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untitled-5.jpgAs the Fed steps in to save the financial world with a bridge to nowhere AIG, we pause to reflect on the results from Monday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, which asked whether the woes of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch would hurt your career.

We received 830 responses, and quite a few of them looked like this one:

It’s the end of the world.

Overall, 42% of practicing attorneys said the demise of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch would hurt their careers, which is way up from the 27% who said the same about Bear Stearns back in March. Law students are even more concerned, with 50% of 3Ls, 68% of 2Ls, and 63% of 1Ls feeling fearful.

While a third of New Yorkers were afraid about the impact of Bear Stearns back in March, the more recent collapses have frightened 55% of the Big Apple’s Big Law respondents. In fact, fear has risen dramatically in every market:

Responses by market: Are you afraid that the recent collapse will hurt your career?


City/Region
After Merrill Lynch    
& Lehman Brothers    
After
Bear Stearns
Austin
20% yes
-
Dallas
20% yes
-
Miami
20% yes
-
Boston
31% yes
16% yes
Houston
34% yes
-
Washington, D.C.    
37% yes
20% yes
Bay Area
38% yes
13% yes
Chicago
39% yes
8% yes
Los Angeles
41% yes
24% yes
Philadelphia
44% yes
17% yes
Atlanta
54% yes
25% yes
Charlotte
54% yes
-
New York
55% yes
33% yes

Additional discussion, including selected comments from survey respondents, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Life After Lehman Brothers?”

irs new jobs no layoffs.jpgWe 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.

The IRS Office of Chief Counsel — A Great Place to Start Your Tax Career [TaxProf Blog]

aig.jpg* The Fed reverses course and agrees to bail out insurance giant American International Group. [Forbes]

* Alaskan lawmakers file suit to stop the “Troopergate” investigation of Sarah Palin. [New York Times]

* Eight lawyers are on the American Lawyer’s 2008 Lifetime Achievers list for “history-making accomplishments.” [American Lawyer]

* The law against baggy pants is deemed unconstitutional. “Your Honor, we now have the fashion police.” [Palm Beach Post]

* DLA Piper will help raise funds for maglev trains in California. [The Press-Telegram]

Covington Burling LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGIt turns out that the mystery meeting at Covington & Burling involved some great news for Covington, and some bad news for Heller Ehrman.

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.

Partners Leave Heller as Mayer Backs Off [Law.com]

Heller Ehrman, Mayer Brown Merger Is Off [Daily Journal] (subscription)]

Earlier: Covington & Burling’s Mystery Meeting

Law Firm Merger Mania: The Heller / Mayer Merger Is Off

jimmy walker.JPG* 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]

Gabriel_Schwartz_t220.jpgIt 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Gabriel Schwartz”

price gouging.jpgIn 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:

  • Florida AG Bill McCollum has hit up four gas stations with subpoenas. [The Gainesville Sun]

  • 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?

    In Defense of Price Gougers [Fox News]

    wall street bull backside.jpgThough 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.

    The Grim Reaper Award: Weil Gotshal & Manges.

    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.

    The “Doesn’t Anybody Have Any Missiles Left?” Award: Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

    Bear? Gone. Lehman? Going. Does this firm have any clients left? Or associates left?

    The People Under the Stairs Award: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

    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?

    The K-Y Jelly Award: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

    Can anything happen in this economy without the lube provided by Wachtell? Don Fanucci didn’t wet his beak this much.

    The Melting ceremony continues after the break.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Meltdown Awards:
    Law Firm Winners and Losers “

    Paper Chase law school competition.jpgWe 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?

    Check out the Gunner’s email, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More Advice for Law Students: Don’t Do This

    We received a very interesting offer letter for the 2009 summer class sent out by Proskauer Rose:

    proskauer rose logo.JPGOur 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.

    recession california associate pay raises.jpgIt 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.

    • 16 Sep 2008 at 10:12 AM
    • Uncategorized

    Sidley to Associates: Be Cool Boy

    Sidley Austin new logo Sidley Austin Brown Wood ATL Above the Law blog.jpgWhat 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?

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