Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be legal secretaries. We’re hearing scattered and somewhat hard-to-confirm reports of lawyer layoffs at various firms — please email us or text us (646-820-8477) if you have news to share — but efforts to reduce the ranks of secretaries are open and notorious.
If you spin through our staff layoff coverage, you’ll see that numerous law firms have shrunk the size of their secretarial staffs. Some firms have done this the hard way, through layoffs, while others have taken the kinder and gentler route, through buyouts.
Today we can report that two leading law firms have jumped on the “voluntary separation” bandwagon. If you’re a recently displaced legal assistant looking for a new position, don’t bother applying to either of these places — one of which is shedding lawyers, too….
Truth be told, I’m not a fan of law firms giving offers to 100 percent of their summer associates. Whatever happened to selectivity? Given how perfunctory the hiring process is, there has to be at least one mistake in any summer class of decent size, right?
A commenter on our last post about offer rates put it well: “[A] 100% offer rate is not always a good thing. If we don’t want to work with the little weirdo who managed to slip through by pretending he was normal in 20-minute increments in callbacks, there’s a good chance the other SAs don’t either. Firms shouldn’t be so captured by the desire to have 100% offer rates that they give offers to people with serious social issues or work product problems, particularly in small offices where their general offensiveness will really have an opportunity to shine.”
Another reason I don’t like 100 percent offer rates is that I enjoy hearing funny stories of summer associate misbehavior, which often culminate in a no offer or a cold offer. You can share such stories with us by email or by text message (646-820-8477; texts only, not a voice line).
Alas, Biglaw firms are not obliging me. Let’s find out which firms are indiscriminately doling out offers to their summers….
As we reported over the weekend, it’s looking like Dewey & LeBoeuf will soon find itself in bankruptcy (perhaps voluntarily, perhaps not). The specter of bankruptcy raises a question for the many former partners of Dewey: dude, where’s my car capital contribution?
Let’s find out — and get the latest dispatches on the Dewey death spiral, including news of a new home for former vice chair Ralph Ferrara….
* News Corp. has hired Paul Weiss attorney Mark Mendelsohn, a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act expert, to advise them. In related news, Chuck Norris has hired Wendi Deng Murdoch to advise him. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Utah’s goofy liquor laws are examined in this New York Times article. The restrictive laws clearly came out of Joseph Smith’s attempt to monopolize visions emanating from the bottom of hats. [New York Times]
* President Obama’s evolving views on gay marriage have led him to back an attempt to repeal DOMA. I’m no Frank Lutz, but I see a messaging problem on gay issues if he keeps up this whole “leading from behind” shtick. [Los Angeles Times]
* Kramer Levin is “client-focused” and looking for someone who is “entrepreneurial” and the “total package.” Words! [The Careerist]
* Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall is suing Hanesbrands, parent company of the Champion sports apparel maker, for dropping him after some dumb tweets. Dude said some pretty stupid stuff about 9/11, but the true jewel of his collection was buried deep in this story. In a tweet aimed at women who don’t perform oral sex, Rashard said “It’s either gonna be you, OR some other chick.” Hahahaha. Oh, Rashard. [ESPN]
Last week, Kramer Levin announced its bonuses. The firm is paying bonuses on the Cravath scale, to associates “in good standing.” So it looks on the surface like a market match.
But the memo contains the following language worth noting:
As has been our practice, eligibility to receive the Year-End Bonus will be based on merit and achievement of hours thresholds (which are expected to be the same as the last couple of years); associates who do not satisfy these components may be eligible to receive Year-End Bonuses in lesser amounts.
Do these merit and hours requirements keep a significant number of associates from receiving the full bonus? We don’t have enough data points to say; feel free to discuss in the comments. Also note that bonuses won’t be paid for a while — not until February 15, 2010.
The full memo appears after the jump.
Here we are. The end of the Vault 100.
To be on the Vault 100 is to be a well-known firm. Sure, maybe not well-known to law students or junior associates who can’t see past the mountain of doc review boxes in their windowless conference rooms. But known to partners … and clients. Look down your nose at these firms if you wish, but remember the old African proverb: “The smallest elephant can still crush your Lexus.”
Here is the final batch of top law firms for discussion:
Layoffs, layoffs everywhere. And not a one doesn’t stink.
The latest bummer comes from Kramer Levin, where attorney layoffs were conducted last Thursday. Staff layoffs took place today to the reaction of “shocked” personnel (in the words of a tipster). The firm confirmed the bad news to us via phone:
We confirm that in connection with our year end review process, 18 attorneys and 21 staff members were let go by the firm. Terminations were based on both economic and performance considerations.
But don’t take our transcribed word for it. An email sent by the firm’s managing partner at 4:20 p.m. today, after the jump.
Kramer Levin is going to be a film star. The New York office received notice yesterday that a movie shooting will start there next week.
From: Tortorella, Nicholas J.
Sent: Wednesday, November 05, 2008 11:39 AM
To: All NY
Subject: Movie Shoot at KL
The firm has consented to permit several scenes from “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits” to be filmed in our space. The movie features Natalie Portman, Lisa Kudrow and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Filming is scheduled to begin next week and will take place in 29C – 29L – the north corridor of 30 and office 3027. I know this will present some inconvenience, but we thought that it would add a bit of excitement and fun in an otherwise challenging time. I ask your patience and no, they don’t require any extras, stunt people, walk-on’s or real lawyers!! Filming will take place primarily on Wednesday and Thursday of next week but there will be some activity as early as tomorrow. They chose our space because it conveyed the image of a big, powerful, successful NYC law firm (in spite of our recent plumbing issues). The film will be released next year and the firm will be mentioned in the credits.
In the novel-based film, Natalie Portman will play an aspiring lawyer who “thought she knew what she wanted when she went after the sexy, married senior partner,” Jeffrey Dean Morgan (aka Denny Duquette from Grey’s Anatomy). No plumbing issues for the firm partner: Portman’s character gets pregnant.
This is not the best time to be losing Bankruptcy rainmakers. But according to the ABA Journal, that is exactly what is happening to Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel. The three partners are: David Feldman, Eric Wise and Matthew Williams. David Feldman was formerly the co-chair of Kramer Levin’s bankruptcy group.
Gibson Dunn’s press release heralding the new hires reinforced the trio’s rainmaking capacity:
“This group has an established practice and a tremendous reputation in the distressed debt arena and will give Gibson Dunn a strong foundation in this growing area,” said Michael Rosenthal, Co-Chair of the Business Restructuring and Reorganization Practice Group.
Update (3:51): As many commenters pointed out, bankruptcy superstar Luc Despins is leaving Milbank for Paul Hastings. According to the National Law Journal:
Luc A. Despins, well-known in the profession for his representation of the creditors’ committee in the bankruptcy of Enron Corp., is the latest marquee name to be poached as firms rush to ramp up restructuring practices in response to the worsening economy.
According to our sources at Milbank, no associates will be leaving with Despins. The firm could not be reached for immediate comment.
Bankruptcy lawyers are the new IP attorneys. They’re very much in demand.
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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.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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