Akin Gump

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld LLP logo.jpg“My Gump, my Gump, my lovely Akin Gump. Check it out….
What’s going on at Akin Gump? That seems to be what many of you are wondering, based on some comments posted to a recent open thread featuring the firm:

“What is happening to Akin Gump DC? I saw that a bunch of lit partners just left.”

“I’ve heard the same thing…. Akin appears to be losing tons of partners and the DC office is rumored to be in turmoil. It does, however, have Tom Goldstein, which is sure to attract gunners who think they’ll be arguing cases in three years.”

“I read somewhere that the changes at Akin are part of some larger strategic plan. Anyone know anything about that?”

As a matter of fact, yes — Kim Eisler does. He writes, over at Washingtonian:

Over the past few months, 950-lawyer Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has lost about 45 lawyers, including two of its rainmakers, Michael Madigan and Richard Wyatt Jr. Tensions are said to be high, with partners in the New York office unhappy that the Washington lawyers are not producing their share of revenue. To increase productivity, Akin Gump pushed out 5 percent of its lawyers who, in management’s view, were not generating enough income. The firm also closed its office in Taipei, one of 12 it maintained outside of Washington, and insiders predict the money-losing Beijing office will be next to go. The China offices have been expensive failures in the eyes of New York partners, who are pressing Washington to stop the bleeding….

The firm still has several stars, including criminal-defense lawyers John Dowd and Michele Roberts, Supreme Court litigator Tom Goldstein, and lobbying-practice head Joel Jankowsky, and is counting on them to pull Akin Gump out of its tailspin.

These boldface names are familiar to the ATL readership. John Dowd is the defense lawyer of Monica Goodling (and the former boss of the Akin Gump Escort). Tom Goldstein, the celebrated SCOTUS litigator, was a judge on ATL Idol.
To read more about comings and goings at Akin Gump, check out Eisler’s complete piece, available over here.
Clock Is Ticking for Strauss’s Firm [Capital Comment / Washingtonian]
Earlier: Fall Recruiting Open Thread: Vault 31-40 (2009)

comparing.jpgWelcome to another post in the 2009 Vault 100 open thread series. You all seem to like having the law firms listed in groups of ten, so we’ll keep it up. Here are the thirty-something firms from the Vault 100, with prestige scores in parentheses:

31. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP (6.461)
32. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP (6.327)
33. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (6.313)
34. Winston & Strawn LLP (6.275)
35. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges LLP (6.235)
36. Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (6.174)
37. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (6.173)
38. Allen & Overy LLP (6.147)
39. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft (6.131)
40. Proskauer Rose LLP (6.102)

Fried Frank and Cadwalader have been on the ATL radar of late. We broke news of staff layoffs at Fried Frank earlier this week, and news of the attorney bloodletting at Cadwalader last month. As noted in Cadwalader’s notable perks: “ouch, layoffs.” (Speaking of, in going through the Vault 100 list, we’ve discovered that Vault’s definition of “perk” is very different from ours.)
In the comments, the curious can pose questions, and the insiders can share insights. More threads to come.
Earlier: Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009

Here’s some news of a rather odd move, from the WSJ Law Blog:

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld LLP logo.jpgBruce McLean, the head of Akin Gump, sent an e-mail to all the attorneys at the firm informing them of a “substantial reshaping and enhancement of several practices,” and a “change” in the firm’s “geographical footprint.”

That change involves “withdrawing from Taipei and Silicon Valley,” and moving the lawyers in those offices to Alston & Bird, an Atlanta-based firm. “In addition,” McClean writes, “some of our lawyers in Austin will join Greenberg and Traurig in the coming weeks . . . We are very pleased to report that we have secured a license to practice law in Abu Dhabi and are in the process of opening an office there to serve our clients in the Middle East.”

