Biglaw

atl-power100-2015-officesConventional wisdom says you can’t compare apples to oranges. That’s stupid. Of course you can. Oranges are better. An orange is a delicious treat, while an apple is a healthy “snack” for people too embarrassed to have another bag of Doritos. Orange juice is also clearly superior to apple juice. The only people who truly prefer apples are those without the patience or dexterity to peel an orange.

Lots of people rank law firms. We even did it. And you can dice up law firm rankings in so many ways: most prestigious firm, safest firm, elite-est-ist firms, best firms in inter-coastal lowland regions.

That’s all great, but if you are going to work in a Biglaw firm, you are going to be working in a specific office. And not all offices are created equal, even within the same firm. There are firms that aren’t thought of very highly overall, but a specific office of their operation might be doing great work and be the place for your kind of thing.

And let’s drop the artifice that every graduating law student has a burning desire to work in New York or L.A. or Dallas. Some do. Some just want to work at the “best” firm they can, and they don’t really care which stop they have to take on the Acela. You think anybody wants to live in New Haven for three years? Come on. They go to Yale because it’s the best. And they’ll go to San Francisco or Chicago if there’s a better offer on the table out there than in New York City.

As usual, Above the Law wants to help you. So let’s look at some of the more interesting office disparities, and then look at our full list…

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4 Times Square

4 Times Square

Today’s Lawyerly Lairs column is about a Skadden associate’s search for a home (other than 4 Times Square, where he surely spends most of his waking hours). The firm requires sacrifices of its lawyers, but it also offers rich rewards, including generous pay and ample prestige. There’s a reason that Skadden is a top 10 firm in our new law firm rankings.

Working at Skadden gives you the ability to buy a Manhattan apartment while you’re still in your early 30s. The home we’re about to view is not a lavish lawyerly lair, but it’s a perfectly respectable starter apartment.

Let’s have a peek, shall we?

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Africa LF* “There’s too much at stake—too much money and interest.” Biglaw firms in West Africa are surviving, nay, thriving, despite the fact that the area is afflicted by the terrors of Ebola. [Am Law Daily]

* “[T]ake a step back, to pause to consider, I hope, a change of course.” The head of the FBI is pissed about cell encryption, and he wants tech companies to cut it out with this privacy stuff. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney has a new chief financial officer. At Pittsburgh’s third-largest firm, the former litigation practice director could really make a name for himself. [Pittsburgh Business Times]

* Former employees — even lawyers — of the recently failed Canadian firm Heenan Blaikie are filing suit, seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance pay. Good luck with that, eh? [Globe and Mail]

* According to NY AG Eric Schneiderman, 72% of Airbnb rental sites in New York City are operating illegally. This is going to be problematic for those who enjoy the services of faux hotels. [New York Times]


Now that Bingham McCutchen appears to have found a savior, talk is turning to other firms that have experienced a lot of recent partner attrition. One such firm is Dickstein Shapiro, which lost the most partners to lateral moves in 2013 and has continued to shrink over the course of 2014.

Today brings word of more Dickstein departures. Who are the latest lawyers to leave?

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Bruce Stachenfeld

This is a continuation of the past three articles I published in ATL over the past month or so. My first article argued that Profits Per Partner is a great servant for a law firm but a bad master. In my second article, I set forth our Profits Per Partner Emancipation Plan as an alternative. In my third article, I set forth what I believe is the highest level in law firm profitability analysis, which is to “embrace” the volatility inherent in the practice of law. In this final article, I will give some thoughts on how a law firm could indeed Embrace Volatility.

Before getting to that, I will mention as an aside that I wrote a few weeks ago in this column an article entitled “Are Lawyers Only Happy When They’re Miserable?” That article largely dealt with how an individual might in fact Embrace Volatility. This article is directed not at individuals but at law firms.

