As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the American Lawyer recently released its highly influential, closely watched Am Law 100 law firm rankings. They say that “slow and steady wins the race,” and with regard to economic recovery, Biglaw firms seem to have taken that up as their new motto.
Yes, partners are still living as large as they ever were, but their success now comes in the form of single-digit returns with regard to key financial metrics. The divide between the “haves and the have-nots” in the world of major law firms has grown to epic proportions, and some Am Law 100 staples have fallen out of the top hundred firms altogether. Welcome to the new normal.
Are you ready to get excited about “modest” and “spotty” gains across the board? Let’s dig in….
The merger will take effect on January 1, 2012, and the new entity will be known as Faegre Baker Daniels. The website will be located at faegrebd.com (which right now is occupied by a GoDaddy.com placeholder page).
No, this isn’t about a lawsuit arising out of the writing of Animal Farm II: Sharks on Retainer — but who knows, my original thought for a post title might be subject to trademark infringement.
More on that later; for now, let’s turn our attention to this delicious product offered by ThinkGeek (which went on sale April 1, 2010):
As a connoisseur of unicorn delicacies, I was annoyed when the ThinkGeek people exposed this product to the general pubic. We’ve already got the Care Bears on our ass; we certainly don’t need PETA getting wind of this tasty treat.
But who knew that this entirely fictional April Fool’s joke would come to the attention of the National Pork Board and their legal representatives at Faegre & Benson…
Yesterday, we reported on Thanksgiving week layoffs at Faegre & Benson. Our sources reported that between six and ten people were let go from just before the holiday.
The firm responded after our post went up. Faegre & Benson spokespeople denied that the firm laid anybody off:
Faegre & Benson did not lay off any associates last week. We did, as announced to Above the Law at the time, reduce our lawyer headcount in February 2009.
But associates we’ve spoken with still claim that they were, in fact, laid off last week.
Notes from our sources after the jump.
I really didn’t think any firm would lay people off last week. I figured the coming turkey holocaust would spare the jobs of any associates Biglaw wanted to devour. I was wrong. A tipster reports:
There was another round of layoffs at Faegre & Benson last week. The partners decided to send six to ten associates off with little to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, unless you consider two or three months severance something to get excited about. Corporate, IP and Real Estate associates were laid off.
As if winter in Minnesota isn’t bad enough already, now these six to ten associates have to put chains on their tires and go hunting for jobs.
Still, this brings up the age old (since 2007) question: is it better to get fired right before the holidays or right after the holidays?
Pros and cons after the jump.
We’ve been doing a lot of coverage on Dorsey & Whitney. The firm canceled its 2010 summer program and only had a 56% offer rate to its 2009 summers.
But we don’t want to forget about another Minneapolis powerhouse firm, Faegre & Benson. Earlier this month, we learned that the firm had decided to cut the starting salaries for its new associates. Faegre & Benson has confirmed to Above the Law that the new starting salary for its Minneapolis associates will be $110,000. That’s down a little less than ten percent from the firm’s previous starting salary of $120K.
One upper Midwestern tipster had hoped Faegre was taking advantage of the troubles at Dorsey & Whitney to surge past them in the Minneapolis market:
Faegre is the largest law firm in Minneapolis, and the general vibe is that it has surpassed Dorsey & Whitney in this market in terms of prestige and quality. So it’s sad to see Faegre take a step back. Especially since Faegre claimed that its layoffs earlier this year solved all its financial troubles. Will other Minneapolis firms follow suit to $110K???
I’m not sure that Dorsey & Whitney people would agree with the tipster’s “general vibe.” Regardless, rolling back to $110K for 2010 is something no offered Dorsey & Whitney summers would take in a heartbeat.
Read the full Faegre & Benson memo about its salary cuts, after the jump.
Many law school graduates are preparing for an endless summer. Endless in that they won’t be starting work until well into the winter. At this point, the majority of firms are starting 2009 graduates in January 2010. There are some outliers though — some firms are starting new associates as early as September 2009, and some are offering them start dates as late as January 2011.
Here are a few of the latest additions to the deferred start dates list from the past week:
Foley & Lardner pushed its start date back from September 8, 2009 to February 1, 2010, offering a $10,000 stipend. “The firm did it to protect incoming associates from swine flu,” one of our Foley sources joked.
Paul Hastings has deferred all incoming first-year associates from October 2009 start date to January 19, 2010. They’re providing a $10k stipend, optional health insurance coverage starting in October and an optional $5k salary advance to cover required loan payments in the interim.
A tipster tells us: “Faegre & Benson (Minneapolis) just called their incoming associates to let them know that some get to start at the beginning of October and some don’t get to start until January. The unlucky ones who are deferred until January are mostly Real Estate and Corporate types. $7500 stipends. Earlier they said ‘at least October, 2009.’”
Andrews Kurth has pushed back starting dates to January 2010. Per a firm statement, “The firm will pay each of the new associates in the class a deferral stipend of $10,000; the stipend is not a salary advance or a loan and is not expected to be repaid after starting employment. The firm will also honor its commitment to pay the bar and moving expenses for this class. ”
After the jump, we’ve got a new round-up of start dates at firms nationwide, sorted two ways: alphabetically by firm name and chronologically by start date (per popular demand).
With regret, we will reduce by 58 the number of Legal Administrative Assistants, Administrative Department Staff, and Paralegals in our U.S. offices. Tomorrow will be the last day at the firm for the individuals impacted by this decision.
The email also references a Sophie’s Choice buyout previously made to staff, which was accepted by nine:
An additional nine members of our staff accepted the Voluntary Separation Package offered earlier in the month. Their last day will be Friday, February 27.
If severance for all terminated staff is the same, it thus appears that staff who chose the buyout and got an extra week’s pay chose wisely.
But go go gadget, attorney skills: the question is, will staff that chose to voluntarily separate be eligible for unemployment? That depends on the state. Let’s hope that those nine staff checked the books in Minnesota prior to making their choice.
What, you thought you’d be safe from layoffs if you worked in Minnesota? Unfortunately, nobody is safe, at least not today.
We are now able to confirm that Faegre & Benson, one of the most prestigious firms in Minnesota, has informed 29 attorneys that they will be let go. Here is the statement that chairman Tom Morgan released to Above the Law:
We are practicing law in the same challenging economic environment in which our clients are doing business. Like many firms across the country, we are aligning our resources with the anticipated demand for our services and are doing so in a thoughtful and measured manner.
Earlier this month, we offered a voluntary separation package to certain non-lawyer staff. Yesterday, we announced that in the coming months we will be reducing our number of lawyers by 29. We have now met with each of those lawyers.
Remember that earlier this week, Hogan & Hartson offered a buyout package to non-lawyer staff. I wonder if people will think again about taking it, given today’s news.
Never heard of Faegre & Benson? You should have. After the jump we explain why.
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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.
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