The Legal Intelligencer had a piece yesterday on the continuing debate over law firm names: to shorten or not to shorten? Gina Rubel says the debate has been raging for years, citing an article she wrote about it as early as 2003. She says most legal marketing experts agree that firms should keep their names snappy and provides eight reasons why:
1. Better branding;
2. More memorable;
3. Easier to say and repeat;
4. Easier to register Web site URLs;
5. More marketable;
6. Supports name recognition;
7. Works better with social media and emerging technologies;
8. Easier to say in media interviews.
One of the firms that has fully embraced the “shorter is better” approach is Morrison & Foerster. The firm is already just two names, but it has chopped it down even further, usually marketing itself as “MoFo.”
We love the simplicity and brazenness of a firm branding itself MoFo. Plus, it makes referring to acquaintances there more fun. E.g., “How’s Dave doing? You know, MoFo Dave?”
After the jump, we have some suggestions for other law firm name elisions. Would you rather work for ClearGo or Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton? We’ve also got a poll to find out whether “length matters.”
Well, at least one lawyer thinks he has this whole Biglaw thing figured out. And he’s happy to share his wisdom with new associates. Writing at the Texas Lawyer, Jason Braun has some harsh advice for young lawyers:
When I became a lawyer, a partner gave me what I now realize was great advice: “Don’t think like an associate,” she told me. “Think like a partner.” I wisely nodded my head. “Of course,” I solemnly replied, hoping she would not notice my confusion….
New associates love being lawyers — or at least should — and hopefully their first and foremost goal is to become a great lawyer. Over the past few years, several tenets have helped me on the way to that goal. Some I learned quickly; others I learned through trial and error.
Oh boy. When you start out declaring what new associates should love in life, you can see where Braun is going.
Check after the jump for more reasons why giving yourself completely to the Biglaw experience is the only way to go.
Have you noticed that every time we run a story about the legal market in Canada there are a bunch of commenters telling us how great things are for lawyers in the great white north? Well, now we know why. The American Lawyer reports that the Canadian government has been pitching in to help Canadian and American law firms:
According to records obtained by The Lawyers Weekly, the Canadian government spent a record $57.1 million on outside law firms in the 2008-09 fiscal year. It’s the most Canada has ever paid out to private law firms in one year and represents a 34 percent increase from legal fees paid in 2007-08. (All expenditures have been converted from Canadian dollars at the rate of $1 Canadian = $ 0.936 U.S.)
Weil, Gotshal & Manges led the pack of outside legal advisers with $7.7 million in billings.
That is some change I can believe in. When global warming fully kicks in Canada is going to be awesome.
Why the jump in government work for outside counsel? The answer is something so obvious that liberals and libertarians have been talking about it for years.
Details after the jump.
There’s nothing quite like the burning smell of deflation on a Monday morning. NALP has released its associate salary survey. The good news is that the median starting salary for associates is $130,000. The bad news is that there is no way on God’s green earth that the median salary is going to stay that high. The ABA Journal reports this excerpt from the NALP survey:
Salary information for the survey by NALP, an association for legal career professionals, was collected as of April 1, before large law firms paying the prevailing beginning salary of $160,000 began to cut pay. “This year’s report reflects what is likely to be the apogee of large firm salaries for the foreseeable future,” according to a NALP press release.
A cursory glance at Above the Law’s salary cut page will reveal that New York will secede from the Union sooner than New York will go to $190K. But there are other factors in play that will push down future median salary numbers.
More details after the jump.
Summer programs at many firms are shorter this year than last year. That means the summer is over at a lot of places, and summer associates are starting to learn their fates.
So far, there is some surprising news. Summers are getting offers. Many people have reported that their firm has given full, 100% offers to 2009 summer associates. Summers at Sullivan & Cromwell and Davis Polk are just some of the people reporting good news:
Davis Polk & Wardwell and Sullivan & Cromwell have extended offers to all of their summer associates.
Update (12:35): Additional tipsters inform us that Davis Polk has only given 100% offers to the summers that have already left. That is about half of the summer associates. The rest of the SAs leave on Friday, so we’ll see.
We also have received word that Cravath is making 100% offers.
After the jump, let’s look at a few more firms that we believe are making full offers to this year’s summer associates.
Yesterday, American Lawyer released the results of its annual survey of midlevel associates. Morale is about what you would expect from postal workers applying for a gun permit, not upwardly mobile white collar workers. But the results should surprise no one:
Associate morale plummeted to the lowest level in five years (since we started asking about it). It fell from a rating of 3.1 last year, on a scale of 1 to 5, to 2.7. The drop is clearly related to job insecurity. Eighty-three percent of our respondents reported medium or high anxiety about losing their jobs. The midlevels had good reason to be concerned. Sixty-one percent said that their firms had layoffs. And, for those who kept their jobs, there wasn’t enough to do. As early as last year, one-third of associates saw a drop-off in their workload, and this year 46 percent said it had decreased.
But it’s not just job security that is making Biglaw associates blue. The pay cuts don’t just hurt associates’ bottom line, they make associates feel less valuable:
Many survey respondents were also disappointed with their firms’ pay cuts, reduced or nonexistent bonuses, and decreased benefits. They were also troubled by what they saw as a lack of transparency on financial issues and layoffs.
