Dorsey & Whitney

Dorsey Whitney logo.JPGBad news coming out of Minneapolis today. A Dorsey & Whitney spokesperson has confirmed to Above the Law that 55 staffers have been let go.
The firm tell us that the 55 staffers represent about 7% of Dorsey & Whitney’s support staff. The layoffs took place across seven of the firm’s offices, but the spokesperson tells us that Minneapolis was the hardest hit.
Tipsters report that 38 of the 55 staffers were based in the firm’s Minneapolis office.
As far as we know, this is the first round of economic layoffs for Dorsey (#87 in your Vault guides). The firm has frozen associate salaries, but has largely avoided some of the more aggressive cost cutting measures we’ve seen from other firms.
Of course, the firm’s overall ability to avoid the worst of the economic recession is of little solace to the staff that lost their jobs today.
Good luck to those let go. Who knows, maybe Thor Anderson needs some extra help?
Earlier: Nationwide Pay Freeze Watch: Dorsey & Whitney

pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgAs we noted in yesterday’s Morning Docket, even the New York Times has taken note of the salary freeze trend at law firms. The Times reached out to Above The Law’s own David Lat for the story:

Although many associates are angry about the freezes, others are relieved, said David Lat, founding editor of, a blog about law firms and the profession.

“There is this sense that firms didn’t act prudently during the boom and now they are getting religion, and that it’s better late than never,” Mr. Lat said. “Many associates we have spoken to think the freeze probably saved jobs.”

At the beginning of the month, we did a round-up of firms that have frozen 2009 salary rates at 2008 levels. That list was 16 firms long. Since then, quite a few other firms have announced freezes. Due to frequent requests, we’re updating the round-up list since the number of firms with freezes (that we know of) has more than doubled, to 33 32. Check out the as-comprehensive-as-we-can-make-it list, after the jump.

Recently announced salary freezes include “solid ice freezes” at Blank Rome and Townsend and Townsend and Crew; and “Slurpee freezes” at Bingham McCutchen, Fish & Richardson, and Texan firm Andrews Kurth.

Memorandums, as well as a new list of all firms with “solid ice” and “Slurpee” freezes, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Updated Salary Freeze Round-up: Even More Firms on Ice”

pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgThe new year is shaping up to be a cold one. As we noted in our 2008 Year in Review series, one of the biggest stories heading into 2009 has been that of the salary freeze. Rather than instituting lock-step raises for associates entering a new class year, a number of firms have informed associates that their salaries will remain at 2008 levels.

There have been two types of freezes: the “Solid Ice freeze”–with salaries frozen through all of 2009–and the “Slurpee freeze”–where firms are sticking with 2008 levels for now, but promise to revisit the decision later in the year.

Many an ATL reader has requested a round-up, and we aim to please. So find your pleasure, after the jump. Some of the firms have been reported on before, and some are new.

If you know of other frozen firms, send us an e-mail at with the subject, “Salary Freeze: FIRM NAME.” Also, if your firm has raised salaries as expected, feel free to send us the news, with the subject “Salary Raise: FIRM NAME.” While freezes are news, raises as expected aren’t, so we will not be covering firm by firm, but we may do a round-up.

Find the list of the sixteen firms that have frozen, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Salary Freeze Round-up: The Firms on Ice”

pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgI hope that a jolly Turkish Saint brought Dorsey & Whitney associates something spectacular for Christmas. Because a pay raise was certainly not one of their stocking stuffers.

A memo went out to Dorsey& Whitney associates on December 23rd explaining the bad news:

Management and staff have just completed the 2009 forecasting and budgeting process. In order to protect our people and resources, and to prepare for what all anticipate will be a tough 2009, the Management Committee reluctantly decided to freeze all associate and staff salaries (except associate productivity bonuses) effective immediately. Although equity partners do not receive a salary, their compensation is impacted by the economy as well. As soon as the economy stabilizes and the prospects for the legal industry brightens, we will end the firm-wide salary freeze.

Unlike Latham & Watkins, Dorsey & Whitney is promising to end the pay freeze as soon as the economy stabilizes. That could happen in 2009.

Pay freeze > massive layoffs. Right?

