We were dying to write about this wedding announcement, featuring a slutty Strawberry Shortcake costume (WTF?) and a wacky/tacky proposal story. But alas, commenters would have crucified us for elevating comedic potential over excellence.
So behold, this week’s finalists. They include five Harvard degrees, five Yale degrees, and OMGOMGOMG the best Article III officiant ever. Enjoy.
There’s a pretty interesting glitch happening right now over at NALP (here at ATL, we know something about “technical difficulties” — we’re working on ours). Even though the new numbers haven’t been made public yet, if you know what you’re doing you can get a sneak peak at the 2009 NALP numbers.
We’re not going to tell you how to do it, but we’ve done it and we’ve obtained some pretty interesting numbers to report about the New York summer programs at the top 20 firms as ranked by Vault. We’ll give you some numbers about the V10 today. Tomorrow we’ll expand our look to the Vault 20.
Getting an offer at one of the top nine firms in the land (the NALP glitch didn’t work for S&C) was considerably more difficult this year than last year. We compares the number of summer associate offers extended to 2Ls in 2007, with the expected numbers for that same group in 2008. Overall 2Ls offers were down a whopping 20% at the top 10 firms. And you have to wonder what percentage of those summer jobs are going to turn into full-time offers for employment.
For 1Ls, it gets even worse. We explain that and some other highlights, after the jump.
It’s not unusual for Biglaw partners to find themselves on opposite sides of the ring when they face off on behalf of clients in litigation. But Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s Evan Chesler and K&L Gates’s Peter Kalis are staring each other down for a different reason: their opinions on law firm billing structures. Not as sexy as fighting over Lady Justice, but we’ll take what we can get.
UK-based legal publication The Lawyer is hyping the fierce match between the two Biglaw heavyweights to promote an upcoming issue of the magazine that will explore “whether the current economic downturn represent[s] a paradigm shift for the world’s leading firms.”
In one corner, we have Cravath presiding partner Evan Chesler, an NYU Law grad (’75) and a “Leading Litigator” per the Lawdragon. In the other corner, we have K&L chairman Peter J. Kalis, a Yale Law grad (’78) who has also been recognized by the Lawdragon but is, more importantly, a member of the Elect (clerked for Justice Byron White).
Daylight savings is on. The weather keeps flirting with the idea of getting warmer. And area stores are starting to put miniskirts on display in their front windows. You know what that means: Summer’s a-coming. Law students bound for BigLaw summer associate gigs may already be packing their bags. Except it looks like many will be able to pack less clothing, because this year’s summer gigs are going to be a little shorter.
Cravath just called all of their upcoming 2L Summer Associates and informed us that the summer program would be cut to 10 weeks. They asked that we go online and reschedule our dates accordingly. No explanation given. I’m sure that they made calls rather than emails to avoid a paper trail.
We think the explanation is likely a financial one. Firms are cutting back, and they can get to know you just fine in 10 weeks rather than paying to have you stick you around for 12. Gibson-bound 2Ls got calls as well:
I received a call from the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher summer coordinators today, as did many of my soon-to-be colleagues. The start date moved up to May 18th (instead of the 11th) and the end date moved back to July 24th (instead of the 31st). They tried to sell it as a “good move” for everyone because the recruitment season start so early now (August); they think both the firm administration and the summer associates will appreciate some time to prepare for recruitment season. Is this some sort of signal? Should 2L summers be planning to interview in the fall?
C’mon now. Let’s not totally freak out. Or let’s, but in the comments. Here’s an open thread to discuss which firms are scaling back their summer programs.
In one of the sharpest drops in revenue and profitability among Am Law 100 firms, Cravath, Swaine & Moore saw 2008 gross revenue fall 13 percent, while profits per partner tumbled 24 percent to $2.5 million….
The firm signaled last November that 2008 was a tough year, when it announced in an internal memo that it was cutting associate bonuses, and that the firm would not do as well as in 2006 and 2007. In 2007 Cravath’s profits per partner had been $3.3 million, according to our Am Law 100 survey, second only to Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. In 2006, PPP was $3 million.
This means that Cravath has forfeited its traditional second-place spot on the PPP rankings (second only to Wachtell). It seems that a number of firms — including the historic #3, Sullivan & Cromwell — will surpass Cravath in profitability for 2008.
According to the American Lawyer’s reporting, S&C boasted 2008 profits per partner of $2.94 million. This will probably be good for third place in the next PPP ranking, since Wachtell apparently had a rather good year too (at least based on the relatively robust bonuses it paid its associates, plus all the crisis-related M&A work performed by Ed Herlihy & Co.).
Second place will likely go to Quinn Emanuel, with eye-popping PPP of $3.3 million. Also besting Cravath is Paul Weiss, with PPP of $2.65 million last year.
Now we know why the Cravath bonuses were so anemic. And it had nothing to do with the hookers — er, client entertainment expenditures.
Will disappointing bonuses and declining profits affect the institutional prestige of Cravath? Will the firm fall from its traditional #2 spot on the Vault 100? Stay tuned.
[Ed. note: We mentioned this briefly in Morning Docket. But any story involving the words "Cravath partner" and "hookers" deserves its own post.]
The late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, aka the “D.C. Madam,” has a New York counterpart. From ABC News (via our sibling site, DealBreaker):
Wall street lawyers, investment bankers, CEOs and media executives often used corporate credit cards to pay for $2,000 an hour prostitutes, according to the madam who ran one of New York’s biggest and most expensive escort services until it was busted last year.
But prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office chose not to pursue any of the corporate titans, says Kristin Davis, who pleaded guilty last year to charges of running a prostitution business that used more than a hundred women.
Presumably no relation to actress Kristin Davis, who played squeaky-clean Charlotte York on Sex and the City. The actress is a brunette; the madam is a blonde (of course).
Among the names ABC News was able to confirm on [Davis's client] list:
* a partner at the Wall Street law firm of Cravath Swaine Moore, “looking for a party girl to come fully equipped,” [who] spent a total of $20,000.
Finally — a plausible explanation for those disappointing Cravath bonuses. The money went to a different set of hourly billers.
We appreciate the CSM partner’s demand that his high-class escort arrive “fully equipped.” Cravath lawyers believe in the importance of preparation. Whether dealing with depositions or dealmaking, their motto is: “Be prepared.”
Just like the Boy Scouts. If Boy Scouts blew twenty grand on whores.
Given the prestige (and profitability) of Cravath, some might find this news shocking. But those in the know realize that the white-shoe law firm has a long and august history…. of sexual deviance and prostitute patronizing.
Evan Chesler, presiding partner at Cravath, is the latest to raise his voice against the billable hour. In an op-ed piece he penned for Forbes magazine, Chesler says:
I’m a trial lawyer. I bill by the hour. So do the associates who work for me. I have lots of clients, so I can pretty much work, and bill, as much as I want. This needs to be fixed. Yes, you read that correctly.
Of course, partners and clients and even journalists have been calling for or predicting the death of the billable hour for years. As Chesler himself contends in his piece, nobody really likes the billable hour:
The billable hour makes no sense, not even for lawyers. If you are successful and win a case early on, you put yourself out of work. If you get bogged down in a land war in Asia, you make more money. That is frankly nuts.
Of course, there is a reason that the billable hour won’t die. More on that after the jump.
Based on the anemic associate bonuses recently announced by Cravath, one might think that the firm is hurting. We hear that work at CSM is a little slow — and that there may be some anxiety over the staggering cost of the firm’s $900 million lease at Worldwide Plaza.
But don’t shed tears for Cravath just yet. The firm is still getting some high-profile engagements. From the New York Observer:
When agent Richard Leibner’s phone was ringing off the hook one night last week, everyone was asking him the same thing: Was his longtime client David Gregory the next host of Meet the Press, or wasn’t he? He called back, telling reporters he could neither confirm nor deny the report that first appeared on the Huffington Post.
Perhaps this was because his agency, N. S. Bienstock, wasn’t representing Mr. Gregory on the deal. So who exactly was aiding the ambitions of NBC’s robo-newsman? ….
On Monday morning, with the deal finally made public, white-shoe New York law firm Cravath, Swaine, & Moore posted a brief item on its Web site, crediting two of its partners — Eric Hilfers and Robert Joffe — for handling the negotiations.
This engagement probably didn’t generate the seven- or eight-figure fees that billion-dollar M&A deals generate. But it’s still a cool and interesting gig, the kind that stands out to 2Ls going through fall recruiting.
Last year, we reported on a nice perk for Cravath associates abroad: a hefty cost of living allowance, which had junior associates in London making over $300,000.
It looks like the half-Skadden mentality has made its way across the Atlantic. From a tipster:
Cravath Swaine & Moore cuts its COLA in the London office from $110,000 to $60,000 as of January 1, 2009. [A]ll the associates, one after one, where called into the office of a partner, Philip Boeckman, to receive the news. The reason mentioned for the cut is the evolution of the dollar-pound exchange rate.
The COLA is the same for all associates in London regardless of the level of seniority. The COLA gets paid together with the base salary on a bi-weekly basis.
That’s a big cut for the 20 associates in the London office. Before the COLA was raised to $110,000 last year, it was at $85,000.
Clearly the firm’s partners have now got wise. This week associates were hauled in one by one and told that the COLA would be reduced by $50k from 1st January, in response to weakness of Sterling. One associate complained to RollOnFriday that this comes on top of bonuses being halved and the ski weekend being cancelled, and says that these measures “pretty badly affect associate morale”. OK, no one likes to get less wedge – but low morale because of only getting £40k to live in London, when everyone else is being made redundant? Bring out the violins.
The other side of the pond just got a lot less attractive.
As many people have pointed out, being angry over “only” a $20,000 bonus is something that most of the working world finds appalling. We get it: “spoiled whiners,” “real people are losing their jobs,” “nobody should complain about a six-figure salary,” yada, yada, yada.
But other people have pointed out that most of the working world doesn’t have $150,000 plus in educational debt to pay off before Biglaw lets you out of white-collar indentured servitude. Most associates don’t blow their bonuses on hookers and coke. (Fools!) Sadly, paying off debt is the final destination for most of the bonus cash.
So, in a way, law schools always take your bonus — at least a significant chunk of it. But maybe this year those schools got an additional tap into your bonus cash. Last week Harvard Law school released its 2007-2008 Report of Gifts. According to a tipster (I didn’t receive the report personally because I try to stay off the HLS grid; it has a lot to do with my hooker/coke/debt decisions), Half-Skadden and Skadden-Mart donated quite a lot to HLS. The report lists those two firms in the $1 million to $3 million range.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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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.
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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