This past Sunday’s New York Times featured not just the Cincinnati IRS exposé, but also a depressing discussion about the job market. Here’s the upshot: “Unemployment is staying high despite the end of the recession because we are now in a historic transition. Because of automation, globalization, efficiency and other factors, we no longer need the share of people working that we have had in the past. With these trends moving in only one direction, it is clear that the job crisis is permanent and will not go away with better economic times.”
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?
In Machiavelli’s masterpiece, The Prince, chapter 19 — “That One Should Avoid Being Despised And Hated” — contains Machaivelli’s only suggested restrictions on the Prince’s absolute power. Machiavelli essentially argues that the Prince must not take the people’s sheep (“sheep” being a metaphor for the ability of peasants to have enough food) or their women (“women” being a metaphor for women). He writes: “It makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain. And when neither their property nor honour is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many ways.”
These are good restrictions for all who find themselves in positions of inscrutable power. Most men will suffer any other form of servitude so long as they have enough to eat and are allowed exclusive access to their own wives. The 1% will be just fine, so long as they don’t institute some kind of system of polygamy that allows the wealthy to marry-up all of the available women.
Machaivelli’s advice applies just as easily to a totalitarian ruler of a country as it does to a managing partner of a law firm. Managing partners, ignore Machiavelli at your peril. You could end up with a full-scale revolt on your hands — or, at the very least, an embarrassing lawsuit from a former, allegedly cuckolded partner….
Edwards Angell & Wildman Harrold: A match made in heaven?
What results from the coupling of an angel and a wild man? One might think: angel + wild man = air traffic nightmare.
In the law firm context, however, the result is quite different. Edwards Angell is merging with Wildman Harrold, to form Edwards Wildman Palmer. The merger will take effect on October 1 and “will bring together 650 lawyers across two legacy firms renowned for their deep experience, shared dedication to client service, and highly collaborative cultures,” according to the new firm’s website.
What else do we know about Edwards Wildman Palmer? And what might be motivating this merger?
I'm pretty sure this was the only child to die under suspicious circumstances in the past three years.
* Caylee’s Law would make it a felony for anybody to grieve for their child in any way that doesn’t involve law enforcement within the hour. I trust the libertarian crowd is going to help me point out how this is dumb. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Big time antitrust lawyer Christine A. Varney is leaving the Justice Department and heading to Cravath (perhaps as a replacement of sorts for Katherine Forrest). So it looks like there was some money left over after spring bonuses for Cravath to make a new hire. Phew. [Dealbook]
* Even judges in Flori-duh are allegedly bats**t crazy. [Obscure Store]
* In more reasonable news coming out of Florida, this reminds me of the “mock trial” club in high school. [Miami New Times]
* Courtesy of NALP, here’s more evidence that the class of 2010 is totally screwed. You know, I wish I could have the entire class over to my house for a big pity party. We could all hang out and play Rock Band, and at the end everybody could have a cup of my delicious homemade Kool-Aid. [NALP]
* Chicago law firm merger mania? I just hope nothing messes with the name “Wildman Harrold.” [ABA Journal]
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.
“There are no NALP police.” – James G. Leipold, Executive Director, NALP
Oh, but wouldn’t it be fun if there were? Let’s use our imaginations…. As the Bad Boys theme song plays in the background, a bespectacled Jim Leipold, accompanied by a gaggle of burly NALP goons, breaks down the door at 111 Huntington Avenue — the Boston offices of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge.
Leipold and his goons find the recruiting department like heat-seeking missiles, where they confront Katherine Kelly, EAPD’s recruiting director. The goons grab Kelly and turn her back towards Leipold.
Leipold handcuffs Kelly. “You are being arrested for your firm’s violation of Part V.C.1 of the NALP Principles and Standards,” he tells her. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to the managing partner of your law firm, as well as the right to blame the managing partner for your firm’s breach of the NALP rules. But don’t be surprised if you get hit with a stealth layoff after doing so.”
Bad firms, bad firms, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when NALP comes for you?
NALP, the Association for Legal Career Professionals (fka the National Association for Law Placement), promulgates “guidelines that offer an ethical framework for all participants in law student recruiting.” In past years, these guidelines were generally followed by law firms, schools, and students. This year, however, with the economy in the tank, things are… different.
Over the summer, uber-prestigious Sullivan & Cromwell tried to ditch the requirement that law firms give law students 45 days to weigh offers of summer employment. S&C ultimately backed down. But as reported in these pages earlier today, Edwards Angell has told law students receiving offers that they have three weeks to accept, “or until the summer class fills up” — whichever is earlier.
And EAPD isn’t the only firm that has decided to make offers with shorter fuses. Another firm is giving offerees two weeks to make up their minds.
More information, plus reflections on the NALP rules, after the jump.
A couple of weeks ago, news broke that Sullivan & Cromwell was asking 2Ls to make summer decisions more quickly than the NALP rules suggest. You’ll remember that law schools banded together to pressure S&C to change its policy.
Will law schools react as strongly if other firms follow the S&C route? We could be about to find out. Above the Law is able to report that Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge has made offers for its 2010 summer program. But 2Ls have been told that they have three weeks to decide “or until the summer class fills up.”
The 2Ls we spoke with that have received offers from EAPD are asking if NALP is going to step in and prevent the firm from shortening the deadline. But as we have mentioned multiple times, Jim Leipold, executive director of NALP, has said that “there are no NALP police.”
Sullivan & Cromwell tried to keep its open-ended offer period secret from the general public. In contrast, EAPD is happy to explain why the firm wants quicker decisions from 2Ls.
The firm’s statement, after the jump.
Let’s close the day where we started, with EAPD. We reported this morning that the firm laid off 60 people. Over the course of the day, the firm made additional plans to cut back on its 2009 costs.
The firm will be delaying the start dates for its incoming first year associates. The new date is March 1, 2010. According to a firm spokesperson, deferred first years will receive a $10,000 stipend on top of the normal bar exam expenses. The Red Sox should be good this summer, Brady should be healthy, and the Celtics still have the big 3. Maybe that will help pass the time for a year?
But sadly there is more bad news for law students scheduled to work at EAPD. The firm informs Above the Law that it has canceled its 2009 summer associate program. The decision affects nine would-be summers. Edwards Angell will be paying $5,000 to the displaced summers.
“It looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.”
Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge had a round of staff cuts back in November. That seems like ancient history. But it looks like the firm could not hold its fire forever. Today, both attorneys and staff were informed that EAPD would have to cut back. Above the Law obtained this statement, from an Edwards Angell managing partner Walter Reed, and COO Jeff Hunter, explaining what has happened today:
After careful consultation with the Firm’s Department Heads and governing committees, we have reached the difficult decision that the Firm must reduce the size of its workforce. Today we will inform about 25 lawyers and 35 staff that their employment with the Firm is ended, and will offer them severance arrangements similar to those offered by the many other firms that have also made these difficult decisions.
According to the latest NALP numbers, that is over 15% of the firm’s associates. We understand that the cuts hit the firm’s offices in Providence and New York, as well as Boston. The severance package should be the market standard.
Read the full firm statement after the jump.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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