As we noted in yesterday’s Morning Docket, even the New York Times has taken note of the salary freeze trend at law firms. The Times reached out to Above The Law’s own David Lat for the story:
Although many associates are angry about the freezes, others are relieved, said David Lat, founding editor of AboveTheLaw.com, a blog about law firms and the profession.
“There is this sense that firms didn’t act prudently during the boom and now they are getting religion, and that it’s better late than never,” Mr. Lat said. “Many associates we have spoken to think the freeze probably saved jobs.”
At the beginning of the month, we did a round-up of firms that have frozen 2009 salary rates at 2008 levels. That list was 16 firms long. Since then, quite a few other firms have announced freezes. Due to frequent requests, we’re updating the round-up list since the number of firms with freezes (that we know of) has more than doubled, to 33 32. Check out the as-comprehensive-as-we-can-make-it list, after the jump.
Last night and this morning, tipsters informed us that significant layoffs were taking place at Blank Rome. A firm spokesperson is now able to confirm the news:
As we continue to focus on helping our clients manage through these challenging economic times, and in order to position the Firm for continued success in 2009, it is important that we take the necessary steps to adjust our attorney and staff complements in the context of our clients’ current and anticipated needs. These are purely economic decisions – this is a group of talented attorneys and staff who have made valuable contributions to our Firm.
Our tipsters report that at least 12 associates and staff have been let go so far. But:
Also, there is an unconfirmed report that when this ends the total of layoffs will be 50. Good lord.
The firm could not provide us with official numbers of how many people will be let go by the end of the day.
But we do understand that the layoffs will affect all departments and class years — we know some non-equity partners have already been shown the door. Blank Rome’s Philadelphia office was hardest it, but layoffs happened in New York as well.
Maybe if Mos Def would pay his bills, this wouldn’t be happening.
We’ve previously reported on law firms having difficulty getting clients to pay their bills. It’s not just happening to firms working on deals that go bust; it has also happened to a firm representing a celeb after his marriage went bust. From Am Law Daily:
Blank Rome is suing rapper/actor/activist Mos Def for over $60,000 in unpaid legal bills stemming from his 2006 divorce from Maria Yepes.
The couple ended their 10-year marriage that year in a Brooklyn court, with Judge Sarah Krauss pleading with them to settle their differences outside her courtroom.
Reports say that the Brooklyn-born Mos Def (real name: Dante Smith) owes the money to Blank Rome in the form of unpaid fees and retainers. The Emmy, Golden Globe, and Grammy award-nominated entertainer retained lawyers from the firm’s well-regarded matrimonial practice, which advises high-end clients on divorce, mediation, property distribution, paternity, visitation rights, and trusts and estates.
This is Mos Def’s second month in a row of legal troubles. In November, Las Vegas police issued an arrest warrant after Mos got in a scuffle with a photographer. In more bad news, his portrayal of Chuck Berry in the recently released music biopic extravaganza Cadillac Records was panned by the Los Angeles Times.
We wonder if this will make him rethink the title of his upcoming album, rumored to be titled Ecstatic.
Our continuing coverage of no offers suggests that a 90% offer rate is actually outstanding. Today we have news from two more firms that fell short of 90% but still made offers to the majority of their 2008 summer associates.
Our tipsters were right on the money with the information that Blank Rome no offered 4 summer associates out of a class size in the mid-20s. According to Blank Rome spokesperson Topper Ray:
Our 2008 summer associate class was comprised of 28 summer associates -24 2L’s and 4 1L’s. 20 out of 24 2L’s received offers.
Ray also confirmed that the 4 1Ls received invitations to summer with the firm next year.
In this market an 83% offer rate isn’t terrible, even though Blank Rome was able to extend offers to all of their 2007 summer associates. The news was a little worse at another Philadelphia powerhouse, Pepper Hamilton. According to Pepper Hamilton spokesperson Polly Coxe:
In 2008, Pepper Hamilton extended offers to 20 of 27 summer associates in Philadelphia (two students withdrew from consideration before we made offer decisions). Firm-wide, we made offers to 30 of 38 summer associates. This is approximately the same number of offers we extended the past two years.
More from the streets of Philadelphia after the jump.
This isn’t super-exciting news, since the key point — an increase in starting salaries — was previously announced.
But in case you’re interested, the pay raise (and bonus) memo of Blank Rome — which announced an increase in first-year associate salaries last fall, but said it was still “reviewing the compensation levels for all Associates to make appropriate incremental increases based on class year” — appears after the jump.
Yesterday Blank Rome announced associate pay raises, of varying sizes, that will take effect in 2008. The firm will move to a starting salary of $160,000 in New York, but not in Washington. In the Philadelphia mother ship, starting pay will be $145,000.
The billable minimum at Blank Rome is 2000 hours. Here’s the memo: MEMORANDUM
TO: All Attorneys
FROM: David F. Girard-diCarlo, Chairman
Carl M. Buchholz, Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer
RE: Associate Compensation
We are pleased to announce that the Firm will be increasing starting salaries for Associates, effective January 1, 2008. Starting salaries for Associates in New York will be increased to $160,000, in Washington to $150,000, and in Philadelphia to $145,000. All other offices will be appropriately adjusted to reflect their respective markets.
In addition to increasing starting salaries, we are reviewing the compensation levels for all Associates to make appropriate incremental increases based on class year. Adjustments will be made effective January 1, 2008, and the information regarding these adjustments will be communicated directly to Associates by the Practice Group Leaders once they have been determined. These adjustments will be in addition to the merit increases and bonuses being awarded to our Associates.
We’ve previously covered Denver and Hartford. Today our series of posts profiling associate compensation in various smaller legal markets — smaller than New York or Washington or Los Angeles, at least — turns to Philadelphia.
What’s going on in the City of Brotherly Love? Based on some recentarticles we’ve read, it seems that the standard starting salary in Philly hovers between $135,000 and $145,000. At $135K: Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis; Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll; Duane Morris; Blank Rome; Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen; and DLA Piper. At $145K: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Dechert; Drinker Biddle & Reath; and Pepper Hamilton.
Will Philly move to the $160K scale anytime soon? If so, when? And who will lead the charge?
In the cheesesteak metropolis, starting salaries aren’t the only issue. Per a commenter:
[W]hen you do [Philadelphia], please make sure to point out our mid-level comp which sucks. We get about a 5k raise per year (though [in] some years we do get 10k but not most). After 7 years we’re just clearing 200k.
A few more announcements have floated in, including ones from Blank Rome and Winston & Strawn. More details, plus a memo (in the case of Blank Rome), after the jump.
(These were the announcements that were into us and confirmed by the time we left for New York this morning. If you submitted confirmation of an announcement after 5 AM today, we’ll include it in our next round-up of pay raise news. Thanks.)
Here are the highlights from the latest collection of job moves: New Firms:
* Eve Rachel Markewich and Lawrence Rosenstock are leaving Blank Rome’s New York office to set up their own shop, to be called Markewich and Rosenstock. They will focus on Surrogate’s Court and general commercial litigation. Markewich was an unsuccessful candidate for Manhattan surrogate last year; Rosenstock is a Democratic district leader in the borough. Lateral Moves:
* Dr. James Hill, to McDermott, Will & Emery (IP department), from Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear.
* The stork is coming — not with a bundle of joy, but a book of business. Anita Stork is leaving Cooley Godward, which is about to merge with Kronish Lieb, to join Covington & Burling’s litigation and antitrust and consumer practice group as a partner. Two NY Partner-Politicos Quit to Launch Their Own Firm [NYLawyer.com] Left-Coast Lawyers On the Move [NYLawyer.com]
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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