Blawg Review #273

The future of the legal industry? Photo by brookenovak.

We’ve had the honor of being selected to host this week’s Blawg Review. Blawg Review is a long-running carnival of legal blog posts with a rotating cast of hosts, each offering their own spin on what’s bubbling up in their practice areas. So, without further ado, the following hot news on three important topics we discuss frequently on 95years – the music industry, journalism, and the legal industry.

The Future of the Music Industry

We would be remiss not to lead with this post from Ray Beckerman’s Recording Industry vs. the People blog, which chronicles the RIAA’s oft-questionable fight against piracy. Ray’s post set the Internet ablaze by revealing that after throwing close to $64 million at Biglaw firms over the past 3 years, the industry group has only managed to recover $1.3 million from lawsuits and settlements.

Clearly, lawsuits and settlements are failing to make up the digital divide. But record sales were not traditionally where musicians made their money–the big bucks have traditionally come from touring. The success of festivals like Coachella and tours like Lady Gaga’s wildly popular Monster Ball had convinced many in the music industry that live events would remain a welcoming port in the storm for artists.

This week, however, megapromoter Live Nation watched its stock slip a whopping 21% after announcing a major decline in ticket sales.  This included a 15% drop in sales for the company’s top 100 tours. Music industry blog Digital Music News sifted through the company’s presentation and breaks down the anatomy of a concert ticket. Worth noting is that roughly 25% of a ticket price comes from every concertgoer’s favorite – the “service fee.”

The Future of the Journalism Industry

The journalism industry is struggling as well, as daily print newspaper readership continues to decline along with advertising revenues. Patrick at Popehat reports on a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed in which Columbia University president Lee Bollinger advances one potential solution: increased public funding for journalism.

Patrick is, shall we say, a little skeptical that the news media would be able to remain objective in its reporting about the government after an influx of public funds. Noting that CNN “has been nearly alone among big media types in seriously complaining about government restrictions in reporting on the [Gulf oil] disaster,” he asks, “would CNN have the guts to do so if it was expecting a big check from a very political administration at the end of the quarter?”

The Future of the Legal Industry

Further belaboring the “in this economy” theme, let’s turn to law practice. Summer associate season is in full swing, and as both writers of this blog are hardworking ‘08 grads, we’re slowly getting used to getting unfairly painted with the “slackoisie” brush.  Summers at Paul Hastings aren’t exactly helping the cause, as this interview with hiring partner Leigh Ryan, entitled “Lose the Arrogance and the Chewing Gum,” points out.

If you’re not sure what we mean by “slackoisie,” visit What About Clients? or Simple Justice, where blawgers Dan Hull (WAC?) and Scott Greenfield (SJ) are apt to be discussing the deficiencies of the younger generation of attorneys, characterizing us as “Teletubbies” (Hull) or a “generation of entitled narcissists” (Greenfield). Just this past week, Hull’s alter ego, Holden Oliver, went to town on Law People’s post “Will Law Schools Help Build a Healthier Profession?”, which argues that law schools have an obligation to concern themselves with students’ psychological health and help those students “understand [their] strengths and values and how well they match with those of the profession and individual firm [they hope] to join.” (Note: I originally mentioned Eric Turkewitz as a frequent critic of young attorneys; although he’s blogged on the “slackoisie,” I really meant Scott Greenfield, who coined the phrase “generation of entitled narcissists,” per Mr. Turkewitz.)

Hull/Oliver’s response was that law is a tough business and that it would be better to sift out our generation’s psychologically fragile “lames” and “weenies” before they graduate law school and weaken the ranks of the profession any further. This argument, based on the unstated presumption that lawyers should aspire to and prepare for practice in a private firm with corporate clients, ignores the fact that Type-A obsessiveness is not necessarily an asset in every area of the law. For instance, I’m not sure you’d want your collaborate divorce attorney to be a wallpaper-chewing workaholic.

