* “Barack Obama looked like a prosecutor delivering a polished summation in a long civil case, Joe the Plumber v. George W. Bush. John McCain was closer to a personal injury lawyer, staring into the camera to address ‘Joe the Plumber’ as if he were standing by with an 800 number.” [New York Times]
Katten Muchin Rosenman has officially announced that they have parted ways with a number of attorneys. According to partner and spokesperson Tasneem K. Goodman:
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP this week eliminated the positions of 21 associates and counsel across multiple offices and practices. This measure was taken to further improve the firm’s efficiency, to allow for the continued growth of its associates and to ensure the firm’s long-term success. No adjustments will be made to the new first-year associate class. The firm’s financial performance remains strong despite the current economic downturn.
You have to compare that statement with the one from Clifford Chance yesterday. After laying off 20 litigation associates, their statement said (in part):
Those attorneys in New York and Washington, D.C. affected by today’s decision are held in high regard by the firm. These layoffs were not performance-driven
From Katten we hear that their 21 associates were laid off “to improve efficiency.” Make of that what you will.
Check here to see how Katten’s layoffs unfolded throughout the day.
Legal analyst and pop-culture sycophant Russell Wetanson has been running a fairly aggressive campaign against California’s Proposition 8. The measure would ban gay marriages in California, as we have discussed before.
Wetanson sent around the following email to subscribers to his blog:
No On Prop 8. No On Prop 8. No On Prop 8.
If you think everyone agrees with this or understands the proposition, you are wrong. The evil Yes On 8 people have raised way too much money, so No On Prop 8 needs your help to keep running ads and make sure that civil rights guaranteed by the California Constitution are not stripped away by a vote.
Not surprisingly, the “evil” line produced some pretty angry responses to Wetanson, including one from a senior Proskauer Rose associate:
Russell: Easy on the “evil Yes on 8 people” – as you may or may not know I am one of them and my girlfriend [Redacted] – so unless you actually think we are evil I think it goes a little over the top to call people names (especially in support of a campaign that purports to fight against bigotry).
Though I am sure I will not change your mind I will remind you that Prop 8 will not take any substantive rights away from any individuals as California law already provides domestic partners all of the rights that can be provided under state law to same sex couples (and we both know Prop 8 does not impact federal law). On the other hand keeping the law as it was judicially modified by 4 judges who overturn 62% of Californian’s will impacts far more than those who wish to enter into a committed relationship as it impacts the requirements of educational system and potential the rights of religious organizations. This is not a doomsday prediction, it is already happening as state funds are being used to proselytize to 1st graders http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/11/MNFG13F1VG.DTL&type=politics&tsp=1.
All I am saying is adults can disagree (as you and I have responsibly for years) and while this can be an emotional issue for both sides, name calling is a little beyond you.
A reasonable response (though I disagree that taking a field trip to see a teacher get married is tantamount to “proselytizing first graders”).
After the jump, was the firm email account really the best way to communicate this message?
Given the state of the world, we can understand some anger at the Big Guy Upstairs. And the best way to deal with anger is in the courtroom, right?
So thought former Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers. He sued God last year, “seeking a permanent injunction to prevent God from committing acts of violence such as earthquakes and tornadoes.”
Judge Marlon Polk threw out the suit, and all future suits against the Almighty. From the Omaha World-Herald:
You can’t sue God if you can’t serve the papers on him, a Douglas County District Court judge ruled in Omaha Tuesday.
Judge Marlon Polk threw out Nebraska Sen. Ernie Chambers’ lawsuit against the Almighty, saying there was no evidence that the defendant had been served. What’s more, Polk found “there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant.”
