As mentioned in the comments here, what’s cool about Perkins Coie’s Startup Percolator is that the firm is giving away legal documents for free. Well, it’s cool for entrepreneurs, but not so much for the attorneys trying to make a dime. “Great business model for a law firm,” a commenter mused sarcastically.
But maybe everyone at Perkins Coie has already sipped the Kool-Aid. Here’s our winning caption:
Side effects may include uncontrollable crying, self-loathing, weight gain, and alcoholism.
Thanks to everyone for suggesting comments and for voting. If you wrote the winning caption, feel free to email us, subject line “Caption Contest Winner,” to claim your prize (an Above the Law t-shirt).
If you want to convince potential clients to hire your firm, one of the best ways to do so is to give them some free swag. It makes the whole experience of being wooed by a law firm all the more memorable. You just need to make sure the freebies don’t flop with your audience.
Check out the “energy drink” that one Biglaw firm is giving away for free. Unless that bottle is full of cocaine, we’re not sure it’s going to work…
Here’s the photo for our latest caption contest. Drink the sweet, sweet nectar of attorney advertising:
Same rules as always: submit possible captions in the comments. Please try to be funny. We’ll choose our favorites — with preference given to those with a legal bent — and then let you vote for the best one.
Please submit your entries by TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29, at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern time). Thanks!
As is customary with our caption contests, we’ll now reveal the backstory behind the picture. A reader took this photo of a baby-changing station in a men’s room at the Seattle office of Perkins Coie. It’s a progressive gesture to install such a station in a men’s room; no wonder Perkins Coie has been repeatedly ranked as a “Best Company to Work For” by Fortune magazine. Or perhaps the firm’s “happiness committees” — yes, those are actually a thing — handle the men’s diaper-changing needs? It would be easier to deal with partners crapping on you all day if you don’t have to deal with your kid’s sh*t, too.
Here are the winning captions for our latest contest (there was a tie; sadly, the sink sank in the votes):
– This was installed 10 years ago and has clearly seen as much use as our other “benefits” such as 3 weeks of vacation, paternity leave, telecommuting and reduced-hours alternative partner track.
– It’s not a baby changing station, it’s a rainmaker’s penis shelf.
Thanks to everyone for suggesting comments and for voting. If you wrote one of the winning captions, feel free to email us, subject line “Caption Contest Winner,” to claim your prize (an Above the Law t-shirt).
The weather here in New York City has turned quite cold. How can one deal with the brutally frigid temperatures?
Well, if you’re a partner at Quinn Emanuel, maybe you should buy yourself a fur coat. Or fill a fireplace with hundred-dollar bills and get a nice toasty blaze going.
Given the firm’s financial performance in 2012, these options lie within the realm of possibility. CHECK YOU EMAIL for direct deposit notification.
Let’s take a look at 2012 financial reports concerning Quinn Emanuel, Bingham, and Perkins Coie. There’s some good news in each firm’s numbers….
We’ll start with the Quinn news. The firm is phenomenally successful and not afraid to crow about it. We received a press release yesterday from a high-powered public relations firm, Rubinstein Associates, touting the QE results:
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP today released its financial results for 2012.
Gross Revenues: $852,586,676 (up 17.85% over last year)
Net Profits: $586,311,563 (up 17.37% over last year)
Profits per equity partner: $4,435,719 (up 6.61% over last year)
Revenues per lawyer: $1,223,223 (up 9.4% over last year)
Very impressive. The firm’s loss in Apple v. Samsung didn’t seem to damage the bottom line.
These numbers shouldn’t surprise industry observers. As law firm partner turned legal consultant Edwin Reeser commented to me, “It isn’t news when Paul Weiss or Wachtell or Quinn Emanuel does well… no surprise there! That’s like saying DeBeers found more diamonds this year. Absent something truly aberrational and not explained, there just isn’t a dynamic or response that should be other than ‘well done.’”
True enough. Even the eminently quotable John Quinn didn’t have anything particularly sexy to say about his firm’s figures:
Managing partner John Quinn stated: “We had an extraordinarily busy year. We benefited significantly from contingent fee and other alternative billing arrangements, both on the plaintiffs and defense side. These sort of numbers could not have been possible without the hard work of our team of extremely talented lawyers.”
Quinn Emanuel’s revenues and profits have increased by double digits in all but one of the last eleven years.
Incredible performance. If we didn’t have clear evidence of the firm’s success — in terms of its notable victories and settlements, described over at Am Law Daily — we’d wonder if Quinn Emanuel is a house of cards. Boy Dewey know how some firms’ foundations can be less than stable.
