July 2014

Morgan Lewis.JPGOn Friday, while much of the Thelen news was still focused on Nixon Peabody feasting on Thelen refugees, we heard an interesting tip from people at Morgan Lewis:

I hear we have acquired all or most of Thelen’s corporate practice? I haven’t seen any official announcements but I hear that a couple floors below me is total chaos.

Mmmm … chaos.

Today we’ve gotten a (sadly) less chaotic number of new hires:

Morgan Lewis’s New York office picked up 17 attorneys from Thelen. An email was sent Friday.

But are they heavy hitters?

I am aware of a larger group that consists of the really big hitters at Thelen in the construction group. Dekker, Buoncristiani, Heisse et al with huge books of business for core clients like Bechtel. Pillsbury has extended an offer to all these people, included Counsel and associates for a total of about 45 attorneys for mainly the SF Office [Some in DC and NY]

Strangely, MLB has rebuffed repeated requests to confirm or deny how many Thelen people they are bringing on (if any).

But once again, Thelen-East attorneys seem to be doing a lot better than their West Coast brethren. On the flip side, this weekend in NYC was cold and miserable while I’m sure the Sun once again bestowed its light and grace upon Californians. So they have that going for them.

Earlier: Nixon Peabody Picks Up 90 Thelen Attorneys (This is Different From a Merger How?)

Associate Bonus Watch: Morgan Lewis Pushes Back Bonus Decisions

Shearman logo.JPGWe’ve been hearing reports all morning about some news leaking around the offices at Shearman & Sterling. One tipster collects the potentially bad news in a clear way:

[M]id and senior-level associates that would in normal economic conditions have left any way are being asked to leave. In addition, Shearman’s senior management has advised Partners to be strict in reviews in the upcoming review process (scheduled for the coming weeks) for all levels of associates (not only mid- and senior-levels).

Apparently, the firm is determined that any layoffs get reported as “performance based” attrition rather than full-on layoffs. Sources suggest that firm leadership is still smarting over the reputation hit they took when they laid off people, back in 2001.

The firm has not responded to a request for comment.

Whatever they want to call it, there seems to be good reason for Shearman associates to be worried over the next couple of weeks. We’ve also learned that Shearman’s Capital Markets practice is not doing well. A tipster reports:

Business in Capital Markets has slowed dramatically over the past several months. Junior associates from Capital Markets have been temporarily staffed on litigation matters.

We know that Capital Markets practice groups are slow all over. But staffing corporate attorneys on litigation work suggests that there are larger problems with Shearman’s corporate practices.

Stealth layoffs at Loeb & Loeb, and the firm’s response, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide (Stealth) Layoff Watch: Shearman & Sterling and Loeb & Loeb”

Maryland Bar results bird.JPGJuly 2008 Bar Exam results were announced on Friday. I assume that everybody has already checked their results, but if you want to ogle the people who passed you can do so here.

The thing is, Maryland came in with an 81.6% passage rate. 1112 passes, 250 failures.

That’s 81.6% in a state with no MPRE nor CLE requirements.

Congratulations Maryland Bar Exam takers. Way to glide into the American bar.

New Yorkers, your day of reckoning draws nigh.

Earlier: Texas Bar Exam Results Have Been Posted

Exams! Results! Northeast Corridor!

goodwin Procter logo.JPGThe Baby Boomers (the generation that was dealt a resounding defeat last week) is also sometimes called the “Sandwich Generation.” Boomers like to claim that they are the first generation (in the history of “ever” apparently) to have to take care of both their parents and their children while they are still working.

Whiners.

Inter-generational aspersions aside, Goodwin Procter is actually doing something that should help Boomers out. They’ve instituted a very interesting new benefits package:

Free, round-the-clock access to a telephone support center that provides information on services for the elderly, the disabled, and the family members who care for them.

This is a program that could actually help attorneys. As anybody who has ever served as a part-time caretaker/full-time worker can attest to, getting the appropriate information is half the battle.

More details on Goodwin’s program after the jump.

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funny-pictures-cat-did-the-math-and-you-cannot-afford-the-dog.jpgLast week, our ATL / Lateral Link survey focused on when raises happen at your firms. But we’ve also been wondering about another prong of compensation: bonuses.

In 2007, Cravath kicked off bonus season early, on October 29th, but it’s much more common for firms to announce in December. Indeed, this year the first major announcement of October came from Morgan Lewis, who announced that they won’t be announcing bonus until January. (That said, though, Orrick announced their 2008 bonus structure back in June.)

But timing isn’t everything. There’s also the quantum of solace cash. On that front, comments in last month’s associate bonus open thread suggest some pretty diminished expectations. As one reader put it:

This year’s bonus in biglaw: you’re not fired. Let’s hope most of us can get it.

But a second reader posits that firms can leave last year’s bonus structures in place . . . because billable hours are actually low enough to avoid a cash crunch:

If firms keep the same bonus structure, they will still be spending *way* less on bonuses this year. That’s because so few people will make their hours. Most associates are way down compared to last year, and November and December are only going to be worse in terms of finding work to do. It wouldn’t surprise me if many firms will save 50% or more without making any adjustments to the bonus structure. That’s what gives me some hope that bonuses will remain the same. Of course, firms would be happy to use the remaining 50% of bonus money on other things. But they won’t want to chase away the few associates who are actually competent enough to make their hours.