Chambers, an avowed atheist and Creighton University School of Law grad, defended his suit, saying he was trying to make a point. He doesn’t think that the Nebraska legislature should prohibit certain lawsuits. We’re not sure we see the logic behind defending frivolous lawsuits by filing a frivolous lawsuit, but we are amused by his legal arguments:
In August, [Chambers] argued that Polk should take judicial notice of the existence of God. The senator cited the facts that U.S. currency says “In God We Trust,” God is invoked during oaths in court hearings, and chaplains offer prayers before legislative bodies.
“If God is omnipresent,” Chambers said in that August hearing, “then he is here in Douglas County and in this courtroom.”
Polk denied as moot the motion to take judicial notice of God.
Today is not a good day to be Carlo Rizzi. We’re getting word that Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal is laying off a bunch of attorneys and staff today. The big number we are hearing is that 60 associates and staff are out of jobs.
According to one tipster, the layoffs are being carried out nationwide, with no input from local offices.
However you slice it, 60 is a huge number. Sonnenschein didn’t exactly deny these reports. A firm spokesperson told us:
We look at staffing levels around this time every year as part of our budget and practice planning processes, and it is not unusual for us to make adjustments. While we understand that rumors such as the one you are reporting about Sonnenschein and multiple other law firms are circulating, we have nothing to add at this time.
Gary J. Simson, best known for his incessant bitching about the U.S. News rankings, is stepping down as dean of the Case Western Reserve School of Law:
We write to inform you that Gary J. Simson has agreed to resign as dean, effective at the end of this academic semester. Starting today, Robert H. Rawson Jr. will serve as Special Advisor to the Provost for the School of Law. Once, Mr. Simson steps down, Mr. Rawson will become interim dean of the school.
Mr. Rawson is a partner of the Jones Day law firm and served for 15 years as Partner in Charge of its Cleveland office. A Rhodes Scholar who graduated from Princeton University before earning his Juris Doctorate from Harvard University, he is highly regarded as a litigator, with particular expertise in antitrust matters. He also has deep appreciation and understanding of higher education, having spent 20 years on the Board of Trustees of Princeton, including 13 as chair of the board’s executive committee. We are deeply grateful both to Mr. Rawson and to the Jones Day law firm for this opportunity to tap his expertise during this time of transition.
We will launch a national search to fill the dean’s position, and note that Mr. Rawson has indicated he has no interest in being a candidate for the permanent post.
Simson has had a somewhat rocky tenure at Case Western. As one tipster put it:
Simson has been at the school for just over 2 years and has had an “uneven” response from the larger community, at best…
Simson was the dean who invited Ohio AG Marc “Dannimal House” Dann to come as a commencement day speaker. That offer was later rescinded. But he’ll be best remembered around these parts for his full frontal attack on the U.S. News rankings.
Gary, we hardly knew ye. The world can always use another Brian Leiter.
Perhaps the Clifford Chance layoffs were just the beginning. We’re getting multiple reports that Katten Muchin Rosenman is laying off associates in their Chicago office, today. Right now.
Katten representatives did not respond to inquiries made last night or today.
Meanwhile, the Charlotte-firm of Moore & Van Allen has laid off 20 staff members today. Though calls to Moore & Van Allen were not immediately returned, one tipster suggests that the layoffs were focused in the Wachovia practice group.
No word yet on the safety of associates at Moore & Van Allen.
We will update you as more facts become available. But do not trust to hope, it is forsaken in these lands.
Update (5:40): Moore & Van Allen tipsters want us to know that the Bank of America group was hit just as hard, if not harder than, the Wachovia group.
Update (6:05): While Katten is still not officially confirming anything, recently laid-off attorneys are telling us that they are hearing that between 20-25 associates where let go today in the Chicago office. The severance package: 90-days at full salary. Not good times today. Bad times.
A NALP report confirms what we see everyday: minority women partners barely exist. The National Law Journal reports:
Minority women remain the most underrepresented group among law firm partners, according to the report. They currently make up 1.88% of partners at law firms. By contrast, the report found that minority men make up 4.21% of partners, and women overall account for 18.74% of partners.
That. Is. Embarrassing.
