Biglaw

money cash ATL Above the Law blog.jpgLast week, we posted Part Four of the results from our ATL / Lateral Link survey on bar stipends and reimbursements, salary advances, and signing bonuses, covering the range of firms from Akin Gump to Young Conaway. We’ve also posted results from our surveys on relocation benefits and whether you have to pay it all back when you leave. And between survey responses, comments, and tips, we have a few thousand data points.

Today, we’re consolidating the three tables in one place, so that we can start filling in more blanks and squeezing out some nuances.

The table below now shows six things for each firm:

  * which bar exam expenses the firm will reimburse (send us tips to fill in the blanks),

  * whether the firm pays new associates a summer stipend or a signing bonus or graduation bonus (not counting clerkship bonuses, which are discussed elsewhere),

  * whether the firm provides salary advances (i.e., loans) in any particular amounts,

  * whether the firm provides any particular relocation benefits,

  * whether the firm provides a pro-rated bonus (a “stub bonus”) for the period between your start date and the end of the year first year, and

  * whether the firm will make you pay it all back if you leave. As a general rule, payback requirements will apply to everything but a stub bonus, and will include clerkship bonuses.

And now, that introduction aside, read on to see the aggregated table of bar reimbursements, stipends and bonuses, salary advances, moving expenses, stub bonuses, and payback requirements. Check it out, after the jump.

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Sonnenschein Nath Rosenthal Above the Law blog.jpgEarlier today, in the wake of yesterday’s post about troubles in the Charlotte office of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, firm chairman Elliott Portnoy sent around an irate email:

From: Portnoy, Elliott I.
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 12:40 PM
To: #Attorneys-All
Subject: Rumors Regarding Charlotte and Summer Program

Many of you have recently heard claims regarding our Charlotte office that have emanated from certain blogs frequented by law students. I write today to let you know the facts, not rumor or speculation. Firmwide, we will have more than 50 Summer Associates joining us over the coming few months, and we plan to have 24 first-years joining us this Fall across the firm.

First, this fine website, while certainly “frequented by law students,” is also read by many other folks – e.g., law professors; associates, partners, and recruiting personnel at top law firms; in-house and government lawyers; law clerks and judges; and legal reporters and PR professionals.
Second, Portnoy attempts to draw a distinction between “facts” and “rumor.” But the core of what we reported – namely, that the firm has rescinded offers of summer and full-time employment in its Charlotte office – is a fact, acknowledged by Portnoy later on in his message.
Read the rest of that email message, with our running commentary, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Still More on Sonnenschein: Portnoy’s Complaints”

Pillsbury Dough Boy 2 Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman Above the Law.jpg[Ed. note: Apologies for the radio silence for much of today. Alas, we've been experiencing some rather severe technical difficulties, in connection with the site redesign and relaunch. The next few days (and perhaps weeks) may be a little bumpy around here; please bear with us. Thanks for your patience.]
Here are two pieces of information that we’ve heard about Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman:

1. For incoming first-year associates, their start dates, originally set for early October 2008, are being pushed back. These new associates could start as late as January 2009. The delay is due to “a serious slowdown in business.”

2. For 2008 summer associates, the summer program has been reduced from 12 weeks to 10 weeks. Summer associates will not be allowed to work more than 10 weeks, even if they want to.

With respect to the first tip, concerning incoming full-time associates, we’ve heard it with respect to the Los Angeles office specifically. With respect to the second tip, concerning summer associates, we believe it to be a firmwide policy.
We contacted PWSP for confirmation and comment, earlier this week and again today. A firm spokesperson confirmed receipt of our inquiries but had no comment (as of the time of this posting; if we hear from her, we’ll update this post).
More details, plus reactions from some of our tipsters, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Endless Summer? Not at Pillsbury
(And start dates possibly pushed back for first-years, too.)”

While the results are still flowing in from last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on bar stipends, signing bonuses, and salary advances (1,130 responses and counting), today’s survey looks at money flowing in the opposite direction: from individual associates to great big institutions.
In other words, let’s talk about your student loans and other big debts.
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

Dewey LeBoeuf LLP logo D&L DL Above the Law blog.jpgThe rumors that we alluded to earlier are true: Dewey & LeBoeuf is shuttering three offices. Here is the firm’s official statement on the office closings:

As part of its global strategy to expand the firm’s resources in major capital markets throughout the world, Dewey & LeBoeuf will be closing its offices in Jacksonville, FL, Austin, TX and Hartford, CT.

All attorneys in these locations have been asked to remain with Dewey & LeBoeuf and relocate to one of the firm’s other offices. They will have the opportunity to integrate their practices within the firm’s network of over 1,400 lawyers in 13 countries. The decision is designed to continue the successful integration of Dewey & LeBoeuf, which saw its profits per partner increase to $1.57 million in 2007 following the October 1, 2007 merger.

The Jacksonville office, which has 10 lawyers, will close in December 2008. The Hartford office, which has 22 lawyers, will close in February 2009. The firm will continue to maintain a small presence in Hartford. The Austin office, which has 16 lawyers, will close in March 2009.

