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Simpson Thacher Bartlett LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgEarlier today, the New York outpost of TheLawyer.com, a British publication, reported on personnel reductions at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. The report was of keen interest to us because we’ve been hearing rumors — generally vague and unsubstantiated, but persistent — of “stealth layoffs” at STB.
The folks over at The Lawyer seem to be hearing similar gossip, some of which appears in their report:

[Simpson Thacher ] has taken the unusual step of introducing a mid-year performance review for its associates. It is understood that the benchmark for associates to reach in order to keep their jobs is significantly higher than in previous appraisals.

Market sources have ­suggested that up to 30 associates have been asked to consider their positions as a result of the review. Simpson Thacher chairman Pete Ruegger denied the firm was making credit crunch-related layoffs.

This report appears to be erroneous, at least in a few respects. We spoke with Simpson partner James D. Cross, co-chair of the firm’s Personnel Committee, who described it as “wildly inaccurate”:

It’s business as usual here as far as reviews. We have not changed our standards, and we have not changed our process. We’ve always had a midyear review process. I don’t know where someone came up with the number of 30 [affected associates].

A second STB source echoed Cross’s statement, telling us that “no new mid-year process was introduced.” The firm has long conducted midyear reviews for (1) first-year associates and (2) more senior lawyers who received negative annual reviews. According to this source, “if a more senior lawyer gets a negative annual review, that person will often be slated for a midyear review so that progress can be checked after six months, not just annually, and so that the firm makes sure it is doing all it can in terms of additional training and mentoring.”
Additional discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Correcting the Record on Simpson Thacher”

Vault logo law firm rankings career guides.jpgThis morning we brought you a special sneak preview of the 2009 Vault law firm rankings (to be released in full on Tuesday, August 12, over at the Vault website). We passed along two compilations: (1) firms ranked 26-50 by prestige, and (2) firms 11-20 on the “best to work for” list.
Now, as promised, we bring you the balance of the rankings: firms 1-50 by prestige, and all 20 of the “best to work for” firms.
Check out the lists, plus comment from Vault law editor Brian Dalton, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Exclusive: A Sneak Peek at the 2009 Vault Rankings!
(Part 2 of 2)”

Job of the Week Lateral Link ATL logo.gif
Tax attorneys are all the rage, with in-house and law firm opportunities for 2008 JDs and up. The Job(s) of the Week highlight some of the best of these opportunities. These are in New York, but Lateral Link has similar positions in other cities as well. Lateral Link’s $10,000 signing bonus applies to the positions below. If you are not already a Lateral Link Member, you can apply at www.laterallink.com.
Junior tax attorney – The New York office of this top 25 law firm, well-known for its quality of life, is seeking junior tax associates. They will consider 2008 law school graduates to start immediately (including those who may have had their start dates pushed back at other firms). For more information, please see Position 6074 on Lateral Link.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Job(s) of the Week: Tax Law Never Goes Out of Style”

Vault logo law firm rankings career guides.jpgReaders, we bring you some very exciting news. Just in time for fall recruiting, the folks over at Vault are releasing their highly influential — indeed, authoritative — law firm rankings. The rankings, along with informative and interesting write-ups of the ranked firms, will be available in Vault’s law guides. (Vault’s Guide to the Top 100 Law Firms is basically a Biglaw job seeker’s Bible.)
The official release date for the 2009 rankings is this coming Tuesday, August 12. But the Vault crew kindly offered Above the Law an exclusive preview of the new list, consisting of the top 50 firms for prestige and the 20 firms rated as “Best to Work For.” Obviously we wet ourselves just a little bit enthusiastically accepted Vault’s offer of an early look.
Check out the first half of the ATL preview — firms ranked 26-50 by prestige, and 11-20 on the “best to work for” list — along with explanatory commentary from Vault law editor Brian Dalton, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Exclusive: A Sneak Peek at the 2009 Vault Rankings!
(Part 1 of 2)”

