Latest Stories

Alston Bird retirement watch.JPGLast week, older support staff at Alston & Bird received a memo encouraging them to think about the future:

We are pleased to introduce the Alston & Bird Staff Early Retirement Incentive Program. This Program is offered in response to requests from many of you and in our effort to continue to improve our staffing ratios in all offices. The Program is completely voluntary and is available to any paralegal, secretary or staff employee who has been employed by Alston & Bird for at least 10 years and is at least 55 years of age. If you qualify and are interested in participating in the Program, you must sign the Acknowledgement form at the end of this memo and return it to Michael Stephens no later than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 26, 2008.

Employees who accept this offer may continue their employment through December 31, 2008. Employees can choose one of the following two benefit options, with payments beginning after termination of employment on December 31, 2008 (or such earlier date as may be agreed upon by the employee and the Firm).

“Completely voluntary?” How many people believe that the early retirement program is being offer because of overwhelming staff desire to “improve staffing ratios?”

For staffers with over 20 years at the firm, the early retirement plan offers 23 weeks of salary, or 16 weeks of salary plus a $450 health care subsidy.

Sound fair? Let’s fast forward to the end of the message:

Once again, please note that the deadline for electing to participate in the Program closes at 5:00 p.m. on November 26, 2008. The Firm may not offer this or any other early retirement or similar program again at a later date. If we do not receive an adequate number of responses in certain areas, the firm may need to take additional steps to adjust our staffing ratios.

An “adequate number of responses” reminds me of the scene in Gladiator when Commodus suffocates his father under the guise of a hug. How callous do you have to be to essentially threaten 55-year-old people who have worked for your company for over a decade with “additional steps to adjust our staffing ratios?” I know we’re in the midst of a serious financial crisis, but there’s a way to be a person about these things.

Predictably, older staff, younger staff, even attorneys at A&B are freaking out. A tipster reports:

Older staff is in panic. Get pressured into package now, or get laid off later with nothing. (Wonder how they’re going to fill those extra 2 floors they just leased in the NY office in this economic environment?) Nothing equivalent for lawyers yet, but A&B is very youth-worshiping, so it’s just a matter of time I expect.

We dig deeper into the “incentive program” and post it in full after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Alston & Bird Staff: You Don’t Have To Go Home But You Can’t Stay Here”

adult baby.jpg* SCOTUS weighs case that could result in a lot more travel for crime lab experts. [New York Times]

* Thirtieth child abandoned under Nebraska’s safe-haven law, intended to protect unwanted newborns from being abandoned. The “child” dropped off is an 18-year-old girl. The Legislature convenes Friday to change the law, so drop off those unwanted teens ASAP. [Associated Press]

* Deja vu. As we mentioned before, Proposition 8 has led to three backlash lawsuits. Now the California Supreme Court will decide whether a gay marriage ban needs to go before the legislature before going to voters. [Washington Post]

* Update on former ATL Ex-Judge of the Day: Richard Sasso. He testified yesterday that he used to take Vicodin and drink wine before court. [Newsday]

* This will keep the Bush administration busy until January. Judge Henry Kennedy rules in favor of private groups who want the White House to recover millions of missing e-mails. [Associated Press]

McDermott logo.JPGWe’ve gotten the first hard numbers of the 2008 bonus season, in part. McDermott Will & Emery has announced that they will pay their associates the bonus advance they were expecting. A firm-wide email announced the relatively positive news:

December Bonus Advances: As we have previously communicated, the following payments will be made in mid-December to Associates who are on target to receive a bonus: (a) $10,000 for Associates in the class of 2006 or 2007, (b) $15,000 for Associates in the class of 2004 or 2005 and (c) $20,000 for Associates in all other classes. The determination of whether an Associate is on target for a bonus will be made by the ACC using the CPAs and the general evaluation criteria already described in prior presentations and communications by the Compensation Committee. For some Associates, the December payment may be the only bonus the Associate receives. The bonus determined by the ACC to be paid in March, 2009 will be reduced by any advance received in December.

That’s good news to the attorneys that are on target to make their hours. That’s almost everybody, right? Many people have pointed out that bonuses might be depressed this year, not because firms will be offering less money, but because many associates are struggling to make their hours.

The other wrinkle here is that MWE is leaving the door open on what their “final” bonus package will look like. They could match last year’s market, or not. There is a lot of time to read the market between now and March.

Still, $10K – $20K just in time for holiday shopping is a good thing for those on track. And if you’re low on hours, this you at least know for sure that there is at least some money available to you if you can make up the hours in the fourth quarter.

Congrats and good luck, MWE associates.

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: McDermott Will & Emery is Sticking to the Plan … For Now”

Havard Lampoon Cass Sunstein.JPG* The Harvard Lampoon years of possible SCOTUS nominee Cass Sunstein are revealed. [Holly Hullabaloos]

* Voodoo > Economics. [Law and More]

* Remember that part of American history when Texas was its own country? Wasn’t that cool? Couldn’t Texas and the rest of America just have an amicable, no-fault divorce? Texas can keep custody of Oklahoma while America gets to repossess everybody from Austin. [Legal Pad]

* An IP Blawg Review. Or: a Blawg Review for lawyers with jobs.

[IP Think Tank via Blawg Review]

horsemen come to higher education.JPGThis weekend, the Times reported that the economic crisis is taking a toll on University endowments:

VC firms typically make “capital calls” to these investors whenever they need more money to pump into their startups. However now rumors are circulating that Columbia University’s endowment fund is illiquid — that is, it can’t raise the cash it needs to fund current commitments.? Harvard, meanwhile, is reportedly trying to sell a third of its private equity portfolio at a steep discount in a “secondary offering.”

One of my favorite pieces of useless information is that the largest “endowment” for a non-profit institution is the Catholic Church. The second largest? Harvard University. So I’m pretty sure that Harvard trying to sell off a 3rd of anything is the little known fifth horseman of the apocalypse:

When the Lamb opened the fifth seal I saw before me a Crimson horse. And its rider was named Deregulation, and Consumer Fear and Capital Retreat followed close behind. They were given power over the rich of the earth to kill by the crunch, the short-sell, and the capital call.

The point is that private universities, and therefore many top law schools, will have to start dealing with the after effects of the financial crisis very soon. Hiring freezes and financial aid restrictions could soon follow.

But public institutions could feel the pain immediately.

Read about how the economic crisis is effecting one public school after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Open Thread: Is the Global Economic Crisis Coming to School?”

Morgan Lewis.JPGOn Friday, while much of the Thelen news was still focused on Nixon Peabody feasting on Thelen refugees, we heard an interesting tip from people at Morgan Lewis:

I hear we have acquired all or most of Thelen’s corporate practice? I haven’t seen any official announcements but I hear that a couple floors below me is total chaos.

Mmmm … chaos.

Today we’ve gotten a (sadly) less chaotic number of new hires:

Morgan Lewis’s New York office picked up 17 attorneys from Thelen. An email was sent Friday.

But are they heavy hitters?

I am aware of a larger group that consists of the really big hitters at Thelen in the construction group. Dekker, Buoncristiani, Heisse et al with huge books of business for core clients like Bechtel. Pillsbury has extended an offer to all these people, included Counsel and associates for a total of about 45 attorneys for mainly the SF Office [Some in DC and NY]

Strangely, MLB has rebuffed repeated requests to confirm or deny how many Thelen people they are bringing on (if any).

But once again, Thelen-East attorneys seem to be doing a lot better than their West Coast brethren. On the flip side, this weekend in NYC was cold and miserable while I’m sure the Sun once again bestowed its light and grace upon Californians. So they have that going for them.

Earlier: Nixon Peabody Picks Up 90 Thelen Attorneys (This is Different From a Merger How?)

Associate Bonus Watch: Morgan Lewis Pushes Back Bonus Decisions

Shearman logo.JPGWe’ve been hearing reports all morning about some news leaking around the offices at Shearman & Sterling. One tipster collects the potentially bad news in a clear way:

[M]id and senior-level associates that would in normal economic conditions have left any way are being asked to leave. In addition, Shearman’s senior management has advised Partners to be strict in reviews in the upcoming review process (scheduled for the coming weeks) for all levels of associates (not only mid- and senior-levels).

Apparently, the firm is determined that any layoffs get reported as “performance based” attrition rather than full-on layoffs. Sources suggest that firm leadership is still smarting over the reputation hit they took when they laid off people, back in 2001.

The firm has not responded to a request for comment.

Whatever they want to call it, there seems to be good reason for Shearman associates to be worried over the next couple of weeks. We’ve also learned that Shearman’s Capital Markets practice is not doing well. A tipster reports:

Business in Capital Markets has slowed dramatically over the past several months. Junior associates from Capital Markets have been temporarily staffed on litigation matters.

We know that Capital Markets practice groups are slow all over. But staffing corporate attorneys on litigation work suggests that there are larger problems with Shearman’s corporate practices.

Stealth layoffs at Loeb & Loeb, and the firm’s response, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide (Stealth) Layoff Watch: Shearman & Sterling and Loeb & Loeb”

Maryland Bar results bird.JPGJuly 2008 Bar Exam results were announced on Friday. I assume that everybody has already checked their results, but if you want to ogle the people who passed you can do so here.

