Some time ago, we solicited applications for a new position here at Above the Law: a columnist to cover the world of in-house counsel. We received many outstanding applications, and we thank everyone who applied for their interest.
Today we are pleased to announce the launch of the new column, entitled Inside Straight (for the poker aficionados among you). As its name suggests, the column will cover the world of corporate counsel with all of the candor and insight that you’ve come to expect from ATL.
Our columnist — a former law firm partner, current in-house lawyer, and author of a well-received book on legal practice — should be familiar to longtime followers of the world of legal blogging….
Earlier this week, we brought you the story of Nelson v. Jones Day — a discrimination lawsuit filed against Jones Day by Jaki Nelson, an African-American woman who worked at JD for almost 18 years. Some of the allegations in Nelson’s complaint — use of racial slurs by firm partners and administrators, sex scandals, and rampant bullying — were salacious and incendiary. If you haven’t already done so, read more about them in our earlier post.
As litigators well know, however, there are two (or more) sides to every story. And this lawsuit is no exception.
(We’re reminded of Aaron Charney’s lawsuit against Sullivan & Cromwell, alleging anti-gay discrimination. Based on the same reporting, some viewed that lawsuit as Philadelphia: The Sequel, while others saw it as an oversensitive and entitled associate suing a firm with no anti-gay bias — and numerous gay partners and associates.)
After we published our post, sources came forward to defend Jones Day and the lawyers mentioned in the complaint — and to dish dirt on the plaintiff, Jaki Nelson….
Oh boy. Discrimination lawsuits filed by former employees against law firms can get pretty salacious. But we haven’t seen a complaint this juicy since Allgood v. Williams Mullen (aka the “cucumber incident”), or maybe Braude v. Maron Marvel (girl-on-girl sexual harassment in Delaware).
This latest lawsuit is captioned Nelson v. Jones Day. It was actually filed back in September, but it only seems to be coming to light now. It was covered last week by eBossWatch, then picked up today by the ABA Journal.
The allegations — which include claims of Jones Day partners and staff supervisors using racial slurs, junior associates “treat[ing] office staff like servants,” and office affairs and sex scandals — are not to be missed….
Until Cravath proves me wrong, I’m going to keep on believing that associate bonuses will be better this year than last. But this early indication from the notoriously secretive firm of Jones Day doesn’t bode well for my prediction.
Today Jones Day communicated to its administrative staff that it wouldn’t be paying them a bonus this year.
Actually, it’s worse than that for staff at Jones Day. Not only will they not be getting bonuses this year, but the firm’s entire “Year End Payment Program” has been terminated. Jones Day says that now it will only pay its staff based on “performance.”
Let’s take a look at the memo to staff, and shudder to think about what this might mean for Jones Day associates…
Greetings, loved ones. Hello there, California girls (and boys). We hope that you’re doing well. Gay marriage might be on hold for now, but there are other unions to celebrate on the West Coast.
Like unions between law firms and job-seeking law students. As we’ve discussed in these pages before, on-campus interviewing at law schools seems to be on the upswing.
And it’s not just in New York, where schools like Columbia and NYU report increased interviewing activity. It’s happening in California too, as reported by Sara Randazzo and Kari Hamanaka of the Daily Journal:
Career counselors around the state are reporting that the number of employers signing on to the recruiting process this year is either steady or up slightly. The mood, however, is still tempered by the reality that the recruiting climate is nowhere near the fever pitch preceding the downturn when there were barely enough top law students to go around for associate-hungry firms.
“When I talk to lawyers in the field, it seems things are busier, but given all the excess in the hiring pipelines they are still very conservative,” said Terrence Galligan, assistant dean of career development at UC Berkeley School of Law.
Well, conservative can be good (and not just politically). The conservative hiring of summer associates for 2010, for example, seems to have resulted in very high offerrates.
For 2011, some firms that stayed on the sidelines in 2010 are back in the game….
Firing people sucks. The fired feel lousy about themselves. Those doing the firing feel like jerks. The day the ax falls is a dark one for everybody.
But it’s darkest for the ones who lose their jobs. Especially if they have to leave the building immediately. And don’t have time to clear out their desks. And have things in their desk that will result in at least 15 years of prison time.
Back in June, Jones Day confirmed that it had laid off staff in Dallas and Los Angeles. A recent press release from the FBI suggests that the firm had layoffs in D.C., too. The firm did not mention this back in June, perhaps because it did not want to have to relate the disturbing story of what was found in the desk drawer of one of their recently-axed employees…
This thread covers the firms ranked #11 through #20. This is your chance to discuss these firms — their upsides and downsides and whether Vault got their rankings right. The Vault site has entries for each firm, similar to the Firm Snapshots in our own Career Center.
The “downers” category for most firms tends to be rather general: they treat me like a number, “long hours,” “unfun,” etc. But someone at #20-ranked White & Case had a very specific complaint about the firm’s lack of tech savvy: “The technology is very outdated. We still run Outlook 2003 and are not allowed to use iPhones. The blackberries we are given are over 2 years old and do not work well at times. The firm is not receptive to these issues.”
Little known White & Case perk: every new associate gets their own Commodore 64 for home use.
What are the reviews for the other firms in this bracket?
Earlier this month, we reported on staff layoffs in the Los Angeles and Dallas offices of Jones Day. Now we’re hearing about additional layoffs at the firm, which raise the question: Could staff layoffs at JD perhaps be a firm-wide phenomenon, even if the firm only confesses to what it’s confronted with?
Yesterday the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Jones Day cut an unspecified number of non-lawyer employees in its Cleveland office. The firm cited the old “technology allows us to be more efficient” rationale, which has been widely invoked by law firms when they cut stuff:
[T]he 117-year-old firm issued a statement saying that “universal adoption of smart phones, voicemail and email enables (and requires) lawyers to be more self-sufficient,” reducing the need to have as many support staff to perform duties now done directly by lawyers.
“Although we deeply regret the need for this action, these changes preserve our ability to best serve clients and remain one of the leading global law firms,” the company said.
[M]any of our peer competitors will come out weaker, not stronger. They may well protect their short-term financial metrics (although it will be interesting to see how we fare vs. the firms that slashed and burned), but they will pay a long-term price. Some of it is obvious: Firing staff and associates, or freezing associate salaries, or doing away with summer programs entirely makes it very clear to those groups that either that firm was not efficiently organized and managed before this crisis, or its first interest is protecting the owners’ incomes, not the various constituents that depend on the firm. While that is hardly un-American, it does tend to focus people’s minds on the fact that their firm clearly does not have their interests at the top of its agenda.
So, if Jones Day were to fire staff, would that make it “very clear” that JD isn’t efficiently organized?
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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