We’ve been hearing vague rumblings of something about to go down over at Dechert LLP. Said rumblings are reminiscent of what we heard in the days and hours leading up to Cadwalader’s Thursday Morning Massacre. Also note this comment on today’s Morning Docket:
Not all Dechert associates have three days to enter their time. Some will need to enter it before they leave the building today.
We hear that certain groups at Dechert are super-slow, and morale in some quarters is super-low. These are, of course, often harbingers of lawyer layoffs.
We’ve put in an inquiry to the firm, but they haven’t gotten back to us yet. We’ll let you know if and when they do. In the meantime, feel free to dish in the comments, or email us. Thanks. Update (4:40 PM): As reported by the Legal Intelligencer, Dechert just laid off 13 associates. We have a new post up on the subject over here.
How can law firm administrators get associates to enter their time on time? Here’s one idea: link time entry to those beloved bonuses.
From a source at Dechert:
Attached is an email that all the attorneys at Dechert LLP received today regarding associate bonuses and potential penalties. According to the policy outlined below, an associate’s bonus may be reduced by up to 10% due to the late submission of billable time over the past year. I thought this might be of some interest to your readers.
We agree. Might this become a Biglaw trend? Nagging emails about timely time entry are easily ignored. Slashing bonuses, on the other hand, tends to grab associates’ attention.
In fairness to the firm, it’s worth noting that the policy is not super-draconian. Most of the bonus reductions were under 5 percent, and delinquent associates have the opportunity to redeem themselves: “[E]very associate whose 2007 bonus is reduced will have the opportunity to earn the amount of bonus reduction back, if he or she remains in good standing and complies fully with our time-recording policy in 2008.”
Check out the full memo, after the jump.
Here’s an open thread request we’ve received from multiple sources. A representative message:
I’m trying to gather more info about firms / offices that pay NYC salary + NYC bonus in secondary markets. For example, I believe that Weil and Skadden both do in Dallas and Houston, but none of the other firms in Texas do. I don’t know if you’ve done a post about this before, but I think it might be interesting, because $205K goes really far in TX.
Skadden Wilmington is another possible example.
That’s correct about Skadden in Wilmington. Another well-paying secondary market: Charlotte. A CLT tipster tells us: “Mayer Brown, Dechert, Dewey, and Cadwalader have all increased salaries to $160K here in Charlotte.”
Hold on a sec — Cadwalader? Didn’t they just lay off 35 lawyers, including some in Charlotte?
Yes, they did — but they also raised salaries for the survivors. More after the jump.
In last month’s ATL / Lateral Linksurvey we asked you which holidays you worked on, or expected to work on, during 2007. About half of you reported that you had worked on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Last week, we asked you how you fared this year. Did you take the day off to honor a champion of civil rights, or did you make it a “day on”?
We received just under 1,300 responses, and 44% of you reported that you took the day off. Associates in New York, Los Angeles and Boston were most likely to celebrate the holiday, while associates in Chicago, Atlanta, the Bay Area, and Texas were most likely to be working. (Respondents in the Bay Area were also most likely to work over Christmas and New Year’s. Is it time for them to get New York bonuses?)
How did it break down on a firm by firm basis? DLA Piper, Milbank, Sidley & Austin, Dechert, Hunton & Williams, Jones Day, Latham, Mayer Brown, McDermott, Hughes Hubbard, McGuire Woods, Morgan Lewis, Nixon Peabody, Paul Hastings, and Sullivan & Cromwell each had multiple happy associates who reported that they had taken the day off. Kirkland & Ellis, Baker Botts, Dewey & LeBoeuf, O’Melveny & Myers, Weil, and Winston & Strawn each had mixed responses. Associates at Skadden, however, uniformly reported that they had worked the holiday, as Martin Luther King Jr. day is a “floating” holiday for the firm.
Of those who spent the day at the office, about 54% reported that they weren’t actually asked to work the holiday, but had things they needed to get done. About a quarter reported that their offices were open. Another quarter said that partners told them to work on the holiday. About 8% were asked to work by clients. A surprising number of respondents wrote in that other associates had told them to work on the holiday.
A little over a third of respondents who worked on the holiday thought that the work did not justify the sacrifice.
We are delighted to announce that the Firm will pay special bonuses to all U.S. attorneys, in the amounts set forth below.
Class of 2000: $60,003
The special bonuses will supplement the Firm’s normal year-end U.S. bonuses. In lieu of special and year-end bonuses, U.S. attorneys may opt for a 100% equity stake in the Firm.
