We have detailed that spate of partner defections from Cadwalader in recent weeks. But how are things going for associates on the ground? In the Cadwalader litigation department, at least it’s not particularly busy. A tipster reports:
Learned at a CWT Litigation Department associates-only meeting held at 2:00 [last week]:
Everyone was anxious about the lack of work in the Litigation Department. One of the reps took a poll and no one in the room was currently staffed on a securities fraud matter. This raised serious concerns about the department.
But as Lestat might say: Cadwalader is going to give associates the choice I never had:
Based on 2008 productivity, some associate salaries will be frozen. Others in slow departments will be asked to take a pay cut if they want to stay. So there will be some 8th, 7th and 6th years who were slow in 2008 who will be dropped two or three class years.
President Obama made a pretty interesting statement in yesterday’s inaugural address:
Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished.
But based on last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, which asked you how many hours you billed last year, these words of inspiration might not quite fit the legal profession. As we noted last week, more than a quarter of respondents were unable to bill even 1800 hours last year.
And many commenters suggested that the situation will be more dire in 2009:
Hitting 2000 hours for 2008 was doable because the bulk of the slow-down didn’t occur until September/October. Only because I had very high hours before then was I able to just barely hit 2000 hours for the year. 2009 will be much worse. I’m worried.
what are these “billable hours” of which you speak? i keep hearing they’re good to have, but i can’t find them anywhere. i’ve looked under the rug and everything!
Other commenters pointed out that even 2008 was probably a worse year financially than last week’s survey suggests:
It is hard to tell how busy associates really were based on this data. One problem is that “billable hour” may mean different things at different firms. At some firms “billable hour” = client billable hours only. But many firms give billable hours credit for pro bono, recruitment and professional development work. I would be curious to see how much CLIENT BILLABLE hours associates had in 2008 and what they are expecting for 2009.
Also, pro bono hours are way up, which is great for our day-to-day feeling of some accomplishment, but not as great for our future viability.
In today’s survey, we’ll focus on both issues: how much of your “billable” work last year was really for “CLIENT BILLABLE” time, and what do you think 2009 will look like?
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here to see the results.
[Ed Note: Yesterday, Hope showed us what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real. Today, she offers some solutions. Check out yesterday's column here]
Here is what I am going to do to pass the time while we weather this storm:
1) Meditate – My anxiety-ridden friend Pablo is going to start going to meditation class with me on Thursday nights at the Unitarian church. Instead of pounding aloe martinis (love), we’re going to grab our mats and visualize good things and talk to people that we are told to imagine. We’re gonna get some spirituality! And meditation class is way cheaper than going out for cocktails; you just give a donation at the door. (I hope Pablo gives a donation. He was cheap even in the good times.) I’m so into the meditation thing that I’m Type A’ing it and going to a real ashram. Ashrams, my friends, are the new spas – sans the elegant soap, fluffy towels and private showers.
2) Giving What You Can – I’m going to donate some clothes to the church I never go to but belong to but it’s okay because I’m getting my spirituality now through the Unitarian Church lady who tells me to listen to the man whispering in my ear about compassion and acceptance. And I gave a full Metro card to the nonprofit I volunteer for. In the past I would help by holding fundraisers at posh boutiques where I used to shop … but that trite maneuver aint gonna fly during the world financial collapse, so I’m giving subway tokens instead. Give what you can. You may feel broke, but there are a lot more people who are more broke than you. And save your receipts. Charity a good tax deduction, and everyone is going to be audited this year. Treasury aint going to give us a bailout or even a return – that’s all went to AIG.
Last night we wrote about some of the top-notch talent that will be filling senior legal positions in the Obama Administration. These are big names, and you probably also read about them in big publications, like the Legal Times or the Wall Street Journal.
ATL is willing to drill down deeper. We now bring you personnel news at more junior levels. If you graduated law school in the past 15 or even 10 years, you might actually know some of these people.
Our prior post focused on two of the most prestigious parts of the Department of Justice: the Solicitor General’s office, and the Office of Legal Counsel. We now turn our attention to two other top offices: the White House Counsel’s office, and the office of the Deputy Attorney General.
* Lawyers are winning in the long rivalry between lawyers and bankers. Endless financial fraud cases make lawyers look ethical. There is another fraud charge in Philadelphia against money manager Joseph Forte. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
* The SEC is investigating Apple’s disclosures about CEO Steve Jobs’ health, to make sure the company did not mislead investors. [Bloomberg]
* A Czech businessman settled a suit filed against him by hedge fund Omega advisors, after he alegedly bribed government officials in Azerbaijan, defrauding investors hundreds of millions. [The New York Times]
* In the aftermath of India’s Enron–the Satyam scandal, the Indian government will likely rescue Satyam’s workers from losing their jobs. [Time.com]
* SEC chairman Christopher Cox resigned in the wake of scrutiny of the SEC for failing to investigate allegations in the Madoff scandal. [The Associated Press]
President Barack Obama has hit the ground running. Even before President Obama was done flubbing taking the oath of office, the revamped White House website was launched. You can check the WH website, including the new “Briefing Room” blog, for news of notable nominations and appointments.
A few more names have surfaced since then. Some of them pertain to the Office of Legal Counsel, the most prestigious DOJ component to work for other than the Solicitor General’s office (and arguably more powerful). We once dubbed OLC the Finishing School for the Elect:
If you don’t land a Supreme Court clerkship that immediately follows your feeder judge clerkship, cool your heels at the OLC, then reapply to the Court. Success is practically guaranteed!
As previously reported, with the Senate’s consent, the headmistress of the Finishing School will be Dawn Johnsen (pictured). Professor Johnsen teaches law at Indiana University – Bloomington and served at OLC during the Clinton Administration, as Acting Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Assistant Attorney General, so she is well-prepared for the job. When we spoke at IU almost two years ago, students we met were already speculating that Professor Johnsen — described as a “brilliant” scholar, even if not the clearest or most effective classroom teacher — might someday return to government.
Since President Obama is a former legal academic, it should come as no surprise that he’s recruiting so many law profs to join the upper echelons of his administration. The marquee names of Kagan, Sunstein, Johnsen, Barron and Lederman will also be joined by one of the brightest young stars of the legal firmament: Georgetown law professor Neal Katyal (pictured), of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld fame. As reported by the Legal Times (via the WSJ Law Blog), wunderkind Katyal has been tapped to serve as Elena Kagan’s right-hand man, principal deputy solicitor general.
For a comprehensive listing of the top legal eagles in the Obama Administration, see this handy round-up over at the BLT. As you can see, these are big, boldface names — gods and goddesses of our profession. Congratulations and good luck to all of them (not that they’ll need it).
We’ll have more hiring news — including items about less celestial beings, more junior lawyers, people you might actually know — in subsequent posts. If you have info to share, please email us. Thanks.
Update: Add Harvard’s Einer Elhauge to the list of legal academics bound for the Obama Administration. Details via Brian Leiter.
As we type this, our fingers are still thawing from standing in the cold on the National Mall during today’s inauguration. The number of people willing to brave the cold was impressive. Every time President Barack Obama appeared on a jumbotron screen, the crowd went crazy with shouts of “O-bam-a” and “Yes, we did.”
The crowd quieted down in order to hear Obama take the oath of office. But what followed was a bit confusing. SCOTUS Chief Justice and now-President Barack Obama appeared to be talking over one another. In the crowd, people started asking, “Who screwed it up?”
The Constitution prescribes the text: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
But Chief Justice John Roberts, using no notes, flubbed his lines, and Obama knew it.
First, Obama jumped in before the “do solemnly swear” phrase, which seemed to throw the chief justice off his stride. Roberts rendered the next phrase as “that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully.”
“That I will execute,” Obama repeated, then paused like a school teacher prompting his student with a slight nod. Roberts took another shot at it: “The off … faithfully the pres … the office of President of the United States.”
Is there a little pro-Obama bias there? We’re not so sure Roberts is totally to blame. As one ATL commenter says:
First Flub: Obama. Roberts proceeds with the swearing in and Obama jumps the gun before Roberts gets done. Second Flub: Roberts.
A lot of pain has been dealt out to support staff at various law firms recently.
On Friday, Akin Gump slashed their support staff, laying off 65 employees. The WSJ Law Blog reported:
“There are no planned attorney layoffs,” said [Sheila Turner, a firm spokeswoman]. “But in these difficult times we of course expect to monitor the economy and staff the firm accordingly.”
Is the promise that Akin Gump won’t fire attorneys something that people can rely on? Don’t forget that Akin Gump is one of the few firms that admitted to rescinding offers to summer associates.
Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, the firm Ice Miller is making a two percent reduction in their workforce. Indiana Lawyer Daily reports:
“Over the last few months, we have been engaged in a thorough review of all aspects of our business operations in an effort to increase efficiencies and productivity to better serve our clients,” [Chief managing partner Byron Myers] said in the statement. “As a result of that review, we determined that we could consolidate some of our internal processes which resulted in much more efficient staffing requirements.”
This is the third firm in the past two months to cut support and administrative positions. Bose McKinney & Evans cut 11 support positions Jan. 9, almost 8 percent of its operational staff. It was a move that didn’t involve any attorneys but was something that law firm leaders said was necessary because of the economy.
Of course, that was before the great 2008 whatever the hell we’re living through. Few expected HHR to keep their bonus promise. But the structure that HHR released Sunday seems very generous and fair in light of market conditions:
Class of 2001 and above:
Tier 1: $32,500
Tier 2: $65,000
Tier 3: $85,000
Tier 4: $105,000
Class of 2002:
Tier 1: $30,000
Tier 2: $60,000
Tier 3: $80,000
Tier 4: $100,000
Class of 2003:
Tier 1: $27,500
Tier 2: $55,000
Tier 3: $75,000
Tier 4: $95,000
Class of 2004
Tier 1: $25,000
Tier 2: $50,000
Tier 3: $70,000
Tier 4: $90,000
Class of 2005:
Tier 2: $45,000
Tier 3: $ $60,000
Tier 4: $75,000
Class of 2006:
Tier 1: $20,000
Tier 2: $40,000
Tier 3: $55,000
Tier 4: $ 70,000
Class of 2007:
Tier 1: $17,500
Tier 2: $35,000
Tier 3: $50,000
Tier 4: $65,000
Tipsters are happy:
That’s pretty sweet – everyone’s pretty happy for now (although 2009 bonuses and salaries are still “under consideration”). Tier 1 is 1950 hours, tier 2 is 2100, … tier 3 is 2300 and tier 4 is 2500. … Since HHR counts pro bono hours 1 for 1 as billable, and a number of associates have TONS of pro bono it’s not quite as hard to meet the “tiers” and rake in a pretty sweet bonus.
Good news for Hughes Hubbard people. Congratulations.
It’s kind of like what Collective Soul said a decade ago, when things were just fantastic:
Are these times contagious?
I’m never been this bored before.
Is this the prize I’ve waited for?
These days, it seems like all my friends are depressed on account of the Depression. (Or the “recession,” for those ostriches who choose to bury their heads in the sand.) It certainly doesn’t help that CNN keeps slapping Obama into FDR’s car or that every reporter declares 600,000 jobs were lost today or the “Dow hasn’t dipped this low since 1929.” Good lord. No wonder no one is spending. I’ve stopped reading the papers. It’s all just widespread panic. Pretty soon they’ll be bringing polio back, too.
And the law firms. Wow. Who ever would have thought those blue-blooded Ivy Leaguers who were doing filings and writing law review articles about all those “complex financial instruments” would now be unemployed? And each day there are more and more layoffs. Where are the acquisitions? And where are freaking derivatives? I mean you always need lawyers, right? And what: associates doing paralegal work? They don’t know how to shepardize, much less tab and hole-punch briefing books. Geez.
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
The JOBS Act created new tools for companies to publicly advertise securities deals online. As a result, thousands of new deals have hit the market and hundreds of millions in capital has been raised, spurring a wealth of new business development opportunities for attorneys.
Fund deals, startup capital raises, PIPE deals and loan syndicates are just a handful of the transactions benefiting from the JOBS Act. InvestorID FirmTM is a platform designed to help attorneys equip their clients with the workflow, marketing and compliance tools to publicly solicit a securities offering online. By providing clients with the tools to painlessly navigate the regulatory landscape of general solicitation, InvestorID FirmTM helps attorneys add value above just legal services.
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) went into effect in 2013 and permits Regulation D offerings of securities to be advertised publicly. This means that funds and companies can now use social media, emails and web sites to market transactions to new “accredited” investors.
However, with these new powers come new pain points. InvestorID FirmTM provides a secure, fully hosted, cloud-based platform with a breadth of tools for your clients, including: