We have been engaged in a long-term review of our cost structure and due to improvements and efficiencies with our technology and processes, we determined that lower staffing levels are appropriate.
Meeting and exceeding our clients’ needs remains our top priority. We, like other law firms and businesses, continually strive to best position the firm. We felt it necessary to take proactive measures to align our talent with our client needs
We understand that 50 staffers were laid off: 25 from the Boston office, and 25 across all other EAPD offices. The firm said that no associates were laid off as part of this long-term review.
The firm could not provide us with information about the severance package offered to staff.
* Felons can join the Army but not the New York police force. But New York State Supreme Court Judge Henry Kron wants to change that rule for Afghanistan war veteran, Osvaldo Hernandez, who served a year on Rikers Island for gun possession before joining the Army. [New York Times]
* Former O’Melveny & Myers partner Ron Klain (a.k.a. Kevin Spacey in Recount) is Joe Biden’s pick for chief of staff. [Politico]
* Woman suing Kansas City Chief running back Larry Johnson (not Grandmama). After she rejected his advances, he allegedly spit his drink in her face, threatened her life, and ordered his bodyguards to administer a beatdown. [Courthouse News Service]
* New North Carolina senator is not a sore winner. Senator-elect Kay Hagan drops her suit against Senator-not-for-long Elizabeth Dole. Hagan had sued for defamation after Dole ran a TV ad accusing her of being “godless.” [CNN]
The Recorder is reporting that Howrey will take on 40 lawyers from Thelen’s prestigious San Francisco construction practice:
The group — which Howrey characterized as “most of the construction practice” from Thelen — includes Thelen Chairman Stephen O’Neal, construction practice head John Heisse II, D.C. office managing partner Andrew Ness, San Francisco partner David Buoncristiani (who handles matters for client Bechtel), Los Angeles partner Robert Thum and D.C. partner David Dekker. Most of the 18 partners and about 25 associates and of counsel are in San Francisco and D.C., and the rest are in New York and Los Angeles.
Hmm… Thelen attorneys, Chairman Stephen O’Neal, Howrey — where have I heard that before?
Oh yeah! You’ll remember that the Recorder initially broke the story on O’Neal’s flirtations with Howrey.
Immediately after Thelen dissolved, we mentioned possible options for the firm:
Option 1 is the plan they have arguably been pursuing: breaking up the firm practice group by practice group to interested parties. As we reported yesterday, this is the best option to save associate jobs. However, that plan is dependent on Thelen’s banks signing-off on the plan and maintaining their line of credit. Did Stephen O’Neal’s aggressive and ultimately public pursuit of his own lifeboat at Howrey scuttle that option? Once everybody is told that the managing partner could be leaving in ten days, why would other potential suitors compete for full Thelen practice groups? Instead, it’s easier to wait for an official dissolution and cherry-pick the rainmakers. This is what happened to Heller.
I’ll pause until the Thelen people stop screaming and hitting things.
Read about other Thelen landing places, after the jump.
Being well-dressed costs money. But for a lawyer, looking tailored and professional in an attractive, well-fitting suit is a worthwhile investment, Tony and Tara Costanzo say.
That message has put the 30-something married couple in business, helping several hundred clients including numerous lawyers in the New York area, order the right clothes without ever having to shop for them….
The Costanzas will meet busy clients as and where needed, and once held a clothing consultation in a courthouse restroom. Then they order the right clothes, in the right size. Ready-made suits start at just under $500; custom-made suits begin at close to $1,000 for men and $1,500 for women.
In the middle of a recession, the Costanzos — no relation to George — somehow have hordes of poorly-dressed attorneys willing to pay exorbitant prices for consultations in courthouse lavatories. When the going gets tough, the tough get new wardrobes.
Our tipster remains skeptical:
It seems as though the fashion bar would be much lower these days. After all, your adversaries are probably so worried about losing their jobs that they are likely to be wearing last year’s fashions — or other horrifyingly dated apparel, like a suit from back in the days when men were boldly exploring “skinny pants.”
