The field of contenders for our third annual law firm holiday card contest was more impressive than ever. We received numerous nominations, and we thank everyone who participated. It took many hours to review the plethora of submissions.
We could complain about how some of you failed to follow contest rule #3, limiting the contest to “cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool…. cards with some attitude, with that extra je ne sais quoi.” But we won’t; the holiday spirit has us in a good mood. You are all wonderful!
But some of you are more wonderful than others. Let’s look at this year’s finalists….
Law firm diversity matters. It matters to corporate clients, many of them public companies that want to demonstrate their commitment to diversity through their selection of vendors and service providers — which is what law firms are, at the end of the day. It matters to the law students and lawyers that firms are trying to recruit — which is the premise behind the data collection conducted by Building A Better Legal Profession.
So there should be keen interest in the latest edition of the American Lawyer’s Diversity Scorecard 2011, which the magazine just released. As Am Law explains, the Scorecard constitutes its annual ranking of large law firms by their percentage of minority attorneys and minority partners.
Let’s take a look at the top firms for diversity. Did your firm make the list?
The official title of the NALPconference panel that I attended on merit-based compensation contained a playful shout-out to Sarah Palin: “How Is That Performance-Based Compensation System Working for Ya?”
The panel was originally supposed to have featured a representative of the now-defunct Howrey law firm. So the snarky answer to the question presented might be, “Not well.” (In fairness to merit-based compensation, however, Howrey’s dissolution didn’t have much to do with its model for training, promoting, and compensating associates.)
No mention of Howrey was made during the introductory remarks (or anywhere else in the discussion, for that matter). Rather, the panel focused on the positive — and offered useful advice for firms that are contemplating adoption of performance-based systems….
Our law firm holiday card contest is still underway, but we’re in the home stretch. Voting closes tomorrow, January 9, at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern time). If you haven’t done so already, review the finalists and vote over here.
In the our earlier post, we promised a post in which we’d (1) give shout-outs to some holiday cards that were strong but narrowly missed our cut and (2) poke fun at some of the Christmas cards we found especially disappointing. Here is the promised post.
Let’s look at some of these honorable and dishonorable mentions. Perhaps your law firm’s card is among them?
Ed. note: We apologize for the late docket. Technical difficulties, rather than oversleeping, are to blame.
* Yale Law School student Michael Seringhaus wants to put your DNA in a national database. [New York Times]
* Judge goes heavy on the prison time and light on the restitution for the man who peephole video-taped ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews. [True/Slant]
* Toyota class action plaintiffs rev their engines. [Kansas City Business Journal]
* Former McGuire Woods partner Louis Zehil pleads guilty to securities fraud and trading shares in the companies for which he was doing P.E. work. [Business Week]
* General counsels are happy to scavenge Biglaw layoffs. [ABA Journal]
* Eric Holder is not having a good month. [Daily Beast]
* If you see a story about a deadly giraffe attack, don’t believe it. [Houston Chronicle]
* One Darby & Darby refugee finds shelter at Fenwick West. [ABA Journal]
On Wednesday, we reported that Fenwick & West paid $60,000 in “go away” money money to some members of its incoming associate class. Today, we have news about Fenwick’s 2009 summer program, i.e., the most recent summer program, and the firm’s offer rate.
Fenwick took on 36 2Ls and 3Ls this past summer. But the summer was only eight weeks long, and Fenwick’s summer salary was on a $145K scale instead of $160K.
Still, most summers probably would have been okay with Fenwick’s program if it had ended with a strong offer rate. But it didn’t. Sources report that the firm only made offers to 17 of the 36 summers. A tipster reports the breakdown:
Ultimately the firm extended 17 offers (47%): 8 litigation, 8 corporate and 1 patent.
During orientation the hiring partners told us those who did not receive an offer would receive a letter that they could show other firms as a means to explain why we did not get an offer.
Is anybody else interested in this letter that will explain everything to other firms? Let’s check it out after the jump.
As regular Above the Law readers know, there are a few firms that are offering “go away” money to their incoming associates. The deal, like ones at Stroock and Pillsbury, is that the firm will give incoming associates a large payment instead of a job, and the incoming associate will quietly go peruse other employment options.
We haven’t really gotten a sense of how many would-be associates would actually consider this offer — until now. Fenwick & West offered its incoming associates $60,000 to stay away. According to our sources, around 40 percent of Fenwick’s 2009 class took the money.
But there is a catch; there’s always a catch.
Details after the jump.
Don’t look now, but this is actually shaping up as a pretty bad week for associates who want to hang onto their jobs. Seyfarth cut 50 people late Friday, Milbank let go of 89 yesterday, and we’ve been able to confirm stealth layoffs at Sullivan & Cromwell.
The latest news comes from Fenwick & West. Sources report that the firm has laid off 22 people: 15 associates and 7 staffers.
But a tipster reports that the layoffs might not be confined to the associate and staff ranks:
There have also been a bunch of “farewell” and “goodbye” emails over the last few weeks from “Of counsel” people in the corporate group. So it seems likely that “stealth” layoffs are also occurring among the higher paid, but non-partner, group as well.
We understand that there will be a firm wide meeting tomorrow to discuss the latest news at Fenwick. The firm did not respond to our request for immediate comment.
According to the most recent NALP numbers, the 15 associates let go today represent about 9% of the associates at the firm.
But for the staff, this is the second round of layoffs they’ve seen. In January, Fenwick fired 36 staffers.
Good luck to those let go today from Fenwick. For everybody that still has a job, stay tuned and let’s hope that firms aren’t trying to get a whole slew of cuts in before summer associates show up to the office. Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of law firm layoffs
What’s the hot new trend in Biglaw? Two-track systems for associates. They’re regarded as a sensible way for law firms to address the twin challenges of (1) higher associate salaries and (2) associate attrition (often due to a frustration with long hours).
Here’s word of the latest law firm to join the party, from NYLawyer.com (reg. req’d):
Chapman and Cutler, a Chicago-based firm with three offices and about 220 attorneys, has joined the parade of firms boosting first-year associate pay to $160,000, but the firm is taking a new path once associates reach their second year.
Second-year associates can opt for one of two compensation tracks at the firm under a new system that took effect last month, said Rick Cosgrove, who is chief executive partner at the firm. They can choose to work fewer hours at a lower pay level or more hours at a higher salary level, he said.
Cosgrove declined to specify the hours required and related pay rates under the new pay program for competitive reasons.
If you have info on the Chapman and Cutler scale that you’d be willing to share, please email us. According to a poster at Greedy Chicago:
The higher track is essentially Biglaw market, so long as you hit 2000 billables/year. The lower track is compressed to about $5k-$10k/year, depending on class year, and you need to hit 1850.
Other firms with two-track systems (click on each firm’s name for a memo and/or details): Hogan & Hartson, Wiley Rein, Fenwick & West, and Thelen (formerly Thelen Reid, and FYI, “Thelen” rhymes with “wheelin’”; see here).
Do you have an opinion about this two-tiered approach? If so, vote in our reader polls, after the jump.
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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