Sometimes you have to love Biglaw. Back in March, we reported that Alston & Bird was quietly forcing out secretaries and administrative staff. Our sources report that this approach to staff cuts has been ongoing at the firm. A&B is either letting people know they have a limited amount of time to find a new job or encouraging them to take early retirement.
But that doesn’t mean the firm can’t have a party to celebrate those who have been shoved out of the door. A tipster reports:
Apparently demanding that the staff take early retirement is not enough for the “worker-friendly” Alston & Bird. To rub salt in these early (involuntary) retirees, A&B is throwing them a party! Because nothing says “Fortune 500 Best Place to Work” like a party… for people you effectively fired.
Firms everywhere are trying to keep expenses down. For secretaries and administrative assistants at Alston & Bird, this means that overtime is going to be a lot harder to come by. Last week, A&B informed its secretaries of changes in the firm’s overtime policy:
As you know, from time to time we review our HR policies and practices to determine if they continue to meet the needs of the firm and our employees. In our continuing effort to hold the line on expenses and minimize our overtime costs, the firm has made the decision to revise our overtime policy for our professional staff, secretaries, and paralegals. After review of our current policy, we found that there were two areas that were outdated and not consistent with what the law allows and what other professional service firms are doing. As a result, we have made two changes to our policy.
Alston & Bird just happened to figure out that its overtime policy was inconsistent with the law? Well, I’m glad the firm — the law firm — is clearing that up.
We’ll take a look at the legal inconsistency after the jump.
The contest of horror between the class of 2009 and the class of 2010 rages on. Based on Friday’s no offer thread, you’d think that the class of 2010 was surging ahead. We know 3L recruiting is depressed this year, so if you got no offered from your summer firm, your chances of snagging a job upon graduation seem greatly reduced.
But there are still scads of people from the class of 2009 that are desperately hoping that they will be able to start at some point. We have been covering the new spate of deferral extensions. Usually, the extensions try to comfort incoming associates that they will have a job with their firms at some point.
But lately, firms are being more forward with the class of 2009. Last week, Baker & McKenzie warned that if it was not able to find spots for incoming associates by June 2010, “the relationship will end.”
Today, Alston & Bird incoming associates received some bad news. A tipster reports:
Alston Bird just indefinitely deferred its incoming 2009 class … They were supposed to start January 2010. There is now no start date.
Alston & Bird didn’t immediately respond to our request for comment.
So, if 3L recruiting is bad this year, how is it going for 4Ls 2009 graduates who haven’t had a day of work so far? Is there anything their former law schools can do to help them out?
We’ll probably see more deferral extensions as the January 2010 start date looms large at firms that do not have enough work to go around. Earlier: Baker & McKenzie: For Some, Deferral Extensions Could Lead to Offer Revocation
Summer associates with Alston & Bird in 2009 are starting to get a little anxious. We know that so far, none of you have received offers. But that is going to change. Alston & Bird will make offers to some people. The firm is just still trying to figure out how many offers to extend. This email was sent from Alston & Bird to its summers on Friday:
Hi everyone -
Just wanted to give you a quick update regarding the timing of offers. You may recall that we’re coordinating our decisions as a Firm this year rather than by office (though offers will be office specific). Unfortunately, not all of our offices are ready with their decisions and as a result, we won’t be able to communicate our decisions this week. We apologize for the delay, and assure you that we will be in touch as soon as possible. Please don’t hesitate to give me a call if you need anything. Many thanks.
One tipster doesn’t think Alston is wondering what its summers need:
She knows what we need…f****** job offers. Hate to say it, but this is definitely bringing the morale of the summer class down. Also seems really sketchy–there are rumors they were interviewing 3L’s. Wonder if that is what the delay is about?
We’re now into the back half of the brand new Vault law firm rankings. Just like last year, we worry about a proliferation of “TTT” accusations in the comment threads. But such terms of art can miss the positives of many of the firms in this section of the Vault rankings. Here’s the list:
51. Fulbright & Jaworski 52. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati 53. Morgan Lewis & Bockius 54. McDermott Will & Emery 55. Alston & Bird 56. Bingham McCutchen 57. Fish & Richardson 58. Dechert 59. Greenberg Traurig 60. Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft
We have already extensively talked about the Morgan Lewis situation. Let’s move on to other firms after the jump.
