From time to time, we’ve tried to track whether or not the Biglaw layoffs have had a disparate impact on women or minorities. There hasn’t been a lot of hard evidence. We did a story last year on layoffs at Squire Sanders that seemed to disproportionately affect women. And this year we ran a report that contained statistics showing that minorities have been disproportionately hosed by the layoffs as well.
Of course, there are some good arguments that the difficulties experienced by women in larger law firms are gender-neutral. This article on TechnoLawyer explores some of those concerns.
But there is one Biglaw issue that is undeniably gender-based. Only women can give birth.
Lately we’ve been getting information suggesting we should add another group to the Biglaw endangered species watch list: mothers. Specifically, we’re hearing that the New York office of K&L Gates apparently sports zero associate mothers. There are some female partners at K&L Gates with children, but no female associate in the New York office has figured out how to breed and hang on to her job at the same time.
K&L Gates did not respond to our multiple requests for comment, but the statistics are quite shocking…
On Sex and the City, Samantha was never seen scrolling through comments on news blogs to make sure her clients’ reputations weren’t being maligned. Instead, she attended fancy New York parties and talked up her roster of good-looking clients.
But SATC is dated. The work of public relations professionals has been made harder (and less glamorous) by the explosion of online news sources. We know that law firm PR folks spend a healthy amount of time monitoring the legal blogosphere to do damage control for their firms. Another place they need to watch is Wikipedia.
The crowd-source encyclopedia has become the go-to reference site for most Internetters. Society’s sages often warn people not to take everything they find in Wikipedia at face value — since the information does not necessarily come from experts and is not systematically vetted — but that advice often goes unheeded.
Because Wikipedia is such an important source of information, and so easily edited, some try to manipulate entries to give them a positive or negative spin. Lawyers at certain firms have been found guilty of this before (e.g., Wachtell). Sometimes dueling manipulation of an entry reaches the level of what Wikipedia calls an edit war — when two or more editors are continually overriding one another’s changes.
The Wikipedia gods ordered an end to the war on the page of Latham & Watkins. BLY1 noticed that the page was put on lockdown. A note from the Wikipedia war god says:
NOTE: IF YOU HAVE COME HERE TO EDIT ABOUT LAYOFFS, THINK TWICE. EDITS MUST BE FACTUALLY VERIFIABLE, AND NEUTRAL. IF YOU ARE CONNECTED TO THIS COMPANY IN ANY WAY WE ADVISE YOU *NOT* TO TOUCH IT.
Someone kept inserting references to Latham’s layoffs and how hard hit first-year associates were. That info has now been scrubbed from the page.
We decided to take a stroll though the revision history of other law firm pages to see who needs to do clean up, and who has done clean up. Cravath, for example, had a very interesting description for a short time…
Nooooo! Haven’t we learned that “too big to fail” is terrible? It’s bad for our economy when things are too big to fail — too often, too big means too inefficient to change:
Carrying dozens of offices through the worst recession in a generation might sound like a prescription for disaster. But heads of The Am Law 100′s most geographically diverse firms say that their business model is not only alive, but robust.
Have we learned nothing from everything that’s happened? Do these firms really think that the entire legal recession can be blamed on so-called “entitled” junior associates who had the audacity to accept the money firms were willing to pay them?
The reader who brought this item to our attention opined: “This is a pretty crazy lawsuit. Not enough gay people in San Francisco to field a softball team? That’s a first.”
Strange, but apparently true. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
All Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ wanted to do was to win the championship game at the Gay Softball World Series for their amateur San Francisco team.
Instead, they were marched one by one into a conference room at the tournament in suburban Seattle and asked about their “private sexual attractions and desires,” and their team was stripped of its second-place finish after the men were determined to be “non-gay,” they said in a lawsuit accusing a national gay sports organization of discrimination.
Although it’s not as extreme as hooking up the electrodes, asking a guy about his “private sexual attractions” to determine whether or not he’s gay seems a bit… invasive. Why not just ask how many times a day he moisturizes, or whether anything in his closet is purple?
Okay, let’s take a step back. We can ask the same question here as we can with respect to Supreme Court nominees: Does sexual orientation matter?
K&L Gates is cutting salaries, again. This time the cuts seem directed at K&L Gates associates in the firm’s Boston office. But more importantly, these appear to be tactical cuts that will hurt associates currently at the firm, while doing as little damage as possible to K&L’s recruiting brochures.
A tipster reports the headline news:
K&L Gates slashed salaries last week, at least in their Boston office .. all associates who didn’t meet the billable target (1950 hours) last year saw their salaries cut by 10%. The best part? First year associates–who started with the firm in January, 2010 (two months ago) still retain their starting salary of $160,000. Translation? Most, if not all second year associates are now making 10% less than the first years who have been practicing for 2 months. The second year associates were told that they had their “free pass” last year, which is why the salary disparity is justified.
