Biglaw

American Lawyer August 2008 cover.jpgThe results of the Midlevel Associate Survey of the American Lawyer are out. You can access the charts here (subscription, we think; but we’re guessing most of you interested in this have access through your firms). And even though 2Ls are still several years away from being mid-level associates at law firms, those of you about to go through fall recruiting may still find these rankings to be of interest.
Am Law describes the Midlevel Associates Survey as follows:

Midlevel associates are generally regarded as the sweet spot in a law firm’s financial structure–thus the near obsession with retaining them. In our annual midlevel survey, 7259 third-, fourth-, and fifth-year associates from 180 firms gave us a glimpse of their working lives.

We like how the American Lawyer, consistent with the worldview of its Biglaw partner readers, views midlevels as essentially billing machines with legs — “the sweet spot in a law firm’s financial structure.”
The ten highest-scoring firms in the survey, plus collected links and your chance to comment, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The American Lawyer Midlevel Associates Survey: Open Thread”

Not Hiring sign.jpgThis sign captures the flavor of the past week in law firm news, including the massive layoffs at Cadwalader and the office closings at Akin Gump. If you have other tips for us, send them to us here.
The law firm pain is starting to be felt even by those still in law school. We’ve been forwarded various emails announcing that some firms or offices have canceled on-campus interviews for 2009 prospective summer associates, including the New York office of Dorsey & Whitney, the Chicago office of Midwestern firm Barnes & Thornburg, and, as we reported on Wednesday, Cadwalader (at certain law schools, e.g., Rutgers – Newark). Here are excerpts from the notices:

From John Marshall Law School:
I received notice from the head of recruiting at Barnes & Thornburg that the firm will not be having a summer program in its Chicago office next summer. Therefore, the OCI option for that firm has been removed from Symplicity.


From Columbia Law School:
The New York office of Dorsey & Whitney LLP will no longer be interviewing at EIP (ed. note: Early Interview Program) as they have decided not to have a formal summer associate program in 2009.


From Rutgers Law School:
Also, please note that Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, scheduled to interview on campus on August 13th, has had to cancel and will contact students independently to schedule interviews if they are selected.

We expected large law firms to power on with their summer associate programs, so we were somewhat surprised to hear that Dorsey & Whitney is suspending its program in New York. Then again, it was a rather small program — about five summer associates in 2007, per the firm’s NALP form (PDF). A Dorsey spokesperson had this comment:

It is true that the New York office of Dorsey & Whitney will not sponsor a formal summer associate program in 2009. We have made this decision based upon our hiring needs in the New York office at this time. This decision with respect to the New York office summer associate program does not preclude the possibility of hiring an incoming class for 2010 in our New York office. The firm’s other offices that have traditionally sponsored summer associate programs will continue to do so.

Have other firms canceled their OCIs at your school? Please let us know in the comments, including your school, the firm, and the firm office.
See full notices from firms regarding OCI cancellation, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Thread: Some OCIs are DOA”

avatar Exley ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by EXLEY, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Exley's avatar (at right).]
As anyone remotely familiar with the law knows, the devil is in the details. Similarly, it’s the little things that can sometimes make or break a long day at the office. A mouse with a trackball that refuses to roll in a particular direction, for example, or harsh bathroom lighting that gives everyone’s reflection a sickly, ghoulish, glow can really mess a girl up. And a half-nod of recognition from a usually impassive lobby security guard can make a dude feel like the office is his second crib.
The dog days of summer present their own set of potential pet peeves.
summer fashion.jpgThe major complaint we’ve heard from female associates is that offices are too damn cold in the summer. Of course, offices are probably the same temperature year-round, but the coolness is more tolerable in the non-summer seasons when people wear warmer clothes. When it is as high as 90 degrees outside, however, it is impossible to commute to work in wool slacks and a sweater set without suffering heat stroke and/or being fingered as a crazy person (especially if wearing a pair of ostentatious cross trainers). Physical and mental health issues aside, it just feels good to be able to change it up sartorially once in a while.
Unfortunately, those who indulge in summer apparel sometimes need to store additional layers of clothing at work or snuggle under company-issued fleece at their desks. And forget about drinking an ice coffee or Jamba Juice inside! You’ll need a parka and a hunting cap to be able to do that.
Is your law firm unbearably cold or hot this summer, and have you been able to do anything about it? We’ve heard suspicions that the thermostats in individual offices at Skadden’s New York office don’t really do anything at all, and that the office is kept cold “for the computers.” Sounds ominous.
Any theories on why offices spend so much money blasting the AC in the summer and possibly lowering employee morale? (Perhaps it’s a way to awaken associates from the depths of summer associate food coma, or to indirectly discourage skimpy clothing.)
Summer attire can also chafe against firm dress code policies. Despite the perennial push for “city shorts” by what seems like every single women’s apparel retailer, are there any firms out there that actually allow employees to wear shorts to work?
Of course, even the uncontroversial short-sleeve dress shirt can raise issues if it reveals a tattoo, or three. A partner with such a predicament writes:

I’m a 50 year old lawyer in NY, a partner in a law firm. I have tattoos on my arms with images and the names of my two children and my wife.

Check out what happens when he rolls up his sleeves, and share your own summertime firm life experiences, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Meaningful Minutiae of Firm Life in the Summertime: Open Thread”

Singapore skyline.jpg[Disclosure: This post is authored not by the Asia Corporate Lawyers, but by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting -- sponsor of the Asia Chronicles, and an ATL advertiser. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email at asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]
On Monday we discussed some positive trends in M&A in Asia, notwithstanding the turmoil in credit markets and overall economic downturn globally. Today, we discuss very briefly some of the lateral hiring trends we have been seeing in Asia recently and in ’08 in general.
We have not seen an overall reduction in hiring of U.S. associates in Asia, but firms have been much more selective than in ’07. This is for a variety of reasons. Some notable U.S. and British firms in Asia are hiring at a significantly slower clip than in ’07, but this unfortunate trend is being balanced out by other peer firms hiring significantly more than in ’07. There are a number of firms in heavy expansion mode, with several top U.S. firms in Hong Kong / China, for example, that will easily double the size of their offices in ’08. Some U.S. firms in Asia have very aggressive medium-term (5-6 year) expansion plans to have 100+ attorney offices. Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly to readers, some of the most urgent needs still happen to be for mid-level to senior U.S. securities associates, despite the slower pace of capital-markets deal flow coming in.
It is important to note that in ’08, there are as much as three to four times as many U.S. associate candidates on the market for Asia positions, compared to ’07. Firms can afford to be a lot more selective and also can take their time with hiring decisions, much more than was the case in the frenzied hiring environment in Asia in ’07. While we are seeing the same pace of hiring in the Asia markets in ’08 that we saw in ’07, it has become a more difficult market to break into for some U.S. associates than was the case in ’07.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: A Look at Current Hiring Trends”

Blackberry Crackberry young addict.jpgBloggers tend to be so hyper-connected that being away from Internet service for more than two hours can feel like an eternity. Due to the numerous e-mails flying around law firms, and the expectation of rapid response, lawyers tend to have a similar connectivity addiction. The Blackberry is the sweet, sweet drug that feeds the need.
We know how dedicated you all are to your Blackberries. What if you were forced to give it up in order to really go on vacation and get away from the firm?
UK-based Linklaters is doing just that, reports Law People.

Linklaters is reported having decreed, in a fit of concern for work/life balance, that lawyers leave their Blackberrys at home while on holiday (vacation to us).The order is designed to insulate associates, in particular, from the relentless rat race for a few sweet weeks a year, according to management. “Sometimes it’s the small things that count,” one partner averred. While another lawyer confessed that “I feel naked without my Blackberry and there are times when you just have to be reachable.” Whether the firm is successful in enforcing this edict is not yet clear.

We think this will just result in compounding of guilt, as attorneys feel the shame of obsessively checking their Blackberries while “on holiday,” and the need to hide the illicit Blackberry checking from the firm. What do you think about the policy?


Blackberry Withdrawal [Law People]

animated siren gif animated siren gif animated siren gif drudge report.GIFHistory repeats itself. We quote from our post of January 10:

Just half an hour ago, based on information we gleaned from various sources, we asked: “Is today Layoff Day at Cadwalader?” The answer would appear to be: YES.

Earlier this morning, we once again posed the question: “Is today Layoff Day at Cadwalader?” And once again, the firm has confirmed — this time to the WSJ Law Blog — that it will be laying off 96 lawyers, from counsel on down to first-year associates. The intelligence in our post from earlier this morning, which estimated the carnage at “as many as 100 attorneys, ranging from special counsel down to the current first-year associate class,” was essentially correct.