Now, if I can just find a way to stay busy through November and December. . .

Sort of a “glass half full, so you don’t really have to tip” approach.

Do you agree? Are your billables really so low that you won’t get any bonus this year?

For that matter, would you actually give up your bonus this year if it would reduce the risk of layoffs?

Let’s find out.

Update: This survey is now closed. You can see results here, here, here, and here.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.

Assassins Columbia's Creed.JPGToday marks the start of two weeks of “Assassins” at Columbia Law School. The game will start internally, undoubtedly as a training exercise for CLS students before they start hunting the deadliest prey: NYU students.

The game, if you’ve never played it, is awesome. The rules are simple:

* You will be given a target. Find them and “assassinate” them by hitting them in the back with a sock.

* Get your next assignment from your “assassinated” target; his/her former target becomes yours.

* If you “swing & miss” your target, you must wait one hour before attempting another assassination.

* Once you are “assassinated,” you are out of the game.

* The last player standing is the winner.

As we understand it, over 200 students have signed up. An organizer tells us why:

If stereotypes are to believed, CLS students are familiar with watching their backs, eyeing their rivals with suspicion, viciously taking any means necessary to eliminate their competition, and gloating with vituperation at victories over colleagues.

In this job market, “Assassins” is much better training than M&A.

Read the full rules and regulations, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “And You Thought Your Law School Was Cutthroat and Competitive”

[Ed Note: Due to technical difficulties, my super awesome Morning Docket picture could not be uploaded. I suggest you visualize the most awesome picture idea ever to go along with this column. Thanks.]

* Good Morning American taxpayers. Please enjoy the $40 billion in AIG shares you just purchased. [NYT]

* Circuit City: more knowledgeable staff than Best Buy, better prices than Best Buy, higher end equipment than Best Buy, and now much more bankrupt than Best Buy. [Dealbook]

* Strip club owners lost their trademark infringement claim against Grand Theft Auto. [Courthouse News]

* Is there an appropriate earthly penalty for kidnapping a nun? [CNN]

* The post-9/11 transfer of power in the Justice Department is a big deal. [Law.com]

Thelen LLP new logo.jpgWe’ve previously reported that Nixon Peabody was acquiring 60 ex-Thelen attorneys, but only Thelen refugees located in Manhattan.

But now it is looking like Nixon is picking up 90 ex-Thelen lawyers (partners and associates), former Thelen support staff, and tripling its presence in Silicon Valley.

Yesterday’s press release from Nixon reported:

The new attorneys are joining all four of Nixon Peabody’s departments: business, intellectual property, litigation, and real estate. The firm also plans to hire a number of associates and staff from Thelen to help support the new partners. With the addition of these new attorneys from Thelen in Silicon Valley, which will triple in size, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Shanghai, it is anticipated Nixon Peabody will have more than 825 attorneys worldwide in 19 cities.

After the jump, remember when Nixon and Thelen were supposed to merge?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nixon Peabody Picks Up 90 Thelen Attorneys
(This is Different From a Merger How?)”

ball of confusion.JPG* Ball of Confusion. That’s what tax law is today. [Tax Prof Blog]

* I told you that dating partners ends badly. [Sweet Hot Justice]

* The Governator seeks to terminate one day of wages a month for state workers. [Wage Law]

* Melissa Ethridge is threatening to not pay her taxes because of Prop 8. Anybody else think that this issue has been “settled?” [Popsquire]

* Let me get this straight. The Airline industry is suing the TSA for unfair and arbitrary fees. This would be the same Airline industry that now charges you a fee for looking out the window? And they’re suing the TSA over … fees? Only in America. [The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]

Sutherland Asbill Brennan law firm.jpgIn these uncertain economic times, lots of law firms are holding lots of meetings. Sometimes they bring good news, and sometimes not-so-good news. E.g., Covington & Burling (welcoming the Heller IP group); Jenner & Block (everything’s dandy); McKee Nelson (layoffs).

Earlier this week, Sutherland announced associate and counsel meetings would be held next week. What might they be about?

According to the email from managing partner Mark Wasserman that announced the meetings, they “are not planned to announce bad news of any sort.” One Sutherland source takes him at his word:

Ninety-nine percent sure it’s just a “calming fears” meeting, since we’ve already done our nasty round of layoffs six months ago. Wasserman’s a straight shooter (best I’ve ever seen), so if he says there is not “bad news of any sort,” there won’t be.

We reached out to Wasserman, who explained:

We are having a series of roundtable discussions next week with our associates and counsel to share information, answer questions and seek input on topics relating to the economy, our clients and our strategy for the firm. Sharing information and obtaining input from our lawyers is important and valuable to us.

And, as we noted in the email announcing the meetings, there will be no announcement of any bad news, including announcement of any layoffs.

Kudos to Sutherland for being proactive and involving associates and counsel in such discussions. Some firms have taken a decidedly top-down approach to dealing with the economic climate, but they might have been better served by soliciting input from their associates first.

Read more, including the full Sutherland memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading Mystery Meetings at Sutherland (But fear not; no bad news.)”

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