Here’s a bit of happy news to start the new week off on the right foot. The well-regarded, Atlanta-based firm of Morris Manning, which canceled its summer program in 2009, due to the economy, has reversed course for 2010.
Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP is pleased to announced that it is hosting a ten week program for its incoming summer associate class.
“Like many major law firms, MMM elected not to host a summer program in 2009,” said Vanessa Goggans, the firm’s HR Partner. “Since then we have experienced significant economic improvement and the firm is excited and encouraged that we have business demands to support nine summer law students.”
Of the nine summer associates, three are from Emory, five are from the University of Georgia, and one is from the University of Florida. Almost all, seven out of nine, are 2Ls; one is a 1L, and one appears to be a post-3L pre-bar. Check out the full list here (PDF).
And what is the broader significance of the Morris Manning move?
The well-known Atlanta based firm, Morris Manning, will be under new management in 2010. Louise Wells will be taking over the firm, making her the first woman to lead Morris Manning. The firm’s press release is understandably positive about the future of the firm:
The firm’s succession plan is being implemented to ensure that the firm is positioned to capitalize on ever-evolving market conditions for the continued success of its clients and the firm. As a critical component of the plan, the firm created an Executive Committee that will work closely with Wells. The Executive Committee members include litigation partner John P. MacNaughton, corporate partner David M. Calhoun and real estate partner Thomas S. Gryboski.
“I am honored to accept this responsibility,” Wells offered. “As a result of the firm’s unique culture and entrepreneurial spirit, we have been responsive to the challenging market conditions. We have made smart strategic decisions that build upon the firm’s solid platform, better positioning us to succeed and drive forward in the coming months and years,” she added.
Mmm … peaceful transition of power …
The current managing partner, Robert E. Saudek, will step down at the end of the year, but he will still be active with the firm.
Morris Manning has decided to cut salaries. Given the decisions of other prominent firms with large offices in Atlanta, this news alone is not that surprising. Morris Manning had been paying $145,000 in Atlanta.
But the pay cuts at Morris Manning are not based on hours or “performance.” Instead, the firm is cutting salaries based on practice groups. As we understand it, Morris Manning is giving a 15% salary cut to associates in the real estate, commercial lending, and general corporate practice groups. Everybody else will receive a 10% pay cut.
Tipsters report that initially, associates in real estate, lending, and corporate were looking at a 20% pay cut. But it looks like the firm reversed course on Friday after they decided to spread the pain around by taking the 10% bite out of the rest of the associates. Update (6:50): Morris Manning spokespeople got back to us and clarified the situation. Apparently, associates in the the slowest practices already received a 20% pay cut earlier this year. When the firm decided to make a 10% across the board pay up, the firm changed the pay cut on the slow practice groups to 10% (making for the average of 15% percent that many of our sources reported). So now, all the associates in every group are looking at a 10% cut in base pay going forward.
Behind the veil of ignorance, this plan is probably more fair than making a deeper cut in practice groups that have been hardest hit by the recession. But — assuming that the three practice groups taking the larger pay cut are indeed slower than the rest — is it fair for busy associates in other practice areas to shoulder part of the burden?
The firm did not respond to our request for comment. But you can weigh in with your thoughts in our reader poll, after the jump.
People are already calling the class of 2009 the “lost generation.” We’ve detailed the difficult market facing the class of 2010. But yesterday we received some news out of Morris Manning, an Atlanta-based firm with approximately 175 lawyers, that suggests tough times are ahead for the classes of 2011 and beyond.
Morris Manning managing partner Bob Saudek sent around this firm-wide email:
FYI, the firm has decided not to interview on law school campuses this fall, which of course means that we do not plan to have a formal summer program next summer. This decision was made because we don’t know when the economy will pick up, we feel that our first obligation should be to making sure that our existing lawyers are productive rather than committing to bring in a whole class of additional associates, and we believe that when and as we need to hire additional lawyers there are very likely to be a lot of well-qualified experienced lawyers available as well as well-qualified third year law students, since so many firms have contracted significantly and reduced or eliminated their summer programs.
[Y]ou cannot introduce a gap into that supply chain. You need to be in the business of continually recruiting new talent, in order to feed the continually moving production line of senior to mid-level to junior staff needed to manage cases and transactions. You cannot, in other words, inflict on your own firm the equivalent of a “lost generation.”
So counter-intuitive as it may seem, I recommend continuing to feed the associate pipeline from the start, summer associates and first-year hires, even at the cost of some mid-year enforced “attrition.” Aside from what I believe to be sound long-term reasons to continue investing in the firm’s future in this way, there are as well both an abstract and a prudential argument for same.
Of course, there is always a counterargument. Let’s get into it, plus take a reader poll, after the jump.
The day that many of you have been waiting for has arrived. Today ATL goes to ATL: the fair city of Atlanta!
Based on NALP forms and priornewsarticles, it seems that starting salaries in the Big Peach generally range from $130,000 and $145,000 (similar to Philadelphia).
At $130K: Alston & Bird; Arnall Golden Gregory; King & Spalding; Kilpatrick Stockton; McKenna Long & Aldridge; Morris, Manning & Martin; Paul Hastings; Powell Goldstein; Smith Gambrell & Russell; Sutherland Asbill & Brennan; Troutman Sanders; Womble Carlyle.
At $135K: Jones Day
At $145K.: Dow Lohnes; Hunton & Williams; McGuireWoods; Schiff Hardin.
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.