As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the American Lawyer recently released its highly influential, closely watched Am Law 100 law firm rankings. They say that “slow and steady wins the race,” and with regard to economic recovery, Biglaw firms seem to have taken that up as their new motto.
Yes, partners are still living as large as they ever were, but their success now comes in the form of single-digit returns with regard to key financial metrics. The divide between the “haves and the have-nots” in the world of major law firms has grown to epic proportions, and some Am Law 100 staples have fallen out of the top hundred firms altogether. Welcome to the new normal.
Are you ready to get excited about “modest” and “spotty” gains across the board? Let’s dig in….
Here at Above the Law, we write about career alternatives for attorneys from time to time, but it’s been a while since we last brought our readers an exciting story about extracurricular activities for attorneys. That being the case, here’s a little fun fact for you: many of the female members of this fine profession have, at one point or another in their lives, been on cheerleading squads.
Whether you’re a law student or a Supreme Court justice (yes, RBG once shook her pom-poms on the field), moonlighting as a cheerleader has its perks. What better way to learn how to BE AGGRESSIVE! B-E AGGRESSIVE! B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E! in the courtroom?
Today’s legal cheerleader has an impressive rack résumé: she used to work in Biglaw, she’s now working as an ADA, and most importantly, she moonlights as a cheerleader for the Atlanta Falcons. Wouldn’t you like to have a lovely litigatrix like her on your side?
Let’s take a look at her cheerleading bio and, because this post would be WWOP, some photos of this gorgeous glamazon….
Each year, Corporate Counsel compiles a list of the firms that the Fortune 100 companies use as outside counsel. These are the firms that corporate clients turn to when they’ve got bet-the-company litigation. From Exxon Mobil to Apple to Walmart, and everywhere in between, these are the clients with the deepest of pockets, and if you care at all about the business end of the law, then this is a list that you should care about.
But this time around, the list looks a little different. Due to the state of the economy, general counsel are now looking for more ways to reduce costs, and are constantly seeking out alternative fee structures. The firms on this year’s list may have been the ones that were most amenable to such changes.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at which firms topped this year’s list….
Law firm diversity matters. It matters to corporate clients, many of them public companies that want to demonstrate their commitment to diversity through their selection of vendors and service providers — which is what law firms are, at the end of the day. It matters to the law students and lawyers that firms are trying to recruit — which is the premise behind the data collection conducted by Building A Better Legal Profession.
So there should be keen interest in the latest edition of the American Lawyer’s Diversity Scorecard 2011, which the magazine just released. As Am Law explains, the Scorecard constitutes its annual ranking of large law firms by their percentage of minority attorneys and minority partners.
Let’s take a look at the top firms for diversity. Did your firm make the list?
* Marquette Law School Dean Joseph Kearney discusses the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent reaffirmation of the “diploma privilege” (which allows graduates of Wisconsin and Marquette’s law schools to become licensed attorneys without taking the bar). [Marquette Law Faculty Blog via Proof and Hearsay]
As the two firms told the Daily Journal, the talks were called off because of a familiar reason: potential client conflicts. According to a statement issued by Kilpatrick’s co-managing partner, William Dorris, “We explored merger discussions with our friends at Townsend, but clients always come first. When client-related conflicts could not be resolved, we could not proceed further.”
One merger is an accident. Two mergers … well, that could be a trend.
The merger of Hogan & Hartson and Lovells is in the books. The new firm is up and running, and it’s already saying goodbye to people. The Blog of the Legal Times reports that Hogan Lovells had some departures over the weekend:
A six-lawyer insurance litigation group left Hogan to launch a D.C. office for Hartford, Conn.-based Shipman & Goodwin. James Ruggeri, who leads the group, said that the move was made because of conflicts created by the merger for his group’s chief client, The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. Ruggeri serves as The Hartford’s national counsel for complex insurance coverage matters. He had been at Hogan since 1991.
Hogan Lovells has gotten a lot of attention in part because it is the highest-profile law firm merger to take place after the recession fully took hold.
What goes up, must come down. Nearly two years ago, Above the Law broke the news of Kilpatrick Stockton raising starting salaries to $145K in Atlanta and North Carolina. At the time, the firm said:
As you know, starting salaries for new associates have recently increased, for the second time this year in some of our markets. Consistent with our philosophy of paying competitive salaries, we are announcing today increases in the starting salaries in some of our offices and markets, to be effective January 1, 2008.
Effective on that date, we will pay a starting salary of $145,000 in Atlanta and North Carolina and $160,000 in Washington, D.C., New York, and IP Patent.
But in an even more shocking sign of the times, that August 2007 memo also noted:
We are studying the market in the capital markets practice to determine if any adjustments are warranted with respect to the existing capital markets scale. We remain committed to paying competitive compensation to our lawyers who practice in that area, but are not currently making any changes to the existing capital markets scale.
But today is not 2007. What do you think the existing capital-markets attorney pay scale is today? A pat on the back and a fish sandwich?
Today, Kilpatrick announced that it was scaling back starting salaries to $130K in Atlanta and North Carolina.
But that is not the full extent of the cuts. More details and a statement from the firm after the jump.
* As we told you last night, Supreme Court Justice David Souter, a 1990 Bush appointee, plans to bid One First Street farewell in June. Last night, we pointed you to BLT’s speculation on possible nominees. Here’s speculation from the AP. [Associated Press]
* The Supreme Court experts at SCOTUSblog write with the most insight into Justice Souter’s decision to retire now and speculation on who Obama will nominate. Souter’s replacement “has to be a woman… Race and ethnicity seem less important” as considerations, says SCOTUSblog. [SCOTUSblog]
* Justice Souter is only 69. Why is he stepping down before he even needs a cane to get around the hallowed halls? Because he hates the nation’s capital. [CBS News]
* Will President Obama’s list of 13 million e-mail addresses help make the SCOTUS nomination process go smoothly? [Washington Post]
* More on the sad suicide of Kilpatrick Stockton layoff Mark Levy. [Washington Post]
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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