October 2014

locke lord logo.JPGIt wasn’t that long ago that Locke Lord was provided a lifeboat for a select few partners, associates, and staff from dissolving Morgan & Finnegan. But it appears that was a most temporary landing for the ex-Morgan & Finnegan employees. We’ve been fielding layoff reports from Locke Lord’s offices in Chicago, New York and most recently Dallas. A tipster adds:

Apparently it is affecting some people who were just brought over from Morgan & Finnegan too.

Right there, that’s the difference between driving a Lexus and driving a Lexis.

We have now confirmed with a firm spokesperson that Locke Lord did lay off approximately six percent of its associates and an undisclosed number of staff today. Locke Lord gave us the following statement:

These are extremely tough economic times for our country, and Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell is not immune. We have been cutting expenses and our budget while making prudent business decisions, but it is clear we are in a recession that continues to adversely affect us all. Our clients’ decision to cut back on outside legal services and the uncertainty ahead has led to a conservative reduction in our attorneys and staff, and we are deferring the start date of our new Associates to January 2010. At the same time, we feel strongly our firm fundamentals are sound, and we look forward to a long and vibrant future as we continue to provide excellent legal services to our clients.

In addition, the firm spokesperson tell us that only “two or three” of the laid off attorneys were from Morgan & Finnegan. But, our tipsters report that the M&F casualties were higher for former Morgan & Finnegan staff that had (briefly) made the change over.

Good luck to all the ex-Locke Lord people and ex-M&F Locke Lord people tonight.

Update (6:25): Texas Lawyer reports that Locke Lord also deferred start dates for incoming first year associates:

Additionally, the firm today notified its incoming fall associate class of 31 who were supposed to start in September that they will be starting in January 2010. The firm’s summer associate program will not be affected, she says, although “we will probably have a little less extravagant entertainment.”

Update (6:44): We now have a source telling us that 80-90 staffers were let go along with the attorneys. Altogether, this puts the layoffs today at Locke Lord comfortably over 100 people.

Layoffs at Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell [Texas Lawyer]

Earlier: Nationwide Dissolution Watch: Locke Lord Locks Down Morgan & Finnegan Laterals

Corri Fetman sues Playboy.jpg* Sexually harassed by Playboy editors? Perhaps. Surprised? Certainly not. [Legal Blog Watch]

* We posted earlier today about Orrick’s West Virginia office. Now, there’s video. [The Shark]

* Actually, this isn’t how it works. People tip off Above the Law long before the partner shows up in anybody’s office…. Okay, sometimes it works exactly like this. [Legally Drawn]

* Chicago women unite. [Coalition of Women's Initiatives]

* Don’t forget to vote in the Elite Eight of our Safest Law Firm bracket. We’re keeping the polls open for this round through Wednesday. There is a really tight match going on between Cravath and Covington & Burling. [Above the Law]

Allen Matkins logo.jpgAllen Matkins, a mid-sized California firm, is the latest firm to offer the “hemlock package” of layoffs and salary cuts.

The layoffs at Allen Matkins were relatively small. Only about ten people, six of whom were associates, according to ATL tipsters. But the salary cuts were more substantial. According to one tipster:

First year salary has been reduced from $160K to $145K. A number of other associates (excluding first years) were informed that their salary would be reduced by 15% or 30%. Those associates were told that they were selected to receive “adjusted” compensation based on their hours, although the actual method for determining which associate would be subject to this salary adjustment was not disclosed and remains unclear.

Other tipsters weigh in after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Allen Matkins Continues the Layoff & Salary Cuts ‘Super Combo’”

Arent Fox logo.JPGThere’s been a little confusion concerning precisely what Arent Fox is doing with its incoming associates. We told you earlier that the firm had pushed back start dates (some to November, others to February), but new information has come to light.

According to a spokesperson for Arent Fox. five 3Ls will be starting with the firm in November 2009, while the rest (21 incoming first years) won’t be able to start until February, 2010.

Our sources also report that the deferral stipend being offered to those February, 2010 first years is $5,000 — but that money is on top of the bar expenses. According to our sources, that money will not be paid out until November. Arent Fox declines to comment on the specific amount of its deferral stipend, as per firm policy.

After the jump, we explain why some commenters think that Arent Fox is “rescinding” offers to incoming first years.

