Given the fear and loathing going on in the associate market, we’ve been overlooking the fact that support staffers are getting eviscerated thanks to the global financial crisis. The White & Case bloodbath yesterday also hit 100 staffers. We’ve also reported on Alston & Bird’s attempt to force out older staff.
Many people have heard reports that K&L Gates laid off a number of staff over the past week. The firm has refused to comment about these layoffs, so we don’t yet know the full extent of the damage. But we understand that it has hit many, many people, across all offices.
We don’t understand why K&L Gates is trying to keep these layoffs secret. As many smart attorneys know, competent support staffs are critical to excellent legal work. Right now, the market for paralegals is probably even worse than it is for attorneys.
Whether or not you have evolved to the point where you can appreciate the crucial role staffs play in Biglaw offices, most people can agree that they deserve to be treated with respect — even on their way out of the door. One report from a K&L Gates tipster is therefore particularly disturbing:
[T]hey watched [me] pack [my] office and I was not allowed to say goodbye to anyone including a senior partner [I worked for]. … Escorted out of the building … very undignified treatment of a 15-year employee.
If you want to treat a temp secretary like crap, that’s terrible etiquette. Treating a colleague who has dedicated decades of service to the company like an industrial espionage convict is a whole different level of “class.”
In September, Kirkland & Ellis partner Frederick Tanne sued his wife, her lover, and her father for giving him herpes. (We mentioned this lawsuit in passing in Morning Docket at the time of the complaint, and many of you complained about the item not getting its own post. Well, here you go!)
Tanne claimed to have discovered his wife’s infidelity when he found herpes-treatment medicine in their bathroom. According to the New York Post, Tanne got tested for herpes and “discovered he was infected with the incurable virus.” He sued his wife, accusing her of multiple extramarital affairs, and seeking compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Mrs. Tanne’s dad is a doctor, and prescribed the herpes medication Valtrex to her. He denied his daughter had an affair. His explanation:
[Amy Tanne's father, Samuel] Messing denied that his daughter was infected.
“My daughter does not have genital herpes,” he said. “This is pure nonsense. I prescribed Valtrex for a cold sore on her lip. She never had a cold sore until she married him.”
He also denied that his daughter ever had an affair.
“He just wants to make things difficult for my family,” Messing said.
The doctor may be a reliable expert witness. The embarrassing twist in the case, after the jump.
I am entitled to my firm’s medical and dental benefits, subject to a max sum each year. Should I exploit these benefits, e.g. by going for regular check-ups and consulting a doctor even if it’s not a serious ailment? Do I cast myself in a bad light if I max out these benefits? Thanks.
Every policy has its limits, just like every night has its dawn. Most law firms buy health insurance policies for associates with a $500,000 limit and maintain separate million dollar policies for partners. Does that mean that partners are more worthy of health care than you? You bet. But does that mean you should book a vacation to Chernobyl to see if you can hit the $500,000 mark? That depends on whether it’s worth it to you to battle cancer to spite your firm. Which, now that I write it, actually doesn’t sound so bad.
For the sake of argument, I’ll assume that your policy limit is lower than $500,000 and that you can reach the max without having a devastating illness. Putting aside for a moment how UNBELIEVABLY alarming that is, you should by all means take advantage of the policy even if you’re not seriously ill. Get some Accutane for your zitty face or start the ball rolling on that three course cervical cancer vaccination, especially if you don’t anticipate catching leprosy before the policy limit refreshes.
In this economy, losing one’s job and health insurance is as common as a “performance layoff” at Shearman & Sterling, so get your doctor visits in now. Trust me, I haven’t had health insurance for the past 6 months and I would kill for a refill on my Lexapro Celebrex.
P.S. If you have extra, um, ceLebrEXAPRO, two-way me.
* A New York Times round-up of law firm troubles. (Regular ATL readers will find nothing new here.) Lawyers aren’t cockroaches anymore, thriving in good times and bad. Now, law firms are the canaries in the economic coalmine. [New York Times]
* Judge Judy gets political on Larry King Live. The joys of not being a real judge include opining on Proposition 8. [CNN]
* Canadian legal scholar Ronald Daniels chosen as new president of Johns Hopkins University. [Baltimore Sun]
* Same-sex marriage comes to Connecticut today. [Boston Globe]
* Obama wants to close down Gitmo. Here’s a look at the legal challenges involved in the endeavor. [Time]
AIG, the American taxpayers’ very own insurance company, has taken a lot of heat for their company retreat full of facials and frivolity.
But in our own world of dissolving law firms, Heller Ehrman’s actions before the end have gotten far too little scrutiny. Yesterday, American Lawyer ran a story (subscription) about Heller’s 2007 partner retreat:
When Heller Ehrman partners gathered at Santa Barbara’s Bacara Resort & Spa in March 2007, there was already reason to be concerned about the firm’s future. Several practice areas were slow. The firm’s national and global ambitions were in disarray. And partners were increasingly skeptical about management’s ability to address the problems. But that weekend they were determined to laugh at this somewhat worrisome predicament.
The final night of the retreat featured a $300,000 skit. Performers from the Los Angeles Opera, accompanied by a professional orchestra, portrayed Chairman Matthew Larrabee and other firm leaders frantically searching for a merger partner. “Some people were laughing, but I thought it was surreal,” says one former shareholder (Heller’s term for partner).
Heller people, here’s some free legal advice: if you can get from this post to Matt Larrabee’s house without thinking, it might be a crime of passion. But if you read through to the end of the post, you’ll have entered the cooling down period and you’re looking at murder 2.
Please, it’s not worth it. San Quentin is a bad place. Just click on the jump.
“My boyfriend summered at MoFo, and all I got was this lousy tote bag!”
These days are dominated by gloomy news: dissolutions, layoffs, rescinded offers. It gets depressing — and old. So let’s shift gears and talk about a happy topic: law firm offer swag.
Yes, America still has large law firms. They are still hiring summer associates. And these firms still woo prospective summers with fabulous prizes, to encourage acceptance of their offers. Word on the street is that S&C is once again plying offerees with its fabled bonsai trees.
And sometimes even editors of humble legal blogs get gifts in the mail. The good folks over at Morrison & Foerster sent us some lovely gifts, which we’re guessing they’ve also shared with offer recipients (although we’re not positive; please do let us know).
Update: A tipster tells us that, in addition to the items we received, MoFo also gave out 4G jump drives and universal outlet converters.
Check out a slideshow of the MoFo loot — and compare your Biglaw hauls, in the comments — after the jump.
The first news started to leak this morning about some terrible news at a top firm:
White & Case [is] currently calling people and laying them off. I haven’t heard anything in regards to scope, but [I] hear that it’s big.
Now that White & Case has had time to tell all of the affected associates, they are ready to talk about how deeply the cuts went. A firm spokesperson tells us:
As part of its planning for 2009, White & Case LLP is reviewing its global operations against current and anticipated market conditions and expected client needs. While the Firm anticipates a strong 2008, with significant revenue growth across our globally diverse network, we are exercising prudent business judgment and taking several steps in advance of what is likely to be a significantly weakened global economy in 2009.
Among these actions, the Firm is reducing its global legal and nonlegal headcount by about 3% from current levels, or notifying employees that they are at risk of redundancy. These reductions are being driven in large part by a decline in attrition rates. Those who have been asked to leave will receive a competitive severance package.
“We are living in a time of unique economic challenges, and well-managed, successful businesses, including White & Case, must assess their operations in light of current market realities,” said White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier. “We believe this is a necessary step to adjust to the global economic downturn and to ensure a strong, long-term future for the Firm.”
Upon information and belief — the firm did not give us specific numbers — 70 associates nationwide were let go.
Read about some associate reaction after the jump.
More bad news from Chicago today. The National Law Journal is reporting that the well known construction boutique, Stein, Ray & Harris, laid off a third of their associates:
The firm laid off four of its 14 associates this month after hiring seven attorneys earlier this year in anticipation of an increase in construction litigation linked to the economic downturn, said Robert Harris, a partner at the firm. The jump in such litigation “hasn’t materialized,” though it’s early in the cycle and that may change, he said.
Big firm lawyers, small firm lawyers, it’s bad for lawyers all over Chicago.
Clearly, the only safe job in Chicago is whoever works for Oprah.
Universities are not immune to the economic downturn. Endowments are taking hits; hiring freezes are likely.
And maybe layoffs, too. From a tipster:
CLS Dean of Career Services Ellen Wayne has just been unceremoniously dumped from her post after nearly 20 lackluster years on the job (she was a constant source of complaints by students). She’s already been removed from staff listings and from the school’s internal telephone and email directory.
We tried emailing Dean Wayne at her Columbia address and received an automated reply: “I am out of the office.” Indeed.
[T]hey’ve not managed to erase all traces yet…. Her picture remains up on the front page of their employer section. No official email from the school to its students yet.
We reached out to the school for comment. Elizabeth Schmalz, executive director for Communications and Public Affairs at CLS, responded via email: “It is university policy not to discuss employment matters in public. Thanks for writing.”
So it’s not clear yet what happened to Dean Wayne. Is she being blamed for weak on-campus interviewing this year? Was she somebody’s target in Assassins?
Our original tipster wasn’t a fan of Dean Wayne. But different CLS sources had more positive views.
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.
Things have changed recently in Korea – a few of our US and UK client firms are looking, very selectively, for a lateral US associate hire. Until just recently, there was not much hiring like this going on in Korea, since US and UK firms started opening offices there. We have already placed two US associates in Korea in the past month at top firms. Most of the hiring partners we work with in Korea do not actively work with other recruiters.
If you are a Korean fluent US associate in London, New York or another major US market, 2nd to 6th year, at a top 20 firm, with cap markets or M&A focus (or mix), or project finance background, and you are interested in lateraling to Korea to a top US or UK firm, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our head of Asia, Evan Jowers, was just in Korea recently, and Evan and Robert Kinney will be in Korea in a few weeks. We are in the process of helping several firms open new offices in Korea (a number of which are interviewing our partner level candidates) and also helping existing offices there fill openings.
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
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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.
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