Legal services are expensive. Duh. And sometimes clients do not want to pay their bills. Maybe the case outcome wasn’t what the client hoped for. Maybe the bill was significantly higher than expected. There are all sorts of reasons that attorneys just have to say, “Eff you, pay me.”
The thing is, you normally associate breach of contract disputes with litigation or other standard lawyering. Not Biglaw attorneys brokering movie finance deals, and suing when the client doesn’t pay his finders fee.
But Akin Gump filed suit last week against a Hollywood movie producer, for breach of contract and promissory fraud, alleging that he did not fork over the finders fee he owed a firm partner for helping secure loans and finding a distributor for one of his projects.
The firm says Mark Manuel owes a lot of money. So how much does he owe, and which movie is at the center of the controversy?
Obviously, the heartbreaking news this morning is that Twinkies is filing for bankruptcy. Don’t act like I’m the only one saddened by this news. The Wall Street Journal reports that Hostess, the maker of the All-American snack, is carrying $860 million in debt and facing higher costs for sugar, flour, and whatever kind of rendered artery fat they inject directly into the center of those things.
Well, as long as SeamlessWeb is operating smoothly, lawyers will still be able to find adequate ways to become soft in the middle.
But not every lawyer. There are still a few legal types out there who take care of their bodies, and I’m not just talking about Reema Bajaj. I’m talking about lawyers who are actual athletes.
It’s a rare breed, but today we’re going to take a look at two of them. One is an Olympian, while the other is just a record-breaking weekend warrior…
This week we’re pretending that it’s not January by looking back at some of the biggest legal weddings of late 2011. There was a lot of muy prestigioso lawyer matrimony in the last part of the year. Before we delve into the January crop of weddings, which — let’s face it — is often subpar, here are some from the fall that we haven’t featured yet.
The field of contenders for our third annual law firm holiday card contest was more impressive than ever. We received numerous nominations, and we thank everyone who participated. It took many hours to review the plethora of submissions.
We could complain about how some of you failed to follow contest rule #3, limiting the contest to “cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool…. cards with some attitude, with that extra je ne sais quoi.” But we won’t; the holiday spirit has us in a good mood. You are all wonderful!
But some of you are more wonderful than others. Let’s look at this year’s finalists….
Akin Gump, it seems to me, has taken the reasonable approach for any firm that does not want to be a market leader in terms of compensation: it’s going to wait. Of course the firm is going to match. Most of the firms will end up matching the prevailing market for associate bonuses.
But as far as how much money that’ll be, we just don’t know yet. Instead of making a regular bonus announcement with a flashy bonus scale and the fiction that the numbers bear any kind of relation to the actual profitability of the firm, Akin Gump is just going to wait and see what happens, and then match the market.
Agreeing on this point is former Kirkland & Ellis partner Steven Harper (whose apparent pro-associate stance may make him a sort of Biglaw apostate). As Harper points out, “equity partner profit trees have resumed their growth to the sky. As the economy struggled, Cravath’s average partner profits increased to $2.7 million in 2009 and to $3.17 million in 2010 … That’s not ‘treading water.’ It’s returning to 2007 profit levels — the height of ‘amazing’ boom years that most observers had declared gone forever. Watch for 2011 profits to be even higher.”
And yet associate bonuses remain stagnant at 2009 levels. Furthermore, as ATL commenter “The Cravath Cut” is so fond of noting, when viewed as a percentage of profits, bonuses appear especially measly, at least from the associate p.o.v. (The current $7,500 market rate for first-years is just 0.23% of Cravath’s profits per partner. Back in 2007, first-year bonuses equalled 1.36%.) Despite these numbers, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone Biglaw’s rank and file will follow Cravath’s lead.
Cravath is among the most profitable firms in the world. We thought it would be interesting to see what the implications of matching Cravath are for those firms with much lower profit margins. Which firms’ partners willingly take the biggest hit by keeping up? Are these firms arguably more “generous”? After the jump, check out those firms that pay the largest percentage of PPP in bonuses.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.