Job Searches

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft new logo CWT AboveTheLaw blog.jpgNope, we’re not done covering yesterday’s bloodbath over at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. If the powers-that-be at CWT think they can lay off almost 100 lawyers and have everyone forget about in a day, they’re sorely mistaken. We intend to stick with this story for quite some time (in part because you can’t get enough of it, judging from our traffic logs, the robust commenting, and the continuing inflow of tips).
As many commenters have noted, memories are long when it comes to lawyer layoffs. Prospective recruits will hold this against Cadwalader five years from now — assuming CWT is still around then — just as people still remember which firms laid off lawyers in the last downturn, in the early 2000s.
We have some additional info to pass along, based on reports from summer and incoming associates. Yesterday afternoon, Cadwalader held a meeting for its summers, led by chairman Chris White and hiring committee chair Paul Mourning (yup, “Mourning”). Former chairman Bob Link attended, but had a non-speaking role.
White told the summer class essentially what he told the WSJ Law Blog (down to quoting the same numbers, and stressing that the layoffs were mostly in real estate finance and asset securitization). Mourning focused on issues particular to the summer class:

He didn’t say what people wanted to hear (that everyone could still expect an offer). Instead, he said something like “the firm will continue to use the same evaluation criteria that it has used in the past” and that some people will get offers without knowing what exact practice group they will be in. The latter is likely a reference to people who chose corporate or capital markets as their top choice but will likely have to do litigation until the market picks up.

This is in contrast to Chris White explicitly saying in his opening day speech to the summers (after addressing the previous 35-lawyer layoff) that the firm expected to extend offers to all summer associates.

Paul also mentioned that the firm doesn’t expect to rescind any offers to the incoming first-year class. Some summers found it unnerving that he even mentioned that.

Speaking of incoming first-years at CWT, one of them forwarded us the email the firm sent to the group — check it out, after the jump — along with this commentary:

Just wanted to send along the email I got yesterday. First thing I read when I got home from the NYS Bar Exam! I have to believe that they powers that be at CWT were completely clueless that yesterday was the NY Bar. Why not wait another week? What a drop-kick to the gut.

This individual asked for advice:

Should I start spamming the resume now, or wait until September when I start at CWT? (There’s the old adage that it’s easiest to find a job when you’ve already got one).

Should I contact Career Services, or is that window closed to me, now that I’m an alum?

Uncharted territory, for sure. I’d love to here from the peanut gallery.

So, commenters, whaddya think?
Our advice: start your job search as soon as reasonably practicable — maybe after your bar trip, if you’re taking one — and continue it after you arrive at Cadwalader. Feel free to call upon Career Services; they’re usually eager to help alums (although we understand that some law schools, at the height of fall recruiting, limit the services they provide to alumni).
Don’t let yourself be buffeted by the winds of fate; take charge of your career and your life. Don’t be a Pollyanna, thinking that things will probably get better. They probably won’t — at least not anytime soon.
Of the people who stuck around at CWT after the January layoffs, thinking they would just “ride it out,” 96 of them are now headed for the unemployment line. They could perhaps be excused for buying the firm’s reassurances back then, before the past few months of terrible economic news, especially with respect to the real estate and credit markets.
But you have no such excuse; the writing is on the proverbial wall. Remember the saying that George W. Bush famously mangled: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Do yourself a favor — as well as a favor to the firm, and to those who remain there — and get the hell out, if you can. Voluntary departures will reduce the number of people to be laid off in round three.
Two memos — the email message that CWT sent to its incoming associates, and the email message the firm sent to the career services offices of certain law schools — are posted after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Continuing Cadwalader Coverage”

Pinocchio.jpgEvery now and then, we entertain requests for advice from our readers (even though, as we reminded you yesterday, we’re not career counselors — so take what we say with several grains of salt). Here’s what we found in the mail bag today;

I’m a summer associate at a BigLaw firm in DC. Our exit interview questionnaire asks us whether we’re 1) applying for a clerkship or 2) for personal reasons, seeking employment in another geographic region.

Saying you’re applying for a clerkship is one thing, but given the economy, and the risk of not getting an offer in that other geographic region, should I really tell my firm that I might be looking elsewhere? Am I risking anything by being fully honest?

