from Brian Dalton, Breaking Media Director of Research
The ATL School and Firm Insiders Survey asks self-identified current students, alumni, and practicing lawyers to rate major aspects of life at their law school (academics, social life, clinical training, career services, financial aid advising) and/or law firm (compensation, hours, morale, culture, training). We then translate these ratings into letter grades, where the mean score for each particular ratings category is the equivalent of a “B.”
We require a minimum threshold of responses for each institution before we publish any survey-based ratings content. Using a standard formula for statistical validity, we adhere to a threshold that gives us an 85% confidence level and a 10% margin of error. The precise threshold number will of course vary depending on the size of the individual institution. For example, for a law firm of 1,000 attorneys, we would require 50 responses in order to publish ratings for the firm.
Top Practice by Headcount and Top Schools data is provided by Leopard Solutions. Leopard Solutions is a leading provider of attorney data to legal recruiters, law firms and law schools. We track attorneys in over 1500 law firms around the country and document their practice area, specialties, honors, languages advanced degrees and more. We provide an overview of each law firm as well as detailed information on individual attorneys. The data can be used to track trends, movements, growth and more.
Leverage is the number of attorneys minus equity partners, divided by equity partners.
Salaries & Compensation
Advances, Bonuses, Benefits & Stipends for First-Years
I am a lateral from a v10 New York firm. I work in the Philadelphia office at Morgan. It’s like night and day. Big upgrade in terms of culture and quality of life. The work is still sophisticated and enjoyable.
The firm has a very friendly and professional culture. Many partners desire to mentor young associates and will go out of the way to provide a wide variety of work.
I love working in the Phila office. Not as sure about the other offices.
The compensation for “traditional” associates is balanced on the backs of “non-partnership track” associates, who do comparable work and keep comparable hours, but are paid about 30% less.
Advise ConocoPhillips on $2B sale of US assets.
Represented Bimbo Bakeries to stop a Thomas English Muffins’ recipe leak.
from the firm
Jami Wintz McKeon is chair-elect of Morgan Lewis and leader of the firm’s litigation practice. She is responsible for the strategic and day-to-day operation of the litigation practice, made up of 700 litigators in 25 global offices.
1. What is the greatest challenge to the legal industry over the next 5 years?
Figuring out a way to deliver the same high-quality client service more efficiently and economically. The demand for legal services is static and our clients are facing more financial pressures than ever before. We have to find a better way to communicate value and serve our clients if we are going to stand out in such a competitive marketplace.
2. What has been the biggest positive change to the legal profession since the start of your career?
There are two big positive changes that come to mind. Technology and diversity. Technology has enabled us to be more efficient in almost everything we do. When I started, I had a Selectric II typewriter. If you wanted to change a brief, it was a day-long logistical exercise. Now we can work more efficiently from almost anywhere and we can respond to client needs right away. Technology has also enabled us to ensure consistency and efficiency in many other things that were unheard of when I first started practicing such as online research, knowledge management tools, electronic timekeeping, and ensuring that a global law firm such as ours is so connected that it operates seamlessly. Diversity is the other big positive change that I have seen since I first started practicing. Although we still have a long way to go, the legal profession is a much more diverse and inclusive profession than when I first started.
3. What has been the biggest negative change to the legal profession since the start of your career?
Also technology – it is both the biggest positive and the biggest negative change since my career began. The evolution of technology has changed the way we practice. There are good things about this – it allows people to work from almost anywhere. The negative is that immediate responses are expected and there is a tendency to focus on a fast turn-around with less time for analysis. Email is also both good and bad. It allows clients and law firms to stay in touch even when people are on the road, but there is a risk that it becomes the dominant form of communication, and face-to-face – or even voice-to-voice – communications are less frequent. I always encourage our lawyers to pick up the phone and talk to clients, and I try to make it a practice to go visit with our clients regularly. Both of these help to build a deeper understanding of the client’s legal and business issues.
4. What is the greatest satisfaction of practicing law?
Helping solve a problem for a client who appreciates the help. One of my earliest experiences was in a pro bono case when I represented a child who was in foster care due to parental neglect. Her mother was later murdered and her father in prison. I helped her foster family complete her adoption and we stayed in touch over the years. I felt like I was able to do something that really made a difference. Over the years, the nature of the problems I deal with has changed, but I always feel the same way when we are able to help a client solve a problem.
5. What is the greatest frustration of practicing law?
Not being able to make everything right all the time.
