The numbers — while annoying — are not really that surprising. Schulte Roth, housed in the same building, earlier today announced the same scale (although subject to an hours requirement). Even our Debevoise sources anticipated that, with Siemens winding down, the firm would be more forward-looking with this round of bonuses.
What is surprising is the timing of this bonus announcement. The email went out from managing partner Rick Evans at 6:54 p.m. WTF (“Sacré bleu” in Debevoise-speak)? Was management hoping to dodge the news cycle with an after-hours announcement? Somebody should let them know that the internets are on 24/7.
Our hearts go out to the Debevoise associates that were still working when this announcement crashed into their inboxes. Professionalism is its own reward. All Skadden associates are getting this Christmas is twice the money.
[Ed Note: Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the tragedies in Mumbai yesterday. The events are just another reason to be thankful for what you have this holiday season.]
If you’re working today — I’m so sorry. But ATL is with you, even though I’m still reeling from being RickRolled by Santa Claus and Macy’s.
If there are Half-Skadden or Skadden-Mart associates working hard over Thanksgiving weekend, I admire your professional commitment. For the rest of Biglaw associates spending Thanksgiving chained to a BlackBerry, I hope your work is rewarded.
But while we wait for additional firms to announce bonuses, we’ve gotten some additional information about another Biglaw “perk,” holiday parties.
We’ve covered firms like Orrick that are scaling back on holiday festivities, and firms like Kaye Scholer that are going full speed ahead. Are holiday parties an early indication of which firms will be in the spirit of giving come bonus time? We don’t have good information about the holiday plans at Cravath or STB.
But we do at Skadden. A Skadden tipster gleefully reports:
[W]e were just told that the annual Holiday Party is on December 11. Aren’t most firms canceling parties?
I can only imagine that the tipster sent us the email and then took a gold-plated bath.
Remember the Davis Polk “internal memo” from last week, touting the firm’s success at navigating the perilous waters of Wall Street? Other firms are following DPW’s lead, taking the opportunity to toot their own horns about how well they’re doing despite — or perhaps because of — the financial system meltdown.
[W]hile the turmoil in the marketplace has caused dislocation and real pain for many with whom we have worked over the years, it has also given rise to opportunities for us to provide advice and counsel to existing and new clients as they chart their way at this challenging juncture….
In addition to the work of the last two weeks, much of which is ongoing, we are seeing a surge in related work, involving M&A transactions that grow out of likely restructurings of these companies as well as Lehman-related bankruptcy work and financings and restructurings occasioned by the recent changes in the financial institutions landscape.
We have also been engaged in a wide range of litigation work relating to the credit crisis in the past year….
Moral of the story: 2Ls, Debevoise is the place to be. They’ll have more than enough work to keep you busy.
In honor of the new Vault rankings, we’re doing a series of open threads on the 100 most prominent law firms. We invite you to compare and contrast the firms in the comments. In the last open thread on Vault firms 6-10, there was an animated discussion about litigation at Cleary and which Kirkland office is best to work for.
Moving on down the Vault 100 list, here’s the next bunch up for discussion, with prestige scores in parentheses:
The oddest language in the “notable perks” in this bunch is at Williams & Connolly: “Fancy bunch of smarties.” Well-dressed intelligent lawyers, or a big basket of the tart candy?
Please discuss the work, perks, and lifestyle at these firms in the comments. More threads to come. Earlier:Vault 100 Open Threads- 2009
I previously wrote (here and here) about Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic hopeful who was ruled ineligible to compete in the Beijing Games by the International Association of Athletics Federations (“IAAF”) because he uses Cheetah Flex-Foot prosthetic legs. With help from Dewey & LeBoeuf (disclosure: my previous employer) as his pro bono counsel, Pistorius recently challenged the IAAF’s ruling in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
On Friday, a three-person arbitration panel ruled in Pistorius’s favor, finding that Pistorius’s prosthetics do not provide him with “an overall net advantage” in violation of IAAF Rule 144.2(e). This opens the door for Pistorius to compete in South Africa’s Olympic trials using his prosthetics. The panel reserved the right to change its ruling if new scientific evidence emerges.
With this matter resolved for now, let’s take a look at the big winners and losers from the litigation: Big Winners Oscar Pistorius: Finally eligible for South Africa’s Olympic trials, the Blade Runner is a step closer to competing against the world’s finest. In addition, he is also a step closer to earning the kind of endorsement dollars that would make even Dan & Dave envious. Ossur HF Company: The Iceland-headquartered supplier of the Cheetah Flex-Foot prosthetics is gaining all kinds of free publicity. Most of us have now heard of the Cheetah Flex-Foot. Can anybody name a competitor prosthetic? I didn’t think so. Dewey & LeBoeuf: Forget the goodwill that comes with pro bono representation. By winning this case, Dewey & LeBoeuf has expanded its sports-law footprint across the Atlantic Ocean, as well as opened the door to secure new business in international sports arbitration. Debevoise & Plimpton: Real kudos goes to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for their gutsy and articulate 18-page decision that does not pull its punches with the IAAF. David W. Rivkin, a partner in the New York and London offices of Debevoise & Plimpton, was one of the three named arbitrators in this dispute. His work could only look good for the firm.
Read the rest, after the jump.
Overall, Latham & Watkins dominated the field, pulling in almost one fifth of all votes. Latham was the most popular choice among voters in L.A., the Bay Area, and Washington, DC, and was particularly favored by tax lawyers and litigators.
Runner-up Wachtell was actually the top choice of respondents in New York, narrowly besting Davis Polk and Latham. It was also, by far, the most popular pick among M&A lawyers, with roughly 30% of their vote.
