Marc Dreier, the jailed New York law firm founder, must remain in prison while he fights charges that he swindled hedge funds, a federal judge ruled after a prosecutor accused the lawyer of stealing $380 million.
“The evidence does appear to show an enormous risk of flight,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas Eaton said at a bail hearing today in Manhattan federal court for Dreier, namesake of the New York law firm Dreier LLP.
Dreier, 58, was arrested on Dec. 7 on U.S. charges that he persuaded two unidentified hedge funds to give him more than $100 million by claiming, falsely, that he was selling at a discount notes issued by New York developer Sheldon Solow. He was arrested after returning to New York from Toronto, where he had been briefly jailed for impersonating a lawyer at the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.
Last year, we reported on a nice perk for Cravath associates abroad: a hefty cost of living allowance, which had junior associates in London making over $300,000.
It looks like the half-Skadden mentality has made its way across the Atlantic. From a tipster:
Cravath Swaine & Moore cuts its COLA in the London office from $110,000 to $60,000 as of January 1, 2009. [A]ll the associates, one after one, where called into the office of a partner, Philip Boeckman, to receive the news. The reason mentioned for the cut is the evolution of the dollar-pound exchange rate.
The COLA is the same for all associates in London regardless of the level of seniority. The COLA gets paid together with the base salary on a bi-weekly basis.
That’s a big cut for the 20 associates in the London office. Before the COLA was raised to $110,000 last year, it was at $85,000.
Clearly the firm’s partners have now got wise. This week associates were hauled in one by one and told that the COLA would be reduced by $50k from 1st January, in response to weakness of Sterling. One associate complained to RollOnFriday that this comes on top of bonuses being halved and the ski weekend being cancelled, and says that these measures “pretty badly affect associate morale”. OK, no one likes to get less wedge – but low morale because of only getting £40k to live in London, when everyone else is being made redundant? Bring out the violins.
The other side of the pond just got a lot less attractive.
It’s December, and the bills are due. But many firms are finding clients reluctant to pay up. The American Lawyer reports that firms are having a tough time recovering any money from the graveyard of busted 2008 deals:
Firms that were working on one of the many deals or financings that have been postponed or terminated may never get paid for the significant hours they did log. That’s because in most instances, law firms don’t get paid until a deal closes….
When a deal fails, the law firms generally don’t have a contractual right to any money. And that can make for messy negotiations. These days most firms don’t want to drive too hard a bargain with clients they want to hold on to.
“If it’s an ongoing client we may be a bit more generous,” says one partner. “We’ll ask them to pay us a fraction of the fees, but there’s an understanding that when the market turns around they owe us.”
While the broken-deal fee will always be subject the dance between rainmakers and their clients, fees for litigation and general corporate work should be freely flowing. Right?
For matters billed on a regular basis, like standard corporate work and litigation, firms stand on firmer ground, although payment isn’t assured this year. September was particularly scary, says Jay Zimmerman, the chairman of Bingham McCutchen.
“Even the best clients were holding payment,” he says. “Everybody was sitting on cash and we had a build-up in receivables.” Since then, he says, the money has been flowing in fairly normally. “The September bills did get paid. October turned out to be very good and November is looking very good.”
The “stuff” flows downhill. Clients stiff firms, management stiffs associates, associates stiff… law school loan officers? Why not? We can’t be that far away from the “Fight Club scenario,” in which everybody gets their credit rating set back to zero.
Whoops. I’m not supposed to talk about Project Mayhem.
In 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.
Pop 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.
* 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 AustinJones 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]
It’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.
* 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.]
When 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.
The 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.
Apologies, 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.”
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.”
Fine 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.
On 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.
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.
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
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: