There have been a lot of rumors about impending layoffs at Latham & Watkins. Major layoffs. The firm has not responded to our multiple requests for comment, but here is the best information we’ve been able to collect over the past few days.
We’re hearing that at least 70 – 150 people will be laid off from Latham. We believe that it is all going to go down this Friday.
The layoffs will primarily affect the offices in New York, Chicago, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Conference rooms have been booked in all of those cities for Friday the 27th. The conference room schedule, which is available online for all Latham associates to see, is how most people are finding out about the layoffs coming at the end of this week. A tipster reports:
The online conference scheduler for Latham’s NY office has multiple rooms in the conference center checked out for all of Friday to Dave Gordon (L&W NY’s office managing partner), with multiple adjacent conference rooms checked out to the head of HR, as well as the head of the technology department. This is clearly not a typical occurrence.
We understand that partners in the New York office have been very open about the fact that a large number of people will be let go, and first-years are far from safe.
And while LW doesn’t seem to want to talk about this publicly, firm management has already decided on which people will be let go. The list will be given to the full partnership sometime tomorrow.
Why is Latham being silent about layoffs that everybody already seems to know about? We offer some historical context after the jump.
After yesterday’s staff layoff news, it may come as no surprise that Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is the latest firm to freeze associate salaries for 2009. From a tipster there:
Buchanan Ingersoll announced a salary freeze for 2009 for all associates except “unusual” cases, e.g., laterals who were brought in at what is now perceived to be slightly undermarket salaries last year may get bumped a little. Several other raises on a case-by-case basis, but they will be few.
Better a freeze than a lay-off, we say. We’ve updated the list of firms that have chosen not to institute class year raises. The list is now 47-firms strong. Check it out, after the jump.
* Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain testified for 2.5 hours yesterday in New York in Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office, but wouldn’t say which employees got some of the $3.6 billion bonus pie before the merger with B of A. How are we supposed to know which men to date when we get laid off? Kidding….[Bloomberg]
* More than 100 clients of a man who pretended to be an immigration lawyer got free advice from Lawyers at the New York City Bar Association. [The New York Times]
Sheppard Mullin could have gone the full “stealth” layoff route. The firm has been laying off people incrementally over the past couple of months for a variety of reasons: some performance based, others because of the economy. The firm could have left former employees confused and current employees frightened about what is going on at the firm.
But this evening the firm decided to come clean and present the information in a reasonable and straight forward manner. In response to an inquiry from Above the Law, the firm released this statement:
At yesterday’s meeting of the Sheppard Mullin Associates’ Forum, firm management announced that by the end of this week about 25 attorneys firmwide will have been let go since the beginning of the year. Some of these terminations were performance-related; others were true “lay-offs,” done in order to adjust professional staff levels in practice groups whose level of business has been adversely affected by the economic downturn.
The terminations have been carried out incrementally over the last two months, because firm management has very carefully assessed each associate’s performance in the context of the level of work projected for the associate’s practice group.
As we said a long time ago, there are attorneys out there who would have been fired during any economy. But given the current economic climate, there are a lot of people being let go that would have been able to hang on if times were better.
With this statement, Sheppard Mullin is at least replacing a lot of speculation with solid facts.
Good luck to the 25 people let go — regardless of the reason. The economy can’t stay this terrible forever.
* The five richest and the five poorest zip codes by IRS reported income. Apparently, living in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge is the modern equivalent to the trials of Sisyphus. Still, it’s gotta be better than living in Texas right? [TaxProf Blog]
* Has anybody actually met the mysterious “Ed.” of Blawg Review fame? He’s like a Smoking Man’s Keyser Soze wrapped in a legal fiction. [What About Clients?]
* Dear New York Post. If you must make a cartoon that references monkeys, try it this way. You’re welcome. [Courtoons]
* With all the layoffs going around Biglaw, one starts to think that Shinyung Oh was just the first shot across the bow. [Law and More]
* There should soon be a new head of the DOJ Civil Rights Division. It looks like this one actually believes in civil rights, which will be an interesting change over there. [WSJ Law Blog]
* In ancient cultures, when rainmakers failed to produce rain, they were eaten. [Litination]
* So, here’s a quote from Kanye West: “My game was very sexual. The main character was, like, a giant penis. It was like Mario Brothers, but the ghosts were, like, vaginas.” This quote is put in context on our sister site, Edificial. [Edificial]
Earlier this month, we reported that Paul Hastings laid off a number of attorneys in its Atlanta office. Last week, we learned that the firm Paul Hastings took a slight dip in profits per partner in 2008.
You know what is coming next. A tipster reports:
I just wanted to let you know that stealth layoffs are ongoing at Paul Hastings. Rumor has it that the grim reaper is making rounds to many offices [in California].
Other tipsters report that the current round of layoffs at Paul Hastings has a truly international feel:
I heard that PH laid off 50% of its associates in the Shanghai office as compared to the same time last year.
We’re still waiting for a firm response after the jump.
The 90′s were good to Billy Blanks of Tae Bo fame. His taekwando-boxing hybrid workout routine was all the rage across the land, with Paula Abdul a notable follower.
