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Brown Rudnick logo.JPGThe Boston-based law firm Brown Rudnick is the latest to sacrifice associates to the global economic crisis. Yesterday they parted ways with 20 attorneys, 3 paralegals, and 20 other staffers.

But the anticipation might have been worse than the hammer. Brown Rudnick told associates they were laying people off before anybody was actually laid off. This firm-wide email went out yesterday:

I regret to inform you that today we are having a layoff. Layoff notifications have begun this morning and will continue until approximately 4:00 PM ET today. This action will affect just under 10% of our attorneys, paralegals and staff….

Out of respect for those who are being laid off, we are unable to share more information with you at this time, but we will answer your questions when the notification process is complete. Please refrain from approaching members of the Management Committee, Managing Directors or Administrative Directors, prior to 4:00 PM ET, with questions about the layoff, as they, too, need to honor the privacy of our colleagues.

Everyone who is impacted by today’s action will be receiving severance and outplacement assistance. No other layoffs are planned after today.

The Firm remains strong. Today’s action is intended to better align our staffing with current work levels at the Firm and to position the Firm to be successful in this challenging economic environment.

… [W]e will be holding two meetings in the Boston Event Center later today with video connection to Hartford, New York, Providence and Washington. I encourage you to attend these group meetings. I will answer your questions at that time.

That’s a tough day. Waiting by your phone to learn if you still have a job.

After the jump, it was all over by 4:00 p.m.

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Nick Thompson Ultimate Fighter.jpgIn July, we wrote a post on How Not To Spend the Week Before the Bar Exam. A University of Minnesota law grad, Nick “The Goat” Thompson, had been featured in a Sports Illustrated article on an ultimate fighting EliteXC tournament broadcast on CBS. Thompson had lost his match, but had a good excuse: studying for the bar exam had likely cut into his training time. He took the Minnesota bar two days after the match.

We forgot about this article until last month, when his wife e-mailed us to share the good news that Thompson had passed the bar (as did 89% of test takers.)

We talked to Nick last weekend about what’s it like to be a professional mixed martial arts fighter, esquire. Find out how he’s combining ultimate fighting with a law degree, after the jump.

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financial crisis legal salaries.JPGWhen we last saw Bryan Cave, the firm was busy acquiring Powell Goldstein, and saying great things about their long-term future and financial health.

Having just added so many new attorneys, the message ATL received this morning was surprising.

Two pieces of news for Bryan Cave associates today: they’re deferring salary increases by three months and eliminating the associate shared fee program (where associates got bonuses for bringing in new clients)….

The spin on the deferrals is that they’re a better option than layoffs and less drastic than an all-out salary freeze.

Shortly after this first report, we received the full firm-wide email announcing the changes:

In light of the continuing volatility in the economy and the uncertainties in the marketplace as we move into 2009, we believe it is now prudent to implement the following actions with respect to our compensation programs:

* Deferral of Consideration of Increases for Counsel and Associates. Consideration of increases for counsel and associates will be deferred in all offices. For example, for those cities where increases were previously effective January 1, the date for 2009 will be April 1. Offices with different compensation consideration dates will

Occasionally, commenters in our layoffs posts suggest that they would be willing to give up some of their salary in exchange for keeping their jobs. So … here’s a chance to do just that, at least for a period of time.

But most Bryan Cave associates will be pissed. Because you know what would have been even more “less drastic” than an all-out salary freeze? Not acquiring the debts and liabilities of Powell Goldstein.

More tipster reaction and the full Bryan Cave memo after the jump.

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UT cheerleaders.JPGSeven members of the Morton Ranch High School cheerleader squad were indicted for hazing. This marks the first time minors have been charged under the 1995 Texas anti-hazing statute.

Their crime? Blindfolding junior cheerleaders and throwing them into a swimming pool.

That’s it:

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Diane De La Cruz, mother of Laura De La Cruz, 15, one of the junior varsity cheerleaders. “We are thankful that the grand jury came up with an indictment because we have known all along that the (varsity) girls were guilty of hazing.”

Diane De La Cruz and her husband had a premonition that high school girls might start acting like high school girls:

[De La Cruz] said her husband had an uneasy feeling when the older cheerleaders arrived about 4 a.m. on July 25 to take the couple’s daughter to the ritual breakfast.

“He said, ‘I hope this is not going to turn into an initiation,’ ” De La Cruz recounted. “We trusted them to just drive our girls to IHOP.”

An initiation? In Texas? By high school students? Who could have possibly seen that coming?

