Biglaw, Cheapness, Vicious Infighting

McDermott Will & Emery: A Culture of Cheapness?

McDermott logo.JPGGossip aficionados love it when disgruntled ex-employees talk trash about their former workplaces. Today’s victim: McDermott Will & Emery, a firm that has experienced significant revenue and profit growth over the past few years. According to a lengthy expose in The American Lawyer, however, some of that success has been driven by good old-fashioned tightwaditude:

[McDermott has a] miserly attitude, say a dozen former partners, many of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. Sources say that McDermott’s financial success masks a culture marked by antagonism, where existing partners and clients are pushed out to make room for new ones, and where a lack of cohesion stymies efforts to build practices. They also note the departures, since 2005, of firm leaders in M&A, private equity, intellectual property, and restructuring.

Now for the good stuff — examples of MWE’s cheapness:

[F]ormer partners swap stories about the firm’s stinginess the way kids swap baseball cards: Instead of getting a decorating allowance for their office, they had to buy their own desks. Instead of the firm budgeting enough for a holiday party, partners in many offices got a bill each December for the upcoming festivities. They also had to pay their own expenses when they visited clients.

We’ve excerpted the juiciest bits, so you don’t have to read the whole long article. Continued cattiness, after the jump.

Here’s the money quote:

McDermott has a reputation for pushing out existing lawyers and clients in order to achieve its [financial] goals. The firm is “like a worm,” says one former partner, describing the arrivals and departures. “You feed it in the front, and it shits out the rear.”

Actually, on second thought, this one’s even better:

“McDermott gives you no help finding clients or growing your practice,” says one ex-partner. There’s little cross-selling, because most people don’t want to share origination credit. “A McDermott partner would rather introduce you to his mistress than his clients,” says another ex-partner.

HA! Folks, it doesn’t get better than that.
Ex-Partners Say Firm Succeeds by Scrimping on Essentials, Relying on Laterals [The American Lawyer]

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