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Pillsbury Dough Boy 2 Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman Above the Law.jpg[Ed. note: Apologies for the radio silence for much of today. Alas, we've been experiencing some rather severe technical difficulties, in connection with the site redesign and relaunch. The next few days (and perhaps weeks) may be a little bumpy around here; please bear with us. Thanks for your patience.]
Here are two pieces of information that we’ve heard about Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman:

1. For incoming first-year associates, their start dates, originally set for early October 2008, are being pushed back. These new associates could start as late as January 2009. The delay is due to “a serious slowdown in business.”

2. For 2008 summer associates, the summer program has been reduced from 12 weeks to 10 weeks. Summer associates will not be allowed to work more than 10 weeks, even if they want to.

With respect to the first tip, concerning incoming full-time associates, we’ve heard it with respect to the Los Angeles office specifically. With respect to the second tip, concerning summer associates, we believe it to be a firmwide policy.
We contacted PWSP for confirmation and comment, earlier this week and again today. A firm spokesperson confirmed receipt of our inquiries but had no comment (as of the time of this posting; if we hear from her, we’ll update this post).
More details, plus reactions from some of our tipsters, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Endless Summer? Not at Pillsbury
(And start dates possibly pushed back for first-years, too.)”

Sonnenschein Nath Rosenthal Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s a bit of follow-up on last week’s post about Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. We heard from a number of tipsters, and their reports are consistent with the rumors previously reported:
1. Sonnenschein is rescinding offers of summer employment to incoming summer associates in the Charlotte office.
2. Sonnenschein is rescinding offers to full-time associates who were set to start work in the Charlotte office in the fall.
We have not heard from the firm since our initial inquiries last week — despite repeated efforts, including some made yesterday. We are inclined to agree with this commenter:

Their lack of response must mean it’s true. Rescinding offers is about the worst thing a firm can do for its rep. There’s no way they’re going to confirm it if it is true, and they would’ve immediately disputed it if it is false.

Read what our tipsters had to say, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Update: What’s Going on at Sonnenschein – CLT?
(And a discussion of the Charlotte market in general.)”

Okay, so you already knew that. Last year, in a widely read, front-page story for the Wall Street Journal, Amir Efrati reported on the non-Biglaw blues: the challenging job market and not-so-hot financial prospects faced by many law school graduates (many of whom are saddled with heavy debt).
A month later, the Des Moines Register basically rewrote Efrati’s story. But Efrati couldn’t have been that offended, since his article was thematically similar to this piece by Leigh Jones, which appeared in the National Law Journal a few months earlier.
Preemption is a bitch. In this media-saturated age, it’s difficult to be truly original.
Nevertheless, even if these articles all sort of sound alike, they generate buzz and traffic — which may explain why they keep getting written, over and over again. The latest is a rather lengthy cover story from the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday magazine, by Greg Burns.
From one of the many tipsters who emailed us about it: “Nothing earth shattering revealed, but this article discusses the ‘haves and have nots’ of the legal profession.” Another reader noted:

I assume you’ve seen the Chicago Trib article on low lawyer salaries, for those not in BigLaw. Not that this discrepancy is a shocker to you, but your fans seem to enjoy lording their big, uh, paychecks over their less fortunate brethren, while taking perverse pleasure in working 20-hour days for the free dinner and ride home. As such, this seems like a perfect comment clusterf**k topic.

A third quipped: “Not sure if news, but enjoy!” We concur. Even if the piece’s thesis is nothing new, at least it’s well-reported, chock full of interesting anecdotes and data.
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “News Flash: Not Every Lawyer Is on the $160K Pay Scale”

Thacher Proffitt Wood LLP Above the Law blog.jpgThat’s what many of you have been wondering, in emails to us and in comments. We’ve investigated the situation at Thacher Proffitt & Wood, and we now bring you this detailed report.
We’ll start off with the big rumors:
1. Thacher Proffitt laid off additional associates earlier this week.
The firm’s response: “As always, we continue to talk to associates in the areas most affected by the market conditions.”
Sounds a tad Orwellian, and suggests that some additional reductions in the associate ranks did in fact take place (since it’s not an outright denial). But we don’t have any details, in terms of numbers of lawyers affected, departments, severance, etc. If you do, we’d love to hear from you.
2. TPW is delaying the start date for the incoming first year class until late October (which may need to be extended until January).
Partly true, partly not. From the firm: “The start date for incoming litigation associates remains the same. The start date for others has been moved to October 20th.”
3. The White Plains office is being closed.
The firm denies this outright: “The rumor related to our White Plains office is not true.”
Update (10/27/08): The White Plains office is now closed.
More detailed discussion about the situation at Thacher Proffitt — which sounds rather grave, according to the former, current, and future TPW lawyers we heard from — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Going On at Thacher Proffitt & Wood?”

