This firm announced that, in January 2010, it will move away from a lockstep compensation system to one that emphasizes merit-based factors as a more significant component of compensation decisions. The firm says the combination of base pay and discretionary and productivity bonuses will keep overall compensation at or above current levels, but associates worry they may see significantly less pay if they don’t achieve the necessary merit marks.
This firm has confirmed that it will be paying bonuses in early 2010, an announcement associates can only hope is the first of many. Although the firm anticipates the amounts will be less than previous years, bonuses are still predicted to range from $5,000 to $50,000.
This firm recently cut starting salaries to $145,000 in all of its offices (other than New York and Asia). The firm has indicated it will continue to monitor the situation and may re-adjust salaries (up or down) in light of legal market trends if necessary.
This firm is also taking the merit-based compensation route: although it plans to retain a lockstep scale for base salaries, the firm has announced that its practice group leaders will now have greater discretion in awarding year-end bonuses. Billable hours will continue to factor into bonus determinations, but so will qualitative and quantitative factors, such as financial productivity, profitability and teamwork.
Last week’s Career Center survey asked whether you think there will be enough work for the class of incoming associates at your firm. The good news is that, despite the all the hype about some firms indefinitely deferring new associates, the vast majority — 91% — of new associates are starting at their firms in Fall 2009 or are scheduled to start in the first half of 2010. The bad news is that a majority of respondents think there won’t be enough work for all this new blood, at least not in the practice areas they want to work in.
Check out the full survey results after the jump, and visit the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link , for more on which firm unexpectedly pushed up start dates, the latest firm to offer new associates "walk-away" money, and a firm that has made major changes to their lock-step compensation structure.
Survey results, after the jump.
Although start dates have been deferred to 2010 for some new associates, many others have already started at firms and more will be joining them over the next few months . Will there be enough work for the newest class of associates?
Or are current associates still struggling to make their own hours? Has the economy recovered enough to prevent a survival-of-the-fittest battle over due diligence and doc review? In today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we ask what you think is in store for new associates. We’ll let you know the results next week, but in the meantime, you can check out the ATL Career Center, powered by Lateral Link, where you’ll find the latest information on starting dates, billable hours expectations and the best firms for the kind of work you want to do.
Welcome to the first in a series of monthly “Ask the Experts” posts, brought to you by the ATL Career Center, powered by Lateral Link. Over the next few months, we’ll be talking with legal career experts, everyone from recruiters to hiring partners to professional development staff. The conversations will focus on what associates and law students need to know to be successful in this turbulent job market.
This week, we spoke with Tricia McGrath, a Director at Lateral Link who works with partner and associate candidates on law firm searches, and with candidates seeking in-house positions. We asked Tricia for advice on what kind of résumés get an employer’s attention. Visit the Resources section on the Career Center to get the answers to the following questions, as well as advice on the one thing you should never do.
Q: How detailed should my resume be?
Q: My career counselor recommended that my résumé begin with my experience and end with my education. Is this a good idea?
Q: Should a résumé ever be more than one page?
Q: I was laid off from a Top-20 law firm a few months ago. When my severance ran out, I took a contract attorney position to help pay the bills. This isn’t the type of job I want to call attention to when I’m applying to firms – do I need to include it on my résumé?
Q: Should I bother explaining to prospective employers why I was laid off, or is the less said the better?
Read the full article, as well and see other resources, on the Career Center. If you have tips or questions that you would like covered in future Ask The Expert columns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which firms were the “hottest” firms for September — i.e., the firms whose profiles were most visited on the ATL Career Center, powered by Lateral Link? These were the top five:
1. This firm, based in D.C., “lives up to its reputation for being a lifestyle firm.”
2. This firm, also with a sizable D.C. presence, offers its lawyers “immediate substantive responsibility” on “high-stakes” matters.
3. This firm has a top-flight sports law practice, with clients including Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and the National Basketball Association.
4. This firm has a definite international bent, with more than half of its clients located abroad.
5. This firm, a litigation powerhouse, boasts an “eclectic group” of attorneys, with a “mix of personalities.”
The Career Center is constantly being updated with responses from users and the latest news from the legal markets. Unlike many other resources, it’s dynamic, not static.