Yeah. Morale in this office sucks right now.
Multiple tipsters sent in reports similar to this one, all of them were pissed. Not just the second years …
* One secret to happiness is to make your bed each morning, says Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project and one of The Elect. (She got Lat to reveal his secrets last year.) [New York Times]
* Hogan & Hartson’s 38-lawyer Warsaw office is defecting to K&L Gates. [Blog of the Legal Times]
* Maybe this guy should have realized she was a dud when she told him “no one flies coach to Australia.” [Gothamist]
* Only net losers can recover money from Bernie Madoff, rules bankruptcy judge Burton Lifland. [Wall Street Journal and Business Week]
* The Supreme Court won’t rule on the Uighurs at Guantanamo. [New York Times]
* Brazil beckons Biglaw. [BusinessWeek]
One of our Biglaw friends told us a story of being on a call with a client and being told in advance by the partner not to say a word. It was not out of a fear that said associate would say something stupid, but because the partner didn’t want the client to think about how many lawyers were working on the case.
But when clients get their bills, they do usually take note of how many associates are working for them. These days, with everyone tightening their belts, clients sometimes get annoyed — or worse — when they have a whole football team of associates playing defense.
A family in Massachusetts objected to the number of K&L Gates players on its team working on a probate case when the firm’s bill came to almost the same amount as the probate estate in question. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled this week that K&L Gates’s $800,000 bill for defending a $1.2 million probate estate was for a whole lot of “unnecessary lawyering.”
From the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s Docket:
In a ruling in In the Matter of the Estate of Bartley J. King, released today, Justice Margot Botsford wrote for a unanimous court that “a total of eighteen attorneys and paralegals were representing [the client], a remarkable number especially when one takes into account the motion judge’s view that the theories advanced by the contestants were not ‘overly complex.’”
Ouch. Overlawyered in body count, but underlawyered in brain power…
Great news for Biglaw partners and the associates who love them. Early returns suggest that despite the global economic meltdown that wrecked multiple American industries, profits per partner remained relatively stable in 2009.
Biglaw partners made out okay. They survived. And they’re looking forward to even more profit in 2010. The WSJ Law Blog reports:
Here’s one thing that’s not in dispute: 2009 was awful for firms. A survey by Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group of 50 of the country’s 100 largest firms, as measured by revenue, found last year’s revenue at the firms was down an average 4% from 2008. These same firms, according to Citi, averaged 7% revenue growth in 2008, and 12% growth from 2001 to 2007. And the profit picture would have been worse had firms not aggressively cut expenses, by an average of 7% in 2009, says Dan DiPietro, the Citi’s Law Firm Group advisory head.
I think a four percent haircut, in the middle of the worst recession anybody can remember, is actually strikingly good for Biglaw partners. A lot of associates saw salary cuts of 10% or greater — to say nothing of all the people who saw salary cuts of 100%, i.e., who lost their jobs. Relatively speaking, I think a four percent drop in revenue — with the possibility that PPP won’t even fall by that much — is good news.
Of course, some firms beat the curve….
Yesterday, we reported that K&L Gates cut salaries for its incoming associates. The salary cut is just for a few of the firm’s many offices, but it looks like I got the offices wrong. The firm still hasn’t responded to my request for clarification, but tipsters who work at K&L Gates have helped set the record straight.
Yesterday’s report was based on phone calls the firm made to incoming associates over the weekend. But K&L Gates also held meetings on Friday with associates in the firm’s various offices. The salary cuts on incoming associates will only affect four of the firm’s offices: Charlotte, Dallas, Raleigh, and Seattle. But the cuts will affect each office differently. A tipster reports:
They cut salaries for incoming first years in only 4 of the 33 offices, and the salary cuts depended upon which city they’re in. For instance, Dallas incoming salaries were dropped from 160k to 150k.
Okay, but that’s just the bad news and it only affects people about to start with the firm. For associates already at the firm, there was a lot of good news from the Friday meetings.
Details after the jump.
We have some good news and some bad news for incoming K&L Gates associates.
I’m feeling charitable, so I’ll lead with the good news. Our sources report that everybody is officially set to start on January 4th. The firm called people over the weekend to mention some final, minor details, but people will have a job on the first business day of the New Year.
Yay! Doesn’t everybody feel good?
Okay, now the bad news. One of those minor details was a big old salary cut for incoming first-year salaries. The cut will really put K&L Gates first years on the low end of the Biglaw salary pool. UPDATE: The salary cut does not apply to all incoming first-year associates. Details after the jump.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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