* “How do we find a new inventory of high net worth clients?” The answer for Kelly Drye was really quite simple: it seems that pro athletes are willing to pay just about anything to keep themselves from going bankrupt. [Capital Business / Washington Post]
* “I don’t know why it’s better to use a bigger firm.” When it comes to the latest law firm mega-mergers, some say that it’s not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* It’s like Groundhog Day for these Biglaw attorneys: Apple and Samsung are preparing for the “patent trial of the century,” part deux, and both MoFo and Quinn Emanuel have enlisted new lineups. [The Recorder]
* SAC Capital’s general counsel is okay, “[a]ll things considered.” His painful appendectomy is nothing compared to the $1.2 billion his hedge fund has to pay the government. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Ted Cruz might be an “AASS,” but he’s done at least one awesome thing in his life. He once drank so much Everclear that he completely ruined a play put on by the Harvard Law drama society. [Boston Globe]
* “What about devil worshippers?” Justice Scalia may think Satan’s gotten “wilier,” but that doesn’t mean his supporters don’t deserve religious representation in their public meetings. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Speaker of the House John Boehner says that if the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passes, tons of lawsuits will be filed — except that hasn’t happened in states with similar laws. Oopsie… [Reuters]
* Judge Shira Scheindlin isn’t going to just sit there and allow herself to be kicked off the stop and frisk case. In a rare move, she asked the Second Circuit to reverse its ruling and reinstate her. Go girl! [Reuters]
* Quinn Emanuel is welcoming a frequent firm-hopper (from Sidley to Clifford Chance to Cleary Gottlieb) into its ranks in D.C. to join Weil defectors Mike Lyle and Eric Lyttle. Best of luck! [Am Law Daily]
* Gibson Dunn scooped up Scott Hammond, a longtime leader of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Query just how large the dangling carrot at the end of the firm’s stick was. [Blog of Legal Times]
The popular conception of “lawyer” — as seen on television and in the movies — is that of a litigator. Understandably, law students are also susceptible to this view and will be so as long as the case method remains the pedagogy of choice in law school. Cases, by definition, are always about litigation. Both popular culture and the law school curriculum show lawyers most often in court or, at least, investigating the facts of the case. However, the truth of litigation practice is very different: the overwhelming majority of litigators’ work takes place outside the courtroom. Never mind that upwards of 90 percent of all lawsuits settle before trial or that most litigators’ spend their actual in-court time arguing procedural motions rather than the substance of the dispute. Oh, and there’s also doc review.
Anyway, most new associates and law students who aspire to Biglaw are going to be confronted with a question. To grossly generalize and simplify: am I a litigator or a transactional attorney? Many would say that there are distinct personality types best suited for each. Are you a win-lose kind of person or a win-win kind of person? Do you enjoy confrontation? Do you care if you ever see the inside of a courtroom? How important is the predictability of your schedule? And so on. (Of course we must acknowledge that wrestling over such questions is the classic “luxury problem.” For the majority of law students, what follows is, at most, of voyeuristic interest.)
For those in a position to choose, which Biglaw shop’s litigation departments offer the highest quality of life? We’ve dug into our survey data for answers…
The ATL Insider Survey (14,500 response and counting) asks respondents to assess their employers in terms of compensation, training, firm morale, hours, and culture. Below are the firms that were highest rated by their own litigators in each category, as well as overall. Keep in mind that these ratings are a commentary on the firm as an employer, without regard to “prestige” or won/loss record. Please note we lack sufficient survey data to generate ratings for all firms, most notably in this case Williams & Connolly. Also, we use the category “Litigation” in its broadest sense, lumping together IP, general commercial litigation, white collar defense, securities litigation, and all the disparate varieties into one group. Ratings are on a scale of 1 through 10, with 10 highest.