Quinn isn’t the only firm with happy news to report from last year. Am Law Daily is providing preliminary reports on firms’ financial performance, in advance of the big unveiling of the Am Law 100 rankings, and recent dispatches are encouraging.
Take Bingham. According to the American Lawyer, the firm’s gross revenue climbed 0.4 percent last year to $872 million, close to an all-time high for the firm. Profits per partner dropped slightly, to a still-robust $1.69 million, partly due to the firm’s investing in its new business services center in Lexington, Kentucky.
“Our global service center initiative has been a hugely significant step for us,” Bingham’s chair, Jay Zimmerman, told Am Law. “It cost us a lot of money and that had an impact on partner profits — without it we would’ve had our best year ever — but we think it’s a great investment for the future.” According to Zimmerman, the center will be cash-flow positive by 2014 and produce an estimated $25 million in savings starting in 2016.
Growth in revenue, a dip in profits — the same pattern held at Perkins Coie. Revenue grew 11 percent in 2012, hitting $608 million, while profits per partner fell a tiny bit, to $1.015 million.
Why the drop in PPP? Perkins Coie’s explanation is similar to Bingham’s: investment in the future. According to managing partner Robert Giles, “Growth costs money. We brought a lot of people in and started paying them before we started getting collections.”
That’s perfectly fine to do, on a limited scale; do it too much, though, and you run the risk of doing a Dewey. But it doesn’t seem like Perkins Coie is in any danger of that. They’re not paying their people like Dewey, and the bulk of their lateral partner hires have joined as non-equity partners.
We’ll have more detailed coverage when the closely watched Am Law 100 rankings appear. Am Law keeps teasing its readers with these “Early Numbers,” but most folks just want to be shown the money.
In the world of sports, the figure of coach has taken on near-mythological status. Some coaches — such as the late Joe Paterno, before his fall from grace — are treated like gods, due to their legendary leadership and inspiration abilities.
What about in the world of Biglaw? Well, it’s catching on there too. An increasing number of law firms are making career coaches, including on-site coaches, available to their attorneys.
What’s behind this trend? And is it one worth celebrating? We share some survey results, as well as comments from a former associate who worked with a career coach….
Coaching is becoming ubiquitous. According to a 2012 survey by Manzo Coaching & Consulting, 98 percent of respondents (63 Am Law 200 firm) use coaches — either outside or internal ones. The survey finds that 90 percent of firms use coaching for business development, followed by leadership development (61 percent), training (49 percent), and conflict management (24 percent).
Though coaching is not new (35 percent of the responding firms say they’ve used coaches for seven to 10 years), the latest twist is that firms are grooming their own. “Many are former associates — usually a lawyer with four to seven years of experience — who first moved to a professional development director role, then the role of coach,” says Nancy Manzo, the study’s author.
Interesting. Career alternative for attorneys: career coach? We’ve previously profiled at least two lawyers turned life coaches — personal branding guru Karen Shapiro, and the super-sexy Erika Awakening. Since so many holders of law degrees can’t (or don’t want to) work as attorneys, many end up in law-related fields like career coaching for lawyers.
Why are so many firms moving in this direction?
Firms are investing in full-time, on-site coaches for a range of reasons — to stem attrition, help lawyers who have been on leave return to practice, or develop high-potential partner candidates, among others. Manzo says it’s a logical extension of talent management: “Firms are investing a ton of money in recruiting, and now they’re trying to find ways to care for and keep the people they’d like to stay.”
That makes perfect sense. As we recently discussed, many firms spend a lot of time and money recruiting lateral partners and not enough time and money on integrating and developing those partners after they arrive. Connecting them with career coaches could become part of that process.
The increasing popularity of career coaches at large firms may also reflect the decreasing likelihood of making partner:
There’s also the reality that law firm structures are changing, and lawyers need help to navigate their options. “Associates usually ask, ‘What is my path here?’ They are concerned that the partnership is not growing,” says Dina Glassman, Perkins Coie’s in-house coach.
That was the situation that one associate we spoke with about coaching found himself in. He didn’t have a high degree of confidence in his making partner, and after a number of years in the Biglaw trenches, he was interested in exploring other opportunities. His firm paid for him to speak with a career coach, which he said was a “helpful” experience.
The coach “was encouraging, and reminded me that I’m actually capable of good work — after many years of being convinced otherwise by law firm life,” this associate told us. “The sort of impossible standard of ‘being good enough to make partner’ means that anything less than that is failure. Whereas in the real world, if you do work that would be mediocre by Biglaw associate standards, you’re actually stellar.”
So what happened next?
“She encouraged me to go after an opportunity that had presented itself to me — which I did, and got the job, with no further assistance.”
That’s great to hear. This associate was definitely pleased with his brush with coaching: “When you’re experiencing ennui after long-term Biglaw employment, an enthusiastic, nice person can dramatically help your outlook.”
Readers, have any of you had experiences with career coaches? If so, feel free to share them in the comments.
* In the Apple-Samsung trial yesterday, Apple’s attorneys accused Samsung of intentionally copying the iPhone. Samsung’s attorney was like, Bro, step off. And then Judge Lucy Koh and all the members of the gallery and the jury crowded around in a circle and started yelling Techno-fight! Techno fight! [Wall Street Journal]
* Matthew Kluger, formerly of Wilson Sonsini and more recently convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for insider trading, gives an interview about what motivated him to commit his crimes. [Bloomberg]
* France is not happy that Google did not delete all its Street View information from the country after it promised to. Shockingly, some parts of the world apparently still value data privacy. How quaint! [New York Times]
* Former Perkins Coie partner Harold DeGraff must arbitrate his compensation battle with his former law firm. But the process will not have to be kept confidential. [Thomson Reuters]
* I’m pretty sure at this point the DOJ is just consulting a Ouija board in its increasingly feeble attempts to prosecute Megaupload. [Wired /Threat Level]
* UBS is not happy that it lost $356 million on the Facebook IPO. Now it’s suing NASDAQ over the snafu. [CNNMoney]
If you’ve ever wandered over to Backpage.com and spent a few minutes reviewing the classified ads there, you probably realized that you had just discovered the seedy underbelly of the internet. Rife with ads for adult services — which is arguably just an elegant way of saying prostitution — the website, owned by Village Voice Media, has come under fire for its association with human trafficking.
Leave it to the company’s general counsel, Elizabeth McDougall, to take a stand for these scandalous online ads. After all, it’s great business! Backpage reportedly has a 70% market share for prostitution ads in the United States, generating millions in revenue.
This week, McDougall is taking additional heat from state attorneys general for her statements in an off-color op-ed column published in the Seattle Times. What could she have said that was so controversial?
According to Corporate Counsel, McDougall, a mother and former partner at Perkins Coie (until February 2012), is used to being called names (names like “corporate sellout,” the “Village Voice pimp,” and “whore”). But she’s never been called a hypocrite before.
That’s what Washington State attorney general Rob McKenna referred to her as after reading her op-ed piece, “Backpage.com is an ally in the fight against human trafficking.” Here’s a quote from the Seattle Times article:
Weeks ago, I was a lawyer litigating high-profile Internet and cybercrime cases, and providing pro bono services to help victims of abuse, exploitation and civil-rights violations, including human trafficking. Today, I am still fighting cybercrime and human exploitation — but as general counsel for Village Voice Media Holdings, owner of Backpage.com.
Backpage.com is an online classifieds service. It includes a category of “adult” advertising that has been the recent target of accusations that it facilitates human trafficking.
Why did I make this move?
Because human trafficking, especially sex trafficking of children, is a social atrocity. Because I have children. Because I want human trafficking to stop. Because I believe Backpage.com is a critical ally to make it stop.
McDougall argues that to stop online human trafficking, there needs to be a place for advertising adult services, and that place needs to act as an ally for law enforcement. And if that place, namely Backpage, just so happens to generate millions from prostitution ads in the interim, then so be it. It also goes without saying that when state attorneys general demand that the adult services section of the website be taken down, this so-called ally will refuse to take part in further discussions to combat human trafficking online.
Washington’s AG McKenna responded to McDougall’s “jaw-dropping claim” in a personal blog post:
There’s an easy solution if Backpage executives really want to prove they’re allies in the fight against human trafficking: end adult services ads, which are, by the way, for services illegal in every state. However, we recognize that Backpage executives are hesitant to sacrifice profits in order to safeguard human trafficking victims. But at the same time, they shouldn’t lie to the public by claiming to be an “ally in the fight against human trafficking.”
Unlike the women featured in Backpage’s adult services ads, McDougall won’t take this lying down. Recently quoted in Businessweek as saying, “If they shut down the adult category, I’ll leave,” she seems to have a bit of a problem on her hands. Will she stop “fighting” human trafficking by allowing human trafficking to continue, or stop helping her company reap the rewards of prostitution?
