Last week we told you that Jenner & Block held a firm-wide pep talk to assure associates that everything was going great.
Apparently, this is the new trend. Terrified associates are being told that they have nothing to fear, for now.
Last week Ropes & Gray’s chairman Brad Malt sent out this email:
We’re living in extraordinary times, and I know many of you are concerned about what the current turmoil in the financial markets might mean to us here at Ropes & Gray. I’d like to offer some thoughts on why we are well positioned to weather the turbulence in the marketplace.
Our firm is over 140 years old, in no small part because we always build for the long term. We have weathered many recessions, starting with the Panic of 1873, and we have always emerged stronger. Today, we possess many competitive advantages, including diversified practice offerings and a diverse client base. Thankfully, we do not depend for our bread and butter on the kinds of companies or markets that are most troubled right now. While recent events have felt unsettling for many people, nothing that is happening should distract us from continuing to execute our strategic plan and deliver excellent client service.
The recent turmoil in the financial markets has also presented the firm with important opportunities to advise clients, including some of the companies affected by recent events. Among the many examples, we obtained a temporary restraining order for our broker-dealer client, Ameriprise Financial Services, in the first case involving a money market fund to â€œbreak the buck.â€ An extraordinary cross-disciplinary and cross-office team reached a multi-billion dollar agreement to purchase Neuberger Bermanâ€™s investment management business and Lehman Brotherâ€™s fixed income and alternative asset businesses. We are representing various senior officers of major financial institutions in investigations of sub-prime lending activities and related class action lawsuits. And we have advised numerous hedge funds, CDO funds, mutual funds and other clients on other aspects of the market situation, including analysis of distressed securities, advice about credit default swap counterparties, advice about the new short-sale restrictions, and bankruptcy rules.
In the longer term, we are very well positioned to take advantage of opportunities that will arise from the changing market environment, and we continue to invest in lawyers and staff to help us do so. We were delighted recently to welcome our associate Class of 2008, and we actively continue to hire for summer 2009 and beyond.
To be clear, we are not immune to what’s happening in the wider world. However, I believe the strengths we have built in our firm, our proven agility in addressing changing market landscapes, and the dedication and high caliber of you, our people, will enable us to withstand the short-term market challenges. As always, we are grateful for your continuing hard work and commitment.
O’Melveny & Myers shows firms how to send a spooky reassurance email after the jump.
O’Melveny chairman Arthur B. Culvahouse sent around a letter of his own on Friday. The first part of the email reads like other reassurance emails we’ve seen:
All of us are watching the unfolding international financial crisis and have questions about what it means for us, our families, and our Firm. It’s a good question because as a professional services firm, we are dependent upon our existing and new clients for new work and revenue, and our clients and our work flows have been, and will continue to be, impacted by the distress in the credit and financial markets.
What we do know is that the Firm continues to perform well in the face of this “perfect economic storm” and that the Firm’s leadership continues to watch unfolding developments very closely and to manage the Firm so that we are well-positioned to weather the storm. We have made substantial strides in attracting new business; we are relying less on temporary lawyers to do work that can be made available to associates and legal assistants, and we are moving underutilized personnel to where there is available work. We also have been fortunate that none of our major clients have failed, that some clients have expanded the work we do as they address their challenges and opportunities, and that our practice and geographic diversity have mitigated the effects of the disappearance of specialized transactions work upon which other law firms were far more reliant.
But then there is a change in tone:
That said, there is more that each of us can do to ensure that we remain economically and competitively strong. Our leading practitioners must be in the marketplaces where new business is awarded, engage in effective, focused, and coordinated client development efforts, and delegate more of their workload to others. We must continue to deliver our very best work at fair value, which means putting our best teams on the field in terms of both quality and cost. We need to be the very best at client service and at being user friendly, which requires the active participation of lawyers and staff. We must continue to manage expenses, while not giving up ground on our talent development, diversity, pro bono, and infrastructure priorities. Above all, we should have confidence in ourselves, adhere to our values and work together to ensure that our Firm is well positioned to endure and to gain competitive ground in these uncertain times, much as our Firm has in other uncertain times in its 123-year history.
A tipster expresses why this letter might scare the hell out of OMM associates:
Except for some action in our finance group, the rest of NY transactions is DEAD. We’ve been hearing that other firms have had “pep talks” and the like, but until now OMM has been totally silent. This … definitely doesn’t go as far as other firms in that it lacks a “there won’t be layoffs” statment.
We’ll see what happens.
The knives may be out, but nobody has drawn blood yet.
Earlier: Davis Polk: Making Bank