The holidays are over. Now it’s time to get back to business, and in Biglaw these days that means getting back laying people off.
Multiple tipsters report that there were layoffs at Baker & McKenzie this morning. The firm just confirmed the news:
Therefore, consistent with our strategy and discipline, and in response to the economic conditions we are currently witnessing, we are taking proactive steps to ensure that we remain financially strong. In particular, we are proactively focusing on helping our clients manage through these turbulent times, and we are acting to reduce our own operating costs. These actions include, but are not limited to, slowing or deferring some long-term projects, travel and hiring restrictions, and some limited workforce reductions, including six associates in our New York office this week.
The laid off associates were given a 3 month severance package.
One tipster reports:
No one was safe from first years to senior associates to support staff which were terminated. … Those who are left are worried about more cuts.
Another tipster, who also claims that some first years were let go, adds this:
The reasons given were that not enough work was available.
Read Baker & McKenzie’s full statement after the jump.
Things just seem to be getting more and more draconian over that the University of Chicago Law School. Yesterday we reminded you of the school’s attempts to shut down internet access in class. The day before that we mentioned that some student was calling for an end to video games on personal laptops during lectures.
Today, the UofC Dean of Students has piped up with thoughts about the appropriate use for a law school listserv:
It has come to my attention that there may be some confusion among our student body about the proper use of our student listservs, and now is an ideal time to clarify this information. For your review, I have attached the guidelines for the use of the LawAnnounce listserv. You will notice that the LawAnnounce listserv is meant for informal announcements that may be of general interest to the law school community, and serves as an electronic bulletin board of sorts. While the list is monitored by our administrative staff, the Law School generally does not restrict content on this site with few exceptions. For example, while students are not permitted to use the listserv for “political commentary,” students may be permitted to invite others to a political rally. (*See restrictions below.) The listserv is not meant to be a discussion board, however, on any political issue. Therefore, rebuttals or commentary about a posting should be directed to the poster and/or to the administration, but not to the listserv. This kind of back and forth discussion is more appropriate for a blog and not for this forum. Similarly, any offensive language, including the use of racial slurs, is strictly prohibited on LawAnnounce.
ATL would love to take credit for the “ideal” timing of this letter. But sadly, it appears that politics made this message necessary.
After the jump, more stern warnings from the Dean of Students that are promptly disregarded.
Getting a divorce is never a quick fix, even for a surgeon. You have to divide up the money, the property, the kids, the kidneys.
A Long Island surgeon embroiled in a nearly four-year divorce proceeding wants his estranged wife to return the kidney he donated to her, although he says he’ll settle for $1.5 million in compensation.
If you grew up on Long Island, home of Lorena Bobbit, this story makes perfect sense.
If you grew up on Earth, it gets a little weird:
He said he gave his kidney to Dawnell Batista, now 44, in June 2001. She filed for divorce in July 2005, although he claims she began having an extramarital affair 18 months to two years after receiving the kidney transplant, his attorney, Dominick Barbara, said.
I’m not sure I agree with the good doctor’s tactic. See, if my wife had an affair, I’d want the other guy’s kidney … or liver. Or severed head on a pike that I’d display on my balcony.
But I guess I can understand the desire to send a (former) loved one into toxic shock and/or have $1.5 million.
Sadly, basic human decency the law is not on his side:
Manhattan attorney Susan Moss said, “The good doctor is out of luck and out a kidney. This is similar to cases where a husband wants to be repaid for the cost of breast implants and the such. Our judges are not willing to value such assets, so to speak.”
Good thing that kidneys are internal organs, because you know how they roll on “Strong Island.”
Dickstein Shapiro sent a memo around the firm yesterday that was the bearer of much bad news. Not only did it announce a salary freeze for 2009, it officially announced layoffs that were conducted on Tuesday. Full e-mail after the jump, but here’s an excerpt:
First, we have made a limited number of reductions in our associate/counsel ranks. Those affected by this decision were informed yesterday afternoon. These are purely economic decisions — this is a group of talented attorneys who have made valued contributions to our Firm.
