Biglaw

woman with migraine headache.jpgIf you have a job these days, especially a job at a high-paying law firm, you should be grateful, right? Right.
But that doesn’t mean work is all sunshine and lollipops. Many attorneys continue to experience a high amount of stress, which often manifests itself in the form of illness. A friend who works at a law firm sent us this suggestion:

I’m swamped, but I had to run out of the office for a doctor’s appointment. I was diagnosed with an ulcer last year, and apparently it still hasn’t healed.

Maybe you should do an ATL piece on ostensibly stress-related illnesses suffered by attorneys. What are some of the most “popular” maladies suffered by attorneys at an inappropriately young age?

Good question. Take our survey, and a stroll through the various maladies that have afflicted Elie Mystal, after the jump.

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Happy Lawyer.JPGAccording to CNN Money, being a lawyer is one of the Best Jobs in America. Attorneys rank eighteenth on CNN’s list, just behind IT business analysts, and just ahead of doctors.
Congratulations?
If you look at the list, you can make a very cogent argument that lawyers should have ranked much higher. Some of the jobs that did better than lawyers are: CPA (more at Going Concern), nurse, and something called physician assistant, which sounds a lot like doing routine medical work with none of the glory (or pay) of specialists.
Ranked below lawyers (but still in the top 50) are such plum jobs as: human resource manager, hotel general manager, and corporate paralegal.
You know, when you put it like that, maybe we are not “devoting too many of our very best minds” to the practice of law. No offense to hoteliers and all of the challenging work they do, but it’s not like we need more snooty concierges.
All that said, I’m not entirely sure CNN Money knows a whole lot about what it is like to be a lawyer these days.
Let’s take a look at the profile after the jump.

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NALP police NALP cops rules guidelines.jpg“There are no NALP police.”
James G. Leipold, Executive Director, NALP

Oh, but wouldn’t it be fun if there were? Let’s use our imaginations….
As the Bad Boys theme song plays in the background, a bespectacled Jim Leipold, accompanied by a gaggle of burly NALP goons, breaks down the door at 111 Huntington Avenue — the Boston offices of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge.
Leipold and his goons find the recruiting department like heat-seeking missiles, where they confront Katherine Kelly, EAPD’s recruiting director. The goons grab Kelly and turn her back towards Leipold.
Leipold handcuffs Kelly. “You are being arrested for your firm’s violation of Part V.C.1 of the NALP Principles and Standards,” he tells her. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to the managing partner of your law firm, as well as the right to blame the managing partner for your firm’s breach of the NALP rules. But don’t be surprised if you get hit with a stealth layoff after doing so.”

Bad firms, bad firms, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when NALP comes for you?
NALP, the Association for Legal Career Professionals (fka the National Association for Law Placement), promulgates “guidelines that offer an ethical framework for all participants in law student recruiting.” In past years, these guidelines were generally followed by law firms, schools, and students. This year, however, with the economy in the tank, things are… different.
Over the summer, uber-prestigious Sullivan & Cromwell tried to ditch the requirement that law firms give law students 45 days to weigh offers of summer employment. S&C ultimately backed down. But as reported in these pages earlier today, Edwards Angell has told law students receiving offers that they have three weeks to accept, “or until the summer class fills up” — whichever is earlier.
And EAPD isn’t the only firm that has decided to make offers with shorter fuses. Another firm is giving offerees two weeks to make up their minds.
More information, plus reflections on the NALP rules, after the jump.

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(And: Another firm abandons the 45-day rule.)


Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com.

pls hndle copy 2.jpgATL -

I was wondering if you could do a post on (legal) coping mechanisms for surviving in BigLaw, besides the usual smoking, drinking, and sleeping with married partners.

BigLaw vs. Corporate America — what makes it so much worse? Is every Corporate America work environment this bleak and depressing?

