MoFo’s new German team is known for its expertise in Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) transactional work. The Berlin office in the firm’s third outpost in Europe and its 17th office worldwide.
How is Hogan Lovells taking news of the departures? As the ABA Journal wondered in a headline, “Morrison & Foerster opens Berlin office; is Hogan Lovells miffed?”
It would seem the answer is ja….
Apparently Heidi Klum does a better job of saying auf Wiedersehen than the Berlin partners of Ho-Love. Here’s a statement that David Harris, co-CEO of Hogan Lovells, issued to Legal Week:
[Former Berlin managing partner] Christoph Wagner’s move earlier this month was planned and agreed. At the time of his departure, the Berlin office partners expressed their strong desire to stay with the firm and we supported that. Despite that support they have now gone back on their commitment and have said that they want to leave. We understand they have accepted offer letters from a competitor, however, they have yet to resign letters or deal with the usual formalities. Until they do so, we expect them to uphold all their responsibilities as partners in Hogan Lovells.
Meaning that they still owe duties of loyalty to Hogan Lovells. Ho-Loveüber alles?
The nine Hogan Lovells turned MoFo partners currently work with more than more than 20 associates and counsel. It’s not clear how many of them will make the jump — although probably all or most will in the end, given that the partners who give them work have moved. But if any associates want to stay at Ho-Love, they can transfer to one of the firm’s four other German offices, according to The Lawyer.
Congrats again to Morrison & Foerster on its new presence in Germany. The German economy continues to flourish (which partially explains Chancellor Angela Merkel’s big win in the recent elections), and hopefully the legal business will too.
* Jamie McCourt, a former family law attorney, strikes out in trying to set aside her divorce settlement with Frank McCourt, former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. She’s stuck with $131 million and several luxury homes. #richpeopleproblems [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* An inquest reveals that a Hogan Lovells partner who took his own life had warned a colleague that he was going to kill himself the day before his death. [Daily Mail via ABA Journal]
* If you’re in New York this weekend, go see Arguendo. Or buy tickets for the 7 p.m. performance on September 22, when I’ll be doing a talkback with artistic director John Collins after the show. Enter the discount code “ABOVE” for $35 tickets (a special rate for ATL readers). [Public Theater]
As was vividly demonstrated by our recent infographic, Biglaw’s summer associate classes have undergone a major and seemingly permanent contraction. For the most part, large — arguably bloated — summer associate classes are a thing of the past. Among the Am Law 50, only eight firms are bucking this downward trend, with actual increases in the size of their summer classes since 2007. These firms are a collection of Wall Street’s oldest and most elite white shoe mainstays: Sullivan & Cromwell, Cravath, Davis Polk, and their ilk. On average, these firms were founded 112 years ago (i.e., during the McKinley Administration). The outlier here is the relative upstart litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel, founded only back in 1987.
Besides the durability and strength that comes with such a refined pedigree, what other trends are apparent in this great downsizing of Biglaw’s summer associate classes?
Some further observations on the decline of the giant Biglaw summer associate class:
Changes in summer associate class size by geographic region (based on a firm’s HQ or original location)
New York City: -22.5%
Ouch, Chicago. The aforementioned small group of firms experiencing growth in their summer classes are largely in New York, and would help account for the relatively smaller decrease there.
Firms which are the product of a major merger within the last decade have seen a decrease of 47.25% in the size of their summer classes. This group includes K&L Gates, DLA Piper, Dentons, and Hogan Lovells.
Practice area strength does seems to be a factor in the direction of a firm’s summer program, with firms noted for their litigation practices remaining more stable than their more corporate peers. Firms rated as “Band 1 (nationwide)” by Chambers for Corporate/M&A practice experienced a decrease of 34%. Firms in Chambers’ “Band 1 (nationwide)” for Litigation practice experienced a decrease of just 19%.
