Job Searches

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.)”

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?”

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