I have a better idea: let’s take Michelle Obama’s self-congratulatory lead and start a recession-friendly wardrobe consulting business, to dress the desperate — but still fashion-conscious — in bargain finds from J. Crew and the Gap.
We leave you with a fashion tip for these troubled times: when it comes to skirt length, go long.
(Or maybe not? See these musings from our little sibling site, Fashionista.)
The University of Texas School of Law (tied for 16th on your U.S. News scorecards) is apparently not content with their status. They want to be elite. “They’re smart, not dumb, like everybody thinks. They’re smart and they want respect Michael!”
They think they’ve found just the right person to take them to the next level: Dean Lawrence Sager has promised to add $200 million to the UT-Law endowment by 2014. That would nearly double the school’s current endowment, according to the Austin-American Statesman.
Sager, 67, was recruited to UT in 2002 in part for his prowess in building a law school’s reputation from the ground up — something he did in his previous job at New York University’s law school. That reputation is packaged, almost disguised, by a disarming personality as exuberant as the tangled head of hair that often looks as if it will take flight. Law school staffers say they love his frequently wicked humor.
Hair and humor is all good, but $200 million? In this market? It sounds like a tough sell.
Partners at top D.C. firms are worried that they might not be getting bonuses this year, just like associates. The Washingtonian reports that management might not be able to reward their partners as they have in years past:
Usually firm managers try to lowball revenue estimates and then surprise partners with a bigger-than-expected bonus. That final paycheck will come after the first of the year, after all bills and accounts for 2008 are tallied. Many law firms are worried that adjustments will be small or that revenues will not make the estimates. So end-of-the year cost cutting has been rampant.
If associates could get squeezed out of a bonus for simply doing all the work that came across their desk, then we hope partners aren’t expecting huge payouts for bringing in barely enough rain to fill a shot glass.
It’s fashionable to call associates greedy, entitled, warm buckets of spit whenever the markets tank. But now some partners are complaining about not being able to retire to their golden encrusted nursing homes as they had planned.
Firm leaders say that some partners scheduled to retire late this year have postponed their plans because of drops in the value of their IRAs and other retirement vehicles.
Are we living in a bizzaro-world where the pain will be spread evenly between partners and associates? Read more after the jump.
We received reports this morning that Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe was planning to make deep cuts into their structured finance, real estate and corporate departments.
We’ve been able to confirm that Orrick is laying off 40 associates and 35 staff members today. The structured finance and real estate departments are expected to be the hardest hit. Associates were notified by chairman Ralph Baxter via email (which included a video).
Despite Orrick’s refusal to respond to our multiple requests for comment all morning, we can also report that displaced attorneys are getting two weeks notice plus five months severance. That is better than the severance package offered by White & Case on Tuesday.
Orrick was willing to speak with the WSJ Law Blog. The firm told the WSJ that they tried to avoid cutbacks for as long as possible:
Throughout 2008, we have done all we could to avoid today’s action: we have redeployed lawyers to different practices and we have cut expenses. Unfortunately, our staffing levels in the affected practices still remained too high given the economic environment our clients and we face.”
While the firm contends that these moves were taken solely in response to the economic crisis, a tipster tells us that the real reason was “to maintain PPP [profits per partner] of $1.5 million in 2009.”
So sad — and surprising. Orrick, you might remember, was one of the first major firms to raise associate salaries to $160K outside of New York. After Orrick moved, the rest of California followed: Latham, Gibson, OMM, even Thelen (kind of).
Just last month, we reported on how some firms (including Orrick) were using the market downturn as an opportunity to acquire productive lawyers and good clients. Baxter was highlighted in the WSJ article. And two weeks ago, Orrick stood behind its previously announced 2008 bonus structure.
But apparently some people had to go. We understand that the layoffs will affect multiple offices.
Update (2 PM): The firm finally sent over its statement. Check it out after the jump.