Though reduced in number, one thing still remains as true as it was in the halcyon days of the mid-aughts: summer associates are the happiest campers in all of Biglaw. Below is a comparison of ratings from the ATL Insider Survey, which asks respondents to evaluate how their firms are doing in terms of compensation, hours, morale, culture, and training. Unsurprisingly, when compared with full-time attorneys, summers give their firms decidedly higher marks on every count:
Finally, if you haven’t yet, please take a few minutes and respond to our survey here. Thanks.
Washington, D.C. has the most densely concentrated population of lawyers in the nation. The capital has an astounding 1,356 percent more lawyers per capita than New York. One in 12 District residents is an attorney. The nation’s capital is home to just one-fifth of one percent of the national population but accounts for one in every 25 of its lawyers. Could there be some correlation between this total saturation of D.C. with J.D.s and the seeming contempt that the rest of the country holds for the place? Washington’s negative perception problem is such that Slate’s political gabfest felt compelled to devote this week’s podcast to explore the proposition “Washington Is Really Not That Bad.” Examples of this not-badness included the fact that people don’t have to bribe officials to get their social security benefits. So it was kind of a low bar.
In any event, D.C.’s lawyers work in myriad capacities in Congress, government regulatory agencies, non-profits, and lobbying firms. But obviously Washington is very much a Biglaw town as well. The frustration and malaise brought on by the sequester and partisan gridlock seem to be affecting the business of Biglaw. As Lat noted yesterday, large firms there are struggling: revenue, demand and productivity are all lagging at D.C.-based law firms when compared to firms nationwide. So this might not be the ideal time to check in on how lawyers at large D.C.-based firms perceive their professional experiences. But we’ll do it anyway.
Our ATL Insider Survey (13,500+ responses and counting) asks attorneys at firms to evaluate their employers in terms of compensation, hours, training, morale, and culture. After the jump, we’ll look at how firms in Washington stack up in these categories — and how they compare to the national averages…
The Insider Survey asks respondents to rate their firms in each category on a scale of 1 through 10 (with 10 being the best). Please keep in mind that we only publish rating for firms for which we have sufficient survey responses. Obviously, there are major firms missing. So, lawyers at, say, Williams and Connolly or Wiley Rein, or any other firm left out here, please take our survey here and we’ll revisit D.C. when we compile more information.
1. Steptoe and Johnson 9.00
2. Arent Fox 7.83
3. Crowell and Moring 7.25
4. Hogan Lovells 7.05
5. Patton Boggs 7.00
6. WilmerHale 6.72
7. Covington and Burling 6.43
8. Arnold and Porter 6.42
D.C Average: 7.21
National Average: 7.17
1. Steptoe and Johnson 8.0
1. Arent Fox 8.0 (tie)
3. Hogan Lovells 7.05
4. Covington and Burling 6.87
5. WilmerHale 6.76
6. Patton Boggs 6.0
7. Arnold and Porter 5.83
8. Crowell and Moring 5.75
D.C Average: 6.78
National Average: 7.18
1. Steptoe and Johnson 8.30
2. WilmerHale 7.52
3. Covington and Burling 7.30
3. Hogan Lovells 7.30 (tie)
5. Arnold and Porter 7.08
6. Patton Boggs 7.0
6. Arent Fox 7.0 (tie)
8. Crowell and Moring 5.88
D.C Average: 7.17
National Average: 7.09
Culture and Colleagues
1. Arent Fox 9.00
2. Steptoe and Johnson 8.60
3. Covington and Burling 8.35
4. Patton Boggs 8.0
4. Hogan Lovells 8.0 (tie)
5. WilmerHale 7.68
6. Crowell and Moring 7.50
7. Arnold and Porter 7.42
D.C Average: 8.06
National Average: 7.99
1. Steptoe and Johnson 8.24
This firm is great about treating associates like professionals. Face time is a non-issue — as long as you get your work done, the partners are flexible about where the work gets done.
2. Arent Fox 7.83
A very open, welcoming, liberal, diverse culture. Supportive of minorities and very family-friendly.
