May 2009

Law Shucks layoffs layoff tracker.jpg[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.]

Alright, this is getting ridiculous. Last week, no real layoffs until Ropes & Gray got busted doing stealth layoffs at 11:00 on Friday morning. This column closes Friday afternoon, usually. We actually submitted yet another version celebrating the first week of the year without layoffs. Then Weil Gotshal went and laid off 79 staff. We’ll have to save the celebration for next week (hopefully – although we’re planning to be on the golf course, not writing).

So back to the usual roundup.

As in the general US market, the rate of law-firm layoffs (or first-time benefit applications) continues to drop, even though unemployment numbers continue to rise. So most of the cutting may be behind us, even if the growth and hiring haven’t kicked in yet. Still, this recession is far and away the worst of the past 40 years, from a jobs perspective. Check out Clusterstock for interesting chart that shows employment levels are continuing to decline 15 months after the current recession began, a point by which the 1980 recession had completely reversed its losses, 1974-76 was almost back to pre-recession levels, and the others had at least flattened out if not started trending upwards. Elie will continue to monitor Latvian hookers for signs of life. In the economy.

After the jump, there were a few other near-layoffs this week and the usual non-layoff cost-cutting measures.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “This Week In Layoffs: 05.30.09″

Cupcakes 1.jpg
Last week, we brought you the story of an intrepid New York Law School graduate who started his own business. Think cupcakes on wheels.

Today, the proprietor of Cupcake Stop, Lev Ekster, stopped by our office with his delicious wares. Yumyumyumyumyum.

Ed. note: For the record, I really hate donuts. I don’t even particularly like sweets. I owe my girlish figure to (1) things that can be wrapped in bacon and (2) a zero tolerance policy when it comes to exercise.

The most important part of the visit was the excellent food. Lev brought over his three best-selling creations: cookie dough, Oreo cookies ‘n cream, and red velvet. I’d never had a cookie dough cupcake, but its gustatory greatness cannot be denied.

Lat preferred the cookies and cream flavor, while Kash opted to continue looking beautiful.

After we finished stuffing our faces, we sat down to talk with Mr. Ekster. Our notes from the interview, plus pictures of the cupcake-y goodness, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cupcake Stop Is a Great Detour from the Legal Profession”

Tamron Hall.JPG* I actually saw Tamron Hall interview the Men-in-Power guy, yesterday. She totally ripped him a new one on live television. [Jane Genova]
* On the other hand, Tom Goldstein went on MSNBC and dominated. [SCOTUSblog]
* A DNA database brings us one step closer to an Orwellian universe run by CSI. [True/Slant]
* Here’s a new website devoted to all the Indian legal practitioners who are willing to do Biglaw work without Biglaw perks. [Legally India]
* From the department of “I can’t believe this hasn’t happened already,” Geeklawyer has been sued. [Geeklawyer]
* Acela Bob has made the list of “must read” law blog posts for 2009, so far. [3 Geeks and a Law Blog]
* Suing God. [Legal Toast]
* Does being massively hungover count as a sick day? Or are you supposed to drag your ass in and yack in the executive bathroom? [Young Lawyers Blog]
* She’s getting laid off, She can’t pay her debts now
And all she wants to do is dance.
[What About Clients?]
* Been working, so hard. Keep punching, my card. Eight hours, for what?
Oh, tell me what I got.
[Popsquire]

Chambers Associate Chambers and Partners.jpgLast month, we mentioned the plans of Chambers and Partners, the U.K.-based publisher of law firm guides, to launch an online guide to U.S. law firms called Chambers Associate. Already well-known for its rankings of top firms in different practice areas — which firms love to tout in their PR materials, since they’re always good news — Chambers now seeks to supplement its coverage with a resource for law students and laterals.
The Chambers Associate site is now live. Enter a firm’s name in the search box to find its profile, or use the advanced search feature to find firms by region, practice area, or some other criterion.
How does Chambers Associate compare to other resources in the market? The field is already crowded, with players such as Vault and the new ATL / Lateral Link Career Center. Editor Michael Lovatt, whom we met at the NALP conference, explained Chambers Associate:

The emphasis we have gone for is away from the Vault prestige ranking model, and toward the notion that there isn’t a ‘best’ firm, rather that an individual’s specific interests and ambitions make different firms — with their various cultures, policies, practice strengths and identities — the right fit.

