Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Open Thread: Raises

My employment anniversary is coming up soon, which means it's time to remind the boss that I need a raise. My Bentley ain't gonna pay for itself, right guys! Working for a small firm has its perks, but it also comes with some disadvantages, like a lack of set policies for bonuses/yearly raises.

My previous firm worked like clockwork. Each year on the dot, I got a letter from the partners telling me what my raise would be.  I would then spend the next week either doing the chicken-dance, or struggling with my sense of entitlement and wondering whether my ass was on the chopping block because I didn't get the raise I expected.

How does your firm handle raises? Do you have to remind your boss that you're worth more than they are paying you? Does the raise come automatically in the form of a letter from the accounting gods? If you are one of the lucky few to receive yearly raises, what percentage of your salary does it amount to?

Anything else going on out there in the legal community that you want to talk about? We usually get our best tips from the Friday Open Threads, so let it all hang out.

-JD

(Image from here)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Barry Levinson Believes that a Judge is There to be Your Guide

The RJ has finally picked up on the Markell smack-down of Barry Levinson and his former associate, Jeremy Mondejar, that was discussed thoroughly in our post on the subject. Normally I wouldn't want to beat this one to death, but the RJ was kind enough to get comments from Levinson! And oh boy are they fun! (Maybe one day when this blog is a respectable news outlet we'll reach out to lawyers for comments).

I hope Mondejar has strapped on his scape-goat pants today, because Levinson is throwing the blame his way.  Levinson says that he let go of Mondejar the day of the hearing, October 12, 2011, because Mondejar "really embarrassed me."  Levinson apparently fired Mondejar even though he believes Markell was "a little harsh on Jeremy, and maybe on me." Mondejar, for his part, declined to comment on the situation, either trying to show some class and move on, or because he didn't know that Levinson was throwing him under the bus.

The best part of the article comes when Levinson comments on whether a judge should sanction attorneys for attorneys who don't live up to the judge's standards.  Levinson believes "It's his job to help guide us; if we're having problems, he should guide us." Apparently legal courts should be more like American Idol than Judge Judy.

And I think he is right. Why should any of us lawyers have to learn the law? All these rules and stuff, they just give me headaches! I'd rather just show up at a hearing and hope that the judge tells me what to do. That's what I'm getting paid $300/hour to do, right?



-JD

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday Evening Tidbits


Image from: here
 A tipster* sent me this story over the weekend, and I thought it was . . . . interesting. 

According to a lawsuit recently filed by Las Vegas-based criminal defense attorney Gabriel Grasso, Florida-based celebrity attorney Yale Galanter received $500,000 for defending O.J. Simpson in his Las Vegas criminal case a few years ago, but concealed that payment in order to avoid paying Grasso his cut of the fees.  According to the lawsuit, despite their agreement whereby Galater would provide Grasso with 1/3 of the total fees paid by O.J., Grasso claims that Galanter pocketed the $500,000 and provided Grasso with just $15,000 to cover a ''small portion'' of Grasso's expenses.

In response, Galanter apparently filed his own lawsuit in Florida, suing Grasso, Josh Tomsheck - Grasso's attorney the above-mentioned case, and another Las Vegas attorney Malcom LaVergne - who assisted O.J. with his unsuccessful appeal.  The basis for Galanter's lawsuit is this allegedly slanderous AP article/interview wherein the three Las Vegas attorneys discuss Grasso's lawsuit. 

*Thanks for the tip!

In other news, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection received a total of 16 applications for appointment to fill two vacancies at the Eighth Judicial District Court in Las Vegas, which resulted from the retirements of District Judges Donald Mosley and Kathy Hardcastle.

Applicants for both vacancies are:
  • Caren Cafferata-Jenkins, 53, Carson City, State of Nevada, Commission on Ethics
  • Michael Davidson, 58, Las Vegas, Kolesar & Leatham
  • Craig B. Friedberg, 54, Las Vegas, Law Offices of Craig B. Friedberg
  • Bruce Gale, 57, Las Vegas, attorney in private practice
  • Mark L. Gentile, 52, Las Vegas, Gentile Law Group
  • David Huston, 68, Las Vegas, Law Office of David W. Huston
  • Russell Marsh, 50, Las Vegas, United States Attorney’s Office
  • Robert Spretnak, 51, Las Vegas, Law Offices of Robert P. Spretnak
  • John G. Watkins, 65, Las Vegas, Law Office of John G. Watkins
  • John H. Wright, 44, Las Vegas, Wright & Weiner, LTD
Applicants for the Department 4 (Hardcastle) vacancy only are:
  • Soonhee A.B. Bailey, 42, Las Vegas, Olson, Cannon, Gormley & Desruisseaux
  • Kerry Louise Earley, 60, Las Vegas, Richard Harris Law Firm
  • Marsha Kimble-Simms, 51, North Las Vegas, Simms Law Firm
  • Michael C. Mills, 55, North Las Vegas, Mills & Associates
  • Troy E. Peyton, 52, Las Vegas, Troy E. Peyton, PC
The applicant for the Department 14 (Mosley) vacancy only is:
  • Adriana Escobar, 53, Las Vegas, Office of the Nevada Attorney General
Next come the background investigations and interviews, which are tentatively scheduled for June 6-7, 2012, at the Supreme Court’s Las Vegas courtroom at the RJC.  The appointed judges must then run in the 2012 election and win to retain the seat.

Anyone care to share their thoughts on these candidates?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Open Thread: "Am I Lazy?" Edition

I try to keep up on the local job market "for blog research purposes," and the other day a job posting popped up on Craigslist that made me wonder about the work hour expectations of firms here in Nevada. This job post titled "Bankruptcy law firm seeks associate attorney" seeks an attorney with 1-3 years experience in bankruptcy law or similar legal experience. What caught my eye was this:

An Associate Attorney is expected to work a full work day including 8:30-6:30 Monday through Friday and 3 Saturdays per month.
I don't have such a problem with the 8:30-6:30 weekday hours, but the 3 Saturdays per month surprised me.