Before everybody explains away the numbers by saying “there aren’t as many minority women in the pipeline,” note that there are a lot of minority women downstream:
In 2008, 45.42 percent of summer associates were women, 24.04 percent were minorities and 12.99 percent were minority women. In the associate ranks, 45.34 percent are women, 19.11 percent are minorities and 10.74 percent are minority women.
Many minority women start off on the Biglaw path, but they leave. To have babies? Not according to the ABA:
A 2006 study by the ABA Commission on Women, “Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms,” concluded that women of color are leaving the profession in droves because they are the victims of an uninterrupted cycle of institutional discrimination. Many women responding to the ABA survey said they felt they were denied the same opportunities to succeed as their male and nonminority counterparts.
We mentioned yesterday that Simpson Thacher has been chosen to advise the government on the massive $700 billion bailout plan. They were chosen on Friday and are already racking up billable hours on it.
Six other firms were approached by the Treasury, but only two expressed interest. Zach Lowe at the American Lawyer reports:
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton confirmed Tuesday that it was one of the six firms the Treasury Department considered as candidates for a role as lead adviser on the $700 billion bailout plan.
Only two of those six firms pursued the work that eventually went to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
Lowe tracked down a lawyer at one of the firms that rebuffed the Treasury. The lawyer admitted it was “prime work,” but that they feared not being able to represent “regular clients on the program.” In the cost-benefit analysis, the potential billable hours to financial services companies clamoring for bailout money must outweigh the government possibilities.
But Simpson Thacher is not sweating it:
Richard Beattie, chairman of Simpson Thacher, says the Treasury did not put any pressure on the firm to drop clients and that the firm is not concerned about losing business.
“They did not say that,” Beattie says. “It’s ridiculous. We represent JPMorgan Chase and would not give up a client like that.”
AmLaw reports that Simpson’s other financial clients include Washington Mutual (now part of JPMorgan Chase), Lehman Brothers, and AIG. Given that list, we can see why the government is the more attractive client at the moment.
We received just over 1,200 responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Linksurvey on politics in the workplace, and two things immediately became apparent.
First, there aren’t that many good political lolcats, so we’ve decided to make do with an lolronpaul (h/t punditkitchen).
Second, now that the general election is in full swing, political discourse is way up at law firms:
* 86% of respondents reported that they discuss politics in the workplace, which is up from 74% back in February.
* 92% noted that associates discuss politics (up from 80%).
* 73% of respondents said that partners discuss politics (up from 64%).
* 52% noticed that staff members discuss politics too (up from 38%).
But while conversations are up, actual campaigning is about the same:
* Only 18% of respondents said that fellow associates had tried to convince them to vote for a particular candidate, and 15% said that associates had encouraged them to contribute to a campaign. This is about the same as what we reported in February.
* Similarly, twelve percent of respondents said that partners had tried to swing their vote, but roughly sixteen percent reported that a partner had solicited a contribution. These, again, are the same numbers we saw in February.
* About seventeen percent of respondents felt that their firms encouraged them to participate in political events, either for personal satisfaction or as a rainmaking opportunity. Only about 4% of respondents, however, felt the need to conform to any particular view.
Interestingly, only 9% of respondents said their firms were solidly Republican, in contrast to 50% who declared their firms Democrat territory. 24% of respondents said their firms were evenly mixed.
ATL’s readership has a similar liberal bent, with 60% of respondents deciding that Barack Obama won last week’s town hall debate, and 70% declaring that they will be voting for That One in a few weeks. 10% of respondents, however, were able to stay awake thought McCain won the debate, and 25% intend to vote for him.
But some of you would rather choose none of the above. One percent of respondents wrote in that they’ll be voting for Bob Barr, two people still look forward to voting for Hillary Clinton, three people will vote for Ralph Nader, and four people — not shown in the photo above — will be voting for Ron Paul.
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: email@example.com.
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!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.