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Indiana Law Indiana University School of Law Bloomington Above the Law blog.JPG* I believe every single IU student that reads ATL has pointed out that IU Law School changed its name to the Michael Maurer School of Law, thanks to a $35 million contribution from Mr. Maurer. Are there other BigTen schools that would be willing to sell the name of their law schools? How much do you think you’d have to pay Michigan to get it to be called the “Jim Tressel School of Law and Pansy Sweater-Vest Knitting?” [Indiana Daily Student]

* Procrastinating instead of studying for finals? You’ve got a lot of company. [The Shark]

* Is it even harder to control client costs when you are struggling to make your hours and are terrified of being fired? [What About Clients?]

* Kid Rock is getting into it with a Georgia judge. I think we’ll need more beer to settle this. [Popsquire]

* Remember Brobeck? Remember the man that ran them into the ground? He’s back … [WSJ Law Blog]

Dewey logo.JPGThe bad news continues to roll in, this time from Dewey & LeBoeuf. The firm has confirmed that 12 associates were let go today:

For many of the associates in our Structured Finance Practice, we have already been able to identify other opportunities elsewhere within the firm. Unfortunately, we cannot find work for everyone. Therefore, today we will eliminate 12 positions – 11 in New York and one in Los Angeles. This decision is based solely on the poor conditions in the structured finance market and is not in any way related to the performance of these associates.

Maybe firms are starting to get the message that being upfront with layoff news is preferable to stealth layoffs under the guise of performance reviews. Reed Smith stepped up to the plate yesterday, and Proskauer and now Dewey are hopefully starting the new trend towards honesty when it comes to attorney reductions.

Things are going to get better in 2009, right? I mean, at some point this has to stop.

Read Dewey’s full statement after the jump. You can see that the firm is at least doing everything they can to respect work and efforts of the 12 people they let go today.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Dewey & LeBoeuf Lays Off 12 Associates”

  • 04 Dec 2008 at 4:06 PM
  • Uncategorized

University of Chicago BLSA Update

UofC Law School logo.JPGEarlier today we reported on an unfortunate affair that took place at the University of Chicago Law School. BLSA members excluded white students from a public forum, causing the law school Dean and the BLSA president to issue an apology.

Since our initial story we’ve learned that the BLSA president has stepped down from that position, and has issued a more full apology and explanation about how events transpired:

For those who are concerned,

I have received phone calls throughout the day regarding the incident that I personally incited on Tuesday at a BLSA lunch event. Words cannot express the remorse I feel for having made the remarks that I did. First and foremost, I want you to know that my decision to exclude non-BLSA members (with the exception of those who showed active interest by joining our organizational listserve) did not reflect the position of the Black Law Students Association. I made the decision unilaterally and hastily (giving me greater empathy for George W.), to the disapproval of BLSA members who were clearer on the school’s strict policy of non-exclusivity. My lack of familiarity with this policy was inexcusable, and I take sole responsibility for the results. Additionally, exclusion, though wrong, was made on the basis of membership, not skin color.

Way to step up to the plate and accept responsibility.

Many people who sent this statement along noted that this statement — and not the questionable actions — is more indicative of the character of the former BLSA president.

People make mistakes all the time, but not everybody takes responsibility for their missteps.

Read the full statement after the jump.

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proskauer rose logo.JPGIf you thought that law firms wouldn’t fire people between Thanksgiving and Christmas, think again. We’ve received reports today that Proskauer Rose has decided to layoff 35 associates and 25 administrative staff.

A firm representative offered this statement:

We are taking these actions in response to the worldwide economic crisis, as well as an unprecedented reduction in our historical lawyer attrition rate, which requires that we align our staffing with current and projected levels of activity on behalf of our clients.

We regret the need to take these actions but recognize that they have become a necessity for many of our clients and peer firms and that good business judgment requires that we staff appropriately.

We’re not entirely surprised by these cuts. In fact, we predicted that something would happen over at Proskauer back in September when Proskauer announced the salary figures for their 2009 summer associate class:

Isn’t Proskauer, like everyone else, looking to cut back on expenses where possible? Why would they lock themselves into $3,077 unless they thought that they could make cuts somewhere else along the way? What other factors could possibly come into play to push summer compensation higher than it was last year?

More bad news continues to flow in from all across the legal landscape. But give Proskauer credit for doing these layoffs the right way. They didn’t use stealth performance reviews to make the cuts, and all the associates will still be eligible for their 2008 bonus:

Those affected will be eligible for severance pay, health care benefits and outplacement counseling, as well as payments of the 2008 bonuses they would have received had they remained with the firm through year end.

Read the full statement after the jump. Good luck to all the former Proskauer people now on the market.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Proskauer Cuts 60 People”

[Ed Note: Do you have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com]

pls hndle copy 2.jpgHi ATL,

I am a 3L with an offer from a V50 firm. I, like many of my peers, am extremely nervous about having my offer revoked if the economy continues to tank. Should I contact my firm and ask whether they plan on keeping me on board? 3L recruiting is over so I’d be screwed because I have loans.

