Yesterday we reported on a change in management at Nixon Peabody. We understand that some people at Nixon hope that the shift at the top will be followed by a return to Nixon Peabody’s old law firm culture.
But maybe NP people will have to get ready to assimilate into an entirely different culture? A well-placed tipster reports that some Locke Lord partners were told that the firm is exploring a possible merger with Nixon Peabody.
Locke Lord denies the rumor, while Nixon Peabody won’t comment. But our sources have been right before, especially when it comes to potential mergers…
Earlier this week, Locke Lord’s Larry Gray — managing partner of the firm’s Chicago office, and a lawyer at the firm for more than 35 years — passed away. He suffered a heart attack on Monday at the office. The firm was informed via an email from firm-wide managing partner Jerry Clements, on Monday night:
Dear LLBL Friends:
I am terribly sorry to report that our good friend and Managing Partner of our Chicago office, Larry Gray, passed away this morning after suffering a heart attack at the office.
More information regarding arrangements will follow when we have them. Please keep Larry’s wife, Sheri, and their children in your thoughts and prayers.
Condolences to the Gray family and to the entire Locke Lord community. A statement from the firm about Larry Gray appears after the jump.
We have previously predicted that, when the American Lawyer releases its data on profits per partner in 2009, we’ll see some declines over 2008. Last year was not a pretty one for the profession (although most of you think this year will be better).
But could our prediction be wrong? Is it possible that, owing to various cost-cutting measures — including, but not limited to, lawyer and staff layoffs — some firms will report significant increases in profit per partner in 2009?
Quite possibly. Take the case of Locke Lord. The Executive Committee recently informed the LLBL partnership as follows:
The Firm ended 2009 with Net Income of $171.9 million. This total represents a $23.4 million (or 16%) favorable variance to the Revised Budget. This number is also $6.4 million over last year’s Net Income of $165.5 million. The Firm outperformed last year’s AmLaw results with Profits Per Partner of $979,000 as compared to last year’s $956,000. In addition, the average compensation per partner increased from $597,527 in 2008 to $643,820 this year.
As a result of the Firm’s outstanding performance, the Executive Committee has approved a year-end distribution of $60.0 million. This represents an increase of approximately $14.0 million over 2008′s year-end distribution.
The $60 million distribution was funded today. Happy Thursday, Locke Lord partners! (According to the 2009 Am Law 100 rankings, the firm has 136 equity partners and 165 nonequity partners.)
The full LLBL memo appears after the jump.
Our latest Eyes of the Law celebrity sighting involves a household name: former White House counsel and Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. She may not have succeeded in getting on to the SCOTUS, but apparently she has joined another D.C. institution. We received this tip from a reader yesterday:
FWIW…. Just got sworn into the D.D.C. federal bar this morning. None other than Harriet Miers was also there getting sworn in. There were about 30 of us total. Pretty weird!
We are so close to the end of the Vault open threads that I’m starting to get my second wind. I don’t know much about the firms on this part of the list, but you guys do. You know a lot. You’re so smart, you probably don’t even need this quick recap of the next group of firms. But I’ll go through it anyway:
Every once in while, we like to explore career alternatives for attorneys, i.e., things you can do with a law degree that don’t involve Biglaw or contract attorney work. These days, we’ve come to think of the series of open threads as things you might do if you can’t find Biglaw or contract work.
Do you have a passion for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and HGTV? When you walk into a room, do you immediately judge the color scheme? Do you spend an inordinate amount of time rearranging doc review boxes to maintain the proper feng shui in your office? Maybe you should consider a second career in interior design.
Gordon Chin, a real estate lawyer and American University Law ’99 grad, has always had an interest in design work. Since being laid off by Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell in November, it’s become his full-time gig. To see his ultra-modern style, check out this Washington Examiner piece [PDF] on him (though the article’s a bit cliched, describing his style as “unpretentious yet somehow still sophisticated”).
Chin told us:
I’ve always done design work on the side, but given the slowdown in big-law, I’ve found more time to devote to my passion. I’m currently working with some clients in the DC area — everything from interior design, to staging services….
Projects range in scope and size — some include entire rowhomes/townhomes, others are consulting with paint colors or staging, assisting clients with shopping or selecting decorative pieces.
A Q&A with Chin, and the bright side of being laid off, after the jump.
Proskauer Rose announced start dates yesterday. Incoming associates have got some time to kill and some money to spend, says a tipster:
Proskauer [is] pushing their new associates back to March 2010. They’re offering a $20K stipend, or the option to get a public interest job, start Jan. 2011 and get a $60K stipend. They’re also still honoring a $10K salary advance they had previously offered.
Most firms, like Proskauer, have offered baby associates deferral stipends when pushing back start dates. However, a few disgruntled 3Ls have written to ATL saying that stipends are not forthcoming at their firms. Here are reports from tipsters:
Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell not offering any stipends [not even salary advances] to deferred Class of 2009 associates. Deferred Associates are still receiving their graduation bonuses ($1500), I guess that’s supposed to carry them through until January 2010.
You guys got to say something about the fact that Shearman, unlike most of the other firms, isn’t paying any kind of a stipend to those it is deferring until January ’10.
King & Spalding, all offices, has been pushed to January 19, 2010. Incoming associates were informed in late March. No stipend, and the salary advance is also not an option anymore.
Goldberg Kohn gave their incoming associates a $7500 bar stipend (which was reduced from the originally promised $8,000); they paid for Bar Exam fees; and they gave them a hand wave goodbye. As for their reported “pushing back start dates”, Goldberg Kohn has told their incoming associates that their start date was INDEFINITELY deferred. They said that March 2010 was a possibility but that the date was arbitrary and they are making no promises at all….They have offered no deferral stipend.
We would like to note that Shearman is paying a $65,000 stipend to those deferred to September 2010.
We wanted to call this post “The Final Round-up,” but that seemed overly optimistic. Check out the newest additions to the nationwide start date watch, after the jump. This time around, we’ve included firms (that we know of) that have not yet announced start dates.
It wasn’t that long ago that Locke Lord was provided a lifeboat for a select few partners, associates, and staff from dissolving Morgan & Finnegan. But it appears that was a most temporary landing for the ex-Morgan & Finnegan employees. We’ve been fielding layoff reports from Locke Lord’s offices in Chicago, New York and most recently Dallas. A tipster adds:
Apparently it is affecting some people who were just brought over from Morgan & Finnegan too.
Right there, that’s the difference between driving a Lexus and driving a Lexis.
We have now confirmed with a firm spokesperson that Locke Lord did lay off approximately six percent of its associates and an undisclosed number of staff today. Locke Lord gave us the following statement:
These are extremely tough economic times for our country, and Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell is not immune. We have been cutting expenses and our budget while making prudent business decisions, but it is clear we are in a recession that continues to adversely affect us all. Our clients’ decision to cut back on outside legal services and the uncertainty ahead has led to a conservative reduction in our attorneys and staff, and we are deferring the start date of our new Associates to January 2010. At the same time, we feel strongly our firm fundamentals are sound, and we look forward to a long and vibrant future as we continue to provide excellent legal services to our clients.
In addition, the firm spokesperson tell us that only “two or three” of the laid off attorneys were from Morgan & Finnegan. But, our tipsters report that the M&F casualties were higher for former Morgan & Finnegan staff that had (briefly) made the change over.
Good luck to all the ex-Locke Lord people and ex-M&F Locke Lord people tonight.
Update (6:25): Texas Lawyer reports that Locke Lord also deferred start dates for incoming first year associates:
Additionally, the firm today notified its incoming fall associate class of 31 who were supposed to start in September that they will be starting in January 2010. The firm’s summer associate program will not be affected, she says, although “we will probably have a little less extravagant entertainment.”
Update (6:44): We now have a source telling us that 80-90 staffers were let go along with the attorneys. Altogether, this puts the layoffs today at Locke Lord comfortably over 100 people.
Last week we brought you news of an impending partner defection from Morgan & Finnegan to Locke Lord. Today, Locke Lord made it official. A press release from Locke Lord heralds the bad news for Morgan & Finnegan:
Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, a full-service national law firm of approximately
700 attorneys, announces that more than 30 lawyers previously with New York-based Morgan &
Finnegan are joining Locke Lord. Morgan & Finnegan was one of the oldest and most well regarded Intellectual Property law firms in the country. The attorneys include 13 Partners and
the previous members of Morgan & Finnegan’s Executive Committee.
This move more than doubles the size of Locke Lord’s New York office to about 50 attorneys and
leads to Locke Lord opening a San Francisco office – the Firm’s 13th office and its third in
California (Los Angeles, Sacramento and now San Francisco). Morgan & Finnegan was in
existence more than 115 years and was well-known for providing well-rounded IP services
including IP litigation, patent and trademark prosecution and IP counseling and advice.
Notice the interesting use of the word “was?” “Morgan & Finnegan was in existence more than 115 years …”
Does Locke Lord know something that has not yet been announced to the general public? Or are they just parroting the obvious along with everybody else?
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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 six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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