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pyramid scheme capstone small.jpgIn September, we reported that the average pay of in-house attorneys was on the rise. At the time, we said:

Mock in-house counsel if you want to (and apparently many of you “want to”), but those jobs still pay great money. A new study says that the average pay for in-house attorneys is $236,000.

Yesterday, the Incisive Media group released a study showing the other side of the equation. The cost to run an in-house legal department has risen by ten percent over the past year.

The median internal cost of operating an in-house law department at a large company grew to $381,618 per lawyer, a 10 percent increase over the previous survey year, according to the 2008 Law Department Metrics Benchmarking Survey. Lawyer compensation and benefits, the biggest component of internal expenditures, was up 14 percent to a median of $356,205 per lawyer for these same law departments.

Great news, but are they hiring? More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “New Study Shows In-House Law Costs on the Rise”

Duquesne law school building.JPGPop quiz hotshot. You’re a law school dean who has been given 24 hours to resign or you’ll be removed. What do you do? What. Do. You. Do?

This was the ultimatum given to (former) Duquesne Law School Dean Don Guter. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Guter was more than surprised by the move:

Reached today, Mr. Guter said he was given without explanation the option to resign in 24 hours or be removed.

“My reaction to this is shock. The school — really by a lot of people’s accounts, not just mine — has never been in better shape,” he said.

The ABA Journal underscores the apparent randomness of the Guter’s ouster:

[Guter] says he was offered no explanation for the loss of the dean’s job, and a university press release, which confirms that he is being replaced on an interim basis by constitutional law professor Ken Gormley, also does not provide any reason for the change, according to the newspaper.

Guter’s supporters and detractors after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Duquesne Law Dean Dumped”

ACS logo.gif* The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy is on the rise, but keeping in mind lessons learned from Bush and the Federalist Society. [New York Times]

* If your firm is still holding a holiday party, folks will likely be drinking hard. Recessions tend to have that effect. Here are some tips on dealing with the inappropriate behavior sure to result. [New York Post]

* Princeton University ends its six-year legal saga with Robertson heirs by agreeing to pay out $100 million. Nonprofits everywhere should take notice, as settlement marks the need to abide by the pesky intentions of donors. [Washington Post]

* No Chrysler Chapter 11 work for Sidley Austin Jones Day. [Ed. note: Too many bankruptcies to keep track of!] For now. The $14 billion aid package for the car industry got the House’s stamp of approval, but still needs love from the Senate. [Reuters]

* Miami judge in trouble for using children in a game of ping pong. [Miami Herald]

* Musical chairs: Sullivan & Cromwell snatches Donald Korb, chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service. [BLT]

1L Prepares for Exams.jpgIt’s final exam time again and the ATL community is always happy to help. Now more than ever, good grades are essential to getting the Biglaw job of your dreams.

If you are a future SCOTUS clerk, getting good grades is simple. You’ve already read everything and know everything and sacrificed all manner of human connections: finals will be a breeze.

But for the rest of you out there, now is the time for useful exam tips. I never liked to read “cases” or “go to class” as the kids say, but I take tests like a Jedi master. Here are some helpful ways for you to get great grades even if you have put forth negative effort throughout the semester.

1. You can learn a lot in eight hours.

An eight hour take home exam is like doing a book report based on its well adapted movie. You might miss some of the finer details, but all of the important points are right there in front of you. With the starting point of eight hours and a reliable outline, you’ve got your B right there. Never allow yourself to think that there is any question or issue that cannot be sufficiently read up on in eight hours.

2. Organization > Studying.

Don’t waste a second of your study time learning (or God forbid “memorizing”) any fact about anything. Instead make sure you organize all of the information you have so that you can quickly find it during the exam. Your “exam map” should contain simple notes like “Shoe – Minimum Contacts – Pg 268.” Anything more is an utter waste of time and energy. See point 1.

More tips and Marin weighs in after the jump.

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Jessica Cutler Washingtonienne Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* A behind the scenes look at the love story of “sex blogger” Jessica Cutler and Milbank associate Charles Rubio. The story claims she “went from slut to housewife in eight months.” The line on number of jokes from Rubio’s male friends directed at Mr. Rubio has just been taken off the board in Vegas. [Daily Beast]

* This won’t come as a galloping shock to any contract attorneys, but being a contract attorney blows. [Legal Blog Watch]

* What is a “Dreier?” How many packs of cigarettes is it worth on the inside? [Ideoblog]

* Republican SCOTUS hopefuls are very sad. In other news, Democratic SCOTUS hopefuls are battling for control of the conch. [Washingtonian]

* Remember attrition? Your firm does. They want it back. [Adam Smith Esq.]