6. What is your firm’s greatest strength?
Obsession with client service and a tremendous culture of teamwork. These concepts are embedded in everything at our firm. Even our partner compensation process is focused on gathering information from partners about the client service contributions of others. I’m surprised at how many firms have lawyers competing for “credit,” resulting in partners negotiating to get others to help them. In 32 years at Morgan Lewis, I have never experienced or even heard of anyone refusing to help with any matter for any client. Our firm mantra is that there are no limits to what we can achieve if no one is focused on who gets the credit, and absolutely everyone understands that it is all about the team delivering the best client service.
7. What is the single most important personal characteristic for a successful lawyer in your field?
Good judgment. It’s the most important thing to have and the hardest thing to teach.
8. What is your favorite legally themed film or television show?
9. What is your favorite legally themed book (fiction or non-fiction)?
Killing Time (affiliate link). It is the true story of John Thompson, a man represented by my partners Michael Banks and Gordon Cooney, who was exonerated after being wrongfully convicted and surviving 18 years on death row in Angola. The book was written by my husband and the case is one we handled so maybe I am biased, but it’s still an amazing story and a fantastic book.
10. What would you have been if you weren’t a lawyer?
A chef. I love to cook and I find it a great way to relax with my family and friends.
Lateral Link’s recruiters are on pace to place hundreds of attorneys throughout the world this year. We are currently involved in over three dozen active partner searches including opening the office of an Am Law 50 firm in a new location, the merger of an Am Law 10 firm with a foreign firm, finding practice chairs for several Am Law10 firms, and searches for groups of partners in at least ten different cities, including Atlanta, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dallas, Denver, and Chicago, just to name a few. We are currently working with partner candidates with $500k to $35M in portable business. For more information, please call Michael Allen, Managing Principal at Lateral Link.
Over the past few months, we’ve offered extensive coverage of Bingham McCutchen, the once high-flying law firm that’s now struggling to survive. Bingham has remained mainly mum during these trying times.
This week, however, managing partner Steven Browne — who took over earlier this year from Bingham’s longtime leader, Jay Zimmerman — has been on a charm offensive. He gave interviews to the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal, which along with the American Lawyer ran long pieces on the state of affairs at the firm. We’ll share with you the new and most notable material from all three stories.
Before we get to the substantive stuff, though, let’s check out the Wall Street Journal’s interesting choice of a photo for its Bingham piece….
* Everyone knows Bingham McCutchen is considering a merger with Morgan Lewis, but not many know bankruptcy may be an option. It’s a remote option, but still an option. [Boston Globe]
* When Kaye Scholer moved offices, it left behind most of its library. “It tells you everything you need to know about law firm libraries”: they’re no longer as necessary as before. [New York Times]
* Everyone loves the Sixth Amendment: Thanks to money from Koch Industries, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers will offer better indigent defense training. [WSJ Law Blog]
* The judge in Adrian Peterson’s case won’t be replaced, despite the fact that he called the lawyers involved in the case “media whores.” Meh, Peterson’s attorney says he’s been called worse. [Bloomberg]
* Gilberto Valle, better known as the “Cannibal Cop,” really wants to go to law school. He’s apparently scored quite well on LSAT practice tests. Do law school ladies look delicious or what? [New York Post]
FYI Jami and Therese: On Wednesdays, we wear pink!
* SCOTUS justices added 11 cases to this term’s docket yesterday following their megaconference earlier this week. Alas, no same-sex marriage cases have been added yet. [New York Times]
* The Fifth Circuit allowed Texas to enforce its new abortion clinic restrictions. The only thing that will stop its “devastating impact on abortion access” is SCOTUS intervention. [MSNBC]
* Two more women just joined the ranks of the highest tier of Biglaw firm leadership. Congrats to Jami Wintz McKeon of Morgan Lewis and Therese Pritchard of Bryan Cave. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Gibson Dunn poached a prominent partner from U.K. firm Ashurst following his fall from grace as its leader last year. He’s thrilled to work for “one of the strongest U.S. firms around.” [Am Law Daily]
* The Thomas Jefferson School of Law may be “California’s worst-performing law school,” but it certainly performs well in terms of providing entertainment for those who are big fans of schadenfreude. [City Journal]
* Many schools pay their grads to count them as employed — but not UNC Law. Its career services office is aware that “jobs don’t grow on trees,” but hey, at least they’re trying to be transparent. [Daily Tar Heel]
Sometimes, the internet seems to exist largely in order to rate things. User-generated and unverified reviews of everything from movies to cars abound. The thing with this proliferation of ratings, be they on Yelp, or Amazon, or whatever, is that we usually don’t have any idea whether or not the reviewer has any basis for his rating. (In fact, the spoof product review has become its own literary micro-genre.)
