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Dechert logo.JPGReaders have demanded more information about the so-called “stealth layoffs” at Dechert. Finally, we have additional information to report.

Readers, commenters, tipsters, recruiters, employees, and the Virgin Mary who appeared to me in a breakfast grapefruit are all reporting that a number of associates will be laid off at the end of this month. These layoffs have nothing to do with the March departures from the firm, and contradict the firm’s official statements on the matter.

As best we can tell, no less than 10 and no more than 30 associates were told at the end of July that they would be laid off in 3 months. According to one tipster:

Effectively we were told that we can come in to work, but do not have to, and we can tell the recruiters and places where we interview that we still have a job at Dechert. Now, at the end of the three months our salaries would stop coming. These three months was our severance. At the same time the partners did absolutely nothing to help us locate jobs because most were too afraid to do anything.

As many of you know, Gina Passarella of the Legal Intelligencer was able to speak at length (free version) with Dechert Chairman Bart Winokur. Mr. Winokur declined to speak with ATL directly, but in the Intelligencer article he does not really deny that associates were asked to “move on” in this manner. Instead, the Intelligencer reports:

“In my view, layoffs are when you decide to cut head count,” Winokur said. “It’s not when you decide to replace people with better people.”

Winokur said the culture of the firm is to improve year over year and when people reach a point of seniority and still aren’t getting better, the firm will sometimes tell them they don’t have a future at Dechert.

Whatever advantages there are to stealth layoffs are pretty much destroyed when your firm chairman starts talking about replacing people “with better people.” People we’ve talked to have emphasized that the firm is doing nothing to help associates put on notice find new jobs.

Even if you look at all of the evidence in the light least favorable to the firm, it doesn’t look like the number of July/October layoffs rise to the level that has been mentioned by some of our commenters.

But, there might be some other stealth moves going on. Read more after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dechert: Inside The Black Box”

Tulane steals Mr. Rogers shoe.JPGWe reported yesterday that students at Tulane Law School allegedly absconded with Mr. Rogers’s shoe from the Louisiana Children’s Museum.

Well, an intrepid trolley has returned the treasured keepsake. Let’s get the details….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Update: It Is a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!”

1163919784-1162668862733.jpgIn last Wednesday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we asked you whether you billed over Columbus Day Weekend this year.

We received 1,175 responses, and were pleasantly surprised to learn that 26% of you had a pleasant three-day weekend. Associates in Boston were most likely to enjoy a discovery-free Columbus Day, with offices at Bingham, Goodwin Procter, and Ropes & Gray reportedly closed for the day. Overall, 46% of Boston respondents reported that they had not worked over the holiday weekend, followed by 36% of respondents in Philadelphia.

Of course, not all respondents were so lucky. As one associate commented:

One of the name partners threw a hissy fit when someone asked for the time off, because “Columbus Day isn’t Christmas, and this weekend is just like every other weekend.” We were only absent one associate on Monday. Everyone else not a partner was working.

Nice.

Of those who spent time at the office, though, only 65% said that their office was actually open. Among worker bees whose offices were actually closed, 52% said that they simply had things they needed to get done. Another 21% said that a partner had told them to work over the weekend, while 8% said a client had asked them to finish something. 13% said they needed the hours.

But two percent of respondents who worked over Columbus Day weekend even though the office was closed said that they just “wanted to impress people,” which is just sad roughly consistent with prior holiday surveys.

Overall, about 58% of respondents who worked over Columbus Day weekend believed that the work was worth it.

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


[Ed Note: Do you have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com]

ATL –

I’m a 2L at a T25 school and I have one callback interview. My grades are average. Do you have any tips on how to nail the interview?

Nervous Nelly

pls hndle copy 2.jpgDear Nervous Nelly –

Firm interviews are congeniality contests; you wouldn’t be called back unless the firm already saw your grades and decided they could live with them. Since the job is yours to lose, here are a few tips on how to turn on the charm:

1. Appearance. Don’t even think about wearing that Armani Alfani suit with those Kenneth Crap patent leather squared toed monstrosities. Ladies, save that yellow “statement” brocade suit for when you apply to be a Versailles courtier. If your roots are showing, dye them; if you’re too fat for your suit, wrap yourself in cellophane and hit the gym. Interviewers want colleagues that they can potentially date or set up with friends, not co-workers who rummage for treasure at Filene’s Basement. At least have the decency to stick some red tape to the back of your shoes.

2. Tackling Corny Questions. Most interviews involve ridiculous questions like, “Why did you decide to go to law school?” and my personal favorite, “What’s your greatest weakness?” Frankly, nobody wants to hear some garbage about how law is your “passion” or how your mother read Emanuel outlines aloud to you as a baby. Winning responses are ones that the interviewer can actually relate to, like “I actually was forced into going to law school by my parents, but it turned out to be a good fit.” During OCI, a partner asked me what my favorite TV show was, and my answer – Cribs – cracked her up and scored me a callback. Working at a firm is objectively depressing, so bring some laughter to their weary world.

