‘Tis the season — for new partner elections at large law firms. Although there are some exceptions, most firms pick and announce their new partner classes around November and December, with partnership effective on January 1 of the following year.
These partnership announcements sometimes contain interesting information, if you read between the lines. As we’ve previously observed, “Partnership decisions often shed light on the current state of a firm, its prospects for the future, and its priorities. How many new partners did a firm make? How does the number of new partners this year compare to past years? In which practice areas did it make new partners? How many of the new partners are women or minorities?”
After the jump, we look at new partner news from ten top firms — perhaps you know some of these law firm superstars (and soon-to-be millionaires)? — and we invite you to discuss the new partners at your firm….
I am getting married in December so I would love to work at a family-friendly firm. Like Elie, I’m a raging liberal, and I heard Paul Weiss seems to fit that bill. On the other hand, I want to be at a firm with plenty of lovely women. I am bi and my soon-to-be hubby doesn’t mind if I taste a woman’s sweet nectar. Plus I simply cannot live without a pair of supple breasts in my life. (My man is ripped so no manboobs for me.) I met many cute associates at Davis Polk too and I remember an ATL article that mentions the great number of hotties at DPW.
So many choices! Can you help me out?
– Paradox of Choice
Dear Paradox of Choice,
Nice try, but this question’s a flame because nobody uses the term “sweet nectar” unless they’re (1) referring to the drink Odysseus used to get the Cyclops drunk and poke his eye out, or (2) a copywriter at Cosmo. Nevertheless, we’ll answer it because it’s slim pickings around here this week, and it’s better than another snooze-alert “should I quit law school?” question. Of course you should quit law school. Don’t be ridiculous.
Now this is a list that matters. Corporate Counsel (an American Lawyer publication) has complied its annual list of the firms that Fortune 100 companies use as outside counsel. This is a list of which firms are getting work from clients with deep pockets. If you care at all about the business end of the law, then you care about this list.
And while the firms that are tapped for this kind of work won’t surprise anybody, it’s always good to take a look at who clients want to be with.
For general corporate law, these are the firms that were mentioned most by clients reporting to the magazine:
We feel like we’re taking magic Biglaw pills today and having hallucinatory flashbacks to 2006. The good news has been rolling in. Just today, we covered raises at Sheppard Mullin, and a 100% offer rate for D.C. summer associates at Latham & Watkins.
And over at Am Law Daily, Zach Lowe predicts good things for 2011. There will be more summer associate spots to go around next year, law school kiddies:
On-campus interviewing starts in two weeks at some schools, and early indications are that hiring at premier law firms will jump–in some cases by a lot–after plummeting this summer, according to sources at law schools and firms.
Cravath, Skadden, and Ropes & Gray, among others, plan to hire more warm bodies next summer than this one. This summer was dismal, after all, in terms of summer associate hiring, as demonstrated by these charts from the National Law Journal and Am Law Daily.
The upside of hiring fewer summer associates, though, is an increase in the likelihood of all of them getting hired. We’ve had more reports of 100% offer rates from a few firms today, along with fun ways of spreading the good news. Eyewitness accounts, after the jump.
It’s not every day that a partner leaves the storied firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. But it’s not every day that a suitor with comparable prestige, wealth, and WASPiness comes calling. Dealbook reports:
Morgan Stanley said on Thursday that it has hired Francis P. Barron, a partner at the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, as its chief legal officer. Mr. Barron will replace Gary G. Lynch, who will remain with Morgan Stanley as a vice chairman in London…. The hiring is the latest management shake-up under James P. Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive since the beginning of the year.
At Cravath, where he has worked for 32 years, Mr. Barron specialized in litigation, corporate matters and advising boards. Among his clients are financial firms like Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, UBS and Goldman Sachs, as well as General Electric.
Moving from a law firm to Wall Street isn’t uncommon. On New York magazine’s recent list of hottest Wall Street bachelors — co-authored by Bess Levin, of our sister site Dealbreaker, and Jessica Pressler — two out of the 15 “foxes of finance” have law degrees (one from Harvard and one from Seton Hall).