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Robinson cole logo.JPGLet’s start with the good news. Robinson & Cole, a well known Connecticut-based firm, has named a new managing partner. John B. Lynch (Holy Cross undergrad, UVA law school) was elected managing partner of the firm yesterday. Congratulations.

Sadly, it appears that one of his first acts was to layoff associates and staff. Thirty people are out today at Robinson & Cole. Above the Law just obtained the following press release:

Robinson & Cole has eliminated 11 counsel and associate attorneys, and 19 support staff positions. These cutbacks are taking place among the firm’s seven offices in the Northeast. Other prudent expense reductions will be made across the firm.

“Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

On the bright side, all systems are a “go” for Robinson in terms of incoming first years and the 2009 summer program. That’s pretty good news in today’s market.

Read the full statement from Robinson & Cole after the jump. Good luck to our brothers in UCONN territory.

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Notes from the Breadline Roxana St Thomas.jpgEd. note: Welcome to the latest installment of “Notes from the Breadline,” a column by a laid-off lawyer in New York. Prior columns are collected here. You can reach Roxana St. Thomas by email (at roxanastthomas@gmail.com), follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook.

Cliff does not understand why attorney layoffs — mine or anyone else’s — are, well, newsworthy. This comes to light when I show him what I think is a fairly remarkable story about a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop who, in a display of consummate indiscretion, broadcasted the firm’s layoff plans to his fellow passengers on the Washington-to-New York Acela train (via loud cell-phone conversation).

“Pretty fucked up, huh?” I say. He shrugs. Crickets chirp. “I don’t know,” he finally answers. “I don’t get it. I don’t get the whole thing.” I try to explain why I think the story is remarkable. First, there is the obvious matter of the partner’s imprudence, and the thoughtlessness of announcing personnel decisions that will affect people’s lives — people like me — to the passengers on the 2:00 train. Second, I tell him, putting aside the fact that widespread job losses are the foremost indicator of what feels like our profession’s implosion, they are often fashioned as “stealth layoffs.” Pillsbury had already engaged in some stealth layoffs, and although it is not clear that the partner’s unofficial press release (in the form of poor volume modulation) thwarted the firm’s plans for another, the possibility gives the story a “gotcha” quality.

But, it turns out, while the term “stealth layoff” may be part of every lawyer’s lexicon at the moment, it does not have universal currency. “What are ‘stealth layoffs’?” Cliff wants to know. Growing exasperated, I try to explain the pernicious “enhanced performance review,” and its insidious corollary, the “performance-based dismissal.” My indignation is not contagious: Cliff remains unmoved. “These are private companies,” he says. “I don’t see why they have an obligation to announce anything about who they choose to fire, or why.”

People get fired, he says: it sucks, but why should we expect law firms to act any differently than any other employer? Cliff has worked in advertising for the better part of two decades, where, apparently, things work differently; when he was working at big ad agencies, he tells me, people were fired all the time. In fact, firings usually coincided with payday, so if you got a paycheck you knew that you were safe for a little while longer.

Once, years ago, when he was working at one such agency, someone from management went around and put stickers on the doors of selected offices. Everyone who got a sticker assumed that they were going to be canned, so that later, when they were herded into a conference room, they were prepared for the ax to fall. Instead, they were told that they “were the future of the company,” but that everyone else was being told to pack up and leave. The chosen ones were then sequestered in the conference room until the unfortunate ones, who hadn’t made the cut, were shepherded out of the building. No one had any warning of what was about to happen, much less an expectation that they would get three months of severance.

I understand what Cliff is saying. “But,” I remind him, “you told me that the last few times you were fired, they escorted you out as you threw things down the hall and yelled obscenities.” I also recall him saying, at some point, “Wow, I can’t believe you’re still going into the office. I would be walking in with a can of gasoline.”

“I didn’t say that it doesn’t suck,” he concedes. “I just don’t understand why everyone thinks that these law firms owe them something.”

