“Are we dangerously dependent on Wikipedia?” a recent Salon.com article asked. It’s a fair question. A Wikipedia article of dubious origins ranks high on Google results for just about any topic. Which is why this edition of factoids is dedicated to the unidentified armies of Wiki editors who have set their unfiltered sights on BigLaw. These nuggets of wisdom may not be facts in the pure sense of the word, but they are treated as such, for better or worse.
1. Big and Firm
“The largest law firms have more than 1,000 lawyers. These firms, often colloquially called “megafirms” or “biglaw,” generally have offices on several continents, bill up to US$750 per hour or higher, and have a high ratio of support staff per attorney. They can, and in some cases do, litigate every issue, burying their opponents in a blizzard of paper in the process; the result has been a kind of legal ‘arms race’ where every large corporation tries to retain the services of the biggest law firm they can afford.”
[“Megafirms” section of Wikipedia: Law Firm]
2. Skadden, Australia, Sniff, Mark & Blow
“Mark L. Bronson, a real estate partner in Skadden’s Tokyo office, died on November 21, 2007, at Brisbane airport in Australia. Bronson suffered a seizure while being detained by customs officials on suspicion of cocaine possession. He had been stopped after drug-sniffing dogs raised suspicion. He reportedly also coughed up plastic in his vomit, suggesting he may have ingested a bag of cocaine to avoid being caught.”
[“Controversies, scandals and entanglements,” Wikipedia: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom]
3. Above the Law’s Best Angle
“Hi xxxxxxxxx. Much thanks for your message! I am a huge fan of Wikipedia (and got to meet Jimmy Wales once, which was awesome). Keep up the great work!
I’ve attached a photograph of myself, which I release into the public domain, and which you can use for my Wikipedia bio. xxxxxxxxx.
Once again, thanks for both contacting me and for all your contributions to a great resource!
[“Text of email” section of Wikimedia Commons: David Lat]
4. Doc-ing Points
“Pros: low-intensity effort, relative lack of responsibilities, perks may include free or subsidized meals and car service (depending on the law firm and the client).
“Cons: long hours (sometimes considered a plus in terms of maximizing income), relatively tedious, little or no opportunity for advancement.”
[“Pros” and “Cons” section of Wikipedia: Document Review]
5. Non-Lawyer, Non-Loved
“Unlike nurses and physician assistants, paralegals have not caught the popular imagination and rarely are seen or mentioned in fictional or non-fiction legal television programs, or in legal fiction in print. There are however exceptions.
The most famous is probably Erin Brockovich, a real legal clerk whose participation in a toxic tort case became a major motion picture.”
[“Paralegals in television and literature” section of Wikipedia: Paralegal]
6. Race and Gender Unaccredited
“The ABA has been criticized for perceived elitism and overrepresentation of white male corporate defense lawyers among its membership.”
[“Criticisms of the ABA” section of Wikipedia: American Bar Association]
7. Jonesing for a Fight
“In September 2008, Jones Day began a lawsuit over the website Blockshopper linking to their own website while discussing condo purchases by two of the firm’s associates. The suit argues that linking to their site in this matter dilutes their service mark. This is seen by some as an abuse of trademark law and potentially harmful of the concept of linking…
“In February, 2009, due to mounting legal costs, Blockshopper settled the case, requiring it to change the way the links are presented so as to not show the corporate URL on the linking page. The case and settlement are considered to be a potential violation of SLAPP laws and also run against precedent set in prior cases regarding deep linking.”
[“Controversy” section of Wikipedia: Jones Day]
8. Mo Nicknames, Fo Problems
“The official firm nickname, approved in 1973, is MoFo, which is also commonly used as an abbreviation/euphemism for motherfucker. As of February 28, 2005, however, the firm has returned to the more conservative Morrison & Foerster, although MoFo is still used as the firm’s url: mofo.com.
“During the dot-com era of the 1990s, when it was fashionable for American companies to appear irreverent, the nickname was prominently featured in the firm’s advertising, both online and offline. It gained further notoriety through a bit by Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. Leno joked that the firm’s clients could shout, ‘Get me my MoFo lawyer!’
“Additionally, the popular home game Trivial Pursuit has a question and answer circulating in current versions asking what four-letter nickname is used by worldwide law firm Morrison & Foerster. The answer, of course, is ‘MoFo’.”
[“Nickname” section of Wikipedia: Morrison & Foerster]
9. Fraudulent Bon Vivant, LLP
“Dreier operated like a business and not a partnership. Mr. Dreier was the sole equity partner owner and controlled all of the firm’s finances and handled all administrative functions. There was no executive committee and no partners meetings. All deals were structured so that only he knew all the specifics and had access to all accounts. Dreier convinced lawyers that such an arrangement was best by emphasizing that it would allow them to concentrate on law, while he worried about running the firm. He hired lawyers on three-year contracts, fixing their salary and paying bonuses based on the fees each lawyer brought in. According to court filings, some lawyers received more than $50,000 in salary every two weeks.”
[“Dreier LLP” section of Wikipedia: Marc Stuart Dreier]