In case you hadn’t heard, Wall Street is in meltdown mode right now. Our colleagues over at Dealbreaker have been working over the weekend and around the clock to cover all the latest developments.
Here are the two big stories from the financial world. First, the top-level parent company of Lehman Brothers, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. (But no sleeping in for Lehmanites; they have been informed that they’re still expected to show up to work this morning.)
Second, Merrill Lynch, the investment bank that some feared might be next to go down the Bear Stearns / Lehman Brothers path, has reached a deal to sell itself to Bank of America, for $50 billion.
What do these deals mean for lawyers? Well, at least in the short term, they bring good news: more work. (Over the long term, of course, the news may be less good, as current and potential future clients vanish from the landscape on Wall Street.)
For its bankruptcy, Lehman is turning to Weil Gotshal & Manges, long known for its top-notch bankruptcy practice. From Dealbook:
Lehman has hired Weil, Gotshal & Manges, the law firm that handled Drexel [Burnham Lambert]‘s bankruptcy filing [in 1990]. Harvey Miller, the head of Weil’s restructuring practice, is known as one of the deans of the bankruptcy bar.
In addition, Lehman is trying to sell its more valuable assets, including its broker-dealer and asset-management operations. It appears to be represented in those efforts by Sullivan & Cromwell, according to TheDeal.com (subscription). Meanwhile, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a powerhouse in financial-institutions M&A, is getting a piece of the action on the Merrill deal. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Merrill / B of A deal was hammered out in “a marathon series of meetings at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, the law firm which has long represented Bank of America in its deals.” Wachtell isn’t lending out their offices for free. As TheDeal.com reports, WLRK is indeed representing Bank of America in the transaction (for a fee that will be well into the eight figures — Ed Herlihy doesn’t come cheap). Merrill Lynch is being advised by Shearman & Sterling.
If you’re aware of other winners and losers from these deals, please share what you know, in the comments. Lehman Announces Bankruptcy Filing For Holding Company [Dealbreaker] Bank of America Reaches Deal To Buy Merrill Lynch [Dealbreaker] What a Lehman Bankruptcy Filing Might Look Like [DealBook] Bank of America to Buy Merrill [Wall Street Journal]
There is a lot of career angst among Biglaw associates. Especially these days. And legal recruiters often to try to tap into that ennui to convince associates to change firms or lifestyles (and use their services of course).
But we can’t recall a recruiter trying to start an associate revolution. That is pretty much what Axiom tried to do this week. The company launched an ad-campaign specifically targeted at: Shearman and Sterling, Davis Polk, Simpson Thacher, Cravath, Skadden, and Sullivan & Cromwell.
And they did it old-school. They put their company fliers on cars parked outside of the firms offices in both NYC and San Francisco.
The “manifesto,” as Axiom calls it, reads like something out of Jerry McGuire:
We are attorneys who are passionate about practicing law, not billing hours. Attorneys who see time with the family as important as time in the boardroom. Attorneys who solve the legal problems of Fortune 500 companies with the same passion that pushed us through law school to begin with. That’s our axiom. What’s yours?
They even hired the attorney pictured above to walk around New York and San Fran. in a wetsuit carrying a poster-board sign that looks like it was scrawled by Steve Buscemi from Billy Madison.
Did anybody actually see this happening this week?
It’s so close to bonus season, and in this economy we don’t know how many lawyers are willing to jump ship right at the moment. But if you do, remember to take the fish with you.
Full manifesto reprinted after the jump
* Now you see this? You see Electronic Arts coming around the corner making their video games, not bothering anybody? Then BOOM, Lucian Bebchuk comes in right here and WHAP knocks EA down with a harassing lawsuit move. [Business Associations Blog]
* See. The police really do hassle people in big cities. [Simple Justice]
* Law Profs? 95%. Biglaw? $22 Million. Never having to say “yes” to public financing? Priceless. [Word of Mouth via Point of Law]
* Yale > The Truth. [Bitter Lawyer]
* … speaking of Yale, at least the Yale Law women get it. [Law Fuel via Ms. JD]
* Go Blue! Screw SCOTUS! [WSJ Law Blog]
For the commenters who yearn to see more “ordinary” couples in the Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, we commend this pair to your attention. The groom is a radio personality, and the bride has a JD from Loyola. They seem likable and . . . ordinary. Is this the type of couple our readership craves? Should we devote one slot a week to a Tier-II couple? Designate one column a month as Ordinary Week? Please advise. (This is actually a serious question. LEWW recognizes that we can’t satisfy everyone, but we do aim to please.)