Spokespeople at Dickstein have not yet confirmed the number laid off, but sources say it was 10 associates and counsel, all in the D.C. office. [Update:The firm now tells us the ten came from both the D.C. and New York offices.] One source says those laid off were told it was “economic-based” — as opposed to layoffs in 2008 that were ostensibly performance-based — but that the firm did take a look at their hours. The corporate group was hardest hit.
One source says Dickstein associates were “pissed.” The email went around at noon yesterday and “glibly” announced layoffs and the salary freeze. Associates would have preferred a firm-wide meeting to announce the news. They were also annoyed to get the news of the freeze 36 hours before their first 2009 paycheck was to arrive (at 12:01 a.m. tonight).
Additional news about Dickstein is pouring into our inbox. One tipster reports overhearing a partner voice concern about Bernard Madoff paying his legal fees and the firm’s ability to take on new associates in 2009.
[Ed. Note: The following piece was authored by "The Legal Tease" of Sweet Hot Justice fame. You can check out all of Legal Tease's other evocative musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.]
You know this guy, you do. Every Big Firm has at least one. You started hearing the lore about him your first week at the firm and you admit that you were part intrigued, part terrified. You’ve seen him in passing in the halls, usually after most of the firm has emptied out after dark. Perhaps you’ve even tried to speak to him, only to be met with a distinct lack of eye contact and a half-snort as he scuttled away. He’s more socially awkward than any mental patient, not fit for human–no less client–interaction. But, word on the street–and that word’s always mentioned in hushed, reverential tones–is that he’s brilllliant. Like, crazy genius smart. That’s why the firm keeps him around. The brilliance. He’s the resident Big Firm Savant. And I’m here to tell you first-hand, the whole “genius” thing is a complete and total fraud.
How do I know this? Because I’ve spent the last two weeks holed up on an idiot fire drill deal that’s never going to materialize with not one, but two of my firm’s rumored Big Firm Savants.
One, of course, is our old friend, Glenn, who has the twin distinctions of having billed more hours than any other associate four years running and not having made eye contact since 1993. The other is Russ. Russ, a corporate equity partner whose book of business is rivaled in magnitude only by his lack of a personality. Or emotional range. Or ability to speak in a voice that doesn’t sound like he was recently plugged back into the Matrix.
Still, when I found out I’d be working with Russ, I figured it wasn’t necessarily all bad. Sure, I’d have to spend part of the holidays working on a dead-end deal led by a robot with lip chap the size of glaciers and a leadership style that rivals Ted Kaczynski’s. But on the upside, I’d finally get an inside look at how true legal genius works. I’d be working side-by-side two infamous Big Firm Savants. I’d experience the brilliance.
And most intriguing of all, I’d witness firsthand the rumored way that Russ supposedly “comes alive” in front of clients–because that’s part of the legend of Russ, of all Big Firm Savants: They’re corporate mole people around the office, but stick ‘em in front of a client and bam, they “come alive.” They shed their awkwardness and stun anyone within billing distance with artfully delivered soliloquies of razor-sharp legal analysis worthy of the whitest shoe. They shine. They must, right?
* Deloitte partner and tax attorney Steven Klig tried to blackmail the woman with whom he was having an affair. He wanted nude photos of her and threatened to send their sex videos to her family, blurring his own face, of course. She went to the FBI, and now he’s the one getting all the publicity, as well as being charged with extortion and harassment. [New York Post via Gothamist]
The new year is shaping up to be a cold one. As we noted in our 2008 Year in Review series, one of the biggest stories heading into 2009 has been that of the salary freeze. Rather than instituting lock-step raises for associates entering a new class year, a number of firms have informed associates that their salaries will remain at 2008 levels.
There have been two types of freezes: the “Solid Ice freeze”–with salaries frozen through all of 2009–and the “Slurpee freeze”–where firms are sticking with 2008 levels for now, but promise to revisit the decision later in the year.
Many an ATL reader has requested a round-up, and we aim to please. So find your pleasure, after the jump. Some of the firms have been reported on before, and some are new.
