Sonnenschein, Start Dates

Nationwide Start Date Watch: Sonnenschein

calendar Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re a little late in passing along this news, which is from last month. But when it comes to coverage of certain topics, like start dates and layoffs, we aim for completeness.
An article in Crain’s Chicago Business focuses on delayed start dates at major law firms in the Windy City. Most of the news in the piece was previously broken by ATL. See, e.g., Seyfarth Shaw; DLA Piper.
But there’s one nugget of news:

With starting attorney salaries reaching $160,000 a year, delaying new-hire dates is one way to trim expenses. Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, which has 186 attorneys in Chicago and a substantial real estate practice, pushed back starting dates for seven lawyers by two months, to mid-November, a spokeswoman says.

So add Sonnenschein to the list of firms that have delayed start dates for incoming associates. Just like no-offering summer associates, pushing back starting dates is less than ideal. But as we wondered on Friday, such measures may be the lesser of multiple evils (with lawyer layoffs as a greater evil — although some firms have done both).
P.S. Lee Miller might want to coordinate better with his public-relations team. The DLA Piper PR folks previously explained that the change in start dates was made “to provide a uniform start date across all our offices… [and] to have a uniform orientation process.” But Miller tells Crain’s that it’s the economy, stupid:

“Any firm that isn’t careful in this economy is nuts,” says Lee Miller, joint CEO of DLA, Chicago’s eighth-biggest law firm. Mr. Miller says the firm also plans to cut next summer’s recruiting class by as much as one-fifth. “The transactional practices are slower, mirroring the economy, and the capital markets are in turbulent times,” he says.

P.P.S. Today, of course, is Labor Day. Is anyone reading?
Update / Correction: The Sonnenschein start date news was first reported by Bloomberg News on August 5, in a very interesting article on partner pay. As Lindsay Fortado reported, the firm pushed back start dates for 20 of its 24 incoming first-year associates from September to November 15. (The seven lawyers referenced in the Crain’s article appear to be Chicago associates; the firm-wide number appears to be 20.)
Tougher times on the docket [Crain’s Chicago Business]
Wall Street Lawyers Ask Bank, Can You Spare $250,000? [Bloomberg News]

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