We’re rolling through the Vault 2011 list of the “prestigiest” firms in the land, so that you can comment on what it’s like to actually live, work, and breathe those firms (when you’re not choking on all the prestige in the air).
We’ve covered #1-10 and #11-20. Here’s the next round-up. Now it’s time for the London-based Magic Circle firms to join in the elite fun:
For the past five years, Yale Law School has produced a list of the top “family friendly” law firms. And for the past five years, men have acted like “family” issues are something only women need to worry about.
Maybe that’s true if you are a committed bachelor who never intends to procreate or know the love of a real woman. Maybe that’s true if you subscribe to some kind of 1950′s television ideal where the man works and the woman is exclusively a stay-at-home mom. Mind the pool boy, fellas.
But the majority of men will one day marry and spawn. In many cases, they’ll marry a woman of equal career ambitions. At that point, being able to take some paternity leave might be very important. Maybe their wife won’t even be a lawyer, and thus make more money than her husband (have you seen what legal salaries are like these days). Most likely we will see more and more male primary care givers, and the firms will have to adjust. We’ve heard a lot about the “mommy track,” in our professional lifetimes one expects the “daddy track” to become just as important.
So which firms are already ahead of the family friendly curve?
Historically, clerks have had a pretty sweet deal. A year spent with a judge increases their attractiveness to law firms; in the past, this translated to big bonuses for going into Biglaw. During the recession, the deal got slightly less sweet, as firms went a little sour on clerks.
Over the last month, a number of readers have anxiously emailed us about clerkship bonuses. One example:
Have you heard anything about whether firms are lowering or maintaining their clerkship bonuses? My firm said although they gave $50k last year, they are “waiting to see what other firms do first.”
In 2008, our then-survey-guru Justin Bernold created this handy guide to clerkship bonuses, laying out the going rates — ranging from $10,000 to $70,000 — for these attractive recruits. (Of course, the most attractive recruits — Supreme Court clerks, aka the Elect — command six-figure signing fees.)
So what’s happening with clerkship bonuses in 2010? We’ve talked to a few experts and a few tipsters. There’s been some scaling back already. Experts say the market rate for clerkship bonuses may come down, but in their usual fashion, firms appear to be waiting for a big dog to take the lead on that. Could Cravath be that dog?
Ed. note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the firm has not yet communicated to its associates about salaries. This was correct as of late December, but shortly before the new year, the firm made its announcement. We have amended the post accordingly, and we apologize for the error.
It’s a brand new year. Yay. Will this be the year that the recession ends? We’re hopeful, as are you (based on the results of our reader poll thus far).
Here’s some good news to start off the day. A source at Arnold & Porter reports on the firm’s unfreezing of salaries (as well as lump-sum payments representing deferred comp):
Arnold & Porter just announced we are bumping one class year, plus those in good standing are getting their deferred 2009 compensation. Classes of 2008 and 2009 are both at $160,000 for 2010.
This salary thaw is certainly welcome news — but note that it doesn’t take A&P up to the full New York scale. In 2010, under the NYC scale, class of 2008 associates should be earning $170,000 (not $160,000), class of 2007 associates should be earning $185,000 (not $170,000), etc.
The full memorandum, which was issued on December 30, also confirms upcoming bonus payments:
Consistent with the Firm’s longstanding commitment to be competitive in the marketplace, the Firm will be paying bonuses to eligible associates in respect of their 2009 performance. The bonuses will be based not only on the number of billable, pro bono and business development hours but also with attention to the results of the associate review process, particularly the quality of work and whether an individual has performed at a level commensurate with his or her seniority. Compliance with Firm policies also will be taken into consideration.
What can be expected regarding bonuses at Arnold & Porter? A second tipster explains:
A&P pays no “base” bonus. Bonuses have traditionally been based on hours. Last year, I ended up with more than I would have on the standard New York scale. But some ended up with much less, or none.
The bonuses were basically on the Cravath scale, provided you meet “the bonus criteria set forth in the bonus policy.” We’re advised that the bonus criteria focus for the most part on hours, with bonuses triggered at around 2000 hours (1900 billable).
In other CWT news, we hear that two real estate partners — Alan Lawrence and John Busillo — are leaving the firm for Arnold & Porter. Sources describe them as “heavy hitters” who “still have some business.”
We suppose it’s fitting that on Yom Kippur, when our Jewish friends are fasting at home, today’s Legal Eagle Wedding Watch is a total WASP-fest. (Last weekend was Rosh Hashanah, which explains the unusual dearth of Jewish nuptials in the NYT announcements.) We look forward to receiving plenty of tasteful feedback about how there are “too many gentiles” this week.
Here are your six finalists — all Biglaw associates, as it happens:
Reports are circulating today of staff cuts at Arnold & Porter. Here is one account from a tipster:
44 staffers laid off yesterday at A&P – 24 from the DC office.
Arnold & Porter confirmed the new to Above the Law a short time ago:
[Arnold & Porter] can confirm that as of yesterday our firm had a reduction in force affecting 44 staff positions in the firm’s domestic offices. These positions are mostly administrative assistant/secretarial positions; no associates or attorneys were involved in the reduction.
Let’s finish off the prestigious Vault 20. Here we have some firms on the rise, and some firms that are … not.
Here is the next batch of firms:
16. WilmerHale 17. Latham & Watkins 18. Arnold & Porter 19. Jones Day 20. White & Case
Okay, before we discuss Latham and White & Case, let’s give a good cheer for WilmerHale (up one spot from last year), Arnold & Porter (up two spots from last year), and Jones Day (up four spots from last year).
The Jones Day surge is particularly impressive. You’ll remember that the firm slammed its competitors earlier this month. But it seems like the firm is walking the walk as well as talking the talk.
After the jump, you know what happens next.
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.
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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