging them on to act like entitled children, but I find some of the coverage about associate bonuses to be ridiculous.

I'm talking about the whipped-up indignation that year-end bonuses are tied to billable hours.

For instance, the headline at Above the Law reads: "This Firm Won't Give You Anywhere Near A Full Bonus If You Don't Meet Your Hours Requirement."  The firm is Norton Rose & Fulbright where  associates have to bill 2300 hours to get the market bonus. As ATL points outs, "anything less than that—specifically, 2000-2299 hours—will earn them just 50 percent of market." And since the year is drawing to a close, associates have little time to make up the difference. Boo hoo.

That sense of bait-and-switch was echoed in New York Law Journal's post, "Bonuses Come with Billable Hours Catch at Some Firms." The "catch" was again Norton Rose's billable requirement, though NYLJ offered the cheery news that "associates at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft who have recorded at least 2,200 billable hours can earn even more than the scale set by Cravath." Whoopee!

Not to be a party pooper, but a "bonus" by definition is an extra treat, a gratuity; it's not an automatic entitlement nor an indispensable component of the compensation package (unlike what I-bankers get). 

I know, I know, some firms don't have explicit billable hour requirements for bonuses, so it seems unfair that some firms impose the burden. But does anyone seriously believe that associates at Cravath, Swaine & Moore or Wachtell Lipton aren't working their rear-ends off just because there's no stated billable minimum?

Frankly, I think it's much more honest and fair to say that those who bill more will take home more moolah. Firms might  be reluctant to use phrases like "eat what you kill" in front of their young, but that's the brutal truth. 

A royal pain
. Here's a brainteaser for you royal-obsessed enthusiasts: Guess what's potentially the biggest upset about the upcoming nuptials between Britain's Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle?

No, silly, it has nothing to do with Markle's African American heritage, her status as a divorcee or the fact that she's three years older than his royal highness. 

What's shaking things up is that the Internal Revenue Service could be an unwelcome intruder in the royal marriage. Reports The Washington Post (Hat tip: Taxlawprof):

For Harry, the issue isn't that he will suddenly end up paying U.S. income tax, but rather that Markle's American citizenship could open up the secretive finances of the royal family to outside scrutiny. If she remains a U.S. citizen, Markle will have to file her taxes to the IRS every year. And if she has more than $150,000 in assets at any point during the tax year—a likely scenario given her successful acting career and the family wealth of her husband—she will be expected to annually file a document called Form 8938 that will reveal the detail of these assets, which could include foreign trusts.

Don't worry you royalist loyalists. If Markle renounces her American citizenship, all this would be moot. But if Markle goes for dual citizenship, we'll get a peak at the royal coffers. (Word to the wise: I'd keep my U.S. citizen status if I were her, since royal marriages don't last like they use to.)

Imagine, the Queen might reveal her finances before we ever see a page of our own president's tax returns.

Cooley4_caphoto23856Is this the coolest, most family-friendly Big Law firm? Fortune came out with its best 50 workplaces for parents list and two major law firms were on the list. And get this, one firm even made it to the top 10!

Yes, it's Cooley, which came in #7 on the Fortune's list. (The other firm on the list is Orrick, #27.)

For whatever reason, Cooley seems to be the "It" firm these days. (Crains, Working Mother and who-knows-what-else have bestowed their stamped of approval on Cooley.) 

As you know, I tend to be highly skeptical of these lists, and I still am. That said, this comment from one of Cooley's lawyers in the Fortune article popped out at me: "I have been with Cooley for 17 incredible years. I am a parent to six kids and never once have I felt like I’ve had to make a choice between being a great parent and a great lawyer." The same lawyer goes on to say that s/he is able to "fully meet my parental responsibilities to all my kids and still also fully meet my responsibilities to clients and colleagues."

Let's just take a breather and take this in: This lawyer has six kids. I don't know if this person has a stay-at-home spouse or an army of nannies, but balancing six critters and practice without being institutionalized is an achievement under any circumstances. Hey, I'm impressed. 




Contact me: vchen@alm.com 

January 2, 2018

What! You Didn't Make the Latest Best Lawyer List!?!

Margaret_Gorman_4Oh, joy! Another "best" women lawyer list! Look who else is crowding into the female lawyer franchise? Crain's just launched its inaugural list of 100 "Leading Women Lawyers in New York City" and 60 "Leading Women Lawyers in Chicago." Quick! Check out who's on it (or not). If your lawyer made the list, she must be awesome! If not, ask for a discount!

Folks, how can anyone take this stuff seriously? 

