One would-have-been Thacherite said no one was surprised to have the offers rescinded but that the soon-to-be law school graduates are still “bummed.”
The “firm did it right.” The partners in charge of Thacher’s summer associate program called all of the 3Ls on Monday. With the firm bound for nonexistence by May, the reason for the call was fairly obvious. The partners offered to do anything they can to help: forward resumes on, provide references, resend offer letters, etc. (Though those not rescued by Sonnenschein may be a bit busy looking after their own job prospects.)
Law students who placed their eggs in the baskets of failing firms Thacher, Thelen Reid, and Heller Ehrman may no longer be looking forward to cap-and-gown day. One Thacherite-would-have-been talked to us about what it’s like to see one’s Biglaw prospects dissolve. “When you take an offer from a 150-year-old firm, you think it’s pretty solid,” said the UnThachered 3L.
Full interview with “NoMoreTP”, after the jump.
The law school student, who summered with Thacher Proffitt in New York, was among about 20 summer associates who received offers from the firm on August 15. To protect anonymity, we’ll be referring to the 3L as NoMoreTP.
First Warning Sign
It was evident over the summer that there were problems at Thacher, says NoMoreTP. The first warning sign for incoming summer associates was having their summers with the firm shortened. Around two months before SAs were to start, the firm called to push the start date back by a week, to post-Memorial Day weekend. “We calculated that that saved the firm more than $100K, or the equivalent of someone’s job,” said NoMoreTP.
A Slow Summer
In the first SA week, five or six farewell e-mails went around the firm, which was mildly concerning. But the SAs thought people leaving might be a good thing, providing more opportunities for incoming associates.
Over the summer, work was slow. “We worked on some memos and research on the bank industry and securities, but there wasn’t much going on. They said, ‘Normally, we would have deals for you to work on. We usually have 10 or 20 a month. Now, it’s just 1 or 2.” But SAs at other firms were also saying they didn’t have much to do, so it didn’t seem that unusual. Thacher associates admitted it was slow, but didn’t reveal how bad things really were. There was talk around the firm of the possibility of a merger with another firm rather than dissolution.
There was lots of free time over the summer, but it was not filled with leisurely lunches and firm events. The firm was fairly miserly–”they were tight with everything.” In the first month, the firm took its SAs bowling and to a Yankees game (No box though– cheap upper deck seats). Events really tapered off in the second month of the program. Notice all the white space on the firm’s 2008 SA calendar for July.
Associates could only go on one SA lunch per week. Summer associates wound up going out to lunch two times a week, maybe three. They were “strictly capped” at $45 per person– if you went over with tax and tip, you had were responsible for anything over the cap.
But that seemed to be the general environment for most firms over the summer: “Every day, when we didn’t have work to do and turned to ATL, we saw people being fired.”
Associates and partners didn’t try to hide the firm’s problems–it was the elephant in the room–but they expressed optimism about the firm bouncing back. They tried to instill confidence in SAs at the end of the summer. After ATL wrote in July about rumors of the firm’s impending demise, firm managing partner Paul Tvetenstrand actually dropped into the offices of associates and summer associates to reassure them about the firm’s prospects. And, “when you take an offer from a 150-year-old firm, you think it’s pretty solid.”
No Hard Feelings
NoMoreTP says Thacher handled the offer rescission as well as it could. No one was surprised to have offers rescinded this week; most noticed that things were getting worse throughout the fall, and became seriously concerned after the King & Spalding merger fell through. Most summers were glad that Thacher was able to “save” the firm through the Sonnenschein deal.
NoMoreTP did some interviewing in the fall, knowing that Thacher was having problems. But as we know, it was not a good fall recruiting season for 3Ls. NoMoreTP plans to start seriously looking for another job starting in March. NoMoreTP has been told that’s when firms will have a better sense of business in 2009, and whether they will expand hiring. Other would-have-been Thacherites are setting their sights on BigGovernment instead of BigLaw.
NoMoreTP still plans to take the New York bar and home state bar. As Thacher’s problems became evident, this 3L’s career services office reached out and has been supportive.
Most of the partners and associates that NoMoreTP worked with have gone on to Sonnenschein, but “they don’t know if there will be opportunities there. They said they’ll let me know in a couple of months.”