Last week, we brought you our NCAA-tournament style March Madness for Law Firms. We took the top 32 firms from the Vault prestige ratings and asked you to vote on which firms were the “safest” — the places where you’re least likely to get laid off.
After RoundOne, we’re down to the Sweet (Safe) Sixteen.
The higher-ranked teams firms won in all of last week’s contests but one: Magic Circle firm Linklaters (V26) upset 2008 March Madness tournament champ Latham (V7). Sadly, Latham’s bench was not as deep this year. Apparently, voters disagreed with this line of reasoning.
There were two particularly close matches. As predicted by one commenter:
Gibson v Wilmer in the first round is gonna be a close race.
Gibson Dunn won out, but barely, while Kirkland eked out a victory over Jones Day.
The most popular match with 6226 votes was Ropes & Gray vs Davis Polk & Wardwell. Check out which firms advanced, and vote on the first four match-ups of the Sweet Sixteen round, after the jump.
Back in rosier economic times, we started a series of open threads on career alternatives for attorneys, i.e., things you can do with a law degree that don’t involve Biglaw or contract work. These days, we’re starting to think of the series as things you might do if you can’t find Biglaw or contract work.
The latest installment in the series is inspired by a profile in last weekend’s Washington Post Magazine of “Saphira,” a lawyer who traded in regulatory analysis for shimmying in sequins and spangly scarves.
Rachael Galoob-Ortega has been a “professional oriental dance artist,” a.k.a. bellydancer, since 1996. She used to just moonlight as a bellydancer while working full-time as a partner at a small firm, The Salem Law Group. That led to at least one embarrassing incident, recounts the Washington Post. A potential career downside is having to perform for judges inside and outside of the courtroom:
After passing the bar on her first try, she started practicing at a Sarasota law firm representing building contractors. She also joined a belly-dance troupe that performed at high-end soirees. Her two worlds comically collided one night, after she’d spent part of the day discussing the motion docket with a county judge. At a party that evening, she was in the midst of a solo dance, dressed in full belly-dance garb and a long wig, when she shimmied up to a table and recognized the judge. “He said: ‘Oh my God. That’s Rachael Galoob — she was in my courtroom today!’ ” Saphira recalls. “And of course, the room erupted in laughter.”
She winked at the table and moved on.
We hope that after winking, Saphira told the judge, “These hips don’t lie.”
The Oklahoma City University Law grad also has an LLM from Georgetown. She gave up her full-time law job to open Saffron Dance studio in Arlington. The tipster who sent us this story says:
There are lots of belly-dancing lawyers. No fooling. We sometimes call ourselves founding members of Raqs Judicata (Raqs Sharki is the Arabic name for the dance). It’s a great exercise for people who have to sit in front of computers all day long drafting briefs and memos.
Indeed, Saphira has even recruited a Covington & Burling partner teach at her studio. More on that, as well as video of Saphira in action, after the jump.
(Warning: It’s not just shaking the belly. There’s also copious licking of lips and tossing of hair.)
Incoming first years all over the country continue to find out that they won’t be able to start when they had hoped.
Dewey & LeBoeuf officially pushed back start dates for its new associates until January, 2010. The email went out last night:
After careful consideration, the firm’s Executive Committee has decided to delay the start of the first year associate class from fall 2009 to January 11, 2010. Our hope is that by postponing the start date for your class, workflows will have increased across our practices and we will be able to give you challenging assignments from day one.
Dewey emphasizes that just because you can’t start working at Dewey this fall, it doesn’t mean that you can’t start working as soon as you want:
For those of you who would like to start your career in the fall, you may wish to apply for a Community Service Fellowship. You recently received details on the firm’s fellowship program from [Redacted]. Those selected for a fellowship will be able to start with the firm, on secondment to a public service organization, as early as September 2009.
Above the Law has also received the details of the Dewey’s fellowship program. For those accepted into the program, the firm will pay up to $80,000 for associates to not work at Dewey for a whole year. But while the firm says that associates taking a fellowship are still “start[ing] with the firm,” it is not at all clear that associates will advance a class year upon completing the fellowship.
Those taking a fellowship will receive an extra $5,000 from Dewey to tide them over until January.
After the jump, take a look at what Debevoise is doing.
The National Law Journal reports that Goldberg Kohn has made deep cuts:
Goldberg Kohn, a Chicago law firm with 77 lawyers, last week cut about one-quarter of its associates and dismissed support staff as part of a cost-savings effort that will also include reducing pay and scaling back its summer associate program….
The pay cuts for the partners and staff vary, depending on the individuals. The firm now has 29 associates and 48 partners.
Never heard of Goldberg Kohn? I’ll let a tipster describe it:
Smaller but self-declared “elite” firm in Chicago.
Based on what other self-described elite firms are doing, Goldberg Kohn is fitting right in:
Goldberg Kohn said it is also reducing the length of its summer associate program this year to eight weeks and has delayed the start date for its incoming class of first-year associates.
The Wall Street Journal reports that college towns are the places to go to hide out from the recession. Maybe laid off Chicago associates can go to Ann Arbor?
* United Airlines settled a suit filed by a former pilot, who resigned after repeatedly finding porn in hidden places in her cockpit, including underneath a cap on a safety device called a “stick shaker” (no pun intended). Click to see United’s ridiculous effort to dismiss. [The Seattle Times]
* Attorney General Andrew Cuomo convinced 9 out of the top 10 bonus recipients at AIG to return their bonuses. Who is number 10? [The New York Times]
* It turns out that Madoff has more than $1 billion worth of assets and the french authorities plan to seize his chateau in Cap d’Antibe, France, so maybe his victims can get a time share? No? [The Associated Press]
* A court battle between billionaire Wilbur Ross and hedge fund manager Bruce Rose may be the key to understanding the housing crisis. [Bloomberg]
* A sex-discrimination suit against Wal-Mart reaches the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today. 200 female employees say women in comparable jobs don’t get paid as much as men. [The Huffington Post]
* Preservationists think a landmark case in Chicago is cause for alarm. [The New York Times]
We love to point out when our commenters point us in the right direction. Over the weekend, somebody placed this comment in the recent Law Shucks post:
Hunton & Williams is planning big layoff in week ahead. The firm has been laying off PARTNERS in stealth moves during the past two months and a firm-wide meeting is scheduled for this week. Expect big staff cuts since those attorneys are no longer around.
In response, one of our tipsters did some checking:
Saw a comment under the law shucks story that Hunton was having a firm-wide meeting this week. Came in and checked today, [rooms have been reserved] by Human Resources from 11:30 to 1:00…. on Friday.
Hunton & Williams did not respond to our requests for comment. But there are a lot of issues that the firm might choose to address this coming Friday.
We’ll get into our other tipsters’ reports after the jump.
* I’m not sure what a female associate is supposed to wear to her first golf outing. But I know what the commenters are thinking and they are certainly wrong. [Corporette]
* Brian Cuban does a brilliant job here comparing the various ways dating is like basketball. But he acts as if a brother is out there on his own. When I roll, I roll with a posse and we all have our assigned positions. I’m the point guard, I facilitate everything because I can’t score for myself (a.k.a. “the married guy”). Living my life vicariously through others, the team concept is very important to me. [Dallas Basketball]
As we predicted last month, Harold Hongju Koh is stepping down from the deanship at Yale Law School. President Obama is nominating Dean Koh to serve as the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. Dean Koh previously served in the State Department, as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, from 1998 to 2001.
Dean Koh is relinquishing his day-to-day deanly duties immediately, to prepare for his upcoming confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If confirmed, he will officially resign as dean, after five years of service. Professor Kate Stith is taking over as Acting Dean of Yale Law School.
When we visited our alma mater back in December, Dean Koh was most gracious and welcoming (even though he has occasionally been on the receiving side of snark here at ATL). We wish Dean Koh well in his new position.
There doesn’t appear to be a Wolf Block miracle in Philly today. The firm is dissolving. A press release was just issued by Bradford Hildebrandt, whom the ABA Journal reported this morning had been brought in by the firm to oversee a possible wind-down.
The partners of WolfBlock LLP have voted to commence an orderly unwinding of the firm’s business.
WolfBlock will remain in the practice of law for several months to protect the interests of its clients, employees and creditors. The decision to unwind was reached in view of a confluence of unfavorable factors: the economic recession, especially in the firm’s core real estate practice; the constriction of credit occasioned by the ongoing banking crisis; and the intended and anticipated departure of significant partners and practices.
We’re not sure which practice groups in particular felt they’d be better off on their own.
Time to brush up on your WARN law, again. The Intelligencer reported that the overall headcount at Wolf Block is 290. There’s a lot of sadness in Philly today.
There’s a pretty interesting glitch happening right now over at NALP (here at ATL, we know something about “technical difficulties” — we’re working on ours). Even though the new numbers haven’t been made public yet, if you know what you’re doing you can get a sneak peak at the 2009 NALP numbers.
We’re not going to tell you how to do it, but we’ve done it and we’ve obtained some pretty interesting numbers to report about the New York summer programs at the top 20 firms as ranked by Vault. We’ll give you some numbers about the V10 today. Tomorrow we’ll expand our look to the Vault 20.
Getting an offer at one of the top nine firms in the land (the NALP glitch didn’t work for S&C) was considerably more difficult this year than last year. We compares the number of summer associate offers extended to 2Ls in 2007, with the expected numbers for that same group in 2008. Overall 2Ls offers were down a whopping 20% at the top 10 firms. And you have to wonder what percentage of those summer jobs are going to turn into full-time offers for employment.
For 1Ls, it gets even worse. We explain that and some other highlights, after the jump.
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.