This week has been a big one for rankings. On Monday, the American Lawyer released the 2014 Am Law 100 rankings, chronicling how Biglaw fared in 2013. Last night, we released our top 50 law school rankings, based on the latest employment data from the ABA.
The process of getting measured causes people to modify themselves toward the metric; just ask any bride trying to fit into her wedding dress. So it shouldn’t be surprising that, with rankings on the brain, law firm leaders have been cutting headcount to boost profits.
Which major law firm just announced double-digit cuts, perhaps in an effort to get into fighting shape by Memorial Day, before the arrival of summer associates?
Over the past year or so, we’ve heard a steady trickle of negative news out of Dickstein Shapiro. The trickle has turned into a stream, so it’s now time to share what we’ve learned.
Let’s start with the numbers — grim numbers. Yesterday the Legal Times reported on what it described as Dickstein’s “worst year in more than a decade.” Revenue fell by 20 percent in 2013, and net income dropped even more sharply, by 35 percent. According to the Legal Times, the firm’s 2013 net income of $36 million is the lowest the firm has seen since before 1998, its first year on the Am Law 200.
Chairman James Kelly tried to spin this performance as “restructuring” and “investment,” as the firm focuses on its core practice areas. According to Kelly, “We made a strategic commitment to be a market-leading specialty firm. We decided we’re not going to be everything to everyone.”
“Everything” would appear to include “employer.” Let’s hear about the firm’s headcount cuts — affecting partners, associates, and staff — and check out the severance agreement that one source leaked to us….
* Noah “Kai” Newkirk, the protestor who disrupted Supreme Court arguments in February, was sentenced to time served and barred from the court. Don’t worry, we’ll get you all the SCOTUS clerk news you need, cutie. [Associated Press]
* “There are still a lot of firms out there hoping the good old days are going to return, and are finally coming to the realization that that isn’t going to happen.” More on Biglaw layoffs. [Am Law Daily]
* Yet another law school gets its rating downgraded by Moody’s. As a standalone school with “substantial declines in JD enrollment,” Vermont Law’s outlook is now negative. Sad trombone. [Moody's]
* “Is the Tax Code really 70,000 pages long?” No, not really. We wonder who started the rumor that it was so long, because in reality, it’s only about 2,600 pages long — which is still way, way too long. [Slate]
* It appears that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree with this celebrity family. Lindsay Lohan’s mother, Dina Lohan, pleaded guilty yesterday to drunken driving and speeding charges in New York. [CNN]
Over the course of the past two months, we’ve been able to allow only one week to pass without the mention of a layoff or buyout of some sort, whether it be from a law firm or a law school.
These layoffs haven’t affected only handfuls of people — with about 20 people here, and more than 50 people there, hordes of law firm and law school personnel have been thrust into the unemployment line in recent weeks. Today, we’ve got word on yet another double-digit law firm layoff, this time coming amid the “surreptitious firing” of associates and the defection of several partners.
Which firm is the source of this unfortunate action?
For months, if not years now, the Biglaw buzzword of choice has been “rightsizing.” The practice has infiltrated all sectors of the legal profession, even law schools. Pushing aside all the flowery BS explanations, we know what that phrase really means. There’s not enough money to go around, and whatever is left isn’t worth spending on you.
This week, yet another law firm decided that some of its employees were more expendable than others, conducting a double-digit layoff.
Throughout the past few weeks, several law schools have been hit hard by the realities of the market for legal education — there have been faculty layoffs and buyouts galore. We suppose this is what happens when people stop applying to law school in droves. Rather than offsetting the financial losses by charging higher tuition, most schools are “rightsizing” themselves by cutting faculty positions they deem unnecessary, a big blow to those ivory-tower elites who believed their jobs were secure.
But because nothing in the legal profession is very secure anymore, today we’ve got news of layoffs from a public law school facing major budgetary issues thanks to a gigantic funding gap across the entire university system.
Which law school could it be? Keep reading to find out…
As we noted earlier today, the legal sector has added 2,300 jobs since the start of 2014. For an industry that currently employs more than 1.1 million people, 2,300 new jobs doesn’t sound like a lot — but hey, it’s better than shedding jobs.
Note that we’re talking about net job growth. Some legal employers are hiring, while others are firing.
Which major law firm just laid off a total of 52 lawyers and staffers last week?
Trade-ins happen all the time. Texas lawyers trade in their Lexuses (Lexi?) for newer models. Law firm partners trade in their wives for newer models too.
Today’s Biglaw layoff story involves a trade-in of sorts. A prominent law firm restructured its IT department, resulting in double-digit departures. But then the firm turned around and posted some of those positions to a job board.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.