Michael Garcia new Kirkland Partner.jpgWhen you have a chance to hire a high profile U.S. attorney from the Southern District, it’s a move you almost have to make. Kirkland & Ellis snapped up U.S. attorney Michael Garcia, who is best known for his role in hounding “Client #9″ out of town.

Garcia could make between $3 million and $4 million at Kirkland (sure, it’s the associates who are “greedy”), but it appears that not all of the partners were aware that there would be a new guy feeding at the trough. The Daily Beast reports:

Garcia’s sudden move to Kirkland & Ellis was engineered by executive committee member Jay Lefkowitz–a high-powered neoconservative who authored President Bush’s stem cell research policy and was once considered to serve as White House chief of staff. It caught many senior partners there by surprise. “Normally it would certainly be a plum to pick up a U.S. attorney, but frankly it’s disappointing when you first hear about it reading the morning New York Times,” one senior partner in the New York office told me.

On the one hand new partner hiring is not like elementary school. Not everybody gets to play. However, if hiring Garcia had been talked about more widely at Kirkland, perhaps more of his critics would have tried to stop it.

And Garcia does have a lot of critics. More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: High Profile Kirkland Hire Draws Criticism”

Howrey logo.JPGThe ATL inbox has been buzzing with layoff news about Howrey. Could it be that another firm that recently picked up a bunch of partners from a dissolved firm could be laying people off? Would former-Thelen chief Stephen O’Neal’s new firm cut associates so soon after his arrival?

Today, a firm spokesperson told us:

As we have stated on several occasions, unlike many firms, Howrey is not laying off lawyers or staff.

As in every year, there is an outplacement of some associates based on performance issues. This year, as in previous years, this involves approximately ten associates and occurs only after an exhaustive evaluation process and review. The information that you received is incorrect and has mischaracterized this as layoffs.

Howrey is enjoying a strong year. You should also note that unlike many other firms, we are not rescinding or delaying offers to first years. Our Associate Development program remains robust and on track.

After the jump … what does that mean exactly?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Howrey Lets Ten People Go for ‘Performance’”

Dreier LLP Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier Mark Dreier Drier Dryer.jpgApologies, readers. Although we broke the story of high-profile lawyer Marc Dreier’s arrest in Canada, we’ve fallen behind in covering the latest developments in the Dreier saga (of which there have been many). Fortunately, our friends over at Am Law Daily and the WSJ Law Blog have been following the story quite closely.

We’ve collected some links at the end of this post. The highlights:

  • A summary of recent developments, from the WSJ Law Blog: “Dreier appeared to get hit from all sides: a criminal charge in New York stemming from an alleged $100 million fraud against various hedge funds; an SEC suit alleging Dreier had been marketing and selling fake promissory notes to investors; and a suit by Wachovia Bank against Dreier, Dreier LLP (and a handful of others), alleging that a credit revolver and term loan extended to the firm are in default, as of November 1, upon which the bank is owed some $12.7 million.”

    Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier LLP.jpg

  • The latest news, from Am Law Daily: “[I]t appears very likely that client funds are indeed missing, according to a sworn statement (PDF) that Dreier partner Joel Chernov gave the SEC…. In the statement, Chernov said Dreier spoke to him and fellow Dreier partner Steven Gursky from a Toronto jail after his arrest there for impersonating a lawyer in an attempt to scam an investment group into wiring him more than $30 million. In those conversations, Chernov told the SEC, Dreier admitted improperly using client funds. Dreier also said that he could have refilled the escrow accounts if only he could return to New York. How? Apparently by selling part of an art collection valued at between $30 and $40 million, according to a separate statement (PDF) from John Provenzano, the firm’s Controller.”

    “In his statement, Provenzano claimed Dreier called him twice from the Toronto jail asking him in separate requests to wire $8 million and $10 million from the firm’s escrow accounts into Dreier’s personal accounts. Provenzano (wisely) refused. He also told Dreier the firm owed clients $38 million in connection with its representation of 360Networks. That’s when Dreier mentioned the money he could make selling his art.”

    Maxim men's magazine.jpgFine art — no surprises there. As noted, Marc Dreier has a taste for the finer things in life (like luxury real estate).

    And that’s not all. A source tells us that Dreier is something of a playboy, with a pattern and practice of dating Maxim models (yes, plural). And “not ‘Maxim-quality’ models,” emphasized our source, “but actual Maxim models.”

    If Marc Dreier ends up in prison, at least he’ll have nice memories to keep him warm at night.