Sonnenschein Nath Rosenthal Above the Law blog.jpgOver at Greedy South, various rumors are circulating about Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. One poster claimed that the firm rescinded offers of summer employment to several incoming summer associates in the Charlotte office. Later on in the thread, others chimed in to claim that the firm is rescinding offers to full-time associates who were set to arrive in the fall (possibly beyond Charlotte as well).
An ATL tipster wrote us:

I know things are really, really, slow at most firms in Charlotte (as has been noted by the firings at Cadwalader and Dechert), but is there any way that you could find out whether this is actually true? It seems like the elephant in the room is everyone’s hope that securitization will magically pick up again, but everyone seems to forget that it’s difficult for a market segment to “rebound” that wasn’t even in existence 10 years ago.

Is this a sign of Sonnenschein closing its Charlotte office (after only 1 year)? Have you heard anything about other offices having the same types of problems? Just trying to find out what’s going on.

We reached out to the firm for comment earlier this week but they never got back to us. If you have any info to share, please email us. Thanks.
Sonnenschein Firings? [Greedy South / Infirmation]

533590_boy_meets_girl.jpgLadies, if you want to make partner, consider Dorsey & Whitney. The Project for Attorney Retention has just released a report (PDF) on the number of women among this year’s new partners at 77 firms.
Props to Dorsey & Whitney and Ropes and Gray. Here’s why:

At a dozen firms, 50% or more of the new partners were women: Dorsey & Whitney (10 of 15 new partners are female, for 71%), Ropes & Gray (7 of 10 new partners are female, for 70%), Simpson Thacher & Bartlett (4 of 6 new partners are female, for 67%), Blackwell Sanders (8 of 12 new partners are female, for 67%), Cravath, Swaine & Moore (2 of 3 new partners are female, for 67%), Crowell & Moring (4 of 7 new partners are female, for 57%), DLA Piper (15 of 28 new partners are female, for 54%), Reed Smith (14 of 26 new partners are female, for 54%), Arnold & Porter (2 of 4 new partners are female, for 50%), Cadwalader (1 of 2 new partners is female, for 50%), Shearman & Sterling (3 of 6 new partners are female, for 50%), and Womble Carlyle (4 of 8 new partners are female, for 50%).

Women made up less than half of the new partners at the other 65 firms surveyed.
Some firms are in serious gender equality hot water. Here’s the list of shame:

Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein did not make a single female partner (0 of 8 new partners were female). For others, only one or two women lawyers were awarded the brass ring: Orrick (1 of 13 new partners is female, for 8%), Proskauer Rose (1 of 11 new partners is female, for 9%), Nixon Peabody (1 of 11 new partners is female, for 9%), Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman (1 of 11 new partners is female, for 9%), Baker & Daniels (1 of 9 new partners is female, for 11%), Vinson & Elkins (1 of 9 new partners is female, for 11%), Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge (1 of 9 new partners is female), Akin Gump (2 of 15 new partners are female, for 13%), Milbank (1 of 8 new partners is female, for 13%), White & Case (1 of 7 new partners is female, for 14%), and Gibson Dunn (2 of 13 new partners are female, for 15%).

Three firms have had nearly all-dude partner classes for four years running: Akin Gump, Fried Frank, and Vinson & Elkins. For those of you flirting with a career move from lawyering to screenplay-writing, think: Charlize Theron fighting her way to partnership at Fried Frank, à la North Country.
Law Firms’ New Partners Still Mostly Male: New Partner Classes 2005-2008 [Project for Attorney Retention]

In these pages, we alternate between sensationalistically fanning the flames of greed (NY to 190!) and despair (Nationwide Layoff Watch!).
Today, despair. From the ATL mailbag:

You should do a thread on worried 2Ls. I am one of them. I have a summer associate job at a Vault 100 firm, and so do lots of my friends. But we hear through the grapevine that new-ish associates at many firms don’t have tons of work and will not meet their billables targets.