3. Hogan Lovells 7.43
It is all about the culture. The number of a-hole partners is low and associates are genuinely valued.
4. Covington and Burling 7.32
Covington is a really pleasant place to work. The people are great, and as long as the work that needs to get done is getting done, people are very understanding about the fact that everyone wants a life outside of the firm. It’s a bit less social than a lot of other firms, which actually helps with having a life outside the firm — people spend their nights and weekends at home, not at the firm.
4. Patton Boggs 7.32
For each of the three years I have been at the firm, my year-end bonus has been higher than the lockstep bonuses doled out by New York firms.
6. WilmerHale 7.22
Wilmer is great. Colleagues whose significant others work at other big firms in town know that Wilmer is a more friendly and collegial BigLaw experience. All while working on front page matters with well-known partners. All around first-rate. Recruiting is very selective.
7. Arnold and Porter 6.77
[A]ssociate partner relationships the single most important factor in determining the types of cases and work you get. For the most part, great people to work with.
8. Crowell and Moring 6.53
Pros: hands on experience for junior attorneys, opportunities to write substantive pleadings, generally nice people and a clear value for pro bono. Cons: compensation is a bit of a black box process with minimal transparency.
D.C Average: 7.33
National Average: 7.38
So congrats to Steptoe and Johnson for the highest overall rating. (Just don’t confuse them with this firm, they hate that.) Comparing the D.C. average ratings to the national averages, what’s striking is how closely they track. In five out of six categories, the D.C. ratings are within a tenth of point of the national averages. The one exception? Firm morale, which is significantly lower.
Finally, for those of you who have yet to do so — whether in D.C. or elsewhere — please take a few minutes and take the ATL Insider Survey. Thank you.
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a new series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Today’s post is written by Michael Allen, the Managing Principal of Lateral Link, who focuses exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.
From Q3 2012 through Q2 2013, we have seen approximately 7,500 lateral moves at the top 200 law firms. Approximately 4,500 (60%) were associates; 1,900 (25%) were partners; and perhaps most surprisingly, 1,100 (15%) of the lateral movement consisted of “counsel” or “of counsel” positions.
To clarify, some firms promote their senior associates to a “counsel” position based on seniority, but even excluding this pool of associates, that still leaves a significant number of counsel-level laterals finding opportunities within new law firms. From April 2012 to the end of the second quarter this year, Gordon & Rees had the largest number of lateral counsel transitions, with 34 (in large part due to the fact they opened seven offices in 2012 alone). Seyfarth Shaw, Greenberg Traurig, and Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker followed closely with 26, 23, and 22 counsel placements, respectively. Notably, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan had 11 counsel transitions in that same timeframe, 8 of them from a group of more than 15 Skadden Arps product liability attorneys who followed colleagues Sheila Birnbaum and Mark Cheffo, two heavyweights in the product liability world….
The definition of the “counsel”/”of counsel” title has expanded to accommodate the changing practice of law. Traditionally, this title was given to aging partners and politicians — setting up a mutually beneficial relationship that allowed the firm to continue to benefit from the senior attorney’s thought leadership, while providing the lawyer with a graceful exit into retirement. Within the last decade, the position has broadened to allow firms to promote an attorney whose strength is in their technical ability as opposed to business development or rainmaking, or as an option to evaluate lateral hires before elevating them to partner.
One key difference between a counsel versus partner transition is that for a partner making a lateral transition, the hiring firm routinely requires that the partner bring a book of business, typically summed up as “portables.” But a law firm and the partner will not know what is actually portable until after a partner makes the transition. Since the firm hiring the lateral partner can’t dive too deeply into the financials that the partners disclose on their lateral partner questionnaires (this “LPQ” is basically the road map a firm uses to determine compensation for a partner), the firm may sometimes end up being underwhelmed with the new hire, unless the lateral partner exceeds expectations. Some homegrown partners (or senior counsel passed over for partnership) may also feel that resources were too generously allocated to bringing on lateral partners who did not meet expectations.
