David Childs, Managing Partner
Sheffield University; University College, London (LLB, LLM)
Craig Medwick, Regional Managing Partner, Americas
21 2Ls, 4 1Ls
Notable recruits to the Litigation/White Collar practice include former Federal prosecutors David Raskin (the prosecution and investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui – the 9/11 “20th hijacker – and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed), Ed O’Callaghan (prosecution on the UN Oil for Food program) and Christopher Morvillo (prosecution of Lynne Stewart).
Advised TAM airlines on its 2012 merger with LAN to create the second largest airline in the world by market value, LATAM Airline Group.
Advised on 10 aircraft finance-related “Deal of the Year” transactions in 2012, with total value exceeding US$10B.
Advised owners of the Empire State Building on its US$1B IPO.
Justice Ginsburg: a full-service wedding provider.
Ed. note: We’ll return to our normal publication schedule on Monday, December 2. We hope to see you at our holiday happy hour on Thursday, December 5 — for details and to RSVP (to this free event with an open bar), click here.
The ruins of a house on the outskirts of Tacloban, capital of Leyte.
Law firms and the legal profession have a long and distinguished tradition of contributing to the public interest. Earlier today, we highlighted five Biglaw firms that are pro bono all-stars.
Most pro bono cases involve clients and causes here in the United States. But in today’s increasingly global world, law firms look beyond borders when it comes to helping the needy.
Yesterday we commended Skadden for its generous support of Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts in my ancestral homeland of the Philippines. And today we recognize several other law firms that have joined in this worthy cause….
In fact, some of them acted (or at least announced their actions) prior to Skadden. As we noted in an update to yesterday’s post, Weil Gotshal donated $50,000 to Typhoon Haiyan relief, through Oxfam and the Red Cross, as announced last Wednesday by Barry Wolf.
And some could end up making even larger donations (subject to employee matches). For example, take Kirkland & Ellis:
[T]he Kirkland & Ellis Foundation will create a matching fund to help the people of the Philippines. The Foundation will match contributions made by Kirkland partners and employees up to an aggregate of $100,000. In recognition of this unique need, the usual minimum to qualify for matching has been waived and donations will not count toward annual matching limits.
You can read the full Kirkland memo on the next page. The same goes for Akin Gump, which could also end up donating up to $100,000. It will contribute $50,000, $25,000 to UNICEF and $25,000 to Mercy Corps, and will match up to an additional $50,000 in contributions to either of these organizations.
International offices are joining in as well. The Hong Kong office of Clifford Chance donated HK$50,000, and the London office donated £50,000 and will also match employee contributions.
And so are small law firms. For example, Woodruff Johnson & Palermo, a personal injury law firm is Illinois, is collecting not just monetary donations but also supplies.
If you’re aware of additional firms that are lending support to Philippine typhoon relief efforts, please note them in the comments or email us, subject line: “Typhoon Relief.” We will update this post accordingly (or possibly write a new post). Thanks once again to all the firms that have come forward to help those in need.
UPDATE (5:50 p.m.): Orrick, through the Orrick Foundation, is matching employee donations to three organizations — Action Against Hunger, UNICEF, and the International Rescue Committee — up to an aggregate of $50,000. Memo on the next page.
UPDATE (11/20/2013, 5:00 p.m.): First, Linklaters is (1) donating £10,000 to the Red Cross and (2) matching individual donations up to a maximum of £10,000.
Second, several Asian-American lawyer groups are organizing a fundraising event taking place on Monday, November 25. If you’re in New York, please consider attending. Details are available at the AABANY website and on Facebook (where you can RSVP).
(Flip to the next page for the Kirkland & Ellis and Woodruff Johnson memos.)
Would you rather be a great lawyer or be perceived as being a great lawyer?
For many people, I think the answer to that question varies over time: At age 30, you’d rather be a great lawyer. At age 60, you’d rather be perceived as being a great lawyer.
Because, over time, your reputation may come to track reality. If you’re perceived as great when you’re 30, but you’re actually no good, that truth may out over time. As you age, your reputation may catch up with you.