A move at this high a level, from a Cravath partnership to an investment bank, is less common. But such moves happen — and, interestingly enough, Frank Barron isn’t even the first ex-Cravath partner to wind up in a top position at Morgan Stanley….
Forget Queer Eye and the Biggest Loser. When it comes to makeovers, we’re far more entertained when Biglaw firms overhaul their websites. Especially when they involve mind games (MoFo), body shots (Ballard Spahr and Cox Smith), or hotties (Davis Polk).
Cravath previously had an Internet 1.0-type website. It was extremely basic; its sole function seemed to be to list email addresses. The dull site failed to capture the arrogance prestige of this elite law firm.
The new site, on the other hand, does capture this aspect of Cravath. The Biglaw way is not to be the biggest, but to be the best, according to Cravath’s philosophy page:
At Cravath, we hire only the top students from the nation’s finest law schools, we train those associates through rigorous rotation of practice, we elevate partners exclusively from within and we compensate partners on a lockstep model throughout their careers. The Cravath model has been adopted by many prominent law firms and consulting firms. While some firms have abandoned the model over time to promote lateral growth and global expansion, we have not. We do not seek to be the largest firm by number of offices, lawyers or specialty groups. We promote excellence in client service, at the expense of short-term profit. We believe that maintaining a true partnership of the finest educated and trained lawyers is the single, best manner of handling our clients’ most challenging legal issues, most significant business transactions and most critical disputes.
The new site also has a newsy feel about it. Check out the front page — it looks like The Cravath Swaine Journal.
And Cravath has learned to embrace photos. At least for its partners and senior associates. Though Cravath attracts the best and the brightest young lawyers, as noted above, it doesn’t want to show them off on its website. If you’re a junior associate, no bio or photo for you on the site!
Earlier this year, in one of its many format changes, Facebook forced users to make their profile info more public via Community Pages. Facebook created pages based on users’ lists of interests, jobs, and favorite things to help people find others “who share similar interests and experiences.”
So if you, for example, listed “document review” as something you like, you’d be a member of this page. And maybe this page too.
One issue discussed in some circles was the potential trademark violation in Facebook’s automatically creating and populating Community pages for businesses and brands. Another issue picked up by the National Law Journal was that some of the Community Pages created aren’t very flattering to law firms.
If you listed your employment as “Slave” at Skadden Arps, for example, you’re responsible for this page:
What are some of the other interesting law firm-affiliated Community Pages on Facebook?
On Sex and the City, Samantha was never seen scrolling through comments on news blogs to make sure her clients’ reputations weren’t being maligned. Instead, she attended fancy New York parties and talked up her roster of good-looking clients.
But SATC is dated. The work of public relations professionals has been made harder (and less glamorous) by the explosion of online news sources. We know that law firm PR folks spend a healthy amount of time monitoring the legal blogosphere to do damage control for their firms. Another place they need to watch is Wikipedia.
The crowd-source encyclopedia has become the go-to reference site for most Internetters. Society’s sages often warn people not to take everything they find in Wikipedia at face value — since the information does not necessarily come from experts and is not systematically vetted — but that advice often goes unheeded.
Because Wikipedia is such an important source of information, and so easily edited, some try to manipulate entries to give them a positive or negative spin. Lawyers at certain firms have been found guilty of this before (e.g., Wachtell). Sometimes dueling manipulation of an entry reaches the level of what Wikipedia calls an edit war — when two or more editors are continually overriding one another’s changes.
The Wikipedia gods ordered an end to the war on the page of Latham & Watkins. BLY1 noticed that the page was put on lockdown. A note from the Wikipedia war god says:
NOTE: IF YOU HAVE COME HERE TO EDIT ABOUT LAYOFFS, THINK TWICE. EDITS MUST BE FACTUALLY VERIFIABLE, AND NEUTRAL. IF YOU ARE CONNECTED TO THIS COMPANY IN ANY WAY WE ADVISE YOU *NOT* TO TOUCH IT.
Someone kept inserting references to Latham’s layoffs and how hard hit first-year associates were. That info has now been scrubbed from the page.
We decided to take a stroll though the revision history of other law firm pages to see who needs to do clean up, and who has done clean up. Cravath, for example, had a very interesting description for a short time…
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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.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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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