McDermott Will & Emery was supposed to have its incoming class start in January. But now that January is almost upon us, MWE is the latest firm to change its mind.
The news first broke on Facebook late last week, via status updates of unhappy incoming associates:
♫ “re-deferment in december. happy holidays.”
Yeah, there is a lot of that going around. It’s like the Biglaw version of the Lexus “December to Remember” ad campaign.
McDermott will be offering the (now standard) deferral extension stipend of $5,000/month. Given that the firm has been cost cutting for a while, incoming associates should probably be grateful for the stipend they will receive.
Additional details, plus a statement from the firm, after the jump.
We’ve covered in these pages the many challenges faced by standalone intellectual property firms. One of them is competition from Biglaw shops seeking to scoop up top talent in the IP field.
Yesterday morning, Robert C. Sullivan Jr., president and managing principal of Darby & Darby, sent around an internal email announcing the departure of two prominent partners, Joseph Robinson (pictured) and Robert Shaffer. Robinson and Shaffer, who specialize in patent litigation, counseling and procurement, are joining the New York office of McDermott Will & Emery.
It’s not happy news for Darby, which a tipster describes as “one of the last IP boutiques of any meaningful size, [but] gasping for breath as it is.” Robinson, a biotech expert and noted patent litigator, is said to have been one of the firm’s top-grossing partners, “probably to the tune of about $4 million.” Darby is holding a town hall meeting to discuss the defections.
A source issues this warning to Robinson’s new colleagues at MWE:
[Robinson] is a control freak who wields the power he gets from high earnings with an iron fist…. He is a significant reason for the many partner and practice group defections at Darby in the past few years, and now he’s gone too. McDermott will love the revenue, hate the attitude.
In Robinson’s defense, does he sound all that different from many top partners or successful litigators?
Robert Sullivan’s email announcing the departures, after the jump.
Last week we wrote about the move of prominent D.C. lawyers Lanny Davis and Eileen O’Connor from Orrick to McDermott Will & Emery. Am Law Daily described the jump as follows: “Lanny Davis, a longtime Washington, D.C., lawyer who supported Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and was a fraternity brother of George W. Bush, is taking his unique practice from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe to McDermott, Will & Emery.”
It’s not the case, however, that the entire practice moved. As noted by one commenter, the rest of the legal strategic and crisis management practice remained with Orrick. Consistent with this, an Orrick spokesperson issued the following statement to ATL:
We wish Lanny and Eileen well, but Orrick’s law, policy, media, and crisis management practice remains vibrant and strong with continuing plans for expansion and will keep delivering its unique blend of legal, public relations and government affairs counsel to our clients around the world.
Remaining at Orrick are partners Adam Goldberg, who was co-chair of the practice with Davis, and Joshua Galper. Goldberg and Galper will head the practice going forward. In addition, the associates who work in and with the law, policy and media group are staying at Orrick.
As for clients, it’s not yet clear which ones will stay with Orrick and which will move to McDermott. “Thankfully, this is a practice where we’ve always had plenty of work, so that’s not an issue,” Galper said. (We’d guess, however, that certain clients closely tied to Davis — like CEAL, the Honduras business group supporting the coup in that country — will travel with him.)
Get to know Messrs. Galper and Goldberg, and read more about Orrick’s very interesting and unusual practice area, after the jump.
Last week we participated in a panel discussion at Georgetown Law that was skillfully moderated by Eileen O’Connor, the Emmy-nominated journalist turned high-powered lawyer. After the talk, we tried to play the “name game” with O’Connor regarding colleagues of hers over at Orrick. But O’Connor seemed strangely uneasy about Orrick, and she quickly changed the subject.
Could this have been why? From Am Law Daily:
Davis, who previously moved to Orrick in 2003 from Patton Boggs, will bring counsel Eileen O’Connor, a former ABC News and CNN reporter, with him.
Beltway dwellers know that Lanny Davis is a big deal. He served as White House Special Counsel during the Clinton Administration, but he has friends on both sides of the aisle. As Bobby Burchfield, cohead of McDermott’s Washington office, told Zach Lowe of Am Law Daily, “Lanny is the only person I know who considers both Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush good friends.”
In addition to practicing law, Davis writes for the Washington Times and for The Hill. In one recent column, he scolded bloggers for inadequate fact-checking. If anything in this post is inaccurate, Mr. Davis, please email us and we’ll fix it ASAP.
Press release after the jump. Good luck to Davis and O’Connor in their new professional home.
We’re now into the back half of the brand new Vault law firm rankings. Just like last year, we worry about a proliferation of “TTT” accusations in the comment threads. But such terms of art can miss the positives of many of the firms in this section of the Vault rankings. Here’s the list:
51. Fulbright & Jaworski 52. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati 53. Morgan Lewis & Bockius 54. McDermott Will & Emery 55. Alston & Bird 56. Bingham McCutchen 57. Fish & Richardson 58. Dechert 59. Greenberg Traurig 60. Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft
We have already extensively talked about the Morgan Lewis situation. Let’s move on to other firms after the jump.
