Thursday, January 31, 2013

Now There's An App For That!

As much as we love to complain about the RJC, it's just as much fun to laud it when it gets something right and, so far, 2013 is looking like a banner year. Hot on the heels of the opening of eight additional courtrooms to end the problematic courtroom sharing, the RJC has pulled a rabbit out of its hat--an app called CourtFinder.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, the new app was the brainchild of Judge David Barker. Available for both Android and Apple's iOS (click-through to download, sorry--no luck for those of you still holding on to your crackberry or on the cutting edge with your Windows Phone), the app is described as follows:

CourtFinder is an app that allows you to download and read the current day docket for courtroom matters being heard throughout the Regional Justice Center & Family Court Buildings in Las Vegas, Nevada. CourtFinder features an interactive display that is user friendly. Browse through the RJC & Family Court dockets and tap a matter to display the corresponding description. Or, use the intuitive Search feature on the home page! Don’t forget to stop by the CourtFinder FAQ section for beneficial news and tips.
As you will have noted, the app does not include security line wait times.

Will this app change the world? Probably not. Will this app be useful and make you more productive? That's a solid maybe. Is it a good idea? Straight up! The bottom line is the RJC is making an effort to make things run smoother. We applaud their efforts and salute Judge Barker for putting the idea out there.

So, do any of you geniuses have any bright ideas for apps or additions to the CourtFinder app that would make it better?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Frodo v. the Fellowship or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Going Solo

The last post on attorney salaries in Las Vegas turned up two very contrasting comments about hanging a shingle. We turn first to Anonymous #1, who we'll call Frodo:

Frodo said...

My own firm. A couple of hundred k. Happier and healthier. Vacation when I want. Work as hard as I want. Every dime I make, I "make." No passive aggressive overlords issuing arbitrary rules ever other day. No politics. I love being a lawyer.
January 28, 2013 at 9:28 AM
Later in the day, we got a different view point from Anonymous #2, the Fellowshipper:
The Fellowhipper said...
Since this is confidential...I tried going out on my own a few years ago when I got laid off. I gave it a try for a year. I barely made any money. Was working 12 hours a day trying to run the business and practice law at the same time. My wife was preggo, so I started looking for a job and found one. Making about $100K as a fifth-year. Mid-sized firm. Way better than all the work I was doing as a solo.
January 28, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Obviously, no two people are going to have the same exact experience with going out on their own, but which one of these descriptions of solo practice is more accurate? Are they both dead on or is the Fellowshipper just jealous of Frodo? It sounds like quite a few of our young lawyers out there are unhappy with their current situation--so what is holding you back from going out on your own (is it lack of experience, just being risk adverse, or something else)?
Or perhaps is there a need for the fellowship one experiences in the firm environment? The Fellowshipper seems very content now to be part of the team with more security. We'd like to hear all of your thoughts, but especially Frodo. What does it take to go out on your own?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Salary for Legal Jobs in Las Vegas

Let's get back to one of our favorite topics--getting paid! Judging by how often it comes up in the comments of unrelated posts, this is one of your favorite topics too. It is such a broad topic and difficult to discuss for many reasons, the first of which is that many employers don't want you to be having this conversation because they're afraid you'll realize how much you're actually underpaid and that the wizard is really just a little man behind a curtain.  

Because of the breadth of this topic, let's start out with a few pieces of information. According to a Las Vegas Sun article dated September 2, 2012, in 2011, the mean (or average for those lawyers reading this) annual salary for lawyers in Las Vegas was $118,390. The article does not account for where it got is numbers. Another Sun article, reporting on the Young Lawyers 2011 compensation survey, reported that the average salaries for attorneys who have practiced 5 years or less was in the range of $80,000 to $85,000. The same article also notes that the average starting salary for Boyd grads was $71,456. Finally, according to an unverified source calling himself Dr. Evil, there are some partners that made ONE MILLION DOLLARS in 2011!  (Can you even imagine?) 