    Filings Describe “Devastating Effect” on Dreier LLP [WSJ Law Blog]

    Client Funds Missing, Details on Dreier’s Art Collection, Attorneys Fleeing [Am Law Daily]

    Dreier Faces More Allegations [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

    The Death of the Dreier Model [Am Law Daily]

pircher nichols meeks logo.jpgOn Friday we reported that Epstein Becker & Green might have set the bonus market for regional firms to zero. While associates at firms outside the AmLaw 100 have every reason to worry about receiving any bonus at all, it’s worth remembering that the terrible economic conditions are still causing layoffs.

We received word that 8 associates were let go from Pircher, Nichols & Meeks. The firm confirmed the move today:

The Firm laid off a total of 8 of its 75 attorneys, seven in Los Angeles and one in Chicago. One of those laid off was a first year. Four staff members were also laid off. The Firm’s practice is concentrated in commercial real estate. Work in this area has declined in the last 6 months and our clients have told us that it is not likely to pick up substantially in 2009. We therefore reluctantly decided that we must reduce the number of our people to match the amount of business we see going forward. We do not anticipate further layoffs. The persons laid off are all fine and competent people and we intend to help them find new positions.

Leo Pircher

Letting go of 8 people in a firm of 75 is a deep cut. But there certainly isn’t enough commercial real estate work to go around.

It was nice for Mr. Pircher to say that his former employees were fine people, and I’m sure that those former associates will appreciate any help the firm can offer.

The options for lawyers at mid-sized firms keep getting worse. Behind Door #1: $0 Bonus. Behind Door #2: Layoffs. Behind Door #3: Falling on your knees and praying that you didn’t inadvertently choose Door #1 or Door #2.

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Epstein Becker & Green Sets Bonuses to Zero

In this economy, legal recruiters remind me of benevolent clergymen:

YOU: I’m just so confused … so afraid.

RECRUITER: Do not despair my child. Open your heart and mind to Us and We will show you opportunities of great satisfaction.

YOU: But I have been forsaken!

RECRUITER: We see all, We help all. Come with Us and take back your rightful share of the glory.

Recruiters can be helpful, but they are almost always soothing. We expect recruiters to make us feel better about ourselves, and in times of strife self-confidence becomes really important.

We don’t expect recruiters to make us sad or mournful. But one recruiter did just that with a visual reminder of terrible mistakes that should remain in the past.

See the pics after the jump.

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kirkland ellis logo.JPGKirkland & Ellis sent out one over-the-top holiday party reminder, yesterday. They made the planned festivities sound so great that I briefly missed the feeling bourgeois accomplishment that comes from working in Biglaw in Manhattan. Take a look at some of the highlights:

The Holiday Party is this Thursday, and we are expecting about 530 people to attend!

The Plaza

For the first time the party will be held at The Plaza, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South. The Plaza has just gone through an historic restoration and the event spaces are more beautiful than ever. Our party occupies three of the most famous

rooms: The Palm Court, The Terrace Room, and the Terrace Room Foyer.

Unlike previous years, the entire party space will be open from start to finish. Drinks and passed hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6:00 p.m., the buffets will open at 7:00 p.m., with the skit, raffle and Employee Recognition Award being presented around 7:30 p.m.

Even a law student knows that a lawyer’s life is not glamorous. But occasionally, when you get your ticket punched by Biglaw, you get to act like you’re respected and important. Every now and again the yuppie dream becomes a physical reality.

More party details and a reality check after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Kirkland & Ellis Sends Holiday Party Reminder:
K&E Associates Send Bonus Reminder”

funny-pictures-kitten-comforts-chick.jpgIn today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, let’s focus on job security, and investigate just how hard the softening economy has been hitting the associates at your firm. As in layoffs.

Last December, we found that roughly 10% of associates were afraid of losing their jobs, and another 12% were afraid for others but not themselves.

In June, we noted that fear had spread, with 28% of associates afraid of losing their own jobs, and another 17% fearing for others’ professional lives.

By August, about 30% of survey respondents reported at least some level of involuntary departures at their firms.

And now, even as bonus season kicks in, commenters predict further pain:

“Unfortunately, this morning another top firm fell into the Cravath morass”

This bonus whining (from people who don’t get one) is going to look quaint after the January layoff/eval bloodletting.

That seems to be a pretty common sentiment . . . and there are quite a few associates out there whose firms aren’t waiting ’til January.

Is the wreckage already too widespread for even Count Layoffula to tally?

Let’s find out.

Update: This survey is now closed. Click here to see the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.

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