NALP

This is Elie Mystal, coming to you live from Austin, Texas, and the 2012 conference of the National Association of Law Placement. It’s my favorite annual conference, because every year, NALP just gets all the law school career services officers and all the law firm recruiters in a room, and tells them all the trends in legal hiring. We’re not talking about anecdotal evidence or law firm spin. It’s the one time each year we get to look at some hard numbers.

And in case you live under a rock, let me tell that every year since the recession, the numbers get more and more terrible. Looking at some of these statistics is as close as you can come to physically witnessing a dream die a horrible, mangled death.

This year, the numbers are worse than ever! And that’s the good news. NALP’s Executive Director, Jim Leipold, thinks that we’ve probably “hit the bottom” in terms of new associate hiring, with the class of 2011 suffering the absolute nadir of this process. While he doesn’t know if things will get significantly better any time soon, he figures they pretty much can’t get any worse.

Yay!

Does anybody want to hear the bad news?

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As we noted in Morning Docket today, Law School Transparency (LST) wrote to all law schools accredited by the American Bar Association to request the NALP reports for the class of 2010. The NALP reports contain much more detail than that of the reports released by the ABA, such as information concerning part-time and temporary employment, as well as the number of graduates in jobs that do not require a law degree.

LST’s request was made on December 14, 2011. Two months later, LST has presented the results of that request, and the organization has made some significant strides since it first attempted to collect data back in July 2010. This time around, 34 law schools provided their NALP reports, either by sending them directly to LST, or posting them on their websites.

But which schools provided LST with the information? And which schools are still avoiding action?

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* Chris Christie, you’re making me ashamed to be a Jersey girl. Please allow our state be known for something besides the disgrace that is the Jersey Shore. Just sign the damn bill. [New York Times]

* A Biglaw firm that’s got some Seoul: Clifford Chance is the first firm from the United Kingdom — and the first foreign firm — to file a formal application to open an office in South Korea. [American Lawyer]

* Holland & Knight scored a half-million dollar contract to negotiate a deal for a new Massachusetts casino. Instead of giving out spring bonuses, the firm threw a big party to celebrate. [Boston Herald]

* “I am convinced that [he] was given an intentionally defective bomb . . . to stage a false terrorist attack.” This is what a Cooley Law grad said during the Underwear Bomber’s sentencing hearing. Figures. [ABC News]

* 32 law schools provided Law School Transparency with their NALP reports for the class of 2010. Remember when just one school was willing to provide data, and then reneged? [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) has produced an extremely useful chart for people trying to figure out where to start their Biglaw careers. They’ve listed the cities that give you the most bang for your buck if you land a high paying Biglaw job.

And boy, are New York City associates going to feel stupid.

The NALP “buying power index” sets New York as the baseline. It takes the median starting salary for the class of 2010 and the NYC cost of living index and sets that figure at 1.00. Cities with a better purchasing power than NYC have a value greater than 1.00.

New York ranks #42.

Most of the high-ranking cities also have the benefit of warmth….

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Welcome to our latest round-up of summer associate offer rate news. This post contains the latest list of law firms and offices with 100 percent offer rates. In future posts, we’re going to shift gears and focus on firms with lower-than-average offer rates.

An offer rate that’s lower than 100 percent is not necessarily newsworthy. The fall recruiting process by which summer associates are selected isn’t perfect. Sometimes candidates look great on paper and do well during interviews, but then do something during the summer — turning in disappointing work product, getting drunk and acting inappropriately — that causes them to get no-offered. And sometimes people get no-offered for reasons that aren’t their fault — office politics, discrimination. Stuff happens.

We’re not expecting 100 percent offer rates all around. At the same time, there is such a thing as an unusually low offer rate. If you know of an office with an unusually low offer rate — which we will arbitrarily define here as something under 66 percent, or two-thirds — please email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Offer Rate”).

Now, on to the updated list of firms and offices with 100 percent offer rates….

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(Now we’d like to hear about the no-offering….)

