Biglaw

wachtell logo.jpgYesterday was Election Day not just for the nation, but also for Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Wachtell, one of the country’s most prestigious and profitable law firms, traditionally elects its new partners on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November.

The firm just elected half a dozen new partners — a robust number, suggesting that things are going well at WLRK. Congratulations to our former colleagues Ian Boczko (litigation), Damian Didden (antitrust), Matthew Guest (corporate), David Kahan (executive compensation and benefits), David Lam (corporate), and Ante Vucic (corporate). They will become partners of the firm effective January 1, 2009.

Thanks to Wachtell’s insanely high profits and (roughly) lockstep compensation system, they will soon be millionaires. Back in the late 1990s, rumor had it that newly minted partners earned $1.5 million in their first year. The number must surely be higher today, since WLRK’s profits per partner are so much higher now — for 2007, PPP clocked in at a shade under $5 million (or $4.9 million, to be more precise).

We might start doing weekly round-ups of partnership announcements. If you’re at a major firm — say, Vault or Am Law 100 — and have partnership news to pass along, please email us (subject line: “New Partners”).

The full Wachtell Lipton memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who wants to be a millionaire? Meet Wachtell’s new partners. (And send us news about new partners at your firm.)”

laid off lawyer attorney layoff.jpg

If you’re looking for news (and rumor) about lawyer layoffs, you’ve come to the right place. ATL will continue to cover this beat with a vengeance. In this rapidly changing economic environment, real-time intelligence is invaluable, especially if you’re making major career decisions.

What if you’re looking for a round-up of developments thus far — a list of which firms have done layoffs, when, and in what numbers? In addition to our collected coverage, check out this handy cheat sheet, courtesy of the American Lawyer: The Layoff List. The Layoff List collects layoff-related content from a variety of sources (including Law.com properties, the WSJ Law Blog, and yes, ATL).

Happy — or, perhaps more accurately, unhappy — reading.

The Layoff List [AmericanLawyer.com]

Will Work for Food 2 Above the Law blog.JPGAfter our post on the importance of accepting your offers, we figured that most students sitting on offers would do the right thing — for themselves and their colleagues — and make a decision.

But maybe some students are just a little more indecisive than others. Last night, Northwestern students received this email:

Dear Second-Year Students Holding Offers,

As you know, we are in very tough economy. In tough economies, firms, not unexpectedly, tend to take a much closer look at the bottom line.

Please accept your offers as soon as possible. We have heard, both by communication with our colleagues at UPenn and from one of our own students, that offers may be withdrawn once a firm considers that its summer class is full, whether or not the 45-day period has expired.

In addition to assisting other students who may then receive an offer that you turn down, it is also in your own best interest to accept quickly.

If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with your Career Advisor.

Good luck with your decisions,

Your Career Advisors

We expect that quite a few Northwestern law students have offers in the Chicago market. Have you guys been paying attention to what is happening in the Chicago market?

More laggards after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Accept Your Offers: A Brief Follow Up”


demise of the billable hour.jpgThe troubled economic environment has led to layoffs, office shutterings, and the dissolution of Heller Ehrman. Now, the Washington Post is trotting out the idea of the death of the billable hour as a potential outcome of the financial crisis:

Since becoming commonplace in the 1970s, hourly billing has been the subject of criticism by clients and debates by legal experts, who say they give lawyers incentive to work inefficiently. But law firms have been slow to embrace alternative billing.

Until now.

That’s quite a definitive statement. We’re less certain. If there’s a fixed fee revolution going on, we haven’t heard about it. And as the article notes, this is far from the first prediction of the billable hour’s demise (e.g., Whither the Billable Hour?).

