Associate layoffs have been the big news in 2008 thus far. Appropriately enough, they’re the subject of our latest column for the New York Observer. Here’s an excerpt:
“It’s tough. People are scared,” [one] jettisoned Cadwalader associate said. “It’s so rare that this happens. The first-years are freaked out. People are wondering: Is this continuing on a rolling basis, or did they take one big hit? People worry about [the impact on] recruiting efforts, both on a lateral basis and for incoming law students.”
The associate, like the others laid off that day, was given barely more than a week’s notice: His last day of work would be the following Friday, Jan. 18.
He’s getting three months of severance, paid out every two weeks, just as when he was employed. But he’s no longer able to tell prospective employers he’s still at the firm, which he predicts will make his job search harder.
“It’s like dating,” he said. “When you’re with someone, everyone wants you; when you’re on your own, it’s that much harder.”
If you’re looking for confirmation of the Clifford Chance bonus announcement we posted yesterday, check out this short article from Legal Week.
In other CC news, the firm is making overtures to LGBT lawyers, in the wake of its own Brokeback Lawfirm scandal. From TheLawyer.com:
Clifford Chance is setting up a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) network just months after settling a sexual orientation discrimination claim from former competition partner Michael Bryceland….
Clifford Chance tax partner Stephen Shea, who has been active in setting up the LGBT group, said the firm established the network to further foster diversity, but also to respond to client demand. As reported by The Lawyer (21 May), JPMorgan now asks prospective panel firms for diversity statistics and companies such as Transport for London are following suit.
Yesterday we wondered: “[A]re associate bonuses and layoffs just two sides of the same coin?”
The answer, at least at Clifford Chance, would appear to be yes. Just one day after announcing layoffs (of admittedly small scale — six associates), CC has announced year-end and special bonuses. The bonuses are at market levels and not tied to hours (or being “reasonably busy,” whatever that might mean).
Memo after the jump.
These are interesting times for the world of Biglaw. Some large law firms are feeling so flush they’re giving out not one but two bonuses this year. Others are laying off associates. Sharing space in the pages of ATL are dueling features: Associate Bonus Watch and Nationwide Layoff Watch.
Before the next round of bonus news, it’s time for some layoff coverage. In the New York Law Journal, Anthony Lin has this report:
In one of the first clear signs that slumping credit markets are causing economic pain at law firms, Clifford Chance on Monday laid off a group of associates in the structured finance area.
John Christian, the partner in charge of the London-based firm’s U.S. personnel committee, said the firm had made a difficult “business decision” to lay off the six associates in a practice group that worked exclusively for credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s. The lawyers in the group had reviewed the documentation S&P used to rate mortgage-backed securities, the market for which has collapsed in recent months.
“We concluded this work just wasn’t coming back,” Christian said. He declined to discuss the severance packages offered to the associates, but one of those terminated said they were offered three months’ salary with no bonus. Indeed, the associate said the timing of the layoffs seemed designed to deprive the targeted associates, all of whom were relatively senior, of their bonuses.
Interesting. So are associate bonuses and layoffs just two sides of the same coin?
More after the jump.
Our series on the perks or fringe benefits of large law firm life has become somewhat sporadic, partly because we’ve covered so many of the biggies. To review our past posts, click here, and scroll down.
Today’s perk: prizes for big billers. If you really kill yourself during a particular month, racking up 250 or 300 hours on some monster deal or litigation, do you get rewarded for it? Of course you might see your crazy hours reflected in your year-end bonus check. But might you get some other, non-monetary benefit? (And we’re not counting being able to show up after 10 on the morning after an all-nighter.)
We don’t know if this policy still exists, but a source sent us this interesting information:
When I was at Clifford Chance (f/k/a Rogers & Wells), a legacy Rogers & Wells program was that if you billed 250 in a month, the firm covered dinner for you and a guest (spouse, date, friend, etc…) with no questions asked. It was an amazing program. Historically, the Firm had no limit, but assumed associates would “just exercise the judgment expected of them.”
It worked for years until a few “exceptions” decided to add very, very expensive bottles of wine to their orders. I think eventually the limit was set at $500. I know more than a handful of “superstars” tanked their careers by “not exercising the judgment expected of them” and submitting dinner bills for several thousands of dollars.
Anyone know if Clifford Chance still has this special dinner benefit?
We also hear that at WilmerHale, “super-super high billers” get vacation vouchers. Can anyone confirm and/or provide more details? Update/Correction: Or maybe the WilmerHale workaholics get gift cards? See this comment.
Please discuss, in the comments. Thanks!
Sadly, we’ll probably never learn whether former Clifford Chance partner Michael Bryceland was asked to “bend over” (a la Aaron Charney). Unlike Sullivan & Cromwell, CC settled the case quietly, for an undisclosed amount.
Of course, if you have any details, please feel free to send them to us by email (subject line: “Clifford Chance”). Thanks. Revealed: CC pays out in sexual orientation claim [TheLawyer.com]
We don’t know whether our latest summer associate superhero is also the Clifford Chance Lolita. Whether or not they’re one and the same, it’s still a worthwhile story:
1. Superhero name: Vampire Girl
2. Special power(s): Sucks your blood, eats your heart out.
3. Summered: Clifford Chance, summer 2007.
4. Claim to fame: “At the now infamous Clifford Chance Corporate Reception on July 12, 2007, this summer got drunk and started biting / making out with random people. The next day, she sent out the email pasted below.”
From: [Redacted] Sent: Friday, July 13, 2007 3:12 PM To: #NYC: Summers Subject: apologies
To anyone I bit last night. It was my birthday, I drank far too much, and I tend to be aggressive and bite people. If you were a victim, you can be assured that I am not rabid.
[Redacted] Summer Associate (not yet admitted to the bar) Clifford Chance US LLP
This story has been making the rounds in New York summer associate circles. We’ve known about it for a while, but we wanted to get more corroboration. Now that we’ve heard the same details from multiple sources, we feel that it’s fair game.
In the style of Page Six, we’re doing it as a blind item.* Here you go:
A partner at Clifford Chance was seen making out with a summer associate at the corporate reception [on Thursday, July 12]. The two were seen leaving together when a fifth-year associate ran out and told the partner: “Dude, you don’t want to do this.”
Now THAT is a good associate. The model associate is like an extension of the partner’s mind — the sober part.
So are summer associates fair game? Read the rest of this post, after the jump.
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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 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.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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