Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

Judge Sam Sparks

* Remember the “kindergarten party” that Judge Sam Sparks (W.D. Tex.) was planning to hold? His Honor has canceled the festivities. [WSJ Law Blog]

* John Althouse Cohen — yes, son of La Althouse — discusses one way in which Texas might be emulating… Europe? [Jaltcoh]

* Professor Paul Campos opens up a can of whoop-ass on people who say students go to law school — and take on six figures of debt — “for the chance to make a difference.” [Inside the Law School Scam]

* Musical Chairs: Mr. Quinn Goes To Washington (with the help of three Alston & Bird partners). [ABA Journal]

* The latest news on Stephen McDaniel / Lauren Giddings: if the blue gloves don’t fit, you must acquit? [Macon Telegraph]

* Above the Law — of animal cruelty? Steven Seagal, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a dead dog, and a rooster massacre. [TPM Muckraker]

Steven Seagal

* 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]

* And congrats to Masimba Mutamba, a 3L at Miami Law, who has just been awarded an apprenticeship with Waller Lansden’s innovative Schola2Juris program. [University of Miami School of Law]

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.

Let’s find out who won this thing….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Holiday Card Contest: The Winner!”

Happy Holidays, from Gordon & Rees (click on the image to see the card - note that there's music).

Last year we held our first annual contest for law firm holiday cards. It was a fun feature, as well as a big hit with Above the Law readers.

The winner, in a landslide, was Akin Gump. Check out their delightful card, which is still online, over here.

(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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Above the Law’s Second Annual Holiday Card Contest”

billboard advertisement truth in advertising commercials.jpgThe 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Truth in Advertising? See You in Court”

comparing.jpgHere 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:

91. Stroock & Stroock & Lavan
92. Blank Rome
93. Seyfarth Shaw
94. Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
95. Manatt Phelps & Phillips
96. Squire Sanders & Dempsey
97. Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton
98. Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler
99. Wiley Rein
100. Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo

What say you about these fine firms? Some final thoughts after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Thread: Vault 91 – 100 (2010)”

Manatt logo.JPGAs 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Manatt Keeps the Bad Times Rolling”

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:

96. Dickstein Shapiro LLP (4.595)
97. Fenwick & West LLP (4.545)
98. Kilpatrick Stockton LLP (4.538)
99. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC (4.496)
100. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP (4.459)

Please discuss these firms in the comments. Thanks!
The Vault Top 100 Law Firms [Vault]
Earlier: Vault 1-5; Vault 6-10; Vault 11-15; Vault 16-20; Vault 21-25; Vault 26-30; Vault 31-35; Vault 36-40; Vault 41-45; Vault 46-50; Vault 51-55; Vault 56-60; Vault 61-65; Vault 66-70; Vault 71-75; Vault 76-80; Vault 81-85; Vault 86-90; Vault 91-95

100 dollar bill Abovethelaw Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGIt’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:

1. McDermott Will & Emery

2. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips (Hat Tip: Lateral Link)

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: The Latest Announcements”

scales of justice Above the Law.jpgThe 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.”

Referring to billing 2,000+ hours, on things like document review or due diligence, as a “highly engaging work experience”? That takes the prize for our “Euphemism of the Day.”
(And that’s no mean feat. The Seyfarth Shaw memo is FULL of great doublespeak.)
The Ultimate Time-Money Trade-off [ABA Journal]
Earlier: Skaddenfreude: Seyfarth Shaw Makes Itself At Home on the List of Shame

musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFLots 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]

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