The thing is, Maryland came in with an 81.6% passage rate. 1112 passes, 250 failures.

That’s 81.6% in a state with no MPRE nor CLE requirements.

Congratulations Maryland Bar Exam takers. Way to glide into the American bar.

New Yorkers, your day of reckoning draws nigh.

Earlier: Texas Bar Exam Results Have Been Posted

Exams! Results! Northeast Corridor!

goodwin Procter logo.JPGThe Baby Boomers (the generation that was dealt a resounding defeat last week) is also sometimes called the “Sandwich Generation.” Boomers like to claim that they are the first generation (in the history of “ever” apparently) to have to take care of both their parents and their children while they are still working.


Inter-generational aspersions aside, Goodwin Procter is actually doing something that should help Boomers out. They’ve instituted a very interesting new benefits package:

Free, round-the-clock access to a telephone support center that provides information on services for the elderly, the disabled, and the family members who care for them.

This is a program that could actually help attorneys. As anybody who has ever served as a part-time caretaker/full-time worker can attest to, getting the appropriate information is half the battle.

More details on Goodwin’s program after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Goodwin Procter Helps Sandwich (Generation)”

funny-pictures-cat-did-the-math-and-you-cannot-afford-the-dog.jpgLast week, our ATL / Lateral Link survey focused on when raises happen at your firms. But we’ve also been wondering about another prong of compensation: bonuses.

In 2007, Cravath kicked off bonus season early, on October 29th, but it’s much more common for firms to announce in December. Indeed, this year the first major announcement of October came from Morgan Lewis, who announced that they won’t be announcing bonus until January. (That said, though, Orrick announced their 2008 bonus structure back in June.)

But timing isn’t everything. There’s also the quantum of solace cash. On that front, comments in last month’s associate bonus open thread suggest some pretty diminished expectations. As one reader put it:

This year’s bonus in biglaw: you’re not fired. Let’s hope most of us can get it.

But a second reader posits that firms can leave last year’s bonus structures in place . . . because billable hours are actually low enough to avoid a cash crunch:

If firms keep the same bonus structure, they will still be spending *way* less on bonuses this year. That’s because so few people will make their hours. Most associates are way down compared to last year, and November and December are only going to be worse in terms of finding work to do. It wouldn’t surprise me if many firms will save 50% or more without making any adjustments to the bonus structure. That’s what gives me some hope that bonuses will remain the same. Of course, firms would be happy to use the remaining 50% of bonus money on other things. But they won’t want to chase away the few associates who are actually competent enough to make their hours.

Now, if I can just find a way to stay busy through November and December. . .

Sort of a “glass half full, so you don’t really have to tip” approach.

Do you agree? Are your billables really so low that you won’t get any bonus this year?

For that matter, would you actually give up your bonus this year if it would reduce the risk of layoffs?

Let’s find out.

Update: This survey is now closed. You can see results here, here, here, and here.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.

Assassins Columbia's Creed.JPGToday marks the start of two weeks of “Assassins” at Columbia Law School. The game will start internally, undoubtedly as a training exercise for CLS students before they start hunting the deadliest prey: NYU students.

The game, if you’ve never played it, is awesome. The rules are simple:

* You will be given a target. Find them and “assassinate” them by hitting them in the back with a sock.

* Get your next assignment from your “assassinated” target; his/her former target becomes yours.

* If you “swing & miss” your target, you must wait one hour before attempting another assassination.

* Once you are “assassinated,” you are out of the game.

* The last player standing is the winner.

As we understand it, over 200 students have signed up. An organizer tells us why:

If stereotypes are to believed, CLS students are familiar with watching their backs, eyeing their rivals with suspicion, viciously taking any means necessary to eliminate their competition, and gloating with vituperation at victories over colleagues.

In this job market, “Assassins” is much better training than M&A.

Read the full rules and regulations, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “And You Thought Your Law School Was Cutthroat and Competitive”

[Ed Note: Due to technical difficulties, my super awesome Morning Docket picture could not be uploaded. I suggest you visualize the most awesome picture idea ever to go along with this column. Thanks.]

* Good Morning American taxpayers. Please enjoy the $40 billion in AIG shares you just purchased. [NYT]

* Circuit City: more knowledgeable staff than Best Buy, better prices than Best Buy, higher end equipment than Best Buy, and now much more bankrupt than Best Buy. [Dealbook]

* Strip club owners lost their trademark infringement claim against Grand Theft Auto. [Courthouse News]

* Is there an appropriate earthly penalty for kidnapping a nun? [CNN]

* The post-9/11 transfer of power in the Justice Department is a big deal. []

Page 1376 of 18031...137213731374137513761377137813791380...1803