You almost have to respect the extent to which some firms will torture the plain meaning of things to make bad news seem like no big deal. On that scale, Alston & Bird is one of the masters.
Alston & Bird associates were informed today that the firm is cutting salaries by $5,000 for all associates. But A&B wants you to know that it is a “temporary” salary decrease! It only applies through the end of 2009. Isn’t that nice?
Do you think salaries will automatically rebound at the start of 2010? If so, you haven’t been following along with Alston & Bird.
Let’s check out some recent history after the jump.
The National Law Journal reports that eight firms have opened up offices in Los Angeles during the recession. Is this really going to work? We’ve already established that the San Francisco legal market is about as relevant as an aging hippie. Are we sure that L.A. is the promised land?
According to the NLJ, firms have been capitalizing on the glut of available lawyers in California:
To do so, many firms, such as Snell & Wilmer, Atlanta’s Alston & Bird, Philadelphia’s Blank Rome and Lathrop & Gage of Kansas City, Mo., took the opportunity to snag lawyers who recently became available, largely due to dissolutions and economic conditions.
As we noted in yesterday’s Morning Docket, even the New York Times has taken note of the salary freeze trend at law firms. The Times reached out to Above The Law’s own David Lat for the story:
Although many associates are angry about the freezes, others are relieved, said David Lat, founding editor of AboveTheLaw.com, a blog about law firms and the profession.
“There is this sense that firms didn’t act prudently during the boom and now they are getting religion, and that it’s better late than never,” Mr. Lat said. “Many associates we have spoken to think the freeze probably saved jobs.”
At the beginning of the month, we did a round-up of firms that have frozen 2009 salary rates at 2008 levels. That list was 16 firms long. Since then, quite a few other firms have announced freezes. Due to frequent requests, we’re updating the round-up list since the number of firms with freezes (that we know of) has more than doubled, to 33 32. Check out the as-comprehensive-as-we-can-make-it list, after the jump.
Law firm offers world-class benefits to staff and attorneys: 18 weeks’ paid leave for maternity and adoption, $5,000 for adoption fees, $30,000 for fertility services, free onsite fitness center, on- and off-site child care.
I guess a salary freeze that their peer firms in the Vault 20 are largely avoiding doesn’t trump a free gym.
Fortune also released a list of the top 20 companies that are great places to work and still hiring. No law firms made that list.
So I guess we’ll focus on other law firms in the top 100 after the jump.
While many firms announced their decisions to freeze 2009 salaries at the end of 2008, a few waited until now to make up their minds.
Memos went out before the first paychecks of the year to associates at Atlanta-based Alston & Bird and Washington, D.C.-based Hogan & Hartson. Alston’s is a Slurpee freeze with the firm saying it may “revisit” the decision at an unspecified time this year. Hogan’s is a Solid Ice freeze; salaries are locked at 2008 levels throughout 2009.
The language of these memos has become fairly uniform– a jumble of “economic downturn,” “challenging,” “distress,” and “2009 may really suck for us.” Okay, maybe not the last phrase, but that’s the gist. Check out the memos, after the jump.
We’ve also received word that Schulte Roth & Zabel has frozen salaries until further notice, but the language leaves hope for a decision in the near future for a raise:
The firm has not yet made any decision with respect to associate salaries for 2009. We expect a decision will be made in the next few weeks, and any change will be retroactive to January 1.
Not all firms are bracing themselves for a difficult 2009 by freezing salaries. In response to our requests for salary raise information, we heard back from associates at Cleary; Stoel Rives; Perkins Coie; Fried Frank; Irell; and Schiff Hardin. A host of others are named in Firms that have not frozen, a post in the ATL Community section.
Memos from Alston, Hogan, and Schulte about frozen salaries, after the jump.
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 six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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