Ask And Ye Shall Receive

Dear Ask And Ye Shall Receive,

GREAT idea! If you haven’t heard anything from them and haven’t read news of your firm’s collapse on ATL, definitely call up your firm and ask if they plan to fire you before you start! That’ll show them that you’ve got confidence in the firm while reminding them that the summer associate program is a complete money pit! Remember to follow up with an invoice for your BAR/BRI fees that says “pls hndle thx.”

Your question reminds me of a riddle: you are faced with two identical doors, one leading to heaven guarded by an angel and the other guarded by the Devil that leads to hell. The angel and Devil are physically indistinguishable, and you are permitted to ask one yes/no question of one guardian to determine which door is which. Asking your firm “will you revoke my offer” is like asking the guardians “which door will lead me to heaven?” The Angel will tell the truth and the Devil will lie, and you’ll still have no idea where to go. If a recruiter says “no, your offer stands” you’ll have absolutely no way to know if she’s telling you the truth. If a firm plans to revoke your offer or cancel the summer program, they’re going to notify you on their own time and not on whatever day you happen to call Cindy from recruiting. Even if Cindy tells you that your offer still stands, that does not prevent the firm from revoking it tomorrow or the day before your start date. And unless she’s the Oracle at Delphi, she also can’t predict whether the firm will go bankrupt prior to the summer.

Look – even if recruiting hires Ashton Kutcher to jump out of the bushes, rescind your offer and announce that you’ve been punk’d, all that does at this point is give you a head start on worrying. By your own admission, 3L recruiting season is over and you’d be screwed anyway. So instead of asking your firm for information, do something that might actually get you an answer, like consulting your natal chart or pouring libations on Agamemnon’s tomb.

Your friend,

Marin

Elie’s seance after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx:
Do Not Seek Unto God’s Privity”

UofC Law School logo.JPGApparently some members of the Black Law Students Association at the University of Chicago Law School need a refresher in Constitutional Law. Or maybe some of them could just re-watch Eyes on the Prize and remember why we fight.

A tipster reports on some exclusionary practices undertaken by the BLSA group at what was supposed to be a public forum they were hosting:

Ruckus at University of Chicago Law School after … the Black Law Students Association wouldn’t allow white students to attend a public forum they held. …

Note that these events are paid for with white-student dollars, not just funds BLSA raises.

We don’t have the full details on what went down, but we understand that white law students were “discouraged” from attending the event.

Whatever happened, it was so bad that Law School Dean of Students Michele Richardson felt compelled to send out an email to the entire law school community.

Update (6:01): More coverage is available here.

The Dean’s letter and BLSA’s response after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “University of Chicago Black Law Students Association’s Adventures in Racial Profiling”

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgA match of Cravath — no surprise there. There’s not much suspense left to this process (with the possible exception of what S&C and maybe Weil will do).

From a Milbank tipster:

What is funny is all the false Milbank “no bonus” rumors, posted as comments to other posts (e.g., here), probably made associates here less upset, if anything, when the real announcement came out.

I’m sure there will be a spectrum of reactions. I’m not upset, but my expectations were not unrealistic to begin with.

Memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Milbank Tweed”

Supreme Court hallway Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law.JPGWith Barack Obama about to assume the presidency, alongside a heavily Democratic Senate, the justices in the liberal wing of the Supreme Court are free to retire if they like. Don’t be surprised if Justice David Souter, never a fan of life at One First Street, heads for the exit early in the Obama presidency.

But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer plan to stick around for a bit, at least based on their law clerk hiring. Justice Ginsburg has hired all of her October Term 2009 clerks, as well as at least two for October Term 2010. And Justice Breyer, in addition to filling all his OT 2009 spots, has hired at least three for OT 2010.

We previously reported on Justice Breyer’s hiring of Erika Myers (Stanford 2008 / Kozinski). Today we bring you two more SGB clerks for OT 2010:

1. Natalie Ram (Yale 2008 / Calabresi)

2. David Zionts (Harvard 2008 / Garland)

In addition, here’s another hire by Justice Clarence Thomas, for OT 2009:

Elizabeth Papez (Harvard 1999 / Boggs)

Papez is no stranger to these pages. We previously mentioned her move from Kirkland & Ellis, where she was a partner, to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (where she entered as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, and currently serves as Deputy Assistant Attorney General). Papez’s career trajectory — from K&E partner, to high-ranking DOJ official, to Supreme Court law clerk — is a sign of just how coveted a SCOTUS clerkship is, as both a credential and a life experience.

Updated lists of Supreme Court clerks, for OT 2009 and OT 2010, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Justice Breyer’s 2010 Hires”

perfume_poster.jpgSome people love perfume. Some people hate it. Susan McBride says it makes it “difficult for her to breathe and impossible to do her job.”

McBride filed a suit against the city of Detroit last year under the Americans with Disabilities Act, because of her government co-worker’s perfume. The Detroit News reports that Michigan District Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff has ruled that the suit can proceed:

Associated Content has more details:

[McBride] claims that in addition to wearing a strong personal fragrance that made her sick enough to leave the office, her co-worker also utilized a plug-in air freshener. The unnamed co-worker had allegedly agreed to discontinue the use of the plug -in air freshener but refused to do without perfume.

