Levine on Wall Street: Go Home, Bank of America

Matt Levine is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was an editor of Dealbreaker, an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
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It's hard to get junior investment bankers to go home .

This is a story about two crazy things. One is Bank of America's copycat effort to get analysts and associates to stop working all the time. You'll recall that Goldman mandated that junior employees take one day of rest (Saturday, of course) per week, and that JPMorgan now requires one full weekend off a month. Bank of America discourages weekend work generally (sure it does!), but now has a new policy of especially discouraging working four weekend days a month. Which four? Oh, you know, whichever ones don't conflict with work. "Sorry boss, I'm taking one of my four days off this Saturday." "Hmm, well, we have a pitchbook to do, why don't you take next Saturday?" "Sure thing boss." Et cetera. This is a dumb policy.

The second crazy thing is a former Bank of America analyst reminiscing fondly about working on Super Bowl Sunday in 2010 and 2011. "It was one of those classic investment banking bonding experiences," he says. This is what you're up against, Bank of America. Your four days a month policy isn't going to cut it.

Or even interns .

Here's a related story about how investment bank interns work even longer hours than analysts, and for even less reason:

Pat Pow-anpongkul, 26, who interned at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008, said during business hours his job was to provide news clippings to senior bankers. But come 6 p.m., the work would start flooding in, he said, as senior bankers would ask for help with client-presentation materials that could take hours.

Mr. Pow-anpongkul said he would file a big document to the printing department around midnight, wait four hours for it to print and then walk it over to the senior banker's desk or, in some cases, have a courier send it to his house so he had it when he awoke.

So he'd stay at work until 4 a.m. doing nothing, just so he could have the glory of depositing a printout on a VP's deserted desk. At Lehman! In the summer of 2008! That VP should have had him printing resumes.

You can't get stock certificates any more.

Think of the children: "Walt Disney Co., whose shares featuring characters such as Mickey Mouse were popular children's gifts," no longer hands out paper certificates, and the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq are both "considering a ban on newly public U.S. companies issuing paper shares." This is good for efficiency, since electronic shares rarely get, you know, damaged by hurricanes or whatever. (If they do, though: Terrible! The story of finance is all about reducing the probability of harm, but increasing its severity.) It is bad for nostalgia, though, which suggests a business plan; I am going to start my own small-batch artisanal stock exchange in Brooklyn where every newly public company is required to issue paper shares that are hand-printed on an antique letterpress. They make excellent gifts for children and hipsters.

Lotta networking opportunities at Harvard Law School .

Arlo Devlin-Brown is a federal prosecutor who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1999. Mathew Martoma is a federal criminal defendant who was expelled from Harvard Law School in 1999. Now they find themselves on opposite sides of etc. etc. etc., I am really looking forward to the Mathew Martoma movie. In the movie I suppose they should have been friends in law school, or enemies, or romantic rivals, or clerkship-application rivals. But apparently not in real life. Says DealBook:

It is unclear whether Mr. Devlin-Brown was aware of the expulsion at the time. Authorities discovered the expulsion in the course of investigating Mr. Martoma, one person briefed on the case said, and the tip did not come from Mr. Devlin-Brown. In fact, Mr. Martoma and Mr. Devlin-Brown may not have even known each other from their Boston days, given the class size of Harvard Law School.

Fun fact, Harvard Law School is not in Boston. (It's "near Boston.") Also though, have we talked about how Martoma was expelled from Harvard? (We have.) It's a wild story! How could you not know about it, if you were at Harvard Law School at the time? Really, failing to hear (or remember) gossip that good would be evidence that you are not cut out for criminal investigations.

Speaking of Mathew Martoma .

The movie really is going to be great. Friday was the first day of the trial. The cigar-chomping NYU film professor is on the jury! He's got a bad back, so he's "observing the trial with an unlit cigar in his mouth and his left leg propped on an overturned wastepaper basket." Martoma's lawyer "told jurors that Martoma is 'the quintessential American success story' and described his client's background with no mention of Harvard," and I'll give him that; the quintessential American success story does seem to involve leaving Harvard without a degree. And Timothy Jandovitz, the SAC Capital trader who was responsible for acquiring -- but not selling -- the big Elan and Wyeth positions allegedly based on Martoma's inside information, testified:

At the start of his testimony, Jandovitz was asked by Devlin-Brown to identify Martoma.

"Mat is wearing a dark suit, white shirt and a tie," Jandovitz said, to laughter as spectators realized he'd described almost every male lawyer in the room.

Okay that is funny but also: Why does he need to identify Martoma? This isn't, like, a nighttime mugging. Is there going to be a mistaken-identity defense? Or is Devlin-Brown just trying to make the trial as movie-ready as possible?

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Matthew S Levine at mlevine51@bloomberg.net