It’s summer time! A lucky few are being paid to warm seats in law firms across the land. (Very few — thanks to the minimal numbers of offers extended to law students in Recession Land.)
Some firms are very excited about their summer associates, to the point of issuing pressreleases about them. Firms are planning fun events. Hopefully, Williams & Connolly offers cooking classes at a culinary institute again this summer (for those who don’t get offers and may not be able to afford to eat out one day). We’ve got a round-up of our favorite summer “happenings,” after the jump.
But one thing firms may not plan to do this year is bill for summer associates’ time. Nate Raymond reports in the New York Law Journal that Citigroup Inc. has told its outside counsel that it will not pay for law students’ time. Citi does not stand alone:
J. William Dantzler Jr., a tax partner at White & Case who oversees hiring in New York, said with regard to billing clients for summer associates, it has been “a slide for 10 years.”
“More and more clients don’t want summer associates to bill to them,” he said. “When I started almost all clients would accept it. And it’s evolved to where a lot of clients don’t.”
Ironically, because of the huge decline in the number of summers brought in, they’re more likely to actually do substantive work this year. One Biglaw firm, for example, instituted a requirement last year that every summer associate produce at least one piece of seriously impressive legal writing. Which firm is it?
Every now and then, we like to offer our readers some career alternatives — things you can do with your law degree and legal training that don’t involve, say, working in a large law firm or as a contract lawyer. We’ve profiled a wide range of individuals, from lawyers who have left the law for everything from football coaching to CEO-ing to therapy (giving, not receiving).
Today we continue down the path of attorneys who have gone from representing companies to launching them. Our latest interviewee has started a company, Urban Interns, that might be of interest to any ATL readers who are looking to hire interns — or any ATL readers who are looking for internships, which can provide valuable experience and/or a paycheck (of great value during these times of still-high unemployment).
Earlier this month, we broke the news of three prominent Proskauer partners — Louis Solomon, Hal Shaftel, and Colin Underwood — jumping ship to Cadwalader. In addition, Michael Lazaroff, who has been senior counsel at Proskauer, will join Cadwalader as special counsel (as noted in the New York Law Journal).
In its press release, Cadwalader touted their arrival as a coup. And that’s generally how the news was covered (which is so often the case with law firm moves).
But covering every move by partners from Firm A to Firm B as a triumph for Firm B, the receiving firm, isn’t always accurate. Sometimes Firm A is perfectly happy to see lawyers leave. Sometimes firms even squeeze out departing partners — a trend that has been on the upswing during the recession.
With respect to the Proskauer-to-Cadwalader moves, is there perhaps more to this than meets the eye?
The three partners are Louis Solomon, Hal Shaftel, and Colin Underwood. Their bios are still available on the Proskauer website (here, here, and here). Solomon previously chaired Proskauer’s litigation department; Underwood was co-head of Proskauer’s antitrust group.
In other Cadwalader news, class of 2010 incoming associates have their start date: September 27, 2010. This is a nice, normal start date. Commented one of future associates:
I’m very happy…. It’s 64 degrees in the city, and I’ve got a start date in 2010. Things are looking good.
Cadwalader was a “leader” in terms of lawyer layoffs: it moved early, and it cut deeply. But now the firm seems to be doing quite well — along with another firm known for heavy layoffs, Latham & Watkins.
Food for thought: Are the firms that conducted large-scale layoffs now reaping the benefits of their “right-sizing”?
More details about the pirated Proskauer partners, after the jump.
Lucky little 3Ls with offers, are you dreaming of the Biglaw days that await you? If your firm didn’t tell you last summer that you would be deferred, you should be hearing about your start date soon… right?
Some people have started hearing news. Those heading to White & Case have not gotten start dates but they have heard about their deferral stipend. From a firm e-mail:
We are pleased to confirm that we will be paying a stipend of US$65,000 to students whose start dates have been deferred to Fall 2011. Almost all of you have accepted your offers, and we look forward to having you back at the Firm.
Some especially lucky little 3Ls actually know when they get to start…
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft on Tuesday reported a 28 percent increase in profits per partner, the firm’s first positive results since 2007.
Yet while the firm enjoyed a slight increase in net income, some of the increase in its per-partner average earnings appears attributable to a nearly 21 percent loss in the number of equity partners. Gross revenue fell nearly 10 percent, a drop that W. Christopher White, the firm’s chairman, calls “very strong in light of a steep contraction in the finance market.”
I think that there are going to be a lot of stories about firms that conducted massive layoffs who are now experiencing PPP increases.
More details after the jump.
The bonuses were basically on the Cravath scale, provided you meet “the bonus criteria set forth in the bonus policy.” We’re advised that the bonus criteria focus for the most part on hours, with bonuses triggered at around 2000 hours (1900 billable).
In other CWT news, we hear that two real estate partners — Alan Lawrence and John Busillo — are leaving the firm for Arnold & Porter. Sources describe them as “heavy hitters” who “still have some business.”
We’re now into the back half of the brand new Vault law firm rankings. Just like last year, we worry about a proliferation of “TTT” accusations in the comment threads. But such terms of art can miss the positives of many of the firms in this section of the Vault rankings. Here’s the list:
51. Fulbright & Jaworski 52. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati 53. Morgan Lewis & Bockius 54. McDermott Will & Emery 55. Alston & Bird 56. Bingham McCutchen 57. Fish & Richardson 58. Dechert 59. Greenberg Traurig 60. Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft
We have already extensively talked about the Morgan Lewis situation. Let’s move on to other firms after the jump.
Late last week, offer calls went out to those who summered at Cadwalader. We now have the firm wide offer rates. Compared to some other firms, it’s really not so bad.
Here is the information from a firm spokesperson:
Cadwalader made offers to approximately two thirds of our 2009 Summer Associate Class.
Cadwalader went through its layoffs early and often. People who summered at CWT had to know that the firm isn’t one to defer associates. Instead, Cadwalader recently asked some of its laid off associates to comeback … as contract attorneys.
Given all of that history, a 66% offer rate seems pretty good. In fact, even some of the CWT summers that were no offered didn’t sound too angry about the situation. One no offered summer described it this way:
The hiring partner was very nice about it, and offered to serve as a reference when I pursue other jobs, and I was repeatedly told that it was for purely economic reasons … I was upset, but I understand what the economy’s like right now, and I’ll be ok, may just take a while.
Many regular Above the Law readers will remember that Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft laid off nearly 100 attorneys, back before laying off attorneys became cool. More recently, the firm put 34 associates on an involuntary sabbatical. Cadwalader is still willing to give jobs to the 34 people let go earlier this month. Contract jobs. Multiple sources inform us that CWT is trying to bring on a gang of contract attorneys. But instead of just picking up any old person with a spare J.D. lying around, the firm is giving the right of first refusal to its former associates.
Here’s how a Cadwalader spokesperson described the initiative:
As part of our sabbatical program, Cadwalader is committed to helping affected attorneys in every way possible, from helping them to identify new job opportunities to providing them with resume writing and interview tips. We have alerted them to more than 60 job opportunities, helped to arrange more than 20 interviews, and are aware of three job offers. As part of our efforts to engage them at the firm when possible, we recently received a client request for assistance on an expanded document review project with tight deadlines. Rather than consider other staffing solutions as we might have in the past, we first offered these lawyers the opportunity to work on the matter. We will continue to help these talented individuals in whatever ways we can.
Would you go back to work for your old firm as a contract attorney? Before you answer, you have to take a look at the pay CWT is offering.
More details after the jump.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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