Occasionally we report about firms offering voluntary early retirement / buyout packages to their staff. For the most part, the programs haven’t been popular. It seems like staffers would just as soon take their chances at layoff roulette instead of voluntarily falling on their swords and slinking away into the night.
So a tipster’s report this morning really caught our eye:
50 employees at MOFO (don’t know the offices) just took an early retirement package.
Fifty? That doesn’t sound like an early retirement offer, it sounds like a Great Escape.
And it’s a true story. We have a statement from Morrison & Foerster after the jump.
On Wednesday, we commended the firm of Paul Hastings for moving so quickly to support Haiti earthquake relief efforts. Since then, a number of other top law firms have pledged their support to this worthy cause.
(Okay, Rush Limbaugh questions the worthiness of the cause. But we suspect that Limbaugh’s position — like that of Pat Robertson, who blames the earthquake on Haiti’s supposed pact with the devil — is a minority view.)
The WSJ Law Blog and Am Law Daily have gathered information about what various law firms are doing to help Haiti. We’ve combined their reports with information we’ve received from our own sources, to create a more comprehensive list.
Check it out, after the jump.
On Monday, a bonus announcement was made by Morrison & Foerster, in an email from chair Keith Wetmore. In New York, the firm is matching the Cravath scale, which is not terribly surprising.
In addition, New York associates will receive a “contribution bonus” to make them whole for the 2009 salary freeze. This was previously spelled out in the February 2009 memo that announced the freeze.
As for the rest of the firm, aside from the indication that there will indeed be bonuses for non-NY associates, it’s something of a non-announcement. MoFo associates outside New York who hit their hours in 2009 will receive bonuses based on a combination of seniority, hours, and performance. These bonuses will be communicated and paid in February 2010.
The full memo, plus discussion of MoFo’s new partner announcement, after the jump.
If you live in California, you are surely aware of the state’s budgetary concerns. But if you work for Morrison & Foerster in California, you may now have some budgetary concerns of your very own.
MoFo decided to cut salaries today, but associates in New York and Asia will be spared the hardship. Here’s the official statement from the firm:
Starting salaries at Morrison & Foerster in New York and Asia will be $160,000, the same as last year, and starting salaries in other U.S. offices will be $145,000.
Note, however, that the market for first year salaries among national firms is undetermined at this time. Given that, we will continue to assess starting salaries, in light of market trends, and may elect to adjust as required based on larger market developments.
LEWW is fascinated by ATL’s Douchiest Law School contest. Official results haven’t been announced yet, but based on our preliminary read, Yale seems to have notched a decisive first-round victory over the University of Texas, and it looks like Harvard has trounced UCLA. Stanford Law School, however, appears to have been decisively out-douched by lowly Georgetown. Conclusion: The relationship between douchiness and prestige is not linear.
This week’s weddings feature two YLS grads and two SLS grads, so these lawyer newlyweds are undeniably prestigious. But are they also representative of their respective institutions’ reputations for d-baggery? We’ll let you make the call.
Here are the couples:
You can still call yourself prestigious if you work at the firms that make up today’s fall recruiting open thread. But once you are outside of the Vault top 20, people start talking about “firm culture” at least as much as they talk about prestige.
Here’s the next batch:
The slide continues for Shearman & Sterling. The firm was ranked #19 last year, and is down two spots this year. Is there any specific reason for the fall?
After the jump, let’s look at the firms rising up through the rankings.
Incoming first-year associates at Morrison & Foerster will not be able to start until April 2010. When they do, you can bet they’ll be happy to show up for early morning calisthenics, after they’ve had to wait for so long to live the dream.
But how much will they be getting paid? As of right now, the firm isn’t sure. The first years who plan to start in April received a message from the firm this afternoon:
I am writing to confirm April 5, 2010 as your starting date as an associate at Morrison & Foerster, subject to acceleration to a mutually agreeable earlier date if the need arises. You will join the firm as a member of the salary class of 2009 (subject to any standard salary credit associated with advanced degrees).
Additionally, I want to let you know that we are reviewing market data regarding starting salaries. We will contact you closer to your starting date to confirm starting salaries. We will provide an updated offer letter, along with an updated handbook, at that time.
The recruiting department will be contacting you to confirm the details of your $5,000 monthly stipend for the period from November 2, 2009 through the date you join the firm, as well as reimbursement of up to $500 per month of your health insurance premium.