By the time you’re 60, your professional horizon will have shortened, and it’s less likely that the world will unearth your incompetence. If you’re perceived as being a great lawyer when you’re 60, you may well make it to retirement unscathed.
What of law firms? Would you rather that your firm be great or be perceived as being great?
The answer may be the same for institutions as it is for individuals, and the answer may again turn on your time horizon: If you’re actually great, you’re likely to prosper over time. If you’re (incorrectly) perceived as being great, you’re likely to prosper in the short-term and fail over time.
What does that tell you about law firm mergers that are meant to increase the “brand awareness” of a law firm? The firm will merge and improve its public profile (and image) in the short-term, without necessarily tending to quality. That may well improve short-term performance, but perhaps at the expense of long-term success.
Finley Kumble plainly followed that strategy. Steve Kumble is quoted as having said, “When we’re the biggest, people will think we’re the best.” I’m not sure that anyone ever viewed Finley Kumble as the pinnacle of quality, but the firm surely gained prominence by expanding rapidly and improving its brand awareness, until the firm exploded.
There’s plenty of pseudo-empirical evidence that suggests that the marketplace generally perceives bigger as better. From the late 1980s through roughly 2000, Baker & McKenzie, Jones Day, and Skadden were the three largest law firms in the world, with Baker & McKenzie the largest and Jones Day and Skadden running neck and neck for second place. Which U.S. law firms had the strongest brands this year? You guessed it.
Zoom out from the U.S. to the entire world, and big still matters. A recent analysis by Acritas says that the five law firms with the strongest brands globally are Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Linklaters, and DLA Piper. Those may not be precisely the five largest law firms in the world, but they’re all contenders. And I’ll wager that the recent moves by Norton Rose Fulbright and, if it closes, Orrick and Pillsbury Winthrop, will catapult those firms (even) higher in the brand awareness charts.
I recently dined with a senior administrative guy from one of those five best-known global firms, and he told me that he thought the trend to globalization favored his gargantuan firm. “If I were a great law firm with a presence in only one or two cities, the trend in these brand-awareness studies would worry me. To remain at the top of the heap in today’s world, you simply must get bigger.”
But that’s all reputation; what of quality?
Let me start with the obvious: All of the huge global firms appear near the top of the brand awareness charts, and no huge firm appears at the bottom (or falls off the charts entirely because no one has ever heard of it). Thus, in one sense, Kumble was right: Bigness alone adds value.
At that point, please lay out the eggshells for me to walk on. I work for the world’s leading insurance broker for law firms; I’m not about to criticize any particular law firm in public.
To the contrary: I think you’re all great! Lawyers are like the children in Lake Wobegon: They’re all above average! In fact, that’s understating it: You’re all the very best in the world! It’s a zillion-way tie for first place! (By the way, do you need a good broker? Send me a note through the e-mail link at the end of this column.)
I’ll say only that there must be some large firm whose quality has become spottier over time as the firm pursued growth as an end in itself. And there are surely some small- and medium-sized firms that consist entirely of top-notch lawyers; those firms are overlooked in the marketplace only because fewer clients have had personal contact with lawyers at the firm.
But perhaps that’s irrelevant. Reputations are odd things and are often very sticky. Maybe reputations do conform themselves to reality over time, or maybe that’s true only in an abstract world in which information is perfect and time unbounded.
Or, as yet a third possibility, maybe the meaning of “quality” is so amorphous in the field of professional services that reputation is what matters and reality doesn’t exist.
* The Magic Circle isn’t very magical across the pond in New York City. Four out of five firms from the U.K. — Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Linklaters — have yet to pull rabbits out of their hats in the Big Apple. [Am Law Daily]
* Dewey know how much this failed firm’s old domain name sold for at auction? At the conclusion of the sale, it ended up going for $210,689, which was just a shade over the initial asking price of $200,000. Someone just got ripped off. [Law360 (sub. req.)]
