This is a continuation of the past two articles that I published in ATL over the past month. My first article gave my view that the profitability metric of Profits Per Partner is a good servant but a bad master and, as a master, it is a root cause of serious problems for Biglaw. In my second article, I put forth a Profits Per Partner Emancipation Plan as a different way of doing business that I hope will eventually be adopted. Now, here I am giving my theory on what I think is a higher level of law firm profitability analysis, which is to “Embrace Volatility.”
Let me start by asking you: what is it that we all crave in our hearts? I mean, we all want money and power and fame and to be cool and good-looking and talented at sports or music or acting — but in addition to that — I think it is one of the basest human emotions to crave:
In early July, we broke the news that Cooley Law School would stop accepting first-year students at its Ann Arbor campus and would begin conducting faculty and staff layoffs due to continuing declines in both enrollment and revenue. At the time, the school had “no plans” to completely close the campus.
At the end of July, however, Cooley Law notified its Ann Arbor students there may be a “possible consolidation” of that campus with other Cooley campuses, three of which exist in Michigan.
It’s now mid-August, and the foreboding promise of layoffs has finally come to fruition. How many heads will roll thanks to this law school’s “right-sizing” plan? Our sources say the damage is “massive”…
For some reason, very few law firms are prepared to deal with the headcount issues. It is interesting because the reaction from them also is peculiar. I think it was reported—I don’t know, maybe 12 months ago—that Weil Gotshal had a significant layoff of lawyers. They reduced—I think it was their associates, but maybe it was of counsel as well—and there was quite a negative reaction in the press to that.
I am not privy to any of their numbers or anything that is going on in the firm, but, as a restructuring person, my reaction is, “Look, this is someone getting their house in order. This is an appropriate thing to do.” It is no secret that revenues across the industry are down. And, so, you either need to take market share, or you need to right size your organization.
The legal academy has been waiting with bated breath for something like this to happen, and now it finally has. A law school is cutting an entire class year from its enrollment logs at one campus and laying off faculty and staff — all at the same time.
Which law school seems to be in full on disaster mode right now?
* The SCOTUS decision in the Pom Wonderful case could have serious repercussions in terms of deceptive labeling litigation under the Lanham Act. Even Justice Kennedy was misled! [Huffington Post]
* Dewey know when to WARN people? This failed firm apparently didn’t, and now it has to pay a $4.5 million class-action settlement to the employees it laid off without adequate notice. [WSJ Law Blog]
* After getting bumped out of the Am Law 100 after a 17-year run, Shook Hardy & Bacon is letting go of three floors of office space it “no longer needs.” Secretaries Paper takes up a lot of room! [Am Law Daily]
* Minutes after this career criminal was released from jail due to his accidental acquittal, he was stabbed to death with a steak knife. But for the jury’s crazy mistake, he would still be alive. Yikes. [Fresno Bee]
* LMU’s Duncan Law, perhaps better known as the little law school that couldn’t, is still trying to get ABA accreditation. At least this time they’ll be able to use law schools’ national decline as a scapegoat. [WBIR]
The arrival of summer associates brings good news for the permanent lawyers and staff of Biglaw. Not only do summer associates infuse their firms with youth and beauty (and opportunities for free lunches), but they serve as an amulet of protection against the layoff spirits.
But for those folks lucky enough to land summer associate positions, the odds remain high that they will get offers (unless they misbehave). And firms want those offers to be accepted, so they try to present themselves to summer associates as shiny happy workplaces. Layoffs, whether of lawyers or staff, are kind of a buzzkill. Firms prefer to conduct them before or after their summer programs.
So perhaps this latest news will be our last layoff reporting for a while. Which firm just made double-digit cuts to its ranks?
Nothing brings out the knives more than losing jobs, and as a law school looks to send tenured faculty packing, the knives have come out in force.
A trustee defending the dean ripped the faculty using words like “smear campaign” and “mudslinging.” A professor countered saying the dean’s “leadership style is creating fear, a hostile work environment.” Well, looks like these kids are getting along swimmingly. This is what we have to look forward to all over the country as the law school bubble bursts and topples law schools all over.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy the public backbiting of Bravo’s new series, The Real Law Professors of…
We’re midway through Biglaw’s second quarter, and this will be the third week in a row we’re covering law firm layoffs or buyouts of some variety. This just goes to show that no matter how well a firm does, it’s always looking to do better, and the easiest way to do so is by managing human expenses.
Sometimes the firms attempting to trim their ranks are members of the “Super Rich,” with high revenues per lawyer (at least $1 million) and even higher profits per partner (at least $2 million). Other times, these firms are rich but not super-rich — firms that generally saw “modest, hard-won gains” last year, according to the American Lawyer.
The firm we’re writing about today falls into the latter group, with relatively small financial gains in 2013. Despite this, it’s still offering “very generous” packages to inspire employees to walk away….
It was just last week we were informed that the firms designated as “super rich” among all other Biglaw firms — specifically, the 20 with profits per partner of $2 million or more and revenue per lawyer of $1 million or more — were only getting richer.
That being the case, we can’t imagine that these Biglaw titans are hurting for cash, especially when the chasm between the super rich and everyone else keeps growing wider and wider.
This is why we were shocked to find out that the top-tier law firm recently revered for having the best brand in the business was trying to trim its ranks with offers of buyout packages…
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
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