Heller Ehrman continues to stave off involuntary bankruptcy, despite not being able to pay employees their accrued vacation time. But Heller’s breakup continues to take weird twists.
The latest bizarre news comes from Seattle, where some associates have wondered whether they are about to be evicted from their offices. Tension was so high that Heller management had to send around a clarification email:
TO ALL HANDS (SEATTLE):
I have heard various rumors in the hallways to the effect that the Seattle office will close imminently and therefore that everyone needs to move out pronto. To clarify, here is the status.
The landlord has not issued a notice to vacate. If such a notice were issued, the notice period would be ten days. For reasons too long to explain, we overpaid rent throughout 2008. When those overpayments came to our attention, the firm asked that they be applied to cover (completely) the October rent obligation. The landlord has since asserted that the overpayments instead should be applied toward a fee that was due in connection with our give-back of space on 58. The Dissolution Committee is working with our outside counsel and communicating with the landlord to hopefully resolve this issue, and to clarify with the landlord any issues relating to removal of property from our space. To the best of my knowledge, closure of this office is not imminent and the date of closure remains to be determined, based on the pace of collections versus ongoing costs and also based on the banks’ decisions about what spending they will approve.
A law firm on the edge of solvency “overpaid” their rent? We hope that the explanation for this oversight is too long and difficult to get into, but we wonder if it is just too embarrassing.
Associates that we are speaking to say that it is just starting to sink in that they will be out of a job soon. Hopefully the Seattle associates will get as much time as possible to come to grips with this reality, instead of showing up at the office one day only to find locks on the door.
Update: The Blog of the LegalTimes reports that Arnold & Porter has picked up the latest Heller refugees. The big fish is Kenneth Chernof, Heller’s managing partner in the D.C. office. Any associates coming along for the ride?
We previously reported that firms are starting to launch global financial crisis practice groups.
But we wondered what (if anything) those groups would be able to do for their clients.
According to the National Law Journal, clients are just as confused about the bailout as everybody else. Even the ABA doesn’t actually know what to make of what Congress just passed:
Carlton Fields, which as nearly 300 lawyers throughout Florida and Georgia, is forming a “recovery task force” comprised of 15 to 20 lawyers. The task force was first proposed to be called a “bailout task force.” It will focus on “what kinds of opportunities will be available with the congressional plan,” said Jay Steinman, chairman of the firm’s Miami real estate and finance group.
The firm has been asked by the American Bar Association to create a “white paper” on what the bailout plans means. The analysis will be completed this week by Carlton Fields partner Sandra Porter, and the firm will do weekly updates.
Is it possible that a large part of the legal community is waiting for Carlton Fields to tell them what is actually happening? It’s been a weird month.
Unless you are in the top 3rd of your class at a top school, or in the top 10% of your class at a lower ranked school, fall recruiting is kicking your ass. After sifting through nearly 300 comments to our fall recruiting open thread, one dominant theme emerges:
What’s different this year is that the bottom 60% at top schools and the bottom 90% of lower-ranked schools is not doing well.
In Part I of our fall recruiting follow-up, we’ll explore some general themes and discuss which markets are particularly struggling. In Part II we’ll look at which law schools are doing fine, and which ones are not living up to their promises of milk, honey, and money.
Many commenters had stories of great fall recruiting success, much like I have awesome “stories” about that one time I had sex with this one girl … and her sister, in Canada. But even if we leave aside some of the unattributed tales of personal greatness, the consistent meme is that top students are still doing just fine.
For everybody else there seems to be a clear move by firms to limit the size of their summer classes:
offer guarding seems prevalent; firms don’t want to accidentally end up with big classes that they have to no-offer because too many took summer positions.
T-20 school, top 20% w/ journal. I had 14 callbacks all within the V25 in NY. I ended up going on 9 of the 14 and took an offer at a V15 because I honestly was exhausted by the process and didn’t think I would take any of the remaining firms over what I had if they panned out. Of those 9 however, I only received 3 offers. I was told that last year 67% of callbacks in NY resulted in offers. I could be inept, but since I had around a 70% callback rate, I don’t think that’s likely. Additionally, almost none of my friends have offers. I really think the firms are trying to exercise more control by only extending offers to those they are certain are going to accept.
Reports about which legal markets are worth avoiding after the jump.
Here at ATL we like to start rumors, fan their beautiful flames, and hope to God that the winds do not change and burn the house down. Being a wet blanket is no fun.
But unfortunately we received one tip that was just too good to be true:
There’s a rumor going around that some NY scores have been leaked. I’ve seen it on a few message boards and my father (???) called me and almost lead me to crap my pants when he told me one of his … friends just found out she passed the NY bar.
I think it’s a load of crap, but maybe something worth noting?
We hoped that some students had been told they had passed, while others were left with the terrifying noise of silence. But a quick call to the New York Board of Law Examiners revealed that the rumor was untrue.
(Side note: When you call the NY Board of Law Examiners they put you on hold and play a little song. Ours was “I just called to say I love you” by Stevie Wonder. Has anybody ever called BOLE and said “I just wanted to thank you for administering that awesome bar exam. I thought it was a fair and accurate representation of everything a practicing attorney needs to know. I passed easily. I just wanted to say thanks.”
No, right? That has never happened. So why play that particular song to people who are most likely on the verge of tears and calling to bitch about something? Do they think they’re “funny?” The only song you should hear when calling BOLE is “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.)