Getting law students and lawyers to look beyond prestige, in a profession as status-obsessed as the law, may be a challenge. But at least Chambers has done its homework:

For each firm, we write an overview based on the detailed practice area rankings from Chambers USA, then write 10 sections of editorial based on anonymous telephone interviews with a random, representative sample of junior associates at that firm. It’s an in-depth, substantive approach that we think gets under the skin of law firms in more detail than any other publication.

Present company excluded, of course; here at ATL, we pride ourselves on the ability to “get[] under the skin of law firms.” We checked out a few of the Chambers Associate profiles, and they struck us as comprehensive, if a bit tilted towards the positive.
Press release, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Hello, Old Chap! Say Good Day to Chambers Associate”

Weil.gifWorking at a firm that gets high profile work doesn’t make you immune to the ravages of the tanking economy. Above the Law can now confirm that Weil Gotshal has laid off 79 staffers. We received the following statement from a Weil spokesperson:

Effective today, the Firm has eliminated 79 administrative positions across its US offices. The decision to undertake this action has been an extremely difficult one; the fact that many peer law firms were forced to make similar moves is of little consolation. In taking these steps, we have made every possible effort to be fair-minded and those who are affected have received severance packages that provide transitional income and benefits, with access to a range of services that include healthcare and career guidance. We believe the package we have designed to assist those whose positions have been eliminated more than meets industry norms.

For those keeping score at home, this means that Weil believes it is perfectly able to handle the mega-bankruptcy work it is involved in without the benefit of extra staffers — or a fresh class of incoming associates.
If staff isn’t safe at Weil, are they safe anywhere?
The Weil statement goes on to cite cost concerns from its clients as the reason for the layoffs:

The buyers of legal services – many of whom are experiencing declining markets or even financial distress – are demanding that their service providers produce the most cost-efficient product possible. We have to be cognizant of this industry-wide expectation and plan accordingly.

Have Weil staffers been crushed under the wheel of economic efficiency? Congratulations to the survivors. Good luck to those that have been let go. Luckily, tomorrow is Saturday. Nobody gets laid off on Saturday.
Read the full statement after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Staff Layoff Watch: General Motors Won’t Save Weil Staff”

Covington Burling LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGWe’ve been following the lawsuit filed by former Covington & Burling staff attorney Yolanda Young against Covington. She alleged that various incidents of racial discrimination derailed her Covington career.
Covington denied those claims.
Today, we have a judgment. Attorneys from Akin Gump — which represents Covington in this matter — sent out the following press release, earlier today:

United States District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton today dismissed Yolanda Young’s lawsuit against Covington & Burling LLP after Ms. Young and her attorney failed to appear for a court hearing.
Young filed her complaint in February 2009 against Covington and five of its present or former lawyers. Covington answered, denying Ms. Young’s allegations. Separately, on March 11, Covington filed a motion to strike certain of plaintiffs’ allegations on the grounds that they were false and scandalous, a motion which plaintiff neither responded to nor disputed. In addition, two of the individual lawyer defendants moved for dismissal for failure to state a claim against them, which the Court granted on May 28.
The Court on May 14 issued an order warning plaintiff that her failure to abide by the Rules and participate in a meet and confer conference might be treated as grounds for dismissal. Today’s hearing was scheduled more than two months ago. When neither Ms. Young nor her attorney, Latif Doman, appeared for the hearing or contacted the Court, Judge Walton dismissed the case without prejudice for want of prosecution.

