Partner Profits

What Did Paul Weiss Just Say?

Paul Weiss logo.JPGOccasionally, I am guilty of overselling my point. That slight personality flaw means that I have at least one thing in common with Brad Karp, chairman of Paul Weiss. American Lawyer reports that 2009 was the most profitable year ever for Paul Weiss (more on that later). The article contains an interesting turn of phrase:

Though the firm’s gross revenue slipped by 3.8 percent, from $692 million in 2008 to $665.5 million in 2009, profits per equity partner (PPP) hit $2.69 million, up from $2.65 million in 2008. Notably, the firm achieved its results without resorting to layoffs. In fact, lawyer head count at the firm increased slightly from 647 to 653.

No layoffs you say? None? Zero? Well allow this tipster to retort:

PW’s Load of S***.
I was among the one third of PW’s staff attorney program that was axed. I also know that more senior associates were given the “talk” about how they have no future at PW, so they better get their shit together to leave. One of them left into the “wild blue yonder” because he had no place to go.
They welcomed the first year class of 100, that is why it appeared that their numbers went up slightly without layoffs.

I can’t speak to secret talks that lead to mysterious disappearances, but we were all over the staff attorney layoffs at Paul Weiss, just a couple of months ago. Details after the jump.

Back in October, we reported that Paul Weiss was in the process of all but eliminating its staff attorney program:

We are now hearing reports that the number is significantly higher than a dozen, perhaps as high as 45 (since November 2008). “This can all be confirmed by the lawyer lists that are sent out at the start of each month,” said our source.

Unless staff attorneys don’t count as “people,” Paul Weiss did in fact use layoffs on its way to record profits.
Speaking of those record profits, some attorneys who are still at Paul Weiss wonder why the partnership isn’t willing to share the wealth. through the magic of Facebook (you can only friend me today if you want to talk about Lost. Otherwise, save your haterade until Wednesday) a PW associate took time out today to reflect on his bonus check.

Now that Paul Weiss has officially made more money than ever before, is there any chance the firm will go back and revise its cheap bonus? … It’s one thing for a firm to pay low bonuses when they are suffering during a recession but when things are better than ever shouldn’t associates be rewarded better than ever?

Yeah, you’d think that record profits would result in record bonuses, but there is a very good reason why Paul Weiss will continue to follow the market. Hmm … how do I put this delicately? You see, Paul Weiss management doesn’t give one iota of s*** about rewarding associates. You are free to leave PW for a firm that does a better job of sharing the wealth — but you can’t and they know it and that, as they say, is that.
Do you think Paul Weiss should make a bigger payment because they can? Because they’re nice? Because it’s good to share your profits with the employees that helped you get there? Please. Paul Weiss will only pay as much as it has to. This year Paul Weiss was able to take advantage of the recession and pocket extra money they didn’t have to give out to scared associates with few lateral options. In other words, Paul Weiss partners = win, Paul Weiss associates = lucky to not be Paul Weiss staff attorneys.
I don’t know, maybe touting how much money the firm made last year does make Paul Weiss partners look like they’re partying on the graves of laid off staff attorneys and hardworking associates that aren’t getting a larger cut of bounty. But I bet it’s hard for them to hear the criticism, what with those great big wads of cash stuffed in their ears.
Paul Weiss Reports ‘Most Profitable Year in Firm’s History’ [American Lawyer]
Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Paul Weiss Staff Attorneys
Associate Bonus Watch: Paul Weiss Follows SullCrom’s Lead

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