We often see partners making transitions more or less every three to five years after they make the first jump. Looking at DLA Piper, we have seen 87 lateral hires over the past year (including 11 senior or of counsel), offset by 83 departures (including 9 senior or of counsel). One such departure included Rich de Bodo, who recently took his top-notch IP litigation group to Bingham, after spending some time at Irell, then Hogan, then DLA Piper over the course of seven years. For partners with large books of business generated from a variety of clients, the benefits of size (including cross-selling opportunities, international platform, a full-service menu, and economies of scale) may become outweighed by the potential for conflicts. If having an office in Oman means creating a conflict for a potential new client stateside, partners may start to question whether bigger is always better.
Based on what we have seen in the market, approximately 50% of the laterals who have made transitions in the past several quarters are likely to make another transition within the next three years. Dipping into the counsel bucket, we predict that roughly 20% of current counsels will likely see partnership at their existing firms or comparable ones via another lateral transition.
The market for laterals remains robust, with 3,000 lateral partner and counsel moves over the last few quarters. Continuing with DLA Piper as an example, almost 25% of their senior and of counsel attorneys were hired within the last two years (with nearly as many departures), further demonstrating that it is not the first (or last) bite of the apple for many of them. We predict that more and more firms will hedge by hiring laterals at the counsel level unless they absolutely need to offer the partner title, which translates to less risk to the firm since titles, like prices, are sticky.
Disclosure: This series is sponsored by Lateral Link, which is an ATL advertiser.
Lateral Link LLP is one of the largest legal recruiting agencies in the world, with 13 offices in the United States and Asia. Lateral Link has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal, The American Lawyer, the ABA Journal, The Daily Journal, and the National Law Journal for its innovative approach to legal placement. Lateral Link recruiters are comprised of former practicing attorneys who have consistently succeeded in placing partners, associates, general and corporate counsel into some of the most reputable law firms and organizations in the world.
Given all the boring, goody-two-shoes summer associates this year, offer rates should be sky high. Let’s find which firms are rocking the 100 percent offer rate — information that rising 2Ls will want to know as the new on-campus interviewing season starts up….
Many firms haven’t issued offers yet — some wait until the summer program is done, and some even wait until summer associates are back in school. But so far we’ve heard about 100 percent offer rates from the following firms around the country (office locations indicated parenthetically):
Hogan Lovells (New York)
Jenner & Block (Los Angeles)
Kirkland & Ellis (New York)
Latham & Watkins (New York)
Milbank Tweed (New York)
Patton Boggs (Dallas)
Weil Gotshal & Manges (New York)
The last two names on the list are the most notable ones: Patton Boggs and Weil Gotshal. Let’s discuss them in greater detail.
As for Weil, we all recall the big news over there: major layoffs, affecting 60 lawyers and 110 staffers, conducted with summer associates still in the building. Sources tell us that the 60 laid-off lawyers included several very junior associates, including some first-year associates hired last fall. Let’s hope that the summer associates who just received their offers fare better than their forebears.
If you have offer rate information to share, please email us (subject line: “Summer Associate Offer Rates”), or text us (646-820-8477; texts only, not a voice line). You can also leave a comment if you like. We keep our tipsters anonymous. If we receive enough information, we’ll do a follow-up story.
Thanks — and to those of you who have already landed offers, congratulations!
* Based on the justices’ reactions during oral arguments in Windsor v. U.S., there was no defending the Defense of Marriage Act. Not even Paul Clement, the patron saint of conservative causes, could save the day. [New York Times]
* Alas, the David Boies and Ted Olson Dream Team stole much of the spotlight from Roberta Kaplan, the Paul Weiss partner who argued on behalf of Edith Windsor in an effort to overturn DOMA. Seriously, you go girl! [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Dude, you’re getting a Dell! Alston & Bird and Kirkland & Ellis are the latest firms to join the Biglaw sharks (including Ho-Love, Debevoise, Wachtell, SullCrom, and Simpson Thacher) circling this major tech buyout. [Am Law Daily]
* It looks like it’s time for JPMorgan to face the music for its investments in Lehman Brothers, because a federal judge just ruled that the bank cannot “dispatch plaintiff’s claims to the waste bin.” [Reuters]
* An alleged killer’s sense of mortality: James Holmes, the suspect in the Colorado movie theater shooting, offered to plead guilty and spend life in prison in order to avoid the death penalty. [CNN]
In fairness to DLA Piper, the craziness might not be that high on a per capita basis. DLA Piper is one of the largest law firms in the world. In the most recent Global 100 rankings, DLA took second place in both total revenue and attorney headcount.
