In the world of Biglaw, bad news and good news go hand in hand these days. Recall that Clifford Chance announced associate layoffs and generous bonuses in the same week.
And now Thacher Proffitt & Wood, on the heels of yesterday’s news about likely future layoffs, is raising base salaries for its senior associates. We haven’t seen the full memo yet, but here’s an excerpt:
“It has long been a primary principle of our attorney compensation philosophy in New York and Washington DC to have our base salaries and annual discretionary bonuses be competitive with the top firms in New York City. In that regard, we are announcing the following changes to associate compensation…”
Our sources describe it as basically a match for the class of 2002 and more senior: 2002 – $250,000, 2001 – $265,000, 2000 – $280,000, and 1999 – $290,000. Update (2:55 PM): We now have the memo. It appears — together with additional discussion, including a word about bonuses — after the jump.
Nixon Peabody has appointed a chief sustainability officer, hoping not only to reduce the firm’s environmental impact, but to increase its impact on clients. Carolyn Kaplan, a counsel in the firm’s energy and environmental practice, will spend at least a quarter of her time in the new position.
So what exactly will Ms. Kaplan do in this new gig? Send around annoying firm-wide emails telling people to recycle those reams of useless Westlaw print-outs? Tell associates to turn off the lights when they leave their offices (even if it will tip off the partners to their departures)?
Kaplan said the position has two aspects: looking internally at ways to reduce the firm’s production of CO2, or its carbon footprint, and determining how attorneys can use the firm’s experience to better understand clients dealing with environmental regulation and related issues. Both of those could make the firm greener in the financial sense, too, she said.
We had been hearing rumors this morning of associate layoffs at Thacher Proffitt & Wood. The rumor mill was claiming that somewhere between 30 to 40 associates were given pink slips by TPW.
As is so often the case, the truth is somewhat different, but the rumors not completely unfounded. Thacher Proffitt has not laid off any associates just yet, and certainly not as many as 40. The firm has, however, notified a smaller number of associates — namely, 24 non-first-year associates — that their being laid off in January is “a near certainty.” It is also encouraging first-year associates in its Structured Finance and Real Estate practice groups to look for other opportunities.
In response to inquiries from us, TPW issued this statement, through a spokesperson:
It is no secret that the credit crisis has deeply affected our Structured Finance and Real Estate practices, which are large practices in our Firm. Therefore, we have taken the painful step of notifying 24 associates in those practice areas that if we do not see a substantial improvement in the market, it is a near certainty that they will be laid off in January strictly for economic reasons.
These associates are good, hardworking lawyers that any law firm would be fortunate to have. Unfortunately, these associates are working in areas that are currently slow and that will not be active for some time to come. We are delaying a decision on economic layoffs for as long as we can; however, we believe it would be unfair to the associates potentially affected to give them no warning of this possibility. We are encouraging these associates to seek new opportunities and, should they leave the Firm, we will compensate them through the end of March.
In addition, we have offered first-year associates in our Structured Finance and Real Estate groups a four month severance package should they leave the Firm. They are under no obligation to take this offer, [which] is strictly voluntary; however, we feel it is in these associates’ interest to explore other opportunities as well, as we are concerned that we will not be able to provide them with the best work experience at this formative stage of their careers.
We thank Thacher Proffitt for getting back to us so quickly. And we commend the firm for its candor about the possible layoffs, as well as its praise for the affected associates as lawyers.
If you have any associate layoff news that has not been previously reported, please contact us, by email (subject line: “Nationwide Layoff Watch”). Thanks.
The law firm of Seyfarth Shaw cordially invites its associates… to toast their own obsolescence. Check out the invite below, for “a cocktail reception to welcome the group of attorneys visiting from Manthan Services in Bangalore, India.”
Our tipster wonders: “Why pay first-years $160,000 a year for legal research (or document review), when you can use a lawyer from India at a fraction of the cost?” Earlier: NationwideWorldwide Pay Raise Watch: Mumbai to $8,160?
To respond to yesterday’s question: No, it’s not all over. There’s still some gas left in the associate bonus watch tank.
Last night brought an a bonus announcement from Hughes Hubbard and Reed. It’s a somewhat complicated bonus system, based on a system of “tiers.” A tipster identifies these highlights:
Tier 1 = 1950 hours Tier 2 = 2100 hours Not certain about tier 3 or 4 Class of 2004, 2005, and 2006 get $7500 for reaching 1950, plus half of special bonus No pro-rated bonus for class of 2007
The associates we heard from are unhappy with the bone Old Mother Hubbard has thrown them:
“HHR has managed to make the ‘special bonus’ tied to billable hours. That kind of sucks. Glad to see that they are increasing them for next year though.”
“It is a disappointing day for Hughes Hubbard associates, as bonuses are far below market. Still a great place to work, though.”
You can check out the Hughes Hubbard bonus memo, which announces the firm’s 2007 bonuses as well as its “enhance[d]” bonus system for 2008, after the jump. Update: In response to the commenters, here’s a note on our methodology. If a firm is on either the Am Law 100 or the Vault 100, we’ll run their bonus announcement. HHR is #85 on the Vault 100.
In the comments to our post about Thanksgiving horror stories, an interesting (if somewhat off-topic) discussion developed. It started off with a law student complaining about having to study for final exams over the holiday, to which another commenter responded: Why bother? After a certain point, who cares about your law school grades?
