Linda Smith and Chuck Diamond, of O'Melveny & Myers
While it may be tempting to date — and even marry — a law firm colleague, it can create some awkward situations. Like having someone walk into your office when you’re busy billing coital time. Or like going through a horrific break-up while working together on a huge matter.
O’Melveny & Myers LLP partners Linda Smith and Chuck Diamond were in the unusual position of being married while representing Advanced Micro Devices Inc. against Intel Corp. in one of the largest antitrust cases ever.
What’s even more unusual, during much of that four-year legal battle, the co-lead lawyers on the case were going through their own private battle at home: a long and bitter divorce that’s still ongoing.
Journalist Alexa Hyland notes that “some law firms don’t even allow married couples to work at the same firm.” We haven’t heard of this being official policy anywhere — if it is at your firm, let us know — but we do know it’s often the informal policy. As in, “Congrats on your union… soooo which one of you is planning to stick with us?”
It’s not such a bad informal policy. Two lawyers going through a divorce can be War of the Roses-style ugly. But Diamond and Smith managed to stay civil while litigating the billion-dollar tech antitrust suit…
In most entertainment industries, the distributors of content reap a much larger share of the profit than the creators of said content. There are some very good reasons for this (see generally the galactically stupid writers strike) and some bad reasons for this (as evidenced by Geoffrey Fletcher’s clear inability to afford the public speaking coach he desperately needs).
In the video game industry, distributors get bank, while creators … well, they get to play with video games all day. Do they even need money?
But a lawsuit pits the creators of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise against Activision, and the results could well have serious fallout across the entire gaming industry. The Guardian puts the issue plainly:
[W]hen studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella filed that astoundingly vitriolic 16-page lawsuit against their former publisher, they slammed a question mark down over the nature of IP ownership in the modern videogame era. If, as West and Zampella allege, Activision granted them ‘contractual rights’ over the Modern Warfare brand, could they really defect and take a Modern Warfare-like title to another publisher, as news sources are indicating? And step back a little; would a multinational corporation really sign off a massively profitable franchise extension merely to appease its workers?
West and Zampella truly went nuclear on Activision. Let’s check their mission parameters …
Last month, we wrote about a five-year strategic plan created by O’Melveny & Myers. In our initial post, we focused on O’Melveny’s expectations for partners and associates in the future. We skipped over this piece of the plan, focused on summer associates. From a section of the plan entitled “Talent Development”:
Identify future junior associates who will advance the vision of the firm by…creating an intensive summer program experience — “Experience O’Melveny” — that prepares incoming associates for the successful practice of law.
We particularly like that the summer associate program will be “Experience O’Melveny” going forward. It made us think of the Imax Experience — like a real movie but better — or a roller coaster at Six Flags — sure to thrill and cause nausea.
We imagine what “Experience O’Melveny” will look like, after the jump.
There has been so much talk about the death of Biglaw that the term has become a cliché. These are challenging times, to be sure. But many firms are in the process of adjusting to the market, by making long-term plans to revise their business models so they can thrive in the future.
One such firm is O’Melveny & Myers. About a month ago, the firm released a five-year strategic plan to its associates and counsel. At a time when some firms are keeping their employees in the dark about long-term issues, O’Melveny — to its credit — decided to let its people know what management is thinking.
Above the Law has obtained a copy of this five-year plan. The document outlines how O’Melveny intends to compete going forward. Instead of aiming for marginal cost savings by making a few cutbacks here and there, the O’Melveny memo tries to rethink the firm’s overall business model — and gives us a chance to talk, once again, about the long term viability of Biglaw.
Let’s take a look into the O’Melveny’s — and perhaps Biglaw’s — future, after the jump.
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.
At what point does a salary freeze start to feel like a salary cut? Staff at O’Melveny & Myers are about to find out. O’Melveny just announced a new salary ice-age for its staff. Above the Law obtained this internal memo sent to O’Melveny staffers:
We are committed to taking proactive steps to maintain our financial strength in the face of unprecedented economic times. As part of this effort, we continue to look at how we can prudently and efficiently manage our costs and have therefore decided that there will be no salary increases this year and the performance evaluation cycle will be extended from 12 months to 24 months. Your performance evaluation will now cover the period between July 2008 – July 2010. We will consider salary increases at the end of the new performance review period in July 2010.
O’Melveny has already been through layoffs. In March, 200 people were let go, including 110 staffers. So on the one hand, a salary cut is a lot better than being out on the street.
On the other hand, staffers don’t make much to begin with, and nobody wants a static salary. O’Melveny staff better start rooting for the rest of the American economy to continue its deflationary trend.
O’Melveny confirmed that the freeze only applies to staff.
Will we see more ice-age freezes this summer? Stay tuned.
