* Judge James Munley ruled that teens taking naked cell phone photos of themselves does not constitute “child pornography.” Teens in Wyoming Pennsylvania, sext all you want! [Reuters]
* A California lawyer says she’s launching a Craigslist-like site for recent law grads and out-of-work lawyers to advertise their services. It sounds more like Match.com to us though. You’ve got to pay to create a profile pitching yourself. [AmLaw Daily]
* New York AG Andrew Cuomo sticks it to the banking Man, forcing JPMorgan Chase to drop a flat monthly fee from its credit card accounts. [CNN Money]
* Peter Madoff is appealing the ruling freezing his assets in the $2 million lawsuit filed against him by Brooklyn Law student Andrew Samuels. [Bloomberg]
* A highly unusual plea bargain in Maryland. Charges against a 22-year-old woman will be dropped if she testifies against other cult members… and her son rises from the dead. [Washington Post]
Is Skadden hurting more than people think? First, we learned that the firm was extending its Sidebar program in an effort to get associates to take a year off. On Friday, we reported that Skadden laid off over 50 staffers and greatly reduced its staff attorney program.
Above the Law just received a memo indicating that Skadden’s current first-year associates are being shipped over to litigation, for as long as six months. Here’s an excerpt from the memo that was sent to first-year corporate associates at Skadden tday:
Our first year program will now include a six month litigation component in which you will work under the direct supervision of lawyers from the general litigation, white collar, intellectual property/patent, antitrust and/or mass torts groups, both from the New York office and other firm offices. In order to implement this program fairly, all corporate associates will participate in the litigation component. One group will rotate into litigation in early April while the others will proceed to their previously scheduled “second” corporate rotation. In October, the groups will switch and those who were in the litigation rotation will be rotated to their other corporate rotation and those who have completed their second corporate rotation will rotate into the litigation rotation. We anticipate final assignments will occur in May 2010.
A six-month rotation through litigation for new corporate attorneys just starting their careers sounds like a polite way of saying, “we simply don’t have enough work to justify having all of these people hanging around.” When you couple that with the Sidebar program and the staffing cuts, this new information is sure to make people worried.
At least it’s better than layoffs. More after the jump.
* What should you wear while pounding the pavement looking for a job? I suggest the Will Smith “Pursuit of Happyness” look, but there are other ideas. [Corporette]
* Because the real world doesn’t have its very own Kyle Broflovski, maybe we should all sign this petition? Whether or not its good policy, a student loan bailout would be just awesome. [Cancel Student Loan Debts]
* Wow. Marion Barry. That dude is still kicking around? He reminds me of herpes. [TaxProf Blog]
* A University of Florida professor got fired. You’ll see why once you click on the link (scroll down because the video is no longer on YouTube) and go to at least the 2:35 mark. [Legal Writing Prof Blog]
* Speaking of Florida, I’m just not sure how we can justify that state having so many electoral votes anymore. I mean, the professional wide receiver to competent individual ratio is way out of whack down there. [The Legal Satyricon]
* There is a lot of Spirit and Opportunity in this week’s Blawg Review. Now is a great time to look explore and imagine other planets, given how terrible mother Gaia is starting to look.
As we follow the sun through its appointed circuit, we’ve learned that additional layoffs have occurred today out west. Manatt, Phelps has laid off 25 people today: 17 lawyers and 8 staff.
Here’s the statement the firm provided to Above the Law:
The broad economic slowdown continues to present challenges to businesses in every industry. The quality and breadth our national practice, as well as initiatives to improve resource utilization and reduce expenses, have positioned us to meet these challenges. Responsible stewardship, however, requires ongoing evaluation and appropriate alignment of staffing levels with client needs.
With this in mind, we have made the extremely difficult decision to reduce our lawyer ranks by 17 and our staff ranks by 8. Due to the nature and timing of these actions, we have provided those affected with financial and other assistance to help with their transitions.
We understand that the layoffs took place in the finance, tax, and advertising practice groups.
This is the second round of cuts for Manatt. We reported earlier that Manatt has already laid off 47 people since October, 2008.
A tipster also informs us that Manatt first years will be taking a pay cut:
Bill Quicksilver announced … that first year salaries would be reduced to $145K starting April 1. And no on campus recruiting.
Is this the new trend, lay people off while cutting salaries? It certainly appears that firms are trying to finish off this round of cuts before Passover and Easter.
Update (4:48): Additional details about severance after the jump.
More bad news on the last day penultimate day of March. We’re now able to report that the firm so nice they named it twice, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, is laying off ten percent of its associates and staff. Here’s the statement from a Stroock spokesperson:
For some time, we have watched, with concern, as firms and businesses around the country have responded to difficult economic conditions through layoffs of hardworking, dedicated employees. Over the past several months, we have sought to avoid taking similar steps. However, the economic downturn has not abated and we have determined that these conditions require us to take similar action. So, today, we have reduced the number of associates and staff by approximately 10% firm wide. We remain well staffed to serve our clients and to grow when conditions improve.
These actions sadden us greatly, but under current economic conditions are unavoidable.
We also understand that that the firm will be asking certain associates to take a pay cut. More details after the jump.
A Mercer County, N.J., judge has admitted breaching judicial ethics and policies by sending romantic e-mails to his former law clerk via his judiciary e-mail account and by using his judicial office to help land her a public defender job.
The alluring law lovely, who has not been named, clerked for DeBello in Hudson County Family Court from 2006 through 2007. When she left, she and DeBello kept in touch, exchanging e-mails that discussed “personal matters” and used “offensive language”, according to the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct complaint [PDF].