We agree with the WSJ’s Dan Slater: this “lawyer-swapping arrangement” is a bit… strange.
Akin to Shutter Offices in Taipei, Silicon Valley; Lawyers to Alston & Bird [WSJ Law Blog]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgHere are a few quick updates on the associate bonus front:
1. Wilson Sonsini: On Monday night, the firm issued a long and complicated memo, which we’ve posted in all its glory after the jump. Since we haven’t taken math since high school calculus, it went a bit over our head.
General reaction to the WSGR bonus news was less than positive. From one tipster: “My friends there are pretty pissed in light of Latham’s bonuses.” From another:

“Some constituent groups (those with low hours) are happy. Other groups (people who work for a living) are less happy. All associates outside of New York are upset that New York special bonuses were paid without a minimum hours requirement.”

Under the WSGR bonus system, in certain class years, a lawyer in New York who billed 500 hours less than her counterpart outside New York could wind up with a bigger bonus.
2. Akin Gump (Washington, DC): On rather short notice — the email went out at around 1 p.m., announcing a meeting at 5 p.m. — a meeting to talk about bonuses was held on Monday in the D.C. office of Akin Gump. Here’s the bottom line:

[T]he gist was that bonuses “ranged from $1,000 to 75,000,” which basically means that if you are a first year (or any associate who started in the fall) you got $1,000, and the most senior associates who are most valued got $75,000. Associates were also told that the average was $25,000. This was not broken down by class year, hours, or any other details that may tell you whether you’ll be compensated well or terribly.

Lovely. Guess they think transparency is overrated
3. Quinn Emanuel: At Quinn Emanuel, in contrast, management is fairly transparent, and communication is relatively open (at least by Biglaw standards). How many senior partners of major law firms write open letters to ATL, as John Quinn did recently?
Anyway, two pieces of news. First, yesterday QE gave supplemental bonuses today to laterals, recalculating how they pro-rated (a subject of prior controversy). Second, they provided some information — albeit not terribly specific information — about billable hours and 2008 bonuses. Memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Wilson Sonsini, Akin Gump (DC), Quinn Emanuel”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgLet’s send you into the holiday weekend with some associate bonus news. Here are some law firm bonus announcements that haven’t been previously covered in these pages.
(Firms that previously announced their bonuses, but are being sneaky about the exact amounts and/or the percentage of associates getting them, will be addressed separately. This post is for completely new announcements.)
Some of this news is incomplete. If you can provide more details, please email us. Thanks.
1. Akin Gump (New York): Year-end bonuses, and special bonuses to “those associates and counsel who have performed in accordance with the Firm’s expectations regarding productivity, quality of work and Firm citizenship.” Plus “discretionary merit bonuses” to associates and counsel “who performed in a truly exceptional manner.”
One source at the firm characterizes it as follows:

Full match in NY, with extra bonuses in certain cases (generally to billers over 2400). There has never been an hours requirement, so if past practice is any indicator, anyone not being fired will get it.

Full memo, after the jump.
2. Akin Gump (outside New York): Each associate is allowed to make the case to the firm for a big bonus. A source tells us that this practice of asking associates to write up memos to justify their bonuses started a few years ago. “I wonder how this plays into the current bonus climate, or if anyone else has to do this.”
3. Hogan & Hartson (outside New York): The 2007 bonus memo appears after the jump.
4. Hogan & Hartson (New York): We’ve confirmed the fact that Hogan announced bonuses in New York. It was described to us as a market match. But we haven’t seen a memo or the fine print of the announcement, so we can’t confirm that.
Update: The bonus memo for Hogan & Hartson’s New York office appears after the jump.
5. Vinson & Elkins (New York): “V&E matched the New York market bonus (including this year’s special bonus) for its New York associates, to be paid on January 15, 2008. No memo yet, a voicemail.”
6. Sheppard Mullin: Details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: A Pre-Holiday Round-Up”

Secretary law firm Biglaw Maggie Gyllenhaal James Spader Above the Law blog.jpgDuring one of our darkest hours as a law firm associate, when we were at our most stressed and depressed, we tried to boost our morale by typing up a Word document entitled “Things I Like About My Job.” Here’s an excerpt:

– My Blackberry and (free) cell phone.

– My laptop.

– Really good health insurance.

– Having a secretary.

But in reality, we didn’t use our secretary very much. Her primary duty was to assist us in printing out correspondence so that the text of letters fell below the sprawling firm letterhead.
We didn’t know how to best utilize our secretary. And based on your emails, it seems we’re not alone:

“You should do a post on secretaries. I have no idea what to do with mine other than expense reports. I think junior associates would appreciate it!”

