Biglaw

Best Law Firms BG.gifWorking Mother magazine has released its annual review of law firms and named the 50 Best Law Firms for Women. No shame on these firms (unlike the one in our caption contest), at least when it comes to “flex-time, reduced-hour and other family-friendly policies”:

[O]ur winning firms have more lawyers working reduced hours (8 percent versus 5 percent nationwide) and also employ more female equity partners, who share in their firm’s profits (20 percent versus 16 percent nationwide)–and that’s just for starters. We salute these firms for recognizing that making the legal profession work for women is good business for everyone.

As pointed out by the ABA Journal:

A bad economy may be hurting law firms, but it’s opening up more flex-time opportunities for male as well as female lawyers.

Only one firm from the top five most prestigious — as ranked by Vault last year — made the cut.

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taking some names off above the law.jpgYesterday we wrote about Gina Rubel’s suggestion in the Legal Intelligencer that law firms namechecking multiple founding partners drop a few for shorter, easier, and more memorable names. ATL readers who voted in our poll were split down the middle on whether bigger is better. Over 800 votes were cast: 52% said they like a short firm… name and 48% said they prefer it long.
A Davis Polk & Wardwell spokesperson ATL commenter pointed out that the firm recently trimmed its name (in connection with its hottie-friendly website revamp):

DavisPolk has just changed its name for marketing purposes and has dropped Wardwell out – mention of DPW should have been made in this article. I am disappointed.

In yesterday’s post, we took the shortening advice a step further and suggested firms cut their names down to a couple of syllables, like Morrison & Foerster’s embracing the name MoFo. We recommended a few other (humorous) possibilities: ClearGo, SuCro, CoBu, WilCo, etc. As sometimes happens usual, ATL readers impressed us and made us chuckle with some of their responses. We’ve culled the over 100 comments for the best suggestions; here are our top ten favorites:

10. Haynes & Boone = HayBoo
9. Fulbright & Jaworski = FulJaw
8. Sullivan & Cromwell should change its name to “Sully”. It would make it sound more “heroic”.
7. King & Spalding = KingS
6. Willkie Farr & Gallagher = WILF

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Schiff Hardin logo.JPGEarlier today, we wrote about Schiff Hardin sending a mass e-mail to its retired partners letting them know that they were being moved to temporary offices during a renovation of the firm’s Chicago office. The e-mail read as if the partners were not getting their own offices upon their return and were being asked to cut back their time at the office.

Schiff got in touch with us this afternoon with an update. Despite the language in the e-mail, in fact, all special partners will be getting their own offices when renovations are complete, according to Schiff’s spokesman. They just won’t be in the same offices as before. There will be no change in the partners’ status with the firm, he added.

Schiff’s spokesman could not explain why the e-mail read like a dismissal letter.

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Partners Emeriti at Schiff Hardin?

Schiff Hardin logo.JPGWe’ve noticed in comment threads that many of you would like frequent commenter Partner Emeritus to retire. But he’s a persistent one. Perhaps frustrated readers should take a page from the book of Schiff Hardin.

The 400-attorney firm found an interesting way to get rid of its partners emeriti in the firm’s Chicago office. It will move its “special partners” to temporary offices while its main building is being renovated, and then not move them back.

UPDATE: It appears there was a misunderstanding. A clarification from the firm appears here.

The firm notified its retired partners, referred to as “special partners,” on Sunday. And not in a very nice way. They got the message via mass e-mail:

Dear Special Partners,

As you know, we are about embark upon the renovation of our space in Chicago. We will move to temporary space two floors at a time and then return to our improved floors. We will use this opportunity to reshuffle offices

Some of you have volunteered to move offices when we return to the renovated space. I have not, however, had an opportunity to speak with all of you about this topic. With one exception, you will not be returning to your present office.

The mass e-mail that Schiff Hardin’s (not-so special?) partners emeriti got, plus a clarification from the firm, after the jump.

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taking some names off above the law.jpgThe 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.”

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Super associate.JPGWell, 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.

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The New Canadian Flag.JPGHave 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.

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Salary Cuts.jpgThere’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.

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summer associate program offer rate no offer.jpgSummer 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.

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Depressed Biglaw Associate.jpgYesterday, 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.

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