The pace of law firm layoffs has apparently slowed to a crawl. We’ll go weeks between job losses at large law firms (that we know of). But, here and there, some people are still getting pushed out as firms retool for the new economy.
Sadly, legal secretaries at Dewey & LeBoeuf became the latest casualties of a layoff cycle that seems very close to its end. The firm-wide memo went out earlier today:
Beginning last week and concluding today the firm implemented a reduction in force impacting approximately 30 administrative staff positions in its Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., offices.
Nobody wants to be the last person KIA in a war, and nobody wants to be laid off at the tail end of a recession. Why did Dewey make the move this late (hopefully) in the recession?
On Wednesday, we commended the firm of Paul Hastings for moving so quickly to support Haiti earthquake relief efforts. Since then, a number of other top law firms have pledged their support to this worthy cause.
(Okay, Rush Limbaugh questions the worthiness of the cause. But we suspect that Limbaugh’s position — like that of Pat Robertson, who blames the earthquake on Haiti’s supposed pact with the devil — is a minority view.)
The WSJ Law Blog and Am Law Daily have gathered information about what various law firms are doing to help Haiti. We’ve combined their reports with information we’ve received from our own sources, to create a more comprehensive list.
Check it out, after the jump.
If Dewey doesn’t follow the market and instead pays what it did last year, I’ll strip naked and run through the streets screaming “I am TTT! I am so TTT!”
Happily for me — and the women and children of the New York metropolitan area — Dewey & LeBoeuf decided to match the associate bonus market. The firm will be on the Cravath scale (not the S&C scale).
Bonus news before Christmas is so much better than re-deferment news during Chanukah.
Check out the full Dewey & LeBoeuf bonus memo after the jump.
It might not look like it, but there is a lot of carnage on this list. Orrick is down four spots. Proskauer is down four spots. King & Spalding is down 3 spots.
And many of the firms here that are marginally up or holding steady still went through significant layoffs.
After the jump, Law Shucks offers some stats.
On Monday, we tossed out a blind item about future layoffs at a Manhattan law firm, mentioned in the Washington Post as a client of the Five O’Clock Club, an outplacement firm. On Tuesday, with the help of Law Shucks, we narrowed down the list of suspects.
We’re happy to report that we can advance the ball on this. Three firms should be cleared of suspicion:
1. Dewey & LeBoeuf: A spokesperson from D&L stated that it is not the firm in question and has no layoff plans.
2. Schulte Roth & Zabel: A spokesperson from SRZ stated that it is not the firm in question and has not hired a layoff consultant or outplacement consultant.
3. White & Case: A reader pointed out to us that White & Case is listed as a Five O’Clock Club client (PDF). [Update: Looks like the client list has been removed, but we downloaded it; check it out here.]
This caused us to wonder if White & Case might be the firm at issue. But White & Case denies it.
* Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales finally found a job! He’s going to terrorize the students at Texas Tech. [Houston Chronicle]
* Dewey & LeBoeuf snags three top tech lawyers from Cooley Godward. The three dealmakers wanted to make a splash with their switch, giving the Times DealBook juicy quotes like, “[W]e’re M.&A. lawyers, and we know how to do due diligence. And we believe Dewey offered a great opportunity.” [New York Times]
* The cold, dead hand of Heller Ehrman may rise from the grave to serve papers to Covington & Burling. [The Recorder]
* Lindsay Lohan’s fake tanning spray may not be an original creation. [Courthouse News Service]
* The lawsuits are crashing in after last month’s D.C. Metro accident. [DCist]
* Sarah Palin’s personal lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, responds! [WSJ Washington Wire]
Associates at Dewey & LeBoeuf just left a firm wide meeting. Sources report that firm management was very frank with associates about the firm’s financial numbers and future health of the firm.
But the headline news is that Dewey & LeBoeuf has decided to join Skadden (and Shearman & Sterling) in offering a year-long deferral to all of its associates. The program (which is called DL Pursuits) is more similar to Skadden’s Sidebar than the initiative announced by S&S this morning.
