Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Employment Outlook

Many people who recently passed bar exams, as well as many current third year law students, are wondering about their employment prospects. Here are a couple of interesting articles.

First, John Bringardner writes that the jobs are out there ... overseas:

Major American law firms have long had a presence abroad, staffed by a combination of local counsel and lawyers from the home office. But as the economic downturn continues to cause upheaval in corporate America and the law firms that serve it, many firms are relying on their international outposts to keep profits up — and a growing number of lawyers are starting to look overseas for work. Not long ago, the City of London was New York’s primary competitor for financial talent, and Britain was often one of the first choices for lawyers deciding to head abroad.

But with Wall Street in tatters and London struggling as the credit crisis plays out, lawyers and analysts say that the most promising places for legal careers are such far-flung locales as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong. Even though Dubai’s booming economy has cooled sharply recently, lawyers say demand for their services remains strong there, and other overseas markets are still beckoning lawyers despite the global impact of the credit crisis — at least for now.

When work was plentiful at home, it was often a tough sell to get lawyers to move halfway around the world. But since the financial unraveling in September, that’s all changed. In the last two months, recruiters in Hong Kong and Dubai say they’ve seen a record number of New York résumés from candidates looking for law-firm or in-house legal work overseas.

Over the past decade, major corporate law firms have made international expansion a top priority, and some have become truly global businesses.

In the past decade, top firms like Jones Day, based in Cleveland, went from 6 foreign offices to 18. Weil, Gotshal & Manges, based in New York, went from 3 to 9, and Latham & Watkins, based in Los Angeles, from 5 to 14.

More than ever, then, being bilingual can be a real plus.

Meanwhile, BCG Attorney Search analyzes growth markets. Folks in Southern California should remain optimistic:

In addition, we have seen a significant rise in the number of highly qualified attorneys looking to relocate to California. Thus, while the Los Angeles market remains steady overall, it is definitely a "buyer's market" with the "buyer" being the law firms. Our contacts within the firms tell us they are getting tremendous responses to the openings they post and therefore are tightening up their hiring criteria more than ever. In this market, it is helpful to have strong ties to California, admission to the California Bar (or plans to sit for the exam in the very near future), or an area of specialty in which there is still high demand but low supply.

Further, those interested in Intellectual Property work, especially in Orange County, need fear less:

Intellectual property remains a healthy practice area in this market. Many firms are looking for attorneys with both IP litigation and patent prosecution experience. Patent prosecution specifically, remains one of the hot areas of law in Orange County. Firms are seeking attorneys with electrical engineering, computer science, and physics backgrounds mainly. There are also a few openings for attorneys with biotech science backgrounds, as well as mechanical engineering backgrounds.

Since hiring has slowed due to the economy, more firms are seeking candidates that are already members of the California Bar and USPTO, even though this wasn't a strict requirement in previous recent hiring periods. Furthermore, candidates with advanced degrees will definitely have an upper hand in this competitive market. Most firms are seeking attorneys in the 2-5 year range for these positions, but more junior level attorneys will also probably be considered. Orange County also has openings for patent agent candidates as well. As always, partners with a book of business are highly desired.

Hopefully these articles have helped. Good luck out there!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


The results of the July 2008 administration of the California Bar Exam were released to the examinees on Friday 21 November 2008 at 6pm. At 5:30pm, I was running errands. I felt a certain discomfort in my stomach. Chalking it up to hunger, I headed for a local Chipotle. The line was a long one, and I considered leaving to go home and get online at 6pm. I resisted the urge.

As it turned out, I was online by 6:09pm. I entered my application and file numbers, and the California Bar Association web server spat back a screen. The most important sentence: "The name above appears on the pass list for the July 2008 California Bar Examination."

I read it several times to make sure I didn't misread it. Each time I felt my eyes welling up more and more. I had done it! I passed the California bar exam!

The remainder of Friday evening was filled with joy as friends who passed shared the good news. Many happy people combed their Facebook friends lists, over and over again, hopeful that all of their friends would soon be reporting good news.

After a lull in the insane Internet updates, I bought a 750mL bottle of Glenfiddich to savor at home. People were celebrating, but for once I decided to stay in to celebrate privately.

