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law firm merger small.jpgIn early December, we reported that K&L Gates was engaged in merger talks with Bell Boyd. Today, the firms made it official. An email just went out to K&L Gates associates from Peter Kalis:

Colleagues:

We wrote you in December to announce that our firm and the Chicago-based law firm Bell, Boyd & Lloyd LLP were in discussions with a view to combining the two firms. We are now pleased to report that the two firms’ partnerships have voted overwhelmingly in favor of the combination. I have appended below the news release that is being distributed to media outlets throughout the world. Please feel free to forward the release outside the firm to clients and other friends of the firm with your own message instead of mine. Thanks.

Pete

You can read the official press release after the jump.

Good news on a Friday? Yay!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Merger Mania: K&L Gates and Bell Boyd Merge”

Blackstone Group logo.jpgHow hard up is the Blackstone Group? According to Cityfile, they have been reduced to stealing news:

[The Financial Times] filed a lawsuit against Steve Schwarzman’s Blackstone Group on Wednesday for sharing an FT username and password instead of setting up separate accounts for its employees.

Look, I know that the financial industry is kind of tanking right now, but dear God it’s not like publishers are rolling in it.

I’m also pretty sure that the Financial Times would have given Blackstone a good group rate if they had just asked.

Apparently, this problem with Blackstone has been going on since long before the financial crisis:

Officials at the FT became a bit suspicious when they realized a very industrious Blackstone employee was accessing thousands of articles a day; a subsequent investigation turned up evidence Blackstone had been engaged in the fraud since as far back as 2002.

Have you ever stolen a newspaper that is sitting outside a neighbor’s apartment door? Every time you do that an angel kills a child in an orgy of blood. Don’t do that anymore.

Schwarzman: Too Cheap to Pay for a FT Subscription! [Cityfile]

Crab-Hands Going Down [Dealbreaker]

Quinn logo.jpgNobody needs to worry about Quinn Emanuel dissolving. Check out Quinn’s profit numbers as reported by AmLaw and The Lawyer:

In tough times, it’s good to specialize in bet-the-company litigation. Revenue at 400-lawyer Quinn Emanuel Urquardt Oliver & Hedges was $441.9 million in 2008, up 15 percent from 2007’s $384.5 million.

Profits jumped 10 percent, from $237.5 million in 2007 to $260 million last year. Profits per partner–already near the top of the Am Law 100 in 2007–rose 11 percent to $3.3 million. Quinn Emanuel has 78 equity partners.

In December, we reported that Quinn Emanuel’s bonus structure was very good for high billers but not so good for people low on hours.

After the jump, tipsters weigh in about Quinn’s 11% PPP increase.

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pyramid scheme capstone small.jpgJonathan Glater’s article in the New York Times this morning is just further evidence that the pyramid scheme of major law firms is starting to show its age. Yesterday, the New York Lawyer (subscription) took more direct aim at the weak foundation of the Biglaw business model:

Over the last couple decades, high leverage–the practice of having each equity partner supported by three or more associates or income partners–was accepted as a basic tenet of profitability. A firm billed out these junior lawyers at significantly more than it paid them, often getting billings that were triple the lawyer’s salary. It seemed like a sure-fire way to make money. But high turnover and rocketing salaries ate into profit margins. Now, the whole pyramid model is looking fragile.

And it shouldn’t come as a shock that the pressure weighing down on the business model is coming from partners desperate to hang on to every penny of profit. It is clients that ultimately control the purse strings.

More detail after the jump.

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Not Hiring sign.jpgI have a radical idea. Let’s move the start date of the 2009 on-campus interview programs from the middle of August 2009 all the way up to the end of August 2006. That way there will be jobs for everybody! Somebody get Daniel Faraday and “magic” Desmond on the phone.

Michigan Law School is the latest school to try to give their students a competitive edge along the fourth dimension:

The 2009 Early Interview Week will be from Tuesday, August 18 through Friday, August 21. We will have orientation for it and a program on callbacks on Monday, August 17. We regret that this early schedule may be an inconvenience for some students, but we believe the early start date may help maximize students’ success in this difficult economy. We will have numerous programs and communications in the next few months to prepare you for Early Interview Week.

Students seem to feel good about this decision. One tipster reports:

At least they were up-front about the reason.

With all these schools interviewing in the middle of August (prime vacation time for partners and senior associates), you have to wonder if firms will have enough interviewers to go around.

Earlier: University of Chicago Law School The Latest to Change Fall OCI

Fall Recruiting Fallout: Harvard/Yale Make Concessions to ‘Reality’

Cass Sunstein Samantha Power engaged ATL Above the Law blog.jpgBack in July, when we covered the nuptials of celebrity professors / Obama advisers Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power, we wrote: “We look forward to seeing the heights to which they will ascend, together, in the administration of President Obama.”

Well, now we know. Both have snagged important positions in the White House. As previously reported, Sunstein, a former colleague of Obama’s from the University of Chicago Law School faculty, was tapped to serve as “regulatory czar” — a big deal in an administration that will be cranking out lots of regulations.

And last night we learned that Samantha Power will be joining hubby Cass at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. From the Associated Press:

Samantha Power, the Harvard University professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who earned notoriety for calling Hillary Rodham Clinton a ”monster” while working to elect Barack Obama president, will take a senior foreign policy job at the White House….

Officials familiar with the decision say Obama has tapped Power to be senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council, a job that will require close contact and potential travel with Clinton, who is now secretary of state. NSC staffers often accompany the secretary of state on foreign trips.

See, Obama does have a sense of humor! Or, more likely, Obama always planned to give Power a plum position, despite “Monstergate.” Sure, it wasn’t her finest hour; but as a Harvard Law School grad, Power is entitled to a few undiplomatic moments. Speculates Gawker: “If someone really wants to hire you, he’ll make your future boss promise to be nice to you, in exchange for her job.”

Update: More good news for Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein. A tipster tells us: “They’re creating a super-child of the 21st century. She’s pregnant!”

A little more about the Power couple, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Now Power and Sunstein Can Carpool To Work”

demise of the billable hour.jpg* The New York Times is on to the “kill the billable hour” story. Cravath says it is increasingly charging clients flat fees rather than by the hour. Scott Turow manages to get quoted even though he only responded to the reporter by e-mail. [New York Times]

* Political veterans “marvel at the sheer number of lawyers Obama has appointed or nominated so far,” and warn him not to let the White House counsel’s office grow more influential than the Justice Department. [The Washington Post]

* The Southern District of New York is the Ivy League of U.S. Attorneys’ offices, sending its alumni on to prominent positions in politics, academia, and law. [New York Times]

* Like so many Americans, Ron Rod Blagojevich has lost his job. Northwestern Law grad, Lieutenant Gov. Patrick Quinn, steps in to take his place. [Chicago Tribune]

* Marc Dreier was indicted yesterday. In the words of his attorney, “the indictment is not a surprise.” [Bloomberg]

Obama Ledbetter law.jpg* At least the era of partisanship — that is nowhere near over– can still be kind of funny. [TaxProf Blog]

* Extra, extra, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been ousted by the Illinois State Senate. In other breaking news, Aristotle now believes man to be a “political” animal. More news at 11. [MSNBC]

* I’ve still yet to receive a satisfactory answer as to why gambling is illegal in the first place. [Underdog]

* Williams & Connolly and the White House need to get a room. [Washingtonian]

* In all seriousness though, shouldn’t this year’s Vault rankings look substantially different than last year’s results? [Litination]

* Young fool. Your feeble tort-reform skills are no match for the power of plaintiff’s bar. [Law and More]

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgIt’s a little bit late in the bonus season, but there are still firms trickling in with bonus news.

It’s not terribly surprising bonus news. Winston & Strawn has matched the Cravath scale:

I am pleased to announce on behalf of the Firm the amounts of year-end bonuses for eligible New York associates for fiscal 2009, as follows:

Class of 2008 (1st Year) $17,500 (pro-rated)
Class of 2007 (2nd Year) $17,500
Class of 2006 (3rd Year) $20,000
Class of 2005 (4th Year) $22,500
Class of 2004 (5th Year) $25,000
Class of 2003 (6th Year) $27,500
Class of 2002 (7th Year) $30,000
Class of 2001 (8th Year)
$32,500

There’s a 1900 hour billiable requirement.

Wonder if Obama will get pissed about that? Congratulations to Winston associates on your belated windfall.

Read the full Winston memo after the jump.

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ropes gray logo.JPGRumors were swirling around Ropes & Gray all day today. Now, Ropes chairman Brad Malt is letting everybody in on the bad news:

[W]e have reluctantly decided to eliminate 106 staff positions across all departments in the firm, or 10% of non-lawyer staff. While I know this is painful news, I felt it was important to share with all personnel as soon as appropriate.

No associates were part of the layoffs.

Just two weeks ago, we noted that Ropes was looking pretty healthy as it expanded its New York presence. But Malt acknowledged the reality of the current market crisis:

In October I wrote to you about the strength of our firm in the face of changing economic circumstances. I also said that our strength does not render us immune to what is happening in the broader economy. Our clients and marketplace have been seriously affected by the continuing global economic downturn, and the recession is now widely seen as the most serious since the 1930s.

Good luck to former Ropes employees. Read Malt’s full message after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Staff Layoff Watch: Ropes & Gray Lays Off 106 Employees”

Greenberg logo.JPGGreenberg Traurig is trying to tighten up their administrative ship. The kind of normal, everyday instances of over clocking that many administrative assistants engage in are being directly addressed by management. Secretaries and administrative assistants received the following memo earlier this week.

The per attorney cost for overtime in the Chicago office is higher than the firm average and significantly higher than some offices. You may think that working an extra 15 -30 minutes per week is not significant. It is. We have to reduce our number and we are instituting the following guidelines. The guidelines are simply stated and easy to achieve. If you have questions, we are happy to discuss them with you.

In normal times, the guidelines (printed in full after the jump) would seem a bit petty. Here’s one example:

Take your full lunch hour and clock out BEFORE you go to pick up or purchase your lunch.

Yes, everybody knows that people should do that, but normally it wouldn’t be such a huge deal that you have to issue an entire memo about it. At least you shouldn’t have to use the excessively formal “All-Caps” method of communication.

But in these times of significant economic stress, 15-30 minutes of pay a day could literally save jobs. Everybody really should be looking for ways they can become more cost efficient.

Read the full firm memo after the jump.

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Morrison Foerster logo.jpgThe 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.

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