Biglaw

Kirkland Ellis LLP logo layoff laid off Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGWe live in a rapidly changing economy; these are dynamic times for the legal profession. But we still can’t help but be surprised at how quickly talk has turned from associate pay raises to associate layoffs.
Just a few short months ago, “NY to 190″ seemed just around the corner. Today, even though we still hear stray rumors of pay raises — so we’re not ruling anything out, who knows what might happen — recently we’ve been hearing more about possible layoffs. We’ll pass along such rumors in this new feature, Nationwide Layoff Watch.
Today the gossip is swirling about the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis. More details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Layoff Watch: Kirkland & Ellis (Chicago)”

National Boss's Day National Bosses Day Above the Law blog.jpgLooking for a way to earn some brownie points? Wish your boss a happy National Boss Day!
Yes, that’s right. Today is National Boss Day. Here’s some history:

• Began in 1958 when Patricia Bays Haroski, then an employee at State Farm Insurance Company in Deerfield, Ill., registered the holiday with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

• Ms. Haroski chose October 16, her father’s birthday, as the date for National Boss Day because she felt he was an exemplary boss.

• National Boss Day has become an international celebration in recent years and now is observed in countries such a England, Australia and South Africa.

So secretaries, make sure the coffee you fetch today is piping hot. Associates, put your heart into that document review.
And answer the phone on the second ring when the assigning partner calls you at 6:30 PM. Since today is National Boss Day, it’s the least you can do.
National Boss Day 2007 [Hallmark]

Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGWe recently made passing reference to the staff layoffs at Heller Ehrman, which firm management claimed were made to enhance efficiency, and not due to slow business. But one of the affected employees begs to differ:

Don’t believe Heller Ehrman’s claims that the layoffs were not because of slowdowns. I was a paralegal who worked at Heller for [several] years. The past year has been the slowest in litigation we have ever experienced….

I enjoyed my job, and [found that Heller] was a great place to work. [But in] the past two years, the whole culture and the focus of the firm changed (or is in the process of changing).

Everyone’s billable rates were raised to such heights that competing for business became pretty distasteful to many of the shareholders. It’s not easy to justify $200 to $300 an hour for paralegals.

Are layoffs the flip-side of the associate pay raise coin? More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Heller Ehrman Layoffs: Don’t Believe the Spin?”

Shearman & Sterling logo Above the Law blog.jpgSometimes it takes a while. But we usually get results, eventually.
Back in July, we published a post entitled Clerkship Bonus Watch: What’s Up With Shearman? Today, at 12:32 p.m., this email went around at Shearman & Sterling:

At the last meeting of the Associates Committee in New York, the committee representatives noted that we had fallen behind some other firms who had adjusted clerkship bonuses in 2007. As we mentioned at the meeting, we assumed that the firm would promptly respond with a clerkship policy consistent with the market.

Accordingly, I am pleased to report that because the firm places great value on the experience a clerkship provides, it has raised bonuses to $50,000, paid to associates who join the firm after August 1, 2007 and who complete a one-year eligible clerkship. For two one-year clerkships or two-years of clerkship experience, the firm will pay $70,000. An additional bonus is paid to U.S. Supreme Court clerks.

For details, please refer to the firm’s website.

This is the first clerkship bonus news in a while (since Dechert). Have we missed any developments? If you know of clerkship bonus news that we haven’t previously covered — use the site search function or the archives to check — please email us. Thanks.
Earlier: Clerkship Bonus Watch: What’s Up With Shearman?

Andrew Bruck Building a Better Legal Profession Above the Law blog.jpg
Andrew Bruck takes a question at Wednesday’s press conference.

Every now and then, we leave our apartment. We did so on Wednesday, to attend the press conference of Law Students Building a Better Legal Profession, where the organization unveiled its law firm diversity rankings (accessible here; Los Angles Times article here).
It was quite informative. For those of you who might be interested — and we’re guessing there are a number of you, judging from the robust commentary on our earlier post — read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Field Trip: The Building a Better Legal Profession Press Conference”

email e-mail message microsoft outlook Above the Law.jpgLast week, USA Today ran an article about “Email-Free Fridays” or “Zero Email Fridays.” Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal ran pretty much the same article.
But it’s an interesting piece, and it relates to an issue that many of us confront: email overload. The problem is especially acute for lawyers at large law firms, but it’s not limited to their ranks.
From the WSJ:

A growing number of employers, including U.S. Cellular, Deloitte & Touche and Intel, are imposing or trying out “no email” Fridays or weekends. While the bans typically allow emailing clients and customers or responding to urgent matters, the normal flow of routine internal email is halted. Violators are hit with token fines, or just called out by the boss.

The limits aim to encourage more face-to-face and phone contact with customers and co-workers, raise productivity or just give employees a reprieve from the ever-rising email tide. Emails sent by individual corporate users are projected to increase 27% this year, to an average of 47 a day, up from 37 in 2006…. And one-third of users feel stressed by heavy email volume, according to a 2007 study…. Many check email as often as 30 to 40 times an hour, the study showed.