Hazing is serious business … to people with no friends who’ve never been a part of anything:

Chicago psychologist Jean Alberti termed hazing “child abuse by children.” …

“(Youths) think it’s funny, parents think it’s funny. They think it’s normal adolescent development, but this is an aberration. It didn’t happen 30 or 40 years ago. Now we have video on YouTube showing girls kicking other girls in the head.”

No we didn’t have YouTube 30 or 40 years ago, but I’m pretty sure that if we did “girls kicking other girls in the head” would have been “tame” for the times.

But after the jump, the law is on the anti-hazing side.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Grand Jury Overreaction Indictment of the Day: ‘Mean Girls’ Get No Love In Texas”

Kaye Scholer LLP logo Above the Law legal blog.jpgLast month, we reported that K&L Gates would stop paying bar association fees for their attorneys.

Now, we’ve learned that Kaye Scholer has decided to stop paying membership fees for the New York Intellectual Property Law Association:

As announced in October, each individual attorney now is responsible for maintaining his or her membership in NYIPLA. Both new membership and renewals for 2009 should be paid in full and received by NYIPLA no later than December 31, 2008.

I thought IP attorneys were a golden goose in this rapidly declining legal market? Why would you piss them off?

The annual membership dues are $200 for lawyers with more than five years experience, $130 for attorneys with less than five years under their belt.

Based on figures we’ve received, Kaye Scholer stands to save (wait for it …) $9,920.

Keeping your associates enrolled in an organization that helps them enhance their skills < $9K?

Really?

Well, at least the holiday party is still on.

Earlier: K&L Gates to Nickels and Dimes

Kaye Scholer to More Cowbell

Toilet Stocks.JPG* California’s Supreme Court agreed to hear the case against Prop. 8. [Reuters]

* For all the associates who go crazy working late into the night in dark conference rooms dreaming of embezzling money from the firm–let this be a lesson to you. Employee Angela Marie Dees was arrested for stealing 1.67 million dollars from the California law firm Moore and Waxler. The crazy thing? The firm didn’t even notice until they did an audit. [mysuncoast.com]

* “Stung by outsize investment losses, some of the nation’s biggest companies are pushing Congress to roll back rules requiring them to put more money into their pension funds, just two years after President Bush signed a law meant to strengthen the pension system.” [NYT]

* A jury heard opening statements yesterday in the MySpace hoax case, the one where the suburban mother used a fake alias to terrorize a 13-year-old who killed herself as a result. [ABC]

* Even though bankers basically caused a world-wide recession causing thousands of lawyers to lose their jobs (thanks a lot), at least Barclay’s is giving the litigators some love. Barclay’s is suing a hedge fund for hiding $150 million in investments. [Bloomberg]

* Yesterday was National Toilet Day. Everybody who works on Wall Street already knew that. [UPI]

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft new logo CWT AboveTheLaw blog.jpgFormer Cadwalader chairman Bob Link is being left off of the firm’s 2009 management committee. The news was told to the partnership during a meeting today. Link himself confirmed the news to AmLaw Daily:

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft’s former chairman and current managing partner Robert Link Jr. was not included on a recommended slate of candidates for the firm’s management committee given to partners today, a source at Cadwalader says.

The slate, recommended by the management committee, will not be acted on for another few weeks, the source says. Link, reached by phone, confirmed his name was not on the list.

“It really is part of our normal succession,” Link says. “It’s not something I’ve been part of planning for.”

Charlotte managing partner Jim Carroll is also out of the 2009 management loop.

The Lawyer, which first broke the news of Link’s ouster on Monday, reports that Cadwalader’s future is still very much up in the air:

But Link’s removal from power is far from the end of the story. Cadwalader has been reeling for months. Collapsed core markets, major lawyer layoffs and now a palace revolt, 2008 will go down as arguably the worst in Cadwalader’s 216-year history.

Inevitably, questions have been raised about the long-term future of the firm. How things play out later this week may offer some clues as to its shape, whatever that may be.

But one parting shot from CWT to the associates they laid off, after the jump.

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DLA Piper logo Above the Law blog.jpgThe economy is in the toilet and law firms are scrambling to adjust. Usually this means “firing associates,” but DLA Piper has done something really interesting and brought changes to the partnership instead of firing associates:

Some 275 “income” partners who don’t have an ownership stake will be invited to join the ranks of 300 equity partners, provided each makes a capital contribution that could range up to $150,000, according to legal industry sources.