The conventional wisdom is that law school grades don’t really matter after your first year. Once you’ve secured your summer associate gig in the fall of your 2L year, you can pretty much coast, according to this theory. Unless you’re hoping to graduate with honors, snag a feeder judge or Supreme Court clerkship, or become a law professor, you don’t need to worry about your law school transcript (as long as you don’t fail anything or lack sufficient credits to graduate, of course).
But in the comments, some readers suggested otherwise. They claimed that if you want to lateral from one firm to another, the firms you’re applying to may request your transcript and consider your grades. Some suggested that grades even matter in the context of partnership decisions.
Thoughts? If you have an opinion or, better yet, hard information, please provide it in the comments. Thanks. Earlier: Thanksgiving Horror Stories: Open Thread
Wow. It looks like we haven’t had associate bonus news to report in almost a week. Our last Associate Bonus Watch post was last Tuesday’s WilmerHale announcement. (We don’t count last Wednesday’s bonus post, since it dealt with bonuses for support staff.)
So does this mean it’s all over? Has bonus season, which started early thanks to Cravath, ended early as well? If a firm hasn’t announced by now, are its associates S.O.L.?
(And no, that doesn’t stand for “statute of limitations”; it stands for this.)
If you have unreported associate bonus news to share, you know how to reach us. Thanks. Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch 2007 archives (scroll down)
Ladies (and gentlemen — manicures have gone manly, dontcha know):
Please see below. A picture is worth a thousand words — and this picture explains, better than any recruiting brochure or Vault write-up, why you want to work at Latham & Watkins.
P.S. Why wasn’t this quirky perk wasn’t featured in the recent New York Times piece on the blessings of Biglaw?
It’s the Friday after Thanksgiving. The stock market is now closed — and so are we. We’ll be back with new posts on Monday, barring a surprise weekend announcement of “NY to 190.”
In the meantime, here’s some fodder for possible discussion, for the unfortunate few who are at work today (or were at work yesterday). From a reader:
I thought it might be interesting to get the best/worst stories from associates that had to work over the Thanksgiving holiday. I fortunately don’t have a terrible story to share that happened to me personally, but I have heard of bad things happening to others. For example, I heard of opposing counsel on the East Coast that scheduled a deposition on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, knowing that the counsel from California will likely have Thanksgiving plans torpedoed.
I also heard of a partner who told an associate that a party was moving for a TRO on the Monday following Thanksgiving. The associate worked on the case on Thanksgiving and the weekend. The associate later found out that the partner learned on Wednesday that the TRO was off-calendar, but the partner neglected to tell the associate — because the partner was preoccupied with getting out of the office for his own Thanksgiving plans.
These aren’t the greatest stories I realize, but I’m sure plenty of readers have some.
Have a tale of your own to tell? Please share it in the comments.
Happy Black Friday! And enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.
Guess what’s at the top of the New York Times Most Emailed Articles list today? A piece entitled For Lawyers, Perks to Fit a Lifestyle, by Lynnley Browning.
We’re pleasantly surprised that an article about law firm perks, a niche topic that we cover obsessively around here, is so popular with readers of a general-interest publication. Or is it just that lawyers are the only poor saps at work today?
Among the more notable perks mentioned in the article:
1. Milkshakes and candied apples — yum! (Perkins Coie) [FN1] 2. Mortgage guarantees for the first $100,000 of associate mortgages (Sullivan & Cromwell) 3. Reimbursements for associates who buy a hybrid car or a certain brand of car (DLA Piper; Fulbright & Jaworski) 4. On-site yoga classes (O’Melveny & Myers)
It’s an interesting article; read the whole thing here. There’s additional commentary on the piece over at the WSJ Law Blog, by Jamie Heller (filling in for Peter Lattman, who is on his honeymoon).
P.S. Looks like an NYT correction may be in order, due to a slip-up concerning the amount of year-end bonuses:
The perks come on top of higher salaries and larger bonuses — this year, the top-offs have been doubled at some practices. At the New York office of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, an old-line firm, associates will receive special payouts of $10,000 to $50,000, in addition to their year-end bonuses up to $35,000.
Our suggested rewording: “At the New York office of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, an old-line firm, some associates will receive special payouts of $10,000 to $50,000, in addition to year-end bonuses up to $60,000.” (The word “some” is needed before the word “associates,” because class of 2007 or “stub year” associates don’t get special bonuses.)
[FN1] The Perkins Coie milkshakes come from Potbelly Sandwich Works. Coincidentally, we enjoyed a PSW milkshake for the first time on Wednesday. It was Oreo, and it was delicious! Update: One of you sent us this great comment, by email:
I thought the most poignant perk was Fried Frank’s: they offer psychotherapy (through what sounds suspiciously like a bulk discount deal) to help associates deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and divorce. I love it!
I can imagine the therapist’s notes: “Patient distressed re: possibility of negative performance review. Says he has not seen wife or child since, “let’s see … when was that holiday with the fireworks?” Is in constant pain from chronic papercuts and verbal caning associated with ongoing case. Patient noted gratefully that firm is paying for therapy. Possible diagnoses: Stockholm syndrome?”
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 protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…