The Cream Of The Crop, Harvard Law School

When it comes to Biglaw firms, Skadden Arps is one of the biggest. It hires the best because it pays ridiculous amounts of money to baby lawyers who couldn’t find the courthouse without Google Maps, and their clients are willing to foot the bill for reasons that elude me. Where does a firm like Skadden seek out its new class of lawyers? Elite law schools, like Harvard. And so they held a career day, caught on video.

Are these the law students Skadden was hoping to hire out of law school, pay over $200,000 despite having no skills, and let walk their hallways telling partners of their moral indiscretions? Some wags will say that Skadden ought to withdraw from interviews at Harvard, finding the law school’s students both rude and inappropriate for a gig at the firm. Indeed, while this happens to be a video of career day with Skadden, would the students have been any less offensive and aggressive with any other biglaw firm? They all represent corporations, governments and entities that are engaged in activities the woke find immoral and wrong.

But more to the point, law students who seek gainful employment after three years, opportunity costs and some sum of money are ordinarily expected not to go out of their way to attack their potential future employers. Some students will be obsequious. Others will be official. But few go out of their way to challenge potential employers to change their evil ways. Of course, this really wasn’t intended to question Skadden, but to use the rhetorical gimmick of questioning to tell these Skadden senior lawyers that they’re scum and their firm is scum.

In a few years, they will be practicing lawyers, somewhere if not Skadden. Maybe a decade or two after that, they will hold offices and sit on benches. Bear in mind, these aren’t the ordinary trench lawyers who spend their careers representing individuals and struggling to win cases and eke out a decent living. These are the elite, the Harvard Law School graduates who will carry the mantle of the cream of the crop in perpetuity by virtue of admission to one of the most historically renowned law schools in the country.

And it’s not just a matter of their being childishly radicalized while in school, even though one would hope and expect that they would get their ideological zeal out of their system in undergrad and hunker down for their serious future once they get to law school. Sure, Harvard is no longer in the business of turning minds full of mush into lawyers, as that would make them cry and deprive them of their safe space, but still.

What this reflects even more than silly radicalism is that they feel no sense of restraint in attacking a law firm for not capitulating to their ideology. Would they go into an interview with Skadden and tell the partner they would never work for such a firm? If they were hired, would the first year Skadden associate, the newest lawyers in the room, inform his corporate client that he would rather see their company bankrupt than be complicit in their support of whatever function conflicts with their cause? Can you trust this baby lawyer to not believe his personal ideology is more important than the firm or the client? Are you certain they won’t sabotage a client for what they believe to be the greater good?

A decade ago, such arrogance and rudeness would be dismissed as immaturity. “Just wait until they get out into the real world,” we would say, and then chuckle over the rude awakening waiting for them. Except the joke was on us, as we watched the “real world” bend to their whims, capitulate to their demands, reshape itself to conform to their infantile demands.

As Shakespeare’s Dick the Butcher said in Henry VI, the first thing needed to end the rule of law is to “kill all the lawyers.” These Harvard Law Students may have some watered-down form of legal education, but are they lawyers? And if not, then it would be fair to say that the lawyers have been killed, that they have been effectively eliminated and replaced by zealots with Harvard Law degrees. Will they still be considered the best of the best? Will they run law firms, hold high government office, sit on benches in judgment of others who, like Skadden, fail to meet their moral demands?

12 thoughts on “The Cream Of The Crop, Harvard Law School

  1. Marc John Randazza

    The reason biglaw recruits at “top” schools is not because that’s where the talent is. The talent is most certainly not any better there than it is at the University of Nebraska, Gonzaga, or Brooklyn law school. Attending Harvard means you passed a litmus test. You’re in the nobility. And, Skadden commands high fees, not because of results, but because it too is part of that. We can’t have titled nobility in the USA, but societies naturally develop it. So, this is our adaptation.

    You or I could kick any team at Skadden’s ass, and you and I know it. They might make some nasally sound at hearing that, but it is true as fuck. But, we’re not in the nobility, and they know it, and we know it.

    1. Cathy Teevan

      I don’t know you – and I do frankly admire your chutzpah, you’re probably a really good lawyer. But the law school “litmus test” has always done a pretty good job of selecting serious, highly educated, elite candidates most of whom will be the most successful attorneys on the planet. I’ve probably known 30 or 40 HLS alumni and I can’t imagine any of them would have behaved this way in front of a future potential employer. That said, let’s remember a few things, like Youth is Wasted on the Young – and the Gaza problem is a terrible nightmare for people on both sides of that war but only one side is treated with sympathy. Bottom line: Give the kids a break.

      1. Chaswjd

        They are not kids. They are all twenty-two to twenty-five. By this time, there are no age-related disabilities placed on them.

