Lawyers top list of campaign contributors

A legal newspaper out in Los Angeles, the Daily Journal, has a piece today about law firms’ political donations. (Hat tip to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog and a bow to former Daily Record-ite Lawrence Hurley, who wrote the DJ piece. Longtime readers will remember him as the one with the great British accent.)

According to the Law Blog, Hurley writes that lawyers are the biggest contributors to the campaigns of both Democratic presidential candidates and the second-biggest to Republican John McCain.

The post also mentions that lawyers at Baltimore’s own home-grown megafirm, DLA Piper, have given Clinton nearly half a million. Wow.

I wonder how other firms around here stack up, donation-wise. I sense a story one of these days…

CARYN TAMBER, Legal Affairs Writer

Associate exodus: What’s really going on?

associate_retention.jpgCaryn Tamber’s story on associate retention has drawn some interesting comment on the ABA Journal’s Web site, where Martha Neil briefed it (and where, as of this afternoon, it’s at the top of the most-read stories list).

Here’s “Chicago 2L,” for example, on why big law firms lose associates:

“They hire only the privileged top graduates of elite law schools. Many of these people have never worked a day in their lives, and … the reality of the hard work soon puts them off.”

But “jack black” says firms, as well as the law schools that supply them, see associate exodus as not a flaw but a feature: “The law is all about churn and burn today.” And “been there done that” seconds that theme, with a possible explanation:

“I question the premise that big firms want their 5th year and up associates to stay. That is about the time when they become highly competent and clients start asking for them by name, which makes the originating partners nervous.”

All good stuff, but why should we let ABA readers have the last word on a Daily Record story? What’s your view — Is the Order of the Coif simply unsuited to the practice of law? Is the system designed for decampment? Or is there something else going on here?

BARBARA GRZINCIC, Managing Editor/Law

Bankruptcy judge hopes he’s bad for business – his own

A federal bankruptcy judge, concerned about the number of young adults in his courtroom, started the Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) Program several years ago to help high-school seniors and college freshmen — and many older adults, as well — appreciate the difference between a credit card and an ATM.

“They’re 18 years old and they’re being bombarded with credit-card offers for the first time,” says Judge John C. Ninfo II, of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Western New York, in the April issue of The Third Branch: Newsletter of the Federal Courts. “They’re hungry consumers and they’re getting their first taste of freedom. They’re the ones who are really at risk. They treat a credit card as if it’s an ATM machine on somebody else’s account. They don’t even think of it as debt.”

The CARE Program’s Web site has a “Top 10” list of financial tips for high-school and college students, with some classic bits of advice (pay your bills on time; create a budget) and some that are bit more modern (avoid impulse shopping on the Internet; abusing credit cards can cost you a job or keep you out of graduate school).

With contacts in all 50 states, the program also can help arrange “financial literacy” seminars at high schools and colleges.

“Usually, judges only get involved with social problems after the problems have turned into disasters…,” one fellow jurist writes on the Web site; but the CARE program “allows judges to become part of the solution by helping young persons learn to manage debt before they are in over their heads.”

Sure, it might sound like wishful thinking or preaching to the choir – but do you have a better idea?

STEVE LASH, Legal Affairs Writer