* Above the Law — of animal cruelty? Steven Seagal, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a dead dog, and a rooster massacre. [TPM Muckraker]
* After a judge shot down the effort by NBA star Gilbert Arenas to stop “Basketball Wives: Los Angeles” from airing, Arenas’s ex-fiancee, Laura Govan, was allowed to strut her stuff on television — and it wasn’t pretty. [Sister2Sister]
* Congratulations to super-mensch Stanley Levy, senior counsel at Manatt, on winning Am Law’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2011. [American Lawyer]
Above the Law’s second annual holiday card contest was a great success. Thanks to everyone who responded to our call for nominations, thanks to the finalists who created such great holiday cards, and thanks to all the voters.
The campaigning was vigorous. And the final winner actually wasn’t one of the two firms that was leading early in the voting. There was an eleventh-hour surge over the weekend from one of the contenders.
(The clever 2010 holiday card of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips — which the WSJ Law Blog just named as its favorite card for this year — has a punchline that’s reminiscent of last year’s Akin Gump card. But the Manatt card opens with a funny fictionalized firm meeting to discuss the holiday card, which the Akin card did not have.)
We recently received lovely holiday e-cards from two well-regarded firms: Gordon & Rees, a California-based Am Law 200 and NLJ 250 firm, and Much Shelist, a Chicago-based business law firm. You can check out their cards — they both contain music, so you might want to turn your computer’s sound off or use headphones if you’re not alone — by clicking on the images (above right, for Gordon & Rees, and after the jump, for Much Shelist).
These cards reminded us: ’tis the season — for a holiday card contest!
If you’re interested in submitting a law firm holiday card for consideration, please read on for the submission guidelines….
The performance of litigation as a Biglaw business line during the Great Recession has been widely viewed as disappointing. But at least one type of litigation seems to be picking up. From the New York Times:
A diamond is forever? Prove it.
Companies that were once content to fight in grocery-store aisles and on television commercials are now choosing a different route — filing lawsuits and other formal grievances challenging their competitors’ claims…. The goal is usually not money but market share. Companies file complaints to get competitors’ ads withdrawn or amended.
The cases themselves might seem a little absurd — an argument over hyped-up advertising copy that not many consumers even take at face value. Pantene has attacked Dove’s claim that its conditioner “repairs” hair better, and Iams has been challenged on one of its lines, “No other dog food stacks up like Iams.”
Dueling over dog food quality? Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Here we are. The end of the Vault 100.
To be on the Vault 100 is to be a well-known firm. Sure, maybe not well-known to law students or junior associates who can’t see past the mountain of doc review boxes in their windowless conference rooms. But known to partners … and clients. Look down your nose at these firms if you wish, but remember the old African proverb: “The smallest elephant can still crush your Lexus.”
Here is the final batch of top law firms for discussion:
As we follow the sun through its appointed circuit, we’ve learned that additional layoffs have occurred today out west. Manatt, Phelps has laid off 25 people today: 17 lawyers and 8 staff.
Here’s the statement the firm provided to Above the Law:
The broad economic slowdown continues to present challenges to businesses in every industry. The quality and breadth our national practice, as well as initiatives to improve resource utilization and reduce expenses, have positioned us to meet these challenges. Responsible stewardship, however, requires ongoing evaluation and appropriate alignment of staffing levels with client needs.
With this in mind, we have made the extremely difficult decision to reduce our lawyer ranks by 17 and our staff ranks by 8. Due to the nature and timing of these actions, we have provided those affected with financial and other assistance to help with their transitions.
We understand that the layoffs took place in the finance, tax, and advertising practice groups.
This is the second round of cuts for Manatt. We reported earlier that Manatt has already laid off 47 people since October, 2008.
A tipster also informs us that Manatt first years will be taking a pay cut:
Bill Quicksilver announced … that first year salaries would be reduced to $145K starting April 1. And no on campus recruiting.
Is this the new trend, lay people off while cutting salaries? It certainly appears that firms are trying to finish off this round of cuts before Passover and Easter.
Update (4:48): Additional details about severance after the jump.
We hope you enjoyed the Labor Day holiday and long weekend. Alas, now it’s back to work — for you and for us.
We’re still digging ourselves out from an email avalanche, as well as trying to figure out what’s going in the world (and what we should write about today). This may take us a little while, so please be patient.
In the meantime, let’s conclude our series of open threads on Vault 100 law firms. Here are the firms to talk about today:
It’s the Friday before a major holiday — and firms are scrambling to get their pay raise announcements out the door. It’s a nice way to send your bedraggled and overworked hardworking associates into a three-day weekend (assuming they don’t need to come in on Monday).
