Welcome to another post in the 2009 Vault 100 open thread series. You all seem to like having the law firms listed in groups of ten, so we’ll keep it up. Here are the thirty-something firms from the Vault 100, with prestige scores in parentheses:
Fried Frank and Cadwalader have been on the ATL radar of late. We broke news of staff layoffs at Fried Frank earlier this week, and news of the attorney bloodletting at Cadwalader last month. As noted in Cadwalader’s notable perks: “ouch, layoffs.” (Speaking of, in going through the Vault 100 list, we’ve discovered that Vault’s definition of “perk” is very different from ours.)
In the comments, the curious can pose questions, and the insiders can share insights. More threads to come. Earlier:Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009
* Federal judge grants stay of execution in Texas because the condemned man may be insane. Judge Orlando Luis Garcia chastised the state courts for refusing to hire mental health experts to assess the man’s sanity. [New York Times]
* Bush administration will implement a regulation to protect anti-abortion health workers. [Washington Post]
* Three members of the Warren Jeffs-led Texas polygamist sect are indicted. [CNN]
* Alan Dershowitz wants to depose recently captured Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic. [Associated Press]
* Woman tries to free her convicted-murderer husband from jail by forging two judges’ signatures, feds claim. [San Jose Mercury News]
* Former paralegal makes out in the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against Siegel, Fenchel & Peddy. The co-plaintiff associate didn’t do so well. [New York Law Journal]
* More advice for young lawyers from the good professor. [Punditry - Stephen Bainbridge]
* Consistent with that advice, when it comes to email, “think before you write” — or risk losing the protection of attorney-client privilege. [Business West]
* Think juries suck? You’re right. [Swordplay]
* A shout-out to ATL Idol, from the ABA Journal. [ABA Journal]
* Seven notable New Yorkers — including our colleague, Dealbreaker EIC John Carney — opine on presidential politics. [Time Out New York]
* Professor Jonathan Adler, on the AALS boycott. [Volokh Conspiracy via TaxProf Blog]
* If our length limit for this piece hadn’t been so short, we probably would have written something more like this (since we had a lot of the reporting). [New York Times]
1. Start dates for incoming associates have been pushed back to January 19, 2009. Associates are being offered a $10,000 stipend.
2. The firm has pulled out of on-campus interviewing (OCI) at several law schools, including UVA and UC-Davis.
We contacted the firm for comment. Spokesman Patrick Bustamante informed us that Heller has delayed the start date for fall associates to Tuesday, January 20, 2009 (because Monday the 19th is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day). These associates will receive a monthly stipend between November and January.
He also confirmed that the firm has withdrawn from OCI at some schools:
It’s not unusual for firms to change or cancel their on-campus interview plans as they refine their hiring goals in late summer. [Ed. note: "Guys in my high school..."]
Because we plan to hire fewer summer associates next summer, we did cancel our plans to interview at some schools and to focus on schools where we have been the most successful in the past.
A recent article in IP Law & Business suggested that rumors of the demise of IP specialty law firms have been greatly exaggerated. According to the piece, intellectual property boutiques continue to survive, despite encroachment on their turf by general-practice firms.
This is not to say, however, that everything is peachy in IP land. The article notes that Morgan & Finnegan, one prominent IP shop, “has lost 10 partners in the past year, and its overall head count is down considerably.” (We wonder if they included Jeremy Pitcock in the partner losses.)
The firm has been shedding associates and staff, too. Earlier this week, we heard from several tipsters that Morgan & Finnegan was laying off lawyers, technical and scientific advisors, and staff.
We confirmed the news with Pat Bowers, director of administration for Morgan & Finnegan. She acknowledged the layoffs (and even had the courage to use the “L” word, which many other firms shun).
The firm believes in “the importance of communication,” explained Bowers. “It’s not like we were doing it behind closed doors.” Prior to informing the affected employees, administration sent out a firm-wide email explaining that the firm was “scrutinizing our direct and indirect expenses, and looking at our staffing needs in New York and D.C.”
The affected employees were notified of the layoffs starting on Friday of last week and ending yesterday by close of business (so if you’re at the firm and haven’t heard anything, you’re in the clear). Bowers declined to provide exact numbers, citing confidentiality concerns, but said that (1) the firm “laid off less than 7 percent of attorneys and staff,” and (2) the cuts were centered on staff, not lawyers.
More details, below the fold.
The Olympics draw to a close this weekend, and soon we shall all forget how excited we were about weird sporting events like the hammer throw, the trampoline, and synchronized swimming.
Two lawyers made a good showing today in one-of-those-sports-we-barely-knew-existed-but-now-we’re-really-excited-about: the men’s Modern Pentathlon! Lithuanian attorneys Andrejus Zadneprovskis and Edvinas Krungolcas won the silver and bronze medals.