Many of the DLA Piper stories are on the lighter side. But this latest one — involving serious allegations of overbilling, apparently supported by internal DLA emails saying things like “churn that bill, baby!” — is no laughing matter….
They were lawyers at the world’s largest law firm, trading casual e-mails about a client’s case. One made a sarcastic joke about how the bill was running way over budget. Another described a colleague’s approach to the assignment as “churn that bill, baby!”
The e-mails, which emerged in a court filing late last week, provide a window into the thorny issue of law firm billing. The documents are likely to reinforce a perception held by many corporate clients — and the public — that law firms inflate bills by performing superfluous tasks and overstaffing assignments.
The internal correspondence of the law firm, DLA Piper, was disclosed in a fee dispute between the law firm and Adam H. Victor, an energy industry executive. After DLA Piper sued Mr. Victor for $675,000 in unpaid legal bills, Mr. Victor filed a counterclaim, accusing the law firm of a “sweeping practice of overbilling.”
This illustrates the danger of suing a client for unpaid bills. We’ve talked about this before. If the client has any dirty laundry about you, expect it to be thoroughly aired.
And it seems that Adam Victor has some of DLA’s dirty cloth diapers (again, emphasis added):
“I hear we are already 200k over our estimate — that’s Team DLA Piper!” wrote Erich P. Eisenegger, a lawyer at the firm.
Another DLA Piper lawyer, Christopher Thomson, replied, noting that a third colleague, Vincent J. Roldan, had been enlisted to work on the matter.
“Now Vince has random people working full time on random research projects in standard ‘churn that bill, baby!’ mode,” Mr. Thomson wrote. “That bill shall know no limits.”
A DLA Piper spokesman said the firm did not comment on pending litigation.
Actually, DLA Piper’s Venusian substation commented to Above the Law: “This is just a misunderstanding. We quote all of our prices in Wampum, not dollars. It’s much easier to barter across our global offices.”
Overbilling happens at many other major law firms. But query whether other firms talk as openly about it as the DLA attorneys reportedly did:
Lawyers on the case openly discussed the inefficient use of junior lawyers, who are known as associates. Mr. Thomson, a DLA Piper lawyer, wrote that although the firm had reduced the amount of a bill for Mr. Victor, he expected his fees to escalate.
“DLA seems to love to lowball the bills and with the number of bodies being thrown at this thing it’s going to stay stupidly high and with the absurd litigation P.O.A. [one of Adam Victor's companies] has been in for years it does have lots of wrinkles,” Mr. Thomson wrote.
Later, Mr. Thomson complained that DLA Piper associates were taking too long to complete assignments. “It took all of them four days to write those motions while I did cash collateral and talked to the client and learned the facts,” Mr. Thomson wrote. “Perhaps if we paid more money we’d have skilled associates.”
Ouch. DLA is not exactly known as a market leader in associate pay. During the depths of the Great Recession, the firm froze and then cut associate salaries (before eventually returning to market rates).
On the other hand, one might argue that even if DLA pays the same as Cravath, it won’t get Cravath-caliber associates. Recruits will use prestige as a tiebreaker and go to Cravath anyway — unless, for personal reasons, they need to work in the country continent of Africa. Kigali to 190?
