18 July 2005

CrimLaw v. BigLaw

This firm tells law students that they shouldn't go practice criminal law and then try for a career in BigLaw.

Skelly skewers them. 123txpublicdefender123 has flashbacks. Gideon lights into 'em.

Y'know, I've seen BigLaw guys make forays into criminal court before. A guy comes in in the suit that looks like it cost more than I earned all of last month, he has diamond studded cuff links, and his hair is perfectly coiffed. He might as well tattoo "I don't belong" on his forehead. It can be pretty painful to watch as prosecutors {a} have a merry old time gently roasting him over the flames of Tartarus, or {b} get extremely upset because a 5 minute driving suspended case turned into a 45 minute fiasco and lash out.

I think I could transit to a job where I sit in an office and prepare briefs all day long at least that well.


Anonymous said...

Gerry Spence, Roy Black, Johnnie Cochran, Clarence Darrow, Mevlin Belli, William Kunstler...

It wasn't 'biglaw' that made me want to be a lawyer. It sure wasn't corporations and their money that made me dream it when I was 15 and 16.

Anonymous said...

The webpage was ridiculous and probably was not written by a real lawyer. Likewise, I seriously doubt any lawyer wants to brag to their clients that they have “social skills” when “social skills” are supposed to be so subtle that nobody knows you are being “socially skilled.”

But, the issue isn’t this simple.

Perhaps, from time to time, it is good to have lawyers from out of town come in and ignore the legal culture and shorthands that are used, seek extraordinary relief, and not bother to curry favor with prosecutors and other members of the bar.

Working (at least for a couple of years) at BIGLAW will teach people some skills, especially if you can avoid doing document review. But, by no means, do the numerous people who work for two years (without a prior clerkship), and then leave come away with more experience than a DA or a PD.

Anonymous said...

One other thing worth nothing: this firm is hardly a large firm. In fact, in BIGLAW parlence it doens't even qualify as a "Radio Shack" firm.

Anonymous said...

That's true - as some of the comments on my blog have pointed out - the firm is more like a small to medium sized firm.

That shouldn't detract from the underlying message in the story/article/recruitment memo: govt. jobs will not prepare you - even disqualify you - from holding a job at a law firm in the private sector.

It's irrelevant that that particular firm is smalllaw; the author seems to say that the (lack of) skills acquired as a PD and/or DA will render one useless to all small/medium/BIGLAW.

That is precisely what I think is ridiculous and take issue with.

Not that I want a small/medium/BIGLAW job anyway.

Mister DA said...

I agree with Ken, it's always fun to deal with the pompus civil lawyer who vaguely remembers something or other his crim law or crim pro professor said 20 or 30 years ago. It's not really the out of town lawyer, per se, who provides this level of diversion -- we see plenty of out of towners who know what's what and also know enough to know what they don't know about the local bench and bar. No, it's the civil practitioner who thinks that crimial law and procedure is for the slow and simple and being a lofty civil attorney, because he can navigate the intricies of the UCC or the probate code, he is automatically gifted with the knowledge and experience he needs to understand the penal code and the common law of crimes.

The best fun is when they pull out some Hollywood convention and think it's the way the real law works. I had one silk-suited partner in a pretty good sized firm from the big city down south of us show up to defend the son of a major client on a felony drunk driving charge. The defendant was totally uncooperative and the officers obtained a search warrant for blood, which was duly analyzed by the crime lab as a .21 by weight - over twice the per se limit in those days. After my officer testified, subject to a very strange cross examination, and I had made my motion to send the case to the general trial court, the ace defender of the downtrodden played his trump card - he demaned the judge dismiss the case outright because the arresting officer never Mirandized the defendant! The judge, an old warhorse who'd done it all before assending to the bench, waited for him to finish. And waited, and waited. Finally he said, "Yes, and. . ." Silk-suit begins to get a hint that something is not quite right here and replies "But, your Honor, they have to read him his rights when they arrest him. If they don't the arrest is bad and all the evidence is fruit of the poisonous vine." I sware to God, the courtroom, pretty noisy, like all arraignment courtrooms, went dead still. The judge was clearly at a loss for words. Finally he managed to get out, "Counsel, they never had an opportunity to question your client and the evidence was collected pursuant to a search warrant . . ." he paused to review the file. "that I signed!" Miranda never came into it. Bound over for trial."

One of our local criminal specialists went up to the poor bastard and pressed his business card on him, saying "Call me."

Anonymous said...

... and, of course, this was cast as an incompetent southern judge... just like the DAs assume happens when someone is acquitted.

Anonymous said...

From what I can gather, the law firm made the argument that a couple years practicing as a PD or prosecutor wouldn't prepare someone for the type of practice they would have at a law firm. The blogger, and several of the comments have attacked this argument by pointing out that practicing at a law firm doesn't necessarily prepare you for trial practice. It appears that those making the criticism are in fact making the same argument. Further, I think fundamentally, both are correct. Learning to do one thing, doesn't mean you will be be prepared to do another, even if it is related. Being good, even excellent, at one type of endeavor doesn't necessarily mean you will be even adequate at another.

Micheal Jordan was arguably the best basketball player that ever lived, but that didn't help him hit a curve ball. Both basketball and baseball require a certain amount of athletic ability and skill, and it is possible for one person to be exceptional at both (see, e.g. Danny Ainge and Dave Winfield) but being good at one won't make you good at the other, and learning to do one won't necessarily help you with the other. If you want to be a great basketball player you should play basketball, and if you want to be a great baseball player you should play baseball.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but wonder if the District Attorney or Public Defenders in Nevada has seen this. I suspect that this firm might have a little trouble getting help with traffic offenses or other criminal offenses.

Any Nevada attorneys out there who know of this firm and its reputation, since it stands behidn its reputation?