We have to at least entertain the possibility that the tanking economy could fundamentally change the Biglaw lifestyle that we have come to know and bilk. We could see flat salaries, tepid bonuses, and decreased job security over the next few years. Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to break out of the “top school-top firm-top shrink” pipeline?
Enter Don Korb, Chief Counsel of the IRS. As Tax Prof Blog mentioned earlier this week, Korb has been trying to recruit law students to the IRS.
And why not (if you’re into that sort of thing)? Nobody is planning on downsizing the IRS anytime soon. And you will likely get the kind of experience that law firms will respect once they get around to having paying clients again. Korb lays out what the IRS has done for his life in his recruitment brochure:
I have been both an associate and a partner in a law firm, a partner in a Big Six accounting firm, and an Assistant to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Now I’m back leading the Office where I began my legal career. What has stayed with me throughout this journey has been the wonderful foundation in the tax law that I gained during my first stint in the Office of Chief Counsel, an experience that I believe cannot be found anywhere else.
In fact the IRS just reported a 72% job satisfaction rate. Granted, that number is out of all their employees. But go find four random people walking through your office today and ask yourself if three of them are happy.
The pay isn’t great. But it beats the bag out of what you’d get at the unemployment office.
Fifteen IP partners will be leaving Heller to join Covington, as Covington expands into Silicon Valley. The Daily Journal reports that in the wake of the latest defections and yesterday’s failed merger, Heller Ehrman has decided to stop seeking merger options:
Heller management told the firm attorneys Monday that they are going to cease merger pursuits and “try to go it alone,” the Heller attorney said. But some legal observers said this could be a sign of Heller’s imminent dissolution. Heller partners have been in clustered meetings all day, the Heller attorney said.
Guess San Francisco isn’t far enough west to escape the tough economic climate for law firms.
This should be great news for Covingtion, and you would think they would want to spread the word about their hiring coup. But apparently not. A tipster’s report on yesterday’s firm-wide meeting:
First came the ten-minute lecture regarding tipping off the blogs, and then the news about Silicon Valley. It surprises me that they were so freaked out about the spread of positive news in the scary economy.
It surprises us too. It’s hardly a bad thing if Covington’s surrogates do a better job of publicizing the firm than Covington’s own PR people.
As always, we thank all of our tipsters who are willing to sit through ten minutes of “lawyer talk” in order to bring us the latest information.
* Cyrus Mehri is ready to take on the advertising industry for its depiction, or lack thereof, of African-Americans. Dyn-o-mite! [Gawker]
* Need help picking out a work appropriate nail salon on your lunch hour? Might I suggest a partial frontal lobotomy instead? [Corporette]
* Who is going to replace financial services clients? Tech firms? Green industries? Or nobody at all? [Law and More]
* A bunch of radio talk show hosts are being sued for violating FCC obligations “by using their radio license to discuss only Republican issues.” [Overlawyered]
It seems that things have been going pretty well for Gabriel Schwartz. A 2004 graduate of the University of Denver College of Law, the 29-year-old is already the founder of a law firm, Sandomire & Schwartz. He’s president of his own company (PDF). And he was selected to be a Colorado delegate to the Republican National Convention.
But, at the Convention, he went home with a random new lady-friend — and now he’s the fodder for this headline, “GOP delegate’s hotel tryst goes bad when he wakes up with $120,000 missing.” From the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
He met her in the bar of the swank hotel and invited her to his room. Once there, the woman fixed the drinks and told him to get undressed.
And that, the delegate to the Republican National Convention told police, was the last thing he remembered.
When he awoke, the woman was gone, as was more than $120,000 in money, jewelry and other belongings… The haul included a $30,000 watch, a $20,000 ring, a necklace valued at $5,000, earrings priced at $4,000 and a Prada belt valued at $1,000, police said.
Apparently, Denver attorneys can do pretty well. More on this bling-blinging Lawyer of the Day, after the jump.
In Monday’s morning docket, we asked whether price-gouging investigations during hurricanes were the new trend among attorneys general. Judging from the many investigations launched over the past week, the answer is a resounding YES.
Louisiana AG Buddy “Rattlesnake” Caldwell caught our attention for his battle cry against high hotel and gas prices during Hurricane Gustav. Now that Hurricane Ike has reared its ugly head, other attorneys general are joining the war, including:
South Carolina AG Henry McMaster has begun gas price-gouging investigations. [The Greenville News]
New York AG Andrew Cuomo is chilling for the moment, just “issuing warnings” about high gas prices. [investigating gas prices and filed suit against a Comfort Inn for doubling the cost of rooms during Hurricane Dolly. [MSNBC]
John Lott at Fox News does not think the AGs are fighting the good fight:
You would think that people had learned their lessons about price controls during the 1970s, though memories have surely faded. Price controls didn’t stop the cost of gasoline from rising. They just changed how we paid for them. Instead of prices rising until the amount people wanted equaled the amount available, chronic shortages of gasoline had Americans waiting in lines for hours. Yet, the supposedly permanent shortages disappeared instantly as soon as price controls were removed.
