* Even at the top of the in-house food chain, women lawyers are still paid less than their male counterparts. But hey, at least they’re not being forced to cry poverty like their in-house staff attorney brethren. [Corporate Counsel]
* Neil Barofsky, the former King of TARP in the United States, is making the move to Jenner & Block, specifically because as opposed to all other firms, “Jenner took the side of really getting to the truth of the matter.” [Reuters]
* Luxury fashion is fun: four Biglaw firms, including Cleary Gottlieb, Cravath, Torys, and Proskauer Rose, all took Tim Gunn’s mantra to heart to make it work for the $6 billion sale of Neiman Marcus. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* If you want to try some lawyer, we hear that they taste great when poached this time of year. Speaking of which, Troutman Sanders just reeled in three attorneys from Hunton & Williams. [Richmond BizSense]
* Are you ready for some tax law?! The NFL and other professional sports leagues might lose their nonprofit status if new tax reform legislation makes it through the House and the Senate. [Businessweek]
* Judges on the Third Circuit bench must really ♥ boobies. Breast cancer awareness bracelets can’t be banned by public schools if they aren’t lewd and if they comment on social issues. [Legal Intelligencer]
* A bevy of Biglaw firms were involved as advisers in the sale of the Boston Globe, Newsweek, and the Washington Post, including Cleary Gottlieb, Cravath, and Morgan Lewis, among others. [Am Law Daily]
* After surviving a motion for disqualification, Quinn Emanuel will continue to represent Snapchat. A short video of John Quinn laughing his ass off will be available for the next 10 seconds. [TechCrunch]
* Alex Rodriguez, the only MLB player who will be appealing his drug-related suspension, has hired Reed Smith and Gordon & Rees to hit it out of the park during arbitration proceedings. [Am Law Daily]
* Don’t say we never did you any favors: Here are the top 5 mistakes new in-house counsel make from the perspective of outside counsel. Take a look before you make them yourselves. [Texas Lawyer]
* We saw this coming back in June (seventh item), but now it’s official. Prenda Law has dissolved after posting six figures in bonds for various ethical sanctions. Next step, bankruptcy? [National Law Journal]
Women get into bars and clubs for free. Men don’t. This isn’t rocket science. It’s just a way of life.
But one lawyer — one with a particularly prestigious past — has been filing lawsuits alleging gender discrimination and human rights violations, all for want of entry-fee parity at bars and clubs, for at least the last decade. He loses every single time, but that’s not going to stop him from waging his war against feminist club policies any time soon.
And now that he’s a little bit older and a whole lot grayer, he’s added age discrimination to the docket. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks — and you certainly can’t stop an old dog from comparing his trials and tribulations as the resident geriatric dude in the club to rampant racism in the Deep South before desegregation…
Remember Roy Den Hollander? We’ve written about him before. He’s been on quixotic quest for men’s equality in clubs for the better part of the aughts and beyond. He was featured as a “Difference Maker” on the Colbert Report, and perhaps most importantly (for our readers), Hollander was an associate at Cravath for several years in the late eighties, before he went out on his own. Now, he’s best known for being on the losing end of dubious suits against clubs like Copacabana, China Club, and Lotus.
Hollander’s most recent loss was against a club called Amnesia, where he alleged that he was forced to buy a “$350 bottle of watered down vodka” to gain entry, which he claims was just like being forced to “sit in the back of the bus,” as if he were an African-American man in Alabama in the 1950s.
Last week, Judge Alexander Hunter dashed Hollander’s dreams once more, ruling that the former Cravathian was not the victim of age and gender discrimination because he had to pay for bottle service to get into the club, while young women were let in for free at the same time. From the ruling:
Roy Den Hollander
Allowing beautiful young women free entry furthers the club’s image because it attracts old farts like Hollander to its doors in the first place. This isn’t a difficult concept to grasp, but in an interview with the New York Daily News, Hollander revealed that he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the judge’s decision:
“There’s no justice for guys in this day and age,” railed Hollander.
Still, the anti-feminist attorney said the ruling did not shock him, given the previous defeats he’s suffered in his lonely struggle against male oppression.
“I was ticked off, but I’ve come to the conclusion that whenever I go into court and I’m fighting feminist ideology or political correctness, I’m going to lose,” he said. “Either I’m a stupid lawyer, or I’m stupid for thinking the court will enforce the rights of guys.”
Notably, although Hollander sued for age discrimination, he refused to disclose his age. Why? This ex-Cravath playa didn’t want the high number to negatively affect his game. He explains his motives:
“If I’m hitting on some young girl at the club – and I won’t be hitting on an older one because they don’t look as good – if she knows how old I am I’m not going to be able to exploit her infinite capacity to delude herself into thinking I’m younger,” he said.
A search of public records revealed he’s 66 years old.
