It’s not surprising that Drinker Biddle is moving to a full merit-based pay scale. Back in May, we reported that Drinker Biddle decided to change the nature of the first-year associate experience. We reported that Drinker would turn its associates’ first six months at the firm into an intensive training period. During that time, first years would be paid $105,000 — but clients would be charged reduced rates for any billable work the first years did during that time.
Sources at Drinker Biddle report that the new first year program has been a “tremendous” success, and the firm plans on repeating the program with next year’s incoming class.
On Friday, Drinker Biddle fleshed out the rest of its associate pay scale. Lockstep is a thing of the past, and the firm’s new merit-based system follows the general trend of splitting associates out into different tiers. Tipsters report that Drinker Biddle is now on the following pay scale:
Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware and other smaller offices:
Level I: $130k
Level II: $145k
Level III: $165k
Level IV (expected p-ship w/in 24 months): $185k New York, Chicago, D.C., and California:
Level I: $145k
Level II: $165k
Level III: $185k
Level IV (expected p-ship w/in 24 months): $205k
Most firms have adopted a three-tier system, so Drinker Biddle’s four-tier system — or five tiers, if you count how they are handling first years for their first six months — is an interesting little wrinkle.
What does this mean for associates at the firm? Details and a statement from the firm, after the jump.
Legal battles over Native American mascots are being waged in both the professional and college sports arenas. The New York Times reports that the controversy over the Fighting Sioux of the University of North Dakota has gotten more complicated.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association advised the school, along with 17 other universities, to change its mascot three and half years ago, says Ashby Jones at the WSJ Law Blog. While other universities acquiesced, the Fighting Sioux fought back, filing a lawsuit against the NCAA.
The suit was starting to wind down, and the name was to change soon says the NYT, until members of the Sioux tribe decided to file a lawsuit of their own. To keep the name. They’re proud of it:
The members from Spirit Lake behind the lawsuit assert that many of the American Indians opposed to the Fighting Sioux nickname are simply from tribes other than the Sioux, and are jealous of all the recognition. (Opponents call this absurd.)
Eunice Davidson, 57, who says she is “full blood” and “grew up on this reservation” tells the New York Times: “I have to tell you, I am very, very honored that they would use the name.”
When we interviewed Amanda Blackhorse, a member of the Navajo Nation who has a petition pending before the Trademark Board about the Washington Redskins name, she expressed skepticism about Native Americans who defend tribal mascot names. She said they are in the minority.
This week, Fordham Law professor Sonia Katyal penned a column for Findlaw about the IP and First Amendment issues when it comes to racialized symbols. Why do we object to “Wong Brothers” but embrace the “Skins”?
For most of us, today is Thanksgiving! For a small segment of the population, today is the 2009 National Day of Mourning. The United American Indians of New England describe the day as:
An annual tradition since 1970, Day of Mourning is a solemn, spiritual and highly political day. Many of us fast from sundown the day before through the afternoon of that day (and have a social after Day of Mourning so that participants in DOM can break their fasts). We are mourning our ancestors and the genocide of our peoples and the theft of our lands. NDOM is a day when we mourn, but we also feel our strength in political action. Over the years, participants in Day of Mourning have buried Plymouth Rock a number of times, boarded the Mayflower replica, and placed ku klux klan sheets on the statue of William Bradford, etc.
The arrival of white folks from across the sea led to a Native American holocaust, theft of native lands, and the trivialization of Native American culture for the sake of national and college team mascots.
We’ve written a few times about the Native American battle to get the Washington Redskins football team to change its name. After a 17-year battle, the Native Americans lost a trademark suit against the team. The Supreme Court denied cert for the case earlier this month, meaning that the Redskins and their attorneys at Quinn Emanuel kept their laches victory. (As you certainly remember, not everyone at Quinn was pleased about that.)
In our post about the Supreme Court ruling, we asked:
Are we really going to make it through this entire case without any judge having to rule on whether or not it is appropriate to put “redskins” on a football helmet? Maybe not.
Drinker Biddle & Reath partner Philip Mause, who is representing the Native American plaintiffs, has another petition regarding the Redskins name pending before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The Board previously ruled in 1992 that “redskins” is defamatory and cannot be trademarked. But that decision was overturned in federal court due to the laches issue. The new case, though, is led by Amanda Blackhorse of the Navajo Nation; Blackhorse and her co-petitioners were in their late teens and twenties when they filed their petition, so the courts won’t be able to dismiss the case based on the time elapsed/age issue.
This petition means there might be a Drinker Biddle v. Quinn Emanuel, round two. We’ve got an interview with lead petitioner Amanda Blackhorse after the jump.
The Supreme Court decided it wants no part of the Redskins case, and Quinn remains victorious over Native American activists who want to change the team’s racially charged moniker. The WSJ Law blog reports:
The Redskins on Monday got a bit of good news from the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined cert filed by Native American activists who claim the Redskins’ team name is so offensive that it does not deserve trademark protection. The ruling essentially lets stand a lower court ruling that the activists waited too long to bring the challenge.
Mmmm … laches.
Regular Above the Law readers know that this case sparked some internal controversy at Quinn Emanuel when a then-associate at the firm took offense to Robert Raskopf’s celebratory lower court victory email.
The associate argued that Quinn was on the wrong side of history, but it appears the firm is on the right side of the law.
Back in May, Drinker Biddle came up with a radically different program for first years. For the first six months, first years at Drinker are more like apprentices than traditional first years. They get intensive training, but are only paid $105,000.