We’ve received a ton of comments and many tips that “stealth” layoffs are happening at Kaye Scholer. One commenter claimed:
[S]ince last summer, by my count at least 8 associates left voluntarily, as did 5 paralegals. An additional 8 associates were laid off and 4 paralegals were laid off with them. It seems to me that the fact that none of these paralegals were replaced, coupled with the fact that the only new blood brought into the department were the new 1st years in 2007 and again in 2008 shows that perhaps its the partners that are “dead wood” and not the people that worked for them.
Another commenter offered these numbers:
I was in the RE practice group. The breakdown of who was let go is as follows (and this does not include those that left voluntarily because they anticipated the coming of Armageddon). Class of:
2006 – (2)
2005 – (2)
2004 – (1)
2001 – (1)
1998 – (1)
Counsel – (1)
and at least 5 paralegals were let go.
I anticipate that the class of 2007 is next to be “reduced,” as there are now no remaining people out of the 5 associates from the class of 2006 and only 1 out of the 4 associates of the class of 2005.
A tipster put it all together like this:
This doesn’t even include those in corporate that were let go… The lit associates, some of whom billed close to 3000 hours last year, have absolutely no work, and are not going to even get close to the 2000 hours needed to make first tier bonus. Word going round is that there will be a mass round of layoffs for the lit people that didn’t get snipped after the first round in May.
What exactly is going on at Kaye Scholer? A response to the rumors by managing partner Barry Willner, after the jump.
When we did our series of Vault 100 open threads in the summer, Biglaw insiders shared insights into office culture, with much touting of work perks at various firms. These days, attorneys can brag if their firms are not among those laying associates off.
Reuters reports on perk cutbacks in the finance world, such as the elimination of business-class travel and free sodas in the office fridge. On ATL, we reported in October that K&L Gates was eliminating ABA dues payments and switching to one-ply toilet paper. (This was followed by news this month of staff layoffs).
A tipster from Kirkland & Ellis tells us the New York office is downsizing breakfast:
i know this is a little obnoxious because lots of other firms don’t have breakfast at all, but we at kirkland ny are pretty proud of our breakfast spreads: tropicana if you get in early enough, bagels, fruit, yogurt, and fancy nature’s path cereals with flax and berries and stuff. so imagine our shock and horror when we saw this hidden away in the weekly memo:
NEW BREAKFAST MENU
Beginning November 17, the breakfast menu will be changed to fresh fruit and bagels. In order to make sure there is enough for all, additional numbers of each item will be provided. We may find that the ratio of bagels to fruit needs to be adjusted to best meet preferences. Please let Pam Grazia at extension 3179 know if that is the case in the pantry on your floor.
its not the loss of the yogurt and cereal, although that does hurt. its more the sneaky way it was hidden in the memo that nobody reads!
While firms are unlikely to cut back on big perks like parental leave, this is a time for tightening the belt in other areas. We say: Better the loss of the granola than the loss of the librarian.
Are you seeing perk erosion at your firm? What is being cut back? What should be cut back? (Our Kirkland tipster tells us NY associates still get the $350 office art budget.)
In late October, we received this question from a federal clerk:
To date, I’ve seen at least six posts in a series ATL has been doing about firms rescinding unaccepted summer associate offers to 2L’s due to oversubscription of the summer class. I would be interested to know whether firms are actually, or at least contemplating, rescinding unaccepted offers for full-time associate positions that were being held open for former summer associates that are doing judicial clerkships this year?
I have an offer from a biglaw firm and was assured (albeit almost one year ago) that my offer would be held open until I had completed my clerkship and could formally accept. Needless to say, I am getting more than a bit nervous about whether my job will still be waiting for me come September ’09.
At the time, we told the questioner that we hadn’t heard anything like that from any major law firm during this recruiting cycle. Nobody’s going to rescind offers to clerks!
Yesterday, we had a couple of interesting conversations with folks over at Wiley Rein. We now believe that the chair of Wiley Rein’s recruiting committee placed a number of phone calls over the weekend to current judicial clerks. The recruiting coordinator was careful to say that Wiley was not “rescinding” offers, but that the clerks should seriously consider looking at other options for full-time employment when their clerkships are up.
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.
● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.
● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.
● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!