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Freeze Watch: Dorsey & Whitney”

comparing.jpgOur Vault 100 series is winding down. We hope that the insiders have enjoyed the opportunity to brag (or to vent) about their firms. And that the curious have appreciated insights into life at various firms in the top 100.
Here is the next bunch up for discussion (with their prestige scores in parentheses):

81. Crowell & Moring LLP (4.763)
82. Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP (4.754)
83. Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP (4.735)
84. Arent Fox PLLC (4.726)
85. McGuireWoods LLP (4.697)
86. Venable LLP (4.676)
87. Dorsey & Whitney LLP (4.575)
88. Dickstein Shapiro LLP (4.554)
89. Baker & Hostetler (4.531)
90. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, L.L.P (4.503)

Are the following statements true or false?

  • Venable attorneys like bocce ball.
  • Katten attorneys need Weight Watchers.
  • Having your tupperware washed denotes a “notable perk.”
  • Getting to leave early and have the firm respect your personal time is the best perk of all.
  • Okay, you know the drill.
    Earlier: Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009

    Not Hiring sign.jpgThis sign captures the flavor of the past week in law firm news, including the massive layoffs at Cadwalader and the office closings at Akin Gump. If you have other tips for us, send them to us here.
    The law firm pain is starting to be felt even by those still in law school. We’ve been forwarded various emails announcing that some firms or offices have canceled on-campus interviews for 2009 prospective summer associates, including the New York office of Dorsey & Whitney, the Chicago office of Midwestern firm Barnes & Thornburg, and, as we reported on Wednesday, Cadwalader (at certain law schools, e.g., Rutgers – Newark). Here are excerpts from the notices:

    From John Marshall Law School:
    I received notice from the head of recruiting at Barnes & Thornburg that the firm will not be having a summer program in its Chicago office next summer. Therefore, the OCI option for that firm has been removed from Symplicity.

    From Columbia Law School:
    The New York office of Dorsey & Whitney LLP will no longer be interviewing at EIP (ed. note: Early Interview Program) as they have decided not to have a formal summer associate program in 2009.

    From Rutgers Law School:
    Also, please note that Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, scheduled to interview on campus on August 13th, has had to cancel and will contact students independently to schedule interviews if they are selected.

    We expected large law firms to power on with their summer associate programs, so we were somewhat surprised to hear that Dorsey & Whitney is suspending its program in New York. Then again, it was a rather small program — about five summer associates in 2007, per the firm’s NALP form (PDF). A Dorsey spokesperson had this comment:

    It is true that the New York office of Dorsey & Whitney will not sponsor a formal summer associate program in 2009. We have made this decision based upon our hiring needs in the New York office at this time. This decision with respect to the New York office summer associate program does not preclude the possibility of hiring an incoming class for 2010 in our New York office. The firm’s other offices that have traditionally sponsored summer associate programs will continue to do so.

    Have other firms canceled their OCIs at your school? Please let us know in the comments, including your school, the firm, and the firm office.
    See full notices from firms regarding OCI cancellation, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Thread: Some OCIs are DOA”

    The rich get richer. Movie stars who already earn millions of dollars per picture get showered with freebies, like award show “gift bags” worth thousands of dollars. Similarly, students at top law schools, who already have their pick of $160K job offers, get wined and dined by leading law firms. There IS such a thing as a free lunch, if you go to the right law school.
    Of course, the quality of the fare will vary. From a tipster at a top 25 law school (according to the latest U.S. News rankings):

    This isn’t that exciting of a tip, but the flyer just kind of freaks me out. What’s up with that graphic?

    See you ‘round the taco table!

    Taco Lunch Dorsey Whitney Above the Law blog.jpg
    We were similarly troubled by these Alpo-stuffed creations, which didn’t strike us as very taco-like. But then we recalled that tacos can be soft as well as hard.
    Which got us wondering: What is the difference between a soft taco and a burrito? We found enlightenment here and here.
    A Massachusetts judge, as well as ATL readers, previously concluded that a burrito is not a sandwich. But a soft taco, insofar as it is “open” — i.e., with exposed fillings, like a traditional sandwich — may present a closer case.
    Burrito vs soft taco? [Yahoo! Answers]
    Soft Taco vs. Burrito [VWVortex Forums]
    Earlier: ATL Reader Poll: Is a Burrito a Sandwich?

    musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFOn the Way Out:
    * The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California (San Francisco), Kevin Ryan, is stepping down. He cited “personal and professional reasons” for his departure.

