This year’s batch of summer associates are roughing it at Biglaw summer camp, with fewer meals out on the firm and less lavish events. To make matters worse, some summers are being told now that their future job will be deferred. Summer associates at Skadden and Ropes & Gray have been informed that they can’t come back to the camping ground until 2011. Tents can’t be repitched at Orrick until 2012.
This seems like a good time to focus on the light side of the summer associate experience. For the past month, we’ve been soliciting entries for our Summer Associate Event Contest of 2009. They came trickling in slowly, whether because there aren’t many events to brag about or because summer associates are too busy (or too scared) to email us. One SA was so fearful of “tipping” us that the announcement about the firm’s event was sent anonymously via snail mail. [FN1]
One ATL reader from a small firm had this to say about the environment at firms this summer:
Our firm does a lot of corporate bankruptcy work, so we’re faring better in this economic storm than most, but we had to scale back our summer associate program a bit. We do not have as many summer associates as we used to, and we are not having as many major, expensive events. No more big-ticket concerts; no more dinner theater on a river boat; no more renting out an entire movie theater for a pre-release movie showing….
Certainly, the difficulties of this economy are showing in the makeup of our summer class: because we have a summer program at all (unlike many law firms), we’re getting students from higher ranked schools. Most of them are from Top 20 law schools, all of them from Top 75 law schools, none of them from the fourth-tier local law school that usually supplies some of our summer class. And our summer associates are noticeably more stressed about the experience and their prospects than I’ve seen in the past 10 summers.
Despite the foregoing, we have a nice selection of events for the contest. We ask you to vote on the best one, plus offer a few honorable mentions (for events involving public urination and broken bones), after the jump.
Last week, Dan Slater, formerly of the WSJ Law Blog, wrote a piece for Dealbook entitled In Praise of Law Firm Layoffs. His poster child for laudatory layoffs? One of the first firms to make significant cuts to its ranks, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.
It seems that Cadwaladerreally likes layoffs. As you can see from our collected coverage, CWT has laid off over 150 lawyers since January 2008 — and today the firm announced further cuts. To its credit, Cadwalader has been open and transparent about its reductions in force; it hasn’t taken the “stealth layoff” approach.
But the firm is not above trying to put a little spin on today’s layoffs. In response to our inquiries, a CWT spokesperson issued this statement:
The debt markets, particularly the real estate debt markets, remain very slow. As a result, Cadwalader’s Capital Markets and Real Estate Finance groups do not have enough challenging work for all the lawyers, particularly the young lawyers, in these groups. Unfortunately, two years into this financial crisis, there are no near term solutions for the problems which vex these markets.
In order to address this situation, Cadwalader has asked 34 lawyers to accept a one year, unrestricted sabbatical. During the sabbatical, participating lawyers will receive one-third of their current compensation and medical benefits. In addition, a committee comprised of partners and senior administrators will work diligently to place these lawyers with clients, prospective clients, and not-for-profit organizations.
What happens to lawyers who decline the “sabbatical”? Will the lawyers on sabbatical be able to return to the firm after the year is over? One of our Cadwalader sources described this as a round of layoffs with four months of severance (i.e., “one-third of their current compensation”). Update: This really is a round of layoffs, not an offer of “sabbaticals.” We’ve received some clarification from affected associates, which we provide after the jump.
Additional details, including a tie-in to the strip club story, after the jump.
Summer associates have landed at offices across the nation. They’re working harder this year, even if some of the work is fake, and they’re eating out less often. But the Biglaw recruits are still having fun — sometimes too much fun.
We’ve been asking you about the big events for this year’s summers — concerts, movie previews, booze cruises, etc. Look out for contest finalists soon!
Cadwalader may have already established itself as a front runner in the competition. Last week, the firm took its summers to see a Mets game. Afterwards, some of the attorneys and summers went from Shea to shady. [FN1] From a knowledgeable source:
After the game, some of the male associates took some of the male summers out for some “after-event” bonding. The problem with this bonding is that it was a trip to the strip club. I’m not sure if the firm knew about the afterparty event or if it was sanctioned by or expensed to the firm, but this certainly seems to send a message of exclusion to women; or at least — even if any female summers attended (which none did) — that the firm not only tolerated but supported the objectification / degradation of women that occurs at these venues.
The firm was aware of the outing, but it doesn’t support these Cadwalader cads. The official response, after the jump.
Last week, we brought you the story of a former Mayer Brown associate who is suing the firm. We have some more back story on the plaintiff, Venus Yvette Springs, and she certainly sounds like a colorful person.
Before joining Mayer Brown, Springs worked at Cadwalader. According to our tipsters, she left CWT in an interesting fashion:
In her departure email from Cadwalader, she quoted all sorts of religious passages and talked about how she wanted to devote her life to pro bono.
Shortly thereafter, she wound up at Mayer Brown — one of the largest and most profitable law firms on the planet.
In her complaint against Mayer Brown, Springs alleged that the firm did not count her pro bono hours as it had promised. Of course, working in the real estate department at a major firm hardly sounds like a life “devoted to pro bono.” She wants to work with clients who can’t pay, but wants to make sure she gets a plump pay check anyway.