90 of the 96 cuts will come out of the real estate finance and securitization practices, said the firm’s chairman, Chris White. Most of the affected lawyers, said White, are in the New York, Charlotte and London offices, with “one or two” in Washington. The 96 layoffs are in addition to the 35 lawyers the firm laid off in January.

Wow — that’s a ton of attorneys. Ninety-six lawyers would appear to be the biggest round of lawyer layoffs in the current economic cycle (see Bruce MacEwen’s layoffs table). Congratulations, Cadwalader!
Cadwalader chairman Chris White gives the WSJ Law Blog a spiel about how the firm got caught up in the mania surrounding commercial mortgage-backed securities:

“There was a frothiness that occurred as a result of the Blackstones and the Apollos using mortgage-backed securities to fund their buyouts. It was a lot like junk bonds becoming the instrument of choice in the late 80′s and early 90′s.”

White explained that, in 2004, there were only $98 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities issued. In 2008, he said, that number ballooned to $314 billion. “So we grew right along with client demand. And now that market has contracted severely. That $314 billion from last year will go to roughly $60 billion in 2008 — an 80% contraction.”

With his use of the passive — “[t]here was a frothiness” — and his “we grew right along with client demand” remark, White seems to be offering a “not our fault, everyone was doing it, nobody predicted this” sort of defense. But isn’t it the job of firm management to make sure that a firm is well-diversified among practice areas and adequately protected against downside risk?
(Perhaps the WSJ Law Blog should have pressed White a bit harder on this. Maybe they could have gotten White to throw former chairman Bob Link under the bus, since the firm’s disastrous overexpansion happened under Link’s watch. Link is the leader featured in the firm’s embarrassing-in-hindsight video advertisement.)
To be sure, other Biglaw shops have been hurt by the credit crunch and the economic downturn. But after this latest round of layoffs, involving close to 100 lawyers, it lies beyond dispute that no major firm has been hit as hard as Cadwalader. This obviously raises questions — or should, in the mind of anyone looking to work for or retain CWT — about whether the firm is well-managed.

As for offering the “affected” associates an opportunity to transfer into other groups, White said, “We can do that a little bit at the junior levels — the first and second years — but, at the third, fourth and fifth years, lawyers aren’t fungible.”…

Markel said that the 96 associates who are laid off will receive severance pay through the end of the year.

Five months’ severance — is this accurate? If so, it’s definitely on the generous side. So look on the bright side, CWT associates: you’re getting almost half a year of paid vacation.
We’ll have more on the Cadwalader situation as it unfolds. If you have info to share, please email us. Thanks.
Update: More about the Cadwalader layoffs appears here.
Cadwalader to Cut 96 Lawyers [WSJ Law Blog]you're fired lolcat.jpg

ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol small.jpgEarlier today, we announced that the new editor of Above the Law was going to be picked by you, the readers of the site, through a “reality blogging” competition. We provided some initial information about the contest over here.
We urged you to check back later in the day for the contestants’ bios. “Later” is now; the short intro posts of the competitors are finally available. We apologize for the delay.
Check out the six contestants’ capsule biographies, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Idol: Meet the Finalists”

When we recently lamented the lack of summer associate scandals, in the New York Observer, did we speak too soon? Although we may be in the home stretch, law firm summer associate programs are not yet over — and neither, thankfully, are the salacious tales they generate.

Here’s a story we’ve known about for a while — it happened late last week — which has already surfaced elsewhere on the web. We’ve delayed on reporting about it because we wanted to get more confirmation and give the parties involved a chance to comment.

We reached out to numerous representatives of the firm — managing partner Daryle Uphoff, chief marketing officer Greg Wolsky, recruiting director Lisanne Weisz, diversity coordinator Nancy Vollertsen — by phone and by email, yesterday and today. We also contacted the two summers involved, via Facebook message. Nobody has gotten back to us, despite ample time to do so. We’ll have to push ahead without them.

Since we’ve heard the story from multiple sources, all offering generally consistent accounts, we are fairly confident in its accuracy. But if you have any corrections or additions to offer, please email us (subject line: “Lindquist and Vennum Summer Associate Scandal”).