After the jump, let’s look at the firms where midlevels are least miserable, and the firms that should consider adding Lexapro to the vending machines.
If you’re a minority female, you’ll likely say ba-bye to your firm within five years, says a study from Catalyst, a non-profit focused on women and business issues.
The organization recently released a report titled, “Women of Color in U.S. Law Firms:”
According to Catalyst’s Women of Color in U.S. Law Firms, women of color face complex barriers compared to other groups that may significantly decrease job satisfaction and increase the intent to leave their current firm–factors that affect a firm’s bottom line. The study is the fourth and final in Catalyst’s Women of Color in Professional Services Series examining how the “intersectionality,” or combined identities of gender and race/ethnicity, puts women of color at a unique disadvantage in the workplace. Despite widespread existence of systems created to develop and advance women of color, research has shown that more than 75 percent of these women will leave their employer within five years, costing an amount potentially greater than each person’s total salary and benefits.
The organization surveyed 1,242 lawyers and conducted focus groups with women of color–including Asian women, black women, and Latinas– and then produced a 72-page report [pdf]. Here’s the short version from the Chicago Sun-Times:
75% bail within 5 years due to barriers.
Female lawyers of color being flaky is maybe not exactly the message that Catalyst wanted to send.
We skimmed the report, and must say it’s a bit dry. We’ve extracted the juicier bits — mainly the individual stories — after the jump.
Akerman Senterfitt is a Florida based firm, so — given the economy in Florida — it’s not all that surprising that the firm has decided to join the salary cutting party.
Multiple tipsters independently confirm that Akerman has instituted an across the board, 10% pay cut on all class years. Here is the internal email about the salary cuts obtained by Above the Law:
We are announcing today a 10% reduction in all associate salaries, effective immediately. This action is being taken in response to market conditions, which I know you are all aware of and which I need not belabor. I want to make it clear that our firm’s financial condition remains very strong, and even clearer as to how much we appreciate all your hard word and effort on behalf of the firm.
As previously announced, the associate bonus hours grid that we have used during the past few years has been eliminated. Instead, we will be carefully reviewing each associate’s performance at the end of this year as we consider paying merit-based discretionary bonuses to those meeting the established minimum qualitative and quantitative requirements.
As the email suggests, everybody is well aware of the terrible situation happening in the legal economy. But is the terrible economy forcing Akerman into this situation, or is the firm simply taking advantage of the difficult economic situation to roll back salaries?
After the jump, tipsters who have seen Akerman’s books claim that this is a salary cut of choice, not necessity.
Just last week, Ballard Spahr was sending around inspirational messages to its associates. Today, the firm has decided to cancel its 2010 Summer Program. Thompson Hine has also decided to cancel its 2010 Summer Program. If nothing else the move should give Rogue Associate an opportunity to comment.
It’s one thing to cancel your entire summer program. But what is surprising about Ballard Spahr and Thompson Hine is that the firms did not make any formal, official announcement about the decision. Instead, students learned the information from their respective law school recruiting offices. Update (1:04): Now Squire Sanders is also canceling its 2010 Summer Program. More details after the jump.
Here’s the Ballard Spahr “announcement” (via Penn Law School):
As we near the close of bidding, we wanted to provide you with an update on schedule changes that we received so far today.
Akin Gump went from 40 interview slots in NYC and 40 interview slots in DC to 20 interview slots in NYC and 20 interview slots in DC.
Paul Weiss went from 80 interview slots to 60 interview slots.
Ballard Spahr will not have a 2010 summer program and, as such, has canceled on campus interviews.
All of this information is updated in Symplicity. Please note that we will continue to provide you with updates as is feasible. However, it may not be possible for us to email you with all changes so please be sure to check Symplicity before bidding closes tomorrow, July 21st at 11:59 p.m.
After the jump, we see that Duke students were the first to learn about the Thompson Hine cancellation.
Can social networking benefit Biglaw firms? On the one hand, any way for firms to directly reach prospective clients and new hires sounds like something that should garner Biglaw interest. On the other hand, sites like Twitter have yet to prove themselves as a business generation tool.
But regardless of whether you think Biglaw firms should be in on the Twitter game or not, certainly firms should be protecting their brand names on Twitter. (Ed. Note: Above the Law is on Twitter. And so are your editors, David Lat, Kashmir Hill, and me). It appears that if Biglaw firms ever join the Twitter age, they’ll have to fight with cyber-squatters to get their names back. Legal Blog Watch reports:
Going through a list of the top 50 law firms, I was quite surprised to see that no less than 95 percent of the names that I thought these top 50 law firms would eventually want to use were unregistered. I suggested in a post on my own blog that day that anyone reading from BigLaw should “take 30 seconds and register your law firm’s name today … Even if you don’t understand what Twitter is, please just trust me and do this. Your law firm will thank you later, I promise!” I listed about 35 no-brainer Twitter usernames that I felt BigLaw needed to immediately lock up (e.g., @dlapiper, @jonesday, @akingump).
Just a few days later, the Biglaw Twitter names were gone. But were they snapped up by law firms?
More 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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.