How are these emails being used in Adam Victor’s litigation against DLA Piper? Victor, represented by Larry Hutcher of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, cites them in support of a request to amend his countersuit against DLA. Victor wants to add a fraud claim and a request for $22.5 million in punitive damages — 1 percent of DLA’s revenue from last year.
As for the individual lawyers who sent or received the smoking-gun emails, they’re no longer at DLA (for reasons unrelated to the litigation with Adam Victor, according to the Times). Here’s information on their whereabouts from Am Law Daily:
[Christopher] Thomson, who no longer works at DLA Piper, could not be reached for comment.
[Vincent] Roldan was a senior associate at DLA Piper who now practices at Vandenberg & Feliu, according to the firm’s website. He did not return a call for comment.
[Erich] Eisenegger, [Jeremy] Johnson and [Timothy] Walsh are now all partners at McDermott Will & Emery. They did not return calls for comment. McDermott spokesman Christopher Rieck declined to comment.
So the revolving door continues to spin at DLA Piper. And it goes in both directions, bringing lawyers in as well as sending them out.
But others have left — including some partners who joined DLA not that long ago. In January 2012, we wrote about a high-powered group of energy lawyers that left Hogan Lovells for DLA Piper. Now, a little more than a year later, most of that group is returning to their former home. As one source told us:
You reported on the Kevin Lipson energy group leaving Hogan Lovells last year for DLA Piper. Members of the group, consisting of Kevin Lipson, Stefan Krantz, Chris Schindler, and John Lilyestrom, [are] returning to Hogan! Big news, after only one year at DLA, this significant energy practice is returning to its home firm.
There’s additional coverage over at Am Law Daily and The BLT (which notes that one member of the group, Lee Alexander, will remain at DLA Piper). An update to the Am Law story notes that two other energy partners, Jeremy Kennedy and Carlos Sole, have left DLA’s Houston office for Baker Botts. One has to wonder: What’s going on with DLA’s energy practice?
A tip for DLA’s remaining energy lawyers: tell clients who complain about their bills that you read the meter wrong. It works every time.
UPDATE (3/27/2013, 10:15 a.m.): DLA Piper has broken its silence and responded to the claims of overbilling. It characterizes the emails as “an offensive and inexcusable effort at humor” but denies that any actual overbilling occurred. Read the full message, an internal memo to DLA lawyers, on the next page.
One of the nice things about being a Biglaw lawyer is that you’ve got some autonomy over your schedule. You know how much work you have to do, and you know when it’s due, and within those borders you can manage your own time. If you want to come in a little bit later and stay a little it later, so be it. If you want to come in super early… well, you’re probably still going to end up staying late because of some BS that happens at 4:30 p.m., but after you bill 100 hours in a week, you can probably take it really easy once your matter closes.
The point is, Biglaw lawyers have the expectation of being treated like adults when it comes to their own time management.
So it’s a little bit surprising that a Biglaw firm is treating associates in one office like little children who need to be present when attendance is taken….
A tipster forwarded us an email from Hogan Lovells partner Andrew McGinty. He’s the partner in charge of Ho-Love’s Shanghai office. His email is strict, he wants all the associates to be at their desks by 9:15 a.m., unless they have prior approval from a partner. It was sent over the summer, so here’s the pertinent part:
We are still experiencing major issues with staff punctuality. The Shanghai partners have decided that we will continue to operate the daily report system as before but will not circulate the report to all members of the Shanghai Office but will circulate the record to all the partners and [redacted]. [She] will note all those arriving after the required time, and will notify the responsible partners whenever anyone arrives late a certain number of times within a month (regardless of the reasons). If these absences are found to be excessive and not justifiable on reasonable grounds, those people will be spoken to and warned. If there is insufficient improvement after the warning, an internal review will be conducted and disciplinary measures may be imposed. Persistent non-justifiable lateness will henceforth be included as a factor that will be considered in relation to internal promotions, appraisals, pay reviews and renewal of contract decisions.
