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.
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….
In the not-so new normal, clients continue to refuse to pay full freight for inexperienced first-year attorneys to work on their legal matters — or, as one law firm recently mused, “client demand for first year associates has declined.”
What’s a Biglaw firm to do?
It seems that one firm has found a pretty good solution to this problem: make someone else hire those lawyers to work as junior in-house lawyers, and then bring them into the fold as associates after they’ve gained some real-world experience.
Which Biglaw firm has teamed up with a big bank — the biggest bank in the U.S. — for this program?
Some have wondered whether Bingham might “fall victim to its own strategy” — i.e., whether the firm, which grew in power and profitability by swallowing up other firms, might itself get eaten up by a rival.
So what’s the latest on the Bingham merger talk front? And what might happen if the talks go further?
* Robert Manfred Jr., formerly a partner of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, is now the commissioner of Major League Baseball, and he beat out another former Biglaw buddy from Kelley Drye & Warren to snag the job. [Am Law Daily]
* “My past is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.” Michele Roberts is the first lady to lead the NBAPU, and you don’t want to mess with her. [New York Times]
* In case you haven’t heard by now, Governor Rick Perry was indicted on Friday on felony charges of abusing his power in office. Aww, poor guy. Not for nothing, but we can’t wait to see his mug shot. [New York Times]
* Quinnipiac Law has a new building that cost $50 million, and it’s designed to hold between 400 and 500 students. With only 292 students currently enrolled, that’s a lot of wishful thinking. [New Haven Register]
* “This is a lawsuit against the lawyers for being lawyers, for doing what lawyers do.” It also seems to be a lawsuit that’s allegedly about sex, lies, illegal video tapes… and Waffle House. [Daily Report (reg. req.)]
* Suit filed questioning the parentage of Blue Ivy Carter. Plaintiff claims to be the real… mother? Hm. You’d think that would be pretty easy for everyone to remember. [International Business Times]
* The Washington D.C.-area NFL team has filed suit to get its trademark back. They think the USPTO are Indian Givers. [DCist]
* The ACLU is asking courts to define “freedom of the press” in the wake of Ferguson. I understand their impulse, I just don’t think they’re gonna like the answer. [Fox2Now]
* A 71-year-old lawyer allegedly called two escorts over to his house and they asked for more money. Even for rich lawyers it’s the principle of the thing. [South Florida Lawyers]
* Sad to see Professor Larry Tribe join the “let’s blame the teachers instead of funding public schools” parade. But now that he’s become a high-profile supporter of ending tenure for those teaching the young, perhaps he’ll renounce his own tenure. Or at least fight to revoke it from all his colleagues. [National Law Journal]
* A Colombian lawyer is suing FIFA for $1.3 billion over bad officiating. Of all the things FIFA deserves to get sued over, this isn’t making the list. [Washington Post]
* Congratulations to Rob Manfred, a Harvard Law grad formerly of Morgan Lewis, on his promotion to MLB Commissioner. He will continue the proud tradition of keeping us bored all summer long while we wait for football to come back. [New York Times]
* New lawsuit says Google kept records of plans to infringe intellectual property… on Post-Its. Unwise. Office supplies are for back-to-school shopping, not writing down wrongful acts. [Valleywag]
* If you’re a current 3L or a law grad about to come off a clerkship, NOAA has a job opportunity for you. Imagine how exciting it will be when the next Sharknado happens! [USAJobs via NOAA]
* The Coalition for Court Transparency sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts, pleading that he allow cameras in the courtroom. Not sure how well this will go over, thanks to last month’s oral arguments interruption by a protestor. [Legal Times]
* Hot on the heels of the news that the firm posted its worst financial performance in six years, Bingham McCutcheon is leaking laterals. Morgan Lewis just poached four lawyers across three cities right out from under the firm’s nose. [Am Law Daily]
* If you were a law school dean, we sincerely hope you’d just live with the consequences of an enrollment decline instead of lowering your admission standards to put more asses in seats. [National Law Journal]
* Nancy Grace must defend herself against a defamation suit filed by Michael Skakel. It’s almost fitting that she’d get sued over talking about someone allegedly masturbating in a tree. [Hollywood Reporter]
* Things seem to be getting worse and worse over at Patton Boggs. Sure, the firm is trying to shack up with Squire Sanders, but Chevron/Ecuador lawsuit engineer James Tyrell may soon lead a new brigade of defectors out the door. [Businessweek]
* Morgan Lewis & Bockius just poached its first chief operating officer from a rival Biglaw firm. Anthony Licata most recently served as COO at Dechert, so we have a feeling he’ll do just fine at his new home in Philly. Congratulations! [Law 360 (sub. req.)]
* It’s a whole lot easier to get into law school these days, especially when some of the new admissions requirements including having a pulse and the ability to sign loan documents. Case in point: 42% percent of applicants were accepted at this “top-tier” school last year. [GW Hatchet]
* Just saying, but if you “dislike stressful, busy work environments,” the time to determine if law school was right for you was before you actually went to law school. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
Which Biglaw firms are the best? Which Biglaw firms are the best in terms of providing quality client service? Those are two very different questions. Just because a particular law firm is classified as being one of the best does not mean it isn’t chock full of arrogant a-holes (there’s actually a ranking for that). On the other hand, just because a law firm is overflowing with arrogant a-holes does not mean that it isn’t one of the best. It can be a fairly complicated equation, and general counsel are often forced to pick the perfect sweet spot when choosing outside counsel for litigation matters.
How does your firm stack up against the others, and how can you increase the likelihood that yours will be chosen to represent some of the biggest brands in the business? Being rated as one of the “absolute best” by general counsel in terms of client service will certainly give your firm a fighting chance.
Did your firm make this year’s ranking of the Client Service 30? Take a look and find out…
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