avatar Alex ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by ALEX, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Alex's avatar (at right).]
We received nearly 200 comments on the OCI Open Thread, and to my surprise, most of them were not directed solely at how badly I suck. Small victory.
Many of the comments offered helpful advice from self-professed recruiting attorneys. Others offered glimmers of hope for the anxious and the under-performing. And some left no doubt that, no matter how badly you think you’re going to do in interviews, others have done and will do worse.
hot seat hotseat.jpgFirst, though, take a deep breathe. A large number of 2ls from top-fifteen law schools get biglaw jobs. And many top-performing law students from other schools get biglaw jobs, too.
But even if you don’t, it’s no big deal. Seriously. OCI creates the false impression that the only sensible thing that you can do with a law degree is work at an AmLaw 100 firm. Don’t be fooled.
Being a junior associate at a large law firm is not very fulfilling. You’re not even really a lawyer; you’re a low-level corporate employee with legal knowledge. Go try a case or counsel somebody with a problem. You’ll undoubtedly wonder why you ever cared about this week.
With a little perspective, you’ll do much better in your interviews. As commenters have repeatedly pointed out to me over the last two weeks, nobody likes someone who appears to be trying too hard. If you don’t care so much, you’ll be yourself. See Exley’s excellent farewell post.
Okay, helpful advice and uncomfortable stories after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “OCI Open Thread Follow-Up”

cold offer copy.jpgAugust marks the end of extravagant lunches and open bars, and the return to the starving-student lifestyle for this year’s batch of summer associates. This time of year also presents summers with a big, anxiety-inducing question:

Am I getting The Offer — i.e., an offer to return to The Firm on a more permanent / full-time basis, after graduation?

Some summers find out about their future employment prospects while still at their law firms. This might happen during an exit interview, or it might happen in more public fashion:

The DC office of Latham & Watkins just called all summer associates into a conference room and announced that they were extending offers to 100% of the DC summer associate class.

We haven’t confirmed this with the firm, but if true — congratulations, Lathamites of Washington!
(We also hear, through the grapevine, that Shearman & Sterling gave offers to all 135 of its SAs. If you know of other 100-percent-offer shops, feel free to note them in the comments. Please note, however, that what appears in the comments is unverified. So caveat lector.)
Update: Shearman gave offers to 139 out of 140 summers who were considered for offers. See here.
Other summer associates don’t learn their fates until after the end of their programs. Word might come a week or two after the program ends — or even later. Our estimable (but outgoing) editor-in-chief recalls that Wachtell Lipton didn’t notify its summer class about offers until September. (That was several years ago; WLRK’s current practice may differ.)
Read more about cold offers — including a more detailed explanation of what exactly is a cold offer, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the institution — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Thread: Cold Offers”

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft new logo CWT AboveTheLaw blog.jpgIn case you missed the big news, last week Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft laid off 96 lawyers. This is, as far as we know, the largest lawyer layoff of the current economic cycle.

When combined with the January layoffs, which hit around 35 lawyers, CWT has axed upwards of 130 attorneys. This makes it “America’s firingest law firm.” (We can’t claim credit for that turn of phrase, which was coined by a tipster, but we will try to popularize it through frequent usage.)

As we reported earlier this week, résumés from Cadwalader refugees are flooding the market. But will they find a welcome reception?

Maybe not. Here’s an email that a boutique law firm in New York sent to a legal recruiter who tried to submit CWT résumés for an opening:

CORRECTION: Actually, the email was sent to the recruiter UNSOLICITED, not in response to anything. It was apparently sent, out of the blue, to a group of legal recruiters.

Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2008
To: [Legal Recruiter]
Subject: FW: Resumes

Good Afternoon,

Thank you for staying in touch with our firm. Please note that we are not going to be accepting resumes for Cadwalader candidates.

Thank you,
[Recruiting Contact]
Duval & Stachenfeld | 300 East 42nd Street New York NY 10017

Ouch. Are Cadwalader lawyers now the Untouchables of the law-firm caste system?

