This week, it’s all about money. Everyone from law school deans to Chuck Klosterman weighed in on the value of law school, while AmLaw took a novel approach to valuing law firms. Meanwhile, law firm associates are focused on their own bottom lines when it comes to bonuses. Also: who’s older, the Supreme Court or the Rolling Stones?
- Lawrence E. Mitchell, dean of Case Western Reserve University’s law school, began his op-ed in the New York Times last week thusly: “I’m a law dean, and I’m proud.” Naturally, he’s come in for a bit of criticism.
- With a different take on the same issue is pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman, who is doing a stint as The Ethicist at The New York Times Magazine. Recently, he weighed in on the ethics of law schools with sub-standard job placement statistics charging the market rate in tuition. It’s interesting to read a true outsider’s perspective on a debate that has been raging in the legal community for some time now:
[A law school’s] principal ethical responsibility is to educate law students to the best of that institution’s ability, which isn’t inherently tied to how easily those graduates become gainfully employed. That responsibility is mostly [the student’s].
- As pretty much every big firm lawyer is aware, it’s bonus season. ABA Journal has a podcast on the subject that is worth a listen (or a read – the transcript is also available). David Lat (Above the Law), Barbara Knott (Major, Lindsay & Africa) and Peter Zeughauser weigh in. Lat has some particularly useful comments on the way the industry is trending:
Increasingly [lawyers] are being paid individualized bonuses.
So top performers might get more than what their Cravath counterparts might get in terms of seniority measured by your law school graduation, and then underperformers might get a smaller bonus or no bonus at all.
So I think that in some ways law firms are starting to look a lot like the corporate clients they serve. I mean, in corporate America your compensation is often individually determined as opposed to determined simply by how long you have been in the work force.
- The American Lawyer has a new article on the value of law firms, in which investment banking valuation techniques were applied to the law firms in the Global 100. The experiment takes on questions like whether mergers add value, or how hard the recession has hit large firms.
- Corporate Counsel has released the 2012 Patent Litigation Survey, the first since passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. The survey found a “steep rise” in federal district court patent suits handled by the firms in the survey, with Fish & Richardson coming in on top for the fourth straight year, with 173 cases.
- Proskauer Rose has the results of a recent survey the firm conducted on social media use in the workplace. Proskauer reports that more than three-quarters of companies surveyed are using social media for business purposes, while nearly half allow employees to use social media for non-business activities. This is the survey’s second year.
- Last week, after providing an overview of the New York City Bar Association’s new study on diversity, Vivia Chen of the Careerist issued something of an ultimatum to law firms: if you want to avoid losing midlevel and senior female lawyers, put a “critical mass” of women in leadership positions at the firm. An excerpt:
The report doesn’t say why having women in firm management helps level the gender gap, but I’ll venture some guesses. First, I think women in leadership roles serve as crucial role models. If you can’t identify with those in power, it’s very hard to aspire toward it. Second, having a “critical mass” of women in power makes it much easier for women to advocate for other women and, ultimately, to change that ineffable thing called culture.
Finally: This week, Supreme Court watchers are anxiously awaiting news on whether the Court will take on any of the 10 pending appeals related to gay marriage before the holiday recess. Friday is the next possible date the Court could take action on any of the cases concerning the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or California’s Proposition 8.
In lighter Court news, the Associated Press took the time to investigate who, on average, is older: Supreme Court justices or the Rolling Stones? A silly question, perhaps. I’m more interested in hearing the justices’ rendition of “Beast of Burden.”
Posted by Emily Fisher with contributions by Marianne Purzycki