As it stands, all bets seem to be on option two. No wonder she’s been called a “whore” — because in all honesty, it appears that she’s just doing it for the money.
Over the last several months, we have spent a lot of digital ink covering Paul Ceglia’s goofy lawsuit claiming 50 percent ownership of Facebook. In that case, we tend to believe Facebook is in the right.
But now it appears that the social media behemoth has caught its own case of silly litigation fever.
Facebook has taken legal action against the makers of a web-browsing widget that allegedly violates its terms of service. And its Biglaw attorneys may have caught an innocent internet commenter in the crossfire….
A nonplussed tipster gives us his explanation of the situation going down at TechCrunch:
Company makes a system to bypass “Facebook comments” on a blog, allowing people to comment anonymously. Tech website puts up story reporting on this bypass system. Blog reader comments on the story. Facebook sues to stop company. Law firm goes after the freaking *blog reader* who wrote a comment, and says he needs to hire a lawyer to prove he’s not involved with the bypass system.
So stupid. Please embarrass these fools.
Consider it done, venerable tipster!
In a nutshell, a man named Rick Stratton appeared in the screenshot in a TechCrunch blog post about the add-on, known as Defaceable. In the screenshot, Stratton, who works for a totally separate software company, wrote how excited he was for the add-on to be released. When the post went live, he also contributed to the actual comments section of the website (with his name attached), saying how excited he was to simply make it into a TechCrunch article.
Unfortunately, Facebook’s attorneys at Perkins Coie thought his comment meant he works for Defaceable. The attorneys sent Stratton a cease-and-desist letter, and they have not accepted his explanation that he doesn’t even work for that company.
Needless to say, he is not happy:
“My face appears in the image uploaded to the article,” Stratton tells us. “And I made a comment on the story. And so now these dumb lawyers are coming after me,” he says.
Sounds like he’s not a huge fan of the ATL readership. Sorry guys. His rant continues:
After contacting the firm, he was told he will need to hire a lawyer to prove he’s not involved with Defaceable. “She [the lawyer from Perkins Coie] basically grilled me and became irate and told me to get a lawyer to prove that I’m not involved with this ‘Defaceable’ company…I don’t know what to do other than to hire a lawyer on this. She seems pretty adamant about coming after me.”
TechCrunch has posted the four-page letter, which is signed by Carla L. Reyes, a Perkins Coie associate. The letter does appear to assume Stratton works for Defaceable. So, what’s the angle here? It sounds like the attorney simply made a mistake. But who knows, maybe it is part of some grand plan? Or maybe Stratton is hiding something?
Each year in January, Fortune releases its list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. As in years past, a few law firms have managed to sneak their way onto a list that includes companies like Google, DreamWorks Animation, and Goldman Sachs. With companies like that on the list, you’ve got to wonder (Elie did last year) — do the people at Fortune who make this list have any idea what they’re talking about?
We cover this list every year (click here for our posts in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007). Like last year, only four firms made the list for 2012.
But which four firms? Which four firms had pay that was high enough, perks that were good enough, and environments that were nurturing enough to make the cut?
The four law firms on this year’s list are… the same four firms that made last year’s list. That’s not very exciting. In fact, we’d congratulate these four firms a little more if each of them hadn’t dropped in rank. Let’s check out their new rankings (links go to Fortune’s write-up for each firm):
Given that all the law firms dropped, the safest conclusion is that somebody at Fortune met an actual practicing attorney — who undoubtedly started crying when asked about job satisfaction.
Although they’ve dropped in rank, here’s what Fortune says makes working at these places better than at “regular” law firms (those hapless firms that didn’t make the list because their PR people had better things to do the day the Fortune “be on our list” email showed up):
At Baker Donelson, the firm appreciates its staff so much that if they “were on the Titanic, managers would have dived in to save [them].” After all, lawyers masochistic enough to work Biglaw hours are hard to find these days! Over at Perkins Coie, they have “happiness committees” that throw frequent parties (presumably to alleviate the sadness that comes with a Cravath-scale bonus).
Speaking of happiness, Bingham is apparently short on “prima donnas and malicious jerks” — are their partners kept behind closed doors? Last, but not least, Alston & Bird doesn’t need a fun fact to corroborate the firm’s awesomeness. At number three on Fortune’s list of top-paying companies, they’re too busy rolling around in money to be bothered.
So, readers, have these rankings actually been earned? Can you think of a law firm that deserves to be recognized, but hasn’t been? Please give us your thoughts.