* The judge on this case against Skadden Arps isn’t sure that document review should count as anything other than practicing law, “even if it’s not the most glamorous.” Ahh, the luxurious life of a contract attorney. [Am Law Daily]
* Professor Raymond Ku has filed an amended complaint against Case Western Law Dean Larry Mitchell, and now the allegations are even juicier, including a possible ménage à trois. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
* The number of people who took the LSAT in October has dropped for the fourth year in a row, this time by 11 percent. “This is a big deal” for law professors interested in keeping their jobs. [National Law Journal]
* Legal education needs to adapt to reflect the fact that 50 percent of law students don’t intend to use their law degrees to work in traditional legal fields. In other words, legal education needs to adapt to people too stupid to figure out the only jobs that require a law degree are those in traditional legal fields. [New York Law Journal]
* Harvard is hosting an event on the “business of college sports.” You can learn all about the business of college sports from this video right here. [Sports Agent Blog]
Day in and day out, the demands associated with Biglaw grind people up and lay waste to the hopes and dreams that many once had about what it would be like to work as a high-powered attorney. And more often than not, it is the men who are in charge of this “all work, no play” carnival of tortured souls.
From origination credit to salary wars to leadership opportunities, it is usually the men who are accused of pushing women two steps back in the Biglaw regime. But today, we’ve got insider information on some alleged woman-on-woman crime. This time, it is the women who are ripping their female colleagues to shreds. And it’s not just any women; no, it’s the members of the firm’s Women’s Committee who are doing the damage, and trust us when we say that these cats have claws.
Last night, we started receiving reports of a memo entitled “Presentation Tips for Women” that was distributed by a member of the Women’s Committee to all women associates across the U.S. offices of Clifford Chance. Here’s what one of its recipients said to us via email:
[F]emale associates are very upset by not only the elementary nature of the tips themselves, but the suggestion that these would only apply to women. We have never been a very female friendly firm, but this is beyond the pale.
With that kind of ringing endorsement, we took a peek at the five-page document to see what kind of “tips” the powers that be at Clifford Chance were doling out to their women attorneys. Our tipster was correct in that the vast majority of these words of wisdom aren’t tips for “women,” but rather, tips for “human beings.” (Though to be fair, some of these tips might actually have been helpful to the people who bought into crazy things like the “power cleavage” phenomenon or the unspoken “shorter skirts, bigger bonuses” movement.)
We’ve listed some of the most ridiculous “tips for women” here, along with our commentary:
“Like” You’ve got to Lose “Um” and “Uh,” “You Know,” “OK,” and “Like.”
- Um, Clifford Chance, do you think that women associates are like, uh, valley girls?
Use a relaxed, open throat, breathe from the abdomen & keep your mouth open.
- Ladies, please remember to thank your firm for these excellent blow-job tips.
Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe.
- Because the goal in Biglaw is to sound like an older woman dripping with sex, not a younger one.
Don’t giggle; Don’t squirm; Don’t tilt your head.
- Don’t act like a teenager. Don’t act like a four-year-old. Don’t act like a confused dog. Got it.
Practice hard words.
- Wrap your tiny female brains around this one (or consult with George W. Bush if you’re having difficulties).
Watch out for the urinal position.
- We thought these were tips for women, but it’s best to avoid looking like you’re pissing on your audience.
Wear a suit, not your party outfit.
- In case you’ve forgotten, there’s no such thing as work/life balance. Their suits are their party outfits.
No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage.
- Similarly, no one heard Bill the day he waved his dick around.
The document also contains advice for women on how to not give the audience a Sharon Stone crotch shot when wearing a skirt while seated on a dais — because closing your legs is just as hard as words are.
We reached out to Clifford Chance for comment on this debacle, and received this statement from the firm:
The original presentation and associated tips represented a personal perspective, shared with a group of colleagues, some just starting out in their careers. The more than 150 points are based on what this individual has found helpful as a public speaker in a broad range of business environments. While much of what is covered is common sense, we believe that it is important that women as well as men are given access to a range of different viewpoints and approaches; there is no Clifford Chance template on how people should present. The offense caused by a small percentage of the suggestions in the tip sheet was entirely unintentional.