After his career peaked, the legal troubles started. In 1999, he filed a $10 million suit against his agent, because his agent wasn’t licensed to be an agent. And he hired Seyfarth Shaw to represent him. The case did not go well, and Blanks kick-boxed a malpractice suit Seyfarth’s way. One of Seyfarth’s L.A. partners, William Lancaster, bore the full brunt of Blanks’ aerobic fury, because Blanks alleged that he missed the statute of limitations by four weeks because Lancaster was dilly-dallying in the Superior Court system rather than taking his complaint to the labor commissioner, where it belonged.
The malpractice suit was decided in Blanks’ favor, and he was awarded $30 million. But the Second District Court of Appeals has reversed the judgment and remanded the case to the trial court.
Not without a cardio-kick to Seyfarth. From the Legal Pad:
[The] Second District Court of Appeal ruling that gave [Seyfarth] that dancing-with-joy moment wasn’t very kind to their law firm: It almost scoffed at their defenses to a celebrity’s claim of legal malpractice….
[Justice Richard Aldrich] had a warning for Seyfarth (and the trial judge) on remand. Aldrich speculated that Seyfarth will argue that Lancaster’s decision to delay filing a TAA petition was “a reasoned choice” or a “prudent trial strategy.” But he indicated that won’t be easy.
“Although attorneys have wide latitude in selecting strategy,” Aldrich wrote, “Seyfarth will have the burden to explain why its choice to delay filing a TAA petition was based upon a rational, professional judgment that would have been made by other reputable attorneys in the community under the same or substantially similar circumstances.”
Billy Blanks is giving Seyfarth quite the work-out.
Remember Kathleen DeLaney and Courtney Thomas? Almost a year ago, this comely couple was named an ATL couple of the week. In the words of Laurie Lin, “Team DeLaney-Thomas, you’ve shaken LEWW out of our winter doldrums with your sterling credentials and sizzling good looks. Congratulations!”
Now ATL would like to congratulate the DeLaney-Thomases on something else: a fabulous new home. Once again, they make their appearance in the New York Times:
For three years, Kathleen DeLaney Thomas and her husband, Courtney Thomas, lived in a Chelsea rental of 900 square feet. “That apartment felt big when we moved in and small when we moved out,” Mrs. Thomas said….
The place had scarce closet space and an unnecessarily large second bedroom, carved from the living room, that made for a claustrophobic feel. Wedding gifts were stacked in the hall or stored at Mr. Thomas’s mother’s house in New Jersey.
ATL readers from Texas, this is your cue: “In Texas, you could live in a 5,000 square foot mansion for the same amount!”
The sluggish elevator drove the couple mad. If they were paying so much in rent — around $3,300 a month — they would rather get a return on their outlay. Once they saved enough for a down payment on a condominium, Mrs. Thomas said, “we were totally ready to go.”
And go they did — to Brooklyn, where all the cool kids live nowadays.
Read more about their fabulous new pad, after the jump.
Though the magazine’s publisher, Chere Estrin of EstrinLegalEd, filed for Chapter 11 in December (Bankruptcy Petition # 2:08-bk-32520-BR), the magazines struggle on. We surfed over to their websites and discovered that KNOW is down to 6 issues per year, and that Sue just released its inaugural issue, albeit a digital version only. According to the website:
Sue is a 100-percent digital publication. It looks just like a hard-copy magazine except that you will view it on your PC. You can even ‘turn’ the pages. The inaugural edition is Feb./Mar. 2009.
Well, that sounds snazzy. We didn’t get a chance to peruse the digital mag, but it must be good given its endorsements. The homepage proclaims:
Sue Magazine has been recognized in AmLaw Online; The National Law Journal; The ABA Journal; Above The Law and other prestigious publications.
We’ve been called many things, but prestigious is a new one.
Back in December, we reported that Proskauer Rose laid off 35 associates and 25 staff. We believe that the firm fired first-years as part of the layoffs. Proskauer said it was taking these actions in response to the “worldwide economic crisis.”
Yesterday, AmLaw Daily reported that Proskauer partners also felt the pain of 2008:
Proskauer Rose’s profits per equity partner dropped 10 percent in 2008 to $1.4 million. Revenues increased marginally, by 1 percent, to $634 million in 2008. Revenue per lawyer dipped slightly to $916,000, as did head count: total attorneys went from 685 in 2007 to 692 in 2008.
In this economy, Proskauer chairman Allen Fagin was reluctant to complain about $1.4 million dollars per partner:
Fagin echoes other law firm leaders when commenting on his firm’s performance this past year, saying that, given the challenges, he is satisfied. The results “put us in the vicinity of most of the firms we would consider peers,” he says — the group, according to Fagin, includes Mayer Brown and Latham & Watkins.
Let’s see: Mayer Brown laid off 33 attorneys in November, and Latham is doing Latham things, so it sounds like Proskauer did a pretty good job when picking its “peer firms.”
And there might be more layoffs on the horizon for Proskauer:
Fagin says there is an “ongoing examination” to ensure that staffing levels are right.
In the words of the late, great, Mr. Arnold: “Hang on to your butts.”
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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