For now, we’ll to continue to celebrate the extraordinary. Our finalist couples have degrees from Harvard, Yale, NYU, Chicago, and other elite schools, some with athletic programs. All three brides toil in Manhattan law firms, and all three grooms serve humanity in important-sounding public-sector jobs. Here they are:
Joe Biden released his tax returns, putting an end to the rumor that he simply talks the IRS through his financial dealings during a 22 hour phone call.
Paul Caron at TaxProf Blog points out a curious oversight during the senator’s 35-year career of changing to become more like a Washington insider (isn’t that the line?):
I wonder, though, if the move might backfire because the returns show that the Bidens have been amazingly tight-fisted when it comes to their charitable giving. Despite income ranging from $210,432 – $321,379 over the ten-year period, the Bidens have given only $120 – $995 per year to charity, which amounts to 0.06% – 0.31% of their income:
Caron, like most tax professors, is quite a bit better than I am at analyzing tax returns for logical inconsistencies. But what jumps off the page to me is that over a ten year period Joe Biden has barely been able to bank what senior Biglaw associates pull down.
Isn’t the state of Delaware essentially one giant bank? How is that Biden couldn’t cross the $300K barrier until 2005? And what in God’s name happened to him in 2006, when his AGI went down by almost $73,000?
We all know who I’m in the tank for. But seriously, if anything is going to backfire, doesn’t it have to be that this guy says he can help lead the economy out of a recession yet can’t seem to manage his own house much better than a law school professor?
Maybe I’m reading this the wrong way. Maybe Biden is massively wealthy but also savvy enough to hide most of his earnings from the federal government. But that reading seems like it would also be problematic for a guy who will, you know, raise taxes.
Either way, something is not entirely right with those numbers. Biden Releases 10 Years of Tax Returns [TaxProf Blog]
Earlier this week, we created an open thread for the sharing of on-campus interview screw-ups. We then picked out a few favorite tales from the thread, and asked you to vote for the best (or worst?) of the bunch.
Here are the results:
You can read the winning story by clicking here.
Many of you seemed to enjoy the horror stories — and they’re informative, too, providing lessons about behavior to avoid. But don’t put too much weight on them. As one commenter observes:
[The problem with these stories] is that they presume that the stupid act in question was the sole reason the person didn’t get a callback. Not everybody at OCI gets callbacks. Plenty of people who don’t do one stupid thing in an interview don’t get callbacks. I suspect that these stories of stupidity are actually rationalizations for rejection.
People who think they got rejected because they accidentally dropped a business card on their way out are deluding themselves. They tell themselves these bullshit tales of woe because if you think you got dinged because you dropped a business card, then next time you can tuck it into your portfolio tighter. And then you’ll SURELY get the offer! But the truth – that you are getting rejected because you are a mediocre student at a [mediocre] law school who should have tried to get a job at a mutual fund instead of spending $200,000 to learn about community property – that’s a lot harder to fix.
Loeb & Loeb announced the addition of two new partners to their New York office, Kenneth A. Adler and Steve A. Semerdjian. Both partners are Thelen refugees.
As you may have heard, Thelen is limping. Not Lehman Brothers limping (Dealbreaker has the latest on Lehman’s desperation). But Thelen clearly needs something positive to happen for them.
We’ll get back to piling on in the near future, but as Adler and Semerdjian cruise away in their lifeboat, we’re forced to wonder how much partner defections actually mean to working associates.
Not that Thelen is hiring anybody, but if they were would you avoid Thelen because Adler and Semerdjian left the firm? Conversely, are there people out there who are thinking “I wasn’t going to take that call-back with Loeb, but now that Adler and Semerdjian are there, sign me up baby!” Partner defections mean a lot to partners. But how much of that rain really trickles down to the associate level? Thelen’s troubles were obvious long before partners started floating away. Somehow we can’t see Loeb associates having a truck party just because profits per partner might go up thanks to the new acquisitions.
We’ll see when the bonuses come out if Loeb’s additions are anything more than Thelen’s subtractions. Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Thelen
The clash of cougars and pigs in a club in southern California has led to a $1 million lawsuit against G4, a “male-interest” cable station. Three women (who do not divulge their ages in the complaint) claim G4 Media filmed them, without their consent, for a show segment called “The Great Cougar Hunt.” The show defines “cougars” as “sexually cunning 35+ females on the hunt for a much younger energetic male.”
From Courthouse News Service:
Christine Torres and Charnette Hildreth say they were celebrating Tammi Tary’s birthday at the Chapter Eight dance club when an employee of defendant G4 Media asked if he could videotape them. The women say they refused…
Eight months later, the women say, they discovered “The Great Cougar Hunt” on G4′s cable station. The video portrayed their birthday party as a group of “older women” looking for younger men at a “world famous cougar hot spot.”