Is this guy loving Citizens United or what?

* Is a Ropes & Gray attorney behind a shell company that gave $1 million to the Romney campaign? [The Docket / Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly]

* Working on the matter pro bono, Skadden wants greater cooperation from the NYPD in the case of a missing eight-year-old boy. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Breaking down the Alex Rodriguez poker scandal. [Legal Blitz]

* Can’t the ABA and NALP just get along? [Law School Transparency]

* How is that we have more lawyers than we can shake a stick at, but not nearly enough judges? Ian Millhiser looks at the numbers. [Think Progress]

Know who this guy is? Click on the picture to find out.

* Can’t all the people in same-sex marriages facing deportation just move to New York? [Stop the Deportations]

* Who is “the most important American you’ve never heard of”? Read a well-reviewed new book, Michael Toth’s Founding Federalist (affiliate link), to find out. [Ricochet]

* Great job Tea Party, no really. You guys sure you won’t want any social spending when you are living in the wonderful economy you’ve wrought for us? [Huffington Post]

* Don’t forget to sign up for our chess set giveaway. Or join us on Linked In. [Above the Law]

Performance on the LSAT is negatively correlated with networking ability.

– Vice Provost and Professor Sheldon Zedeck of UC Berkeley, at a panel entitled Beyond Grades and Scores: Factors Predicting Lawyer Success and Effectiveness, at the annual NALP conference (which concluded yesterday).

The official title of the NALP conference panel that I attended on merit-based compensation contained a playful shout-out to Sarah Palin: “How Is That Performance-Based Compensation System Working for Ya?”

The panel was originally supposed to have featured a representative of the now-defunct Howrey law firm. So the snarky answer to the question presented might be, “Not well.” (In fairness to merit-based compensation, however, Howrey’s dissolution didn’t have much to do with its model for training, promoting, and compensating associates.)

No mention of Howrey was made during the introductory remarks (or anywhere else in the discussion, for that matter). Rather, the panel focused on the positive — and offered useful advice for firms that are contemplating adoption of performance-based systems….

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Is your law firm this transparent?

Greetings from lovely Palm Springs, California, home to the 2011 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (better known to many of you as NALP). The setting is beautiful, the weather is fabulous, and the conference panels have been stimulating thus far. Who needs SXSW?

Yesterday I attended a very interesting session, covering a topic near and dear to the hearts of many Above the Law readers. The apt title of the panel: “From Black Boxes to Glass Houses: Evolving Expectations of Law Firm Transparency.”

The lively discussion covered a wide range of topics — and also offered some advice for law firms for dealing with the increased transparency of the digital age….

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On January 22, 2007, Above the Law reported that Simpson Thacher & Bartlett raised starting associate salaries in New York to $160,000.

That was almost four years ago — 1,326 days ago, to be exact (2008 was a leap year). But here we are, in the fourth quarter of 2010, and a new NALP report is telling us top Biglaw salaries in New York have re-established themselves at $160K. Partner profits haven’t generally remained stagnant for four years, at least at certain firms. Law school tuition certainly hasn’t remained stagnant for four years. But the upper end of associate compensation has been stuck in the mud. Back in 2007, I could go to a movie for $10.50. Now it goes all the way up to $11! I’m outraged!

I’m not actually outraged (well, I am about movie prices, but that’s because at $11 you’d think something besides Inception wouldn’t blow). And you won’t find too many associates outraged that their compensation hasn’t kept pace with growing partner profits at some firms. That’s because most associates are recovering from the terror of layoffs and salary deflation. NALP explains it this way:

NALP’s 2010 Associate Salary Survey shows that, although the $160,000 salary for first-year associates still prevails at large firms in a number of markets, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC, in other markets, such as Boston and San Francisco, the median has dropped back to $145,000, reflecting salaries ranging from $110,000 to $160,000.

Sorry about your tiny pink paycheck, Boston and San Fran.

For the rest of us, let’s take a look at the full salary scale according to NALP’s research…

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