This afternoon, we told you about a summer associate from Harvard Law School who has already been fired from his firm. After the story went up, the HLS 2L called Above the Law to “set the record straight.” He has a different version of what went on during his brief stay at McDermott, Will & Emery.
According to the former summer associate, who asked that we maintain his anonymity (so please don’t name him in the comments), he was let go because his work visa hadn’t yet come through. As many of you know, non-citizens need to have a work visa in order to work — and get paid — in America.
But according to the HLS 2L, his work authorization papers were delayed because MWE didn’t tell him he’d be able to start working as a summer associate until late February. In case you’re wondering, you cannot apply for a work visa until you know when you will actually be working (in terms of specific dates). The HLS 2L did apply for the work visa in late February, but he’s still waiting for the papers to come through.
As the HLS 2L put it:
I was never officially a summer at McDermott, so I really wasn’t fired.
More details about the HLS 2L’s “heated conversation” with a MWE partner, after the jump.
It has been a tough two weeks for employees at McDermott Will & Emery. First the firm cut the salaries of summer associates. Then MWE fired 72 people.
Today, word came down to all associates and non-attorney personnel that the firm is also cutting benefits. A firm-wide memo explained:
The Firm has evaluated its employee benefit plans and is making changes effective July 1, 2009.
We began our evaluation late last year in response to the deteriorating economy and the fact that changes to employee benefits plans were occurring throughout corporate America. After a thorough review by our benefits consultants, we were informed that our plans were above market and that specific changes, if implemented, would bring our plans more in line with the market.
Right. Who wants to pay an “above market” benefit package?
Remember, McDermott is the firm that canceled aspects of its coffee service. At the point where the firm is looking to save nickels and dimes on coffee, it shouldn’t be surprising that it has found a way to save some money on more important employee benefits.
A tipster reports that the top line changes to MWE’s benefit structure include an increase in some premiums and deductibles, as well as a reduction in the percentage of pharmaceutical costs that are covered by the firm’s health plan. Suddenly, the nationwide health care debate expected to take place in Congress this summer just became much more important to employees at McDermott.
In fairness, MWE isn’t the first firm to go down this path. Last month, Kirkland & Ellis made similar changes to its health care coverage for associates.
Read the full memo after the jump.
Last Friday, we reported that McDermott Will & Emery had cut the salaries of summer associates. At the time, we said:
Good luck, summers — and good luck MWE junior associates. We hope the writing isn’t on the wall.
Unfortunately, the words of the prophets were written on the subway walls and tenement halls. And we’re not talking about salary cuts.
Above the Law is now able to confirm the the firm has laid off 72 people: 25 associates and 47 staff. The firm wide memo just went out:
I want all of you to know that today we are conducting a reduction in force that will affect 25 attorneys and 47 staff members. This difficult decision results from a careful review of the current and projected needs of our clients. While we are seeing signs of recovery in some practice areas, demand for transactional-related services continues to lag. As we ride out this difficult business cycle, I want to remind you that we remain a strong Firm. Our international asset base of talent and clients and our strong balance sheet will position us well when the economy rebounds.
McDermott Will & Emery is still on the $160K scale for first year associates. Summer associates arriving at MWE might have expected to be paid on the same scale throughout the summer.
But they would have been wrong.
Above the Law has been able to confirm that McDermott summers are being paid on a $135K scale, instead of $160K. A McDermott spokesperson had this to say about the cuts:
McDermott’s Summer Associates will be paid at the rate of $135,000 this year. We advised this year’s class of incoming Summer Associates that their compensation would be determined in the spring of 2009. The information regarding compensation for the summer was shared with all of the Summer Associates at the Firm upon arrival, as we have done in years past.
Sources that we spoke with didn’t feel that the salary cut was properly communicated. One tipster reports:
I’m subletting an apartment based on a $160,000 salary. The salary cut isn’t going to break me, but it would have been nice to know before I signed the papers.
Another tipster had a response that makes those of us at ATL happier:
I am now 15% more likely to tip ATL about any crap I see [at MWE] this summer.
After the jump, the McDermott spokespeople explain the reason for the cuts.
I hope you weren’t planning on a “snow day,” because it is still raining law men.
McDermott Will & Emery just announced that they have laid off 60 associates and 89 staffers. A firm-wide memo just went out to MWE employees:
Our Firm performed well in 2008 and remains strong as we move into 2009. However, we are not immune to the continued deterioration in market conditions. The business of our clients has slowed and this has affected our own levels of activity, particularly in the transactional area. In response, the Firm is implementing today a reduction in force of 60 attorneys and 89 staff personnel. This decision was tremendously difficult given the high caliber of our people and the many strong, collegial relationships that exist within the Firm.
The open communication from McDermott is appreciated. In December, we reported that the firm laid off around 20 people on the down low.
Our tipsters report that some first years were caught in this latest force reduction.
We’ve already reported that McDermott has instituted a salary freeze (slurpee). The firm indicated that it would reconsidere the salary decision in March. I’ll open the line at 12-to-1 against March bringing better salary news.
Read the full firm memo (and see a screenshot) after the jump. If you just got laid off from McDermott, but are up to date on your taxes, you might consider sending your resume to Obama. I hear that he has some openings.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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