Some recent highlights from the Career Center’s firm snapshots, after the jump.
We received over 1300 responses to last week’s Career Center survey on how lawyers feel about their careers in light of the recession. Despite economists’ encouraging words about the light at the end of the tunnel, respondents across the country remain deeply concerned for themselves and the legal industry as a whole. Although the economy has pulled out of its tailspin, recovering financial institutions and businesses are no longer generating the same level of legal work they once did, making it extremely difficult for major corporate law firms to stage their own comebacks. With business stagnating, several major law firms have gone out of business , and waves of layoffs have left thousands of big firm attorneys without jobs and countless others thinking they could be cut next. Check out the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link, for more on which firms are starting to recover from the downturn and which firms continue to struggle.
Over the last month, we’ve seen a significant spike in the number of ATL readers making use of the information on the Career Center. With hundreds of thousands of visitors to the law firm snapshots and tens of thousands of law firm comparisons generated on the Career Center, we want to know what is on our readers’ minds when it comes to your careers.
Could it be that a year after Lehman’s collapse, and with Bernake’s reassurances that the recession is "very likely over," attorneys feel it is safe to go back on the job hunt? Perhaps the recent layoffs are creating concern that things are getting worse, and people want to know their options? Either way, the good news is that our friends over at Lateral Link tell us that hiring is starting to pick up and they have dozens of attorneys interviewing, so options are out there.
Was the 2009 summer just an aberration? Or are long hours, canceled retreats, and take-out lunch budgets the future of Big Law summer associate programs? Find out which firms rolled out the red carpet for summer associates and which firms couldn’t say goodbye to their summers soon enough, over at the ATL Career Center , powered by Lateral Link. Check out the summer associate program snapshots to discover:
Which firm’s summers report that “probably 80% of the summer class has pulled at least [one] all-nighter”? Click here.
Which firm held a “skip day,” where summer associates spent the day playing (firm-sanctioned) hooky at the beach? Click here.
Which firm offers a offers a Judicial Clerkship Mentoring Program to summer associates considering clerkships? Click here.
Which firm’s summer associates work with indigent clients through the Legal Aid Society’s Community Law Offices program in East Harlem? Click here.
More items, after the jump.
Hey 2Ls! Looking for more insight on which firms to consider this fall? Want to know which firms still offer 14-week summer programs and which ones are canceling their summer programs entirely? Curious about who provides a $15 lunch budget and who subsidizes $75 lunches? Check out the summer associate program snapshots at the ATL Career Center, powered by Lateral Link. It gives you the inside track on summer associate programs at major law firms across the country. Follow the links below to find out:
Which firm has a "professor in residence" to assist summer associates with legal research and writing questions? Click here.
Which firm’s summer program kicks off with a "fantastic" and "truly exceptional" weekend at a seaside resort in California? Click here.
Which firm provides a $65 lunch budget and allows summer associates to attend an unlimited number of lunches each week? Click here.
Which firm’s summer associates report being “treated like associates and expected (for the most part) to work like associates,” and say that they were “busy and challenged” by the “intense work expectations”? Click here.
Which firm takes its promise to give summer associates a "hands-on" experience literally and invited summer associates to visit a client’s wind farm and climb to the top of "a 55-meter turbine"? Click here.
The Vault survey rankings may have created buzz last week, but we’re going to kick off the buzz this week by unveiling our first annual review of the summer associate experience at the major law firms. With information based on surveys conducted by Lateral Link and tips we’ve gathered at ATL, the summer program snapshots give you an insiders perspective on each firm. So if you are heading into OCI and want the scoop on what 2009 summer associate class felt about their experience, check out the ATL Career Center, powered by Lateral Link.
The Summer Associate Program review is located within each firm snapshot. Surf over there to find out:
Which firm received high marks for being “open and honest” with summer associates “at every juncture of the law firm strategy in this economic climate?” Click here.
Which firm gives summers an $85 dinner budget and does a two day retreat for all summers at Catalina Island? Click here.
Which firm’s summers report that the firm is “fantastic” when it comes to summer salaries and offers “job security” that is hard to find elsewhere? Click here.
Which firm had summer associates go head to head in a “Roc the Guac” guacamole-cooking contest? Click here.
More 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: email@example.com.
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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