According to the complaint, the video describes “cougars” as the “easiest, most ravenous” prey for younger men.
The women say they were “not attempting to meet or ‘hunt’ younger men.” They say they do not even date younger men.
We think the XY contingent may want to consider filing a class action suit against the show for defamation of the male gender. The jerky show hosts are not likely to inspire much sympathy from a judge and jury… unless they’re all taken from the cast of Swingers. ‘We’re Not Cougars,’ Women Say in TV Suit [Courthouse News Service] The Great Cougar Hunt [Spike]
In some strip clubs down-under, you can get a lot more than you pay for.
A bucks night reveler told police he had lost some of his manhood after a female stripper allegedly raped him with a sex toy. … The best man told police he felt violated when stripper Linda Naggs rode him like a horse and penetrated him with a dildo at the party in September last year, the Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Tuesday.
But the thing is that the “best man” and his friends were being total jerks. I’m not saying he “deserved” it, but it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.
There are counter allegations that the “victim” was drunk and abusive, and coked out of his mind. After the alleged sodomy, the men allegedly took the stripper out back and beat her up.
In short, the guys were massive tools. One almost hopes that the offending sex toy was dipped in some sort of burning napalm substance before it was used.
The stripper claims she is not guilty. She told the police:
[S]he did not believe there was penetration. But she said the man had thrust back, causing her to fall to the ground.
That’s right, Mr. Stripper-beater thrust back. I don’t know about any of you, but the last time I received a surprise colonoscopy, I moved forward.
The alleged victim said:
I feel that my manhood has dropped a bit.
Sorry mate, but your manhood “dropped” the moment you thought it was cool to taunt, berate, and then assault a stripper, undoubtedly ruining your best friend’s bachelor party. The homophobic overreaction simply proves the point. Bucks party stripper to face trial [National Nine News]
O.J. Simpson is set to stand trial, but this time the jury is all white (“So it’s all right,” says Chris Rock).
But let’s dig beyond identity politics for a moment.
Over at Deliberations they’ve posted a study that looks at jury issues based on jurisdiction, instead of ethnic origin. The study compares juries from urban districts to suburban ones. One can argue that splitting jury pools in this way is “code” for making a black-white distinction, but once the jurisdiction is picked it becomes harder to voir dire yourself into a conviction/acquittal.
The study finds urban juries to be “softer” on crime than suburban juries. D’uh. What is interesting is why there is this split.
Apparently, urban juries don’t trust the police, while suburban juries do.
Isn’t this a point that makes a lot of sense? Regardless of your race, if you live in a big city most of your interaction with the police involves them hassling you, your friends, and your rights. A tourist breathes a sigh of relief when they are walking down a dark alley and a patrol car rolls by. A city dweller avoids the stupid alley altogether, unless they are doing something that requires the privacy of dark, dank urban escapes.
Tempting fate after the break.
* New York criminal defense lawyer Robert Simels has been spending too much time with the bad guys. He was arrested yesterday for trying to “eliminate and neutralize witnesses” in a drug-trafficking case. [Bloomberg]
* Judge sides with the Federal Election Commission, putting the muzzle on The Real Truth About Obama. [Associated Press]
* The jury is seated in O.J. Simpson’s kidnapping and robbery trial. Opening arguments start Monday. We wonder if his attorneys are feeling pressure to come up with something as snappy as the “if the glove don’t fit…” line. [CNN]
* A Florida attorney’s tale of lawyerly ethics, attorney-client privilege, and a hidden body. [St. Petersburg Times]
* Sarah Palin’s first big interview. [New York Times]
Just to be clear, I substantially agree with Futurelawyer on the abject horror of twittering. If God wanted people to have Twitter pages he wouldn’t have made sphincters; there are some things that should be kept inside until the appropriate time.
Given that, it is disturbing that Yammer took home the top prize at TechCrunch50. Yammer brings Twitter to internal corporate communications. TechCrunch claims that 10,000 people and 2,000 organizations signed up for the service Monday, the day it launched.
Firms already have associates on the short electronic leash known as the BlackBerry. Many firms internally IM. What possible good could come from bringing this Yammer thing into the workplace?
From Yammer’s website:
Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: “What are you working on?”
As employees answer that question, a feed is created in one central location enabling co-workers to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions, and share links and other information. Yammer also serves as a company directory in which every employee has a profile and as a knowledge base where past conversations can be easily accessed and referenced.
Excuse me while I go to the bathroom, get a coke from the fridge, take a drag, stare longingly out of the window, and go back to blogging after the jump.
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!
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.