Patterico's Pontifications


It’s Hard to Get Good Help These Days

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 6:41 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Look what top law firms do to attract young lawyers:

“In Perkins Coie’s Chicago office, members of the firm’s “happiness committee” recently left candied apples on everyone’s desks. Last month, the happiness committee surprised lawyers, paralegals and assistants in the Washington office with milkshakes from a local Potbelly Sandwich Works, a favorite lunch spot.

“That’s the whole beauty of it all — it’s random acts of kindness,” said Lori Anger, client relations manager of Perkins Coie, which is based in Seattle. “We have pretty strict hours, so it’s a nice way to surprise people.”
The benefits go beyond the laptops and BlackBerrys, late-night rides home, Friday beer-and-pretzel fests and sports tickets that are standard fare at many large and midsize law firms. Many of the new perks recognize a lifestyle change that law firms are just coming to grips with.
On offer now are concierge services, in which a lawyer can have the equivalent of a personal valet pick up theater and sports tickets, the dry cleaning, take a car to the repair shop or even choose a Halloween costume.

“We compete in terms of having a life,” Ms. Anger said. “We don’t compete by dangling a lot of material perks.” Unusual in the industry, Perkins Coie offers pet insurance.”

Starting salaries for associates can be $160,000 in top markets, with bonuses of $45,000 to $85,000, but billable hour requirements have also continued to increase. In addition, firms offer benefits like on-site child care or paid emergency nannies, sabbaticals, and more:

“For example, Sullivan & Cromwell, another old-line firm, with more than 600 lawyers, guarantees the first $100,000 of mortgages of associates who have been with the firm for at least six months.

DLA Piper, the nation’s largest law firm, reimburses employees $2,000 when they buy a hybrid car. Fulbright & Jaworski offers on-site tailoring and reimbursements to employees who buy a Subaru, Nissan or General Motors vehicle. “In our business, people are our main asset so our benefits are designed to keep people happy and healthy,” a spokesman for DLA Piper, Jason Costa, said.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, a 600-lawyer firm based in New York, offers employees a service akin to a personal issues coach and psychotherapist through a deal with Corporate Counseling Associates of Manhattan. The consulting firm has a battery of staff psychologists and social workers to provide advice on issues including stress, anxiety, depression and divorce.”

Depending on where the firm is located, additional perks include catered food, yoga, or recliners:

“The new perks are separate from the wining and dining that top law firms conduct each year for their summer associates, whom they hope to lure back after they finish law school.

Still, the parties and the food for lawyers are getting better. “We’re not talking a ham sandwich and a cup of coffee anymore,” said William M. O’Connor, a partner in the boutique litigation firm of Crowell & Moring, which is based in Washington. Crowell & Moring recently began giving wine parties at its New York office, with tuna tartare, baby lamb chops and vegetable trays. One associate requested that the firm “explore Spanish wines,” a spokeswoman related, so Crowell & Moring recently provided bottles of a 2001 Rondan and a 2005 Olivares Altos de la Hoya.

At Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s New York office, lawyers who work into the evenings can have dinner delivered, on a silver tray, from the Palm restaurant, a hot spot for media and financial executives.
It is true that many of the perks have a lifestyle flavor. O’Melveny & Myers, a large California-based law firm with offices in Asia, holds yoga classes at its Newport Beach office for lawyers and their staffs.

And Kilpatrick Stockton, a large firm with offices throughout the Southeast, has a nap room in its Raleigh, N.C., office, complete with a reclining chair, sofa and travel alarm clock. “Yes, it gets used, “ said Carol Vassey, the chief administrator in the Raleigh office, though rarely for more than 15 minutes at a time.”

Not everyone likes the new legal order:

“Forget the pet insurance and concierge services: that’s setting up people’s lives, and I find that appalling,” said Mitchell S. Roth, a principal at Much Shelist Denenberg Ament & Rubenstein, a comparatively small firm based in Chicago. “The perk we offer in our world is a culture of collegiality and training.”

Still, Mr. Roth acknowledged that Much Shelist occasionally brought in a masseuse. “It’s for morale,” he said.”

