Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Legal Blog Watch

Legal Blog Watch

Supreme Court Adds 17 Cases to Its Calendar

This morning, the Supreme Court announced the 17 new cases that it's added to its calendar for the new term, as reported here at SCOTUS Blog (to review the petitions seeking cert and case dockets, visit this link).

The cases include some interesting issues, such as the constitutionality of requiring voters to show a photo ID before they may vote; the constitutionality of execution by lethal injection where the procedure poses a risk of pain and suffering in violation of the Eighth Amendment ban  on "cruel and unusual punishment"; and a Fourth Amendment case involving an unlawful search under state law that Volokh conspirator and Fourth Amendment guru Orin Kerr is interested in. We'll be covering many of these cases here at Legal Blog Watch, so stay tuned ...

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 25, 2007 at 02:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Firm Salaries: If You Can't Beat Them, Retreat From Them

When New York firm Simpson Thacher announced its decision to raise starting associate salaries to $160,000, most law firms raced to jump on the bandwagon. But as this article (9/25/07) reports, one midsize New York law firm, Duval & Stachenfeld, has taken an opposite strategy: It pays starting associates $60,000 -- or $100,000 below the going rate. Salaries don't stay flat, however, and by their third year, D&S associates can expect to match salaries of their counterparts at top firms.

There are several reasons behind D&S's approach. From the article:

The idea is that [the firm] will attract first-years from second-tier schools or less-competitive students at the top schools. Within two years, about half of those junior associates will prove themselves and hop on the gravy train of the top scale. Meanwhile, the hefty pay for mid-level and senior associates makes Duval & Stachenfeld an attractive option for unsatisfied laterals from top firms.

In addition, lower pay enables the firm to hire more associates and to mitigate clients' concerns that they're subsidizing the cost of training high-paid associates.

Given the realities of the the current legal market that my colleague Bob Ambrogi posted on yesterday, there are probably no shortage of applicants for positions at D&S, even with the lower pay scale. Moreover, it's a win-win situation for the firm, which gets the benefits of cheap labor by lawyers who are grateful for an opportunity to have a job at all.

Question for readers: Why aren't more firms taking this approach?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 25, 2007 at 02:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Google Docs Means for the Law

Wired GC has two posts on Google Docs that merit review. (Full disclosure: My husband works for Google, though not on this product, and even my sixth-grade daughter uses Google docs to edit a newspaper that she runs with some friends outside of school). If you're not familiar with Google Docs and how it works, this post from Wired GC offers a neat and simple explanatory video.

But why should you care about Google Docs or other open source, collaborative applications, for that matter? Wired GC responds here. He writes that Google Docs may make some users question why they've been paying so much for complicated collaborative software that Google has made available for free. And by making this application available at no charge, people become more comfortable with "software-as-a-service." Finally, Wired GC concludes:

Getting back to the law, note what is happening here. When you make working together easier, you don't just do things better. You also do fewer things faster and therefore much cheaper. Much of the business model of the legal industry is based upon doing too many things slower.

Have you or your firm started exploring these kinds of collaboration tools? And is Wired GC right -- is the availability of fairly robust open source applications making lawyers rethink more costly models?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 25, 2007 at 02:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blawg Review #127

This week, trial lawyer and jury consultant Ann Reed hosts Blawg Review #127 at her blog, Deliberations. And the verdict on her voir dire-themed Blawg Review is unanimously favorable, as evidenced by this litany of positive commentary and trackbacks. Even the sometimes curmudgeonly David Giacalone of f/k/a/ offers a positive review of Reed's Blawg Review, finding Reed "not guilty" of
thematic excess

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 25, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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