Audioslave

Dear Audioslave,
I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why the commenters on Above the Law are, on average, thirty times more bitter than commenters on Dealbreaker. I think I’ve got it.
Law firms make a hellish trifecta: literal-minded nitpickers, a 24/7 service industry that creates nothing, and non-merit-based compensation. Unlike finance types or doctors, associates don’t advise companies on how to run their businesses or decide whether to operate; they are paid to paper the trail and implement others’ genius at their beck and call. Once emasculated, associates are measured according to Opposite Day, where precedent is good and new ideas are bad. And even when associates cobble together amazing No Third Parties clauses or blackline the shit out of opposing counsel’s first draft, they doesn’t see another dime. In fact, they’ll be lucky just to keep their jobs and be fleeced once again at year’s end for staff holiday gift contributions. This is all just to say that when seated in an office perfumed with farts and soy sauce, law firm life can seem as pointless as intra-office mail. Pls Hndle,Thx.
Even if you can never be happy at work, the key to coping is finding something on the outside that keeps you going. Not something corny like friends or family — more like Hapkido, presidential trivia, or being into the Titanic. These hobbies are cool in and of themselves, and when you get involved in their online communities, you get a whole new group of internet friends who also hate their jobs and are available to chat during the day. I’m telling you, my life changed when I discovered the Bedlington Terrier Club of America and The Bachelor discussion groups. I was no longer alone.
In any event, it seems you’ve already discovered the ATL online community, so you’re off to a great start. And if all else fails, you can always just quit the firm. Haha jk.
Your friend,
Marin
Elie answers the red courtesy phone, after the jump.

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Orrick logo.JPGLast week we wrote about the move of prominent D.C. lawyers Lanny Davis and Eileen O’Connor from Orrick to McDermott Will & Emery. Am Law Daily described the jump as follows: “Lanny Davis, a longtime Washington, D.C., lawyer who supported Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and was a fraternity brother of George W. Bush, is taking his unique practice from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe to McDermott, Will & Emery.”

It’s not the case, however, that the entire practice moved. As noted by one commenter, the rest of the legal strategic and crisis management practice remained with Orrick. Consistent with this, an Orrick spokesperson issued the following statement to ATL:

We wish Lanny and Eileen well, but Orrick’s law, policy, media, and crisis management practice remains vibrant and strong with continuing plans for expansion and will keep delivering its unique blend of legal, public relations and government affairs counsel to our clients around the world.

Remaining at Orrick are partners Adam Goldberg, who was co-chair of the practice with Davis, and Joshua Galper. Goldberg and Galper will head the practice going forward. In addition, the associates who work in and with the law, policy and media group are staying at Orrick.

As for clients, it’s not yet clear which ones will stay with Orrick and which will move to McDermott. “Thankfully, this is a practice where we’ve always had plenty of work, so that’s not an issue,” Galper said. (We’d guess, however, that certain clients closely tied to Davis — like CEAL, the Honduras business group supporting the coup in that country — will travel with him.)

Get to know Messrs. Galper and Goldberg, and read more about Orrick’s very interesting and unusual practice area, after the jump.

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Minority lawyers diversity hours.JPGIn an environment where hours are scarce, a new report shows that white attorneys are coming out on top. A new survey suggests that African-American attorneys — and minority attorneys in general — are experiencing a greater pinch for hours than their white counterparts. The Minority Law Journal reports:

[M]inority lawyers surveyed said they posted fewer billable hours on average last year than their white counterparts. The average hours billed figure in 2008 was 1,862 for black midlevels, 1,925 for Asian Americans, 1,965 for Hispanics, and 1,976 for whites. And minority lawyers are unlikely to boost their relative output much in 2009. Projected billables for this year were just under 1,825 hours for Asian Americans and African Americans, about 1,840 for Hispanics, and roughly 1,890 for whites.

Hours are low all over, but these numbers indicate the pain is not being shared equally.
Are minority attorneys being “out-hustled” for work, or are these numbers just another manifestation of the old boys’ network?
More numbers from the report after the jump.