It’s a battle for talent. May the best firm win, although clients don’t seem as supportive of this as attorneys are. Maybe it has something to do with being charged $300+/hour.


The Three-Strike Rule for Wolves

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 5:49 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson wants the US Fish & Wildlife Department to help find three missing NM wolves:

“Gov. Bill Richardson is asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to double its efforts to find a group of endangered Mexican gray wolves that has gone missing in southwestern New Mexico. The disappearance of the three-member Durango pack from its range in the Gila National Forest has dealt another blow to the federal government’s efforts to return the animals to the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.

Richardson, in a statement issued Wednesday, called the development “disturbing.” Officials with the Fish and Wildlife Service say the last signals from the collars of the pack’s male and female were received Nov. 1. A search has turned up no signs of the wolves. Elizabeth Slown, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service, told the Albuquerque Journal in a copyright story that it’s possible to disable a collar. She added: “A person could do that; a bear couldn’t.”

Ranchers in the area have been critical of the wolf reintroduction program since it began in 1998 and have complained about wolves killing their livestock.”

Local officials had previously notified the government that the Alpha male was dangerous:

“The Catron County Commission on Nov. 7 told the federal agency it intended to trap the pack’s alpha male, known as AM973, as a “dangerous wolf.” County officials said the wolf repeatedly showed up near a home on the Adobe Ranch.
Parsons said lone wolves are more likely to roam over large distances, but packs tend to stay in established territories and the Durango pack was known to hang around one ranch.

“It would be unusual for them to just go completely out of radar range,” he said.”

I doubt the local residents find this response comforting. However, I didn’t know the government has a three-strike rule for wolves:

“In July, Fish and Wildlife shot the Durango pack’s alpha female in Catron County, less than a week after cattle killings that subjected the wolf to a three strikes rule.

The reintroduction program requires the permanent removal of any wolf linked to three livestock killings a year – either by trapping and keeping it in captivity or by shooting it.

The wolf had killed two head of livestock before being relocated to Catron County on April 25. The day after her release, county officials demanded she be removed before she had a chance to kill again. Fish and Wildlife said at the time it had no reason to remove her under the three-strikes rule.

The county in June issued a notice of intent to trap the female and turn her over to the agency because she was stalking the Adobe Ranch. The county’s wolf incident investigator did not immediately trap the animal, however, and the federal agency issued the lethal order for the wolf after the killings of a cow and calf.

It amazes me we give wolves three chances. The law doesn’t recognize a similar rule for biting dogs, and I don’t think wolves can reform their character the way we hope humans can. This wolf policy makes no sense – except to the extent it appeals to those who romanticize wild animals.


Stupid Excuses: The Cow Who Looked Like a Coyote

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 2:54 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A Michigan man who claims he was hunting coyotes may be charged for killing a neighbor’s pregnant cow:

A man says he shot a neighbor’s cow after mistaking it for a coyote. Authorities and the owner are skeptical.

The undersheriff in northern Michigan’s Benzie County says he doesn’t see how anyone could confuse a 1,400-pound pregnant cow with a coyote, which typically weighs between 20 and 45 pounds. And anyway, shooting coyotes is illegal during firearm deer season. Authorities asked the county prosecutor to bring charges against the shooter.

A 42-year-old man told authorities he was out to shoot coyotes near his Colfax Township home Saturday when he killed the cow, Undersheriff Rory Heckman told the Traverse City Record-Eagle for a story published Wednesday. Heckman said the man then tried to drag the cow home.

“The part of his story he his holding to is he shot at a coyote. I don’t know how he hit a several-thousand pound cow mistaking it for a coyote,” Heckman said. The cow was named Hannah and had wandered away from its farm, about 205 miles northwest of Detroit.”

The cow’s owner suggests the shooter needs therapy if he thinks cows and coyotes look alike.


Ramos-Compean Update: The Circumstances of Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila’s Arrest

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 12:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, the drug smuggler shot by Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos, was arrested recently at a US-Mexico border checkpoint in El Paso. His cousin claims US agents lured him to the US with promises of money. Money can be so enticing.


