In the immortal words of Roxette, “It must have been love; but it’s over now.” Last month, we marveled at all the law firm merger rumors making the rounds. These days, however, merger talks are falling apart, left and right.
As we first reported, the contemplated merger between Heller Ehrman and Baker & McKenzie is officially dead. For the skinny on their breakup, see Legal Pad. Apparently client conflicts were the deal breaker (as they so often are; they’re the law-firm equivalent of serious religious differences, or really bad STDs). Baker & McKenzie will have to settle for being a firm with a measly $2.2 billion in annual global revenue.
And now this, from the National Law Journal:
In the days that followed the joint announcement by Wolf Block and Akerman Senterfitt that their merger talks hit a snag over a conflict, sources have pointed to deeper issues affecting the drawn-out discussions…
One source aware of the merger discussions said the combination would be a good thing for both firms but said Wolf Block leadership is unwilling to work out certain tax and pension concerns.
There is concern among some of Wolf Block’s partnership over having to pay a significant amount in taxes upon merging with a corporation, the source said. There is also concern over having to make up for Wolf Block’s unfunded pension liabilities. Both of the issues could cause partners to “take a real financial hit,” the source said, adding that a loan could solve those problems, but firm leadership seems unwilling to go that route.
Our posts on the perks or fringe benefits of law firm life continue to generate interest and good comments. Here is today’s topic:
Why don’t you guys do an open thread on working abroad? I know of several firms that send their associates for some period of time to work [overseas].
For example, Allen & Overy has a program in which they send their senior associates to London to work for something around six months. A friend of mind who worked for Shearman went to Asia, and some others from Baker McKenzie have been sent to other offices around the world.
One advantage of working abroad: a generous cost-of-living allowance. Last month, Cravath raised its London COLA:
Cravath Swaine & Moore has raised the cost of its living allowance (Cola) for London office associates from $85,000 (£41,000) to $110,000 (£53,000), The Lawyer can reveal. The 30 per cent hike at the elite firm takes remuneration for the most junior lawyers in Cravath’s City office to potentially in excess of £150,000.
We’re pressing on with our series of open threads on Vault 100 law firms. We know that some of you are eager to discuss firms ranked in the 70′s, and we don’t want to disappoint you.
And a quick word from one of our sponsors, ATL’s Career Partner, Lateral Link:
“Lateral Link provides free access to the Vault firm information/career guides. Readers can get free access to the full information on our site as part of our career center.”
Without further ado, here are the five firms for this afternoon (in Vault 100 order, prestige scores in parentheses):
Remember that cute little bar graph, prepared by some disgruntled people in the Washington office of Baker & McKenzie? It looks like it worked.
A source at the firm reports that the firm just raised associate salaries. An associates’ meeting was held earlier today. We haven’t seen the memo yet, but here are the numbers (emphasis added):
Old pay scale:
New pay scale (retroactive to 7/1):
Also, from a meeting earlier in the week, in which the upcoming recruiting season was discussed:
“The hiring partner made a comment about the bar chart posted on the web, mentioned that he was evaluating the situation, and mentioned AboveTheLaw by name. Then today we got the raise news.”
Over in the D.C. office of Baker & McKenzie, the natives are getting restless. They’ve prepared this cute little bar graph (thumbnail image; click to enlarge):
The graphic above also reflects that Williams & Connolly now pays starting salaries of $165,000. We hadn’t heard (or written) about that news, but it’s official.
Does anyone have a memo and/or more information about what Williams & Connolly pays beyond the first year? If so, please email us. Thanks. Update / Correction: Whoops, we forgot that W&C raised salaries back in March. What we were thinking, and meant to write, is that Williams & Connolly hasn’t raised associate salaries in response to the latest round of nationwide pay hikes (as kicked off by Orrick).
Remember that W&C traditionally doesn’t pay year-end bonuses, but pays an above-market base to make up for it. Their current scale — 165, 180, 195, etc. — is still above-market, but not by as much as usual. Further Update / Correction: Apparently Greenberg Traurig is still at $145K in Washington. We’ve revised the graph accordingly. Earlier: Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: What’s Up With Williams & Connolly?
Two things we’ve heard recently (the first more definitive than the second):
1. Howrey LLP: Last week, they made a “secret announcement” — nothing in writing — of associate pay raises in Chicago, California, and Washington, DC.