McBride, who is looking to have the workplace ban the use of such items to accommodate her sensitivity to them is seeking undisclosed damages as well. She has had to take time off of work, has required medical treatment for her illness, and has also had to suspend the fertility treatment she had been undergoing due to the medications she has needed to take resulting from the sensitivity.

The suit smells like money to us, especially given Michigan’s past treatment of perfume-hater suits. A radio DJ was awarded $10.6 million in 2005 after being sickened by a colleague’s “romantic, sensual, emotional” perfume, per the Detroit News.

There is no identification of the offensive perfume. If the co-worker wore one of those terrible pharmacy-purchased vanilla-scented ones, we suspect the jury will be full of pity for McBride.

Judge says perfume lawsuit can proceed [The Detroit News]

Detroit City Employee Sues City Over Co-Workers Perfume [Associated Content]

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgAt this point, why would you pay market rate? Half-Skadden opened the door, and now other firms are crashing through like there’s a sale at Wal-Mart.

The latest predictable news comes from Dewey & LeBoeuf:

Class of 2008 — $17,500 (pro-rated)

Class of 2007 — $17,500

Class of 2006 — $20,000

Class of 2005 — $22,500

Class of 2004 — $25,000

Class of 2003 — $27,500

Class of 2002 — $30,000

Class of 2001 — $32,500

Dewey also announced bonuses for their London office. See the full U.K. scale, plus read the full U.S. bonus memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Dewey & LeBoeuf Pulls a Half-Skadden Too”

funny-pictures-happy-can-empty-inside.jpgWe received almost two thousand responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on attorney morale. That’s way up from the survey we did in April.

Your morale, not so much.

Roughly 43% of practicing attorneys who responded to the survey are in poor spirits:

  * 24% said their morale was “bad”, up a bit from 21% in April.

  * 11.5% said their morale was “awful”, which is about the same as April.

  * 7.6% of respondents said their morale “couldn’t be worse.” This is actually down from 9.6% in April, suggesting that some of the most enthusiastically mopey April associates have now found unhappiness of a less extreme sort. (Either that, or they discovered that their morale really could be worse.)

Survey Results: How’s Your Morale?

morale 12-3-08.JPG

Structured Finance and Real Estate attorneys are still the mopiest, with 69% and 66%, respectively, feeling “bad” or worse. This is actually a big drop for real estate associates since April, when only 56% said they were unhappy.

Interestingly, only 31% of law students said they were happy, with 50% saying their morale was “bad” or worse.

But, the glass is still almost half full. Surprisingly, morale, while not exactly great, hasn’t really fallen much since April.

  * 23.7% of practicing attorneys who responded to the survey, said their morale was “good”, which is only slightly down from April’s number (25.8%).

  * 13.3% said their morale was “great”, which is actually up a little from April (11.5%)

  * And 3.2% of practicing respondents thought their morale “couldn’t be better,” basically the same as April.

So, overall, about 40% of respondents are still happy.

Patent associates were the happiest lot, with 58% declaring their morale to be at least “good.”

Bankruptcy associates, energy attorneys and judicial clerks were close behind at 57%, and trademark lawyers branded themselves 51% happy.

More results after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Got Morale?”

Reed Smith.jpgReed Smith officially announced massive layoffs today. They didn’t do it “stealthily,” but you can’t really fire over 115 people and have it go unnoticed.

A firm-wide email explained the bloodbath:

Today we are laying off approximately 115 support staff personnel across our US offices. These layoffs include people in all of our support areas, including IT, finance, marketing, practice administration, knowledge management, human resources and office services. In addition, in London we are today commencing what is known as a redundancy consultation exercise, under procedures unique to the UK, that could result in the elimination of up to 7 support staff positions there. Lastly, we are also commencing a UK redundancy consultation exercise that could result in the elimination of up to 11 associate positions in the Business & Finance department in London due to overcapacity.

“Redundancy consultation exercise?” You have to love the British use of the English language.

I guess we have to be happy that Reed Smith decided to announce these layoffs officially. Reports have come in from multiple tipsters that the firm has been “quietly shedding people” for weeks. These moves will come to no surprise to Reed Smith associates working out of the New York office.

It’s sad to see the firm cutting so many people just after they acquired a large chunk of Thelen refugees. A couple of weeks ago, we reported:

Reed Smith is another firm profiting from Thelen’s demise. Check out the pun-aided press release from the firm:

“Reed Smith LLP, one of the 15 largest law firms in the world, experienced a power surge today, with the addition of a 14-member group from Thelen, headed by renewable energy law pioneer Ellen L. Bastier.”

These attorneys also come from San Francisco. Kudos to the new hires.

But, to quote Bill Simmons paraphrasing The Wolf, let’s not start licking each others’ popsicles just yet.

Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that Orrick was happily announcing 27 new partner hires from Heller — 27 new partners then, 40 freshly unemployed associates now.

Pushing 115-plus Tony Rocky Horrors out of a window might be excessive, but Reed Smith people should have expected a “reaction.”

Read the Reed memo after the jump.

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