[Redacted] will still complete the report by 9:15am each work day morning. Please let her know before 9am if you will not be in the office by 9am and, if so where you are and when/what you expect to return to the office. If the reason for your absence is “running errands”, please specify whether it is for personal or for business purposes. In all case, an expected return time is required, otherwise it will be recorded as “no explanation”.
Do they also need to get a hall pass to go to the bathroom?
Look, you’ve got people who have work to get done, hours to bill, and probably calls with New York or London that have to be made at odd Shanghai hours. As long as all of that is being done, who cares if somebody is at work by 9:15 or not? And while we’re here, let’s also mention that we live in a world of iPads, Androids, Blackberries, and ubiquitous WiFi connectivity. Surely, making people be at their desks at a set time everyday is beyond dumb and totally inefficient.
In addition to these formal strictures, McGinty adds a little “we’re watching you” flair that is sure to make associates feel smothered:
I am usually in by 9 am every day and will be doing my own visual checks (as will other partners and [redacted]) – yesterday morning the office looked almost deserted at that time (with apologies to those who were here) which is simply not acceptable.
Oh, he’s “usually” in the office by 9 a.m. But sometimes he’s not, and because he’s allowed to operate like a grown-ass man, nobody is checking in to see how he’s managing his time.
You can read the full email on the next page. If you work at Ho-Love Shanghai, let us know how the new rules have played out….
Lawyers are obsessed with rankings and prestige, especially those that have to do with emerging markets in the eastern hemisphere. It’s a new year, so the folks at Asian Lawyer decided to start it off with a new rankings system for Biglaw firms, both American-based and those indigenous to the Asia-Pacific region.
Although Asian Lawyer evaluated firms using several different metrics (total attorney headcount of firms based in the Asia-Pacific region, biggest American firms with lawyers in the region, biggest European firms with lawyers in the region, and most attorneys by headcount of any firm in the region), we only really care about two of them.
The most some Americans know about the region is that they’re fans of the delectable cuisine, but can U.S. law firms hang with the Asiatic big boys? No matter how many firms tell you it’s the motion of the ocean that counts, size does matter for the purposes of these rankings….
When the Asian Lawyer sized up the competition in the region, due to modest attorney headcount at most U.S. firms, it appears that we still view the Asian market with caution; only global giants haven taken the lead:
[M]any U.S. firms have expanded enormously in the Asia-Pacific region in recent years. Wall Street firms such as Shearman & Sterling, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Sullivan & Cromwell, and Davis Polk & Wardwell have all made big investments in Hong Kong law practices. Others have grown by merger: Mayer Brown combined with Hong Kong’s biggest firm, Johnson Stokes & Master, in 2007. Twelve U.S. firms report 100 or more lawyers in their Asia-Pacific offices….
Further down the list of American firms, though, the size of their Asia-Pacific cohorts drops off drastically. The Asian growth story is quite an uneven one. Baker & McKenzie may have over a thousand lawyers in Asia, but more than half of the U.S. firms we surveyed have fewer than 40 lawyers in the region. Almost a third have fewer than 20.
That said, here are the top ten U.S. firms with the most lawyers in the Asia-Pacific region:
If you recall, three of these firms placed in the top ten of the Global 100, the highest-grossing law firms in the world, with Baker & McKenzie taking the top slot for the third year in a row at $2.313 billion in gross revenue.
With that kind of cash to spread around, it’s no wonder that Baker & McKenzie was the only American Biglaw shop to rank within the 20 firms with the most lawyers in the region. Here are the top ten firms by headcount:
Note that Norton Rose makes an appearance here. The firm recently announced plans to merge with the U.S.-based firm Fulbright & Jaworski, but that combination won’t be complete until June 2013. With Fulbright’s Hong Kong and Beijing offices, you can expect Norton Rose Fulbright to rise in rank on this list next year.
You can check out the full lists for both sets of data over at Asian Lawyer (here and here, respectively). If you’re an American working at a firm in the Asia-Pacific region, feel free to weigh on in these rankings in the comments. We welcome your insights and observations on life working at a Biglaw firm in the Far East.
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