Managers complain that rather than confronting problems, employees use email to avoid them by passing issues back and forth in long message strings, like a hot potato. Email reduces face-to-face contact among co-workers and clients; terse, poorly phrased messages further strain those relationships. And it is spilling into weekends, chaining employees to computers when they should be relaxing.

So, are email-free Fridays a brilliant idea? Or is this policy just not feasible? Take our poll:


P.S. We’re hopelessly behind in our email. After we deal with a message, we file or delete it, leaving only pending items in our inbox. Right now our inbox contains 2,471 pending items.
Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of email we receive, we can’t respond personally to every message. If your email does require a response, and you haven’t heard from us for a while, please email us again, by way of friendly reminder. Or here’s a novel concept: try calling!
Fridays go from casual to e-mail-free [USA Today]
A Day Without Email Is Like… [Wall Street Journal]

Seyfarth Shaw LLP AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgOr maybe it is. From a tipster:

Several offices of Seyfarth Shaw met yesterday and today to discuss the results of the Am-Law Mid-Level Associate Survey, as well as those from an internal survey distributed. [T]he data revealed in these surveys reflected a considerable level of dissatisfaction from associates regarding a variety of areas, and [discussion was held] to cover some of the things the firm is doing to address them (as discussed at the Partners retreat in late September).

When this non-descript “Associates Meeting” was announced last week, most of the associates believed it was to discuss that fact that Seyfarth was finally going to get off ATL’s List of Shame and raise to 160k. However, to our surprise, the whole issue of salaries was completely glanced over. It was merely conveyed that the Compensation Committee was still compiling data regarding recent “market trends in compensation” and would be “meeting” (not necessarily deciding anything) in December.

Seyfarth really continues to amaze….

Okay, so you’re getting below-market pay (except in New York, where associates start at $160K). But look on the bright side — at least your firm makes awesome videos! From an earlier message:

I am not sure how you can get your hands on this, but Seyfarth Shaw did a professional-quality “MTV-Cribs” spoof for the opening of its new Chicago office last fall where Steve Poor (managing partner) walked around in a Hugh Heffner-style smoking jacket showing off the firms new office space. It was clearly a joke (unlike the Nixon Peabody fiasco) and the firm showed it to the new first year associates during first year orientation. However, I would pay money to see that video again….it was hilarious!

If any of you has a copy of said video, or knows how one might be obtained, you know where to reach us.

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGAfter Sullivan & Cromwell announced its new bonus program for senior associates, we received a bunch of messages like this one:

Can you please do a thread to see if other NYC firms have matched or plan to match the S&C recent bonus pool system for senior associates? Seems like there’s been no reaction to this by any other firms.

Does this mean the other firms no longer offer top-of-the-market compensation for senior associates?

We’re not aware of any other New York firms matching the S&C move. But we hear that Skadden is… establishing a committee!
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Else Is Paying Senior Associate Bonuses? Bueller, Bueller…”

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher Flom Abovethelaw Above the Law online legal tabloid.jpgThis firm-wide email was sent out by Skadden Executive Partner Robert C. Sheehan about 15 minutes ago:

From: Robert Sheehan
Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2007 11:50 AM
To: EVERYONE EUROPE DL; EVERYONE NORTH AMERICA DL; EVERYONE PACIFIC RIM DL
Subject: Another Milestone

MEMORANDUM

October 11, 2007

TO: All Personnel

FROM: Bob Sheehan

RE: Another Milestone

Sometime in the last few days our contingent of attorneys passed the 2,000 mark. This is a remarkable achievement for any firm, but for one established not so very long ago (e.g., I was the 30th attorney here when I arrived in 1969), it is an indicator of astounding success.

Congratulations to all of us, past and present, for helping to make Skadden, Arps the success that we have become. Special thanks go to Messrs. Skadden, Arps and Slate for their decision to form the Firm on April 1, 1948 and for the decision to hire Joe Flom as their first associate later that year.

Two thousand souls, fed into the billable-hours machine that is Skadden. But accredited U.S. law schools graduate over 40,000 students a year, some of whom have souls, so there’s still room for growth.
Onward and upward, SASMF!!!
Update: We’ve just learned that Mr. Sheehan went to our alma mater, Regis High School. Deo et Patriae — et Skadden!

Philadelphia Philly City of Brother Love Abovethelaw Above the Law website site.jpgIn terms of our associate compensation coverage, we’ve been on a bit of a Philly kick recently. We recently covered the pay raise announcements of Ballard Spahr and Blank Rome.
We’re happy to continue this theme. In response to requests from several ATL readers, here’s a bonus thread dedicated to PHILADELPHIA.
In the comments to this post, please discuss year-end bonuses in the City of Brotherly Love — billable-hour cutoffs, rumors about what they’ll be like, etc. Thanks.
Earlier: Year-end bonus open threads for Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Texas, and Washington, DC.

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