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.
We reported earlier today that Chadbourne & Parke was laying off people today (check out our prior coverage here). We just received this firm wide email:
Accordingly, with deep regret, we are reducing the number of attorneys in our offices worldwide by approximately 25. Today will be the last day at the Firm for many of the individuals impacted by this decision. They are all talented professionals who have made valuable contributions to the Firm. They will all be missed and we wish them well. All affected attorneys present in our offices today have been personally spoken with and we expect to speak with the others in the next few days.
Chadbourne is also imposing a deferred start date on incoming associates, but unlike Venable, the firm doesn’t appear to be offering extra money for 3Ls. New Chadbourne first years won’t start until January 2010.
Not that it’s a particularly safe thing to be a Chadbourne first year. Our reports indicated that 8 of the 25 people laid off were first year attorneys.
On the other hand, the firm is offering a three month severance package. Also, the firm is explicitly forgiving the bar loan that first years received.
Again, most of our sources say that Chadbourne was really “nice” about the whole process.
This layoff news is breaking right now, so we don’t have all of the details. But we understand that “heads are rolling” today at Chadbourne & Parke.
The firm did not respond to an immediate request for comment, but there are multiple reports of the layoff reaper making the rounds at the firm right now.
Layoffs are being done face-to-face and no firm wide announcement has gone out.
However, the firm is firing first years, so we don’t imagine that this is a “performance review.” In fact, one tipster puts it like this:
They were very nice. It is purely economical.
We understand that Chadbourne is giving a three month severance package.
You’ll remember that in October, Chadbourne announced a hiring freeze. That seems like an obvious move now, and not surprisingly it looks like that wasn’t enough of a cutback to ride out the economic storm.
But at the time Chadbourne said that the hiring freeze wouldn’t affect the 2009 summer program. We’ll see if that holds up in the face of layoffs.
Update (4:39): Chadbourne has now confirmed these layoffs. Check here for our continuing coverage.
As we noted in yesterday’s Morning Docket, even the New York Times has taken note of the salary freeze trend at law firms. The Times reached out to Above The Law’s own David Lat for the story:
Although many associates are angry about the freezes, others are relieved, said David Lat, founding editor of AboveTheLaw.com, a blog about law firms and the profession.
“There is this sense that firms didn’t act prudently during the boom and now they are getting religion, and that it’s better late than never,” Mr. Lat said. “Many associates we have spoken to think the freeze probably saved jobs.”
At the beginning of the month, we did a round-up of firms that have frozen 2009 salary rates at 2008 levels. That list was 16 firms long. Since then, quite a few other firms have announced freezes. Due to frequent requests, we’re updating the round-up list since the number of firms with freezes (that we know of) has more than doubled, to 33 32. Check out the as-comprehensive-as-we-can-make-it list, after the jump.
We haven’t yet gotten our hands on the Chadbourne & Parke bonus memo, but a firm spokesperson confirmed what the general numbers look like. According to the spokesperson:
“Our bonuses are on Cravath, Half-Skadden, scale. Individual bonus determinations are based upon individual performance and pro rated for part time attorneys and attorneys who have been with the firm for less than the full year.”
I wonder if somewhere, Cravath’s Evan Chesler is thinking about ways to kill me?
Meanwhile, Chadbourne also announced a salary freeze:
As you know, the world economic outlook for 2009 is uncertain. Accordingly, as a matter of prudence, the Firm is reserving decision on associate salary levels for 2009. We will make a decision on this matter within the next several months as the global economic picture becomes clearer.
Half-Skadden bonus, Latham salary — but no layoffs, so there’s that to be happy about.
The winter wedding announcements are often a prestige wasteland, but we’re actually quite pleased with the caliber of the couples we’ve been able to round up for the first 2009 edition of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch (which admittedly includes some entries from late 2008).
In response to the many queries we receive from couples hoping to be selected for LEWW (yes, we do get them — mostly from grooms, oddly enough), we’d been thinking about drawing up some submission guidelines (sort of like the NYT’s).
But we’ve got a better idea. Three words: pay to play. See, we’ve got this thing, and it’s f****** golden. You don’t just give it away for nothing. Call us; we’ll talk.
Here are this week’s candidates (only two again, because it’s December and the pickings are getting slim):
A firm-wide memo from Charlie O’Neil, managing partner of Chadbourne & Parke, announced that the firm was instituting a legal and non-legal hiring freeze in response to the economic downturn.
The lengths O’Neil went to try and bury this important piece of firm information are slightly amazing. The firm-wide email was entitled “How Are We Doing?” and the first 4 paragraphs read like the “Yay Us” emails we’ve seen from firms like DPW and STB.
However, in the sixth paragraph, O’Neil gets to the part where he talks about keeping control over firm expenses:
That said, expenses have been under constant review and we have taken a number of steps to better position us for the remainder of this year and next. Among the more significant is the decision to delay much of the planned technology upgrade. We recognize the need to improve technology and certain of the more important upgrades will continue. Others, including the upgrade to new desktop computers and software, will be postponed. We will review this decision in 2009 as the economic picture becomes clearer. Should conditions improve we will begin the upgrade sometime in 2009; otherwise it will be delayed until 2010. We will be issuing new guidelines pertaining to controls over Firm business expenses, including travel. We will also more closely monitor and limit certain other expenses which in a more robust economy might otherwise be acceptable We have also instituted a freeze on hiring legal and non-legal personnel. To the extent a practice area has need of additional legal personnel, we will seek to temporarily shift lawyers from a less-busy practice area to assist, rather than hiring laterally. We will take the same approach with non-legal personnel and departments. We welcome your thoughts on other cost saving measures.
Catch that? I bet O’Neil hopes you didn’t.
More after the jump, including the full Chadbourne memo and the firm’s response.
The Vault 100 march continues! In this series of open threads, we list the firms, and you all discuss their upsides and downsides. We’ll be wrapping this puppy up this week.
Here are the next ten (with prestige scores in parentheses):
Usually, we have fun with the “notable perks” chosen by Vault. But as we move down the list, the perks are becoming distinctly less notable — e.g., gym membership discounts, free parking, and “good views.” Oh well.
You know what to do! Have at it in the comments. Earlier:Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009
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