If you know of other frozen firms, send us an e-mail at email@example.com with the subject, “Salary Freeze: FIRM NAME.” Also, if your firm has raised salaries as expected, feel free to send us the news, with the subject “Salary Raise: FIRM NAME.” While freezes are news, raises as expected aren’t, so we will not be covering firm by firm, but we may do a round-up.
Find the list of the sixteen firms that have frozen, after the jump.
Kirkland & Ellis has asked a number of non-equity partners to leave, multiple sources report. The timing is unclear, but they may have up to six months to pack their things.
The number of laid-off non-equity partners — or “non-share partners,” in K&E parlance — is believed to hover somewhere between 15 and 25. Some are in litigation and some in corporate, but we understand that all of those let go are in Kirkland’s Chicago office.
A tipster points out:
All were told it’s because [of] performance, but most were considered fine lawyers and rated with or above their class each year.
Kirkland & Ellis spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment by the time of this posting.
It’s important to remember that Kirkland & Ellis has a fairly large class of non-equity or income partners. Kirkland uses the “non-share partner” classification liberally, and they tend to make more lawyers “partners,” at earlier stages in their careers. Some K&E “partners” would be senior associates at other firms.
Kirkland also paid out Cravath-level bonuses. When Kirkland announced their bonuses, many commenters opined that bonuses were better than layoffs and that K&E would not do layoffs.
But it looks like Kirkland has had to do some more belt-tightening as the economy continues to tumble. While laying off partners is unusual, it’s not unheard of; last fall, Jenner & Block axed 10 partners (both equity and non-equity).
Clifford Chance leadership to the rank-and-file partnership: “Partners, spread the wallets, so we can smell the juicy insides.”
Associates, we feel your pain: slashed bonuses and salary freezes are bad news. But things could be worse: imagine having to pay your firm for the privilege of working there:
[A]s a Christmas “bonus” this year, partners at Clifford Chance were each required to make a capital contribution of £100,000 (roughly $150,000). Ouch.
Through a spokesperson, Clifford Chance declined to comment. But, if true, the news would not be completely shocking. The firm has done at least two rounds of layoffs, and they paid bonuses that were down sharply from prior years (although, in fairness to CC, at market levels for 2008).
If true, Clifford wouldn’t be the only firm looking to its partners for financing. As previously discussed, because of super-tight credit markets and the high cost of borrowing, more firms are financing their operations by tapping partner wallets. See, e.g., DLA Piper (letting some income partners become equity partners, if they can cough up capital contributions of up to $150,000).
Associates: next time you complain about greedy partners slashing your pay, consider the possibility that they’re suffering too in this economy. They’re trying to safely navigate the recessionary shoals, just like the rest of us. Some of the measures they’ve been taking, like pay freezes and reduced bonuses, may just be prudent planning. Better to have a smaller paycheck than no paycheck at all.
Are you aware of other firms that are hitting up their partners for cash in these dire times? Drop us a line, by email (subject line: “[Firm Name]: Capital Contribution”). Thanks.
A study conducted by Indiana University found that law students are more likely than other students to use their laptops in class. The study confirms our own internal data that shows that most law students enjoy having internet access on par with what can be achieved in Ghana.
The ABA Journal smartly put the study in the context of the University of Chicago Law School’s attempts to shut down internet access in most classes, a move no doubt applauded by this guy:
Distractions posed by laptops with Internet access have prompted some law professors to ban the computers and one law school–the University of Chicago–to shut down Internet access in most classrooms.
A very wise tenured professor once said to me:
The way I see it, if my presentations are not interesting enough to capture your attendance and attention to a lecture you’ve already paid for, the fault is on me.
Needless to say, his lectures were always well attended, and I know more about the English Revolution than I could possibly need. But I digress.
Jiminy jillickers! ATL editors are going all over the place over the next month or so. Or at least all over the Eastern Seaboard. If we aren’t heading to your neck of the woods on these trips, never fear, we may hit you up on the next time around. We’ve already hit up Houston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the past year.
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: