The legal community is still digesting the news Morrison & Foerster’s layoffs. While a lot of people are asking what the news means for the financial health of the firm, MoFo has taken the laudable step of reaching out to their incoming summer associates.
The firm sent their summers the statement about the layoffs that we posted on ATL last night. But then the firm tried to reassure summers about their job security:
I write to confirm that this reduction in attorney staffing will not affect your joining us as a summer associate this summer. We are a financially sound firm with a strong and diverse practice, having weathered the challenges of 2008 better than a number of our competitors. You can expect excellent work and mentorship opportunities during the summer.
This is a nice note given the fear that gripped incoming MoFo summers last night.
But you have to wonder if that it was a necessary or even truthful swipe to say that the firm had “weathered the challenges of 2008 better than a number of our competitors.”
Let’s check the video tape (and take a poll) after the jump.
Earlier today, we learned that a number of associates have been let go from Morrison & Foerster. According to a firm-wide memo that was just released, 53 associates have been laid off across all MoFo offices. We also understand that 148 staff members were let go.
The firm just confirmed the reports to ATL:
Morrison & Foerster has reduced its legal and non-legal staffing in its U.S. offices to align our firm with client needs in this extraordinary economic downturn. We notified 53 attorneys and 148 staff of the termination of their employment. These decisions are exceedingly painful, but necessary to assure that we address the current economic challenge from a position of financial conservatism and strength.
Tipsters in L.A. report that 13 associates were let go from that office. Our New York sources say that 12 associates were let go in New York City. We understand that all class years were affected, including first years.
“I will be fine,” said one affected associate. “But it’s a sad day for people here.”
MoFo had remained relatively quiet during these times of legal industry upheaval. But the firm did suffer partner defections from their D.C. office earlier this week.
No firm is immune to the 2009 market crisis. And it’s still only January.
News of the layoffs was first published by Legal Pad (while we held our post to give the firm a chance to issue a full statement). Read the firm’s full statement, after the jump.
Goodwin Procter announced today a major expansion of its Financial Services Group with the addition of two nationally-recognized attorneys, Robert M. Kurucza and Marco E. Adelfio. Kurucza joins as co-chair of the firm’s Financial Services Group. Both are resident in Washington, D.C. The addition of Kurucza and Adelfio will enable Goodwin Procter to provide a more fully integrated suite of services to prominent common clients, and to offer even greater cross-disciplinary expertise to a broad range of financial institutions.
Good news for Goodwin, but the announcement is just more unsettling information coming out of MoFo. Rumors of all sorts have been popping up about how things are going at MoFo. What we do know for sure is that Mofo hasn’t made a decision about associate salaries:
MoFo, [hasn't] announced their bonus/ pay freeze intentions yet (which is totally bogus because it leaves associates in the dark). What little guidance we received came in the form of a wait and see what the market is doing approach.
“My boyfriend summered at MoFo, and all I got was this lousy tote bag!”
These days are dominated by gloomy news: dissolutions, layoffs, rescinded offers. It gets depressing — and old. So let’s shift gears and talk about a happy topic: law firm offer swag.
Yes, America still has large law firms. They are still hiring summer associates. And these firms still woo prospective summers with fabulous prizes, to encourage acceptance of their offers. Word on the street is that S&C is once again plying offerees with its fabled bonsai trees.
And sometimes even editors of humble legal blogs get gifts in the mail. The good folks over at Morrison & Foerster sent us some lovely gifts, which we’re guessing they’ve also shared with offer recipients (although we’re not positive; please do let us know).
Update: A tipster tells us that, in addition to the items we received, MoFo also gave out 4G jump drives and universal outlet converters.
Check out a slideshow of the MoFo loot — and compare your Biglaw hauls, in the comments — after the jump.
Labor Day is behind us. You know what that means: no wearing white, no gin and tonics, and no qualms about sending summer associate stories to ATL. If you have an SA story to share that we haven’t previously covered, please email us.
This latest tale, posted below, puts the “MoFo” in Morrison & Foerster. These kiddies are badass. As always, please don’t name or provide additional identifying information about them. Thanks.
This summer MoFo hosted a firm-wide retreat in Napa, first-class all the way — every attendee stayed in a private one-bedroom condo at the host resort, people got spa treatments, went on wine tastings, open bar every night, etc. Once the bar closed, the real troopers would head over to someone’s condo for an after party. The firm covered minibar tabs, so people would stop by their own places and stock up on drinks to bring along. Nothing out of the ordinary, as far as big firm summer blow-outs go.
The only problem with the trip was the tremendous size of the resort. The condos were scattered all across a large compound. Some rooms were miles away from others. The resort provided shuttle service, but often (especially late at night) the shuttles were slow in coming. Very slow. It was definitely a nuisance.
A couple of days into the retreat, two or three summers apparently got sick of waiting for a shuttle to take them to their far off condos at the end of the evening’s after party festivities. One of them was sick and vomiting or something, so they had a sense of urgency. In a haze of drunken entitlement (or perhaps a twisted sense of altruism: their friend was sick!), these summers decided to “borrow” a car from the resort’s valet to drive home. They busted into the valet key box and swiped the keys to an Audi A6 — first-class all the way! — got into the car, and started it up. Luckily for them, before they could get it into gear and get moving, a recruiter got wind of the operation and came RUNNING AND SCREAMING out of the after party. She got them out of the car; the keys were returned to their rightful place.
But the plans of drunken MoFos are not so easily foiled. Undeterred, they RETURNED to the valet box once the recruiter was out of their way, stole the keys AGAIN, and started up the car once more. This time a MoFo PARTNER saw the situation, ran over to the car, and put a stop to the ill-fated scheme.
What happened to the summers in question? We don’t know for certain, but we’re guessing they got no-offered. While creative problem-solving and taking the initiative are usually desirable qualities for lawyers to possess, stealing cars and driving drunk raise character and fitness issues.
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
“A couple of my classmates are now scrambling for new summer jobs after MoFo OC told them to start looking elsewhere, because the office basically has no work and they’re already moving lawyers to other offices. They just got told this week. MoFo didn’t even offer to accommodate them in other offices.”
Unwelcome to the OC, bitch?
As it turns out, however, much of the rumor is incorrect. We reached out to the firm, and heard back from no less an authority than Keith Wetmore, the firm’s handsome (and openly gay) chairman:
By virtue of some internal redeployments within the firm, our OC office has declined in size and scope of practice over the past six months, to a point where we did not feel we could offer summer associates a full summer experience or appropriate assurances of permanent offers in that office. For example, we are exiting the corporate practice there so can no longer offer corporate experience to summer associates. There is no shortage of work for the lawyers who remain — one the biggest cases in the firm has historically been, and continues to be, staffed from that office.
We offered all the summer associates positions in a number of our other offices across the globe or split summers between Orange County and those other offices. We have also offered them financial support should they want to work in pro bono for the summer. Understandably, some of them have chosen to consider other firms for the summer before they make a final decision.
We thank Mr. Wetmore and MoFo for this information. We especially appreciated the promptness of their response (within an hour of our original inquiry).
Before the New Year, associates in the New York office of Morrison & Foerster received their bonus news. Now it’s time for their colleagues outside of NYC to collect their cash.
In addition to the firm’s “standard productivity bonuses under the published 2007 compensation program,” MoFo is paying out (1) “a one-time bonus” (it sounds “special” to us), ranging from $10,000 – $20,000, to associates and certain of counsel who met or exceeded their hours requirements, and (2) merit bonuses, for “exemplary lawyering and exceptional teamwork,” ranging from $15,000 – $30,000.
Full memo, after the jump.
Or a richness of embarrassment. Today we’re going to name not one, but sevenLawyers of the Day.
Our first Lawyer of the Day is Mark Mersel (formerly of Morrison & Foerster, now at Bryan Cave). In case you missed the shout-out in Morning Docket, here’s a bit more, from the WSJ Law Blog:
It’s a litigator’s worst dream — costing your client serious money by missing a filing deadline.
That nightmare was a reality for MoFo, which appears to have cost its client Toshiba America $1 million when it was one-minute late — 1 minute! — in filing a motion for attorneys fees.
For the exciting details — which involve a courier zooming through traffic on a motorcycle, and an unfortunately timed train — read the full post.
The other six Lawyers of the Day are no strangers to thesepages. Let’s call them the Qualcomm Six. From the Recorder:
Six attorneys in the Qualcomm Inc. discovery fiasco were sanctioned Monday for “monumental” discovery violations and referred to the State Bar of California for possible discipline.
Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder attorneys James Batchelder, Adam Bier, Kevin Leung, Christian Mammen and Lee Patch, and Heller Ehrman’s Stanley Young were sanctioned and harshly criticized by U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Major in a 42-page order. The ruling follows a patent infringement trial Qualcomm had brought against Broadcom Corp.
The attorneys “assisted Qualcomm in committing this incredible discovery violation by intentionally hiding or recklessly ignoring relevant documents, ignoring or rejecting numerous warning signs that Qualcomm’s document search was inadequate, and blindly accepting Qualcomm’s unsupported assurances that its document search was adequate,” Major wrote.
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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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