Crowell & Moring

When we covered the American Lawyer’s annual summer associate satisfaction survey last year, we noted that “[b]eing a summer associate just isn’t what it used to be.” All work and no play may make summer associates dull boys and girls, but it also makes them highly confident they’ll receive offers of full-time employment when their programs end.

Despite the fact that it’s a “buyer’s market for law firms,” many of them tossed out offers to their summer classes like Mardi Gras beads. Summer associates were no longer praying for offers, as they were in certain years past; no, this summer, they almost expected offers to be handed to them.

These were the conclusions drawn from the American Lawyer’s 2014 Summer Associate Survey. Am Law polled 5,085 law students at the nation’s largest firms about their summer experiences and used the results to rank 96 programs. This year’s crop of would-be lawyers was seemingly at ease about their situations, despite the fact that there is still a general unease permeating through Biglaw.

This summer’s overall rankings were overwhelmingly positive. If you’re a law student trying to figure out where to spend your summer, you’re probably asking: which law firms came out with the highest scores?

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We don’t do enough reporting about the struggles of contract attorneys. We should do more, because that’s where the jobs are. Biglaw firms have been able to keep traditional associate hiring down thanks to an explosion in the use of contract attorneys. Getting one of these hourly wage jobs actually represents success in a market saturated with underemployed attorneys.

Now I remember why I don’t do a lot of reporting on contract attorneys: acknowledging that these, and not high-paying traditional associate salaried positions, are the jobs coming back in the “recovery” is terribly, terribly sad.

This might come as a shock to you, but being a document monkey on an hourly wage is not all that it’s cracked up to be. These hard-working people generally want to work as much as possible (kind of the opposite of traditional associates) for obvious reasons. But they are often frustrated by all sorts of bureaucracy and poor treatment in their quest to wring some value out of their J.D. degrees.

We have some emails detailing the struggles of one group of contractors working on projects in D.C. Hopefully, this will inspire other contract attorneys to share their experiences with “the new normal”….

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We have previously discussed the advantages of voluntary buyouts over layoffs, especially stealth layoffs. Voluntary retirement programs allow employees to self-select, so that employees who are well-situated to enter unemployment can opt in, while employees who need their jobs badly can keep working.

Imagine you’re a legal secretary at one firm who’s married to a high-earning partner at a different firm. You work to keep yourself busy, especially since your kids are all grown, but you don’t need your job that badly. You might take a buyout package and retire a few years early so that one of your fellow secretaries, a single mother with two young kids, can put food on the table.

Voluntary programs are so much better than layoffs — which is why we were happy to hear that rumors of secretarial layoffs at one firm actually turned out to refer to a buyout program. A program with rather generous terms, in fact….

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* The Senate approved a bill that will keep the government running through September, and it will likely pass in the House, but much of the sequester is still in place. I think we’re supposed to be excited about this. Uh… yay? [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Douglas Arnsten, the former Crowell & Moring associate who embezzled $10.7M in client funds and spent it at fancy restaurants and strip clubs, has been officially disbarred in New York. But he was just trying to support single moms. Sigh. [Am Law Daily]

* Sorry, folks, but you’re going to have to continue taking the LSAT in order to get into law school because the ABA says so. Drop that $118 into the burgeoning money pit that is law school, stat! [National Law Journal]

* For all of that work allegedly spent trying to protect their yield rate, UVA Law didn’t even make the Top 10 list of the most popular schools. You might be surprised at some of the schools here. [U.S. News & World Report]

* You must remember that time when the University of Texas Law School Foundation authorized $5.5M in forgivable loans to faculty. Well, now the regents are calling for a probe. Yikes! [San Antonio Express-News]

* Mary Jo White isn’t the only Debevoise partner who will face high scrutiny while being vetted for the SEC. Andrew Ceresney may be up for co-chief of enforcement. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The Crowell & Moring ethics complaint alleging the firm suggested Appalachians have family circles instead of family trees was chalked up to an “inbreeding memo mishap.” [Am Law Daily]

* A panel of the Appellate Division, Second Department will hold court at St. John’s School of Law next month. Perhaps the students will be a little less embarrassed happier with the school now. [New York Law Journal]

* Patrick Fitzgerald, ex-U.S. attorney and current Skadden partner, will teach a course in national security law at Chicago Law School. Attend his class, lest his “extraordinary brilliance” go to waste. [National Law Journal]

* Looks like somebody forgot about Dre. The rapper’s headphones company, Beats By Dr. Dre, is now going after people for trying to register anything with “beat” or “beats” as trademarks. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Ross Ehlinger, a litigator who died while competing in the Alcatraz triathlon, RIP. [San Francisco Chronicle]

The field of contenders in our fourth annual law firm holiday card contest was quite impressive. We received numerous nominations, and we thank everyone who participated. It took many hours to review the plethora of submissions.