Despite those changes, the firm has still decided to lay off attorneys. Multiple tipsters report that 22 Drinker Biddle associates were laid off yesterday.
Drinker Biddle spokespeople did not comment about the news. But tipsters report that the significant cut to first year salary did not end up saving the jobs of more senior associates.
Details on departments and offices and an update after the jump.
Who can forget Quinn Emanuel’s victory in the 17-year-long dispute over the name “Redskins”? Above the Law readers will remember Robert Raskopf’s happy victory email … and the first-year associate who had a problem with the firm’s representation of the Washington Football club. The first year was (eek!) fired for reasons unrelated to his disagreement with the firm’s position.
But is the firm’s position as strong as Raskopf thought? The Blog of the Legal Times reports that the Redskins case has made it all the way to the Supreme Court:
The long-running dispute over the appropriateness of the “Redskins” name for the Washington D.C. NFL football franchise reached the Supreme Court today. Philip Mause, partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath in D.C., representing a group of Native Americans offended by the name, filed a petition for certiorari in the case titled Susan Harjo v. Pro-Football, Inc.
Was Raskopf’s victory email premature? More details, plus an UPDATE about the Native Americans’ game plan if SCOTUS doesn’t want to play, after the jump.
We have reported extensively on the difficult offer situation for people who summered at Philadelphia area firms in 2009. Morgan Lewis & Bockius had an offer rate below 28%. Pepper Hamilton offered about 63% of its summers. Dechert told half of its summers that the firm would wait until January to make a decision offers, yet continues to interview 3Ls this recruiting season.
Let’s close the loop on the Philadelphia market with two other well known firms: Drinker Biddle and Cozen O’Connor. The Legal Intelligencer reports that Drinker Biddle did slightly better than its area competition:
The firm gave offers to about 68 percent, or 25, of the 37 2L summer associates it had firmwide in 2009. The offer rate was about the same in Philadelphia, where 13 of the 19 2Ls received offers, the firm confirmed.
After the jump, Drinker Biddle chairman, Alfy Putnam, explains the firm’s decision.
First years to 100K and an “apprenticeship”?
In the past two months, we’ve reported on three firms instituting an apprenticeship model for first year associates: Drinker Biddle, Howrey, and Frost Brown Todd. “Apprentices” start at the firm at a lower salary and are not billed out to clients, billed out at a lower rate than normal associates, or billed out for lower total hours. It sounds like an apprentice is a “paralegal plus.” Of course, that “plus” includes a J.D. and its accompanying law school debt.
Still, when we polled you last week, almost 70% of ATL readers who voted said they were in favor of Howrey’s $100K-plus-professional-training apprenticeship.
The National Law Journal (subscription) has an extensive piece on apprenticeships (noting two other firms that have instituted the practice — labor firm Ford & Harrison and Dallas’s Strasburger & Price):
These firms are putting new recruits through additional apprenticeship programs that they say will better train their attorneys for life at a law firm and for handling clients. Think of it as the equivalent of a medical residency, only with suits instead of scrubs.
The latest — and so far largest — firm to move to an apprenticeship model, 659-lawyer Howrey, announced its program last week. Starting next year, first-years at the firm will get a pay cut — from $160,000 to $100,000 in base pay plus a $25,000 bonus to pay down law school loans — and they’ll spend a good portion of their time attending classes with partners and shadowing them on client matters. The apprenticeship period will last two years.
Are law students really like medical students, in need of on-the-job training in order to operate in the real world? If apprenticeships become widespread — which admittedly seems unlikely once the tough economic times are behind us — should the training at a firm mean one less year in law school? Firm salaries are going down, but law school tuition is going up. Maybe it’s time to rebalance.
A round-up of the salaries for BigLaw apprentices, and a poll on how law schools should be reacting to deflating salaries, after the jump.
Sorry to go all caps on you. But we finally have a firm that is using the crisis to seriously rethink the nature of the first year experience, instead of just firing them, deferring them, cutting their salaries, or generally acting like first years are solely responsible for ruining the Biglaw model with their entitled insistence on being employed after three years of legal education.
The Legal Intelligencer and AmLaw Daily reports that Drinker Biddle will actually allow first years to start in September:
Rather than immediately assign the incoming lawyers to client matters, the firm will enroll its hires in a new training program that will provide courses on taking depositions, writing briefs, and meeting client needs. The instructors will include Drinker attorneys, professional development staff, and firm clients. The 37 first years also will shadow partners’ client meetings and court appearances. The associates may handle some client work, but at significantly reduced rates.
There is a catch. For the first six months, first years will be paid on a scale of $105,000. That is a bigger reduction in salaries than we’ve seen at other firms. On the other hand, Drinker Biddle is also reducing the rates that clients are charged for first year work.
Anybody else notice that responding to client concerns about the value of first year attorneys by reducing billing rates makes intuitive sense? I think Drinker Biddle management would do very, very well on the LSAT.
After the jump, we see that Drinker is rethinking the entire first year experience.
We hope you enjoyed last week, a “relatively quiet week” in layoffs. We’ll see if the relative calm holds as we get closer to the time for firms to make another payroll.
Last night, the Legal Intelligencer broke the news that Wolf Block could be doing a lot more (subscription) than laying off employees this week:
Several sources have said members of the executive committee met Saturday to discuss a possible dissolution of the firm. The matter is said to be set for a full partnership vote as early as Monday. A decision to dissolve the firm would need to be approved by at least 75 percent of the partnership, one source said.
After the jump, the now familiar story of failed mergers as precursors to dissolution.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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