3. Reverse Psychology. Studies have shown that interviews where the interviewer hogs the time are rated very positively by the interviewer, so put on your complimenting hat and sally forth. A good launching point is any framed pictures of hideous children or fat spouses. If the interviewer drops the word “fiancé” in conversation, you’ve struck gold because engaged people are always eager to brag about their impending wedding. The more time the interviewer spends talking about him or herself, the less time there is for corny questions (see #2).

As unhelpful as this sounds, you might also want to, er, RELAX and attempt to be yourself on the interview. Sweating profusely and providing canned answers to questions only makes you look desperate. Not having a firm job may seem like Armageddon, but trust me, it’s not. It just might be the beginning of something great.

Your friend,

Marin

Elie’s take after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx:
Four Minutes to Save the World”

[Ed. Note: Eliza Gray is a new writer for Above the Law. She graduated from Harvard and after a six-month stint in Brussels covering European Union politics at the European Voice, she moved back to New York to pursue a journalism career. She and Kash will be alternating Morning Docket responsibilities.]

diaper powder.jpg* Chief Judge ‘Naughty’ Nottingham has been a frequent guest on ATL. Sadly, loyal readers, it is time to say good-bye. Judge Nottingho, woops, we mean Nottingham, officially resigned yesterday. [Rocky Mountain News]

* If only Nottingham was from San Francisco. Voters will decide next month whether to legalize prostitution. [Associated Press]

* Remember that astronaut who drove across country to confront her ex-boyfriend, wearing diapers so that she wouldn’t have to make any pit stops? Lisa Nowak returned to court yesterday. [The New York Times]

* She got lucky, probably because she’s a star. Britney Spears’s hit-and-run case ended in a mistrial yesterday. After 8 hours of deliberation, the jury was “deadlocked.” The Deputy City Attorney Michael Amerian agreed to drop the case. [Times Online, UK]

* Prosecutors are investigating a German bank for paying Lehman brothers 319 million euro ($411 million) on the day that Lehman went bankrupt. [Bloomberg.com]

* Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin will be extradited from the UK after yesterday’s guilty verdict. [Financial Times]

* Closing arguments yesterday in Senator Stevens’s trial. [Reuters]

Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGThree Heller Ehrman employees have decided to sue the firm. They allege that the firm owes them wages under the WARN act, as well as the California state labor code.

According to The Recorder:

The named plaintiffs are Laura Werth, a technology assistant in San Francisco who joined the firm in September 1996; Carl Goodman, a senior manager of business development in Seattle who joined the firm in September 2005; and Anna Scarpa, a manager of professional services who joined the firm in October 2006. Werth and Goodman were laid off on Oct. 10, while Scarpa was laid off Oct. 17.

Matthew Helland, the Nichols Kaster attorney representing the employees, could ask for $5 million in damages.

Heller management must have seen this coming, but that doesn’t mean they will prevail.

Read the complaint here.

Heller Faces Class Action Suit by Laid-Off Employees [Law.com]

Welch, Goodman, and Scarpa v. Heller Ehrman.pdf

Earlier: So Much For 60 Days WARNing: Part II

Bart Winokur Dechert.jpg* Dechert Chairman and CEO Bart Winokur holds the firm line. The money quote: Winokur says “this is all such bull, if you don’t mind my saying so,” in response to the layoff rumors. [Legal Intelligencer] (subscription).

* Simpson Thacher is doing their bailout work on the cheap. Expect to be reminded of that come bonus time. [WSJ Law Blog]

* If Obama wins, can I get my Scarface on? [Drug and Device Law]

* Shameless plug: Lat at Columbia Law School tomorrow. [Columbia Law School Federalist Society]

* We’re sorry for all your layoff trouble Chicago. Maybe this Illinois based Blawg Review will cheer you up. [Preaching to the Perverted via Blawg Review]

Jenner Block LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGThere are a couple of updates to this morning’s post about the 10 Jenner & Block partners that have been laid off.

Many people emailed us claiming that six associates were also let go. And there are six associate bios that we expected to see that are no longer on the firm website. But the firm maintains that no associates will be leaving with the partners:

Jenner & Block did not recently lay off six associates and does not plan to do so in the near future.

We have a long-standing policy of not publicly commenting on individual personnel matters. As in all law firms, associates join and leave the Firm for various reasons. Some of the associates who have left this year have joined clients as in-house lawyers, some have returned to school, some have joined other law firms. Associates also leave to join the government, work for not-for-profit organizations or personal reasons. Some associates are asked to leave due to performance.

As we’ve suggested before, not every associate departure is a “layoff.” Natural attrition and simple poor performance can cause any individual person to leave a firm. Jenner not only denied the specific associate layoff rumors that we have heard, they also essentially promised that associates were safe. That’s a stronger response than some other firms have offered.

