* A Supreme Court whose members are still afraid of using email will most likely have the final say on the NSA case, one of the biggest technology and privacy rulings in ages. Well, that’s comforting. [Talking Points Memo]
* Pittsburgh firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is reportedly in merger talks with Tampa firm Fowler White Boggs. Boy, a merger between two firms from lackluster cities sure sounds promising. [Daily Business Review]
* Law professors are completely outraged by the ABA’s proposal to cut tenure from its law school accreditation requirements. Quick, somebody write a law review article no one will read about it! [National Law Journal]
Another day, and another firm is retreating from the salaries of the past. Our sources report that Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney has decided to cut associate salaries between 5% and 10%.
The cuts will affect all class years.
Buchanan Ingersoll CEO Jack Barbour furnished Above the Law with this statement. Barbour suggests that the cuts are in part to due to Buchanan’s attempts to keep its billing rates competitive in this recession economy:
The firm generally has reduced associate compensation at a rate of between 5 and 10% per year. Certain associates may receive a higher or lesser reduction based on individual circumstances. This decision was not an easy one, but we feel that it is in the best interest of the firm and our clients to maintain the quality of service our clients have come to expect while keeping our rates at competitive levels.
The firm did not elaborate on what those individual circumstances might be.
Our sources believe the cuts will be based on hours, but you never know. Wouldn’t it be funny if the firm did it alphabetically. Nobody would be expecting that! It’s good to keep people on their toes.
It’s a little surprising that the firm cut salaries while summers are in the office, simply because the summers are only around for a short period of time. Buchanan scaled back this year’s summer program to seven weeks.
But if cutting salaries now saves jobs later, associates and summers might be all for it. Earlier: Summer Cuts at Buchanan Ingersoll
Buchanan Ingersoll will also scale back its 2009 summer associate program by three weeks, bringing it down to seven weeks, the spokeswoman said. She said there will be 10 summer associates firmwide compared to the 23 summers the firm had in 2008.
How competitive will those seven weeks be? Last summer, Buchanan Ingersoll extended offers to 13 of its 23 summer associates. But maybe the small program will allow the firm to give offers to all of its summers?
After yesterday’s staff layoff news, it may come as no surprise that Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is the latest firm to freeze associate salaries for 2009. From a tipster there:
Buchanan Ingersoll announced a salary freeze for 2009 for all associates except “unusual” cases, e.g., laterals who were brought in at what is now perceived to be slightly undermarket salaries last year may get bumped a little. Several other raises on a case-by-case basis, but they will be few.
Better a freeze than a lay-off, we say. We’ve updated the list of firms that have chosen not to institute class year raises. The list is now 47-firms strong. Check it out, after the jump.
Back in November, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney cut 15 to 25 staffers (though the firm declined to call them “layoffs”). Last week, it appears that the firm made additional cuts to its staff — and this time the firm is being clear about what is going on. Buchanan’s executive director Nolan Kurtz told Above the Law:
The firm eliminated about 25 to 30 administrative operations positions last week. Given the overall economic climate, we believe that it’s more important than ever to ensure that we have the right staffing in place firmwide.
The firm also announced the news directly to associates, on Friday. According to a tipster:
[Buchanan Ingersoll] announced Friday another round of cuts after several Harrisburg corp. and Philadelphia IP lawyers resigned….
Kurtz Buchanan told the [attorneys] that laying off staff was not because of the economy but good planning.
Will attorneys soon follow staffers into unemployment? Maybe. More from Mr. Kurtz after the jump.
Everybody has to sacrifice to survive in the new “economy” (if that’s what we’re still calling it). Today, we’ve received word that Buchanan Ingersoll could be asking partners to shoulder part of the burden. A tipster explains:
Buchanan Ingersoll was not able to pay nonequity partners any of their holdback at year end and equity partners only received a very small portion of their money. Partners forced to borrow to pay in capital by Jan 30.
But according to the firm, this is the normal timing for Buchanan’s decision making process. A firm spokesperson told us:
In terms of payouts to non-equity and equity partners — We are on a January 31 year-end for partner compensation so it’s only after that date that we determine the payout to equity and non-equity partners. There will certainly be a payout to non-equity partners and a substantial equity payout as well.
If there is any level of payout uncertainty in the partnership ranks, you can imagine how associates are doing. We explore after the jump.
Is there a pattern developing in Pittsburgh? A few weeks ago we reported that K&L Gates laid off a number of staff. Today, Gina Passarella of the Legal Intelligencer reports that another Pittsburgh powerhouse, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, laid off between 15 and 25 support staffers.
Buchanan Ingersoll CEO Thomas L. VanKirk confirmed the cuts. But in a move that makes a mockery of the English language, VanKirk refused to call the layoffs, “layoffs.” Instead:
VanKirk said that the cuts were not layoffs, but that the positions were being eliminated in order for the firm to get more in line with its goal of a 3-1 lawyer-to-secretary ratio.
Here are some links for Mr. VanKirk, provided free of charge:
While we continue to pester firms about no offer information, it appears that one firm dipped significantly below the 90% threshold for summer associate offers, at least in the New York office. Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is another firm that has reported an oversubscribed summer associate class. That said, Buchanan Ingersoll spokesperson Lori Lecker reports that the summers were at least busy:
[W]e had more than enough work to keep all of our summer associates busy throughout the course of the program, and we received positive feedback from the class on the quality of work. We generated over 300 projects for our summers to work on this year.
Most firms don’t bother to tout how much work their summer class had, but Buchanan is fighting specific reports that attorneys are struggling to make their billables firmwide. Just two weeks ago it was reported that barely a quarter of the firms 500 lawyers were on target, and that average associate hours had fallen below 1,650.
So the summers had work, but did they get jobs? More on that after the jump.
Here are a few of the most notable moves within the legal profession: Reunited and It Feels So Good:
* Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld has returned to the New York office of McDermott, Will & Emery. This year, Weld unsuccessfully ran for the chance to get trounced by Eliot Spitzer the Republican nomination for governor of New York.
* Intellectual property lawyer Brian O’Shaughnessy is back at Buchanan Ingersoll — after Womble Carlyle crowed loudly about scooping him up. Nate Carlile of the Legal Times has the story:
O’Shaughnessy started at Womble the day after Halloween, never spent a moment there practicing law, and was gone before the end of the week. (Actually, it appears he cleared out at about the same time Womble was touting his hire.)
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