When the merger of Edwards Angell and Wildman Harrold was announced back in August 2011, some observers, such as our beloved commenters here at Above the Law, viewed the move as an act of desperation. Because both firms had a tough time during the recession, the notion of their combining with each other reminded some people of… well, this.
Now, as we approach the two-year anniversary of the merger’s announcement, how are things going over at Edwards Wildman? Are Angells flapping their wings with joy and Wildmen hoisting glasses of grog?
Things have definitely changed since the summer associate days of yore. There are no more Aquagirls, no more lesbianic lip-locks, and no more Katten kreeps. These days, we’re looking at a group of law students who were so scared about being no-offered that they actually wished their firms would’ve worked them harder instead of forcing them to have mandatory fun.
At least that seems to be the conclusion to be drawn from the American Lawyer’s 2012 Summer Associate Survey. Am Law polled 4,138 interns at 138 firms about their summer experiences and used the results to rank 111 summer programs. Truth be told, it seems like they were too anxious to really enjoy their time as summers, because when asked to rank their “worry level” on a 1-to-5 scale, the average was higher than it has been since 2009′s summer of discontent.
But even so, the overall rankings were still pretty good. If you’re a law student trying to figure out where to spend your summer, you’re probably asking: which law firms came out with the highest scores?
* “I’ve been a restaurant waitress, a hotel hostess, a car parker, a nurse’s aide, a maid in a motel, a bookkeeper and a researcher.” This SCOTUS wife was well-prepared to give a graduation speech at New England Law. [Huffington Post]
* Sniffling over lost profits is the best way to get a court to take your side. Biglaw firms have asked the Second Circuit to consider reversing a decision in the Coudert Brothers “unfinished business” clawback case. [Legal Intelligencer]
* James Holmes, the alleged Aurora movie theater gunman, is being evicted from his apartment. Guess he didn’t know — or care — that booby-trapping the place with bombs would be against the terms of his lease. [Denver Post]
* The ABA has created a task force to study the future of legal education, and its work is expected to completed in 2014. ::rolleyes:: Oh, good thing they’re not in any kind of a hurry — there’s no need to rush. [ABA Journal]
* Indiana Tech, the little law school that nobody wants could, has hired its first faculty members. Thus far, the school has poached law professors from from West Virginia, Florida A&M, and Northern Illinois. [JD Journal]
* When divorces get weird: is this lawyer’s soon-to-be ex-wife hacking into his law firm email account and planning to publish privileged communications online? Yep, this is in Texas. [Unfair Park / Dallas Observer]
* Breast-feeding porn: yup, that’s a thing, so start Googling. A New Jersey mother is suing an Iowa production company after an instructional video she appeared in was spliced to create pornography. [Boston Globe]
* If someone from your school newspaper asks you for a quote about oral sex, and then you’re quoted in the subsequent article, you’re probably not going to win your invasion of privacy lawsuit. [National Law Journal]
As we roll into the Memorial Day weekend, things are fairly quiet on the Dewey front. There’s not much news to report.
As we previously mentioned, some former partners are hiring counsel to defend them against possible clawback claims. And the ranks of ex-partners continue to grow: some nine Dewey partners, led by New York-based transactional attorney Elizabeth Powers, have moved over to Duane Morris, along with three counsel and four associates (so 16 lawyers in all).
What else can we report about Dewey? Oh yes, the winner of our meme contest….
On Tuesday of this week, I popped over to San Francisco for the Computer Forensics Show. It’s a small tradeshow targeted at attorneys, accountants, IT professionals, and law enforcement.
I sat in on one legal technology-related panel that was particularly entertaining and informative. Many, if not most, of the people in the room were not attorneys. It was interesting to be a part of a non-attorney crowd and a reminder of how many people really don’t understand basic legal technology principles. What I heard underscored was the importance of maintaining a technology dialogue between legal and other parts of the business.
