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]
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.