Thursday, August 16, 2007

Two Things You Should Check Out

A friend's new blog: Backwards from 30

As he describes himself: "I write. Begrudgingly. I think. Excessively. I hoop. Infrequently. I drink. Occasionally. I wear the dopest t-shirts. Proudly. I wander. Endlessly?"

For a good video post on abortion and BF30's commentary, check here.

Then go read about Blelvis. Black Elvis, that is. WP covered him today. He used to hang out around Marx in the MtP. He is even more impressive in person. One of those reasons to love DC.

Elvis recorded 1,112 songs. Blelvis tells you this. He knows the words to them all.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Who should the next President appoint to the Cabinet?

Some ideas-

State: Bill Richardson
Defense: ?
Justice: Eliot Spitzer, and for Deputy AG Morris Dees
Treasury: Paul Krugman
Interior: John H. Adams (former NRDC president), and for EPA Director, Robert Kennedy Jr.
Homeland Security: Richard Clarke
Labor: Andy Stern
Commerce: ?
Education: Marian Wright Edelman
Agriculture: Charlie Stenholm
Energy: Al Gore
Transportation: ?
HHS: Ron Pollack (Families USA)
HUD: Henry Cisneros
Veterans Affairs: Chet Edwards


"It's like grown-up summer camp"

The other night I went to a law firm recruitment reception. There were mini-cheeseburgers, bacon-wrapped scallops, pâté, a chocolate fountain, beer, wine, and margaritas. So before I criticize big firms, let me admit I enjoyed their food.

This is a (perhaps typical) big firm, but I walked in more pre-disposed to like them because some of their pro bono work is on issues close to my heart. I walked out more certain that I do not want to work for a big corporate firm. I talked to summer associates there, working attorneys, and the director of the pro bono program. They seem to really like where they work.

But after an hour or so, I got weirded out and had to flee (even leaving half a beer – sacrilege!). Something was off about all the conversations. Walking back to the metro, I realized – in all the talk with people at the firm – not once did anyone mention a case, or a client. Who do these people work for? Does it matter? Do they care?

All the positives about working for the firm were about the working environment and firm culture itself, completely divorced from any substance about the cases for which you might advocate.

One lawyer touted that the firm is full of really smart, fun people. That it’s very family friendly, that attorneys often leave at 6 pm. Another lauded the firm’s transparency – you know how many hours everyone bills on every client, and what their bonuses are (apparently this is a very big deal).

A summer associate, bright guy, worked in liberal politics before going to law school, told me he really enjoyed the firm: the partners work together, there’s “transparency,” the people are fun to work with, etc. Not, let me tell you about this one case where we righteously defended client X.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. This firm’s recruiting website touts that every associate gets a window office.

But it bothers me that not once did someone tell me about a case they liked working on. A client who they enjoyed advocating for. A worthy cause. The only time a client was sorta mentioned was in response to a question for a litigator about whether she worked all on one case at a time or on many. She responded that typically she worked on many, but one month she billed only one client because they needed a lot of work. Why? They were under investigation for “allegedly” defrauding the federal government.

I used to think law was advocacy. You have a client. You vindicate their rights, not yours. But now I think, at least at big firms, law is a game. A way to make bank. It doesn’t matter for whom you advocate. Your only client is you.

Need more proof? Check out this nauseating WP story on "summers".

Prominent firms have hit a controversial high: about $3,100 a week for summer associates, or what would be just over $160,000 a year for fresh law school graduates. Perks are plentiful and full-time job offers all but guaranteed.

"I feel like I deserve it," said Vincenza Battaglia, 25, one of the students spending the summer at Steptoe & Johnson. "We work really hard in law school."

Indeed, it is a summer filled with schmoozing and glass-clinking. The summer associates — knighted as "summers" and never called "interns" within their subculture — sail on the Chesapeake. They go-cart in Virginia. They get taken out for lunch by mentors.

"It's like grown-up summer camp," said Felicia Carter, 25, a Steptoe summer associate, riding in a bus on her way to the Kennedy Center for dinner and the Phantom performance. "My friends are jealous."