        Historically, people that age are adults. To use an extreme example, William Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister of Great Britain at twenty-four. Two generations back. In 1975, the average age at which a woman gave birth to her first child was twenty-four. That means that these “kids” grandparents were likely already married and starting a family at their age.

        Perhaps it is the prolonged adolescence which creates this.

  2. Rxc

    The system is working, just as Antonio Gramsci said it could work, and John Rawls said it should work, to change society to their way of thinking and operating. History indicates that their sort of society does not work at all, but it has only been tried in small pieces in the USA. Only time will tell whether it will succeed here, or fail.

    1. LY

      It will fail because it cannot succeed in the long term. It will fall to the same things that plagued the Russian and French revolutions, they will run out of enemies and turn on their own. In fact, you can already see this beginning now if you look. They have tried to cram to many groups that are, in the final evaluation, antithetical to each other into the same house, In time there will be fighting over supremacy and the spoils of the zero sum world they are creating.

  3. Elpey P.

    “How can I feel comfortable working at a firm where one of my colleagues [said something that offends me and you won’t fire them]…”

    A good response could be “Please don’t try.” Potential job application question: “Would your personal sense of comfort require you to tone-police the speech of everyone else in the organization, and demand their firing for something that you are able to characterize as offensive according to your narratives using selectively applied moral standards?”

    It’s a mystery how she can tolerate being part of an Ivy League college given some of the inflammatory and dehumanizing rhetoric known to be common there. [Narrator: It wasn’t a mystery.] Presumably she would have major Karen-panic attacks if she went anywhere near a protest.

  4. Neil

    What this reflects even more than silly radicalism is that they feel no sense of restraint in attacking a law firm for not capitulating to their ideology.

    I think that understanding the ideology explains the absence of restraint in attacking the firm. It’s an ideology of struggle, of purification, to remove ‘structural’ defects (i.e. structural racism) from our society. Skadden is expected to join in the struggle, given that utopia is at stake. This ideology is a kissing cousin of fascism and follows a parallel path of development. I think TIKhistory outlines this parallel road well in his video ‘From Plato to Hitler: The Ideological Origins of National Socialism’. This also accounts for why other adherents of this ideology tread the familiar ground of antisemitism, and the religious fervor of their efforts.

  5. B. McLeod

    If the little snots aren’t on fire, they’re probably just performative poseurs. The interviewers should take along some pint bottles of kerosene and some matches so they can offer the interviewees a chance to demonstrate their bona fides.

  6. Chaswjd

    I have often thought that the 19-Century model of becoming a lawyer was a better one. Serve an apprenticeship in a law office for a number of years, learn the craft, and then pass the bar.

    Young lawyers would not have to go into debt to get through school. And instead of being formed by academics whose track record of practice is usually limited, they would be formed in the trenches with real life experience.

    The video of the Harvard students confirm my thought.

  7. eric zaetsch

    Yale will always produce its crop of Bill and Hillary grads who take to the smell of money and power, and succeed doing so. As well as those who are accustomed to it by birth and private schooling, as special.

    As you say Skaden bills.

    I’ve heard the term, “leaf raking.” But the money is there to do the job without cutting corners, and then some, and “deep pocketing” is another frequent term.

    It is taught, your ethical duty is to represent the best interest of the client, to the best of your ability, within the rules. Ethics integrated into the study was a good step. What is less taught is you can refuse to work for a client if you believe you cannot meet that performance standard because of some aspect of the client. In the big firms, who knows without being there if it is a career killer to say, “I can’t do that.” If said too much anywhere along the line, the best advice is get out and seek a different career path.

    There are grads who don’t attract enough business to ever make a go of it, others get lucky, and the winnowing goes on to where adversarial can get in the way of sensible settlement. Two sayings attributed to Elihu Root, “Sometimes the mark of a good lawyer is to tell a client he’s being a damned fool and should stop,” and when sounded out for a Supreme Court seat, “I’d rather talk to fools than listen to them.” It is a strange way to earn a living. So is politics.

    I am not trolling your site, but came upon it by chance, thought to write a few things when reading your recent posting, but will leave you alone from this point on. I admire your taking time from your lawyering to generate and post ideas. I respect your blog.

    1. David

      Firm associates are lawyers, but they are also employees. If they want that sweet, sweet paycheck, they do the work given them. If they don’t care for the firm’s clients, they are welcome to leave and hang out their own shingle, where they can pick and choose which clients are virtuous enough to be worthy of their devotion. Of course, they are likely to be quite lonely since they have yet to do anything worthy of attracting clients.

      But that’s not the real problem there. These little shits want to dictate what clients firms can take on, what senior lawyers get to say and, if they say the wrong thing, demand they be fired.

      And spare us your insipid platitudes. Let these little shits accomplish something, like pass the bar, before you make them king of the world.

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