Here are the basic facts: one year deferral to do whatever you want, 1/3rd of your D&L salary, full medical benefits, $1,000 in student loan repayment, and bar fees. And if you can get a paying job while you are taking time off from the firm, you still get the 1/3rd salary stipend.
The reasons for the program are made clear in the Dewey’s firm wide memo:
After an encouraging first quarter, the Firm is optimistic about its long-term prospects, despite the challenges that continue to confront the legal community, our clients and the global economy. Nevertheless, the Firm and its peers have seen reduced demand for legal services in recent months and experienced excess capacity for their short-term needs, particularly in the junior classes. To address these issues, the Firm is pleased to introduce a new program, entitled “DL Pursuits,” for its US counsel and associates. With DL Pursuits, attorneys in good standing will have the opportunity to leave the Firm for an extended period to pursue other interests, with the option to return to the Firm at the end of that time.
The demand for junior associates just isn’t there right now. While Pursuits is open to all associates, current first years at Dewey are eligible to take 18 months off, instead of just 12. This first year class is the last class that was recruited the Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf Lamb independently, before the merger. Going forward, class sizes should be more tailored to the single entity.
We have some additional details and the full memo after the jump.
* Starwood Hotels sued Hilton Hotels yesterday, accusing its rival of using “stolen confidential Starwood documents” to develop a new chain of lux hotels. Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal reports that Hilton’s in-house legal team unknowingly came across the boxes of stolen documents while preparing for a different case. Since the documents were unrelated to the case, the lawyers sent them back to Starwood in an “abundance of caution,” not realizing they were part of a devious corporate espionage plot. Whoops. [Wall Street Journal (subscription) and USA Today]
* Nationwide Same Sex Marriage Watch: New York Governor David Paterson wants New York to join the list of states with wedding bell rights for all. [New York Times]
* The Pirate Bay crew were found guilty in Sweden of violating copyright law for the file-sharing services their site provides. [New York Times]
Incoming first years all over the country continue to find out that they won’t be able to start when they had hoped.
Dewey & LeBoeuf officially pushed back start dates for its new associates until January, 2010. The email went out last night:
After careful consideration, the firm’s Executive Committee has decided to delay the start of the first year associate class from fall 2009 to January 11, 2010. Our hope is that by postponing the start date for your class, workflows will have increased across our practices and we will be able to give you challenging assignments from day one.
Dewey emphasizes that just because you can’t start working at Dewey this fall, it doesn’t mean that you can’t start working as soon as you want:
For those of you who would like to start your career in the fall, you may wish to apply for a Community Service Fellowship. You recently received details on the firm’s fellowship program from [Redacted]. Those selected for a fellowship will be able to start with the firm, on secondment to a public service organization, as early as September 2009.
Above the Law has also received the details of the Dewey’s fellowship program. For those accepted into the program, the firm will pay up to $80,000 for associates to not work at Dewey for a whole year. But while the firm says that associates taking a fellowship are still “start[ing] with the firm,” it is not at all clear that associates will advance a class year upon completing the fellowship.
Those taking a fellowship will receive an extra $5,000 from Dewey to tide them over until January.
After the jump, take a look at what Debevoise is doing.
Dewey & LeBoeuf has confirmed that 66 partners — about one in five of the firm’s 350 partners — have seen their compensation reduced by as much as 80 percent over the past 15 months. The reductions are meant to weed out less-productive partners, firm Chairman Steven Davis tells The Am Law Daily.
According to the report, some Dewey partners are now taking draws as little as $10,000 a month. That’s good money for a lot of people, but for a partner in a major American law firm? There are Dewey partners that are making less money than first year associates.
Both Davis and executive director Stephen DiCarmine characterize the recent actions as an intensification of the firm’s long-term strategy of replacing poor performers with higher-producing laterals.
AmLaw has more bad news for D&L partners, after the jump.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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