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Seyfarth Shaw logo.jpgThe latest layoff news comes from Seyfarth Shaw. The firm’s Executive Committee sent around a firm-wide email this morning:

As part of our planning for 2009, we have reviewed our staffing in light of market conditions and expected client needs — for now and for the coming year. While we continue to anticipate a solid 2008, we believe there is a need to exercise prudent business judgment and respond to what economists predict will be a continued challenging economic climate in the year ahead.

One of the decisions we have made has been to reduce legal headcount by approximately 30 attorneys and other time keepers across our offices. We believe this is the best course of action for the Firm in light the economic downturn. These are very difficult decisions to make and, we know, hard news to learn.

It’s another classy letter that sends a clear signal to the legal community that former-Seyfarth associates were let go only because of the terrible economic climate that is hurting everyone.

As we understand it, the firm cuts hit the New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Boston offices.

We don’t know if this will have any impact on the long standing rumor of a merger between Seyfarth Shaw and Squire Sanders. But Seyfarth’s decision comes just two weeks after Squire Sanders announced layoffs of … 30 attorneys. Make of that what you will.

Read the full Seyfarth Shaw announcement after the jump.

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Not Hiring sign.jpgWe spent a lot of time documenting the recruiting struggles for Harvard Law School students. Comparatively speaking Yale Law students seemed to do pretty well. The school did not send around an “accept your offers” email to students, and it appears that most Yale students who wanted jobs in Biglaw did okay. A tipster reports:

It doesn’t seem that the economy has hurt anyone too badly. Nobody said that they got dinged by any firm they really wanted…everyone seems to have a handful of offers from various firms they’re happy with.

Despite the placid exterior that comes from being at the top and knowing it, even mighty Yale looks like it’s ready to make some concessions to the general market strife. The school is now contemplating moving their fall recruiting program to August, prior to the start of classes:

yale law school.jpgThe Law School is considering moving the Fall Interview Program from September to the latter half of August prior to the start of classes. A number of factors have influenced this decision, including proposed changes to the law school calendar for 2009-10; the National Association for Law Placement’s new timing guidelines governing interviews; recent developments in the financial markets; and the shift to Early Interview Week programs by many law schools. In contemplating this change, student feedback is important to us. Please take a moment to hit reply to this email and answer the following question:

I _________ (would/would not) recommend that the Law School move FIP from September to August.

Feel free to provide comments here. In addition, Deans Sharon Brooks and Megan Barnett will be offering drop in sessions next week (at dates and times TBA) for students who wish to provide their comments in that manner.

Please reply by Monday, December 8, 2008.

Evidently, all of the cackling you heard from schools that start fall recruiting in August was based on some objectively positive results.

Meanwhile, the Crimson Behemoth moves in the same direction after the jump.

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Dreier LLP Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier Mark Dreier Drier Dryer.jpgMore details have emerged in the story we broke last night, concerning the arrest of high-flying New York litigator Marc Dreier, founder and managing partner of Dreier LLP.

In the comments to our post, some of you wondered about the lack of MSM coverage. The story has now been picked up by the New York Post, the New York Times’s City Room blog, and the WSJ Law Blog (all of whom mention ATL — thanks for the shout-outs).

From the NYP story:

Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier LLP.jpgThe founder of a high-profile Manhattan law firm – and close friend of retired Giant Michael Strahan – has been arrested in Canada on charges of criminal impersonation, The Post has learned.

The powerful white-shoe lawyer, Marc Dreier, 58, was arrested on Wednesday and is cooling his heels in a grimy jail cell just west of Toronto.

We had also heard the impersonation allegation, but held off on mentioning it until we had more details. One source tells ATL that the alleged impersonation stemmed from Marc Dreier’s attempt to secure a loan. When credit markets get tough, the tough get… new identities?

The Post also reports that Dreier was arrested on Wednesday; we reported the arrest took place Tuesday. According to City Room, the arrest took place late on Tuesday night (11:25 PM).

More from the Post:

“He is in provincial custody in Maplehurst Correctional Complex,” said an employee at the Ontario pokey. His bust stems from his alleged role in a multimillion fraud case, a source told The Post.