So, what can we tell from this small sampling of numbers. After the obvious disclaimer that these numbers may not be accurate, the most obvious fact is that there is a very wide range of salaries in Las Vegas. Beyond that, all else is speculation (except for county employee salaries which are available here). And that's where we invite your comments.  

To help get you started, we quote one of our frequent commenters, Jordan Ross, who recently posted, "As a VERY rough rule of thumb, assume that general commercial firms are all within about 15% plus or minus of each other. Then assume that the high volume commercial firms are about the same with an overall range about 25-30% less than the general commercial firms. Retail firms are usually about on a par with the County Counsel's office."

What are your thoughts? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Post-Inauguration/MLK, JR Day Hangover

Did you enjoy the long weekend? Did you get a long weekend?

For those of you who don't get out much, the Regional Justice Center now has 8 additional courtrooms opened on the 3rd floor. The new courtrooms means the end of courtroom sharing and the beginning of taking the escalator to the 3rd floor for 8 different departments. For more details, see the RJ. The escalators, as opposed to the elevator, are an efficient means of getting you to the courtroom on time. Anyone got the over/under on how long it will be before the escalators break down and everyone is back in line at the elevator?

In all the excitement last week, it appears we missed one attorney story. According to Fox 5 Vegas, Charles C. Lobello pleaded guilty to tax evasion and was sentenced to two years in prison and $260,265 in restitution to the IRS. (Not to be confused with his brother who went to prison on a similar charge in 2008.) No mention on his status with the bar.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Well, now. Wasn't That Exciting?

As you no doubt saw in the last post and the comments, this week has seen three more Nevada lawyers indicted. Two in the HOA scheme and one in mortgage fraud (only one pleaded guilty). These were not the first and are most certainly not the last, but it begs the questions, do Nevada lawyers have a problem? Perhaps it only appears to be the case (because we all know these types of things are not geographically isolated), but Nevada seems to have an inordinate amount of lawyer/judge disciplinary issues given the size of the profession here. That leads to two questions we want your input on:

1. Does Nevada have more of an ethics problem than other jurisdictions?

2. If so, why is that the case? Is it the environment, a lack of regulation, too much regulation, too much sun, etc?

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Cold Now, But Things Are Heating Up!

Now for this week's forecast. It's going to be cold for one more night with the hard freeze warning continuing until Tuesday morning. Sometime this week, maybe as early as today, things will start heating up again. The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that it is likely federal prosecutors will seek indictments against as many as another dozen defendants in the HOA scheme this week, in what may be the culmination of an epic battle between good and evil. As you may recall, the investigation first came to light nearly five years ago in 2008 and has taken many twists and turns along the way with several deaths, rumors of local judges being potential targets for the indictments, and the installation of a Capriotti's in the Regional Justice Center. Anyone want to make any predictions about how this fizzles plays out? 

In other news, also according to the RJ, Judge Steven Jones and his attorney, James Jimmerson, are challenging the authority of the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. The article notes that Jimmerson and Jones (new law firm name if Jones is removed from the bench?) contend that "the commission 'has exceeded its jurisdiction' in the case and 'does not have power to discipline' the judge." We have not seen the briefing, but does anyone have any thoughts on whether the Judicial Commission has authority to take action against Judge Jones?  

UPDATE 1/15/13:  The RJ reports that local attorneys Keith Gregory and Barry Levinson were among the final batch of indictments along with the "ringleader" Leon Benzer.  Despite the gossip, no judge was indicted.  True story or typical Nevada backroom justice?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The State of the Market

While we would still appreciate more comments on where to find jobs, let's shift topics slightly to what kind of jobs are out there. BCG Attorney Search recently posted its "Winter State of the Market" report (scroll down a little on that link to get to Las Vegas). In short, their assessment was that they had expected the Las Vegas legal market to bounce back by now, but it has not yet--give it another year. Also, they identify litigation at the sole hot practice area, with labor/employment and patent prosecution as practice areas that are growing/steady. As for dead practice areas, they single out bankruptcy, but then include a laundry list of other civil practice areas that have little activity, including trust and estates and construction. The report makes no mention of criminal law.