“How about an open thread on what attorneys have their secretaries do? A lot of us first-year associates starting now have no idea how to use them. This applies to both transactional lawyers and litigators.”

We’re guessing our correspondents don’t have this secretary.
Here are a few other topics to add to the mix:

“You really should do an ATL piece on secretaries. E.g., how many high-powered partners are run by their secretaries, with their secretaries as the gatekeepers; how many leading lawyers couldn’t live without their secretaries, taking them from one position to the next.”

So here’s an open thread for discussion of Biglaw secretaries / administrative assistants. Any secretaries who are reading this site should feel free to chime in too — we know you have a lot to say about your bosses. In fact, some of you could even fill a book with your gripes (see link below). Thanks.
The Diary of a Mad Legal Secretary [Amazon.com]

lunch callback girl red hat Above the Law blog.jpgWe regularly receive all kinds of wacky gossip related to the fall recruiting process. Some of these rumors are true, and some of them aren’t.
We found this rumor, about the Chicago office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, quite amusing:

“I heard from a friend there that during summer associate callbacks, only students from ‘good schools’ get lunch. E.g., Harvard, Northwestern, University of Chicago.”

“Students from Illinois, DePaul, etc. must starve. You should look into this.”

Loyola (of Chicago) 2Ls: What say you?
We looked into this rumor. Alas, it appears to be untrue.
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Crazy Rumor Watch: Let Tier Two Grads Eat Tastykake”

Paul Hastings Tower 2 Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGWe’ve now covered over a third of the Vault 100 law firms in open threads. But that means we still have two-thirds to go (assuming we follow through to the end).
The next five firms are colorful. They include one firm that was featured in the Transformers movie, and another that used to employ a high-priced escort.
For your consideration (in Vault 100 order, prestige scores in parentheses):

31. Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker (6.545)
32. Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (6.352)
33. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (6.343)
34. Winston & Strawn LLP (6.316)
35. Dewey Ballantine LLP (6.313)

Please gossip away in the comments. Thanks.
The Vault Top 100 Law Firms [Vault]
Earlier: Vault 1-5; Vault 6-10; Vault 11-15; Vault 16-20; Vault 21-25; Vault 26-30

Akin Gump 2 Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld Deborah Jeane Palfrey DC Madam Above the Law blog.JPGEarlier this year, we devoted extensive coverage to the Akin Gump Escort. She was the legal secretary at Akin Gump who worked for powerhouse lawyer John Dowd by day, and alleged D.C. madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey by night.
Courtesy of WTOP, we now know more about the close working relationship between the Akin Gump Escort and the D.C. Madam:

“Why did you do this to me? I never did anything to you.”

That accusatory two-sentence e-mail from alleged D.C. madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey to an escort she considered her “little sister” and one of her most trusted confidantes came moments after Palfrey realized her assets had been frozen by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

“My first thought because of the timing was that (Jennifer) was working with the government,” writes Palfrey, in a series of e-mails to WTOP.

“Jennifer” was the name escort customers knew for a legal secretary at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a prominent D.C. law firm. The woman was fired in May 2007, shortly after revealing to the firm that she had moonlighted for Palfrey’s Pamela Martin & Associates between 2002 and 2006.

Fired? She should have been promoted, due to her intimate knowledge of servicing clients.
More discussion after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Akin Gump Escort: You Can Call Her ‘Jennifer’”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGHere are two updates about clerkship bonuses (a subject of interest to a limited group of readers — but those who care REALLY care):

1. Willkie Farr & Gallagher: The rumor that Willkie pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus has been confirmed. We understand this applies to both New York and Washington.

2. Akin Gump: In New York, the firm pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus. (We don’t know what they do in other offices.)

In addition, one tipster calls out WilmerHale for, well, trying to pull a Latham.
If you’d like to know why WilmerHale’s $35,000 clerkship bonus may not truly be a $35,000 clerkship bonus, read the rest of this post, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clerkship Bonus Watch: Akin Gump and Willkie (and WilmerHale Pulls a Latham)”

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