Biglaw, Fabulosity, Partner Issues, Partner Profits

New Partner Watch: Incoming Partner Classes at 10 Top Firms

Congratulations! You made it!

Few people are happier about the world’s surviving the Mayan Apocalypse than new partners at top law firms. Can you imagine slaving away in Biglaw for almost (or even over) a decade, finally winning election to the partnership in late 2012, and then having the world end before your hard-won partner status took effect?

Fortunately that didn’t happen. Heck, we didn’t even go over the fiscal cliff. But some people will have to pay higher taxes this year (and for many years to come).

Like these people: the talented and hardworking lawyers who, as of January 1, 2013, became partners of their respective law firms. Let’s find out who they are, so we can congratulate them….

We’re going to do what we did back in 2010 and look at the new partner classes at the top ten most prestigious law firms, as ranked by our friends at Vault. We’ve debated in these pages for and against prestige, but at least as of now, prestige still carries a lot of weight in the legal profession. We don’t have the time or resources to write about the new partners at every Vault 100 or Am Law 100 firm, so we’re drawing this admittedly arbitrary line.

(Of course, we are open to writing about new partner classes at firms outside the Vault 10 or “V10,” as long as there’s something interesting about the announcement. If you think you have possible fodder for us, please email us and explain what you view as the noteworthy partner news.)

Now, without further ado, let’s look at the partner classes. If you click on each firm’s hyperlinked name, you’ll be taken to the firm’s profile in the Above the Law Career Center (where the firms are assigned letter grades for their “Insider Rating” and “Industry Reputation”).

1. Wachtell Lipton: For most firms, you can go to the firm website, surf over to their collected press releases, and find the release announcing the new partners. Alas, the publicity-shy Wachtell Lipton doesn’t post news releases on its notoriously barebones website (despite recently improvements to the site). But luckily I received this email announcement as a former Wachtell Lipton associate:

As many of you may already know, Ronald C. Chen, Gordon S. Moodie, DongJu Song and Bradley R. Wilson will become members of the firm on January 1, 2012.

You could say of this quartet what you could say of WLRK lawyers generally: an impressive group, with glittering résumés, although a bit short on diversity. All four are male; all graduated from top law schools (Harvard for Chen and Moodie, Duke for Song, and Cornell for Wilson); and three out of four are corporate lawyers, with Wilson as the lone litigator. Yes, Chen and Song are Asian, but some folks don’t think that counts for diversity purposes.

2. Cravath, Swaine & Moore: We previously discussed the new CSM partners back in November (in the course of speculating — correctly, as it turned out — that the larger-than-usual partner class would be followed by larger-than-usual bonuses). There were five new Cravath partners in all, we observed: “Three male corporate lawyers, a tax guy, and a litigatrix. Sounds like a good group.”

3. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom: In the latest Vault rankings, Skadden traded places with Sullivan & Cromwell, with Skadden moving up to third place and S&C moving down to fourth. Unlike many other firms, Skadden names new partners in April of each year. In April 2012, the firm made eleven new partners:

Robert A. Fumerton – Litigation – New York
Alejandro Gonzalez Lazzeri – Corporate/Latin America – New York
Scott C. Hopkins – Corporate – London*
Emily M. Lam – Tax – Washington, D.C.
Karen Hoffman Lent – Antitrust and Competition – New York
Penny Madden – International Litigation and Arbitration – London*
Steven Messina – Banking – New York
Tatiana Monastyrskaya – Energy and Infrastructure Projects – New York
Erica Schohn – Executive Compensation and Benefits – New York
Peter D. Serating – Mergers and Acquisitions – New York
Dwight S. Yoo – Corporate Finance – New York

Eleven is a healthy number, higher than the eight in 2011 and the six in 2010. The group is weighted towards the New York mother ship, with eight of the eleven based in the Big Apple. But there’s some nice diversity in terms of practice areas and gender, with five of the eleven new partners being women.

And, not surprisingly given Skadden’s global reach, there’s some ethnic and national-origin diversity too. Alejandro Gonzalez Lazzeri appears to be Mexican; he’s admitted to the Mexican bar and received his law degree from a Mexican university. Scott Hopkins and Penny Madden are solicitors who received their legal education in the United Kingdom. Tatiana Monastyrskaya appears to be Russian; she speaks Russian and received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Moscow (although she earned her J.D. at George Washington). Emily Lam and Dwight Yoo are Asian American.

4. Sullivan & Cromwell: S&C named four new partners for 2013, roughly in line with the five in 2012 (but down from the bumper crop of eight in 2011). Drumroll please:

S&C has elected four partners to the partnership effective January 1, 2013. They are: Rita-Anne O’Neill (General Practice), resident in the Los Angeles office; Darrell Cafasso (Litigation), resident in the New York office; Brian Glueckstein (Litigation), resident in the New York office; Davis Wang (Tax), resident in the New York office.

A nice balance between litigators and transactional attorneys. O’Neill is the lone woman; Wang is Asian (and a former Supreme Court clerk, for Justice Breyer).

5. Davis Polk & Wardwell: Like Skadden, Davis also conducts its partner process before the fourth quarter. Back in July, DPW announced two new partners: H. Oliver Smith, whose name is très Davis Polk, and Kenneth J. Steinberg, who sounds like he got lost on his way to Skadden. Smith, an M&A lawyer, is an Emory law grad; Steinberg, a member of the credit group, is a Fordham law grad. Two seems like a small class, but perhaps the firm needed to take a breather after naming six new partners in 2011.

Now, on to the next five firms….

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