Are we 2Ls seriously in danger of getting major no offers at the end of the summer? What was it like for 2L summers in other legal market downturn times (I guess around 2001 was the last one)? What should we expect?

screwed bar exam Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAt last month’s APALSA conference, we attended a very interesting panel on law firm partnership. One of the panelists mentioned that she was a summer associate during a prior downturn. Out of her summer class of thirteen (13), only one (1) received an offer of full-time employment. As soon as she mentioned the grim 1-out-of-13 statistic, one could feel the chill of fear in the audience. [FN1]
One out of 13 may be a bit extreme. But are the days of 100 percent offer rates over? Quite possibly. Last fall, there was anecdotal evidence of firms being more stingy with offers than in the past. Since then, of course, the economy has worsened significantly, with several firms announcing layoffs of full-time associates. So perhaps the trend of no-offering SAs will continue.
Some unsolicited advice for 2008 summer associates: work your tails off; keep your heads down; and don’t threaten to knife anyone, get slugged by a local lass at a bar, or steal firm-provided Swiss Miss.
Good luck and Godspeed.
[FN1] The panelist was the one summer associate who got an offer. Now she’s a partner — at an even bigger and more profitable firm than the one she summered at. Some people were just born to be Biglaw badasses.
Earlier: Fall Recruiting Open Thread: No-Offer Factories

From a student at Duke Law School:

I had to laugh out loud at Kramer Levin’s use of the daylight savings time maxim, “spring ahead/spring forward,” to suggest that we could do the same for our careers by coming to their firm. See the flyer below, which they seem to have sent to the entire 1L class.

Actually, we think it’s kinda cute! Check out those otherworldly tulips:
Kramer Levin Naftalis Frankel spring ahead daylight savings time Above the Law blog.jpg
And it’s a helpful reminder for overworked law firm associates. If you have a conference call scheduled for, say, this Sunday morning at 10, you don’t want to miss it.

opportunity knocks knocking on heaven's door Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog.jpgA suggestion for a discussion topic, from the ATL mailbag:

I searched through the archives for a thread on this, but couldn’t find anything. As a second year law student headed to NYC Biglaw after graduation, I’m already assuming that I will work for the firm I start with for no more than three or four years. The idea of being a Biglaw partner does not sound like the life for me.

What really interests me is the possibility of moving to the business world to work for a big bank or a Fortune 500 company. Yet the qualifications and legal experience that an associate needs to get to make that sort of move are still very vague to me. It is a topic that I would be afraid to talk about at my firm as well.

So I was hoping you could start an open thread where people talk about their experience in moving from Big Law to Big Business, and how young associates should go about making the move. I hope this topic can be discussed on abovethelaw soon. Thanks.

We’re happy to oblige; here’s the requested open thread. Our general advice — which is, we admit, pretty obvious — would be: get your clients to like you as much as possible. Many of the lawyers we’ve known who have made the transition from law to business jumped over to a client who loved working with them. Some went to work for the client in a legal capacity, then moved over to the business side later; others went over directly to the business side.
In addition, to the (very persistent) commenter(s) seeking a place to talk about MBA degrees in Biglaw — special bonuses for business degree holders, enhanced job prospects, seniority credit, etc. — feel free to chime in as well.
(We previously posted an open thread on MBAs and Biglaw. But that was back in August 2007, so we figure it’s okay to revisit the subject now.)
Earlier: In Biglaw, Does It Pay To Have An MBA?

NALP rules guidelines law firm hiring Above the Law blog.jpgFrom an anxious first-year law student:

I saw this piece on Tax Prof Blog and thought your readers might have some interesting thoughts. NALP has decided next fall the 2Ls only get 45 days to hold an offer for a summer position. See here.

I have a job at a firm this summer that is part of NALP that I am happy about as a 1L but I definitely want to go through OCI. If I leave my job this year at the end of July, the firm will likely notify me by August 15th that I have an offer for the next summer. It would then expire by September 30th!

It seems possible that I could be in the middle of call-backs with other firms and have to decide whether to take a chance on getting a better offer or not. Yikes!

And what about firms that don’t do OCI at my school? I doubt that they will go through submitted resumes, conduct interviews and make offers by then.

So, ATL readers — any advice for our nervous 1L? Or any views on whether this rule change is a good or bad idea?
Update / Correction: According to the analysis of this commenter, the scenario outlined above would not come to pass. We’ve reviewed the NALP rules, which can be accessed in full over here, and we agree with the commenter. See Part V, Section C: “Employers offering positions for the following summer to candidates previously employed by them should leave those offers open until at least November 15.”
2Ls Now Must Respond to Summer Job Offers Within 45 Days [TaxProf Blog]
Full Text of NALP Principles & Standards [NALP]

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