Our gut reaction is that the SA should not tell the firm that he or she might be looking elsewhere. Not only is there a risk of not getting an offer in the other geographic region, but the firm where this person summered might decide to no-offer — or, more likely, give cold offers to — summers who say they’re exploring other opportunities.
We don’t think this would be dishonest on the part of the SA. We don’t have the exact wording of the question, but we read it as being aimed at people who are definitely going to a different city, “for personal reasons” — e.g., family issues, like an ailing parent; a spouse who has to be somewhere else, for work or school; etc.
And, of course, there’s the Bill Clinton line of argument: What business is this of the firm’s? As long as the SA complies with the NALP rules in terms of responding in timely fashion to any offer of full-time employment from this firm, why is the SA obligated to tell the firm every last detail of his or her job-search thinking?
Okay, Randy Cohen might be horrified by our “advice.” But in the world of Biglaw today, loyalty is dead. These days law firms are always looking out for number one, namely, themselves and their profits per partner. E.g., Cadwalader (laying off some 130+ lawyers in 2008 to date).
So shouldn’t law students and young lawyers take the same approach? If you’re not looking out for yourself and your own career, in the most clear-eyed and even calculating way, who will?
Sorry, enough ranting; back to the summer associate’s question. How do you think this person should respond to the exit questionnaire? Feel free to opine, in the comments.

Singapore skyline.jpg[Disclosure: This post is authored not by the Asia Corporate Lawyers, but by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting -- sponsor of the Asia Chronicles, and an ATL advertiser. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email at asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]
On Monday we discussed some positive trends in M&A in Asia, notwithstanding the turmoil in credit markets and overall economic downturn globally. Today, we discuss very briefly some of the lateral hiring trends we have been seeing in Asia recently and in ’08 in general.
We have not seen an overall reduction in hiring of U.S. associates in Asia, but firms have been much more selective than in ’07. This is for a variety of reasons. Some notable U.S. and British firms in Asia are hiring at a significantly slower clip than in ’07, but this unfortunate trend is being balanced out by other peer firms hiring significantly more than in ’07. There are a number of firms in heavy expansion mode, with several top U.S. firms in Hong Kong / China, for example, that will easily double the size of their offices in ’08. Some U.S. firms in Asia have very aggressive medium-term (5-6 year) expansion plans to have 100+ attorney offices. Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly to readers, some of the most urgent needs still happen to be for mid-level to senior U.S. securities associates, despite the slower pace of capital-markets deal flow coming in.
It is important to note that in ’08, there are as much as three to four times as many U.S. associate candidates on the market for Asia positions, compared to ’07. Firms can afford to be a lot more selective and also can take their time with hiring decisions, much more than was the case in the frenzied hiring environment in Asia in ’07. While we are seeing the same pace of hiring in the Asia markets in ’08 that we saw in ’07, it has become a more difficult market to break into for some U.S. associates than was the case in ’07.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: A Look at Current Hiring Trends”

animated siren gif animated siren gif animated siren gif drudge report.GIFHistory repeats itself. We quote from our post of January 10:

Just half an hour ago, based on information we gleaned from various sources, we asked: “Is today Layoff Day at Cadwalader?” The answer would appear to be: YES.

Earlier this morning, we once again posed the question: “Is today Layoff Day at Cadwalader?” And once again, the firm has confirmed — this time to the WSJ Law Blog — that it will be laying off 96 lawyers, from counsel on down to first-year associates. The intelligence in our post from earlier this morning, which estimated the carnage at “as many as 100 attorneys, ranging from special counsel down to the current first-year associate class,” was essentially correct.

90 of the 96 cuts will come out of the real estate finance and securitization practices, said the firm’s chairman, Chris White. Most of the affected lawyers, said White, are in the New York, Charlotte and London offices, with “one or two” in Washington. The 96 layoffs are in addition to the 35 lawyers the firm laid off in January.

Wow — that’s a ton of attorneys. Ninety-six lawyers would appear to be the biggest round of lawyer layoffs in the current economic cycle (see Bruce MacEwen’s layoffs table). Congratulations, Cadwalader!
Cadwalader chairman Chris White gives the WSJ Law Blog a spiel about how the firm got caught up in the mania surrounding commercial mortgage-backed securities:

“There was a frothiness that occurred as a result of the Blackstones and the Apollos using mortgage-backed securities to fund their buyouts. It was a lot like junk bonds becoming the instrument of choice in the late 80′s and early 90′s.”