But these are desperate times, and everyone’s feeling the pressure. Is it enough pressure to push firms over the brink to fixed fee billing? More speculation, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Could the billable hour become another victim of the economic crisis?”

beer pong rules.JPGA new study commissioned by an undisclosed top 25 law firm suggests that neither a law school’s ranking nor a student’s GPA is a great predictor of an attorney’s long term success in Biglaw:

Law school rank and GPA were only moderately predictive of success, the study found. In general, one of the study’s authors, Ron Paquette, tells the ABA Journal, “The Harvard attorneys do not perform any better than those at the 30th-ranked law school.”

Of course, that makes sense. Given that many HLS students have based their entire sense of self-worth on going to Harvard, it’s obvious that graduates from WIlliam and Mary can’t hope to compete with … wait, what? I don’t under … ow. Worldview. Melting.

The study also identified attributes that were detrimental to success, and some were “counterintuitive,” the study summary says. Ron Paquette [one of the study's authors] disclosed one of them–foreign language proficiency. He says the study recommended that the law firm should not give “extra credit” to those job-seekers who can speak another language.

Merde! Ce rapport est mauvais.

More productivity indicators after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law School and GPA: Not Indicative of Long Term Success”

Will Work for Food 2 Above the Law blog.JPGIn case you haven’t been paying attention, the economy is bad. People are losing their jobs, firms are cutting back on summer programs, and some firms are dissolving.

If you are a 2L sitting on multiple offers, could you please — for the love of God — accept one of them already, so the spots you don’t want can be filled by other candidates? At this point, in this market, it is just common courtesy.

And it might be in your best interest as well. The career services office at U. Penn Law School sent around a letter to students today, urging them to make a decision:

We recommend that you do not wait until the expiration of the offer to render a decision. Additionally, in this market, we advise that you seek an extension for an outstanding offer only if you fall under the public interest exception or have truly extenuating circumstances that justify your need for more time. Indecision does not qualify as a legitimate reason for an extension. …

Wednesday, we learned that one of your 2L colleagues had their offer for employment rescinded before the expiration of the offer because the firm experienced a higher than usual acceptances from outstanding offers and had to close their class immediately to prevent over subscription thereto.

If you are sitting on an offer, you might find that your offer has been rescinded by the time you’ve made up your mind. We’re getting (unconfirmed and highly speculative) reports to ATL that multiple firms have extended more offers than they intend to honor and that slots will be given on a first come, first employed basis.

Accept now!

Read the full Penn letter, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Accept Your Offers: Stop Screwin’ Around
You Kids Screw Around Too Much”

minority women partners not.JPGA NALP report confirms what we see everyday: minority women partners barely exist. The National Law Journal reports:

Minority women remain the most underrepresented group among law firm partners, according to the report. They currently make up 1.88% of partners at law firms. By contrast, the report found that minority men make up 4.21% of partners, and women overall account for 18.74% of partners.

That. Is. Embarrassing.

Before everybody explains away the numbers by saying “there aren’t as many minority women in the pipeline,” note that there are a lot of minority women downstream:

In 2008, 45.42 percent of summer associates were women, 24.04 percent were minorities and 12.99 percent were minority women. In the associate ranks, 45.34 percent are women, 19.11 percent are minorities and 10.74 percent are minority women.

Many minority women start off on the Biglaw path, but they leave. To have babies? Not according to the ABA:

A 2006 study by the ABA Commission on Women, “Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms,” concluded that women of color are leaving the profession in droves because they are the victims of an uninterrupted cycle of institutional discrimination. Many women responding to the ABA survey said they felt they were denied the same opportunities to succeed as their male and nonminority counterparts.

More numbers after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Minority Women = Snowball In Hell”

Not Hiring sign.jpg[Ed. note: Once again, we apologize for our technical difficulties.]

As everybody is starting to realize, fall recruiting is not going as well as it has in the past. In Part I of our recruiting roundup, we told you which markets are making it tough on summer associate applicants. Today, we’ll talk about law schools.

