Last week, we reported that DLA Piper was canceling their Chicago holiday party and laying off a number of staffers. As we’ve seen from many other firms, when times are tough and morale is low — it’s time for a “Yay Us” firm-wide email:
We wanted to share with you some thoughts we recently provided the partners about the impact of the current market difficulties on the Firm, this year and beyond. The short answer is that the Firm is strong and well positioned and that we are confident about its future. That said, we thought it would be helpful to give you our assessment of the current economic situation and how we need to and are responding to it.
You wonder how the 15 staffers who were laid off feel about the firm’s future? But we must applaud firms who talk straight with associates. Unlike the message from Chadbourne & Parke, DLA Piper didn’t bury a stealth hiring freeze in their letter.
As far as our strategy is concerned, we continue to believe that we are well positioned, and better positioned than most. … That said, the days of business as usual are over. We must work harder than ever to control expenses and we must be aggressive in the identification and pursuit of new business opportunities created by recent developments. In many respects we have already made significant progress, but there is much more to do and each of you should be thinking about the clients with whom you have relationships who would benefit from our help in these areas.
As many of you know, DLA Piper is a behemoth of a law firm. They claim 3,700 lawyers worldwide. That sounds like a lot of mouths to feed. But with over 1,000 partners, perhaps their size is a strength?
In any event, one of the biggest law firms in the world is telling their army of associates that everything is going to be alright.
* Readers who plan to become ambulance chasers might want to read this. The Supreme Court hears arguments today in a case involving the FDA. “At issue is whether the federal government can limit lawsuits by consumers…who have been harmed by prescription medications.” [NPR]
* UBS clients issued claims over “100 percent principal protected notes” that are now almost worthless. [Bloomberg.com
* Virgin Atlantic fired 13 members of the cabin crew for making fun of passengers on Facebook and complaining about cockroaches on aircrafts. [Sky News]
* The Supreme Court hears a case that “could determine how tribes recognized after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act are allowed to buy, give and use land.” [Associated Press]
* Three years after the mysterious murder of D.C. attorney Robert Wone, police release disturbing details alleging a cover-up by Wone’s roommates. [Washington Post]
Law students and lawyers get starstruck when they meet U.S. Supreme Court justices. And Supreme Court justices get starstruck when they meet… opera singers! From the New York Times:
Justice Antonin Scalia has a reputation as an intimidating jurist who poses withering questions during arguments before the Supreme Court. But on Friday afternoon, when the soprano Leontyne Price entered the West Conference Room at the Court to attend an honorary luncheon hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts, Justice Scalia, an avid opera fan, visibly melted.
“It’s a great honor to meet you,” [Justice Scalia] told Ms. Price, his face crinkling with warmth and delight. When Ms. Price complimented him on the elegance of the luncheon’s setting — a paneled salon, its walls lined with portraits of past chief justices — he replied, “Yes, these are pretty nice rooms,” adding, “And they’re yours today.”
And might you perhaps like a clerkship, Leontyne? Reviewing cert petitions is much easier than singing the title role in Aida. Just deny, deny, deny.
Speaking of SCOTUS clerkships, does anyone have news to report on that front? If so, please email us (subject line: “Supreme Court clerk hiring”).
More about Leontyne Price’s visit to One First Street, after the jump.
Last week, we attended OutLaws: A Discussion With Out Lawyers, held at the LGBT Community Center here in New York. The event featured “out lawyers sharing different perspectives and stories — how they got to where they are professionally, as well as what went right, what didn’t, how they’d approach things differently today, and the specific challenges they faced as an LGBT person.”
The panel was moderated by Lisa Linsky, a litigation partner at McDermott Will & Emery. She was joined by Michael Colosi, general counsel for Kenneth Cole; Phylliss Delgreco, associate general counsel and senior vice president at Citigroup; and Roberta Kaplan, a litigation partner at Paul Weiss.
The freewheeling discussion was quite enlightening. You can read about it after the jump.
The New York Times reports on a growing trend in American business: the cancellation of holiday parties. With the stock market having finished its worst month since 1987, and with layoffs running rampant, there’s not much to celebrate. People, this is no time for egg nog.