Check out the full firm statement after the jump. Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: O’Melveny Fires 90 Lawyers, 110 Staff
Back in March, we reported that Skadden D.C. lost important members of its litigation team when Andrew Sandler and Benjamin Klubes left to start their own firm. Have those losses been replaced? Sources report Skadden is in the process of poaching a big name from O’Melveny & Myers. Apparently, John Beisner is leaving OMM for Skadden, and he’s taking Jessica Miller and Steve Harburg with him.
Beisner is based out of Washington, D.C. and is the chair of O’Melveny’s firmwide Class Actions, Mass Torts, and Aggregated Litigation Practice. A source says this about Mr. Beisner’s importance to O’Melveny:
Beisner’s cases are an unbelievable percentage of the entire litigation portfolio – this has been a huge fear now realized among associates/counsel.
Back in January, we interviewed siblings Victor Jih, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers, and Tammy Jih, an associate at Quinn Emanuel, who starred on this season’s Amazing Race. Little did we know in January that we were talking to this season’s race winners. Last night, the Jihs beat out some cheerleaders and a deaf kid and his mom to win the Amazing Race prize.
(For the uninitiated, the Amazing Race is a reality TV show where teams of two race around the world in the hopes of winning $1 million.)
Not everyone is thrilled for the Harvard Law grads. The Chicago Sun-Times is asking whether the Mandarin-speaking Chinese-American siblings had an unfair advantage in China. And the Associated Press called the finish of the race “heartbreaking:”
Luke Adams, 22, just graduated as the valedictorian of the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, and raced with his mother Margie, 50. They were in the lead heading into the last competition, which involved picking out surfboards with insignias representing every leg of their trip. Luke started fast but couldn’t get the last one right.
As he was frustrated, Victor Jih completed his task and headed into a taxi for the finish line.
Maybe the AP would be happier for the twins if they realized how tough lawyers have it these days. Or maybe not. Regardless, we bet that $500k bonus feels pretty good to each sibling. We checked in with them via e-mail, but got just a brief reply from Tammy:
Thanks for watching the show! Sorry we could not respond earlier. I have not been on the internet, but I am assuming you have already written your article. Sorry for the delayed response, but we have had a busy last 24 hours, as I am sure you can imagine!
Actually, we’ve been delinquent in watching the show regularly this season, but we got reviews from folks who have. The reviews and a photo of the Jihs in (admittedly-conservative) beach attire, after the jump.
After Latham laid off 440 people, the firm announced that they would be offering a deferral stipend to incoming first year associates. Latham offered $75,000 to people wiling to defer their start date until the fall of 2010. When Orrick laid off 300 people, the firm also offered $75K to associates willing to delay for a year.
When O’Melveny laid off 200 people yesterday, there was no mention of any deferral plan. The firm’s silence caused a lot of worry among 3Ls heading to O’Melveny.
Some 3Ls called the firm. Recruiting personnel told them: “We haven’t decided that yet,” and “It’s not likely.”
So what kind of stipend can 3Ls expect from O’Melveny? The firm responds after the jump.
A firm-wide email just went out announcing that 200 people would be let go. The cuts amount to about ten percent of attorneys and ten percent of staff:
It is against this backdrop that I am writing to inform you about some very difficult and unprecedented decisions we have made affecting lawyers and staff. We will be reducing approximately 90 legal and 110 staff positions from our Firm. The majority of the positions are in the US, with some in Asia and a smaller number in London. Altogether the reduction will impact roughly 10% of our lawyer workforce and roughly 10% of our staff workforce.
Is ten percent the magic number that firms are now trying to get rid of?
As we understand it, O’Melveny will be giving a three-month severance package. Latham wins the severance wars again. On the other hand, Latham laid off 440 people, which is just a little less than O’Melveny and Orrick combined.
While many of the O’Melveny people do not yet know if they will be part of the layoffs, the firm did send a message to all of its incoming summer associates. The future summers were informed of the bad news at the firm and told that summer program would be scaled back to a ten-week experience.
For those keeping score at home today, we’re looking at 60 people from Shearman & Sterling, 130 people from Dewey, and now 200 people from O’Melveny that are being let go today. Black Wednesday? Humped Day?
UPDATE (12:57): O’Melveny has released some additional news about its severance package to Above the Law. For some people, the package could be better than what is being offered by Latham. A firm spokesperson tells us:
Departing associates and counsel will receive a payment that is equal to 3 months as a minimum and 7 months as a maximum, based upon completed years of service, with two weeks for each full year of service, with no cap on the dollar amount. More importantly, our Firm provided meaningful bonuses in December of 2008, and significant salary increases in January of this year, which was not the case at all firms. We want to be fair and generous with those who remain, as well as those who depart.
These are both good points. As we’ve pointed out in the past, O’Melveny matched the Skadden bonus (except for NYC) for people who billed 1950 hours. And while Latham froze salaries, O’Melveny did not.
We’ll keep you posted. Read the full memo, after the jump.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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