So that’s the official word. See also this story from the Austin Business Journal.
The allusion to D&L’s “global strategy to expand the firm’s resources in major capital markets” is consistent with this rumor we heard: “Word on the street is that a consultant told Dewey to close Hartford because small market offices will preclude them from ever really competing with Skadden et al.”
Given the firm’s size, the number of lawyers affected by the closings isn’t huge: fewer than 50, out of over 1,400. But some folks are still unhappy campers.
Some gossip, and a little kvetching, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey Stay or Dewey Go? D&L Decamps from Hartford, Austin, Jacksonville”

Sonnenschein Nath Rosenthal Above the Law blog.jpgOver at Greedy South, various rumors are circulating about Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. One poster claimed that the firm rescinded offers of summer employment to several incoming summer associates in the Charlotte office. Later on in the thread, others chimed in to claim that the firm is rescinding offers to full-time associates who were set to arrive in the fall (possibly beyond Charlotte as well).
An ATL tipster wrote us:

I know things are really, really, slow at most firms in Charlotte (as has been noted by the firings at Cadwalader and Dechert), but is there any way that you could find out whether this is actually true? It seems like the elephant in the room is everyone’s hope that securitization will magically pick up again, but everyone seems to forget that it’s difficult for a market segment to “rebound” that wasn’t even in existence 10 years ago.

Is this a sign of Sonnenschein closing its Charlotte office (after only 1 year)? Have you heard anything about other offices having the same types of problems? Just trying to find out what’s going on.

We reached out to the firm for comment earlier this week but they never got back to us. If you have any info to share, please email us. Thanks.
Sonnenschein Firings? [Greedy South / Infirmation]

Sullivan Cromwell new logo Above the Law blog.jpgThe Brokeback Lawfirm scandal folded its pup tent months ago. But there’s still stuff to cover at one of ATL’s favorite firms, the venerable Sullivan & Cromwell.

Here are two items. First, from a tipster:

If I recall correctly, Sullivan & Cromwell sent out a memo in December or January saying that even though they paid the “special bonuses” in December, they still intended to pay additional profit-sharing bonuses in February. [February is over] and as far as I know, not a word from S&C. Can you guys please make a big deal over this?

The tipster’s memory is slightly off. From chairman H. Rodgin Cohen’s earlier bonus memo:

[T]he Firm will pay senior associates compensation in addition to salary and bonus through our new Senior Associate Supplemental Bonus Plan (“the Plan”). We have decided to accelerate payments under this new Plan to result in the following [market-matching bonuses] being paid on December 14 to our senior associates, with final supplemental payments to be made in the Spring of ’08.

We are now officially into spring 2008. So ATL hereby “make[s] a big deal over this.” Has S&C paid the supplemental bonuses to its senior associates? If so, can someone please give us the skinny?

Second, here’s an interesting rumor of a partner departure from S&C, from a different tipster….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Up at Sullivan & Cromwell?”

Posted below is the European fee schedule of Allen & Overy. At current exchange rates — approximately $1.55 to the Euro, and $2.00 to the British pound — this means that partners bill out at about $1,050 an hour in Paris, and $1,190 an hour in London. Says a source: “Twelve-hundred bucks an hour for a partner in London? Ridiculous.”
On the other hand, if a $1,200-an-hour partner can solve your problem in six minutes — with a well-placed telephone call, or an absolutely brilliant judgment call — maybe she’s worth it. Perhaps you should be more worried about $600-an-hour junior associates (to say nothing of $350-per-hour paralegals).
Allen Overy billing rates rate card Above the Law blog.jpg

Vault Top 25 Law Schools Vault Law School Rankings Above the Law blog.jpgThere are already about a half-dozen major law school ranking schemes out there. So why not create one more?
The folks over at Vault, already famous for their super-influential law firm rankings, have tried their hand at ranking law schools. Not surprisingly, given Vault’s focus on the world of large law firms, even their law-school rankings are Biglaw-centric. From the press release:

Vault solicited employers’ points of view by surveying law firms across the country on which schools produce the best associates. With 58% of law school graduates entering private practice, and no other firm-determined rankings, Vault’s law school rankings fill an important gap with their emphasis on employability.

Nearly 400 hiring partners, associate interviewers and professional recruiting staff rated law schools on a scale from 1-10 based on how well their graduates are prepared to achieve success in the firm environment.

The Vault top 10 law schools, plus links and commentary, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Because the World Needs More Law School Ranking Systems: Say Hello to the Vault Top 25″

Bear Stearns BSC Above the Law blog.jpgWith JPMorgan quintupling its offer for Bear Stearns earlier this morning, it seems like an appropriate time to discuss last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, which asked you whether you were afraid the recent Bear Stearns collapse would hurt your career.
Twenty-seven percent of you said yes. New Yorkers were the most concerned, with roughly one third of respondents opining that the Bear Stearns collapse would hurt their careers. A quarter of respondents in Los Angeles and Atlanta and a fifth of respondents in Washington, DC said the same. In Boston and Philadelphia, seventeen percent of respondents were afraid the Bear Stearns event would hurt their careers, while in the Bay Area, the number fell to an unlucky thirteen percent. Respondents in Chicago, Dallas, and Houston were generally unafraid.
Concern was most pronounced among the newest lawyers and those closest to partnership. Twenty-eight percent of respondents in the Class of 2007, and thirty percent of respondents in the Classes of 2000 and 2001 were afraid that the Bear Stearns collapse would hurt their careers. A whopping fifty percent of respondents who graduated before 2000 shared this concern. Law students are also more likely to be frightened, with 43% of law students responding that they were afraid that the Bear Stearns event will hurt their careers.
Additional discussion, including selected comments from survey respondents, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey: A Bears Market?”

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