* “We’re in uncharted territory right now.” The federal courts made it through the first week of the shutdown, but they’re approaching “here be dragons” land in terms of funding. [National Law Journal]
* “It would be the most interesting case in decades.” Legal experts debate whether President Obama can ignore the debt ceiling for much longer. [New York Times]
* People are getting out of Biglaw while the getting’s good. Reed Smith’s global managing partner is leaving the firm for a general counsel gig after 13 years at the helm. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Law firm leaders met to discuss how to empower women attorneys, and agreed it’s wise to parade them around in front of clients. Getting to work on those clients’ cases is another question. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers want their client’s prison restrictions to be lifted and are raising a slew of constitutional claims. We think the members of his fan club are the only ones feeling sorry for him. [CNN]
Biglaw branding sounds painful, but thankfully, associates at the highest and mightiest of firms don’t have to sear their flesh with their firms’ logos. Biglaw branding is more about the image firms want clients to see when making hiring decisions, and partners are likely equally as worried about their reputations in the marketplace as their year-end profits.
The last time we spoke about law firm branding, we found out that Skadden had the most recognizable brand in the country. But we, loving rankings as we do, wondered which law firm had the best brand in the world. Luckily for us, hot on the heels of the release of the Am Law Global 100, Acritas published its 2013 Sharplegal Global Elite Brand Index.
Who’s got the best Biglaw brand on the planet? Let’s find out…
Each year, Corporate Counsel compiles a list of the law firms that Fortune 100 companies use as outside counsel. This year, to change things up a bit, it seems like the list has been expanded to cover the entire Fortune 500. From Apple to Yahoo, and every billion-dollar company in between, these corporate clients expect nothing short of the best in terms of legal representation when dealing with high-stakes litigation and deals. If you’re looking to line your firm’s pockets, you better head to the RFP line when these companies seek lawyers.
Up until last year, only the most prominent Biglaw firms (like Cleary, Davis Polk, Cravath, and Simpson Thacher) topped the list of those that had the pleasure of doing business with the country’s biggest companies. Things changed rapidly, however, when Big Business tried to cash in on deals for legal services. The firms that were willing to cave to the pressure of providing alternative fee arrangements won in a big way, and the rest were left in the dust.
Have these prestigious firms changed their ways? Is Corporate America again willing to open its fat wallet for them? Let’s find out…
* If you care about the business end of the law, you’ll want to see which firms are representing Corporate America. This is a list that matters. We’ll have more on this later today. [Corporate Counsel]
* Biglaw firms in Chicago are shrinking, with headcount at the 25 largest firms dropping by 15 percent since 2008. Don’t worry, this is the “new normal,” everything’s fine. [Crain's Chicago Business]
* Show me your poker face: UNLV Law’s dean wants to raise the school’s profile in the eyes of new students by bulking up its gaming law program and letting the chips fall where they may. [Las Vegas Sun]
* It looks like the wage and hour ruling against Rick’s Cabaret has started an avalanche of lawsuits filed by angry, underpaid strippers. Now, they want $10 million inserted into their g-strings. [New York Daily News]
Business development sometimes seems like an impossible task. Winning new clients, or generating new business from existing clients, isn’t easy. If you doubt this, check out in-house columnist Mark Herrmann’s excellent column, Nothing You Can Say Can Cause Me To Retain You (explaining all the strategies for trying to obtain his business that won’t work). The challenge of getting new clients explains why so many firms resort to effectively trying to buy clients, by luring lateral partners and hoping their books of business come with them.
But still, every now and then a law firm does get hired by a new client. And every now and then a law firm gets fired by an existing or even longstanding client (even though it’s not easy to displace incumbent counsel, especially if they’re decent).
Why do clients hire and fire their outside counsel? A new survey offers some answers….
The most recent rankings of America’s best-paid general counsel reflected healthy increases in GC compensation. But that data related to the highest-paid legal officers at the nation’s largest companies. What about rank-and-file in-house lawyers?
We’ve mentioned some anecdotal evidence of in-house counsel doing very well for themselves financially. But some of our in-house readers, as well as one of our columnists, questioned whether that data was representative of in-house lawyers generally.
Now we’re happy to bring you a more systematic and all-encompassing look at in-house compensation, going beyond just general counsel, courtesy of a new survey. There’s good news and bad news….
* We bet you never thought you’d be spending Labor Day weekend debating with your relatives the legality of a U.S. military strike on Syria and the intricacies of international law. Gee, thanks President Obama. [CNN]
* Over the long holiday weekend, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg served as officiant at the gay wedding of John Roberts. No, not that John Roberts, but what an incredibly apropos coincidence that was. [Washington Post]
* Speaking of same-sex marriage, even though “[n]o one told [him] it was an easy job when [he] signed on,” Justice Anthony Kennedy revealed himself to be an ally of the gay rights movement. [New York Times]
* Two days after filing an appeal with the Third Circuit, the parents of a deceased Cozen O’Connor partner have ended their battle to deny their daughter’s profit-sharing benefits to her wife. [Law360 (sub. req.)]