These lawyers are well-rounded guys. The Modern Pentathlon is an all-day event that involves shooting, fencing, swimming, riding, and running. From Reuters:
Modern pentathlon was designed to simulate what a soldier delivering a message under duress would go through. Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Games, created it as a test of strength, technical ability, concentration and endurance….
The idea behind the sport is that a soldier is sent to deliver a message. He faces an enemy with a gun and shoots, then duels against others with a sword, swims across a river, rides an unfamiliar horse and then runs cross-country to his destination.
Back in 2007, Judge Ernest B. Murphy won his libel case case against the Boston Herald. The Herald had reported that Murphy was soft on crime and, well, nobody puts Baby in the corner.
But winning just wasn’t enough for Judge Murphy. After he won he sent two threatening letters to Patrick Purcell, publisher of the Herald, on court stationery. The letters, which included the use of all-caps as pioneered by Chief Justice John Marshall, demanded that the Herald drop its appeal and hand deliver a check for half a million dollars more than the judgment, plus interest.
According to the Boston Globe, “Purcell testified that the letters were intimidating and looked like ransom notes.”
Yesterday, Murphy agreed to resign. Murphy claimed to have post-traumatic stress from his battle with the Herald. The Commission on Judicial Conduct had recommended a $25,000 fine, but they may amend their report in light of Murphy’s resignation.
We’d make a joke about how a judge could incur psychologically destructive stress from participating in a lawsuit, but we’re terrified that Murphy will sue us under the ADA. Judge who sued Herald agrees to leave bench [Boston Globe via WSJ Law Blog] Earlier: Murphy v. Boston Herald: Some Beantown Benchslappery
As some of you have noticed, we tend not to remark negatively on the innate physical attributes of our Legal Eagle contestants. There are several reasons for our reticence, but the most basic one is simply this: LEWW believes that prestige is beautiful. LEWW believes that every bride can look gorgeous on her special day if she has the right law degree. LEWW believes that a JD from HLS is like a great bra; it looks flimsy and has a jaw-dropping price tag, but it will support you and make you look better than you deserve.
Having made much of our reluctance to comment disparagingly about our subjects’ appearance, we’ll promptly depart from our own custom and announce that this is Hotness Disparity Week on LEWW. All of our grooms are decent-looking but undeniably average Joes, and we submit to you that all of them have married up.
See if you agree with us. Here are the couples:
Earlier today, the American Lawyer published a report detailing declining profit margins in the legal industry.
It is nice to see that somebody commissioned an entire report to figure out obvious facts like “the first half of 2008 looks very different from the previous six years” and “[t]he slowdown is hitting the most profitable firms the hardest.” In other breaking news, Britney Spears’s career has hit a bump in the road.
Instead of a simple doom-and-gloom economic report, Am Law columnist (and Biglaw banker) Dan DiPietro offers this proposed solution to all the law firm ills: fire the associates!
“There is a silver lining. A bad year (and the numbers suggest 2008 will be even more trying than 2001, when partner profits were down slightly) will enable firms to take steps that partners would resist in a good year — winnowing out unproductive lawyers and applying greater discipline to expense control.”
Partners, pundits, and others who like to play McKinsey & Co. on the weekends always suggest this form of fat cutting in tough economic times. But it is a disingenuous solution.
Read why, after the jump.
This advertisement, from tiny divorce and bankruptcy firm Davis and Millard, appeared in an Atlanta magazine in June:
We get confusing messages. With the curly font and all the pink, it seems like it should be an ad for lip gloss for teens. But the menacing way the woman grips that rolling pin puts fear in our hearts. The color motif and menace bear a striking similarity to this Serial Mom movie poster.
The text at the top of the ad — “Moving on means never having to talk to your mother-in-law again” — reminds us a bit of this earlier advertisement: “Life’s short. Get a divorce.”
Late last night, a tipster told us of “a big round of administrative staff cuts” at Duane Morris. They were centered on the Philadelphia mothership, but also included other offices. As for the extent of the layoffs, “no good sense of how many, but big enough that the local managing partner fired off an email encouraging folks to come by his office and ask questions.”
This morning brings confirmation of the cuts, from the National Law Journal:
Duane Morris, an international law firm with Philadelphia roots, has cut about 18% of its marketing and business development staff, making staff reductions that echo moves at other firms in recent months.
The firm, which has about 650 attorneys, now has a marketing and business development team of 30 to 35 people, after eliminating seven managers and staff and hiring three more senior executives in the past few months, said Ed Schechter, the firm’s chief marketing officer.
Most of the eliminated jobs were in Philadelphia, where the bulk of the department’s staff is based, but some were in other offices, including Chicago.
True to form, they’re chalking it up to enhancing efficiency, rather than the tanking economy:
At Duane Morris, cost-cutting was a “secondary” consideration, with the firm primarily interested in building up a more experienced and leaner team, Schechter said in an interview.
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.