Not everyone passed. Unfortunately, some people that were close to me were not on the pass list. According to the California Bar Association, 61.7% of examinees passed, including 83% of first-time takers from ABA-accredited law schools in California. This is a higher pass rate than before, and the report notes that examinees across the country had performed very well on the multiple choice portion, the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), which is standardized across all jurisdictions. Having taken the MBE, I am surprised at that number, and conjecture that perhaps many questions had multiple acceptable answers. Either that, or most of the crazy mortgage-based questions were experimental, and thus not considered in the final accounting.

Another concern, for examinees in Southern California, was the impact of the Chino Hills earthquake. According to a report commissioned by the California Bar Association, the impact seemed to have been minor. The Bar Association adjusted exam scores by using the tests from Northern California as a control group. For some strange reason, although the earthquake occurred closer to the Ontario testing site, Ontario examinees were adjusted by only either 1 or 3 points, while San Diego examinees were ajdusted by either 3 or 5 points.

In any case, the result has been a vindication of three years of hard work. To those who passed with me, my heartfelt congratulations to you, you have worked hard and deserve it! To those who fell a little short, this is no judgment on your intelligence or your work ethic. If you decide to continue pursuing a career in the law, take the exam again, because I cannot wait for you to join me!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Google Compromises

L. Gordon Crovits writes in the Wall Street Journal that the recent compromise between Google and the book industry is the former's concession that, contra its motivating spirit, information is not always free.

Copyright is critical to provide property rights in books, music and other forms of intellectual property, contrary to those who claim that somehow everything must be free just because it's on the Web. But content owners also belatedly realize that simply suing consumers who find new, convenient ways to access content online is not as good as finding new business models to profit from customer interest that technology makes possible.

Under pressure from all sides, Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office had dithered about so-called orphan works, books whose owners or authors are hard to find. Congress toyed with a test of requiring payment after a "reasonably diligent search" for the owners.

This vague standard "would have been a classic Washington solution to the problem," Lawrence Lessig said in an interview, "meaning it would have been a nightmare." Mr. Lessig, a Stanford law professor and author of several books on copyright, says the registry is a huge breakthrough because it ends uncertainty. "Establishing who owns what is real progress," he says. "An efficient solution can be found once there is settling of property rights."

Google still claims it has the right to index content on the Web for its search engine. Exactly what snippet or excerpt goes too far for fair use in other cases remains unclear. Under the registry it will set up, the owners of the intellectual property can set prices for book downloads, have a Google algorithm set prices, or refuse access altogether.

The market solution means Google will now offer millions of books for sale, sharing the proceeds with publishers and authors. Books long out of print will be searchable and available for a fee.

This is a sharp break from Google's approach of gaining access to content such as newspaper and magazine articles simply by providing advertising-supported links, though the company warns not to read too much into this precedent of agreeing to make direct payments for content or encouraging its users to pay for content online.

This shift by Google led Peter Osnos, founder of PublicAffairs books, to wonder if the book settlement could have lessons for other owners of content. "Google has now conceded, with a very large payment, that information is not free," Mr. Osnos wrote for the Century Foundation. "This leads to an obvious, critical question: Why aren't newspapers and news magazines demanding payment for use of their stories on Google and other search engines? Why are they not getting a significant slice of the advertising revenues generated by use of their stories via Google?"

Sometimes, maybe it's best when private entities are forced to figure out ways to deal with each other.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Never Steal a Law Student's Laptop

One would-be robber discovered why:

Then the robber made the mistake that ultimately landed him in the hospital -- he went for the laptop. According to Botsios [the student], he said "Dude, no -- please, no! I have all my case notes...that's four months of work!" Saucedo, obviously underestimating the fury of an overstressed, overworked first-year, was unsympathetic. That's when Botsios could take no more.

Wrestling Saucdeo to the floor, Botsios separated the bat from the thief and repeatedly punched him in the face. When it was all over, police had to get Saucedo stitched up before charging him with armed robbery and kidnapping, while Botsios only suffered some scrapes and a bruised knuckle. Most importantly, at least to the student, is that his laptop, which he called "his baby," escaped unharmed. Next time, Saucedo might want to try robbing a third-year student, as they're generally more docile.

Nobody comes between a law student and his laptop!

(Hat-tip: Kanita)