Around the Blawgosphere: New Bitter Lawyer Web Series About Document Reviewers

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The Gunners, the Dreamers and Me

Those who mourned the end of Living the Dream—a 12-episode Web series created by lawyer-turned-TV writer Rick Eid that focused on newbie associate Nick Conley that appeared in Bitter Lawyer’s first incarnation—have something to look forward to: Bitter Lawyer’s premiere of The Bottom Rung, a Web series centered around a group of document reviewers. Bitter Lawyer says it will post the first episode next week.

The Bottom Rung’s creator is stand-up comedian Matt Ritter, a 2005 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School who has done stints at Mayer Brown, Kirkland & Ellis—and as a document reviewer.

“When I did my first document job, I realized there was so many interesting characters down there, so much ridiculousness and so many untold stories, I had to capture it somehow,” Ritter told Bitter Lawyer. “My theory is that everyone doing document review is either a lifer, a gunner or a dreamer. So in a way it’s about how those three groups interact in this hellish environment.”

Ritter thinks that it was appropriate for Eid to launch a show about a BigLaw associate back in 2008; and appropriate for him to launch a show about 20-something document reviewers in 2011. “The cold truth is, when Living the Dream aired, many law students were graduating and getting jobs as first-years, they could identify with that world. Nowadays, it’s just as likely or more likely that you will end up in document review or as I call it The Bottom Rung. I wanted to capture the humor of that world … [which] isn’t about messing up million-dollar deals or catching typos or going to fancy Yale alumni parties or even a nice-looking office.”

Should BigLaw Firms Develop Pro Bono Specialties?

At Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog, the Washington, D.C., consultant wrote about a symposium he attended in Denver where Harvard Law School professor Jim Greiner suggested that large law firms should not only make an effort to put in hours of pro bono, but strive to specialize in certain pro bono substantive areas. “Such a role for pro bono firms might help fill the still existing gap in the delivery system created by the defunding of the old legal services back-up centers, with the firms taking on leadership in creation of briefbanks, model pleadings, networking, advocacy theorizing, etc.,” Zorza wrote.

Zorza later updated the post with comments from Pro Bono Institute president and CEO Esther Lardent, who noted that her organization has already been working with law firms to develop “signature projects” that take maximum advantage of a firm’s strengths. But Lardent also noted that she doesn’t think a firm can feasibly focus on just one area of law with its pro bono. “Attorney interest, local needs and availability of pro bono work, among other factors … make that approach far too limiting, but what we do encourage is firms going deep in one or two areas on a firm-wide basis to develop expertise and secure better and systemic solutions.”

Law Blogger Walks the Plank

Above the Law blogger Elie Mystal reported that The Not-So Private Parts blogger Kashmir Hill dressed up as a software pirate at her own pirate-themed Halloween party (which perhaps took place the same day she was on National Public Radio’s On the Media to discuss the vulnerability of email messages stored in the cloud). The theme came about because at present, her apartment’s stairs have been replaced by a wooden plank positioned between Hill’s front door and the sidewalk several feet below. Mystal wrote that the plank’s already been there more than a month, there’s no firm date set for the installation of stairs, and the setup doesn’t look particularly safe (he posted a photo).

So Mystal is soliciting landlord-tenant legal advice for Hill, to see if she has any recourse. Tort actions will come if someone falls, of course, “but isn’t there something that can be done before the (inevitable) injury, to move the ball forward? I think Kash and her neighbors need to occupy the management office until somebody installs some steps, or maybe a rope-and-pulley system to help people safely enter their apartments.”

Cain’s Confidentiality Agreements

Legal editor Julie Brook at CEB Blog says the recent sexual harassment allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain—including one from a woman who received a settlement, entered into a confidentiality agreement with the Restaurant Association and now wishes to get out of it—have many people wondering “whether the confidentiality agreements involved in the Cain situation can be renegotiated implicitly in the press. By making statements about the allegations and payments made to the women involved, has Cain violated the confidentiality agreement, leaving his accuser free to speak?”

Brook noted where two experts disagreed on the issue last week: Loeb & Loeb partner Douglas E. Mirell told ABC News that most confidentiality agreements bind both parties to silence, but Cain breaking his doesn’t mean his accuser should consider herself immune from suit if she speaks. But Katz, Marshall & Banks partner Debra Katz told the Washington Post blog The Fix that Cain’s comments on the matters free anyone who settled with the Restaurant Association to do the same. Regardless, Cain, who has denied all allegations of sexual harassment, has already hired a First Amendment lawyer.

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