Without going into too many details, I work at a fairly small firm that is pretty laid back as far as "face-time" is concerned. As long as I'm putting in enough in billing at the end of the month, my boss doesn't concern himself with how much I'm in the office. That doesn't mean that I roll into the office at 10:00 and leave at 4:00 every day. I'm usually in the office over 40 hours a week and I'll work a Saturday here and there when necessary. But I have a family at home and my Saturdays are pretty sacred to me.

I understand that some people want to work for big firms that pay a lot of money but with that pay comes an expectation that you'll be billing a hell of a lot of hours. Some people, like me, choose to take less pay for more flexibility in their work hours. But something tells me that the bankruptcy firm in that job post is not looking to pay an associate big law firm money. I guess in this job market they can do that.

So my question is, what expectations does your firm have as far as time you spend in the office? If you are a partner or solo attorney, do you work three Saturday per month? Those of you who have families, do you have a conflict with the amount of hours your firm expects you to work, and if so, are you looking to move to a firm that offers more flexibility?

-JD

Friday, April 13, 2012

Late Wednesday "What the Hell" Post

Have you ever spent seven hours in a deposition, slowly realizing that you have a sinus infection coming on? I did today. I felt like I had a tiny baby growing in my forehead that was ready to bust out by the end of the depo.

So I thought I'd take a break from legal work to put up a post here to let you know that there's only two days left in the week and not much is going on in the legal world that I've seen. However, our Friday Open Thread once again proved to be the best source of information for local legal news, notifying us of a gem of an Order issued by Judge Markell. I realize that this is old news, already hitting Above the Law, but I want to preserve this for my all future generations of young lawyers who get in over their head at a new law firm. Apparently Judge Markell has a soft spot in his heart for Barry Levinson and Levinson's former associate, Jeremy Mondejar.

According to the Order, Jeremy Mondejar showed up for a Show Cause hearing late and unprepared, which resulted in "the lowest moment in attorney representation the court has ever witnessed." Wow. I wouldn't want to put that on my resume.

There's been some half-hearted defenders of Mondejar in the comments of the Open Thread, some speculating that Mondejar was set up for failure by Levinson. The other side of the coin is that Mondejar should always be prepared for a hearing, no matter what the circumstances may be. And according to the Order, this isn't the first time Mondejar has shown up unprepared.

I feel bad for the guy, personally. I can't say that I've ever had a judge issue a scathing Order about my legal capabilities, but there have been times where I've had to cover a hearing on short notice and floundered a bit. Unless Mondejar himself decides to weigh in, we'll never know what lead to this sad situation. Anybody who hasn't weighed in so far, read the Order below and feel free to let us know which team you're on: Team Markell, Team Mondejar, or Team Jacob!

-JD

Friday Open Thread: Friday the 13th Edition!

I realize it's lunch already, but it wouldn't be Friday without the Open Thread, you guys! Plus, as an added bonus, it's Friday the 13th!

What's happening in your neck of the woods? Does your paralegal listen to Top 40 music all day every day until you can't stand hearing Adele or Kelly Clarkson one more time? Mine does. Anybody else want to gripe about their office, boss, or staff? Let it all out. We're all friends here.

-JD

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Phil and Mary Brown Sue Anonymous "Lawyer"

This story has already taken hold in the comments of last week's Open Thread, but I thought I'd give you a dedicated forum to discuss it here. According to the RJ, an anonymous commenter is being sued by former Chief Deputy District Attorney Mary Brown and her husband, defense attorney and former prosecutor Phil Brown, for defamation. The anonymous commenter goes by the pseudonym "Lawyer" and has been posting on several RJ articles that Mary Brown "had sexual relations in order to get promoted."

"Lawyer" has hired former justice of the peace Tony Abbatangelo, who is hoping to quash a subpoena served on the Review-Journal for information about the commenter, including the person's e-mail address.

Although the article does not speculate as to who the anonymous commenter is (because that would be stupid), it does state that the accusation appeared five times on four stories about the Judge Jones-Lisa Willardson relationship. One of our eagle-eyed commenters also points out:
"the Motion to Quash states that it could be a man or woman but then states 'She has commented on judges that she thinks have wronged her.' Oops."

Abbatangelo's Motion to Quash claims that disclosure of his client's identity would effectively ruin his/her career. He also raises First Amendment concerns for protecting anonymous speech. What do you think, is Abbatangelo's client in trouble? Should the Court quash the subpoena? If not, should the true identity of "Lawyer" be revealed like they do at the end of every Scooby-Doo episode? Because that would make this even more interesting.

-JD

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Open Thread!

Image from: here
Rise and shine, Las Vegas legal community - and TGIF!  Prey tell, what's going on out there?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday Late Afternoon Randomness!

In reading the comments from last Friday's post about student loans and income, I got to wondering,  how far is the average Las Vegas attorney in debt and how much money do they make?  Feel free to comment here, or respond to the poll to the right..

Also, I think the commenter @4:50 yesterday raised an interesting argument with regard to this month's Communiqué.  Does anyone else have an issue with the "Fairytale" story on page 22?

And last but not least, it looks like the firm formerly known as Santoro, Driggs, Walch, Kearney, Holley, Woloson & Thompson teamed up with the law firm of John H. Cotton & Associates to form Cotton, Driggs, Walch, Kearney, Holley, Woloson & Thompson.  Meanwhile, it looks like Nick Santoro and the attorneys who left with him will be called Santoro Whitmire.