But AGs are responsible for ensuring the law is enforced, not analyzing economic systems. So investigate and sue away, noble attorneys general! And if your AG isn’t following the trend, what’s up with that?
Though the dust has far from settled, it’s time for ATL to hand out some awards to the law firms and other participants that have done well for themselves, or wet the bed, as Wall Street runs with blood.
Weil will be Lehman’s bankruptcy counsel, and they’ve been in talks with AIG. It’s not Weil’s fault that other people’s losses are Weil’s immeasurable gains. When Weil is tapping you on the shoulder, your time is almost up.
We echo our commenters in asking, “Where the heck is Skadden in all this?” Good question. Better question: which Skadden partner is the point person on BoA business and how many people have rented space under his or her desk in the past 48 hours?
We recently offered some helpful hints for new law students, distilled from over 200 reader suggestions. We now have an addendum to our list of tips, based on an ill-advised email that found its way into our inbox. Some background:
Today, all members of last year’s Law Review Editorial Board at [George Washington University Law School] — who have since graduated — received the unsolicited mass email (reproduced below) from a current 1L student whom no one knows or has even met….
Talk about a great example of what not to do as a 1L. What a way to endear yourself to your new classmates, not even a month into the school year! Can you say G-U-N-N-E-R?
We received a very interesting offer letter for the 2009 summer class sent out by Proskauer Rose:
Our compensation level for next summer has not yet been set, but it will be no less than $3,077 per week – the salary that we paid to those summer associates who were with us in New York this past summer.
This is most likely just a clumsily worded invitation to summer with the firm. This may well be their standard form letter for offers that they’ve used since 2007 and haven’t bothered to update.
But consider two other possibilities:
1) 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? Unless …
2) Does Proskauer seriously think they might be able to raise salaries next year? Are they trying to signal to the market that they could be in a position to raise salaries if need be?
Proskauer has already set a price floor, but hasn’t set a price ceiling. Why would they do that? If they are just using standard language from the past, they really should consider updating their offer letters and stop messing with people’s emotions.
It wasn’t long ago that both associates and partners regarded moving in-house as a “golden ticket.” Better hours, comparable pay, and a sweet “Executive Vice-President” title.
Now? Ask former firm lawyers who went over to Bear Stearns, Lehman, Merrill, or WaMu how their new gigs are working out. For that matter, ask attorneys at JPMorgan Chase, BoA, or Barclays how secure they feel about their jobs.
As financial services firms break up and merge, what happens to the in-house attorneys caught up in the mix?
Much of the value from in-house counsel comes from keeping as much work off the big firm plate as possible. It’s a volume business. When trading is tepid and profits non-existent, businesspeople often turn a greedy eye to in-house attorney salaries. Remember, it’s not like the businesspeople really like the lawyers hanging around anyway. It’s more of a “you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall” type of situation.
But should an in-house attorney get laid off, how easy is it for them to get back into the Biglaw pipeline? Are firms going to be interested in hiring corporate attorneys with years of expertise in business platforms that are no longer viable?
If you can’t go in-house, what exit options remain for Biglaw corporate associates? Litigators can always go litigate somewhere. There are lots of frivolous lawsuits just begging to be filed (and defended against). But for corporate attorneys, are you better off just keeping your head down and doing your best to ride out the storm?
Alternative career resolution ideas are welcome in the comments.
What do you do when your biggest client gets sold to a bunch of guys from North Carolina? What can you do other than keep cool?
While Sidley Austin declined to comment to ATL on the Merrill Lynch/Bank of America merger, they did send around an internal memo to their associates. Sidley essentially told their people: “DON’T PANIC!!!!!!!!!”
Apparently, the firm opened up their books to show the percentage of their business that comes from the companies affected by the yesterday’s meltdown. Merrill Lynch represents well less than 10 percent of the firm’s overall business, so they think they should be fine.
All of the messages we are hearing from Sidley associates reflect the same theme. People are interested, but as one tipster put it, “nobody is freaking out just yet.”
But is that a minority opinion or a consensus feeling? How are you Sidley associates feeling this morning?
* Judge James Peck, the second-most junior bankruptcy judge in Manhattan, will handle the Lehman case, the biggest bankruptcy in history. [Bloomberg]
* No vroom for snowmobiles in the national parks, rules Judge Emmet Sullivan. [New York Times]
* First day of the O.J. Simpson robbery trial. But people are already totally over it. No crowds were there to greet O.J. and friends, just a man holding a “Jesus saves sinners from hell” sign. [Los Angeles Times]
* Former ATL “Lawyer” of the Day, Howard Kieffer, will not defend himself in his lawyer impersonation trial. [Associated Press]
* Manhattan restaurant owner + $5,000 designer umbrella + negligent supermodel = a fed-up judge. New York Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden fines attorney $500 for filing a frivolous claim and wasting judicial resources. [Associated Press]
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: email@example.com.
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!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.