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.
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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 six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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