Kirkland placed third overall, but was the top choice of Chicago respondents and patent lawyers, with almost twice as many votes as the next most popular firm in Chicago (Latham) and almost as many patent votes as the next two firms combined (Latham and Quinn).
Williams & Connolly, Ropes & Gray, and Davis Polk tied for fourth, with Ropes & Gray dominating the Boston vote, Williams & Connolly pwning DC (and gaining the second highest vote from litigators after Latham), and Davis Polk rocking the investment management scene (with Ropes & Gray running second best in that field).
Paul Hastings was the clear winner among labor & employment attorneys, winning almost 70% of the vote, and was also the most popular choice among real estate attorneys and lawyers in Atlanta.
On the Magic Circle front, Linklaters proved more popular than Allen & Overy, and was actually the most popular choice among securities lawyers. Allen & Overy was the most popular choice among structured finance attorneys.
This month’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, focused on which firm you would choose if you could go anywhere, was dominated by Latham & Watkins and Wachtell Lipton. But several firms were close behind.
* Respondents had several reasons to applaud Latham: “Prestige”, “Friends there are happy”, “Awesome firm, awesome people”, “They rock”, “Prestige, substantive work, great litigation practice”, and “Top notch clients and matters; kick ass bonuses; selective hiring in a good way (need good grades plus a good; personality); Vault top 10 without the stuffiness of originating on the east coast; good growth but no risk of Brobecking (great management + tons of funds)…..should I go on?” Or, as one respondent summed it up: “ass kickers.”
* At Wachtell, with 2007 profits per partner of $4.48 million, money played a key factor in respondents’ enthusiasm for the firm: “100% bonus”, “money”, “it’s all about the cash”, “I want the compensation!”, “money honey” and, of course, “CASH.”
* “Money” was also a big plus for Cravath (even though their profits per partner were a mere $3.3 million). Voters also noted “Prestige, training, can go anywhere else afterwards.”
* “Prestige” and “Exit opportunities” also won several votes for Skadden, who also had more than $2 billion in revenues last year. (Their SideBar program is pretty cool, too.)
* “Bonuses and work” were praised at Kirkland & Ellis, as was stability: “They’re well positioned for the credit crunch and M&A downturn. And the pay’s better, of course.”
* Sullivan & Cromwell was also coveted for “good work, and $$$$” as well as “reputation.” With profits per partner of $3.13 million, that “$$$$” is appealing at multiple levels.
* Paul Hastings surged in popularity as respondents complemented their labor & employment practice and their compensation structures in Atlanta and Chicago.
* In an incendiary match-up, Davis Polk was heralded as “da bomb”, while Boston heavyweight Ropes & Gray was declared “the bomb.”
* Among the Magic Circle firms, Allen & Overy supporters declared “Great offices, european attitude” while Linklaters was called “the best globally, both in equity and debt.”
* Debevoise won several votes for its combination of “prestige and culture”.
* Litigators were torn between Quinn Emanuel, where “hard core litigators with a great reputation” create an atmosphere where “[p]ersonality, quirkiness, and fun seem prevalent,” and Williams & Connolly, as “the best litigatio[n] shop. Period.”
So of these fourteen juggernauts of practice, prestige, and sweet, sweet profits, who would you most like to work for?
Cast your vote in today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, after the jump.
Debevoise & Plimpton has long been among New York’s most prestigious law firms. It’s also widely viewed as an excellent place to work.
In the past, Debevoise’s prestige has arguably outpaced its profits. It’s often ranked more highly on the Vault 100 than on the Am Law 100 (when ranked by profits per partner). In the most recent rankings, Debevoise was #13 on the Vault 100 and #20 on the Am Law 100 by PPP.
Perhaps that’s about to change. From Legal Week (via Law.com):
Debevoise & Plimpton has unveiled stellar financial results for 2007, with the New York law firm seeing both partner profits and fees climb by more than 20 percent over the last 12 months.
Profits per equity partner (PEP) at Debevoise rose by 26.5 percent from $1.81 million last year to a new high of $2.29 million. Global revenue, meanwhile, was up by 23.4 percent from $575 million in 2006 to $709.54 million.
A source who passed along this news added: “Although not mentioned in the article, several large investigations are the driving force behind these numbers.”
Of course, that’s not surprising. Thanks in large part to former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, internal investigations have long been a mainstay of Debevoise’s practice. They’re long-running and lucrative, since no company in deep doo-doo wants to look like it’s skimping on self-scrutiny. See, e.g., Siemens (aka Debevoise cash cow).
But how much cash will they get to keep? Discussion of a new tax proposal that will disproportionately affect partners at large law firms, after the jump.
The law firms and lawyers that come across the best in these pages are those that don’t take ATL too seriously. This site is a good-natured legal tabloid, and the best way to react to it is with a smile or a laugh — not a meltdown or a witch hunt.
This is something that Debevoise & Plimpton understands:
At the annual firm dinner, held last night at the Pierre Hotel, a firm video was presented. It’s the associates’ chance to put together a send-up of the firm, somewhat in “Law Revue” fashion. The centerpiece of this year’s film was “Good Morning, Debevoise”, to the tune of “Good Morning, Baltimore” (from “Hairspray: the Musical”). Also notable was the “preview” for “Investigation,” scenes from an internal investigation frighteningly similar to one Debevoise is currently undertaking in Germany.
Thought you’d like to know that in the video, there was a reference to ATL reporting on associate benefits. E.g., helicopter rides home from work to outer boroughs. The partnership caves, then has to cut costs elsewhere. Very funny.
Sounds delightful. Any chance of that video making it on to YouTube? Showing that it has a sense of humor can only help a firm in the recruiting process (although Debevoise already does very well for itself).
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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: email@example.com.
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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