We’re sure that the women attorneys at Clifford Chance feel much better now that they know the inadvertent sexism present in this memo wasn’t intentional. While we look forward to seeing the “common sense” memo distributed to the firm’s male attorneys instructing them not to reach down their pants to adjust their junk during presentations, we have a distinct feeling that it just doesn’t exist.
(Flip to the next page to see the full memo. Do you find it sexist, taken as a whole?)
By now, many of you have heard about or seen the video of a Clifford Chance “trainee lawyer” making some unfortunate remarks that could be construed as his views about the practice of law. The video has received coverage on both sides of the Atlantic, and it could cause the young lawyer to lose his training contract with the firm — i.e., his job.
But should it? Let’s check out the clip, which gives new meaning to the term “Downfall Video,” and discuss its career implications for the trainee in question….
Clifford Chance has threatened to end the contract of one its trainees after a video appeared on YouTube of him behaving like a massive tool, and was promptly circulated around the City.
In “Shark Tales 2″, a journalist takes to the streets “in search of drunken wisdom”. Which essentially involves filming pissheads in Oxford in the small hours of the morning as they proclaim their views on homosexuality, feminism and the City. Cue the trainee at 4:14 in this clip.
Here’s the video, produced by Cherwell, an Oxford student newspaper. The journalist, Toby Mather, is an adorable Harry Potter doppelgänger:
For those of you can’t watch video, here’s a transcript of the relevant exchange, also from Roll On Friday:
- I’m a City lad and I f*cking love the ladness. I love the City.
- The ladness?
- I love the ladness and I love the City, so I’m basically a perfect City lad.
- What is the ladness?
- The ladness is just basically f*cking people over for money.
- F*cking people over for money?
The trainee appears again near the end of the clip, around 6:41, and declares as follows: “I refuse my consent for this to go on the internet, and I WILL sue you if it goes on.”
Alas, he probably won’t be sending any takedown or cease-and-desist letters on Clifford Chance letterhead. A spokesperson for the firm issued this statement: “The comments made are inappropriate and they are at odds with our principles and the professional standards we espouse as a firm. One of our trainee lawyers is the subject of our formal disciplinary procedures which may result in termination of the training contract with the firm.”
But was this really that egregious? It’s an extremely short segment, mixed in with interviews of many other revelers. The trainee doesn’t identify himself as a Clifford Chance lawyer — that connection was unearthed by Roll On Friday — and he doesn’t explicitly state that “the ladness” relates to the practice of law. He could just be referring to the generally mercenary ways of London as a city or financial center.
It’s also worth noting, as a Charwell article does, that the video clip came out months ago, on May 10, making it ancient history on the internet. It’s just that, unfortunately for the lawyer in question, it somehow came to the attention of Roll On Friday and other legal news websites.
Personally I think this attorney, even though he’s just a “trainee” (on a kind of probationary status), deserves another Clifford Chance — a talking-to or reprimand, but not firing. What do you think?
Unless you’ve made some deliberate, heroic effort to not know, you are aware that the most feverishly anticipated baby since 0 A.D. is now finally among us. This is a huge deal. People love babies. People love princesses and what not. So: huge deal. Thus, as we await the naming of the boy Windsor and as a flimsy topical pretext, let’s have a look at how the Magic Circle, the UK’s legal royalty, rate in the ATL Insider Survey.
The Magic Circle comprises five venerable London firms: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Linklaters, and the terrifyingly-yet-diffidently named Slaughter and May. Powerhouse “Slaughters” is the only one of this prestigious group lacking a New York office. The other four are among the most truly global firms and are among the top ten firms in the world measured by revenue. S&M is also the only one of the group for which we lack sufficient survey responses to generate ratings based on the ATL Insider Survey. After the jump, see how the others’ New York offices stack up in terms of Compensation, Hours, Training, Firm Morale, and Culture.
Here are how the Magic Circle’s New York City offices compare to one another based on our Insider Survey. Ratings are on a scale of 1 through 10, with 10 being best.
