* 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 Companies file complaints to get competitors’ ads withdrawn or amended.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]
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
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.
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.