lukegilman.com : The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

WSJ: Law Firms Curtail Associate Programs As Economy Slows

Well this is not good news for many of my compadres – from the Wall Street Journal, Law Firms Curtail Associate Programs As Economy Slows

This time last year, salaried lawyers at many of nation’s largest firms had just scored a pay bump, as business was blazing and firms were scrambling to keep talent. Now, due largely to a slowdown in work relating to mortgages, real estate, mergers and private equity, some firms are rescinding offers to incoming associates and summer associates, asking first-year lawyers to start several months later and shortening their summer programs to save money.

Law firms are businesses. Associates should be asking themselves what they are worth and why, and, particularly now, if there aren’t perhaps ways they could increase their value somehow.

Associates are key revenue generators for law firms. Firms generally charge clients an hourly rate for associates’ work, and the more work firms can assign to associates, the more they can earn. But associates are expensive as well, especially now, after firms jumped to match each other’s raises for them when times were good.

The salary for many entry-level lawyers at large firms in big cities is currently $160,000 per year. Summer associates — typically law students between their second and third years of law school hoping for offers of full-time employment after graduation — often get paid by the week at a rate pegged to the first-year associate salary. In many offices, summer associates in 2008 will bring home $3,100 weekly. So shaving weeks of employment can mean real savings for a law firm.

Make rain boys and girls, make rain.

“I come to work and expect 12-hour days and it’s just not happening,” said one junior associate at New York’s Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. “People have encouraged me to take on pro-bono work, and I have, but there are days when I don’t have enough to do from 10:30 to 6.”

“I’m not exactly complaining,” said the associate. “I’m going to the gym a lot, but frankly, I’m a little bored.”

Sounds like you’re about to be a little downsized, that could be exciting.

The Long Tail of Book Authoring

According to Noam Cohen’s article He Wrote 200,000 Books (but Computers Did Some of the Work) in tomorrow’s New York Times, Philip M. Parker, a professor at Insead, has generated more than 200,000 books using computer algorithms and publicly available information. As an experiment, it’s fascinating; as commerce, less so.

The books themselves, unsurprisingly, leave something to be desired. One Amazon buyer noted “The book is more of a template for ‘generic health researching’ than anything specific to rosacea. The information is of such a generic level that a sourcebook on the next medical topic is just a search and replace away.”

Mr. Parker was willing to concede much of what Mr. Pascoe argued. “If you are good at the Internet, this book is useless,” he said, adding that Mr. Pascoe simply should not have bought it. But, Mr. Parker said, there are people who aren’t Internet savvy who have found these guides useful.

Is this a representation or omission that a reasonable book buyer would find materially deceptive under the circumstances? Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

This book has been created for patients who have decided to make education and research an integral part of the treatment process. Although it also gives information useful to doctors, caregivers and other health professionals, it tells patients where and how to look for information covering virtually all topics related to acne rosacea (also Acne Erythematosa; Adult Acne; Hypertrophic Rosacea; Rhinophyma; Rosacea), from the essentials to the most advanced areas of research. The title of this book includes the word official. This reflects the fact that the sourcebook draws from public, academic, government, and peer-reviewed research. Selected readings from various agencies are reproduced to give you some of the latest official information available to date on acne rosacea. Given patients’ increasing sophistication in using the Internet, abundant references to reliable Internet-based resources are provided throughout this sourcebook. Where possible, guidance is provided on how to obtain free-of-charge, primary research results as well as more detailed information via the Internet. E-book and electronic versions of this sourcebook are fully interactive with each of the Internet sites mentioned (clicking on a hyperlink automatically opens your browser to the site indicated). Hard-copy users of this sourcebook can type cited Web addresses directly into their browsers to obtain access to the corresponding sites. In addition to extensive references accessible via the Internet, chapters include glossaries of technical or uncommon terms.

SueEasy, So Easy It Can’t Be Good, Really


From SueEasy.com. Artful use of clip art guys.

I have a feeling SueEasy is joining the ranks of Avvo and OverLawyered in websites lawyers love to hate. The premise is an interesting one. The implementation….. not so much. I would be interested to know if there are any lawyers out there thinking – ‘wow, what a great idea.’ For prospective litigants I’d be a little skeptical of what showed up on my door after posting my “case”.

Utilize the power of our state-of-the-art web application, to make your voice heard. Forget the Yellow Pages, Forget tedious internet searches, Forget making frantic countless phonecalls! With SueEasy only relevant lawyers interested in your case will contact you themselves!

As for potential litigators – talk about a hairball generator. (cracked ipod screen? credit card terms are ‘nuts’) Looks like a race to the bottom on both sides to me.

I’ll be interested to see if this thing gets off the ground. Despite Michael Arrington’s general protestations, Ambulance Chasers Have A New Home, SueEasy, SueEasy Goes Live – Your Class Action Lawsuit Lottery Ticket, TechCrunch is the biggest PR campaign SueEasy’s got going for it.

What’s not immediately clear is how they plan on making any money. Leads are apparently free for lawyers-

Do you or your Law Firm need more cases? Improve your earning potential exponentially by subscribing and advertising to our database of cases. Constantly updated with fresh litigants! Join now.. for FREE!

(OK, so buried in the FAQ they state they plan on charging lawyers a monthly subscription for advertising and marketing eventually, though it’s apparently free for now.)

Scheduling and Law School Classes

From PT Law Mom, comes a tale of scheduling angst.

Every time I think I have it planned, a new wrinkle pops up. Just found out that I have to take tax (despite my every intention to avoid it completely!) because it is a prerequisite for 22 (yes, 22) classes at school (i.e., Mergers & Acquisitions, Trusts & Estates, Business Organizations), many of which are important for my career.

To assuage her concerns, I offer her NOT the annoying comment everyone who just took BarBri seems to want to offer – “Dude, like totally don’t worry about law school, BarBri’s all you need” – but instead sage advice from a sitting Supreme Court Justice, whose words are often, well, binding –

Justice Samuel A. Alito gave the keynote address to at the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Spring Meeting in D.C. last Monday. He conceded that he never took a course in bankruptcy as a law student but explained that bankruptcy courses were not offered at Yale. (Alito graduated from Yale Law in 1975).

Not to worry though. Justice Alito explained that federal judges are generalists and learn on the job. “We are not experts in all statutes we are called upon to interpret,” he noted. But, “we can learn how to read a statutory provision.” “You can teach yourself what you need to know” he said. Indeed, “formal legal education today is a bit overvalued.”

From MoneyLaw: Legal Education Overvalued?

That’s not to say it matters little what you study. Some law school sadists I know actually liked FedTax, or at least claimed to. For what it’s worth, here’s the tao of Gilman in choosing law school classes. Follow my advice at your own peril, young paduans.

(1) professor
(2) professor
(3) time/day
(4) subject matter

Lending Crisis roils Students Financial Aid Options

Tuition at public and private universities alike has just kept rising over the last decade, fueled in large part by the belief that any increase in tuition, regardless of how the money is spent, cannot help but increase the value of the degree and that students subject to the hikes should thank their lucky stars the college boards rubber-stamping the increases are so forward-thinking.

The New York Times article, Fewer Options Open to Pay for Costs of College, portends a reality check on the horizon for American universities and painful belt-tightening. As any Econ 101 student could tell you, price needs to become part of the education equation.

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