Law firm marketing and technology don’t always go well together. When firms try to go high-tech, the results are often mortifyingly cheesy.
To avoid humiliation, many law firms — often culturally conservative, risk-averse institutions — play it safe. But caution can also result in some of the worst law-firm websites, ones that get compared to “a seventh-grade history project” or “[s]imply a brochure placed online.”
Wow, it’s like White & Case’s attempt to glom on to the spring bonus trend just ticked off these other firms. First Sidley and now Morrison & Foerster have come out with real spring bonus announcements, detailing the amount of money associates can expect to get paid.
We’re running off to the We Know What You Should Do This Summer filming, so we can’t give you the full MoFo treatment. But it’s not that shocking that since O’Melveny, Latham and Gibson went with spring bonuses, MoFo kind of had to step up.
Congrats, MoFos. As one tipster put it, “Tell those bitches at GDC that Mofo makes it rain in Cali… Twenty grand, man. Plus, they gave Dude a beeper.”
On Tuesday, Ropes & Gray was sued in Manhattan federal court by a former partner, Patricia A. Martone. Martone’s lawsuit claims age discrimination, sex discrimination, retaliation, and interference with protected retirement benefits in violation of ERISA (the basis for federal jurisdiction in the S.D.N.Y.).
As you might expect from an ex-Ropes partner, Martone has some high-powered counsel: Anne Vladeck, one of New York’s top labor and employment lawyers, widely regarded as the queen of employment discrimination law. Vladeck famously (and successfully) represented Anucha Browne Sanders in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Isiah Thomas and the Knicks.
Patricia Martone is a veteran intellectual-property litigatrix, a specialist in patent litigation, with almost 40 years of practice under her belt. She made partner at Fish & Neave, the well-known patent law firm, in 1983, and then became a Ropes partner in 2005, when Ropes absorbed Fish. She’s now a partner at Morrison & Foerster, which she joined in October 2010.
Why did she leave Ropes? Let’s have a look at Patricia Martone, and her lawsuit….
The spinning of the revolving door at the beleaguered Howrey law firm is making our heads spin here at Above the Law. Keeping track of all the partner departures is becoming quite the challenge. We’ve collected some links about the latest partner defections, after the jump.
At this rate, it’s not clear how many lawyers will be left for “rescue” by white knight Winston & Strawn. (Protip: check the armor for bedbugs.)
Here’s some new (but hardly surprising) information: Howrey has canceled its summer program. Yes, the famous Howrey Bootcamp, touted by the firm as “[f]ar more intense and rewarding than traditional summer associate programs,” and offering “an entirely unique approach to associate recruitment and training.”
Bootcamp participants received intensive litigation training — and inspirational poetry from firm CEO Robert Ruyak, which we share with you below….
On Sunday, Morrison & Foerster sent around its associate bonus memo. For non-New York associates, the news is that the numbers are loosely based on the old Cravath scale, with some compression for mid-level associates. The actual bonus amount paid to any particular associate is determined based on performance factors. But in a nice show of transparency, MoFo also reported the bonus range and average bonus payment for each class year.
The numbers don’t look too bad, especially adjusting for the cost of living outside of New York City.
Inside New York City, MoFo is taking a wait-and-see approach. As we mentioned yesterday when talking about Weil, the stand-off between Cravath and Sullivan & Cromwell over spring bonuses has paralyzed the New York bonus market. For all we know, S&C is preparing to top Cravath in old-school “bonus wars” fashion.
Wisely, MoFo has decided not to get caught up in all of that drama; it’s just going to wait until New York sorts itself out. Let’s look at the memo…
Late last night, Morrison & Foerster announced its bonus structure, kind of. The firm will be matching the Cravath bonus in New York, it hopes. And it will be matching the market in other markets, whatever that market turns out to be.
You can tell that a lawyer (as opposed to a PR professional) wrote the MoFo bonus memo. There are so many caveats and opt-outs in this baby you’d think the firm was acquiring something instead of just paying a bonus.
Let’s check this baby out. There’s one memo for the New York associates and a different one that was disseminated firm wide…
At least one law firm is stepping up to the plate to help domestically-partnered employees with their health-benefit-related tax burdens. The firm of Morrison & Foerster issued the following statement to Above the Law, from firm chair Keith Wetmore: “Starting in 2011, Morrison & Foerster will begin offering an additional benefit payment to assist with the tax obligation that same-sex and opposite sex Staff and Non-Partner Attorneys pay when they elect Domestic Partner health benefits.”
This is excellent news, and we commend MoFo for taking this step. Hopefully it will inspire additional firms to move in this direction. Note also that the policy applies not just to same-sex couples, but also to opposite-sex couples who are similarly situated — which might be a way of addressing the criticismsof some that the gay gross-up is unfair to heterosexual couples.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in “law firms being nice to gay people” news, let’s give some props to Shearman & Sterling….
This week, after boring myself to death listening to Lillian McEwen discuss Clarence Thomas’s “activities” on Larry King, I knocked back a couple cans of Four Loko to ease the pain and got right to work on this week’s Rundown.
Lots of free stuff available after the jump, including a free e-book on legal productivity, a newsletter on social media and the law, and a whitepaper on law practice management. There’s also a website that covers the entire history of social media from way back in the day when we had Usernets and BBS, and another article on how dubious discovery could land you in the slammer.
So let’s get on with it. Here is this week’s Rundown…
Before we go hard-core with the lawyerly nuptials, we must mention a couple of recent Vows columns that are worth a look. First, this offbeat pair had three children together before finally deciding, at the ages of 63 and 39, to tie the knot. And the geriatric groom sounds way too horny: “I lusted after Nina, and still do, in a very primal way.” Yuck. If you’re over 40 and not John Slattery, Pierce Brosnan, or Captain Jean-Luc Picard, we don’t want to hear about your primal lust.
Then there’s this uncomfortable write-up, in which the couple cheerfully airs a story that makes the groom sound like a massive cad at best (he “shacked up” with someone else while she was studying abroad and failed to mention that detail in the cheesy love letters he was sending her). “I’m still pretty incredulous that she’s with me,” says the wannabe-player groom. So are we.
On to this week’s slate of newlyweds, which we believe sets a new record for number of Harvard and Yale degrees:
You know how violent felons treat pedophiles particularly bad in the prison system? I wonder if fraudsters reserve special scorn for people who use their disabled children as part of the scam? A former partner at Morrison & Foerster may soon find out. He’s been arrested for defrauding the state of California out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by way of scam utilizing his autistic kid. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
A former partner at a well-known law firm and his marketing consultant wife were arrested Wednesday on felony charges of bilking the San Francisco school district and private insurers out of about $400,000 via fraudulent bills for treatment of their autistic son, officials say.
The San Francisco couple, Jonathan S. Dickstein and Barclay J. Lynn, both 43, surrendered Wednesday and are expected to appear in court this morning for arraignment on 30 counts of fraud, theft and conspiracy, authorities say.
We can and will blame the alleged perpetrators of this fraud. But where was the government oversight?
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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