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Bingham logo.jpgWe’ve devoted a lot of coverage to the few firms that are moving away from a lockstep compensation system. One consistent theme has been that the move away from lockstep appears to be an attempt to reduce overall associate compensation.
Not so at Bingham McCutchen. The firm just released its new compensation plan. Calling it a hybrid approach, Bingham is keeping lockstep compensation for base compensation but make bonuses heavily merit based. Our sources tell us that while nothing has yet been finalized, the firm’s intention is to hold the line on base compensation.

“Merit Lockstep” Base Salary Structure
After significant review, we have decided to modify our current associate base compensation lockstep structure slightly, moving to what we are calling a “merit lockstep” approach. We intend to retain a salary class level system. All salary class levels will remain subject, as always, to future market changes as well as our own internal determinations.

I’ve been critical of firms that announce they are moving to a merit-based system, without actually explaining what merit-based means. But at Bingham the firm seems to have a concrete plan for its new merit bonuses.
Details and a reader poll after the jump.

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Blackballed Blacklist laid off attorneys.JPGWe know it’s difficult for laid-off attorneys to find new Biglaw jobs. Very few firms are hiring — and many of the firms that are hiring do not want to look at résumés from associates that have been previously laid off.
RollOnFriday has the news from London:

RollOnFriday can reveal that there is blatant and widespread discrimination throughout the City against lawyers who have been made redundant.

Last week’s report that a recruitment consultant wouldn’t consider redundant lawyers who for a job seems to be the tip of the iceberg. Readers deluged RollOnFriday Towers with complaints about both rec cons and law firms. All had the same experience: their attempts to apply for a job had been stymied when they revealed they’d been made redundant. The firms who came in for the most criticism were American, with several big names being accused of discrimination.

Legal Blog Watch asks if the same phenomenon is happening here in the states. Recruiters we have spoken with say that it is.
Reports from recruiters and tipsters in the U.S., after the jump.

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Wildman Harrold logo.jpgWildman Harrold has decided to give a majority of its incoming associates the Fox. Am Law Daily reports that the firm has rescinded offers to 10 of its 14 associates. Unlike Arent Fox, Wildman will not be giving its would-be incoming associates any stipend.

On the Wildman Harrold career page, they really like numbers. They evidently haven’t had a chance to update their summer associate page; they’re probably busy with fall recruiting. So I figured I’d give them a hand.

Wildman, by the numbers:

* 10 – Number of offers rescinded to class of 2009 associates (out of 14).
* 4 – Number of offers extended to 2009 summer associates (out of 17).
* 10 – Number of lawyers laid off in January 2009.
* 10 – Number of lawyers laid off in April 2009.

HTH.

Wildman is a Chicago based firm. Yesterday, we told you that the Illinois bar results were out. You don’t think that Wildman rescinded offers right after the bar results came out do you? More details after the jump.

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Female partner bending over backwards.JPGThere are firms that want to make more female partners (and minority partners for that matter), but honestly do not know how to make that happen. Retaining top female associates through a couple of years of around 3,000 billable hours is just difficult, especially if those women want to have a family.
Over on the WSJ Law Blog, Ashby Jones explores the female partner problem facing Clifford Chance:

The issue was the topic of an interesting article this week in the UK’s The Lawyer. The focus of the article was Clifford Chance, which has pledged to increase its percentage of female partners to 30 percent.
As the Lawyer reports, however, “the firm has a long way to go.” Currently, only 15 percent of its partnership is female.

The Lawyer article explains that there is no quick fix to the problem:

“There’s no one thing that will solve the problem,” says Childs. “There’s no quick fix. It’s a long-term goal that we’re very focused on. It’s something that all firms face and there are many ways you can approach it.”
Aggressively pursuing a dramatic increase in female partners is problematic, Childs argues. Firms need to find creative ways to change their cultures and encourage females to strive for partnership.

Give Clifford Chance some credit here. You aren’t going to fix this issue without confronting it head on.
While firms contemplate their cultural impediments to dramatic growth in female partnership , Patricia Gillette — who is a partner at Orrick — sees one simple change that could make eating the hours a little easier for all attorneys.

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