It is our pleasure to work with such an extraordinarily talented, quick-witted, well-read, handsome, modest group of lawyers. Thanks to your hard work, 2007 has been the Firm’s best year ever. While our securitization, antitrust, environmental, mass tort, tax, trust and estates, and patent litigation practices remain nonexistent, our bankruptcy/restructuring and general corporate practices have flourished. Profits are up infinity percent from 2006. We look forward to seeing you all and celebrating this year’s successes at the holiday party at “Go Sushi” on 51st and 9th.
The Firm urges you not to circulate this memo to muckraking legal tabloids such as Above the Law. We recognize that our special bonuses exceed those offered by Cravath and others, and we don’t want to hurt their feelings.
We’re surprised that the firms in this latest group of Vault 100 law firms aren’t ranked more highly. Some of them are quite profitable (Dechert),* prestigious (Munger), or high-profile (Boies Schiller, home of legendary litigator David Boies).
But who are we to argue? For communal discussion, here is this morning’s batch of Biglaws:
We’ve previously covered Denver and Hartford. Today our series of posts profiling associate compensation in various smaller legal markets — smaller than New York or Washington or Los Angeles, at least — turns to Philadelphia.
What’s going on in the City of Brotherly Love? Based on some recentarticles we’ve read, it seems that the standard starting salary in Philly hovers between $135,000 and $145,000. At $135K: Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis; Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll; Duane Morris; Blank Rome; Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen; and DLA Piper. At $145K: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Dechert; Drinker Biddle & Reath; and Pepper Hamilton.
Will Philly move to the $160K scale anytime soon? If so, when? And who will lead the charge?
In the cheesesteak metropolis, starting salaries aren’t the only issue. Per a commenter:
[W]hen you do [Philadelphia], please make sure to point out our mid-level comp which sucks. We get about a 5k raise per year (though [in] some years we do get 10k but not most). After 7 years we’re just clearing 200k.
If you care only about associate compensation in major legal markets, stop reading now; do not sully your eyes with this post. But if you have an interest in what associates make outside the biggest cities, keep reading.
Yesterday we covered Denver, to kick off what one commenter described as “Mid-Market Salary Mania.” Today we shine the spotlight on Hartford — aka “New England’s Rising Star” — and Connecticut more generally.
From the Connecticut Law Tribune (subscription):
In the wake of a flurry of first-year salary hikes, two more national firms recently announced pay raises in their Hartford, Conn., branch offices. Their compensation philosophies are starkly different, however.
Dechert increased its Hartford starting salaries in mid-February to $145,000 to match those in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Newport Beach, Calif., and Washington, D.C….
Meanwhile, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner bumped its entry-level salaries in late February to $105,000 in Hartford, up from $97,500 the year before. That followed an earlier announcement from the firm that it increased rookie compensation to $160,000 in New York and $145,000 in its California, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey offices — decisions that closely mirror the maneuverings of other national firms.
But this was back in March. Has there been significant salary movement in Connecticut since then? If not, any thoughts on if and when CT associates will see their base salaries increase?
Please discuss in the comments. Thanks. Conn. Big-Law Associates in Line for More Money [Connecticut Law Tribune (subscription)]
We’re a little behind in our coverage of associate pay raises at large law firms. This post will attempt to bring everyone back up to speed.
Listed below are firms for which we have announcements that have been (1) confirmed and (2) not previously posted on ATL. We treat an announcement as confirmed only if we have received an email about it, from a source that we can verify as working at the firm in question. You don’t have to email us from your work account (and probably shouldn’t); but if you email us from a personal account, please tell us your real name, so we can look you up on the firm website. (We will keep you anonymous, unless you request attribution; but we do need to know who you are so we can verify your identity.)
If you have some pay raise news that you’d like to be reported in these pages, you need to email us. Rumors reported in the comments — which we no longer read through completely, due to their sheer volume — are not treated as confirmed. If we see an interesting rumor in the comments, sometimes we will nostra sponte reach out to our sources for confirmation; but we don’t always have the time to do that. New and Confirmed Pay Raise Announcements (in alphabetical order)
1. Dechert LLP (Palo Alto)
2. Katten Muchin Rosenman (Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC)
3. Morgan Lewis & Bockius (Chicago, Washington, DC, and San Francisco)
Update: Please note the addition of Morgan Lewis in Chicago to the list. It was not mentioned in the first version of this post, but we have now confirmed their move to $160K.
Surely this list is incomplete. But we’re not adding to it until we get confirmations by email (preferably with memos, if available). We have been burned before by false information, and we would rather be slow and accurate than fast and wrong.
Memos for the Dechert and Katten announcements appear after the jump.
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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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