A detective for the Toronto Police Department confirmed Dreier’s arrest but said he couldn’t provide specific details about the nature of the criminal impersonation charges because the investigation was still ongoing.

Additional details, from news accounts and from ATL sources, after the jump.

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little orange juice.jpg

* Bad news for the big three: the New York Times says Congress “is suffering from acute bailout fatigue.” [NYT]

* There were 13 law firm mergers in the third quarter this year (not unusual). The largest number of combinations (5) were in the southeast. [The Birmingham News]

* O.J. Simpson is finally going to jail. He will be sentenced today in Nevada. This time, he stole back sports memorabilia from two people. Can you think of a more inelegant end to the Simpson saga? [The Associated Press]

* If you break the law in New York, at least you get free day care. Thanks to Judge Judith S. Kaye (New York State’s cheif judge), there are 34 children’s centers across the state in family, criminal, and civil courts. They provide a safe and happy place for children whose parents are involved in legal battles. [NYT]

* The shareholder lawsuit against the merger of Bear Stearns and JPMorgan Chase was dismissed Thursday in the New York State Supreme Court. [Reuters]

* Singapore awarded Clifford Chance, White & Case, and Latham & Watkins licenses to practice law, as part of an attempt to compete with Hong Kong and other cities in China and the Middle East that have benefitted from having international law practices. [Bloomberg]

* Discover is mad at Morgan Stanley for secretly hanging-out with Visa and Mastercard behind Discover’s back. Sounds a lot like middle school, only in the real world, you can sue. [Bloomberg]

Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier LLP.jpgProminent New York litigator Marc Dreier — founder and managing partner of Dreier LLP, former head of litigation for Fulbright & Jaworski (NY), and former litigation partner at Rosenman & Colin — was arrested in Toronto on Tuesday. The arrest was carried out by Canadian law enforcement.

The alleged offense appears to be financial in nature, with sources mentioning money laundering and misuse of escrow funds as possible charges. The Ontario Teachers Pension Fund and Fortress Investment Group may be involved in some capacity.

The effect of Dreier’s arrest on the firm that bears his name is unclear, but certainly not good. Sources report that some firm escrow accounts have been frozen by law enforcement authorities. Emergency partnership meetings were held Wednesday and today. (This may explain why Marc Dreier and a firm spokesperson did not immediately return our calls seeking comment.)

Marc Dreier lives well, with a fabulous Manhattan apartment rumored to rent for $50,000 a month, plus a place out in the Hamptons. “He lives the life of Greek billionaire tycoon, but he doesn’t make that much money,” says a former employee.

Dreier may not be a Greek billionaire tycoon, but Dreier LLP has been quite successful. According to its firm profile, since its founding in 1996, Dreier has grown to include more than 250 attorneys in six cities. The firm has had a number of high-profile clients, including billionaire developer Sheldon Solow and controversial book publisher Judith Regan (whom the firm later sued, claiming she skipped out on legal fees).

The firm’s holiday party was scheduled to take place tonight at the Waldorf. Not surprisingly, the festivities have been canceled. On one social networking site, a former Dreier employee wrote: “[xxxx] is wondering how he could work for two law firms (Milberg Weiss and Dreier) where both firms’ lead partners were arrested…. Sad commentary on life.”

Update (1:40 AM): Some addenda and corrections:

1. Escrow accounts haven’t been frozen; they’re just short some cash — a lot of cash. One number being bandied about: $38 million.

2. The firm may not be able to make its next payroll, on December 15. There is only $300,000 in the payroll account, and the next payroll is for $2.6 million.

3. Fortress Investment Group is not involved.

4. The holiday party was canceled by an email sent out at around 5 p.m.

Further Update (6:35 PM): Actually, we were right the first time. Fortress Credit Corp., the entity involved in this matter, is a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group, according to Am Law Daily.

We’ll keep you posted. If you have info to share, feel free to email us. Thanks.

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.

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  • 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.

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[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.

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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.

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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.

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