Funny that the same man who claims he suffered age discrimination because he was too old to get into a club discriminates against women who he claims are too old to get into his pants. Roy, here’s a clue: Whether they look good or not, women are going to be more turned off by your name than your age. Banning free drinks for ladies? Advocating cover fees for all? You’ll never get laid in this town again.
In this economy, in the “new normal,” the most prestigious firm is the one that has given you a job offer. Sure, there are still students and grads who are lucky enough to be juggling multiple job offers from major firms in multiple cities. And to those people we say, “OMG, I hate you, shut up and go away.”
For those experiencing an embarrassment of job offer riches, here are the Vault rankings. Yay. Take a look at them, by yourself, under the covers, where nobody else can see that you have options….
The new Vault list is substantially similar to the old Vault list; number one, once again, is Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz & Awesome. No drama at Wachtell, people are working too hard to generate much drama I guess.
To create the Vault Law 100, we ask associates to score law firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on how prestigious it is to work for the firm (associates are asked to ignore any firm with which they are unfamiliar and are not allowed to rank their own firm). We then average the score for each firm and rank the firms in order. This year, Wachtell’s score was an impressive 9.083, but Cravath was not far behind at 8.996—the smallest difference in score since 2009.
I’m not sure what that means, but I think it’s something like, “Cravath will once again decide how big of a bonus you get this fall.”
Boies Schiller continues its march up the rankings, clocking in at number 15 this year. Quinn Emanuel is also up once again this year, to number 17. The power of litigation powerhouses compels you.
Back near the top, S&C and Skadden do their periodic flip-flop. The Vault rankings were obviously finalized before Weil’s shocking layoff news yesterday, but historically the Vault rankings have been relatively immune to layoff concerns. Prestige evidently means offering you the job in the first place, not firing you from it later down the road.
We’ll revisit these rankings come bonus season. Most likely, Wachtell will do its own thing, and then a lot of people will follow Cravath, until Boies and Quinn do something to push the envelope.
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series from Bruce MacEwen and Janet Stanton of Adam Smith Esq. and JDMatch. “Across the Desk” takes a thoughtful look at recruiting, career paths, professional development, human capital, and related issues. Some of these pieces have previously appeared, in slightly different form, on AdamSmithEsq.com.
Next in our series on a taxonomy of law firms are the capital-markets centric firms.
If you think this moniker roughly translates to the classic New York white shoe elite, move to the head of the class.
But, as much in our world at the start of the 21st Century, it’s not exactly that simple. Here’s what’s different about these firms.
First, recall that we’ve hypothesized seven primary species…
1. Global players
2. Capital-markets-centric specialists
3. Corporate-centric (non-global) firms
4. Category killers
5. Traditional boutiques
6. The hollow middle, and
7. Synergistic super-boutiques
My theory is that what’s exceptional — indeed unique in our taxonomy — about the capital-markets specialists is that the Great Reset mattered less to them than to any other category, and indeed to some of them it only reinforced their ability to go from strength to strength. Indeed, if you want to detour with me for a moment into how the Great Reset hit each of our categories, I’d say it hit #1, 3, 4, and 5 “normally” in our industry, which is to say quite hard. It hit #6 with a couple of torpedoes below the waterline, which is to say very hard indeed, although the damage may not be entirely evident as yet to the naked eye, and #7 is the new category emerging largely in response to the Great Reset.
But the Great Reset’s impact on our topic du jour, #2? Not bad; maybe even half-good.
A result, not the only one but a conspicuous one, of the Great Reset has been a flight to quality coterminous and simultaneous with a flight to value. Our capital markets heavyweights represent quality incarnate, so they’ve come out by and large winners. If you doubt me, look at the Am Law 2012 results reported so far. Let’s use “Value per Lawyer” as our rough and ready proxy, which Am Law defines as a measure of “how much money, on average, each of a firm’s lawyers contributes to overall partner compensation.” Let’s set aside quibbles about methodology and focus impressionistically on the firms at the top of this particular food chain. Tell me if you see a pattern:
Davis Polk: $495,000
Paul Weiss: $540,000
Simpson Thacher: $590,000
Sullivan & Cromwell: $755,000
If you wonder whether these numbers are impressive or mid-pack, because it’s not a familiar metric, here are a few comparables if you’d like (random selection):
Baker & McKenzie: $195,000
SNR Denton: $230,000
Here are a few other Am Law metrics, this time change in gross revenue in 2012 vs. 2011:
Paul Weiss: +12.4%
Sullivan & Cromwell: 6.4%
Davis Polk: 4.4%
Simpson Thacher: 2.0%
In a “growth is dead” market, these are by and large impressive numbers, and Paul Weiss’s and Wachtell’s are shockingly good. If our pie, as an industry, is relatively static (adjusted for inflation and global GDP growth), it looks as though many of these firms are expanding their market share. They must be doing something right.