Note that this slap in the face comes from Duval & Stachenfeld LLP, which is far from snobby in its hiring practices. It draws heavily from non-top-tier law schools and pays $60,000 starting salaries to its associates.

(It should be noted, however, that the Duval firm is more elitist when it comes to its lateral hiring. As discussed here, for entry-level hiring, the firm looks well beyond the top-tier law schools. But for midlevel and senior associates, it tends to poach from the Skaddens and Lathams of the world — and pay accordingly.)

P.S. For a more upbeat take on Cadwalader, see Ashby Jones’s Legal Beat column in the Wall Street Journal (via the WSJ Law Blog).

UPDATE / CLARIFICATION: We have received a letter from Bruce Stachenfeld, founding partner of Duval & Stachenfeld, clarifying the situation. An excerpt:

When I (the managing partner of D&S) heard about the CWT layoff news my immediate reaction was that I felt very bad for my friends at CWT. It is a great firm suffering from some market turmoil and all of us running law firms know that adverse market forces can happen to any of us.

My other reaction was that since we are hiring junior lawyers a possible win/win/win would be for us to talk to CWT directly about whether we could hire some of their adversely affected people. This would permit us to find some super-star-high-quality associates – would permit CWT to help its people locate new jobs – and would permit some of the adversely affected associates to get new jobs promptly.

So I did the logical thing and contacted one of my friends at CWT to discuss this. After my discussion I sent a letter to be sent to some of the associates who had the requisite background to fit into our real estate group. It remains to be seen if we will end up hiring CWT associates. My hope is yes.

Since resumes had started to come in (through legal recruiters) I instructed our recruitment coordinator to inform legal recruiters that I would not be accepting resumes through legal recruiters due to our close relationship with CWT. I thought it appropriate to let the legal recruiters know this promptly to avoid misunderstandings with them about recruitment fees.

You can read the full letter after the jump.

Not Hiring sign.jpgLast week, we gave you a post on on-campus interviewing (OCI) cancellations by law firms at three schools. We wondered whether it might be an emerging trend. The flood of e-mails and comments in response suggests that it is.
We’ve compiled a long list for nervous law students. The firms or offices listed below have canceled plans to interview students on campus at certain law schools (or, in some cases, all law schools — the office isn’t hosting a 2009 summer program). When possible, we’ve specified the firm’s office, the law school reporting the cancellation, and the scope of the cancellation (e.g., 3Ls only).
Update / Correction: Please note that this list has been updated and corrected in various ways since it was originally published. Refresh your browser to get the latest version. Thanks.
Akin Gump – Philadelphia and Dallas offices (Georgetown)
[Ed. note: Akin's Philly office was never signed up to interview at Georgetown in the first place, so there was no cancellation.]
Arent Fox (Cornell)
Arnstein & Lehr – Chicago office
Baker & Hostetler – Orlando office
Barnes & Thornburg – Chicago office (John Marshall)
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft – New York office (Case Western, Rutgers)
Cooley Godward – 3Ls (UCLA)
Dorsey & Whitney – New York office
Duane Morris – Philadelphia office (NYU)
Edwards Angell Palmer Dodge (NYU)
Faegre & Benson – 3Ls (UCLA)
Gunderson Dettmer – 3Ls (UCLA)
Kirkland & Ellis – 3Ls (UCLA)
Kirkpatrick Kilpatrick & Stockton (Georgetown)
McKenna Long & Aldridge
Mintz, Levin – Washington, DC office
Morrison & Foerster – L.A. office (U. Penn.; Brooklyn Law School)
Powell Goldstein
Seyfarth Shaw – (Boston University)
Simpson Thacher – Palo Alto office – 3Ls (UCLA, UVA)
Skadden (Brigham Young University, Catholic)
Stinson Morrison Hecker (University of Texas)
Strasburger & Price – Austin office (University of Texas)
Thelen Reid (UVA)
White & Case (Fordham)
[Ed. note: White & Case is interviewing very enthusiastically at Fordham, which it regards as a "key school" for the firm.]
Willkie Farr – Washington, D.C. office (Columbia)
[Ed. note: The Willkie Farr cancellations apply only to 3L interviewing.]
Winstead PC – Dallas office (Georgetown)
As some of you noted, canceling on-campus interviews may be a cost-savings strategy for firms feeling the economic squeeze. One of you suggested that law schools stop charging firms to interview on campus:

Maybe if some of the schools where firms are interviewing didn’t charge the firms so much to come on campus to interview, they wouldn’t be cancelling…. you know some schools don’t charge at all (and aren’t getting cancellations).

Some firms canceled 3L interviews only. That and rumors of an increasing number of cold offers and no-offers to this year’s summer associates suggest that firms will have limited spots for the Class of 2009.
After the jump, we’ve got a message from a 3L advice seeker, plus full memos from law schools on OCI cancellations.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More on On-Campus Interview Cancellations”

avatar Alex ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by ALEX, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Alex's avatar (at right).]
On-campus interviews are just around the corner. Biglaw firms are soldiering on with their recruiting efforts despite a crap economy. We can’t help but think, though, that recent layoffs and OCI cancellations have introduced a new level of anxiety into the process. Poor little 2ls; the gravy days are over. If it was critical before, it’s even more critical now: don’t mess up your interview.
It’s hard to say exactly what it takes to ace a 20-minute interview in a cramped hotel room or a cubbyhole in your law school. I’ve been on both sides of the ball for OCI, and I’m still not sure.
hot seat hotseat.jpgI had an interview as a law student where one of the two partners talked on his cell phone (loudly) in the bathroom while the other, feet resting on the bed, spoke without pause for 20 minutes about character. I didn’t say a word. I work at that firm now.
I’ve recommended that my firm hire less accomplished kids because they had funny hobbies and didn’t breath out of their mouths. And, as a general rule, I’ve nixed anyone who recited information from my bio.
The entire process is somewhat arbitrary. It really depends, in large part, on the personality of your interviewer. I think we can agree, however, that there are things that you should never say or do.
Tell us your OCI horror stories in the comments. Awful questions, awful answers, inappropriate comments, etc. We’ll post the best of the worst on Thursday.

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft new logo CWT AboveTheLaw blog.jpgThis shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, but résumés from refugees of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft are all over the street right now. One recruiter, at an outside headhunting firm, described receiving “a flood” of CWT résumés in the past week. An in-house recruiting coordinator at an Am Law 100 firm agreed, noting that, interestingly enough, a number of the CWT submissions appear to be from lawyers in departments largely untouched by the layoffs. People at Cadwalader seem to be heading for the exits, in droves — even lawyers in “safe” practice areas.
We can hardly blame them. When it comes to career planning these days, being proactive and playing defensively is smart. If you think there’s even a chance you might be laid off from your law firm (or that your law firm might dissolve), start exploring your options early. As the conventional wisdom goes, it’s generally easier to find a job when you have a job.
To be sure, five months of severance, which is what Cadwalader is giving the 96 lawyers it axed last week, is generous (but justified — lawyers who survived the January layoffs were told they’d have jobs at least through the end of the year). But five months goes by more quickly than you’d think — and the job market, as everyone knows, is crappy not great. As reported by Am Law Daily, ten of the victims of the January layoffs at Cadwalader have yet to find new jobs, some seven months later.
Perhaps surprisingly, however, Cadwalader continues to bring on new people, even as it sends almost 100 attorneys into the unemployment wilderness. We got our hands on an email that was sent around firm-wide today, without even taking the dismissed attorneys off of the distribution, announcing the arrival of a new bankruptcy associate.
Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “It’s Raining Men. And Women. From Cadwalader.
(Plus: CWT is hiring?)”

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