Is Roxana’s significant other being insufficiently understanding? Read her reflections on lawyers’ love lives, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Notes from the Breadline: It Ain’t No Use to Sit and Wonder Why, Babe”

Reed Smith.jpgReed Smith already laid off 115 people in early December. Here at the end of the first quarter, the firm has decided it needs to reduce headcount even further. Above the Law has been able to confirm that Reed Smith is letting go 26 attorneys and 74 staff across its U.S. and U.K. offices. A firm spokesperson provided us with this statement:

Specifically, we are initiating the outplacement of 17 associates in the U.S. and have started a consultation process in London that will potentially result in nine associate redundancies. All of the affected associates are in the corporate and real estate areas of our practice, where demand for our services continues to be slow. Overall, this action will affect less than 4% of all of our associates.

I should’ve learned, to play the guitar.
I should’ve learned, to play them drums.
Maybe get a blister on your little finger.
Maybe get a blister on your thumb.

These layoffs bring Reed Smith’s total cuts to 215 employees in the past four months. Let’s hope this is the last round. Good luck to everybody who has been let go today.

Read the full statement after the jump.

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If you’re a 3L or a clerk with a Biglaw job offer, congratulations. If you were hoping for a traditional start date in the fall, you may be a little disappointed though. Many a firm has pushed its start date for incoming associates into 2010.

Yesterday, Milbank Tweed informed associates that it’s pushing back start dates from October 2009 to January 2010. From a tipster:

This was done [Monday] afternoon by phone from partners (probably from the practice groups where incoming associates are slated to go) and an email went out later. Old Start Date: Oct. 19, 2009. New Start Date: January 25, 2010. $10,000 stipend + the $10,000 you can get as a salary advance + moving expenses + bar expenses.

Incoming associates at Arent Fox and Fulbright & Jaworski are also reporting that their start dates have been pushed back to January 2010. A spokesman from Arent Fox tells us that a lucky few still have the option to start this year though:

A number of third-year law students who were offered a position with Arent Fox will start on November 1, 2009 as previously planned. The remaining 3L students offered a position with Arent Fox have had their start dates deferred until Feb. 1, 2010…. Arent Fox is providing a stipend plus bar exam fees for those whose start date has been deferred.

We’ve got a round-up of start dates at over 20 Biglaw firms after the jump, most of them set to welcome new associates in 2010. We invite you to supplement start date information in the comments, or by e-mailing us with “Start Date Watch” in the subject.

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Georgetown Law logo.jpgThere’s an interesting job opening Orrick is extending to a number of recent graduates. We got this information from Georgetown University Law Center, but we understand that Orrick has posted this job at a couple of top schools:

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP (Wheeling, WV) – Orrick currently has an excellent opportunity for recent law school graduates in its Global Operations Center in Wheeling, WV. The position is an entry level Career Attorney in its dynamic and growing Emerging Companies Group (ECG).

The economy is bad. Everybody knows that. But are we really living in a world where students at the nation’s best law schools are looking at “career attorney” jobs in West Virginia? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But this can’t be what GULC students were hoping for when they began their law school journey.

A tipster explains exactly what we are talking about, after the jump.

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lumberg law firm manager.jpgI wanted to circle back to a column that appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post and ABA Journal. A small firm “middle manager” wrote into the WaPo complaining that he kept hiring terrible associates:

I’m in middle management at a small law firm. Of every three associates we hire, we inevitably part with two within a year. The pattern is always the same: The associate is hired, struggles with his hours for the first few months, and then develops problems maintaining a responsible level of contact with clients. Then he struggles with deadlines, and finally when the partners and I are at our wits’ end, the associate pretty much stops working, stops billing and becomes a liability. We offer training and performance plans, we have scheduled weekly meetings with the associates, and we’re small so someone is always available for guidance. Is firing people just the way it is?

It sounds to me like this guy has a terrible eye for talent. The Washington Post (rightly, I think) highlights several factors that can help this guy become a better interviewer. But advice columnist Lily Garcia also offers this tip:

But there’s no guarantee your new associate will make it. If an employee is struggling, it is easy to assume it’s because of poor attitude or lack of ability. But environmental factors, such as an employee’s training, support and supervisory relationship, most accurately predict success.

If 66% of your people are washing out, it’s probably not because 66% of the law students you hire are functionally useless. I can’t imagine what firm the advice seeker works for, but lets hope management heeds this basic advice.

Explaining Your Credit History; and the Case of the Vanishing Lawyers [Washington Post]

Law Firm Manager Writes Post Columnist About Clueless Associates [ABA Journal]

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