Here are some of the versions we heard (many tipsters sent it in):

1. Word through the grapevine is that two female summer associates at Minneapolis firm Lindquist & Vennum were fired recently for getting drunk at a firm event and making out with each other.

2. I’m an associate at a large Minneapolis firm, and word is that two female summer associates at Lindquist & Vennum, another of the large firms in town, got drunk at a summer associate event and were making out with each other. They were fired on Friday.

3. [Two summers at] Lindquist & Vennum were fired over the weekend. Drinking was involved; however, the firm supplied it to them during a boat cruise in 90+ degree weather. Can you get this posted? I want more information.

4. I am a summer associate at a Minneapolis law firm. I can tell that you that two female Lindquist and Vennum summer associates were recently fired (within the last week). I could not tell you for sure why they were fired, but the rumor is that they were drunk at some sort of firm social event (one that had partners present), and started to make out with each other.

And they got fired for this? We’re surprised the old-white-male partners didn’t cheer them on.

Update / Correction: According to reports received after this post was published, whether the SAs were “making out” or merely kissing on the lips is unclear. Furthermore, the event in question was not the boat cruise, but a post-dinner gathering at a bar. For an update post containing additional information and corrections, see here.

One tipster pointed us to some corroborating evidence:

Lindquist has removed all photos/references of the two from its summer associate section on its website.

This is true. We verified it ourselves, by comparing the current summer associate page, which lists eight summers, to an older version, which lists ten summers. (But please do not post in the comments any links to archived or cached versions of the page.)

You can read more, if you want to — if you don’t, then don’t — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Summer Associates of the Day: Sapphic Summers in Lesbianic Lip-Lock?”

Uncle Sam Wants You for Biglaw Recruiting.jpgWe resume our series of open threads on career alternatives for attorneys. If you have a law degree, but can’t get into / aren’t interested in Biglaw or contract attorney work, what are some other good options?
One of you snarkily suggested manager at Legal Sea Foods (which, by the way, has excellent clam chowder). But in an effort to cabin the universe of possibilities, we’re going to focus on fields where a law degree adds significant value or is at least somewhat relevant.
Thus far we’ve discussed working as a law librarian or for a major accounting firm, two fields popular with holders of J.D. degrees. If you have a suggested alternative career path, please email us (subject line: “Career Alternatives”), and include some basic info about the field that you’re nominating (e.g., how to get into it, pluses and minuses, salary data, etc.).
Today we’re going to focus on the people who bring you aboard in Biglaw: law firm recruiting coordinators (or, to use the NALP terminology, “legal recruitment and attorney management professionals”). They’re the law firm employees who work with law schools to set up the fall interviewing process, coordinate on-campus and callback interviews, run summer associate programs (read: plan awesomely fun events for aspiring pro wrestlers), and generally oversee the process of hiring and recruiting qualified attorneys at major law firms.
(Note: Also falling under the broad terms “legal recruiter” or “recruiting professional” are people who work for legal search firms / headhunters — e.g., Kinney, Lateral Link, Mestel. We’ll discuss them in a future post.)
If you’re curious about opportunities in law firm recruiting departments, read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Alternatives for Attorneys: Law Firm Recruiting Coordinator”

bored no work law firm Above the Law blog.jpgBack in December, we conducted a survey focusing on how busy those of you who work for large law firms were. The results were somewhat comforting. A majority of you said work at your firms was not slow, and 78 percent of you said you weren’t afraid of losing your job.
That was about seven months ago. Have times changed? In addition to all the recent law-firm layoffs, here is some anecdotal evidence that they have:

Given the hard economic times, you guys should do a story about associates that have no work. And I’m not talking about light billable hours, but NO WORK.

I work for [a large firm] and I’m currently relegated to surfing the internet, reading ATL, and looking for new incarnations of ceiling cat. I’ve begged and pleaded with partners to give me work, but to no avail.

I’d be curious what other associates around the country who are slow are doing to drum up work or, better yet, kill time.

Have any suggestions for this frustrated reader? This person already knows about legal blogs as a procrastination aid. Given the uncertain economy, online shopping binges probably aren’t smart. IM’ing with friends at other firms is fun, but not everyone has that option.
If you know of other ways to pass the non-billable time — and please, safe-for-work proposals only — feel free to share them in the comments. Thanks.

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