Like last year, apparently reading comprehension isn’t a skill that many lawyers possess, as a few of you declined to follow rule #3 of our contest, limiting the entries to “cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool…. cards with some attitude, with that extra je ne sais quoi.” But because it’s the holiday season, we won’t rag on you too much. Even if you can’t follow simple instructions, you’re still great.

But some of you were greater than others. Let’s look at this year’s finalists….

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Steven Nataupsky’s résumé?

* Conflict of interest? What conflict of interest? We didn’t have a conflict of interest! Covington & Burling is appealing its disqualification from representing Minnesota in a suit against former client 3M. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* “If I sent my résumé through the firm, I wouldn’t get looked at.” Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear is hiring so many awesome associates that the firm’s managing partner doesn’t even know if he’d stand a chance. [National Law Journal]

* Doug Arntsen, the ex-Crowell associate who stole $10.7M in client funds and spent it at strip clubs, was sentenced to four-to-12 years in prison. [New York Law Journal]

* Music to Benula Bensam’s ears? In a case of dueling sentencing memos, prosecutors want Rajat Gupta to spend 10 years in prison, but his own lawyers want him to be sent to Rwanda. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Donald Polden, the dean of Santa Clara Law, will be stepping down at the end of this academic year. Hope they’ll be able to find a new dean, because every “influential” school needs one. [San Jose Mercury News]

Douglas R. Arntsen

We regret the harm caused by Douglas Arntsen to our clients and our firm and are pleased Mr. Arntsen has acknowledged his crimes with a guilty plea.

Crowell & Moring’s managing partner, Ellen Dwyer, commenting on ex-associate Douglas Arntsen’s guilty plea after he stole more than $10 million from the firm’s clients. Arntsen reportedly spent the money on fancy restaurants, sporting events, strip clubs, and purchasing various businesses, including a laundromat and cookie and potato chip distributorships.

Not so fast, Canellas…

* Yeah, about that huge bonus we were going to pay our ex-finance director — we realized how silly that was, so we’re not going to do that. Aww, don’t worry, Dewey & LeBoeuf, you’ll have plenty of other chances to look absurd. [Am Law Daily]

* Not only is Samsung suing Apple for patent infringement, but the company is also trying to get a do over by getting Judge Lucy Koh to throw out the original billion-dollar verdict over jury foreman Velvin Hogan’s alleged misconduct. [Bloomberg]

* “Small deals are easier to swallow, easier to integrate.” Regional firms like Carlton Fields and Adams and Reese are gobbling up smaller firms in what seems to be the latest trend in law firm merger mania activity. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Douglas Arntsen, the former Crowell & Moring associate who had to be extradited from Hong Kong after embezzling $10.7M from clients, pleaded guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. [New York Law Journal]

* It’s tough to come up with appropriate whistleblower jokes given the background here. We’ll play it straight: Mike McQueary filed a defamation suit against Penn State, and he’s seeking $4M in damages. [ABC News]

* Jose Godinez-Samperio, an undocumented immigrant, is fighting for the ability to practice law in Florida, but the members of the state Supreme Court are literally trying to make it into a “federal case.” [Washington Post]

I got an offer!

The summer of 2012 brought a great deal of worry for Biglaw’s summer associates. Would they receive offers of permanent employment after all of their hard work? (And by “hard work,” we of course mean completing work assignments amid multiple forays into the world of being wined and dined.) In fact, this year’s summers were so anxious about whether they’d get an offer that their average “worry level” was higher than it had been since the height of the recession.

But as it turns out, all of their worry was for naught, because nearly all firms indiscriminately doled out offers like they were going out of style. According to the American Lawyer’s Summer Hiring Survey, responding firms hired 15.5 percent more summer associates this year than they did in 2011. That said, while things seem to be looking up, that doesn’t mean that all firms handed out offers like candy.

When we last spoke about summer associate offer rates, we wanted to know which firms had low offer rates. Now, thanks to Am Law, we’ve got some dirt for you. Which firms fell below the 100 percent mark?

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