Look, for all we know associate layoffs could be right around the corner at DLA or any other Biglaw firm. But almost doubling the number of equity partners means that profits per partner will be squarely in the hands of each individual partner to generate business.

Legal industry recruiter John Cashman of Major Lindsey & Africa LLC says DLA’s move is unprecedented and likely to turn up the heat on attorneys to bring in clients — a crucial factor in partner compensation.

“It’s very clear to their (junior-level lawyers) it’s either up or out: We want business generators or worker bees. They want to send that message,” Mr. Cashman says.

Real cost savings for DLA after the jump.

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Spitzer's bane at beach.jpg* The ABA Journal bans a commenter and she immediately starts her own blog. I ban a commenter and he immediately sends me emails suggesting that I have an inappropriate relationship with my mother, but the grammar is perfect. Banned ATL commenters 1, banned ABA commenters 0. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Wow. I expect this from partners, but apparently clients also think that associates are fatted sacks of meat that are only good when they’ve been sliced, grilled, and served with a nice chianti. And that was before Skadden announced bonuses. [What About Clients?]

* Woman thinks women should stop acting like girls. [Law and More]

* Apple wins. ( /nods in silent deference.) [Legal Pad]

* Spitzer! Hooker! Talking! [Gawker]

Jack without medication.jpgLook, I’m the last person on Earth to criticize somebody for getting out of the law firm life and following a dream. But I’m a little worried that “Jack,” who writes the blog Adventures in Voluntary Simplicity, might have lost a little bit of his grip on reality. I spent most of the morning reading Jack’s missives. It’s a bit like reading a Walt Whitman poem that’s been printed with letters cut out from various magazines.

But, despite his apparent madness, Jack is still gainfully employed as an attorney (he doesn’t say where). Law firm employment is of course something that Jack intends to discontinue. He’s got a whole plan he wants to execute so that he can leave his job by the end of 2009:

There is nothing inherently wrong with my job as a lawyer. In fact, for several years, I really felt that it was interesting and intellectually challenging. On the other hand, coming into work was a wonderful way to play adult and pretend that I knew all the answers that really mattered. Putting on expensive suits, traveling all over the world, representing important clients, knowing the location of expensive restaurants, etc…were all just a way for me to tie additional knots in an ever-expanding invisible chain of hopeless materialism. …

And then I started getting…well…bored. The mind-numbing effects of sitting in front of a computer for 12, 13, 14 hours a day 6, sometimes 7 days a week making very rich people even more rich definitely caught up with me. …

So here I am. Making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in a job that infuriates me and gets me no closer to fulfilling my potential.

Okay Jack. I’m with you buddy.

But the plan gets weird after the jump.

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animated siren gif animated siren gif animated siren gif drudge report.GIFWe expected this. Skadden has announced that they will discontinue the “special” bonuses from last year. Instead, they’ll be giving out the 2006/2007 standard package. From the memo, sent out by executive partner Bob Sheehan:

[W]e will pay the year-end discretionary bonus at the same levels by class seniority which associates received in 2007 and 2006. However, we do not think it is appropriate to repeat the “special” supplemental bonus that was instituted last year. That bonus reflected a strong and growing economy that contributed to a record level of profitability.

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgThe Firm has historically paid its associates at the “top of the market” in their respective local markets. While we do not know what other firms will do this year with regard to paying a supplemental bonus, we believe that our bonuses this year should be limited to the year-end discretionary bonus. What we will do in the future years, will, of course, depend on business conditions at the time and competitive compensation.

You will receive a memo early in December discussing your individual bonus. We appreciate the efforts you have all put in this year. You have contributed enormously to the success that we have achieved.

That should pretty much set the market.

The 2007 bonuses weren’t bad. And Skadden isn’t laying people off. It’ll be pretty hard to complain if this is where the market ends up.

And, not for nothing, it shows good form by Skadden for telling people what to expect before the holiday season starts. That winter vacation to the Dominican Republic can now proceed full speed ahead.

Read the full memo after the jump.

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mayer brown logo.JPGA tipster reported a rumor today that we’ve heard a couple of times over the past week and a half:

Word on the street is that Mayer Brown had big layoffs today.

The problem is, that was the word on the street yesterday. And Tuesday. And last week the word on the street was that Mayer Brown associates would be on the street by Friday.

We’ve spent a lot of time sleeping on the street. At this point, we haven’t yet talked to one associate who has actually been laid off from Mayer Brown. Still, there’s an awful lot of chatter out there.

Mayer Brown weighs in, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Speculation About Mayer Brown”

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