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

Vivia Chen

January 2, 2018

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



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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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