As we’ve pointed out in the past, it’s difficult to tell the difference between “normal business practices” and “stealth layoffs” in these difficult economic times. Milbank has made a change in their annual review process, but what that means — if anything — is anyone’s guess.
At this point, we don’t know if Milbank is planing any attorney reductions. But our tipsters report these early warning signs:
Milbank sent an email around to all junior and senior associates that the performance review cycle would begin tomorrow. They moved the review up by 6 months. The reviews are normally done annually and the normal review period for juniors and seniors is June. Apparently the firm can’t wait that long to shed attorneys. …
Milbank has laid the groundwork for stealth layoffs.
But Milbank told us that this change has been a long time coming. A firm spokesperson told ATL:
We did an overhaul of our evaluation system in late 2007 to early 2008 that was part of a broader firm excellence initiative. The new review process was designed to encourage excellence and provide more meaningful feedback, forward-looking career guidance and greater focus to the professional development of our associates. The roll-out of our new evaluation process was communicated to our associates in April 2008. This included split timing with a cycle for junior and senior associates commencing in January and another cycle for mid-level associates commencing in August. Last year, we started our junior/senior cycle in April simply due to planning and timing issues. The January start we are doing this year was the exact timing contemplated by our announcement to our associates last April.
Either way, we’d encourage Milbank associates to take the review process seriously this year.
The terrorist attacks in Mumbai reminded everyone that we live in a dangerous world. But as India takes the steps necessary to improve its homeland security, we shouldn’t expect the tragedy to stem the tide of outsourcing American legal functions to Indian companies.
The National Law Journal reports that firms are increasingly proud of their outsourcing initiatives:
As outsourcing becomes more commonplace and corporate counsel and law firms are under increasing pressure to reduce costs for clients, law firms such as Baker & McKenzie; Greenberg Traurig; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy; and Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler are actually touting at conferences the benefits of outsourcing.
Baker & McKenzie was the last best hope for Heller Ehrman, Greenberg Traurig is conducting stealth layoffs, and Millbank just announced Half-Skadden bonuses. But their outsourcing operations are thriving.
And the wave of firms outsourcing legal services to India is only going to get bigger:
Forrester Research projects that legal outsourcing to India will reach $4 billion by 2015. Some experts, however, find that number too low and others too high. Regardless, other numbers don’t lie — there are an estimated 800,000 lawyers in India and nowhere near that many jobs. Attorneys there charge, on average, $35 an hour, or no more than half of what an upper paralegal or lower-level associate bills, and up to three times less than an upper-level associate’s time.
After the jump, will global terrorism have a chilling effect?
Former Capitol Hill staffer/sex blogger/author/bankrupt babe Jessica Cutler has taken a husband. According to the Washington Post:
Jessica Cutler, 30, the Hill aide turned “Washingtonienne” sex blogger turned author, to Manhattan lawyer Charles Rubio, 28. … The couple plan to wed at New York City Hall on an early December weekday, followed by a happy-hour reception. (Not pregnant, in case you’re wondering.) How’d they meet? “Randomly in a bar,” Cutler told us. “I wish I had a more romantic story to tell you!”
Isn’t that always the way? You write stories about the exciting escapades of others while you yourself marry a lawyer you met in a bar. Yawn.
In connection with on-campus interviewing season, we’re giving you a chance to assess the firms that made this year’s Vault 100 list of most prestigious law firms. The previous open threads listed firms in groups of five, but to up the pace, we’ll list them by ten from here on out. Here’s the next group, with prestige scores in parentheses:
We note Magic Circle firm Linklaters making a big leap from the high 30s in the 2008 list to #26 this year — perhaps because its “notable perks” include group retreats to Europe, a drinks trolley, and an on-site doctor and dentist.
Compare. Contrast. Discuss. Thanks. Earlier:Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009
For LEWW, one of the best things about spring is the return of a reliable stream of lawyer-lawyer couples to the NYT wedding pages. Soon we’ll even be seeing SCOTUS clerks! This week five out of our six newlyweds sports a JD. Here they are:
Despite the recent turmoil in the economy and the stock market, all appears to be well at Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy. A tipster provided us with the highlights of chairman Mel Immergut’s “State of the Firm” address from last week:
1. Primary caregiver leave is now 18 weeks paid.
2. Blackberries will get replaced every two years instead of three.
3. “We’re not getting fired.”
It appears that Milbank has effectively made a “no layoffs” promise. It learned that lesson the hard way:
Mel stressed that in the last downturn, they had slowed hiring, and then found themselves at a loss for mid-level associates when things picked up later. So the plan is to continue to hire new people (our summer program is the largest to date at 100+) and retain, but not really hire laterals.
Will other firms make a similar pledge? We’ll see.
Here’s the most comprehensive bit we’ve heard from a tipster:
[N]o longer at CWT anymore (thankfully), but I did hear that Chris White (the Partner who deposed Link) is attempting a major realignment of practice groups. Apparently he wants to move the Corporate department into the Real Estate and somehow make it a sub group. As expected, this is not going over well with the Corporate partners (imagine Dennis Block being told he needs to move?) and there’s all kinds of infighting and threats from the Corporate partners in regards to this.
Is this the source of the rumblings we’ve been hearing? We’ll update you as we find out more information.
UPDATE #2: This tip just came in the comments from someone in the office at Cadwalader today:
I’m in the office today and something is definitely going on. There is absolutely no work going around. I asked a partner if everything was OK and he told me to mind my own business. This is not a joke. I also have some friends at other firms (Milbank) who say that they are also extremely slow.
So, we have confirmation that “something” is going down. Could this be just another slow Friday, or are we on the verge of a serious scandal?
We’ve had this news for a while, but technical difficulties prevented us from posting on the main page. We did note it in the comments.
Milbank has matched. Memo after the jump.
Due to the aforementioned technical difficulties — we’re switching to new servers later this month, thankfully — we’re signing off for the day. If any more bonus news surfaces while we’re gone, feel free to discuss it in the comments (and also please email us, since we don’t read every last comment). Thanks.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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