Let's start with the obvious: These "best," "leading" or "top" women's list strike me as sexist. Can you imagine publishing a list of the 100 "Leading Men Lawyers in New York"?  People would think it's a parody.

Second, I have no faith in how Crain's or anyone else makes these selections. (We know firms submit their own candidates.) While there are lots of well-known women on the lists, there are also plenty of omissions. (Don't get me started.)

So what's the criteria for this honor? I'd describe it as "fuzzy." For its New York list, Crain's calls its picks "trailblazers" who "juggle both distinguished careers and exceptional civic and philanthropic activities." For its Chicago list, Crain's says the winners made "a point to mentor other women lawyers and to give back to their community in myriad ways."

I don't know how Crain's measured "distinguished careers" or "exceptional civic and philanthropic activities" or giving back "in myriad ways," except that it all sounds like something cooked up by some marketing maven to stage an overpriced, dreadfully dull awards gala to which colleagues and family will feel obligated to attend.

Look on the bright side: It gives everyone an excuse to buy another swanky evening dress or tuxedo.

Kudos to Jenner & Block. I must be getting soft. For the second week in a row, I have something nice to say about a firm. (Last week it was DLA Piper's Toronto office.) This time, it's Jenner & Block, which just announced 13 new partners, and the class consists of eight women and five men. That's an impressive margin of ladies!

Here are new partners:

Clifford Berlow

Christine Bowman

Jason Bradford

Penelope Campbell

Jeremy Casper

Brienne Letourneau

Jennifer Senior

Sarah Weiss

James Woolrich

David Lachman

Laura MacDonald

Emily Loeb

Devi Rao

Even more impressive: This is not the first time that women have outnumbered men in partner promotions at the firm. In 2015, Jenner also promoted eight women and five men. (Last year, it slipped slightly, elevating eight women and 10 men.)

Hey, if a solid firm like Jenner & Block can produce these results, what's wrong with the rest of you? 

Jones Day's alum gets the boot. Sorry, folks, it's not Don McGahn, the erstwhile Jones Day partner who's now running the White House Counsel office and shaping the judiciary to his personal liking. (McGahn tried to fill two federal judgeships with his cronies—Brett Talley and Matthew Petersen—but both withdrew because they were too blatantly incompetent. Don't worry, McGahn's got a lot more buddies in pipeline.)

The Jones Day alum who's in trouble is Chaka Patterson who left the firm with fanfare to be Cook County's assistant state attorney and chief of the Civil Actions Bureau in Illinois. For a while it was a great ride for Jones Day, because Patterson fed his former firm lots of business from Cook County. 

Maybe too much business. 

Patterson recently resigned from his post after an internal inquiry found that he was perhaps too generous to his former firms. Meaghan Tribe in The American Lawyer reports that "Patterson reportedly referred two cases—a federal job discrimination suit and a federal wrongful conviction matter—to Jones Day at a rate of up to $500 per hour."

Getting billed for $500 an hour might seem like small change for a Fortune 500 company, but this is Cook County, which is already under financial pressure. Plus, "the firm has already billed for more than $464,000." (It should be noted that there was no finding of wrong doing on the part of Jones Day.)

I don't know if Patterson will get his job back at Jones Day, because the firm isn't talking. Though he left his government job under a cloud, it seems Jones Day owes it to him to take him back. I mean, he did get in trouble because he was (too) nice to his old firm.

Hey, I'd like to see his tax returns. He didn't go to fancy law school (ever heard of St. Mary's Law School?) nor has he ever worked in fancy law firm, but boy is he rolling in dough.

How much dough? Try this: Texas personal injury lawyer Thomas Henry reportedly just spent $4 million on his son's 18th birthday party. And there's more: His son also got a "blue Ferrari, an IWC Portugieser Tourbillion watch and a custom-made painting from Alec Monopoly," reports Corpus Christi's Caller Times.

My first reaction? That's insane and obscene. My second reaction: Wow, PI lawyer must make an unfathomable amount of money. And again, the adjectives "insane" and "obscene" pop into mind.

I never thought I'd feel sorry for all you Big Law partners, but I do. Some of you are slaving away and taking home a mere $1 million or s0–and you consider that respectable. If you're bagging over $3 million, you probably feel super special, like the elite of the elites. And if you're making $5 million or more, you think you're a lotto winner.

But this guy in Texas blasts everyone out of the water. He blows $4 million on a party for a teenager—and this is hardly his only extravagance (he reportedly spent $6 million for his daughter's party). You can bill until your blue in the face, and you will never, ever get close to that level.

Hat tip: Above the Law


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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