But maybe she needed to support her family. Unconfirmed reports say that her husband is Jules Springs. Jules Springs recently pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud. No word on whether or not Mr. Springs was an equal opportunity defrauder.
After the jump, Venus Springs compares her plight at Mayer Brown to the Holocaust. I wish I were making that up.
You didn’t seriously think we’d get through an entire day of layoff stories without Cadwalader getting into the mix? Legal Week is now reporting that Cadwalader has decided to send 16 of its London employees into “redundancy consultation.
The firm said three lawyers, three paralegals and 10 support staff are subject to the redundancy consultation. A statement read: “Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft has today launched a redundancy consultation with certain employees in its London office, made up of both lawyers and support staff. We regret the potential loss of these talented professionals who have served the firm well. The firm remains committed to London and rebuilding the office.”
Honestly, we’re not trying to pile on Cadwalader, but they just keep making news.
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog is reporting today that the firm has fired nine associates: three in New York and six in Charlotte:
“Cadwalader confirms limited terminations of a few associates in the Charlotte and New York offices; and adjustments to our Charlotte-only compensation schedule,” wrote firm spokeswoman Nicky McHugh in an email.
There are still associates in Charlotte? Maybe they should have taken the pay cut.
Our tipsters report that most of the layoffs hit the real estate practice group.
How are Cadwalader associates dealing with all the bad news? We’ve heard rumors of everything from Career Builder to Duck Hunt. Let us know about your Cadwalader coping mechanisms.
We have detailed that spate of partner defections from Cadwalader in recent weeks. But how are things going for associates on the ground? In the Cadwalader litigation department, at least it’s not particularly busy. A tipster reports:
Learned at a CWT Litigation Department associates-only meeting held at 2:00 [last week]:
Everyone was anxious about the lack of work in the Litigation Department. One of the reps took a poll and no one in the room was currently staffed on a securities fraud matter. This raised serious concerns about the department.
But as Lestat might say: Cadwalader is going to give associates the choice I never had:
Based on 2008 productivity, some associate salaries will be frozen. Others in slow departments will be asked to take a pay cut if they want to stay. So there will be some 8th, 7th and 6th years who were slow in 2008 who will be dropped two or three class years.
Seven partners in the London office resigned from the Firm today to join Paul Hastings. The reduction in capabilities in London is unfortunate. However, these departures allow us to rebuild the London office into a profitable operation with a focus consistent with the Firm’s long-term objectives. We start this rebuilding process with a very strong foundation in Capital Markets, Financial Restructuring and Tax led by partners Angus Duncan, Richard Nevins, Nick Shiren and Adam Blakemore. Bob Link will move to London in February to lead the Firm’s rebuilding effort.
So, you’re sending the guy you just ousted to rebuild the London office that just got eviscerated?
The Lawyer is reporting that seven partners in Cadwalader’s London office have defected for Paul Hastings:
The Lawyer can exclusively reveal that the partners leaving the firm are Karl Clowry, Conor Downey, Michelle Duncan, Justin Jowitt, Tom O’Riordan, Christian Parker and Charles Roberts.
The defections leave US firm Cadwalader with just four partners in London.
Yesterday, we noted that despite CWT’s profits per partner dropping by 30%, managing partner Chris White was still looking forward the firm bouncing back in 2009.
But maybe the London partners weren’t thrilled about the new firm numbers?
An insider suggested the move could prompt Cadwalader to shut down in London altogether: “I’d be bloody surprised if the office was still here this time next year. The office lease is about £2m and none of the partners left bill anything near that.”
It is understood that firm chairman Christopher White … and former chairman Bob Link have flown in to London from New York for crisis talks with the London partners.
Cadwalader defenders share their views in the comments.
Christopher White, though, says the firm is now positioned for 2009 following a series of layoffs in its troubled structured finance practice.
“I’d like to think that we put most of our pain in 2008,” White says, adding that the $1.88 million profit number “is not too shabby.”
The drop, while severe, beat previously published rumors that profits per partner would fall 50 percent.
Should all those people CWT fired take comfort that making drastic cuts early in the year probably helped save 2008 for the firm at large? The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the not quite as many?
White says it’s wrong to put the focus on Cadwalader’s structured finance side, which, while still large, was shrunken through layoffs last year. “Our financial restructuring people are very busy, parts of our litigation department are very busy, and those are important engines in a downturn,” he says.
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.
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.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
The proper hair styling product might just be the only thing standing between you and your dream job. And the best way to find what works for you is to try the best stuff on the market. Join Birchbox Man for $20 a month and you’ll get customized shipments of the best grooming and lifestyle gear on the market every month—everything from haircare and shaving supplies to style accessories and tech gadgets.
As the leading discovery commerce platform, Birchbox is redefining the retail process by offering consumers a unique and personalized way to discover, learn about, and shop the best grooming and lifestyle products out there. It’s a full 360-degree process: try, learn, buy. Once you sign up and fill out your profile, head over to Birchbox Man’s online magazine to find article and video tutorials on how to get the most out your monthly box products. Pick up full-size versions of anything you like in the Birchbox Shop and earn points for every purchase.
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!