We look forward to welcoming you to the firm.
If you have any questions about your start date, or other matters, please contact the recruiting department in your office.
This morning (just after 8:00 a.m. EDT if you must know) Morrison Foerster associates received a whip-cracking message from the firm’s New York managing partner, Charles Kerr:
As we move into the summer, I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone about the expectations in this office about when the work day begins. We are, at core, a client service institution, both internally and externally. This means that is we need to plan our schedules to meet our clients’ needs and expectations. More importantly, the strength and value of our work depends on being able to communicate with and reply upon our colleagues and if folks are simply not around, that is harder to do. While I recognize that the changing face of our technology has allowed us to accomplish this in new and novel ways, it is still an important part of our business that each of us can depend upon and interact with our co-workers on a consistent basis.
In light of this, it is very important that folks get to work on time. If it was up to me, that would mean jumping jacks at 8:00 a.m. in the lobby. I am not sure, however, that I have convinced everyone that that is the right approach.
Wow. That sounds like a straight up “face time” directive, doesn’t it? Kerr acknowledges that “technology” allows people to accomplish many client service tasks from remote locations, but he would still like to see people hopping up and down in their offices bright and early.
But let’s say that you get to work at 8:00 a.m. Is there really anything more to be done other than jumping jacks (and reading ATL)? I imagine most associates show up at work as early as they have to in order to accomplish the day’s tasks. Is Kerr really suggesting that billable hours are being left on the table because some associates want to sleep in during the recession?
More from Kerr after the jump.
At the beginning of April, incoming first years started worrying about the fact that Morrison & Foerster hadn’t announced start dates. At the time, the firm said that they would let people know by May 11th. We counseled:
Just because the firm is waiting until May, it doesn’t mean you have to. Try to secure a public interest job now and you’ll be protected if MoFo decides to defer your start date for a year.
If you took our advice, you’ll be very happy now. MoFo is delaying start dates. The firm will be paying a $5,000/month stipend to people who have been delayed until April 2010, as well as up to $500/month for health care costs.
But, there is also a special bonus available for people who want to defer for more than a year and are able to secure a public service internship:
You have the option of deferring your start date to January 4, 2011, subject to acceleration to a mutually agreeable earlier date as need arises. Your stipend would continue until you join the firm, which would be no later than January 4, 2011. Those who defer their start date and who work full time without compensation at least 10 months during that period for an approved 501(c)(3) non-profit will receive an additional $15,000 when they join the firm.
The stipend only starts in November of 2009. If you take full advantage of the package and the bonus, you’ll gross $85,000 from MoFo between November 2009 and January 2011. That’s not bad.
The full year (plus) deferral is optional, and the firm is still accepting some incoming associates in November 2009. Just not all of them. We understand that about 40 people are required to start in April 2010 or later.
But, if a person already looked for and received a public interest job, holding off until January 2011 seems like the better bet.
Just make a decision quickly. Even though the firm took its time in making this announcement, MoFo still wants an answer from incoming associates in a week. The 40 people have until May 11th to decide which start date they want.
Hopefully, MoFo’s delayed decision about its deferral program didn’t catch people by surprise.
Last summer, we started an official Nationwide Start Date Watch as a few firms decided to trim costs by delaying the start dates for incoming associates. Why bring in new kids at $160,000 a pop when there’s no work to give them?
In 2008, Powell Goldstein, Thelen, Thacher, and Heller pushed their start dates back to January ’09 (though it was not enough to save the latter three firms); Seyfarth Shaw, K&L Gates, Shearman, and DLA Piper pushed their start dates back from September to October; Pillsbury pushed back to October, with bonus incentives offered to those who were willing to start even later; and Sonnenschein and WolfBlock asked associates to start in November.
This summer, firms may not have to “delay” start dates. Based on reports from a few 3Ls, it looks like late fall may be the new norm for start dates.
Start dates are in late October for new associates at Clifford Chance and Milbank Tweed, and November for new associates at Morrison & Foerster. (Though with Wednesday’s layoff news, MoFo-bound law grads are just happy to have start dates.)
Later start dates are good news for those who want to take nice, long bar trips, and bad news for those who want to start building their bank accounts as soon as possible. We’re wondering how widespread this trend is. If you’re a 3L with an offer letter in hand, please take this poll about when you’ll be officially entering Biglawdom.
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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.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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