The executive committee of Fulbright & Jaworski just took this action with respect to associate compensation in Texas:
“After due consideration of all relevant data and after listening to our clients, our partners, and our associates on the issue at hand, the Firm has determined that we will raise base compensation for associates in Texas offices in the classes of 2006 and 2007 to $160,000 per annum, effective today, August 1, 2007.”
“The Firm has commenced a comprehensive review of associate compensation and related recruiting and retention issues. These matters are of great importance to our partnership. We hope to complete this review by mid-autumn.”
Our tipster’s take:
“So F&J has punted even more than other Texas firms, only raising first years, probably because they already announced $165K for second years in DC with the deferred comp model.”
This year’s famous hike to $160,000 in starting pay for first-year associates did not buy hiring firms anything in terms of separating themselves from their competition. The firms that can afford to pay more will pay more; but there is a price point that not all Am Law 200 firms will be willing to match. We’re confident that that number begins with a 2.
[T]he Big Law market is the midst of a “separating equilibrium”. In short, a few dozen elite firms are pulling away from their BigLaw peers in the competition for premium, price-insensitive work….
So what does the future look like? BigLaw will no longer be synonymous with “large full service firms”, which was the mantra throughout the ’90s. Successful financial services and labor & employment lawyers will tend to migrate to different firms [i.e., super-lucrative and less-lucrative firms, respectively].
In terms of leading New York firms — the shops with big-time transactional practices, and profits per partner of $2 million or more — we’d speculate that a move, to a starting salary at or close to $200,000, will happen in the next twelve to eighteen months. If it doesn’t happen in time for this fall recruiting cycle, it will happen in time for the next one.
The foregoing analysis assumes, of course, that U.S. law firms chug along nicely over the next year or two. If we have a general economic meltdown, then all bets are off.
We have a few associate pay raise developments to report this morning. Some of these items were announced some time ago, but they haven’t written about in these pages until now. Here they are:
1. Arent Fox: The firm now pays a starting salary of $160,000 in New York, D.C., and California, according to the firm website, which a tipster pointed out to us. (But that $20,000 clerkship bonus is pretty chintzy.)
2. Seyfarth Shaw: The firm, which draggeditsfeet on the last pay raise, has no current plans to raise again. From a Chicago associate:
“Our executive committee recently had a meeting and it was decided that salaries would not be raised to 160K for offices outside of New York. Chicago will continue to be behind market. I’m not so sure about the Boston, D.C. and L.A. offices, but if Chicago is not bumping, those offices are most likely staying behind as well. Maybe you should do one of those Baker & McKenzie and Greenberg Traurig bar charts on Monday morning for Seyfarth Chicago. As much as this firm is trying to be a major Chi-town player, it isn’t paying like one. We are pretty bummed.”
3. LeBoeuf Lamb: The firm has raised to the $160K scale in its Houston office. Memo after the jump.
With the 2008 presidential campaign dominating the airwaves, despite being over a year away, everyone is talking about politics (and watching awesome, politically-themed musicvideos). Here’s a question that a law student posed to us:
Are there differences between the politics of firms, roughly distinguishing between liberal and conservative, or are they all pretty much the same? How can a student figure out the political leanings of a particular firm?
The only source of information I’ve found so far is to research donations to presidential candidates.
Interesting. We’d say that many firms, especially in New York, are “pretty much the same” — money knows no political distinctions. But here in D.C., it’s more common for firms to lean one way or the other.
One way to figure out a firm’s political valence is to look into the former government service of its lawyers (especially high-powered partners). This method would suggest to you that WilmerHale, home of the diva-licious Jamie Gorelick, is left of center, while Gibson Dunn, home of Ted Olson, is right of center.
As our correspondent notes, campaign contributions also shed light on the political leanings of a law firm. On that subject, Lindsay Fortado of Bloomberg News has this interesting article. Here’s something that surprised us:
Lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis, the law firm that’s home to Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and Bush administration official Jay Lefkowitz, have given more to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign than to all of the top Republican candidates combined.
Kirkland, based in Chicago, is one of several corporate law firms that traditionally backed Republicans where lawyers are turning to Democratic candidates….
With respect to K&E, though, we’d guess that this varies from office to office. The Washington outpost of Kirkland, which is stocked with tons of former Scalia and Thomas clerks, is probably not funneling massive cash to La Hillary.
Which way does your firm lean? Please discuss in the comments. Thanks. Kenneth Starr’s Law Firm Gives More Money to Clinton [Bloomberg]
Here are two updates about clerkship bonuses (a subject of interest to a limited group of readers — but those who care REALLY care):
1. Willkie Farr & Gallagher: The rumor that Willkie pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus has been confirmed. We understand this applies to both New York and Washington.
2. Akin Gump: In New York, the firm pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus. (We don’t know what they do in other offices.)
In addition, one tipster calls out WilmerHale for, well, trying to pull a Latham.
If you’d like to know why WilmerHale’s $35,000 clerkship bonus may not truly be a $35,000 clerkship bonus, read the rest of this post, after the jump.
Not much associate pay raise news right now. We have just two more announcements, neither of them super-exciting, both from firms with “Day” in their names:
1. Jones Day: The firm’s Dallas and Houston offices now pay starting salaries of $160,000. We don’t have a memo, but a tipster directed our attention to thesepages on the firm website (as well as this compensation overview).
2. Day Pitney: For those of you who follow the Connecticut market, Day Pitney will be raising first-year associate salaries to $120,000 — but not until January 1, 2008. (At that time, starting salaries in the firm’s Boston and New York offices will go up to $150,000.)
Remember that cute little bar graph, prepared by some disgruntled people in the Washington office of Baker & McKenzie? It looks like it worked.
A source at the firm reports that the firm just raised associate salaries. An associates’ meeting was held earlier today. We haven’t seen the memo yet, but here are the numbers (emphasis added):
Old pay scale:
New pay scale (retroactive to 7/1):
Also, from a meeting earlier in the week, in which the upcoming recruiting season was discussed:
“The hiring partner made a comment about the bar chart posted on the web, mentioned that he was evaluating the situation, and mentioned AboveTheLaw by name. Then today we got the raise news.”
The rumor from the other day has been confirmed: Paul Hastings, of Transformers fame,* has raised its clerkship bonus to $50,000.
We’ve confirmed the news with two sources: an associate at the firm, and a law clerk with an outstanding offer. (We don’t know what PH pays for two clerkships, though; if you have that info, please email us.) Update: Confirmed. Paul Hastings also pays a $70,000 bonus for two years of clerking.
* Guess the New York Times folks missed Transformers. In this article, they identify Paul Hastings as a San Francisco law firm — even though it’s really a national firm, headquartered in Los Angeles (housed in an iconic tower that looms large over the L.A. skyline). Earlier: A Law Firm Cameo in ‘Transformers’
We’ve confirmed the news that Akin Gump has raised in Texas. Here’s the message from Bruce McLean, the Akin Gump chairman:
We are pleased to announce that we will be increasing associate and counsel compensation effective August 1, 2007. For first and second years, compensation will increase to $160,000 and $170,000, respectively. For subsequent years, we intend to be competitive in the market. We are in the process of determining the contours of the compensation structure for our other associate classes consistent with our Firm culture and the evolving market.
We appreciate all that you do to make this a great Firm.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
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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 six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.