But some law firms won’t be bullied into relinquishing the Christmas spirit. From the NYT:
[S]ome companies see holiday gatherings, whatever the style and scale, as an important hedge against sagging morale — particularly at a time when raises and bonuses will likely be scarce.
“It’s important to get people together for a little social event at that time of year, especially when it’s been as tough a year as this,” said Peter Horowitz, a spokesman for the Wall Street law firm Shearman & Sterling, which is planning holiday lunches and dinners at less expensive restaurants this year. “But at the same time, you have to make sure that you don’t go overboard.”
Perhaps this bodes well for bonuses at Shearman? Hopefully S&S stockings will be filled with cash and not coal.
Or are holiday parties the opium of the masses for Biglaw? Throw everyone a big party, with lots of booze, then announce low bonuses the next day, when they’re too hungover to complain?
When we write about high-profile lawyers changing jobs, we’re usually talking about moves between law firms, or maybe between government and Biglaw. This latest transition is a bit different.
From MTO (which claims to be “the most visited black website in the world”):
Jennifer Hudson’s fiancé and VH1 reality star David “Punk” Otunga of the “I Love New York” series has a new occupation…. Punk has been training for months in WWE’s Florida Championship Wrestling developmental territory – and has now signed to a deal with WWE.
But don’t expect to see him in the ring anytime soon. Punk has been on a sabbatical from FCW due to the recent Hudson family tragedy.
One tipster is unimpressed: “From Harvard Law School to I Love New York to the WWE. Unfortunately the next stop is probably porn.”
But we think this is great — and extend our congratulations to Otunga (who, unlike many HLS grads, has the sculpted physique required by wrestling). He’s moving up in the entertainment world and developing his own independent career, so he won’t be known merely as the husband of a more famous female. Cf. Guy Ritchie.
One HLS grad is about to become the leader of the free world, and another is about to become the leader of world wrestling. Harvard Law School alums lead interesting lives.
Elie Mystal is editor of Above the Law.
His first name is pronounced like Eliot without the “it,” and his last name is pronounced like Cristal (the champagne).
Prior to winning the ATL Idol Contest, Elie wrote about politics and popular culture at City Hall News and the New York Press. Elie received a degree in Government from Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He still has a rash from all the poison ivy.
He used to be a litigator at Debevoise & Plimpton but quit the legal profession in lieu of stripping naked and lighting himself on fire.
Elie is a proud and basically competent husband. He is a contributor at True/Slant and enjoys the Mets, dogs, and arguing with strangers.
When we kicked off our associate bonus speculation, we mentioned that Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe had already locked themselves into a 2008 bonus structure. We wondered if Orrick might rethink their bonuses in light of the current state of the economy. Morgan Lewis has already announced that they will not be making bonus decisions until 2009, when they hope to have a better read on the economy.
Today, Orrick assured us that the firm would not look to change their bonus plan. A firm spokesperson put the issue succinctly:
We are committed to using the previously announced bonus schedule.
This year’s bonuses are secured, but Orrick is still considering a much longer term change: ending the lockstep structure of associate salary.
Orrick chairman Ralph Baxter has spoken about this issue before. In an article for the American Lawyer this summer, Baxter pointed out the value of the current, lockstep system. But he also said:
Given the changing nature of the law practice, the changing expectations of clients, the changing outlook of Generation Y, law firms would be remiss if they did not re-examine the associate model.
We understand that Baxter has been cautiously talking to people and gauging interest in this idea.
The Recorder has published the people who will be in charge of winding down operations at Thelen:
The three members of Thelen’s dissolution committee are David Graybeal, Douglas Davidson and Thomas Hill. The firm has also hired as outside counsel Peter Gilhuly, the Latham & Watkins bankruptcy partner who advised Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison on its dissolution half a decade ago.
We already know that some Thelen people have found a new home. It’s been widely published that Nixon Peabody has sent offer letters to 60 former Thelen partners and associates.
But all of those offer letters were sent to attorneys in Thelen’s Manhattan office. San Francisco associates haven’t yet been picked up in droves. In fact, the New York focus of the dissolution committee members is causing some consternation with other partners at the firm:
Some former Thelen partners voiced frustration over Hill’s inclusion as a member of the wind-down committee.
