Blind Item

pink slip layoff notice Above the Law blog.jpgOn Monday, we tossed out a blind item about future layoffs at a Manhattan law firm, mentioned in the Washington Post as a client of the Five O’Clock Club, an outplacement firm. On Tuesday, with the help of Law Shucks, we narrowed down the list of suspects.
We’re happy to report that we can advance the ball on this. Three firms should be cleared of suspicion:
1. Dewey & LeBoeuf: A spokesperson from D&L stated that it is not the firm in question and has no layoff plans.
2. Schulte Roth & Zabel: A spokesperson from SRZ stated that it is not the firm in question and has not hired a layoff consultant or outplacement consultant.
3. White & Case: A reader pointed out to us that White & Case is listed as a Five O’Clock Club client (PDF). [Update: Looks like the client list has been removed, but we downloaded it; check it out here.]
This caused us to wonder if White & Case might be the firm at issue. But White & Case denies it.

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pink slip layoff notice Above the Law blog.jpgYesterday, we wrote about a Washington Post article profiling a layoff consultant who advises companies on conducting mass firings. The article caught our attention because one of those who called Kim Hall of the Five O’Clock Club during the course of the article was a “law firm in Manhattan,” planning a third round of layoffs in August with more to come in the fall.
We invited you to speculate as to the identity of the firm. Law Shucks (the layoff tracking blog with whom we frequently “team up“) compared the information in the article with data from the Layoff Tracker:

Here’s the list of law firms in Manhattan that have had two layoffs (we’re assuming layoffs of lawyers) reported this year:
* Dewey & LeBoeuf
* Fish & Richardson
* Loeb & Loeb
* Mayer Brown
* Morgan Lewis & Bockius
* Schulte Roth & Zabel
* White & Case

Further speculation and narrowing of the list over at Law Shucks.
Handicapping the Next Layoff [Law Shucks]
Earlier: Blind Item: Layoffs To Come At ‘A Law Firm in Manhattan’

pink slip layoff notice Above the Law blog.jpgThe Washington Post had an article this weekend on Kim Hall of the Five O’Clock Club, who makes her living on layoffs. She advises companies on how to fire employees en masse and also offers guidance to the newly unemployed workers. At $2,000 per severanced head.
The article describes a “day in the life” of Kim Hall and discusses how her business is booming in the recession. Her company has doubled in size in the past two years. Scavenger, much?
The article caught our attention because during the day that the journalist trailed and interviewed Hall, she got a call from a Manhattan firm planning layoffs later this year.

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blind item AboveTheLaw legal blog.jpgLate last month, we heard reports that one prominent law firm was not complying with the hiring rules and timetable set forth by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). More specifically, we heard that this firm was refusing to follow NALP’s 45-day rule for accepting offers of summer employment. Rather, the firm was giving students only two weeks to accept or decline offers (and planning to take that approach for the entire cycle of on-campus interviewing this fall).
Why have we decided to run this as a blind item? We understand that, since the time of the original reports, the firm in question has moved into compliance, setting aside its original plan to ignore the NALP timetable this year.
But this does raise a question: In light of the grim economy and the current turmoil in the legal job market, should the NALP rules be revised in any way, or perhaps temporarily suspended for this year?
We’re working on a longer post about this very subject. If you have views on the issue, feel free to opine in the comments, or email us (subject line: “NALP Rules”). Thanks.

blind item AboveTheLaw legal blog.jpgOn Monday, we offered you a blind item about a major law firm giving “fake work” to its summer associates. Some commenters thought we were criticizing the practice, but if you go back and read our original post, you won’t find any criticism. To the contrary, we enumerated the advantages of this policy (which found defenders in the comments as well).
We now bring you an update, based on a number of interesting emails we received. Here’s one:

My former firm, Day Berry & Howard [now Day Pitney], did this with first years back in the 80s. Several of us found out we were researching the exact same issue having to do with business trusts. I proposed we do a joint memo and that’s what we did. I don’t think they did that again.

And here’s a second:

Fake-work has been happening for years. I have given it to summers at the two firms I’ve been at and have practiced this art since 2005…. [T]his practice will greatly increase this year.

It is very easy, especially in areas like tax, where you can give a summer associate a discrete set of facts year after year (sans client names) and see if the summer can get to the answer you already know is right (or find some of the authorities that are directly on point). I actually think it is a GREAT way to test a summer’s research and writing ability without having to take as fact the lame “I couldn’t find very much on point” excuse. Of course, it is essential that the summer not know you gave him/her fake work until he/she does a spotty job and then you hand them the memo you (or a former summer associate) wrote so that they can see that they should have put a bit more effort in getting the project right before handing it in. In prior years, it was fun to see the sense of dread come across an SA’s face if they did, in fact, half-ass it and you caught them in the act (since the SA would likely get an offer anyway). This summer, pulling something like this would probably bring the SA to tears or worse.

I gave three separate fake work projects to summers back when I was at Locke Lord. The partners absolutely knew I was doing it and liked the comparison potential that the practice fostered. The practice was not widespread when I was doing it.

Additional discussion, plus the name of the firm that was the subject of the original blind item, after the jump.

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blind item AboveTheLaw legal blog.jpgHere’s an interesting rumor we’ve heard. We’re a little short on details, and we’re trying to chase down additional confirmation. We thought we’d toss it out as a blind item and solicit the missing information from you, our readers.
This is what we’re hearing. One large law firm is so hard up for work that it is starting to give some summer associates what we’d call “fake work.”
To be sure, much of the work given to summer associates, in any economy, is make-work — e.g., write a memo to file on a legal issue that will never actually arise in the litigation. But this isn’t mere make-work; it’s fake-work. Summers are being given assignments for projects that have already been completed. For example, summers are being asked to draft research memos for briefs that have already been filed. And, interestingly enough, multiple summer associates — but located in different offices of the firm, to reduce the likelihood of their comparing notes — are being given the same fake-work assignment.
What are the advantages of this approach? After the jump.

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