Bloomberg is reporting that fees are expected to jump between 6 and 7 percent in 2009. Of course, associates are blamed:
Even with corporate backlash, many firms are still planning fee increases of 6 percent to 7 percent for 2009, said Andrew Johnman of Barclays Capital in New York, which lends to law partnerships.
“You would’ve thought firms would have backed off in this environment,” he said.
Rate increases in recent years reflect rising costs, particularly in the competition for associates. Firms raised pay for salaried lawyers by 16 percent in 2006 and by 10 percent in 2007. Associate salaries held steady this year.
New law school graduates earn $160,000 a year in big New York firms. Some of them paid senior associates bonuses of as much as $115,000 last year.
Sure. Firms increase fees to subsidize greedy associates with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. Profits per partner have nothing to do with it.
Still, some firms are trying to respond to the market conditions:
Lawyer Mark Peroff made a promise to the Japanese maker of the video game “Final Fantasy” when he moved to Hiscock & Barclay, a 200-attorney firm in upstate New York: I’ll cut my legal fees if you follow me.
The answer from his Tokyo-based client Square Enix Holdings Co.: “We’re on board,” according to Peroff, who works out of Hiscock’s Manhattan office and says he’s undercutting larger New York firms’ hourly fees by up to 20 percent.
Companies including Square Enix, Shell Oil Co. and Fidelity Investments are trying to reduce legal costs after swallowing 6 percent to 9 percent annual fee increases over the last eight years, according to the Association of Corporate Counsel. Hourly rates should drop in 2009, given the decline in legal business with the economic slowdown, the Washington-based group said.
As long as everybody has chocobos, who can complain?
Last night was one that made history, and not just in the ways you would think. As crowds stood at the Biltmore Hotel and at Grant Park, two women, one who would have been First Lady and one who became First Lady-Elect, stood by their husbands wearing what was historically each woman’s worst outfit during the entire two year campaign trail. The screams and cries you saw on tv and heard from your window were not the agony of defeat and the exhilaration of change, but rather the despair of a nation at the devastating fashion choices made by Cindy McCain and to a lesser extent, Michelle Obama.
John McCain’s exceptionally gracious concession speech was in stark contrast to his wife’s monstrous skirt suit, the color of mononucleosis urine. That she chose to go in costume as Gulden’s Mustard four days after Halloween in a feeble attempt to prove that she’s a kid at heart like the rest of us, speaks to her impetuousness and poor decision making skills – the same shortcomings her husband suffered in his selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate. True taste requires people to disregard the label, whether it be Female Governor or Oscar de la Renta, and see the selection for what it is – in both cases, a shimmering banana. My friends, our election of Obama has spared us an administration of Santa pantsuits, and crusty St. John knits.
That’s not to say that our First Lady-Elect fared well last night. She wore a Narciso Rodriguez red and black ombre dress with an obi sash similar to the ones worn at Benihana and cropped black cardigan. I didn’t hate it, but the dress appeared to be on fire. The outfit comes as a blow to many Americans who expected Michelle to knock it out of the park as she has done previously in Thakoon. No doubt two years on the road is as grueling physically and mentally as it is wardrobe-wise, but a less than stunning election night dress is NEVER ok, nor for that matter is a purple tapered jean which she once wore at a rally to universal horror.
America voted for change last night. It is my sincerest hope that Michelle’s victory speech dress is not an indicator of four more years of fashion mediocrity. Yes we can.
The National Law Journal reports on the many, many lawyers who busted their tail (on both sides) making America a barely functional democracy:
In Ohio, New Hampshire and Virginia, lawyers scrambled to file court documents in election-related lawsuits. But in most states, lawyers were working to prevent litigation by fielding calls at centers housed at area law firm offices or traveling to polling locations to address voter concerns. Some states had unique issues, such as improper signage in Florida, missing absentee ballots in California and a shortage of interpreters for Asian-American voters in New York’s Chinatown.
Thanks to all who volunteered their time.
Nonetheless, a plethora of shenanigans ensued:
Jon Greenbaum, director of the Voting Rights Project, said the election did not go smoothly in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan and New Jersey. … The bottom line, according to Greenbaum: “The system is not designed to deal with a high turnout election and we’re seeing the effects of a lack of planning and resources.”
So, some firms are not canceling their holiday parties.
Dechert’s makeup may be fading, but (apparently) the show must go on.
Dechert is still having its annual Holiday reception (cocktails, dinner and dancing) and, as usual, everyone at the firm is invited and everyone gets to bring a guest. The only changes are that it is on a Wednesday at the Grand Hyatt near GCT now (rather than on a Thursday at the Waldorf, as it had been for several years).
Yesterday was Election Day not just for the nation, but also for Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Wachtell, one of the country’s most prestigious and profitable law firms, traditionally elects its new partners on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November.
The firm just elected half a dozen new partners — a robust number, suggesting that things are going well at WLRK. Congratulations to our former colleagues Ian Boczko (litigation), Damian Didden (antitrust), Matthew Guest (corporate), David Kahan (executive compensation and benefits), David Lam (corporate), and Ante Vucic (corporate). They will become partners of the firm effective January 1, 2009.
Thanks to Wachtell’s insanely high profits and (roughly) lockstep compensation system, they will soon be millionaires. Back in the late 1990s, rumor had it that newly minted partners earned $1.5 million in their first year. The number must surely be higher today, since WLRK’s profits per partner are so much higher now — for 2007, PPP clocked in at a shade under $5 million (or $4.9 million, to be more precise).
We might start doing weekly round-ups of partnership announcements. If you’re at a major firm — say, Vault or Am Law 100 — and have partnership news to pass along, please email us (subject line: “New Partners”).
President Obama and the new Democratic Congress face unprecedented fiscal policy challenges. First, they must endeavor to restore public confidence and return our economy to a period of growth. Here one can only hope that any new economic stimulus is well-targeted and genuinely temporary. Extending unemployment coverage and benefits should take priority. (And we should modernize our archaic system for funding unemployment insurance.)
When we emerge from the current recession, the president must tackle more fundamental issues. We need to put our fiscal house in order, restructure tax policy toward healthcare and health insurance, and shift away from tax expenditures as our principal policy instrument for financing higher education, implementing energy policy, addressing long-term care needs and the like.
“Ronald Reagan will raise your taxes, and so will I.”
A few hours before the polls close, Virginia continues to be a disaster of disenfranchisement.
Voting machine breakdowns at dozens of sites, affecting voters in all parts of the state, suggest that Virginia election officials were woefully unprepared for the massive turnout that everybody predicted. Right now, Election Protection lawyers are concerned that multiple precincts in Virginia will run out of emergency back-up paper ballots.
Lawyers have asked the state to print more paper ballots because of the shortage. But according to Jon Greenbaum, director of the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, the State Board of Elections has effectively said “let’s wait until the [paper ballots] actually run out, and we’ll deal with it then.”
Way to stay ahead of the curve.
The new tactic for voter suppression is apparently to tell people still waiting in line that “due to the unprecedented turnout, voting has been extended to Wednesday.”
Rock the Vote is reporting that students in Virginia are being targeted with text messages saying “due to the long lines, Obama voters are asked to vote on Wednesday. Thank you for your cooperation.”
Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Squire Sanders & Dempsey LLP have each been awarded a contract for roughly $5.5 million to help shepherd about 2,000 financial firms through the program that would see the government buy company shares, the Treasury Department said on Monday.
Looks like Hughes Hubbard’s strategizing with the acquisition of boutique bankruptcy firm Luskin, Stern & Eisler may have paid off.
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.