DeBello unwisely used his judicial e-mail account for their correspondence, rather than opening a [email protected] account. Even after being warned by his judicial superiors, DeBello could not keep his passion tamed:
DeBello admitted that at a December 2007 meeting with Hudson County Assignment Judge Maurice Gallipoli and Hudson County Trial Court Administrator Joseph Davis, he conceded the e-mails were inappropriate…. But after that meeting, the e-mails continued and even heated up. DeBello admitted that in December 2007 and mid-January 2008, he “participated in the escalation of the intimate tone and nature of those e-mail exchanges, which concerned their respective romantic feelings for one another.”
In January 2008, DeBello was transferred to Mercer County, but kept up the e-mails, trying to help the former clerk get a new job. He admitted he “used the power and prestige of his office” to advance her “private interests” by making an unsolicited telephone call to Deputy Public Defender Edward Marable — head of the Office of Law Guardian for the northwest region, who had appeared before him in court — telling him the former clerk was interested in a law guardian job.
Love obviously made this justice blind to the error of his ways. We just hope he got more than legal research out of his judicial Juliet.
DeBello has filed an answer [PDF] to the complaint which basically amounts to “Busted.” As Will S. said, the course of true love never did run smooth.
Ed. note: The legal world is much bigger than New York, or Washington, or even the United States. Welcome to Letter from London, a weekly dispatch from the other side of the pond. Our U.K. correspondent, Isaac Smith, will expose ATL readers to the latest goings-on in the London legal world. You can reach Isaac by email, at [email protected].
The G20 summit, accompanied by its anti-capitalist sideshow, arrives in London this week – and UK Big Law is feeling a little scared.
Which provokes an interesting question: how ghetto does a corporate lawyer need to dress in order to avoid arousing suspicion as to their true identity?
We’ll soon find out.
It all seems a bit unfair, really. It’s not as if lawyers got the super big bonuses. And now their salaries are actually falling. If those nasty anti-capitalists had bothered to have a quick scan of The Lawyer last Wednesday, they’d have seen that Shearman & Sterling’s London office had followed Freshfields in cutting newly qualified associate salaries by 8%.
Late last week, we told you that bad things were coming down the pipe at Fried Frank. This morning, the firm announced that 99 people will be let go:
Effective today, we are implementing changes that will result in an overall reduction of 41 associates and 58 administrative staff from our U.S. workforce. This decision is one we worked very hard to avoid. But we must respond responsibly to the current environment. We would like to express our appreciation to everyone impacted by these decisions for all they have done for our Firm and our clients.
It’s not even surprising anymore that the firm is deferring all incoming first-year associates to January 2010. Fried Frank is also following the trend of asking associates to defer until the fall of 2010:
Additional steps announced today pertain to our fall 2009 class and our 2009 summer associate programs in the U.S. The start date of our fall 2009 class has been deferred to January 28, 2010. All incoming associates whose start date is deferred until January 2010 will receive a $10,000 stipend. We are also offering an opportunity for members of the fall 2009 class to defer until the fall 2010. We are encouraging those associates to develop their legal skills by pursuing a public interest or government position or by volunteering with a legal, political or community-based organization. Those who elect this deferral will receive a stipend of $70,000 plus health benefits.
And Fried Frank is cutting its summer program from 12 weeks down to 10.
Ninety-nine layoffs. Shortening of summer programs. Deferral of incoming associates:
* Dahlia Lithwick likens the high drama at the High Court over who-will-retire-first to an Oscar Wilde play. [Slate]
* Holland & Knight was one of the firms that took part in the pre-Valentine’s Day massacre, but one practice group was actually hiring. It’s a good time to be a lawyer-lobbyist. [Washington Post]
* Dewey & LeBeouf may help the MGM Mirage unwind. [Swiss Press]
* Jury selection begins today for the trial of Brooke Astor’s son and lawyer, who allegedly took advantage of her Alzheimer’s to steal millions from her. The case has been getting media attention for years, but now (post-Bernie Madoff) It seems almost quaint. [New York Times]
* Solo practitioners and small firms are getting creative in how they bill. Some are even bartering. A cow for some document review perhaps? [National Law Journal]
[Ed. note: Above the Law has teamed up with Law Shucks. Law Shucks has done excellent work translating all of the layoff news into user-friendly charts and graphs: the Layoff Tracker.]
Things are either quieting down or it’s just the calm before the storm. We suspect the latter. Although there were more people laid off this week than last, it was still relatively quiet, particularly compared to the beginning of the month. Still, first quarter results are being calculated and it’s not going to be pretty.
Life does go on for some. Freshfields kicked off the London firms’ partnership-announcement season with news that 14 associates had made partner – just more than half the 25 of last year, though. Surprisingly, nine of the 14 were in corporate practices. Not surprisingly, none were in the US.
Of course, the layoffs continue. Clifford Chance had its eighth layoff announcement – 25 transactional lawyers in New York this time (although we note that it’s sometimes difficult to track the UK firms’ layoffs because the redundancy process sometimes includes layoffs that have been previously or are later reported as if separate). Anyway, that brings the firm’s total up to 391 (210 lawyers, 181 staff) – good for #4 on the Top Ten list.
The other big news for the week was Dechert sneaking back onto the list when it laid off 125 people – 63 lawyers, 62 staff. That brought the firm’s total to 239 (144 lawyers, 95 staff), good for the #10 spot. This is another firm that just can’t get it right. The firm has had 5 separate layoffs.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
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 protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.