Although some of the offices of Dewey & LaBoeuf were right across the street from my hotel, it was about a five or so block walk to the office hosting the NALP Foundation Board meeting. When I arrived, I met other members of the Board, including John Reich of Merchant & Gould, PC; Jon Harris of King & Spaulding, LLP; Paula Patton, Outgoing CEO & President of the Foundation; Tom Sager of DuPont Corporation; Gihan Fernando of NALP; Bill Treanor, Dean of Fordham University School of Law; Jim Leopold of NALP; James Hagy of Jones Day (emeritus); Tom Leatherbury of Vinson & Elkins, LLP; Irena McGrath of Hogan & Hartson, LLP; Pam Malone, Senior Vice President of the Foundation; Paul Hensel of Winston & Strawn, LLP; Leigh Taylor, Dean Emeritus of Southwestern Law School; Raymond Pierce, Dean of North Carolina Central University School of Law and Aldo Baldini of Dewey & LeBoeuf, LLP who is the incoming Chair of the Board for the next fiscal year. After a hot breakfast, we got right to work.

One of the first orders of business was the introduction of Tammy Patterson, former Director of Recruiting and Professional Development at the Gardere Wynne Sewell firm in Dallas who had accepted an offer to become the new CEO and President of the Foundation as of April 1. One thing you bloggies might find interesting is the After the JD second wave study will be completed very soon and is scheduled for release this fall at Harvard. The After the JD (AJD) study is a longitudinal study of the career choices and subsequent career progression of a nationally-representative sample of lawyers who were first admitted to the bar in 2000. The study was designed and overseen by an interdisciplinary group of scholars and funded by multiple institutions, including NALP, the NALP Foundation and the American Bar Foundation. It is the first research effort of its kind to examine the early careers of a cohort of more than 4,500 newly-certified lawyers. Sample members were first surveyed in 2002, re-contacted in 2007, and will be surveyed again in 2011.

Speaking about studies, the NALP Foundation also published an attrition study that examines associate attrition during the 2007 calendar year and the reasons for turnover. The Update on Associate Attrition – 2006 report provides comprehensive information on association attrition for 2006. The findings offer detailed data on the rate at which law firms hired new associates, and the rate of both entry-level and lateral associate departures, their destinations and reasons for departing. This year, the report also includes data indicating whether the associate departures were “wanted” or “desired” by the law firm employer. It is the sixth report in a decade-long series of research studies.

There’s also a Navigating the Bridges to Partnership study that’s been completed and released by the NALP Foundation. This report is filled with information that provides important insights from those who made partner on the factors that influenced their advancement. It addresses how experiences like mentoring, being hired as an entry-level associate, having judicial clerkship experience, taking leaves of absence, working part-time schedules, exceeding billable hour expectations, being a team player and other factors can influence advancement. Among the questions underlying this new study are: What does it take to become a partner in today’s law firms? Is it all about billable hours and profitability? Or does advancement depend on mentoring, pro bono activities, leadership or other qualities and characteristics?

Jim Leopold and Gihan Fernando were there as representatives of NALP and gave a report of the upcoming NALP Conference. The biggest news from NALP was the change in the timing of offers to law students. If you follow the blog, probably remember me mentioning this before. There is a new interpretation of the NALP Principles and Standards Part V: Timing Guidelines. The changes can be found at They also told us the Annual Educational Conference of NALP will take place April 16-19 at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and already has the largest attendance (at least pre-registration) of any NALP Conference.

I was able to get to the airport early and catch an earlier flight which turned out to be a really wise thing to do. The flight between Chicago and Little Rock was turbulent, but it was nice to arrive at 7:00 p.m. rather than 11:00 p.m.

As luck would have it, I ran into Cliff McKinney in the Little Rock airport. He was picking up Tommy Wells, the President-Elect of the American Bar Association, who had flown in on the same bumpy flight. He was there, as was I, to attend the Arkansas Rule of Law Conference which was organized under the offices of the American Bar Association’s World Justice Project. Mr. Wells was there on behalf of the American Bar Association.

That evening I checked my e-mail and caught up on phone calls and the next thing you know, there was an alert from the weatherman saying that tornadic conditions were developing. The weather was south of Little Rock but within a few hours, the sirens had gone off. We were all herded out of our hotel rooms and into the ballroom where I ran into Rick and Claire Ramsay, Gwen Rucker, Tommy Wells, Cliff McKinney, Courtney Crouch and Karen Hutchins, the Executive Director of the Bar Association, who were there having dinner. I also bumped into Professors Judges and Melissa Waters, who were staying at the hotel.

Talking with them as we waited out the storm, I found out that our alum, Cliff McKinney, played a significant role in creating the Arkansas Real Estate Review. The Review summarizes all the Arkansas legislation and cases affecting real estate and is distributed to all the members of the section. That’s a terrific accomplishment, Cliff!

After we spent a while listening to the sound of the storm outside, the hotel security officer gave the all clear. Apparently, a tornado touched down in Little Rock that evening and there were some businesses destroyed, but no fatalities or injuries. The North Little Rock airport also got hit and planes were slammed into each other and upended, so it really was a blessing that we were all safe. Travel-wise, it was certainly an adventurous trip. My usual travel challenges are plane delays, but between the cab ride incident in New York and the tornado, this trip was slightly more eventful.

After the all clear, the group returned to dinner and I sat with them as they finished. Earlier I’d had a bowl of soup for dinner in my room, but I joined them for dessert which was homemade moon pies. I didn’t have a taste for them, but I had a glass of wine and visited with them until everyone got done. Then it was back to bed, where I got some much-needed sleep before the Rule of Law Conference the next day.