Today’s firm-wide meeting at McKee Nelson did not yield good news. A statement from the firm reveals the extent of the bloodletting:
This morning, McKee Nelson LLP laid off 17 of its corporate/finance associates, reducing this practice from 94 to 77 attorneys. The layoffs are concentrated in the MBS, ABS and CDO parts of our capital markets practice.
Our firm also laid off 15 administrative staff. All of the affected attorneys and staff members are in good standing at the firm. None of these layoffs are performance based.
At least the firm was honest about the reason for the layoffs. No stealth layoff / performance review rhetoric from the firm partners:
For the past 16 months, the partners of this firm have been committed to bearing the costs of the overcapacity in our structured finance group in order to keep our team intact. The devastation that befell the credit markets in September, however, was unprecedented. We have analyzed and created a projection of what we believe the structured finance business will look like over the next two years and what resources, capabilities and experience will be required to do that work. This layoff is a necessary part of the firm’s adjustment to this new reality.
Back in August, we reported that a magazine for female litigators was in the works. They were in the naming phase at the time, and we tried to help them out by surveying you about the worst of their proposed names, including such gems as “Chill,” “Woman Litigator,” and “Spirit, The Magazine for Women in e-Discovery.” Almost half of the voters chose “Trial Mama” as the worst of the worst.
Well, in that post, we asked you all to suggest better titles. And it seems the magazine mavens were listening. They have embraced the suggestion proffered by commentator #33 on that thread, and named the magazine “Sue, For Women In Litigation.”
Kudos to us for calling them out on terrible title ideas and kudos to you, anonymous ATL reader, for naming a new magazine. It launches January 2009, and will be published bimonthly. The magazine promises “stories of remarkable individuals along with expert advice, cutting-edge data and emerging trends to help readers gain more recognition, more equity and opportunity in the legal workplace.”
Is something going down at McKee Nelson today? A tipster reports that there is a surprise, all-attorney video conference scheduled for 1:30 today.
Managing partner William Nelson announced the meeting succinctly via firm-wide email this morning:
There will be an all attorney meeting at 1:30PM.
Recently, these mystery meetings have been held to release good news. In September, Covington & Burling held a surprise meeting to announce the acquisition of Heller Ehrman’s IP department (admittedly, that was not good news for Heller Ehrman). Last month, Jenner & Block held one to reassure associates (shortly before a number of partners were let go).
Okay… so these meetings aren’t always “good news,” but they have been “good spin.”
What does the future hold for McKee Nelson? Well, one of their biggest clients is JPMorgan Chase, one of the only banks left standing. Things can’t be too bad, right?
We’ll let you know where the chips fall.
Update (2:15): McKee Nelson confirmed that they laid off 17 associates and 15 staffers today. Read additional coverage here.
This is the second and final post about the panel discussion featuring out lawyers that we attended last week. The first installment was published over the weekend.
The panel was moderated by litigatrix Lisa Linsky, a partner a McDermott Will & Emery. She was joined by Michael Colosi, general counsel for Kenneth Cole; Phylliss Delgreco, associate general counsel and senior vice president at Citigroup; and Roberta Kaplan, a litigation partner at Paul Weiss.
(Linsky, by the way, was recently interviewed by BBLP about her work on LGBT issues at McDermott. See here and here.)
Read about the discussion — which covered such issues as whether it’s easier to be out when you’re in-house rather than at a law firm, how to deal with homophobic clients, and how to figure out which workplaces are LGBT-friendly (aside from discussing the subject in ATL comments) — after the jump.
Over the weekend, millions of Americans reset their clocks to mark the end of Daylight Saving Time. And millions of other Americans forgot to change their clocks, and showed up to brunch an hour early.
But sometimes, early is a good thing. In today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we investigate another time of change: the day your firm adjusts salaries.
At most firms, the new class of associates arrived in September or October. Some firms adjusted all of their associates’ seniority and salaries when the new first-years arrived. Most, however, will wait to adjust salaries, if not billing rates, until January 1.
At New York market rates, this means early raisers are actually paying associates $2,500 to $6,250 more in base salary this year than the rest of the market. (A third-year associate at a September raiser — now a fourth year — could actually make $8,333 more.)
So, does your firm observe Salary Saving Time, or have they already set your pay stubs forward?
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.
Last week, we reported that DLA Piper was canceling their Chicago holiday party and laying off a number of staffers. As we’ve seen from many other firms, when times are tough and morale is low — it’s time for a “Yay Us” firm-wide email:
We wanted to share with you some thoughts we recently provided the partners about the impact of the current market difficulties on the Firm, this year and beyond. The short answer is that the Firm is strong and well positioned and that we are confident about its future. That said, we thought it would be helpful to give you our assessment of the current economic situation and how we need to and are responding to it.
You wonder how the 15 staffers who were laid off feel about the firm’s future? But we must applaud firms who talk straight with associates. Unlike the message from Chadbourne & Parke, DLA Piper didn’t bury a stealth hiring freeze in their letter.
As far as our strategy is concerned, we continue to believe that we are well positioned, and better positioned than most. … That said, the days of business as usual are over. We must work harder than ever to control expenses and we must be aggressive in the identification and pursuit of new business opportunities created by recent developments. In many respects we have already made significant progress, but there is much more to do and each of you should be thinking about the clients with whom you have relationships who would benefit from our help in these areas.
As many of you know, DLA Piper is a behemoth of a law firm. They claim 3,700 lawyers worldwide. That sounds like a lot of mouths to feed. But with over 1,000 partners, perhaps their size is a strength?
In any event, one of the biggest law firms in the world is telling their army of associates that everything is going to be alright.
* Readers who plan to become ambulance chasers might want to read this. The Supreme Court hears arguments today in a case involving the FDA. “At issue is whether the federal government can limit lawsuits by consumers…who have been harmed by prescription medications.” [NPR]
* UBS clients issued claims over “100 percent principal protected notes” that are now almost worthless. [Bloomberg.com
* Virgin Atlantic fired 13 members of the cabin crew for making fun of passengers on Facebook and complaining about cockroaches on aircrafts. [Sky News]
* The Supreme Court hears a case that “could determine how tribes recognized after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act are allowed to buy, give and use land.” [Associated Press]
* Three years after the mysterious murder of D.C. attorney Robert Wone, police release disturbing details alleging a cover-up by Wone’s roommates. [Washington Post]
Law students and lawyers get starstruck when they meet U.S. Supreme Court justices. And Supreme Court justices get starstruck when they meet… opera singers! From the New York Times:
Justice Antonin Scalia has a reputation as an intimidating jurist who poses withering questions during arguments before the Supreme Court. But on Friday afternoon, when the soprano Leontyne Price entered the West Conference Room at the Court to attend an honorary luncheon hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts, Justice Scalia, an avid opera fan, visibly melted.
“It’s a great honor to meet you,” [Justice Scalia] told Ms. Price, his face crinkling with warmth and delight. When Ms. Price complimented him on the elegance of the luncheon’s setting — a paneled salon, its walls lined with portraits of past chief justices — he replied, “Yes, these are pretty nice rooms,” adding, “And they’re yours today.”
And might you perhaps like a clerkship, Leontyne? Reviewing cert petitions is much easier than singing the title role in Aida. Just deny, deny, deny.
Speaking of SCOTUS clerkships, does anyone have news to report on that front? If so, please email us (subject line: “Supreme Court clerk hiring”).
More about Leontyne Price’s visit to One First Street, after the jump.
Last week, we attended OutLaws: A Discussion With Out Lawyers, held at the LGBT Community Center here in New York. The event featured “out lawyers sharing different perspectives and stories — how they got to where they are professionally, as well as what went right, what didn’t, how they’d approach things differently today, and the specific challenges they faced as an LGBT person.”
The panel was moderated by Lisa Linsky, a litigation partner at McDermott Will & Emery. She was joined by Michael Colosi, general counsel for Kenneth Cole; Phylliss Delgreco, associate general counsel and senior vice president at Citigroup; and Roberta Kaplan, a litigation partner at Paul Weiss.
The freewheeling discussion was quite enlightening. You can read about it after the jump.
The New York Times reports on a growing trend in American business: the cancellation of holiday parties. With the stock market having finished its worst month since 1987, and with layoffs running rampant, there’s not much to celebrate. People, this is no time for egg nog.
But some law firms won’t be bullied into relinquishing the Christmas spirit. From the NYT:
[S]ome companies see holiday gatherings, whatever the style and scale, as an important hedge against sagging morale — particularly at a time when raises and bonuses will likely be scarce.
“It’s important to get people together for a little social event at that time of year, especially when it’s been as tough a year as this,” said Peter Horowitz, a spokesman for the Wall Street law firm Shearman & Sterling, which is planning holiday lunches and dinners at less expensive restaurants this year. “But at the same time, you have to make sure that you don’t go overboard.”
Perhaps this bodes well for bonuses at Shearman? Hopefully S&S stockings will be filled with cash and not coal.
Or are holiday parties the opium of the masses for Biglaw? Throw everyone a big party, with lots of booze, then announce low bonuses the next day, when they’re too hungover to complain?
When we write about high-profile lawyers changing jobs, we’re usually talking about moves between law firms, or maybe between government and Biglaw. This latest transition is a bit different.
From MTO (which claims to be “the most visited black website in the world”):
Jennifer Hudson’s fiancé and VH1 reality star David “Punk” Otunga of the “I Love New York” series has a new occupation…. Punk has been training for months in WWE’s Florida Championship Wrestling developmental territory – and has now signed to a deal with WWE.
But don’t expect to see him in the ring anytime soon. Punk has been on a sabbatical from FCW due to the recent Hudson family tragedy.
One tipster is unimpressed: “From Harvard Law School to I Love New York to the WWE. Unfortunately the next stop is probably porn.”
But we think this is great — and extend our congratulations to Otunga (who, unlike many HLS grads, has the sculpted physique required by wrestling). He’s moving up in the entertainment world and developing his own independent career, so he won’t be known merely as the husband of a more famous female. Cf. Guy Ritchie.
One HLS grad is about to become the leader of the free world, and another is about to become the leader of world wrestling. Harvard Law School alums lead interesting lives.
Elie Mystal is editor of Above the Law.
His first name is pronounced like Eliot without the “it,” and his last name is pronounced like Cristal (the champagne).
Prior to winning the ATL Idol Contest, Elie wrote about politics and popular culture at City Hall News and the New York Press. Elie received a degree in Government from Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He still has a rash from all the poison ivy.
He used to be a litigator at Debevoise & Plimpton but quit the legal profession in lieu of stripping naked and lighting himself on fire.
Elie is a proud and basically competent husband. He is a contributor at True/Slant and enjoys the Mets, dogs, and arguing with strangers.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.