Today we resume our series of open threads about small law firms focused on different areas of practice. For background on the series, see this post.
We’ve received lots of positive feedback on the series. Here are some representatives comments from the last thread, on insurance law:
54 – This is a GREAT GREAT GREAT thread – please do more. I’d be interested in seeing threads on immigration practice, real estate practice, prosecution and public defense (state/municipal, not federal – reality check here – the DOJ is not an option for 99% of attorneys).
86 – [K]eep open threads on small law like this coming! They’re informative for everyone, whether or not they are interested or not in working in such an area.
94 – This is a good thread. (I can’t believe it.) Thanks to the veterans who are providing substantive info and advice.
Our latest practice area for focus: PERSONAL INJURY LAW.
If this subject interests you, read more after the jump.
The comments on last month’s post about small law firms were uncommonly good. Readers shared valuable insights and information about life beyond Biglaw, including discussion of the pluses and minuses of working at a small — or smaller (size is relative) — law firm.
One commenter — after pointing out that non-Biglaw firms come in many shapes and sizes, making it hard to generalize — had this excellent suggestion:
You know what would be really helpful? A variety of open threads on different types of small firms. Do one or two threads a day getting people’s input on salaries in boutique regulatory firms, other types of transactional, plaintiffs firms, insurance defense, class action boutiques, whatever.
As someone that’s focusing my search primarily on small firms, it’s been really difficult trying to get a sense of what my salary demands should be. Short of asking my friends how much they make, the information really doesn’t exist in any useful form. A variety of open threads focusing on specific practice areas and what people can expect for salaries and benefits would probably be really beneficial to many readers.
Salary demands? How about just hoping that you have a salary?
But we like this idea for an occasional series of open threads, focusing on small firms with different specialties. Today’s topic: firms that practice INSURANCE LAW.
If this interests you, read more after the jump.
As super-big law firms suffer through the recession, many midsize and small firms are thriving. Back in June, we discussed these firms as a viable alternative to Biglaw. (A number of smaller firms — e.g., Stone & Magnanini, Silver Golub & Teitell, and McKool Smith — are even hiring, with the help of job postings on Above the Law.)
But are smaller firms all they’re cracked up to be? We try to present both sides of the story. Check out this letter, from the ATL mailbag:
I’m an Ivy League law grad with a couple of years in big law. I got laid off and eventually found a job at a smaller firm. Like, way smaller. Unsurprisingly, I know a couple of people to whom this has happened (and a couple who haven’t found jobs as well, of course).
The commonly held wisdom is that the trade off in big law is money for your time and soul, while smaller firms pay less, but ask less. I’m not finding this to be really true, and neither are my friends.
So what exactly are we talking about, in terms of hours and compensation at small firms?
Some class action settlements are highly questionable. Think of a case where, say, the victimized consumers get a stupid coupon, so they can purchase even more goods or services from the company that victimized them — while the lawyers representing the plaintiffs walk away with a big payday.
One man is out to change all that. Ted Frank — lawyer and blogger extraordinaire, from Overlawyered and Point of Law (and also Above the Law) — has left his perch as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He’s starting a new public interest law firm that specializes in pro bono representation of consumers unhappy with class action settlements. Ted is already handling two class actions in California.
We caught up with Ted to discuss his new gig. Read more, after the jump.
Back in March, we reported that two big time Skadden D.C. partners were splitting off from the mothership and forming their own firm. Yesterday, we received word that their new firm, BuckleySandler, made a significant new hire:
After 20 years with General Electric, Stephen Ambrose, Jr., former General Counsel of GE Capital’s consumer finance unit, is joining BuckleySandler, as Partner-in-Charge of the firm’s New York office, effective July 1, 2009. This move coincides with the opening of the firm’s New York office.
G.E., we bring good things to life.
A new New York office run by a finance guy? Are they hiring?
Actually, if I was an unemployed corporate attorney in NYC I wouldn’t wait for an answer to that question. Sending a cold, unsolicited resume to a person you haven’t met can’t really hurt. Not in this market.