White explained that, in 2004, there were only $98 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities issued. In 2008, he said, that number ballooned to $314 billion. “So we grew right along with client demand. And now that market has contracted severely. That $314 billion from last year will go to roughly $60 billion in 2008 — an 80% contraction.”

With his use of the passive — “[t]here was a frothiness” — and his “we grew right along with client demand” remark, White seems to be offering a “not our fault, everyone was doing it, nobody predicted this” sort of defense. But isn’t it the job of firm management to make sure that a firm is well-diversified among practice areas and adequately protected against downside risk?
(Perhaps the WSJ Law Blog should have pressed White a bit harder on this. Maybe they could have gotten White to throw former chairman Bob Link under the bus, since the firm’s disastrous overexpansion happened under Link’s watch. Link is the leader featured in the firm’s embarrassing-in-hindsight video advertisement.)
To be sure, other Biglaw shops have been hurt by the credit crunch and the economic downturn. But after this latest round of layoffs, involving close to 100 lawyers, it lies beyond dispute that no major firm has been hit as hard as Cadwalader. This obviously raises questions — or should, in the mind of anyone looking to work for or retain CWT — about whether the firm is well-managed.

As for offering the “affected” associates an opportunity to transfer into other groups, White said, “We can do that a little bit at the junior levels — the first and second years — but, at the third, fourth and fifth years, lawyers aren’t fungible.”…

Markel said that the 96 associates who are laid off will receive severance pay through the end of the year.

Five months’ severance — is this accurate? If so, it’s definitely on the generous side. So look on the bright side, CWT associates: you’re getting almost half a year of paid vacation.
We’ll have more on the Cadwalader situation as it unfolds. If you have info to share, please email us. Thanks.
Update: More about the Cadwalader layoffs appears here.
Cadwalader to Cut 96 Lawyers [WSJ Law Blog]you're fired lolcat.jpg

Not too long ago, a curious reader emailed us:

What are your thoughts on LLM degrees for U.S. law students? I’m considering an LLM program in Intellectual Property, to gain more experience and make myself more desirable for law firms. Do you have any advice whether this is a good idea or not?

We aren’t experts in the IP field. But as it turns out, the value of LLM degrees was the subject of a prior open thread, back in January. It was more focused on LLMs in tax, but there was some discussion of intellectual property:

diploma degree LLM degree cap diploma Above the Law blog.jpg“What if I want to teach? Can an LLM – but not in tax, probably in IP – help me?”

“[I] hear G.W. has a killer LLM in IP Law if you are interested in IP matters.”

“The down shot of an LLM in IP, especially if you are into patents, is that it is generally more advisable to spend the money you are considering on an LLM in IP on a Master’s or PhD in a science discipline instead.”

“An LLM will not help you get a job in IP. Period.”

“An LLM in IP isn’t going to help a wannabe patent litigator get a patent litigation job just like being a patent litigator will never make you a real patent attorney . . . unless you actually have a hard science background and can sit for the patent bar.”

Those thoughts were fairly general. We asked our source for more information about his specific circumstances:

I am a rising 3L at mid-30s school, and I’m in the middle of my class. My grades are improving, and I’m involved in extracurriculars like law journal and student organizations, but I still haven’t been able to get any attention from firms at OCI. My interests are trademark and copyright law, and I have considered getting an LLM IP to make myself more attractive to employers.

I’m wondering: What are the top IP LLM programs? Does someone with in my situation have a shot at being admitted to a top program? Would it even be worth it in the long term?

If you have information or opinions responsive to these questions, or if you have views on the value of LLM degrees in the IP world more generally, please share in the comments. Thanks.
Earlier: The Value of an LLM Degree: Open Thread

Uncle Sam Wants You for Biglaw Recruiting.jpgWe resume our series of open threads on career alternatives for attorneys. If you have a law degree, but can’t get into / aren’t interested in Biglaw or contract attorney work, what are some other good options?
One of you snarkily suggested manager at Legal Sea Foods (which, by the way, has excellent clam chowder). But in an effort to cabin the universe of possibilities, we’re going to focus on fields where a law degree adds significant value or is at least somewhat relevant.
Thus far we’ve discussed working as a law librarian or for a major accounting firm, two fields popular with holders of J.D. degrees. If you have a suggested alternative career path, please email us (subject line: “Career Alternatives”), and include some basic info about the field that you’re nominating (e.g., how to get into it, pluses and minuses, salary data, etc.).
Today we’re going to focus on the people who bring you aboard in Biglaw: law firm recruiting coordinators (or, to use the NALP terminology, “legal recruitment and attorney management professionals”). They’re the law firm employees who work with law schools to set up the fall interviewing process, coordinate on-campus and callback interviews, run summer associate programs (read: plan awesomely fun events for aspiring pro wrestlers), and generally oversee the process of hiring and recruiting qualified attorneys at major law firms.
(Note: Also falling under the broad terms “legal recruiter” or “recruiting professional” are people who work for legal search firms / headhunters — e.g., Kinney, Lateral Link, Mestel. We’ll discuss them in a future post.)
If you’re curious about opportunities in law firm recruiting departments, read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Alternatives for Attorneys: Law Firm Recruiting Coordinator”

library Above the Law blog.jpgAs we announced yesterday, we’re doing a series of open threads on career alternatives for attorneys. If you have a law degree, but can’t get into / aren’t interested in Biglaw or contract attorney work, what are some other good options?

We kicked off the series with a post about job opportunities with accounting firms. If you have a suggested career path, please email us (subject line: “Career Alternatives”), and include some basic info about the field that you’re nominating (e.g., how to get into it, pluses and minuses, salary data, etc.).

Back to law librarians. Longtime ATL readers know that they’re hot, as reflected in our law librarian hotties contest (male nominees here, female nominees here, and winners here). And it sounds like their profession is, too. From an enthusiastic law librarian, who works for a university:

Don’t forget law librarianship. Great hours, low stress, academic lifestyle, and the chance to abuse law students at will. Nothing could be finer.

Seriously, this a great profession. The work is interesting, law students and professors are intelligent and fun to work with, the stress level is low, the pace is comfortable, and I feel like I’m doing positive things for people. I have fun at work every day, and get many of the benefits of the law school academic lifestyle in spite of only having been in the middle of my class at [a top 30 law school]. There are plenty of jobs, many in very nice places to live. I highly recommend it.

Sounds promising — especially the part about abusing law students. Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Alternatives for Attorneys: Law Librarian”

accounting accountant CPA.jpgJust how versatile is a law degree? To quote one applicant for our new writer position: “If I had a nickel for every time someone told me ‘you can do a lot with a law degree,’ I’d have enough to pay for about a semester of law school.” [FN1]
As just discussed, many law school graduates are up to their ears in educational debt, but can’t land — or don’t want — Biglaw gigs. If they aren’t interested in working as contract attorneys, what other options are available to them?
To help answer this question, we’ll be doing a series of open threads on career alternatives for attorneys. If you have a suggestion for one, please email us (subject line: “Career Alternatives”). Please include some information about the alternative career path you’re nominating — e.g., how to get into the field, pros and cons, how much it pays, etc. — so if we use your suggestion, we have some material to kick off the conversation.
Today’s career alternative: working for an accounting firm. The Big Four accounting firms hire a fair number of J.D. holders. One popular specialty for lawyers at such firms is tax, where a legal education, although not essential, comes in handy.
If you’re curious about this possible career path, read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Alternatives for Attorneys: Accounting Firms”

pink slip layoff notice Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re not the only ones obsessed with layoffs these days. So is the New York Times, which has published two meaty articles on layoffs in the past few days — one in the Business section, and one in Sunday Styles.
The upshot of the business piece: Wall Street firms are increasingly relying upon “stealth layoffs” (like their brethren in the law, as we’ve discussed). Louise Story and Eric Dash report:

[E]xactly how many jobs have been or will be eliminated [on Wall Street] is unclear. In the past, banks typically made sharp reductions all at once. After the 1987 stock market crash, for example, employees were herded into conference rooms and dismissed en masse.

This time, companies are making many small cuts over the course of weeks or even months. Some people who have lost jobs, and many more struggling to hold them, say banks are keeping employees in the dark about the size and timing of layoffs.

Sound familiar, law firm associates?
Read the rest, below the fold.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Misery Loves Company”

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.)”

Page 124 of 1591...120121122123124125126127128...159