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?
Last month, we mentioned the possibility of a merger between the two firms. It now appears that it won’t be a complete merger, but a selective acquisition of certain lawyers (a la Sonnenschein’s absorption of Thacher Proffitt & Wood attorneys when TPW dissolved). As a result, Morgan & Finnegan lawyers who aren’t offered spots on the Locke Lord life raft will be out of jobs.
John Sweeney will become the deputy managing partner of Locke Lord’s New York office, while James Gould will assume the role of co-head of the intellectual property department. At least 11 other Morgan & Finnegan partners will also be making the move. Joining Locke Lord as equity partners are Matthew Blackburn, William Feiler, Peter Fill, Harry Marcus, and Steven Meyer. Coming aboard as income partners are Seth Atlas, Robert Goethals, James Hwa, John Osborne, Richard Straussman, and Andrea Wayda.
Rumors of dissolution have been swirling around Morgan & Finnegan for quite some time. Back in August, the firm engaged in staff and attorney layoffs.
As for how the word got out, something rather strange happened on Friday. An email from an anonymous address was sent to a large number of M&F associates, attaching the Locke Lord offer letters to Sweeney and Gould (posted below — but you may have seen them already, since they were in wide circulation over the weekend, sent to us by multiple correspondents). From one source:
Morgan & Finnegan is dissolving on Monday. They are sending termination letters to everyone. Then, a number of those people will receive offer letters from Locke Lord (so it is not really an acquisition).
Not everyone will get offers. A large number of staff and attorneys will be laid off on Monday. Rumor has it around 70 people. Most first years, and some other associates. Pretty much all staff. LLBL just wants the lease and some of the partners….
Interesting that [Sweeney and Gould] are making off with $1+ million apiece at the cost of most of the jobs of their employees. Needless to say, most people are disgusted. John Sweeney is the person who has kept saying that people should not worry and the firm is fine. Now he is cutting his losses and running.
More discussion — plus links to the James Gould and John Sweeney offer letters, which are an interesting read, especially if you don’t know what a lateral-partner offer letter looks like — after the jump.
Locke Liddell is acquiring Morgan & Finengan. Don’t think it’s final yet.
Tipsters from both firms have heard the news, but obviously nothing has been finalized. Firm spokespeople could not be reached for immediate comment over the holidays.
Both firms appear to have been prudent during the economic crisis. We reported that Morgan & Finnegan lost a number of partners over the summer, while Locke Lord no-offered more than half of their summer associates. But we haven’t received any reports of wide scale associate layoffs at either firm.
That could change if this merger goes through. A tipster reports:
Rumor has it that Lock Liddell will be laying off a number of Morgan & Finnegan lawyers as part of the merger.
Is this a gift that Locke Lord will cherish? Or is it one that Morgan & Finnegan will want to take back to the store? We’ll keep you posted.
With all the attention focused on the 2009 summer class, and current associates getting laid-off, and full service law firms dissolving, we’ve kind of lost sight of the 2008 summer class. Many of them have still not made a decision about their future employment.
We’ve received reports from multiple tipsters that say Locke Lord’s Houston office made offers to less than 50% of their summer class:
I thought you should know that [Redacted] Locke Lorde in Houston, TX only extended offers to 14/30 of their 2L summer associates – including no-offers to some who had spent their 1L summer with them.
As we understand it, 27 of those summers were 2Ls.
Apparently the relationship between Locke Lord and their 2008 summers was one of mutual unhappiness. We’ve been told that of the 14 offers, only four have been accepted at this point.
You’d expect a little better than 4 out of 14 in this market.
A “profile” of one of the summers that did receive an offer after the jump.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the Houston legal community is getting back to work. WRAL news channel 5 reported that Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell expects to reopen Wednesday. Andrews Kurth has their attorneys working remotely. According to the WRAL report, an Andrews spokesperson said, “all of our BlackBerrys are working.”
Other Houston area firms were contacted by ATL directly. The most important news is that everybody is safe.
Mike Conlon, partner-in-charge of Fulbright & Jaworski’s Houston office, said:
[W]e have been able to assist all that have needed temporary housing. While our Houston office is closed today, our lawyers are working from remote locations, including our other offices in Texas. All computer support functions are operating, and other offices are providing additional support where needed, which is part of Fulbright’s disaster recovery plan.
Fulbright & Jaworski plans to be fully functional by tomorrow.
More news from Houston after the jump.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
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