Being a summer associate isn't a day at the beach, but it's still pretty awesome.
A summer associate program at a top law firm is like sex or pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.
That seems to be the conclusion of the American Lawyer’s 2011 summer associate survey. Am Law polled 3,656 students at 138 law firms about their summer experiences and used the results to rank 108 summer programs. The lowest-ranked program — that of Chadbourne & Parke, in case you’re wondering — still emerged with a healthy overall satisfaction score of 4.142 (on a 5.0 scale).
If you’re a law student trying to figure out where to spend your summer, you’re probably asking: Which law firms came out with the highest scores?
Not surprisingly, the top reason for putting in extra billable hours was that people just had work that needed to get done, even though no one specifically asked them to work. But it likely also had something to do with the fact that 32% of respondents who worked said their firm does not recognize MLK Day as an official firm holiday. Instead, some of these firms consider it a “floating holiday,” meaning that attorneys can either choose to take a day off on MLK Day or on another floating holiday.
What were some other reasons given for working on MLK Day?
With fall recruiting gearing up, and the lateral market warming up, we continue our annual series of open threads about the law firms featured in the Vault prestige rankings. These threads provide ATL readers with a forum to discuss the different firms and their various strengths and weaknesses.
The end of the Vault 100 is in sight. We’re covering the firms in batches of 20 now. Here are the firms ranked #61 to #80, which will provide today’s discussion fodder:
Some summer associates are ending their summers on a very positive note. Quite a few firms have already informed law school students that after this summer fling, they’re interested in a more serious relationship.
Since our last round-up of offices extending offers to 100% of their summer associates, we’ve heard from a few more contented summers…
Many large law firms realize the importance of maintaining good ties with their alumni. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s also the smart thing to do. Biglaw alums often end up in places where they can be helpful to their former employers — e.g., in-house, government, and the media (cough cough).
They were also invited to a cocktail party. This didn’t go over so well with those who became alumni involuntarily, i.e., the laid-off:
Are they f**king kidding me? Oh man I want to go to their Spring Fling. Cocktails in the boardroom. Do you think if we get really drunk we’ll be escorted out by security? Because I enjoyed it the first time.
Wait a sec — did the firm really have laid-off lawyers accompanied out by security?
Things seem to be going relatively well at Chadbourne & Parke. Let’s review some recent developments.
Back in January, the firm announced sizable raises and bonuses. In the same month, the Chadbourne & Parke Foundation generously contributed $100,000 to Haiti relief efforts. More recently, the firm’s well-regarded project finance practice snagged some high-profile work relating to renewable / clean energy projects.
But perhaps things aren’t going well enough at C&P. Earlier this week, we heard rumblings of the firm rescinding offers to some of its deferred associates.
We reached out to the firm, which confirmed the news and provided some details.
Yesterday, reports came in that Chadbourne & Parke unfroze salaries. Then tipsters started telling us that Chadbourne didn’t just thaw out one class year; instead, they went all out and gave true-up raises — putting their associates back to the salary level they would have been at had the firm never frozen salaries in the first place. True-up raises are even more significant at Chadbourne because the firm didn’t just freeze salaries, it actually cut salaries back in April.
By the end of the day, Chadbourne sources were telling us that in addition to the true-up raises the firm was giving out make-whole bonuses. Essentially, Chadbourne was giving people back the money they would have made over the course of 2009. That’s a move out of the Latham playbook (in a good way). One tipster put it like this:
[J]ust got my letter re: (1) bonus, and (2) 2010 salary and (3) true-up (actually got the letter last Friday, the 22nd). I am glad to say that I got unfrozen with a “true” true-up! The firm could not tell me if all associates were treated the same.
As we understand it, this good news was shared with nearly all Chadbourne & Parke associates.
Details and a statement from the firm, after the jump.
Ed. note: Above the Law has teamed up with Law Shucks. Law Shucks has done excellent work translating all of the layoff news into user-friendly charts and graphs: the Layoff Tracker.
For a while there it would look like the first consecutive weeks without layoffs since this time last year (by our reckoning, you have to go back to the weeks ending October 9 and October 2, 2008). Alas, one firm did come through with staff layoffs, about which more after the jump.
As usual, we begin with the US macroeconomic picture, and as usual, it ain’t pretty. For the week, the S&P 500 was down about 2%. That was the second straight week of losses, and the DJIA had its biggest weekly decline in three months. 263,000 net jobs were lost in September and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, despite perhaps the technical end of the recession. As with the stock market, bad results are one thing, but results worse than expectations are another, and that was the case here. Consensus estimates were net losses of 175,000, so the actual results were way short. August’s revised numbers were slightly better than original reports, though.
[T]he report also buttressed fears that economic expansion would be weak and hesitant, with scarce paychecks and economic anxiety remaining prominent features of American life well into next year.
“This is a weak report,” said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. “The rate of job loss has tapered off, but we still haven’t reached the point where businesses are willing to hire.”
Could this create political difficulties for the president?
The closer we get to the time when incoming associates in the class of 2009 are supposed to start, the more deferral extensions we are likely to see. Over the weekend, news broke that Chadbourne & Parke had decided to push back half of its incoming class “indefinitely.”
We don’t have any information about whether the incoming associates on extended deferral will be offered any type of extended stipend. Update: A spokesperson from Chadbourne responded to Above the Law’s inquires about the continuing stipend:
These deferred associates have already received $13,000 and will receive an additional $60,000 stipend beginning in February 2010.
The news shouldn’t be entirely surprising for incoming associates at Chadbourne. The firm laid people off in March, and cut salaries in April.
And remember, last October, Chadbourne instituted a hiring freeze. At the time, we had a few questions for Chadbourne:
In light of this hiring freeze, what does that mean for students who interviewed with Chadbourne? Are they de-facto canceling their 2009 summer program? If so, it seems like an awful waste of resources to send recruiters around the country for jobs that are no longer available….
And, of course, we have no idea how this will affect 2008 summers associates. We assume that any of them who received and accepted offers for full time employment next fall still have those offers.
Note to self: never assume.
There seem to be two options that firms are following. After the jump, let’s look at the options and take a reader poll.
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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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 email@example.com 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.
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