What’s more, LP’s post correctly presumes that there are people in law school, or already finished with law school, who aren’t going to do well in certain work environments common in law practice, and from that premise simply concludes that law schools should work to give those people, already on their way to becoming lawyers, the self-knowledge to help them find appropriate niches.

That said, WAC? isn’t wrong when it states that lawyering is in most instances a tough, stressful and competitive profession, and it is becoming even moreso as the legal industry struggles with the recession. Given that, why even go to law school in 2010?  At Above the Law, editor David Lat offers “In Defense of Going to Law School.” It’s a valiant effort, but by his third bullet point–”What else are you going to do with yourself?”–it’s clear that the pro-law-school argument is a hard one to make at present.

(Oh and if you’re wondering why we young lawyers are such entitled weenies: like everything else, it’s probably the legal system’s fault in the first place. See Walter Olson’s post on Overlawyered entitled “Courts Reward Helicopter Parents.”)

Back to those of us already through the law-school wringer: if Biglaw increasingly disdains newly minted JDs, where should we bother to look for jobs? Document review is always an option. The pay is decent, and the low level of accountability and countless hours spent in front of a computer works well for this apparently lazy, tech-obsessed generation. There’s even a slim chance that the pay rate is about to go up. A New York contract attorney is suing Labaton Sucharow, claiming that the firm was required to pay him overtime for any hours worked over 40 per week.

There are two ways this case can go. Either it gets thrown out because New York state recognizes the Fair Labor Standards Act’s professional exemption for lawyers, or the court holds that document review is not actually considered the practice of law. Don’t count on the latter, though–especially not in the Southern District of New York.

Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

–Joe and Richard

This entry was posted by Joe on Monday, July 19th, 2010 at 10:40 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response below, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. July 19th, 2010

    @ 11:20 am

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by blawgreview and jp, 95years. 95years said: New On 95Years: Blawg Review #273 http://bit.ly/9tP1fm #blawgreview #documentreview #livenation #medialaw #riaa #slackoisie [...]

  2. July 19th, 2010

    @ 12:30 pm

    Eric T. posted:

    >>a “generation of entitled narcissists” (Turkewitz)<<

    The phrase belongs to Scott Greenfield.

  3. July 19th, 2010

    @ 12:59 pm

    Richard posted:

    Noted.

  4. July 19th, 2010

    @ 5:25 pm

    lawyer posted:

    Re: “slackoisie”

    Who’s the bigger narcissist, the one who is self-aware enough to recognize a problem and work toward a solution, or the one who latches on to a weak premise based on nothing more than mere anecdotes and obsesses about it daily? There’s a reason why Hull and Greenfield are echo chambers of each other and attract nobody else.

  5. July 19th, 2010

    @ 8:13 pm

    [...] Things that suck: the music industry, the journalism industry, the legal industry, etc. [Nintyfiveyears via Blawg [...]

  6. July 20th, 2010

    @ 1:22 am

    Dan Hull posted:

    Hey, brave “lawyer posted”:

    You one of my firm’s 50+ very expensive anecdotes between 2006 and 2010? I sense you are.

    Questions: How’s that job hunt goin’ in Flint? Learn to proofread yet? Still shake when you work past 5? You ever lose that sashay? And, whoa, “echo chambers of each other”? Ah, you got me, pard. Just died and went to Hallmark. Are you 26? Maybe a Texas A&M grad, too? 5′6″? 280 pounds?

    Scott Greenfield? He has worked his ass off. He’s rich. Courtroom magic man and very fine writer. Powerful. Connected. He even has a nice voice. People want to interview him. Men like him. And women love him (well, there, I have no idea why). He’s a stand-up guy. Likes difficult challenges.

    How about you? Scott eats big steaks–and with the right wines–every night with his gorgeous family on his palatial estate. And you? Macaroni and cheese with your cat, Big Al, maybe? Aren’t you tried of hiding and failing? Don’t you feel like ending it all some days? Bet you do. But try work.

    Note, too: Real narcissists have real names.