Talk about anticlimactic.
After the jump, more details from the order.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Yolanda Young v. Covington & Burling: Case Dismissed”

champagne glasses small.jpgBefore we discuss this week’s finalists, here’s a peek at some of the weddings we can’t feature due to space constraints: a former Kirkland & Ellis partner marrying the youngest-looking 62-year-old we’ve ever seen, the creator of the Anonymous Lawyer blog marrying an anonymous doctor, and a Rhodes Scholar marrying an ordinary person.
The fact these couples couldn’t make the cut should tell you a little something about the quality of the field as we near the summit of the wedding season. Here are the three lucky couples who’ve reached the finals this week:

1. Kate Adamick and Kay Diaz
2. Sabrina Charles and Jamie Dycus
3. Jessica Chilson and Franklin Reece

Read more about these newlyweds, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 5.24: Food for Thought”

Craigslist.jpgYou wouldn’t think it would be hard to find a group of unemployed Chicago lawyers these days. There are a lot of them lying around. But can they overcome the collective action problem to join together for an epic bender? Let’s turn to Craigslist to find out.
Here’s the text from an ad that went up earlier this week:

Looking for Desperate Lawyer! (Chicago Metro)
Seeking desperate lawyers to form drinking club. Job duties include drinking with the thousands of other out of work/can’t get a job/fresh from passing the bar grads like self who lack the connections/money necessary to find even minimal legal employment. Must be fluent in Scotch-Whiskey, Irish-Whiskey, Smithwicks, Bass, Harp, and any other sophisticated blue-collar drink. Occassional duties of blacking out from excess alcohol will be called upon as needed.
People who dig criminal defense and wasted hundreds on Lexis/Westlaw for their overpriced Illinois books will be given extra consideration.
Interested applicants may respond to the email listed above for further consideration.
Matt/David
www.myspace.com/mattdavidfilms

Oooh, they have a website. Let’s check out the virtual backstory after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Calling All Drunken, Unemployed, Chicago Lawyers”

Salary Cuts.jpgMcDermott Will & Emery is still on the $160K scale for first year associates. Summer associates arriving at MWE might have expected to be paid on the same scale throughout the summer.
But they would have been wrong.
Above the Law has been able to confirm that McDermott summers are being paid on a $135K scale, instead of $160K. A McDermott spokesperson had this to say about the cuts:

McDermott’s Summer Associates will be paid at the rate of $135,000 this year. We advised this year’s class of incoming Summer Associates that their compensation would be determined in the spring of 2009. The information regarding compensation for the summer was shared with all of the Summer Associates at the Firm upon arrival, as we have done in years past.

Sources that we spoke with didn’t feel that the salary cut was properly communicated. One tipster reports:

I’m subletting an apartment based on a $160,000 salary. The salary cut isn’t going to break me, but it would have been nice to know before I signed the papers.

Another tipster had a response that makes those of us at ATL happier:

I am now 15% more likely to tip ATL about any crap I see [at MWE] this summer.

After the jump, the McDermott spokespeople explain the reason for the cuts.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Salary Cut Watch: Summers at McDermott Get Pinched”

naked cowboy.jpg* The “Naked Cowboy,” who went after M&Ms for using his likeness, is now being sued by Gameloft. The video game maker wants a declaration that a character in its game is only “reminiscent” of the Cowboy. Perhaps Gameloft should spend its time improving its game, “New York Nights,” described as “simulat[ing] life in New York City, with tasks such moving into a Greenwich Village apartment, getting a job and navigating the city’s neighborhoods.” That’s not a game; that’s the nightmare that many of us are living these days. [Courthouse News Service]
* Personal-injury attorney Bill Marler is an Omnivore’s Delight for Washington State University. [New York Times]
* The White House scrambles to address the abortion issue and where SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor will stand on Roe v. Wade. [Washington Post]
* “Sotomayor’s sharp tongue will make her a match for Scalia.” [ABA Journal]
* Rihanna may make a court appearance in the Chris Brown assault trial. [Associated Press]
* Man charged for pissing off the IRS. [Smoking Gun]

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