* Twitter’s general counsel deactivated his account position with the social media giant, and looks forward to “goofing off.” Congrats to Vijaya Gadde, who will head up the company’s IPO. [Bits / New York Times]
* Biglaw’s latest scapegoat for the culling of the associate herd is the decline of Chapter 11 filings, otherwise known by industry insiders as the “bankruptcy recession.” [New York Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* Without any rabbits left to pull out of hats, it’s been predicted that by 2018, the Magic Circle will be no more. This is one disappearing act lawyers obsessed with prestige hope will never happen. [The Lawyer]
* If you want to learn more about fashion law, check out this interview with Barbara Kolsun, a woman who literally wrote the book on it (affiliate link) while serving as general counsel at Stuart Weitzman. [Corporate Counsel]
* So what has Kenneth Randall been up to since he left the deanship at Alabama School of Law? He’s working to “train law students for jobs that don’t require a bar license” over at InfiLaw. Awesome. [Tuscaloosa News]
* Legal commentators like Elie and Lat would be ecstatic if law school were two years long, but because so many others have a “vested interest in the status quo,” change will come at approximately half past never. [CNBC]
* Ronald H. Coase, influential legend of law and economics and Nobel prize winner, RIP. [Chicago Law]
We are pleased to invite you to a panel and cocktail networking reception in Toronto on September 10th from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Join Bruce MacEwen for a discussion of the future of the large law firm business model. Bruce’s trenchant analysis of the challenges facing Biglaw, Growth is Dead: Now What? (affiliate link), is “an extraordinary body of work that reflects enormous insight and ought be required reading by managing partners of law firms,” in the words of Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp. The event promises to take an insightful look at the differences — and similarities — in how U.S. and Canadian law firms are meeting the challenges of the “New Normal.”
Joining Bruce will be R. Scott Jolliffe, chair and chief executive officer of Gowlings and Gary Luftspring, managing partner of Ricketts Harris. The Canadian Bar Association is in the midst of a first-of-its-kind comprehensive study of the future of the legal profession in Canada and beyond, their “Futures Initiative.” Gary, a leader of the Steering Committee for the Futures Initiative, will present a very brief overview of the Initiative and its analysis to date of the fast-changing legal environment.
The discussion will be followed by a cocktail networking reception. There is no charge for this event. Thanks to our friends at Recommind for sponsoring.
Please RSVP below. We look forward to seeing you in Toronto!
* If Biglaw firms wants to get back into a financial sweet spot like in their days of yore, they had better get in on these billion-dollar international arbitrations while the getting is good. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Women lawyers, please take note: your future depends on it. Apparently the key to making partner in Biglaw is to get the backing of general counsel at big money corporate clients as a gender. [Corporate Counsel]
* ¡Ay dios mío! ¡Escándalo! Holland & Knight yoinked 10 attorneys, including three partners, right out from under Chadbourne & Parke’s nose to open up its new Mexico City office. [South Florida Business Journal]
* “If we actually got another million dollars going forward to spend on something, is the highest and best use to produce attorneys?” Even in a flyover state like Idaho, the answer to that question is a resounding yes when it comes to law school expansion. [Spokesman-Review]
* “A jurisprudence of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ does not properly safeguard [a defendant's rights].” California Justice Goodwin Liu is raging against policies on race-based peremptory jury challenges. [The Recorder]
* “I’ve been doing Paula Deen in a strongly metaphorical sense.” The magnate of marmalade’s case may be settled, but that doesn’t mean sanctions have been taken off the table. [Courthouse News Service]
* The hefty price of killing? Following his acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman is now asking Florida to pay for his legal expenses, to the tune of $200,000 – $300,000. [Orlando Sentinel]
* Even the election law controversies are bigger in Texas. The Department of Justice is currently planning to intervene in one lawsuit and file another against the Lone Star state over its voter identification law and redistricting plans. [National Law Journal]
* Here’s an especially helpful ruling for people who have been living their lives without landlines (so, basically everyone). You can gratefully thank the Third Circuit for allowing you to block those annoying robocalls on your cellphones. [Legal Intelligencer]
* Well, that was quick — a Biglaw pump and dump, if you will. After only a year, David M. Bernick, former general counsel of Philip Morris, is leaving Boies Schiller and will likely be taking a position at Dechert. [DealBook / New York Times]
* “[L]ife got in the way.” Who really needs loyalty in Biglaw these days? More than half of the nearly 500 associates and counsel who made partner in 2013 started their careers at different firms. [Am Law Daily]
* Another one bites the dust. John McGahren, the New Jersey managing partner of Patton Boggs, just resigned from an office he opened himself after some major attorney downsizing. [New Jersey Law Journal]
* “In a community of 98,000 people and 640,000 partners, it isn’t possible to say there will never be wrongdoing.” Comforting. Microsoft is under the microscope of a federal bribery probe. [Corporate Counsel]
* Ronald Motley, a “charismatic master of the courtroom” who founded Motley Rice, RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
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 protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.