If you had to pick one clear loser during this year’s recruitment process, it would have to be Harvard Law School:

Basically, life is not particularly good for Harvard 2Ls these days: 1) OCI Call Backs have all been doled out to other (earlier) schools’ students; and 2) the H-P-LP-F system leaves current Harvard 2L’s at a disadvantage (in terms of misery) to their younger classmates.

Difficulty + Harvard = Open mockery from everyone else:

Dear Harvard students,

We had earlier OCI programs and took your jobs. Sorry.

Sincerely,

State school students with multiple v5 and v10 callbacks

Interviews didn’t start at HLS until September 18th, and it’s pretty clear that the late start has hurt applicants. Remember how differently the economy looked just one month ago. On September 12th (before Lehman was thrown down with the sodomites), the Dow closed at 11,421. By September 17th, the Dow was down to 10,609. And right now you need an electron microscope to read the DJIA (9,220 as of 12:30 EDT).

Update: DJIA closed at 8,579 today.

Tomorrow is the last day for HLS OCI. It’s a bad time to have bad timing.

HLS’s response and stories from other schools, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Follow-Up: Part II”

pacino plays biglaw associate.JPGBack in the eighties, the popular myth was that all Manhattan attorneys had a leather briefcase, a good blue pen, and a Scarface-sized bowl of cocaine on their desk. Sadly, by the time I got to Biglaw the briefcase had been replaced by a canvas bag with a gaudy firm emblem emblazoned on the side like the mark of the beast. The nice pen was replaced with a desktop computer designed to block The Onion. And the coke was replaced by the marvelous ephedrine they used to put into Red Bull.

But perhaps London attorneys are poised to relive the NYC glory days. A new study reports that hard drug use is on the rise in the U.K.:

One partner claims he knows “people who just make a phone call from their office and nip down to reception to pick up their delivery” — something that happens in every big law firm, he claims.

The survey, by the magazine Legal Business, also says that there is evidence of “cocaine clubs” in law firms’ basements and of partner-led games of poker and taking cocaine with clients. But it also finds that law firms are ignorant or indifferent to the problem. One lawyer is quoted: “I spanked £100,000 on cocaine in one year and no one noticed.

If a partner ever invited me to a coke and poker party I would still be in rehab a practicing attorney today.

The key similarity between Britain today and the America of yesterday seems to be the total professional indifference to drug use:

The legal profession, unlike other classic professions such as medicine and teaching, does not give a damn, as long as you are profitable.

Well, nobody wants a coked-up doctor trying to save you from a cocaine overdose. And nobody wants a coke-head teaching your kids. But if a little nose candy is going to make you work longer, why would partners particularly care what you do on the side?

Because you could die? Because partners care about your health? Right. You could be the last unicorn and you’d still bill 100 hours a week if there was work to be done.

Substance abuse problems that span the ocean after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “I Hear That ‘Magic Circle’ Powder Is Killer”

cia-logo.jpgBased on popular demand, it is time to take a look at which firms may be struggling heading into bonus season. Would you like to share speculative information about stealth layoffs, declining profits, or an “everybody here is freaking out” environment? This thread’s for you.

Let’s get the ball rolling with a panicked message we received about Cahill Gordon:

I work at Cahill Gordon and we’re so f**ked. This junk bond market has collapsed … and representing underwriters of junk bonds makes up at least 75% of the revenues of our firm. Simply put, there’s not any work going on and no sign that it’s coming back. We’ve recently tried to diversify by adding a few litigation partners and a partner that focuses on representing telecom companies in regulatory matters, but, so far, these efforts aren’t coming close to replacing the revenue we’ve lost. I wouldn’t be surprised to see our profits per partner drop by 40%-50% this year – -there’s just no work. Now I understand why Roger Meltzer and his band of associates left [for DLA Piper].

Cahill declined to comment on this rumor, probably because a 50% drop in PPP is, frankly, “the sort of thing that Miggs would say.” But the junk bond market has collapsed, and we do know that Cahill did a lot of work in that area.

More speculation, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Rumor Agency: Which Firms Are In Trouble?”

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