We’ll keep an eye out for “performance reviews” that start to look like patterns.

But is the partner bloodletting finished? After the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Layoff Update: Jenner & Block”

child learns adult games.jpgIt’s a cute story gone horribly wrong. Twenty-eight doe-eyed pre-schoolers and their parents embarked on a field trip to the Land of Make Believe in Hope, N.J.

While they pranced and frolicked at the amusement park, their bus driver passed the time by watching some hard-core porn on the bus. Unfortunately, he forgot to swap out the tape for a Disney movie for the ride back.

From Courthouse News Service:

“As the bus was traveling, the children and adults were subjected to the graphic images and sound of said hardcore pornographic movie,” according to the complaint in Hudson County Court. “The passengers were subjected to this for several minutes before the driver turned it off as a result of the screams and shouts of the parents.

From the “Land of Make Believe” to the land of “make it harder and faster.”

The school is now suing the bus company and driver for damages, claiming that numerous parents took their children out of the school as a result of the incident. Good luck trying to use “the stork” story on those kids.

Oops [Courthouse News Service]

Back in February, we broke the news of the engagement of Monica Goodling — the high-powered former Justice Department lawyer, who admitted to “cross[ing] the line” into politics with respect to DOJ hiring — to Michael Krempasky, the Edelman exec and prominent conservative blogger.

We are now pleased to announce that Goodling and Krempasky got married earlier this month. Congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple!

(And condolences to those of you who think of Goodling as a “Sexy Puritan”; she is now officially off the market.)

P.S. Speaking of lawyer nuptials, Legal Eagle Wedding Watch is on a temporary hiatus. But fear not — it will be back soon.

Earlier: Monica Goodling Is Engaged!
A Postcript on the Monica Goodling – Michael Krempasky Engagement

Tulane steals Mr. Rogers shoe.JPGI know a couple of Tulane Law School graduates, and those people can party. And gamble. And eat what they kill.

Now, the Louisiana Children’s Museum knows how Tulane rolls too. The Tulane law school student body just received this email:

Students, we need your help with a theft that occurred at Barrister’s Ball. As you know, the event was held in the Children’s Museum. There was a display devoted to “Mr. Rogers” (Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”) at the top of a staircase. The display contained shoes actually worn by Mr. Rogers, on loan from a private collection. These shoes are therefore unique and irreplaceable.

During the ball one of the shoes was stolen, most likely by a student. The theft was noticed Sunday morning by the museum staff but not reported to us until today. I’m afraid I cannot overemphasize the gravity of this incident. It appears that one of the students of this Law School committed theft, a serious crime. It is also a violation of the Tulane University Code of Student Conduct. Moreover, what was stolen was of very high value. The stolen item must be returned immediately. Otherwise, the Law School may be forced to pay for the item and future SBA events held in venues off campus will be in serious jeopardy.

Until close of business tomorrow (Wednesday) we are taking a “no questions asked” approach to this situation. Our primary goal is simply the return of the shoe. If you know anything about this incident, please report it to Dean Netherton or myself. You can also communicate with SBA President [redacted]. You can report anonymously if you wish. If the shoe is returned to Dean Netherton’s office by close of business tomorrow, the Museum will not turn over the matter to the NOPD. If it is not, the Museum will turn over the matter to the NOPD. I hope it is obvious that being under suspicion or arrested in connection with this incident would have the most serious negative implications for your future career as a lawyer.

Thank you for your help,

Stephen M. Griffin

Vice Dean of Academic Affairs

Reactions after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Tulane Law School: Showing Mr. Rogers How They Roll In Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood”

BU Law logo.JPGGetting accurate information about professors is a problem for law students across the nation. Until pedagogical initiatives result in every student getting a certificate of participation, grades will still be very important to law students.

At Boston University School of Law, every semester students submit reviews of their professors, and those reviews are published so that other students can make better decisions. BU Law has the best professors, according to Princeton Review.

But not every class is a winner. Last year, a 1L property professor received scathing reviews from many of the students. We don’t know all the details about what happened in that class, but we’ve heard some negative things about the professor’s teaching style, grading system, and personality.

Apparently, the reviews were so bad that BU Law Dean Maureen O’Rourke took the extraordinary step of addressing the entire class. According to one tipster:

The students who showed up to the meeting were given no apologies. They were told that the administration read the reviews and did not think that they were indicative of Prof. McClain’s teaching. The students were informed that McClain would get tenure regardless, so that they should leave the issue alone.

When the dean was pressed on whether the reviews would nevertheless be published, she said that they would not be published, not even the 1-5 bubble fill-ins ranging from poor to excellent on overall teaching evaluation.

What is the point of having a student review system when bad reviews are expunged from the record? (Former ATL Law School Dean Hottie) Dean O’Rourke responds after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Boston University School of Law: 1L Property Students Take On The Dean”

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