Happy Thanksgiving

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:48 am

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! As an aid towards appreciating what you have in life, I recommend using the mind trick I described in this post. I hope everyone has a great day — but remember: make every day Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving Story, Version 1

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 12:26 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Boys and girls, gather round while Caprice Hollins, the Seattle school district’s director of Equity, Race & Learning Support, tells us the Thanksgiving story:

“Seattle public schools want a side of political correctness served on your Thanksgiving table.

Washington state’s largest school district sent letters to teachers and other employees suggesting Thanksgiving should be “a time of mourning” for its Native American students. The memo, from Caprice Hollins, the district’s director of Equity, Race & Learning Support, included an attachment to a paper titled “Deconstructing the Myths of ‘The First Thanksgiving.'”

It includes 11 “myths” disputing everything from what was served at the first Thanksgiving (no mashed potatoes or cranberries) and who provided the food to the nature of the Pilgrims themselves: Myth No. 3 calls the colonists “rigid fundamentalists” who came to the New World “fully intending to take the land away from its native inhabitants.”

But what got the Internet abuzz was Myth No. 11: “Thanksgiving is a happy time.” It was followed by “Fact: For many Indian people, ‘Thanksgiving’ is a time of mourning … a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship.”

Hollins would not defend her letter, but David Tucker, a spokesman for the district, said it was an effort to be sensitive to minorities in Seattle schools. “One of the core elements in education is not just understanding your own life history but also those of others,” he said.

But one Seattle-area tribe says Thanksgiving is not somber on the reservation but a time to see friends and family, as it is for other Americans. Native Americans in the Northwest celebrate the holiday with turkey and salmon, said Daryl Williams of the Tulalip Tribes. Before the period of bitter and violent relationships between natives and their culturally European counterparts, they worked together to survive, he said.

“The spirit of Thanksgiving, of people working together to help each other, is the spirit I think that needs to grow in this country, because this country has gotten very divisive,” he said.”

Click here to read the attachment sent by the Seattle public school district, Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving.” Here are the opening paragraphs:

“What is it about the story of “The First Thanksgiving” that makes it essential to be taught in virtually every grade from preschool through high school? What is it about the story that is so seductive? Why has it become an annual elementary school tradition to hold Thanksgiving pageants, with young children dressing up in paper-bag costumes and feather-duster headdresses and marching around the schoolyard? Why is it seen as necessary for fake “pilgrims” and fake “Indians” (portrayed by real children, many of whom are Indian) to sit down every year to a fake feast, acting out fake scenarios and reciting fake dialogue about friendship? And why do teachers all over the country continue (for the most part, unknowingly) to perpetuate this myth year after year after year?

Is it because as Americans we have a deep need to believe that the soil we live on and the country on which it is based was founded on integrity and cooperation? This belief would help contradict any feelings of guilt that could haunt us when we look at our role in more recent history in dealing with other indigenous peoples in other countries. If we dare to give up the “myth” we may have to take responsibility for our actions both concerning indigenous peoples of this land as well as those brought to this land in violation of everything that makes us human. The realization of these truths untold might crumble the foundation of what many believe is a true democracy. As good people, can we be strong enough to learn the truths of our collective past? Can we learn from our mistakes? This would be our hope.”

Pretty depressing stuff. Instead of Pilgrim and Indian costumes, I guess they expect kids to dress in sackcloth and ashes at Thanksgiving.


The Thanksgiving Story, Version 2

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 12:26 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

John Stossel tells us the real Thanksgiving Story:

“Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. “Isn’t sharing wonderful?” say the teachers. They miss the point. Because of sharing, the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn’t happen.

The failure of Soviet communism is only the latest demonstration that freedom and property rights, not sharing, are essential to prosperity. The earliest European settlers in America had a dramatic demonstration of that lesson, but few people today know it.

When the Pilgrims first settled the Plymouth Colony, they organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share everything equally, work and produce. They nearly all starved.

Why? When people can get the same return with a small amount of effort as with a large amount, most people will make little effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. Some ate rats, dogs, horses and cats. This went on for two years.

“So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented,” wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, “began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, [I] (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. … And so assigned to every family a parcel of land.”

The people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.”

Happy Thanksgiving!


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