So, what are your thoughts on the state of the market. Please fill us in on your practice area. Is bankruptcy really dead? Is criminal law holding steady? What are your thoughts on changing practice areas--is it possible/reasonable to go from civil law to criminal law or vice-versa? Or, is it true that whatever practice area you end up in fresh out of law school is where you are doomed to spend your legal existence?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Finding Legal Jobs in Las Vegas

Let's start talking about jobs. It's clear from the comments that this is a major topic of concern, so let's start with the basics. In other words, before we get into salary and benefits, let's discuss where to find jobs. I know some of you may be upset if we reveal your sources of job listings, but just remember that the more under-qualified resumes an employer sees in response to a listing, the more impressive your resume will appear to be. Thus, this only helps you. Also, we want this blog to be a resource for the legal community, so help a sister/brother out and spill the beans on where to find the jobs. The following is a list of some resources, please suggest others in the comments:

1. Talk to people you know. This one is a line of crap from the OCS offices. No one you know ever gets you a job, unless his name is "Daddy." The most others usually do is tell you about a place to send your resume. You can certainly email your resume to people you know, but it will generally be a wasted effort other than to let them know you're looking. Some of your best chances are to apply to posted jobs. That said, leave no stone unturned and take advantage of every leg up you're given. 

2. UNLV OCS. Primarily for UNLV alum. Probably not too many jobs you cannot find elsewhere. Talk to a Boyd grad and they'll hook you up.

3. Click on "For Lawyers," then "Find a Job."Or just click here. This is a good source, but tends to be lightly populated--probably because employers have to pay to post listings here.

4.  Pretty self explanatory. Use your brain when applying to jobs here. According to our sources, some of these listings are just other job seekers trying to find out the going rate.

5. This site is probably the best aggregator of legal jobs. It usually picks up the jobs posted on and from the RJ as well as many other sources. 

6. Clark County jobs. This is where you will find postings for District Attorney/County jobs.

7. This is a list of Nevada State unclassified jobs, i.e. Supreme Court clerk jobs, administrative attorney jobs, etc. 

8. The Federal government's jobs website. 

9. Recruiters. This is a hit and miss source of jobs. While we appreciate their service (and involvement in the comments of many posts here), recruiters are not always the answer. When you go through a recruiter, the firm hiring you is going to be paying them a handsome fee. What does that mean for your salary? Recruiters cannot do much for first years, it is just a fact of life. Firms do not generally pay people to find them brand new attorneys. Once you have a few years under your belt and perhaps a book of business, recruiters can be useful. Go ahead and send your resume to recruiters though. The worst that can happen is they will let you know about jobs for which you may qualify. 

10. ??? What else? Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back to Life, Back to Reality

For those of you just joining us fresh off your two week vacation to Hawaii for the holidays, welcome back. We envy you. While you were gone, the rest of us continued on with the daily grind. Even our most illustrious illusion of industry, the Supreme Court of Nevada, managed to crank out seven opinions on December 27, including one explaining how open and obvious is not an automatic defense to tort liability. Meanwhile that same day, Clark County's esteemed District Attorney, Steve Wolfson, took advantage of another slow news day about the fiscal cliff to file charges against the two Berkeley law students who allegedly beheaded Turk the bird at the Flamingo. Speaking of the fiscal cliff, a deal was reached yesterday that almost certainly guarantees your taxes are going up this year--are you still wishing you would have gotten that raise that pushed you into the next tax bracket or are you just thankful that the wise old partner at your firm decided to obviate that risk for you by facing it on his own and keeping all of last year's profits for himself.

For those of you who were busy working during the last two weeks of the year and still had time to comment here, we salute you. We enjoyed the comments on the last post and plan on talking more about salary and jobs in the coming weeks since it is now January and the annual game of musical firms can officially recommence. We're looking forward to an exciting 2013. Anyone have any predictions for lucky number '13?