2. Baker & McKenzie: In their Chicago office (and perhaps others), they sent around a memo similar to the Jenner & Block memo. It was basically “a non-committal memo, pledging to remain competitive, and acknowledging recent associate salary adjustments in the market.”
If you can provide us with more details, or have some associate pay raise news not previously reported herein, please drop us a line. Thanks. Update: The Howrey raises have been announced, but not yet implemented. When they will take effect, and whether they will be made retroactive, is unclear.
Some other noteworthy moves within the legal profession (besides Chief Judge David Levi’s selection as Dean of Duke Law School): Within government:
* This is big news: the new Attorney General for New York, Andrew Cuomo, has hired Barbara D. Underwood as his solicitor general.
Underwood has a resume to die for. She has served as counsel to Eastern District U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf, as chief assistant U.S. Attorney in the E.D.N.Y., and as principal deputy solicitor general over at the Justice Department (under President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno).
Surprise surprise: Barbara Underwood is among the Elect (OT 1970/Marshall). We hear that she beat out other former Supreme Court clerks to win the New York SG job.
The fact that so many high-powered people were vying for the gig shows that state solicitor general posts are acquiring more and more cachet. Being an ex-SCOTUS clerk is rapidly becoming a requirement for these jobs. E.g., Ted Cruz in Texas (OT 1996/Rehnquist); Kevin Newsom in Alabama (OT 2000/Souter).
The rest of today’s transitions, plus links, after the jump.
Personnel changes are everywhere today — and not just on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon. Some notable moves within the legal profession: Lateral Moves:
* Private equity and M&A lawyer Dennis Barsky, to Jones Day, from Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
* Corporate lawyer Jonathan Stapleton and investment-funds lawyer Margaret Paradis, to Baker & McKenzie (NY), from Arnold & Porter and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, respectively.
* Insurance and financial services lawyer Chiu-Ti Jansen, to Sidley Austin, from LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. Government to Private Sector:
* Marc Agnifilo, former head of the violent and organized crime unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey, is joining Brafman and Associates. Yes, that Brafman — renowned criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman, Diddy-defending attorney to the stars.
(Disclosure: Marc Agnifilo is a former colleague of ours, as well as a tremendously experienced and exceptionally talented lawyer. He has a fantastic sense of humor. And he’s the nephew of celebrated writer Don DeLillo.) Firm Adds Two NY Corporate Partners [NYLawyer.com] NY Private Equity Partner Switches Firms [NYLawyer.com] NY Lawyers On the Move [NYLawyer.com] Baker & McKenzie LLP Announces Ambitious New Strategy and Leadership Team in New York [Baker & McKenzie]
The only noteworthy moves today come from Texas. Oh well, at least yesterday was busy. Lateral Moves:
* Corporate lawyers Paul Bishop, T. Alan Harris, Annette Trip, and Don Wood, to Sutherland Asbill & Brennan (Houston), from Locke Liddell & Sapp.
* A pair of Geralds — Gerald Pels, and Gerald Higdon — to Sutherland Asbill (energy and environmental), from Locke Liddell & Sapp. New Partners/Principals:
* Dechert (Austin): Intellectual property lawyer Steven Daniels.
* Baker & McKenzie (Dallas): Litigator Elizabeth Yingling. Lone Star Lawyers On the Move [NYLawyer.com] Women on the Move [Dallas Business Journal]
* Are lawyers really this superstitious? Or is a trial just an excuse to go on a sugar binge and get all liquored up? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Heh, looks like there’s another “backdating scandal” happening out on the West Coast. [The Recorder]
* Extreme Makeover: Federal Courthouse Edition. [Washington Post]
* It’s not just meant for movie theaters. That Nokia ring tone may be coming to a courtroom near you. [New York Law Journal]
* Oh Claude, why didn’t you try the whole “insanity” thing? If it worked for Andrea Yates, it might have worked for you. [Associated Press]
* We’re impressed by The Recorder’s ability to cram bad puns on Fish & Richardson into its title and lede. We count two and a half, since “sticks” sorta conjures up images of Mrs. Paul’s. [The Recorder]
* “Baker & McKenzie, be on alert: henceforth, Boing Boing will be actively monitoring your website to identify dumbass activity and will, if necessary, take appropriate action to point out instances of wasting clients’ money by sending out unnecessary and obnoxious warning letters.” [The American Lawyer; Boing Boing]
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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