    (Does this mean that ATL favorite Eumi Choi might be placed in charge of the office for a while, even if only in an acting capacity? We hope so.)

    Judicial Promotion:
    * In New York, Brooklyn Civil Term Administrative Justice Theodore T. Jones Jr. has been nominated by Attorney General Governor Eliot Spitzer to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

    Lateral Moves:
    * Over in London, Camille Abousleiman and Louise Roman Bernstein, described by the WSJ Law Blog as “capital-markets stars,” are leaving the troubled Dewey Ballantine for LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.
    * Litigator Kristan Peters, to Dorsey & Whitney, from Fulbright & Jaworski.

    New Partners:
    * Akin Gump: Eighteen new partners. Names here.
    * Dow Lohnes: M&A and corporate lawyer Matthew Block (described to us as “a hard worker” and “a great guy”).

    Spitzer Names Jones to Court of Appeals [New York Law Journal via]
    NY Lawyers Switching Firms []
    Dow Lohnes Announces New Partner Matthew Block [Dow Lohnes]
    Ryan Will Leave His Job In San Francisco [WSJ Law Blog]
    Dewey Defections Across the Pond [WSJ Law Blog]

    musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFFrom Biglaw to business:
    * Another Wachtell Lipton partner is leaving the firm. Corporate partner Mitchell Presser recently left to join Fox Paine. We now hear that WLRK real estate partner Michael Benner may be leaving to become general counsel at real estate giant Tishman Speyer.
    New Partners:
    * Dorsey & Whitney: Banking lawyer Mark Jutsen.
    Lateral Moves:
    * Speaking of Dorsey & Whitney, they’re closing their San Francisco office. Ten IP lawyers from that office are joining Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
    * With the Brown Raysman-Thelen Reid & Priest merger about to become official, two entertainment and IP lawyers are leaving Brown Raysman’s L.A. office. Partner Brian Pass and associate Kevin Straw are joining the Century City office of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.
    NY Lawyers On the Move []
    As Firm’s Outpost Sinks, 10 IP Attorneys Jump Ship []
    Firms’ Merger Spurs More Exits []

    100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGOnce you hit your third year at a large law firm, and sometimes even earlier, you start receiving dozens of calls from legal recruiters. Usually you send them to voice-mail, then delete their messages later. But occasionally, when you’re having a bad day at the office, you listen to their dulcet tones — and dream about a happier tomorrow.
    (When we were at a firm, there was one headhunter in particular whose voice was so alluring, male associates with no intention of going anywhere would talk to her for hours.)
    Legal recruiting can be tough work at the associate level — lots of cold calls, few responses. But at more senior levels, it can be very lucrative. Consider this, from the New York Law Journal:

    In May, just one month after Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld announced Chang-Joo Kim had joined its New York office as a partner, the law firm cut a check to recruiting firm Boston Executive Search for for $227,500.

    But did it pay the right recruiter? New York search firm Sivin Tobin Associates says it sent Akin Gump a package about Mr. Kim last December, along with a term sheet. Sivin Tobin is now suing the law firm, alleging breach of an implied contract….

    The NYLJ article goes on and on about the chronology of events, which didn’t interest us much. What did interest us were these two items: (1) the placement fee of $227,500, and (2) the agreement that the fee was to represent “25 percent of the candidate’s total compensation in his first 12 months at the firm.”
    So we did the math (with a calculator, of course). Corporate lawyer Chang-Joo Kim, previously a partner in Dorsey & Whitney’s New York office specializing in Korean transactions, earned $910,000 in his first year at Akin Gump. Very nice!
    (Yeah, we know. Many Biglaw partners earn millions, as revealed in the AmLaw 100 survey each year. But they tend to be partners at the top New York-based firms (e.g., Wachtell, Cravath, etc.). We’re impressed that Mr. Kim earned almost a million dollars for joining a branch office of Akin Gump. We’re assuming he brought along with him a sizable book of business.)
    Recruiter Sues Firm’s NY Office Over Headhunter Fee []
    Chang Joo Kim bio [Akin Gump]

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