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”….
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….
* 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.)]
* 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]
* 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.)]
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….
* 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]
* 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]
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?
* He may not have authoritah to respect! George Zimmerman received more than $200K in donations for his legal defense fund, but Judge Lester isn’t going to increase his bail just yet. [New York Times]
* Is Joe Amendola’s client, Jerry Sandusky, rubbing off on him? First he advises people to call a gay sex hotline, and now he’s spilling loads (of info) on boys all across Pennsylvania. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
* Thanks to an inquiry by the New York Post, Columbia Law has changed how it reports its post-grad employment statistics. Perhaps more publications should get their b*tch-slappers out. [New York Post]
* If every day were filled with science experiments, laser demonstrations, and art projects at Crowell & Moring, then maybe lawyers would think twice about allegedly embezzling millions. [Washington Post]
* Lawyers need to know how to be lawyers before they can be lawyers? “Way too meta, dudes,” say law school deans in California. Maybe next time, bar examiners, maybe next time. [National Law Journal]
* “With these grades, you could be a stripper.” That’s quite the report card! Guys Teachers in my high school used to allegedly sexually harass former students all the time, it was no big deal. [Connecticut Post]
* Walter L. Gordon Jr., a groundbreaking lawyer in the era of segregation, RIP. [Los Angeles Times]
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.