So are these firms “golden,” having found an incredibly fit-to-purpose sweet spot in the market? Do they have anything to worry about?
As a New Yorker born and raised, I should be the first to cheer them on and wish the answer were no. But I can’t say that.
The good news is that these firms are (still) on a roll, and they have been for a long time. The bad news is that New York’s share of global capital markets activity has almost certainly peaked, and having 85%—100% of your lawyers in Manhattan may not be the one and only real decision you need to make to thrive as one of these firms.
In other words, though the Great Reset seems hardly to have mattered to these firms — indeed, may have played to their “flight to quality” strengths — the global tectonic shifts taking place as capital increasingly focuses on the East and the South and less on the West and the North, may mean their fundamental footprints need revisiting. (10% of Harvard Law School students in the class of 2015 are foreign-born.)
To answer that question requires looking quite a ways out, and having plausible forecasts about such things as the velocity of globalization, the probability of enduring regional conflicts or intermittent paralysis-by-terrorism, the long-run demographic trends on various continents, and more.
Since few possess that crystal ball, permit me to suggest where we seem to actually be in the market right now. I sense a potential generational divide. It’s not complicated: If I were 55 or 60 years old and a partner in one of these firms, I would instinctively, roundly, and rightly (so far as my own future is concerned) dismiss any of these worries. My effective time horizon is five or ten years, and all should be smooth sailing for at least that long (reputational markets are extremely sticky, if nothing else).
But if I were 40, with a time horizon of a few decades? Wouldn’t I be wondering, “What’s the plan here, guys?”
I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly what I would want to know. The problem is that the answer is far from obvious, but a bigger problem by far — if true of any of these firms — would be if they’re not thinking as hard as they can about answering that question.
Friendly reminder: Mother’s Day is this Sunday. If you haven’t done so already, you should buy your cards or gifts — and make your brunch reservations — NOW.
In honor of this occasion, we bring you an interview with a working mother whose professional journey is nothing short of remarkable. She went from working as a law firm switchboard operator to becoming the first woman partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore….
Meet Christine Beshar, currently senior counsel in Cravath’s trusts and estates department. In 1971, she became the firm’s first woman partner. Interestingly enough, she never went to law school; instead, she “read for the bar” and then passed the exam. She tells her story in this interesting interview with the help of her son, Peter Beshar (who’s now the general counsel at Marsh & McClennan, a leading insurance brokerage):
Don’t you just love how Beshar pronounces “Cravath”? “Craaavaaath” — her accent is wonderfully plummy. If someone makes a movie about her life, she should be played by Frances Sternhagen.
Her tale certainly has the inspirational aspects of a biopic. Beshar went from being a switchboard operator to a librarian to a lawyer to a partner — at Cravath, one of the world’s preeminent law firms. And the story of how she pushed the firm to establish a day care facility — over the objections of one unnamed male partner, who later came to regret his opposition — sounds extremely cinematic.
Congratulations to Christine Beshar on all of her amazing accomplishments. And early wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day!
Continuing our annual tradition honoring March Madness, Above the Law is running a law-related bracket, advancing law firms or law schools based on the outcome of reader polls. If you’ve been around for a while, you know the drill. But remember, I’m the new guy, so I’ve made a couple changes to the format this year.
This year, it’s time to talk about law firms. Specifically, your collective editors pose this question: Which law firm has the brightest future? The economy is still fragile and people are writing books with scary titles like The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis (affiliate link). The firms in our competition may look healthy today, but we all could have said the same thing at one time about Howrey, Brobeck, Heller, or Dewey.
What firm’s future is so bright their senior partners gotta wear shades?
First of all, like the real NCAA tournament, we’ve decided to expand the field! Instead of our customary 16 invitees, a full 32 firms will compete in this year’s contest, meaning we’ve got enough entrants to warrant creating some regions. In lieu of geography, we’ll go with the aforementioned, gone-but-not-forgotten firms of Howrey, Brobeck, Heller, and Dewey — the lights dimmed far too soon for you all.
In another change, this year we selected the competitors using the profit per partner rankings from the 2012 Am Law 100 (the 2013 rankings aren’t out yet). If you’re unhappy with the seeding, take it up with firm management for not profiting more in 2011.
(For the record, the law firms that got their bubbles burst were Shearman & Sterling, Jenner & Block, Ropes & Gray, and Alston & Bird. Sorry about missing the Dance.)
Law firms will advance to the next round based on reader polls, in which we ask you which law firm has the brightest future. You can define that however you choose. Possible factors to consider include the top talent at a firm, practice area strengths, global footprint (or lack thereof), firm culture — but really it’s up to you. Feel free to justify your votes in the comments.
The polls are below. The first round will close on TUESDAY, MARCH 26, at 11:59 PM (Eastern). Vote early, and tell your colleagues and friends.