Hill was in a position of “running the numbers” in his former role, one former Thelen lawyer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “You would think that would be a reason to keep him off the committee.” People were not happy with the way Hill ran the office, the lawyer said, citing complaints that he didn’t consider other’s ideas and generally did not communicate.
Readers have cited Thelen’s expansion beyond their traditional San Francisco roots as part of the problem. Now, a cadre of non-San Francisco based partners will be overseeing the end.
We reported earlier that Powell Goldstein is set to be acquired by Bryan Cave. We’ve been told to expect an official announcement from Bryan Cave on Monday.
PoGo has still not directly responded to ATL about the rumors that a number of associates, staff, and partners could be on their way out of the door. But we understand that they have sent around an internal email addressing some concerns in light of the merger information. A tipster tells us that the email offered the following clarifications:
1) Everyone has a job. This is a specific term of the deal.
2) BC wants to expand the Atlanta office. …
3) We have no problems at all with our finances. Credit is strong, bank relationships are strong, etc.
We have not gotten our hands on the merger agreement between PoGo and Bryan Cave. But the “promise” that every job is secured is encouraging. The email does not speak to our previous reporting that PoGo’s banks threatened to pull their credit line if a merger was not reached. But regardless of what could have happened, the firm’s contention that they are in a strong financial position is certainly worth noting.
Yesterday we introduced you to DB (not his real name — please keep it that way), formerly an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. At S&C, and in law school before that, DB became notorious for bragging about his wealth and making politically incorrect remarks.
We collected some of his impolitic quips in our prior post, and other anecdotes surfaced in the comments (e.g., here and here). For your reading pleasure, here are a few more stories:
In law school, at a firm reception in the Time Warner center, DB got drunk and started going on about how he was wearing crocodile shoes that cost thousands of dollars and how his brother drove a more expensive car than the partners at the host firm.
At an S&C firm retreat, the same one where he made his comments about the ballet, DB was placed in charge of entertainment for one evening. This included brainstorming for the “S&C Superlatives” contest, which is supposed to feature innocuous, yearbook-style items like “Miss Congeniality,” “Best Smile,” or “Most Athletic.”
The items suggested by DB? “Sluttiest Partner” and “Partner Most Likely To Sleep With His Secretary.”
DB once said, to a highly attractive summer associate he encountered in the hallway, “You really aren’t that hot. Everyone thinks you are, but outside of here you really aren’t.”
In fairness to DB, he has his defenders and positive attributes. One tipster describes him as “a bright guy,” and another as “nice in a weird way,” as well as unusually generous and thoughtful at times. A third raves about his hotness, including “six-pack abs and amazing arms.” As for the sexist (and homophobic) quips, they may be best attributed not to malice, but to personal issues that DB is probably still working through.
His colorful comments, however, aren’t what got DB in truly hot water. Find out what did, after the jump.
OmniVere’s delivery of end-to-end technology & data consulting to position the company as a true differentiator in the global legal technology and compliance space.
CHICAGO, IL, September 29, 2014 – OmniVere today announced the creation of the company’s technology & data consulting arm and the addition of several industry-renown experts, including the former co-chairs of Berkeley Research Group’s (BRG’s) Technology Services practice, Liam Ferguson, Rich Finkelman and Courtney Fletcher.
This new consulting practice will provide and expand existing OmniVere eDiscovery consulting services to corporations, law firms and government agencies with a special focus on compliance, information governance and eDiscovery. This addition of this top talent now positions OmniVere as a true industry leader in the technology and data consulting space offering best-in-class end-to-end services.
Ferguson, Finkelman & Fletcher are nationally recognized experts and seasoned veterans in the areas of overall technology, electronic discovery, and structured data. At OmniVere, the team will be focused on all global consulting activities with respect to legal compliance, complex data analytics, business intelligence design and analysis, and electronic discovery service offerings.
The Trust Women conference is an influential gathering that brings together global corporations, lawyers and pioneers in the field of women’s rights. Unlike many other events, Trust Women delegates take action and forge tangible commitments to empower women to know and defend their rights.
This year, the Trust Women conference will take place 18-19 November in London. From women’s economic empowerment to slavery in the supply chain and child labour, this year’s agenda is strong and powerful. Speakers include Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking and many other influential leaders. Find out more about Trust Women here.