We’re about to sign off for the weekend, and we won’t be back until Wednesday. (Billy Merck, who has filled our shoes in the past, will be your guest editor on Tuesday.)
Before we go, here are the latest salary announcements that we’ve confirmed:
But the Manatt “raise” has a catch. Its effective date? January 1, 2008.
HA. That’s kind of funny, in a sick sort of way — provided you’re not at Manatt.
Memos appear after the jump. And we’re out the door. Have a great holiday weekend! Update (2:50 PM): We’ve verified the Pillsbury Winthrop raise news. Memo below. Update (3:25 PM): Jeez, you’re going to make us miss our flight to Las Vegas. Memo from the D.C. office of Winston & Strawn, added after the jump.
The interesting comment thread to our recent post about the Seyfarth Shaw memo — aka “We’re on the List of Shame, and We’re Telling You We’re Not Going” — reminded us of something we meant to link to earlier.
It’s an article, from this month’s ABA Journal, reporting the results of a survey of young lawyers. The survey focused on the trade-off between compensation and billable hours — in other words, money versus lifestyle. Here’s a summary of the results:
[I]f associates were given an opportunity to work—and earn—a little bit less, would they?
Yes, say an overwhelming number of young lawyers who participated in an unscientific online survey conducted by the ABA Journal in November. Respondents identified themselves as associates.
Of the 2,377 respondents who answered all or part of the survey, 84.2 percent indicated they would be willing to earn less money in exchange for lower billable-hour requirements.
A sizable minority of associates are looking for a big workload cut—31.9 percent of respondents favored a 20 percent reduction in billable hours. That was followed by a 10 percent cut in hours (chosen by 27.8 percent of respondents), a 15 percent cut (14.3 percent), a 25 percent reduction (13.5 percent) and a 5 percent cut (4.3 percent).
Heck, who wouldn’t want to work less? But the survey respondents were willing to put their money where their mouths are:
A majority of respondents—no matter how much less they wanted to work—were willing to accept a pay cut equal to the percentage reduction in their workload. (Though 15.1 percent of those looking for a 20 percent cut in billable hours would be willing to sacrifice 25 percent or 30 percent of their pay for less time at work.)
Could we see a significant rise in either true lifestyle firms, or lifestyle tracks at Biglaw firms — where associates work (and earn) less than the average Biglaw lawyer? It’s doubtful:
[P]artners and consultants say no to the idea, for the most part.
“I don’t think this would work if you want to have a very successful firm,” says Carl A. Leonard, former chairman of Morrison & Foerster. “The world has always been competitive, and it just gets more so.”
These sentiments are echoed by Paul Irving, chairman of Manatt Phelps & Phillips:
[L]owering billable-hour requirements for all his associates, [Irving] says, would not work. The firm has a starting annual salary of $145,000 and a billable-hours requirement of 2,000 hours a year.
“Our experience is that, for the most part, the people we recruit are looking for top compensation and a highly engaging work experience.”
Lots of interesting moves, both actual and rumored, to report upon today. Possible promotion:
* Elena Kagan, the popular (and hot) dean of Harvard Law School, is being considered for the presidency of Harvard University. In government:
* New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is on a hiring spree (just like his successor as AG, Andrew Cuomo). Lloyd Constantine, who currently heads a 40-lawyer firm, will serve as a senior advisor to Spitzer. Debra Bachrach, a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, will direct the state’s Medicaid program. Joseph Baker, bureau chief for health care under AG Spitzer, will take over as deputy secretary for health and human services. “You’re Fired”:
* Former Apple in-house lawyer Wendy Howell was discreetly discharged, late last year, for her role in the options backdating fiasco. Reunited and it feels so good:
* Structured finance lawyers William Cullen, Janet Barbiere and Bola Oloko, to Thacher Proffitt & Wood, from Sidley & Austin. The trio left Thacher Proffitt together in 1997 (back when Barbiere and Oloko were still associates; they were recently promoted to partnership at Sidley). Other lateral moves:
* Bankruptcy lawyer Steven Wilamowsky, to Bingham McCutchen, from Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Headhunters at Harvard May Pick a Woman [New York Times] NY Bankruptcy Partner Switches Firms [NYLawyer.com] NY Trio Returns to Firm They Left in the ’90s [NYLawyer.com] Spitzer Taps Three NY Lawyers to Fill Key Positions [NYLawyer.com] Apple Quietly Canned Lawyer Who Backdated [The Recorder via Law.com]
Professor Joel P. Trachtman (JD Harvard Law School) has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.
● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.
● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.
● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!
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!