A spokesperson for Buckley Sandler had this to say about the importance of the hire:
Steve’s reverse commute will provide the firm with not only an accomplished, well-respected addition but an industry insider with a complete understanding of the financial services landscape and huge sector experience. As Steve notes, “Joining BuckleySandler provides me with a superb opportunity to employ as outside counsel the client-focused service and cost management skills I’ve developed during my career, as well as the chance to practice with my longstanding and highly respected legal colleagues at the firm.”
Oh come on, he’s practically begging to be inundated with resumes from young lawyers who also want a complete understanding of the financial services landscape — and a paycheck.
Check out the full BuckleySandler press release after the jump.
Biglaw is suffering — big time. Meanwhile, many smaller and midsize law firms are doing just fine, even thriving. (A number of them — e.g., Silver Golub & Teitell, McKool Smith, and Stone & Magnanini — are expanding, with the help of job postings on Above the Law.)
These days, Am Law 200 firms are generally doing better than their Am Law 100 counterparts. This generally hasn’t been the case, at least in recent years. Industry observers are wondering: Is small beautiful?
That was one theme of Casting a Wider Net: The Rise of the Small to Mid-Sized Law Firm, another panel at yesterday’s conference, co-sponsored by the New York City Bar and Vault, entitled Getting Back in the Game: How to Restart Your Career in a Down Economy. (We wrote about an earlier panel here.)
The panel on small to midsize law firms consisted of:
ALLA ROYTBERG (moderator), Solo Practitioner, and Director, City Bar Small Law Firm Center;
Not all firms are cutting back on the perks. The Memphis Commercial Appeal has an enthused article today about the perks to be had at the small Tennessee firm of Burch, Porter & Johnson.
The article, “Legal firm helps its employees find essential balance,” talks about the firm’s AMAZING perks:
Something refreshing for body and soul is happening within the 119-year-old walls that house a venerable Memphis law firm.
Refreshing as a good yoga session. Strengthening as a brisk core-body workout. And uplifting as guest speakers whose work has made Memphis a better place.
Sweet. You can work out at work! And they friggin’ bring in guest speakers at lunch. Wow! Do they have as much free coffee as you can drink too?
If you thought firm life in Memphis couldn’t compare to Biglaw in the big city, think again:
That quest for balance explains why Leah Hillis strolled down the hallways on a recent lunch hour wearing workout clothes for a yoga session.
The associate attorney headed for the firm’s large, third-story storeroom overlooking Court Square… Other exercise classes to strengthen the core-body are Mondays and Fridays in the same unfinished space, which holds files of old cases, surplus furniture and cleaning supplies.
The classes are inexpensive: $4 for yoga and $3 for the core-body sessions.
Only $4 to work out in the storage closet!
If that’s not your cup of tea, you can spend lunch with a guest speaker during one of the firm’s “fireside chats” in the Crump Room. A recent speaker mentioned in the article is a Holocaust survivor. Fun times. Law and life: Legal firm helps its employees find essential balance [Memphis Commercial Appeal]
Yesterday, the Exquisite Rap Duo dropped a new album. What’s especially exquisite about the album is that it’s the work of Anthony McNamer, an IP attorney in Portland, Oregon.
McNamer is a ’95 Stanford Law grad who has worked for Bingham McCutchen and for Davis Wright Tremaine, clerked in American Samoa, and founded his own small three-person firm, McNamer and Company, five years ago. The firm does IP work and media, entertainment, and sports law.
“I’m probably the biggest music lawyer in Portland… but that’s not saying much,” McNamer told us. He is also on the short list for most extreme athletes looking for a lawyer, he said, representing them when sponsorship deals go awry or in “right of publicity” cases.
McNamer sent us an e-mail last week to let us know about his “rap group” and debut album:
You don’t hear about many big firm lawyer to rap group transitions. Word.
Apparently, McNamer is unaware of his East Coast rival, Mekka Don, who went from being a Weil first year to being a self-proclaimed savior of hip hop. Word.
We surfed over to his website and listened to some of the songs. As for our favorite, we’re torn between the one about not being able to look tough on a BMX bike and “Best Friends with a Gay Dude” about his college best friend coming out after graduation, which McNamer informed us is 100% autobiographical. The latter includes samples from Cher’s “Believe.” If you haven’t guessed yet, McNamer’s rap has a funny side. But he doesn’t consider his work to be pure novelty. “I don’t want to be Weird Al,” said McNamer.
We also watched the music video for Calculator Watch; the humorous approach reminded us strongly of Law Revue videos. We followed that hunch and discovered during our interview that McNamer was once a lead writer for Stanford’s version of Law Revue. None of the songs on Nine Mile (We Go The Extra Mile) employ legal humor, though. “I know from doing [Stanford's Law School Musical] that law stuff isn’t very funny,” said McNamer.
We spoke to McNamer yesterday about his music, founding his own law firm, and how his legal career will help boost his musical stylings. Check out his video and the beauty of having your own firm in Portland — HINT: his target for weekly billables is 15 hours — after the jump.
You don’t see this everyday. Two D.C.-based partners of Skadden Arps partners are leaving the firm. And it’s not even to work for the government.
The two Skadden D.C. litigators are Andrew Sandler and Benjamin Klubes. Associates were told in group meetings late yesterday afternoon. Skadden furnished Above the Law with the following statement:
Andrew Sandler and Benjamin Klubes are forming their own law firm to be named BuckleySandler, which will also include all of the 36 attorneys from the firm Buckley Kolar, a DC-based boutique that focuses on regulatory issues affecting the financial services industry. In addition, Andrew Sandler will become the CEO of Corporate Risk Advisors, a multi-disciplinary consulting firm providing services to the financial services industry.
We’ve been hearing talk of interesting developments at Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the litigation powerhouse founded by the legendary David Boies, which seems to be doing well despite the downturn (see their bonuses). If you have info to share, please feel free to email us.
Here is some news that we can confirm. The BSF office in New Jersey — located in the upscale community of Short Hills, home to the fabulous, high-end shopping mall — is breaking off from the mother ship. Partners David Stone (at right) and Robert Magnanini are hanging up their own shingle, at Stone & Magnanini. (The official press release is available here.)
As one might expect of Boies Schiller partners, Stone and Magnanini are highly experienced and impressively credentialed. David Stone (above right) — a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he worked with such heavyweights as Alan Dershowitz and Laurence Tribe — has developed a robust practice in complex civil and criminal litigation. He has been particularly successful in handling False Claims Act cases, where he has scored some major victories (including a $163 million settlement in the Medco case).
Bob Magnanini (at right), a graduate of Columbia Law School, has similarly extensive experience in complex civil and criminal cases, especially False Claims Act matters. He’s also a Lieutenant Colonel in the New York Army National Guard, serving as the senior division staff officer from the 42nd Infantry Division at the World Trade Center for the two weeks following the 9/11 attacks.
They’ll be joined by Eric Jaso, as counsel. Jaso, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, is a former Justice Department official and federal prosecutor, who also worked at Latham & Watkins and Cravath. (Disclosure: Jaso is a friend and former colleague of your above-signed scribe, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.)
We chatted on the phone with David Stone — no relation to Eli — about the new firm. Read more, after the jump.
UPDATE (4/7/09): As of now, the firm is hiring. Details here.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If you think most legal technology misses the mark, LexisNexis Firm Manager® wants to change your mind. Read more about it here.
Built with input from hundreds of solo and small-firm attorneys across the country, it’s made for practitioners who’d rather build the firm of their dreams than deal with the hassles of running a business.
· Go Mobile, Stay Connected.
See all your firm’s information, wherever you are, on whatever device you’re using. Access and update client files, enter billing, search & share documents and more. It’s just like you’re in the office, only you’re not.
When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!