1. Davis Polk 8.94
2. Jenner & Block 8.67
3. Sidley Austin 8.22
4. Paul Weiss 7.90
5. Boies Schiller 7.79
Average score for all firms: 7.09
1. Paul Weiss: 8.80
2. Cravath 8.75
3. Jenner & Block 8.58
4. Arnold & Porter 8.22
5. Davis Polk 8.13
Average score for all firms: 7.97
Culture & Colleagues
1. Jenner & Block 9.25
2. Sidley Austin 8.89
3. Davis Polk 8.81
4. Debevoise & Plimpton 8.80 (tie)
4. Quinn Emanuel 8.80 (tie)
Average score for all firms: 7.97
1. Davis Polk 8.67
2. Jenner & Block 8.50
3. Sidley Austin 8.27
4. Paul Weiss 8.04
5. Arnold & Porter 7.89
Average score for all firms: 7.29
Congratulations to the Davis Polkers and all the other happy campers at the firms making the grade here. Not only do the litigators at these firms report a higher quality of life relative to all their peers at hundreds of other firms, they are, however you measure it, among the profession’s most elite practitioners.
Finally, if you have yet to do so, please take a few minutes and tell us about your firm (or school) here.
For all the talk of layoffs and worries over an unstable legal economy, Biglaw just keeps getting bigger. Today, the American Lawyer magazine announced its Global 100, a ranking of the world’s 100 largest law firms in terms of total revenue. The view from the top is simple: as we learned from the 2013 Am Law 100, slow and steady does win the race, because Biglaw is at the biggest it’s been in years, and partners’ profits are headed up, up, up.
Now that we’re on the long road to recovery following the recession and collapse of the U.S. financial markets, there are some lessons to be learned from the past five years. Some firms were able to cash in modestly on their success, while other firms buckled under the pressure and were forced to close their doors for good. The game of musical chairs in the top 10 of the Global 100 reflects this economic uncertainty.
DLA Piper is the new top dog in terms of total revenue. Which firms are the leaders of the pack in other metrics, such as profits per partner and attorney headcount?
We’ll begin with the revenue figures. Thanks to this record-high revenue growth, it seems like models and bottles may soon be flowing freely at the top 10 firms. Here’s the good news, courtesy of Am Law:
Combined gross revenue for The Global 100 grew by 3.8 percent in 2012 to a record high of $85 billion. This year 77 of the world’s top-grossing firms are American and 13 are British. Rounding out this year’s list are five Australian firms and one firm each from Canada, China, France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Eight firms are structured as vereins or as European Economic Interest Groups (EEIGs).
Here are the top 10 firms of the 2013 Global 100 (click to enlarge; check out the full list here):
For the first time in the history of Am Law’s global rankings, DLA Piper rose to the top, with $2.44 billion in gross revenue, barely displacing Baker & McKenzie. Unlike last year, where the top 10 remained largely unchanged, this year saw some dramatic movement, with one firm being bumped off the list entirely (alas, Am Law’s got no love for Ho-Love). The biggest move came from Kirkland & Ellis, which posted an increase of $187,500,000 in revenue, allowing the firm to jump from ninth place to sixth place in the top 10 ranking.
Next up, we’ve got every prestige whore’s favorite metric: profits per partner…
If you’re working in-house and dealing with bet-the-company litigation, you want the very best litigators in the world to be on your side. You want a firm with litigators so strong that it will make opponents gasp in fear at the very mention of its name. You want a firm that is known internationally for “go[ing] for the jugular” and coming out on top.
But how can you ensure that you’ve picked the right firm? BTI Consulting Group just made it a little easier with the release of its annual ranking of the firms “most likely to trigger dread” in opposing counsel, as determined by a poll of about 300 in-house attorneys. After reviewing all responses, BTI named the “Fearsome Foursome,” the most-feared litigation firms in the country.
Which firms returned to this year’s list and which firms dropped off of it? Check out the latest rankings…
Before we get to the nation’s most-feared firms, here’s some additional information on the methodology behind how they were named, courtesy of Law360 (sub. req.):
The recognitions were based on about 300 one-on-one interviews with litigation heads, general counsel and other law departments leads conducted between March and June, according to BTI. The represented companies had an average annual revenue of $14.3 billion.
This year, the following firms were dubbed the Fearsome Foursome and honored for their ability to strike fear in their opponents’ hearts and minds throughout the course of high-stakes litigation:
Only one firm, Boies Schiller, slipped off the list of honorees this year, while the rest continue to reign as returning champions. Taking the firm’s place is Quinn Emanuel, a litigation powerhouse that was previously honored on the BTI list in years past. (Don’t worry about this one, Boies Schiller — you’ve earned more than enough recognition as a bad-ass firm thanks to David Boies and his Prop 8 success.)
BTI President Michael Rynowecer had this to say of the 2014 Fearsome Foursome: “They have a take-no-prisoners attitude, and they don’t contemplate not winning. They bring the right people, the right chemistry. It’s all about the level of commitment, and not just in courtroom strategy, but in getting the right resources together.” In other words, these are the firms you want to have in your corner if you want to win big.
The BTI report also named four firms as “Awesome Opponents,” additional firms that corporate counsel would prefer to steer clear of in litigation: Boies Schiller, Cravath, Hogan Lovells, and Jenner & Block. Congratulations to all firms that were honored this year for their cutthroat litigation skills.
Do you think the Fearsome Foursome and Awesome Opponents actually earned their titles this year? Can you think of a law firm that deserves to be recognized but hasn’t been? Please give us your thoughts.
* Earlier this week, Verizon faced off against the Federal Communications Commission in a net neutrality battle royal before the D.C. Circuit. Next time, make FiOS work before trying to get a do-over on the way the internet runs. [New York Times]
* “I see my job as an air traffic controller. And I see an unending line of airplanes.” Federal judges are buckling under the heavy weight of their caseloads, and from the sound of it, they’re not at all happy about the situation. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* Which Biglaw firms strike the most fear into the hearts of their opponents when it comes to litigation? One firm got the boot from last year’s list, and we’ll have more on this later today. [Law360 (sub. req.)]
* Duane Morris is the first U.S. firm to open an office in Myanmar on some prime real estate. Be jealous of their associates as they bask in the splendor of its beautiful architecture. [Philadelphia Business Journal]
* A trio of Quinn Emanuel partners, including John Quinn himself, teamed up to open a high-class sushi joint in L.A. If he waits tables, he’ll definitely need someone to break a hundred. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a former student’s suit against Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and now he’ll have to live with shame for all eternity after being branded a cheater. [Law360 (sub. req.)]
* Strippers aren’t independent contractors, they’re employees entitled to minimum wage, says a judge. Taking off their clothes for only $7.25 an hour will do wonders for their self-esteem. [New York Daily News]
* Lady Gaga is being taken to trial over the wage-and-hour lawsuit filed by her former personal assistant. We wonder if the pop star will be as foul-mouthed on the stand as she was in her deposition. [ABC News]
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.
When it comes to the deposition process, it can get painfully boring for everyone involved. That’s why we love it when deponents spice things up by telling attorneys to “suck [their] dick,” or by accusing counsel of asking “stupid-ass questions.”
Sometimes, even the lawyers get involved in the fun, by drawing pictures of male genitalia or asking probing questions like, “So, your jurisprudential hymen is being ruptured?” We thought that we’d seen it all when it came to deposition antics, but it seems that we were incredibly mistaken.
Has a naked man ever interrupted one of your depositions?
Snapchat, the disappearing photo messaging app, is involved in some very high-profile litigation over its origins. Reggie Brown, a Stanford graduate, is suing Snapchat’s co-founders, Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel, for allegedly robbing him of his stake in the company. Firms that have been or are currently representing parties in this case run the gamut from large to small, featuring names like Quinn Emanuel, Cooley, and Lee Tran & Liang (a firm founded by former QE attorneys).
The naked man deposition incident happened at Cooley before Quinn took over on the case. The L.A. offices of Cooley are located in Santa Monica, California, a city whose inhabitants are apparently prone to walking around in the buff. Michael Rhodes, the partner on the case, was willing to take one for the team and sit facing the window so that the deponent, Reggie Brown, wouldn’t be subjected to a view of full-on balls during his testimony.
Brown’s lawyer, Luan Tran, makes a telling statement before before his client’s deposition begins. It seems that the naked man was present before it even began, and as any good lawyer would, he just wanted to make sure Cooley hadn’t paid a man to display his privates for a dirty depo experience (Ray Mandlekar was Tran’s co-counsel at the time):
Alas, Michael Rhodes was wrong about his window view. Reggie Brown was able to very clearly see a buck-ass naked man from his perspective, and later felt the need to let Rhodes know that the nude dude was (indicating) at him:
“The naked man is gesturing to me.” Too bad it wasn’t a Snapchat pic, eh Reggie?
(You can find a copy of the deposition on the next page, as Exhibit D of the legal document.)
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.