Spurious or baseless ratings are not a problem when it comes to ATL’s Insider Survey (17,300 responses and counting — thanks everyone!), in which practicing attorneys and current students evaluate their own schools or employers. Among other things, our survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with over- and underrated practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, etc.
Which firms do those in-the-know consider to be better (or weaker) than their reputations?
Earlier this month, we reported on Bingham McCutchen and Morgan Lewis & Bockius’s agreement to merge. The 750-lawyer Bingham firm has been going through a rough patch lately, so news of the deal with 1,200-lawyer Morgan Lewis sounded like a rescue to some observers.
But rescues come with terms and conditions. What are the ones at issue here? There’s good news for some Bingham partners, and bad news for others….
She’s not a porn star, she’s a law student. We could see where you might be confused by that one.
* Now that we know Eric Holder is resigning, there’s been speculation as to where he’ll go next. The obvious choice is a return to Covington & Burling, but he could still surprise everyone. [National Law Journal]
* “Judicial campaign cash is burning a hole in the Constitution.” State court judges are pumping money into their election campaigns, and some have been left to wonder about its true price. [New York Times]
* Details have emerged as to conditions that must be met for Bingham McCutchen’s proposed merger with Morgan Lewis: partner promises, de-equitizations, and forgivable loans, oh my! [Reuters (sub. req.)]
* A former law student who was falsely identified as a porn star on the radio had her day in court and pulled out a win. Here’s the money shot: she’s walking away with $1 million in damages. [Kansas City Star]
Ed. note: Stat of the Week is a new feature that pulls data points from ATL Research as well as noteworthy sources across the web.
Rumors of a Bingham McCutchen/Morgan Lewis merger were confirmed this week when news broke that the two firms had reached an agreement to combine. The firms have a lot in common in terms of financial metrics: for 2013, Bingham came in at $1.48 million for profits per partner and $960,000 for revenue per lawyer, while Morgan Lewis posted similar numbers, $1.57 million and $945,000, in those categories (according to Am Law).
Something the two firms don’t have in common? The direction they’ve been heading in….
September is shaping up to be a busy month for law firm merger news. On the heels of the Locke Lord / Edwards Wildman deal, we’re getting word that Bingham McCutchen and Morgan Lewis have reached an agreement to merge.
The news doesn’t come as a shock. Rumors of a Bingham/Morgan combination have been circulating for months. There was talk that such a deal could trigger some partner departures, and those departures have already come to pass (presumably removing from the picture some potential objectors to a merger).
Let’s have a look at what a Morgan Bingham — or Bingham Morgan, or maybe just a bigger Morgan Lewis, if no name change takes place — might look like….
Columbia University Law School: 8/12
Cornell University Law School: 8/6
Duke University School of Law: 8/15
Duquesne University School of Law: 8/22
Fordham University School of Law: 8/21
George Washington University Law School: 8/13
Georgetown University Law Center: 8/13
Harvard Law School: 8/14
Howard University School of Law: 8/13
University of Florida, Levin College of Law: 8/14
New York University School of Law: 8/14
Northwestern University School of Law: 8/19
Rutgers University School of Law, Camden: 8/15
Rutgers University School of Law, Newark: 8/13
Santa Clara University School of Law: 8/15
Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law: 8/13
Stanford University Law School: 8/28
Temple University, Beasley School of Law: 8/15
University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law: 8/5
University of California, Davis School of Law: 8/12
University of California, Hastings College of Law: 8/6
University of California, Hastings College of Law (Tax): 8/6
University of California, Irvine, School of Law: 8/8
University of California, Los Angeles School of Law: 8/8
University of Chicago Law School: 8/27
University of Houston Law Center: 8/22
University of Illinois College of Law: 8/14
University of Miami School of Law: 8/14
University of Michigan Law School: 8/19
University of Pennsylvania Law School: 8/12
University of Pittsburgh School of Law: 8/20
University of San Francisco School of Law: 8/12
University of Southern California Law School: 8/7
University of Texas School of Law: 8/15
University of Virginia School of Law: 8/14
Villanova University School of Law: 8/16