It was also chance to hear some awesome war stories from a veteran partner at a major law firm. Why did Archie Comics threaten to sue a baby? Why doesn’t Madonna like porn? Why aren’t you allowed to have the domain name fcukpenguins.com?
* Musical chairs: Epstein Becker & Green closes up shop in Miami, after managing partner Michael Casey defects to Duane Morris (with lawyers and staff in tow). [Daily Business Review (subscription) via ABA Journal]
* Law enforcement mistakes end in tragedy in Detroit. [Mother Jones]
* Justice Souter is still opposed to cameras in the courtroom. [Josh Blackman]
* As discussed by Steven Davidoff and Larry Ribstein, Abercrombie & Fitch wants to reincorporate from Delaware to Ohio. Hopefully this won’t affect A&F’s eye-catching catalogs. [Truth on the Market and Dealbook / New York Times]
Late last night, a tipster told us of “a big round of administrative staff cuts” at Duane Morris. They were centered on the Philadelphia mothership, but also included other offices. As for the extent of the layoffs, “no good sense of how many, but big enough that the local managing partner fired off an email encouraging folks to come by his office and ask questions.”
This morning brings confirmation of the cuts, from the National Law Journal:
Duane Morris, an international law firm with Philadelphia roots, has cut about 18% of its marketing and business development staff, making staff reductions that echo moves at other firms in recent months.
The firm, which has about 650 attorneys, now has a marketing and business development team of 30 to 35 people, after eliminating seven managers and staff and hiring three more senior executives in the past few months, said Ed Schechter, the firm’s chief marketing officer.
Most of the eliminated jobs were in Philadelphia, where the bulk of the department’s staff is based, but some were in other offices, including Chicago.
True to form, they’re chalking it up to enhancing efficiency, rather than the tanking economy:
At Duane Morris, cost-cutting was a “secondary” consideration, with the firm primarily interested in building up a more experienced and leaner team, Schechter said in an interview.
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.
Paralegals, we’re still looking for your income information; please help. Details here.
While we’re on the subject of money, check out this article, by Gina Passarella for the Legal Intelligencer, concerning law firm finances. It’s quite enlightening.
If you think of a big law firm as doing nothing but spinning off mountains of cash to its partners, think again. Cash flow can be a two-way street. Many firms require their partners to make hefty capital contributions during the time that they’re partners, to finance firm operations and growth:
[A]n equity partner at a large firm is typically expected to place between $400,000 and $1 million in capital contributions with the firm over the lifetime of his partnership. The firm then withholds, for example, 5 percent of each paycheck until the partner reaches the required amount. At that point, the partner has fulfilled her capital contribution obligations unless the firm decides to increase the requirement, [Altman Weil consultant Ward Bower] said.
Generally, when a partner leaves the firm, the capital contributions are dispersed to them within a set period of time or in a lump sum, Bower said. Some firms, however, could tie up the capital contributions over a period of years, Attorney Career Catalyst founder Frank D’Amore said. That could be a “silent” way of making it more difficult for a partner to leave, he said.
So when you read about astounding profits-per-partner in the American Lawyer, don’t automatically assume that the partners get to take home every dime. At Duane Morris, for example, the firm takes four percent a year out of each equity partner’s pre-tax income for capital contributions. At Pepper Hamilton, equity partners generally kick in around 19 to 20 percent of their budgeted income toward capital contributions. A fifth of your paycheck is nothing to sneeze at.
But Biglaw associates, don’t pity the partners just yet. Many firms have no capital contribution requirement, financing their operations using debt (in the form of loans taken out by the law firm as a whole). Other firms finance their operations out of current income. And even at firms with sizable capital contribution requirements, the partners still take hoome way more than you do.
(Does this depress you? Well, cheer up. If you play your cards right, someday YOU might be the partner in the corner office, taking home a high six-figure or low seven-figure income.) Firm Finances: Your Views May Vary [Legal Intelligencer]
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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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