If you have been reading my past articles, you may be open to at least considering how Embracing Volatility might be a good thing for a law firm. But is this whole concept just a fantasy, like it would be nice to not be afraid of snakes but you can’t help it and just reciting “I am not afraid of snakes” isn’t going to work? I don’t think so. I think the following simple steps would do it quite nicely:

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The terrible way women lawyers are treated in the legal profession has been described in these pages ad infinitum. Whether their necklines are too low, their hair is too long, they’re giggling too much, or their maternity leave is considered an inconvenience, women lawyers aren’t taken seriously, and they certainly aren’t treated with respect by their fellow lawyers in this profession.

But just how much sexism do women lawyers face on a day-to-day basis? It’s astonishing…

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John Grisham

* Dickstein Shapiro’s IP practice was raided by Manatt Phelps & Phillips, and now the struggling firm is down one practice group coleader thanks to its partner defections. [Am Law Daily]

* Contrary to popular belief, O’Melveny & Myers is not opening a Portland office. Instead, the firm is setting up a temporary shop to work on a local patent trial. [Portland Business Journal]

* You can turn an IPO into a gold mine for your firm using this one weird trick. Discover how you can turn that one deal into your future. Prepare to be shocked. [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Now isn’t the best time to enroll in law school. It’s also not the best time to rank law schools as “top” schools based on enrollment alone. Seriously, have you even heard of all of these law schools? [Birmingham Business Journal]

* Thanks to this Georgia appellate ruling, parents may now be held responsible for what their silly little children who weren’t supposed to be on Facebook are posting on Facebook. Dislike. [WSJ Law Blog]

* John Grisham says not all consumers of child pornography are pedophiles. Here’s a story about one of his law school pals: “He shouldn’t ‘a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys.” [The Telegraph]

In my line of work, I sometimes end up as a career counselor of sorts. People talk to me about what’s going on at their law school or law firm and ask me for advice about what to do.

I recently had occasion to speak with a lawyer who was laid off by his Biglaw firm. He remains on the website, but he hasn’t been to the office in months; that was part of the deal they negotiated with issued to him. He has been looking for a new job for months but has been having difficulty. He blames this in part on a lack of specialization — he’s a generalist, not really marketable as an expert in a particular type of litigation or transaction.

This reminded me of a chat I was having with an old friend from my high school debate days, who has found great professional success in a focused practice area. I contacted him again and our chat turned into a full-blown interview about how to become (and remain) a partner at a major law firm by establishing expertise in a particular field of substantive law.

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Amal Alamuddin Clooney

* The Fifth Circuit is allowing the Texas voter ID law to be enforced during the upcoming election, even though it was recently struck down by a federal judge. After all, “preserving the status quo” is very important down south. [Bloomberg]

* We suppose that’s why the Supreme Court stepped in to make sure that abortion clinics in Texas were allowed to reopen following their shut down. Take that, Fifth Circuit. [New York Times]

* AG Eric Holder is showing off some fancy legal footwork before he walks out the door. Federal prosecutors can no longer ask defendants to waive their IAC claims when pleading guilty. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Davis Polk & Wardwell is a Biglaw firm where hotties roam, and it looks like this top Justice Department prosecutor who started his career there is returning home there to roost. [DealBook / New York Times]

* It’s the debt: With headlines like “Law school applications plummet – at U of L too,” the University of Louisville School of Law can’t even convince alums from its undergrad school to attend. [Courier-Journal]

* Amal Alamuddin changed her name to Amal Clooney on her firm’s website. It’s as if she wants to rub the fact that she’s a human rights lawyer who just got married in everyone’s face. [New York Daily News]

Based on the traffic we’ve been seeing, there is considerable interest in the new ATL Power 100 Ranking of law firms. The Power 100 blends objective data with subjective feedback from over 20,000 law firm associates and partners. The result is a holistic picture of each firm, encompassing employee satisfaction, compensation, reputation, desirability as an employer, and data-driven measures of firm growth. The Power 100 offers a new perspective on how Biglaw firms stack up.

Today we share the leading firms in some of the individual categories of our rankings formula: Which firms have the highest growth rate? The lowest leverage? Which firms’ lawyers are happiest with their pay? Which firms are considered the most desirable employers?

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