    Thanks, again, for all your courage over the years. And willingness to take big risks and do hard things.

  7. July 20th, 2010

    @ 1:23 pm

    Sensible Old Fart posted:

    I think Hull’s comical “I’ve got balls of big steel” joke of a comment speaks for itself in ways he didn’t entirely intend.

    The guy decrying those damned kids these days as narcissists is responding to blog comments at 1:22am because somebody anonymous on the Internet didn’t sufficiently respect his Steak Eating Man status. Really? Hey Danny, do you have a Google Alert out for your own name or something? Because if you do, that sounds a bit narcissistic, and if you don’t, you’re wasting a lot of time scanning blog comments when you should be working, or sleeping so you can work harder, you silly windbag. On what did you base your condescending assumptions about that commenter’s life, by the way? The simple fact that he doesn’t agree with your tedious pet cause? That’s weak. Attorneys should have better reasoning skills than that.

    This slagging on the younger generation in the legal industry sounds like the same kind of pointless and hypocritical griping that our generation does everywhere else. All the Serious Adults whining that college grads these days are so lazy because so many of them live at home are willfully ignoring the fact that our generation ran up housing prices to astronomical levels and destroyed the economy, leaving a lot of those kids few other options. Same with when I was a young associate in BigLaw – we didn’t have to bill as many hours as we’re asking of these kids, and I wouldn’t be shocked if you didn’t either, Hull. Then our entire profession got greedy, and we raced each other up to these stupidly high totals we’re billing today.

    Todays young attorneys are no good hippies the same way we were when we were their age. Which is to say, they’re doing what young folks have always done at their age, and you’re doing what old folks have always done at our age, which is bitch about it out of some creeping realization that we’re growing older every day and soon enough they’ll be nipping at our heels. So from your position of authority, you tell everyone you can how worthless these kids are so you can enjoy a sense of moral superiority. It’s as classic a mid-life crisis move as buying a Corvette or Porsche and driving it around with the matching logo baseball cap. And neither act is as flattering as the actors seem to think.

    The kids these days have grown up with faster-paced education and more heavily packed schedules than we ever had. They’ve grown up navigating a world overloaded with information and they know how to use time-saving technologies better than we do, for the most part. The sky isn’t falling and while your inner old fogey may take some sense of satisfaction from railing constantly about how it is, in the end that’s just a bunch of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Give your blood pressure a break and relax. It’ll keep you alive, eating steak and posting about how great you are on the Internet longer.

    (P.s. – pointing out that narcissists use their real names, while posting with your real name, to accuse someone else, posting under a pseudonym, of being a narcissist? Classic! How do you come up with this stuff?)

  8. July 20th, 2010

    @ 10:33 pm

    Mirriam posted:

    I love Blawg review, I really do. It gives me a chance to check out blogs I probably wouldn’t otherwise get to read. I really do wish, though, that less attention was paid to this whole ’slackoisie’ phenomenon.

    By the way, I’ll second Dan on SHG. I don’t know about his house or what he eats, but he’s probably one of the nicest guys around.

  9. July 21st, 2010

    @ 5:04 pm

    Dan Hull posted:

    Mirriam, 2 things: –

    1. He is, sometimes, mainly.

    2. Listen up. I hate the slackoisie’ phenomenon. But it needs to talked about non-stop. It’s a huge and expensive ($) problem that hurts good clients. And a war for quality. Really is. There are solutions but those solutions can’t hurt employers.

    Right now too many (all ages) are in denial about it. Logic and studies and calm discourse have failed. Humor and hyperbole is often all you’ve got to get it too sink in.

    We have an utterly failed generation in our workplaces. There are lots of them. It does not matter who made them so helpless. We just have to fix it. First, education. Any way we can do it.

    It’s about customers, clients and a profession–not vitriol and fun.

    Dan

  10. July 21st, 2010

    @ 5:06 pm

    Dan Hull posted:

    Whoa–should be “to sink in.” Sorry.

  11. July 28th, 2010

    @ 5:32 am

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