DLA Piper has released some information about its associate compensation and bonus payouts, and some associates who work for the firm are unhappy. Why? I don’t really know. I don’t know why they thought that working for the largest firm in the world would be a good thing when it came time to pay out bonuses.
Attempts to economize on associate salaries are not new at DLA Piper. The firm has been at the cutting edge (pun intended) of reduced associate base salaries, deferrals of incoming associates, and various other methods for keeping the cost of associates down. It’s just how they roll.
It should surprise no one that DLA associates are complaining about the firm’s bonus plan. In fact, I’m not even sure it’s news that the firm seems to be low-balling associates. If anything, the news hook is that there are still associates at DLA Piper who are surprised by sub-market comp….
One reader wrote to me to complain. Surely, he said, there’s room in the world for a law firm that does work that’s “good enough for the occasion at a fair price.” Isn’t perfectionism the enemy of the reasonable bill?
That reader is undeniably correct.
Small matters, whether transactional or litigation, may not bear the freight of comprehensive factual or legal research. And lawyers who don’t recognize this — whether they work in-house or at firms — won’t last very long. For many matters, “good enough” is good enough.
But I’m not going to spend much time fretting about this, for three reasons.
First, there’s plenty of mediocrity in the world. Although it may engender outrage to type these words, the average lawyer is . . . well . . . average. You don’t have to search very far to find people who produce average work….
I’ve been trying to be nice. I’ve been trying to be positive. I’ve been trying to adopt a new, sunny, smoke-free attitude that assumes certain top firms will do the right thing by their associates and announce spring bonuses along the lines of Cravath, Sullivan & Cromwell, and a bunch of other top-tier firms.
Just last week, we reminded firms that it’s not too late to announce “spring” bonuses. Dewey & LeBoeuf announced spring bonuses that it will pay in the summer. And that’s okay, nobody is really complaining, associates just want their money. If top firms are paying out spring bonuses, associates who have been told they are working at a top firm want to see their cut.
But there are a number of firms that haven’t gotten the message. Did they think their own people wouldn’t notice that they are getting shortchanged compared to the market? Is this a way for those firms to force some attrition? Surprisingly, some of the firms that are being cheap with spring bonuses were lauded for being generous around Christmastime.
Those firms know how the internet works, don’t they? Information can be updated around these parts….
There’s poor, there’s broke, and then there’s whatever you would call the economic state of current law students. They are up against it, and they know it.
It’s particularly tough on 3Ls. We’re in March, so graduating law students without jobs lined up are about to get kicked out of school and on to the street (or “mother’s basement” or “youth hostel” or whatever). So right now is about the time when these kids really start to freak out.
At one law school, fear and angst are reaching a fever pitch, over the most trivial of things. The soon-to-be graduates are having a conniption over having to pay $136 to rent a cap and gown for graduation.
Yep, some of these kids took on tens of thousands of dollars in order to go to law school, but now — at the end — they’re making a stand over a hundred bucks…
It sounds like something firms would try to keep on the down low, through anonymous postings on Craigslist. But in the new economy, it’s apparently no big deal for law firms to ask career services offices to send over students who are so desperate they’re willing to work for free. The ABA Journal reports:
Law schools in Florida have gotten a flood of requests from small and midsize law firms seeking summer associates willing to work for free — but career officials are not pleased…
Robert Levine, assistant dean for career development at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center, tells the Daily Business Review that the U.S. Department of Labor encourages unpaid internships to be coordinated through the school’s clinical program.
“It’s a big problem because the students want the experience and the firms need the help,” Levine told the publication. “All of the law schools throughout the state are dealing with this issue.”
Please tell me this is some kind of weird Florida problem, and this kind of behavior will be limited to the Sunshine State…
It’s hard to fit the gym into your schedule. Sometimes it’s even harder to fit it into your budget. Especially if you live in New York, where monthly gym membership fees could fetch you a studio apartment somewhere in flyover country. Of course, there are more hard bodies to ogle at Equinox than in Phoenix.
That’s why we spend the long hours at the office, sitting motionless at desks, staring hard at a computer: to make the big bucks so we can afford to go to the gym. It would suck to have a low-paying blue-collar job where you spend all day lifting heavy stuff, manipulating machinery, and running around, because then you couldn’t afford to go to the gym to…
Hmmm…. Well, it’s easy to afford a New York gym membership when you’ve got a Biglaw salary, but it’s not so easy if you’re a New York law student paying for it with your student loans. Is a hard body really worth it with an 8.5% interest rate?
Columbia 2L Julia Neyman, 24, has found a way around this dilemma. As reported by the New York Daily News this week, she’s spending a year taking advantage of free gym promotions across the five burroughs and chronicling it on her blog, Buns of Steal. (Gawker felt the need to point out the double meaning in that title, but we assume you all get it.)
From the Daily News: “Neyman will do whatever it takes to score no-cost gym sessions: lie, finagle, beg and even flirt.”
Well, not exactly, says Neyman. We caught up with her yesterday about her pro bono gym program….
Introduced in 2009, My Community Legal Network scoured through millions of legal and financial professionals looking for the most knowledgeable and sophisticated providers. Then we took the collective bargaining power that comes from millions of Americans and negotiated wholesale prices from these top professionals. We take these discounted rates and offer them directly to our members. There is no markup; only the best professionals at the best prices. My Community Legal Network currently only offers services in the United States but has plans to expand these services to Canada, Mexico, and South America by the end of 2010.
I have a bad feeling about this.
Based on that description, I suppose the picture after the jump will make more horrifying sense.
The competition between NYU Law and Columbia Law is always fierce — even when it is a race to the penny-pinching bottom. Two weeks ago, we told you that Columbia is now charging students for plastic forks (though chopsticks remain free).
Not to be outdone, a disgruntled NYU Law tipster reports:
So I’m in my last year at NYU Law and just had a fairly shocking experience…. I went to the lounge to get a cup for water from the water fountain. I grabbed a cup and walked away, and the cashier yelled at me. I thought she thought I was stealing a cup of coffee, so I told her I just wanted water. She said “that’s 25 cents.” I said “no, I just want water.” She said “I know,that’ll be 25 cents. We have to pay for those cups.” The worst part? It was a cup from Starbucks with the “we proudly serve Starbucks coffee” logo on the side.
Indignation from our tipster, plus a clarification about Columbia cutlery, after the jump.
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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