As for Overall Rating, the average of all the separate ratings, the standings look like this. For context we’ve added in a rating for an imaginary “NYC Magic Circle” — the combined average overall Insider Survey ratings for Skadden, Sullivan & Cromwell, Simpson Thacher, Davis Polk and Cravath. The market for the highest end legal services in the U.S. is much more fragmented than in the UK, but these firms could be considered the closest equivalent of the Magic Circle firms.
Finally, for you wallies and gits who are not hip to the lingo, below is a round-up of Briticisms that appeared at least once in the Magic Circle survey responses and nowhere else. We’re not sure whether the respondents are UK ex-pats or Americans affecting their firms’ folkways:
• Bolshy (adj. meaning something like “difficult” or “argumentative”)
• Chuffed (“pleased”)
• Right (“very”, e.g. “right chuffed”)
• Brilliant (you know this one, your pretentious friends describe everything thus)
• Cracking (all-purpose positive modifier)
* Thanks to the slow transactional markets in Western Europe, Magic Circle firms like Allen & Overy, Linklaters, and Clifford Chance are struggling to pull a rabbit out of a hat in terms of gross revenue and profits. [Am Law Daily]
* If at first you don’t succeed because of John Ashcroft, try, try again. Former Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ronnie White is once again being considered for the federal bench in St. Louis. Good luck! [Missouri Lawyers Weekly]
* In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock, Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to murder charges. He’s looking at life in prison or the death penalty. [Bloomberg]
* Target, if you’re wondering why you’re getting sued, it’s because of this alleged memo explaining that not all Hispanic employees eat tacos, dance to salsa, and wear sombreros. [Huffington Post]
* “Please don’t be hung” is a solemn prayer that’s only useful to a woman whose case is on re-trial. Ex-Bengals cheerleader Sarah Jones’s defamation suit was sent to the jury. [Associated Press]
* Edward Snowden, the computer technician who leaked details on the programs the NSA didn’t want you to know about, sacrificed his life to save your privacy’s soul. Thanks a bunch, Technology Jesus! [CNN]
* While we wait for Fisher, DOMA, and Prop 8, if you’d like some background info on the people behind the most controversial and talked about SCOTUS cases of the term, give this one a read. [NBC News]
* If a justice claims he’s never met a homosexual and he’s got a gay law clerk, telling him to “look around [his] chambers” to find one is the NKI. My, how times have changed since the mid-80s. [New York Times]
* In 2012, Justice Sotomayor earned $1.9 million in royalties from her memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link). Yeah, her world is probably so beloved because she’s rolling around in money. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Howrey going to make use of this empty wall space? If you’re in the market for some art, this bankrupt firm’s decor will be up for auction in D.C. later this week. [Bankruptcy Beat / Wall Street Journal]
* When you’re dealing with the most beautiful people in Biglaw, the price for pretty is high: Davis Polk was slapped with a million-dollar lawsuit over a recruiter’s fee. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Gerald Shargel, criminal defense attorney to the Mafia stars, is retiring his shingle to join Winston & Strawn. Biglaw better keep him entertained — he gets bored easily. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Cory Booker, one of everyone’s favorite Yale Law School grads, announced his candidacy for a New Jersey Senate seat over the weekend. Best of luck in the special election! [The Note / ABC News]
* The feds are seeking a four-year sentence for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in his campaign funds misuse case. No MJ memorabilia is worth prison time, no matter how big a fan you are. [The Hill]
* “[I]f you ever call me on my cellphone again, I’ll strangle you.” Yikes. Looks like this Kentucky judge won’t have the chance to wring his hands around lawyers’ necks any time soon. [Courier-Journal]
IFLR Top Tier rankings (2011): More than any other firm globally
Global 100 (2011): No. 5 by revenue worldwide
Human Rights Campaign (HRC): Corporate Equality Index perfect score
International Senior Lawyers Project: One of two initial recipients of ISLP’s Global Pro Bono Visionary Firm honor (2012)