Anyway, BOLE press person John McAlary had a good laugh when we asked him if NY bar exam scores had been leaked early. Once we convinced him that we were not “nervous T-10 1L” he assured us that no scores have been leaked because none are available:
We are still in the process of processing and grading the exams. If anyone says that they have their scores, they are lying. … I couldn’t even tell you today if any of the 11,000 exam takers passed … the results simply are not finished yet.
McAlary said that NY scores would be ready in November, just as they always have.
So don’t listen to the lies exam takers. No New York scores are available yet. But you don’t have to wait much longer. Just hope and pray New York doesn’t use some bastardized version of “iBaby.” We assume you’ll want to actually be able to see your scores once they are released.
Back in the eighties, the popular myth was that all Manhattan attorneys had a leather briefcase, a good blue pen, and a Scarface-sized bowl of cocaine on their desk. Sadly, by the time I got to Biglaw the briefcase had been replaced by a canvas bag with a gaudy firm emblem emblazoned on the side like the mark of the beast. The nice pen was replaced with a desktop computer designed to block The Onion. And the coke was replaced by the marvelous ephedrine they used to put into Red Bull.
But perhaps London attorneys are poised to relive the NYC glory days. A new study reports that hard drug use is on the rise in the U.K.:
One partner claims he knows “people who just make a phone call from their office and nip down to reception to pick up their delivery” — something that happens in every big law firm, he claims.
The survey, by the magazine Legal Business, also says that there is evidence of “cocaine clubs” in law firms’ basements and of partner-led games of poker and taking cocaine with clients. But it also finds that law firms are ignorant or indifferent to the problem. One lawyer is quoted: “I spanked £100,000 on cocaine in one year and no one noticed.
If a partner ever invited me to a coke and poker party I would still be in rehab a practicing attorney today.
The key similarity between Britain today and the America of yesterday seems to be the total professional indifference to drug use:
The legal profession, unlike other classic professions such as medicine and teaching, does not give a damn, as long as you are profitable.
Well, nobody wants a coked-up doctor trying to save you from a cocaine overdose. And nobody wants a coke-head teaching your kids. But if a little nose candy is going to make you work longer, why would partners particularly care what you do on the side?
Because you could die? Because partners care about your health? Right. You could be the last unicorn and you’d still bill 100 hours a week if there was work to be done.
Substance abuse problems that span the ocean after the jump.
According to a recent survey of nearly 400 corporate counsel, six out of 10 corporate counsel expect this year’s presidential election to affect labor and employment laws at their companies.
You think? A brief perusal of McCain’s post meltdown statements reveals that he is now for more regulation. Meanwhile, Obama is a Democrat which means it’s entirely possible that his administration will regulate employee access to the executive bathroom:
Among the potential changes cited by the respondents were increased costs for health benefits and mandatory paid sick days; a resurgence of workplace regulation generally; and passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would eliminate secret ballots in union organizing drives and strengthen labor’s hand in negotiations over union representation.
Great. We all know how much corporate counsel love unions.
We’ve been covering law firms’ attempts to reassure associates in these troubled times. Because of their respected bankruptcy practice, we’ve assumed that all was well at Weil.
Friday we received word that Weil isn’t just doing “well.” Apparently, “global financial crisis” is how you spell “straight cash homey” at Weil Gotshal. From firm chairman Stephen J. Dannhauser:
To date, our representation of Lehman Brothers Holdings has engaged a large swathe of the firm, more than 100 attorneys and staff working on the many matters this bankruptcy, the largest in US history, has spawned. In addition to the large team providing bankruptcy counsel to Lehman, Weil Gotshal’s corporate team has already aided the company in the structuring and execution of the two largest transactions ever in a Chapter 11 proceeding. These include the sale of substantially all of Lehman’s US investment banking business, its headquarters, two support facilities, and the broker-dealer business (including the real estate and infrastructure necessary to preserve that business) to Barclays, as well as the sale of certain investment-management assets, including the Neuberger Berman division, to private-equity firms Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman.
We’ve noticed a paucity of Weil associates participating in our comment threads, but clearly that is because they are all very busy reupholstering their seat cushions with dollar bills.
Are we sure Weil will just be a bonus “follower” this fall?
Princeton Review has released its annual (nonsensical) law school rankings. This year we are treated to the Best 174 Law Schools Rankings. The rankings are divided into 11 categories.
In this down market, the Best Career Prospects category seems appropriate. The top-ten law schools are:
1. University of Michigan Law School
2. Northwestern University School of Law
3. University of Virginia School of Law
4. Harvard University Law School
5. Boston College Law School
6. Stanford University School of Law
7. The University of Chicago The Law School
8. New York University School of Law
9. University of Pennsylvania Law School
10. Boston University School of Law
Notice that Yale Law School isn’t on this “best career prospects” list. I dare somebody to get into Boston College and Yale and go to Boston College because they think that is a better career move. Send ATL both acceptance letters and a BC transcript, and we’ll send you $100 and a photograph signed by God.
* Vince McMahon tags a motion to dismiss to quash wrestlers Chris Kanyon, Raven and Above Average Mike. If that doesn’t work it’s the steel jury box all the way. [Connecticut Employment Law Blog]
* The latest from the Citi/Wachovia/Wells Fargo cock fight is that they have agreed to a standstill on all litigation until noon on Wednesday. They will cease formal discovery until then. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Corporate attorneys might be interested that Delaware is starting an internet based “talk radio” station. [Delaware Talk Radio]
* It’s German-American day so we’re in for an Oktoberfest Blawg Review.
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.
● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.
● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.
● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!