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  • 03 Sep 2008 at 5:21 PM
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The Cadwalader Files: Partners Are People Too

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft new logo CWT AboveTheLaw blog.jpgWe’ve finally finished reading the full American Lawyer article (subscription) about the internal machinations at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. With great access to firm chair Chris White, Nate Raymond weaves together a brilliant tale of greed, homogenization, and the differences between running a law firm and running a business.
We encourage you to read the full article. For those busy trying to hang onto their jobs, we’ll give you a few excerpts.
One thing is very clear: the partners over there are totally screwed too, at least as much as you can be “screwed” while making millions of dollars a year:

At Cadwalader, the push for profits is relentless. The average Cadwalader partner brings in around $5 million in revenue, and has to worry all the time about maintaining those numbers. “We expect people to produce,” Link says, unapologetically. “Cadwalader is a meritocracy.” High performers are rewarded with shares and bonuses-at the expense of those farther down the food chain.

Talk about a pie eating contest where the prize is more pie.
As we reported yesterday, there is just no way of knowing right now if the defection of Andrew Perel is an outlier or a precursor. Yet White talks about his departed partners in language usually reserved for junior associates:

White contends that many of the partners who leave are people who couldn’t keep up. “In some respects, peer pressure doesn’t go away [when you're a partner],” he says. “When you’re in an environment where everyone is performing at a very high level, and you’re accustomed to performing at that level, it becomes difficult when you’re not performing at that level.”

More about the new (!) Cadwalader business plan, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Cadwalader Files: Partners Are People Too”

Hamptons mansion shingle style cottage.jpgMy friend Anna is a summer wife.
You see, her “summer” husband, Abraham, does what all high-powered law firm partners do each summer: he dispatches his wife to the summer home in the Hamptons or Shelter Island or Martha’s Vineyard.
This allows Biglaw partners to supper in the city with the single senior (or summer) associates. I mean, these guys can’t be alone at dinnertime. They have to supper with someone, so why not with an associate who is close by or, better yet, in the same office?
One night, after I meet Abraham, I ask him about his family in exile, and how he is adjusting to their absence from his day- to-day life. He says: “Well, it’s better for the kids to be out there in the summer…. They have the beach, their grandparents are there….”
Blah. Blah. Blah. We’re in the midst of a global warming crisis; we’re all supposed to be wearing SPF 45, even when just driving in our cars. Do the kids really need that much sun and sea? And is it really benefiting them if their father is absent from their lives most days of the week? Or is this arrangement really better for you, Abraham?
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Summer Wives (Part 1 of 2)”

dupont demands female minority law firms.jpgIf you want to change how law firms behave, you have to change what their clients want.
Some companies are trying to do just that. Du Pont, Shell, and Wal-Mart have teamed up to publish a list of law firms that are owned by women or minorities. The National Law Journal reports that this list is a just a directory of law firms that the companies themselves have used in the past. But the goal is clearly to push clients towards retaining law firms that place an emphasis on gender and racial diversity.
NLJ quotes DuPont’s general counsel, Tom Sager:

Judges, juries and public officials are becoming more diverse, so companies benefit from using firms that offer a diverse set of lawyers who can identify with these decision-makers.

Sound laudable? Or at least appropriately self-interested? Read about the counterargument after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clients Asking for More Women / Minorities”

DLA Piper logo Above the Law blog.jpg
We continue our series on no offers with new information from DLA and Bryan Cave.
First the good news. The reports on DLA Piper no offers seem to be exaggerated. We had heard that as many as 1/3rd of the of the DLA summer calls had been no offered. But DLA spokesperson Jason Costa assures us that the final number of offers will be “significantly above” 2/3rds of the class.
Costa reports that DLA’s summer associate review is still ongoing. Therefore there are DLA summers who will receive offers from the firm, but have not yet been contacted.
But we’re not living in the 90s and a 100% offer rate is probably a little too much to hope for. Costa emphasized that an “overwhelming majority” of summers will receive offers.
Costa also said that he was not aware of any summers that had been “wait-listed,” or received offers yet told to continue looking for other employment.
Bryan Cave LLP logo AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgThe people at Bryan Cave also emphasized the strength of their summer class, while admitting that not every summer associate would be receiving an offer.
After the jump, firms try to locate the magic number.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide No Offer Watch: DLA and Bryan Cave”

satire vegatables annoying law student.jpgRidiculum brings us the story of Tiffany Shah. A fictional Duke 2L (we hope) who never learned the Major League lesson about celebrating when the guy next to you just died.
Not that there aren’t many real life Tiffany Shah’s out there. This excerpt could be about any number of 2Ls who need to reassess their lives.

A typical conversation goes something like this: ‘Hello. Is this SULLIVAN AND CROMWELL? Yes, SULLIVAN? Great! I have an OFFER to come back and I’d LOVE to schedule an interview.’ And not only does she place emphasis on the firm name but she turns around and looks at the whole freakin’ room while doing it.

Some of you know this person. Some of you are this person. She’s the reason why God made vegetables perishable.
Student Loudly Schedules Her Multiple Callbacks in Law School Common Area [Ridiculum]

buddy caldwell louisiana ag.jpgWith the hurricane season upon us, residents of coastal states are watching the radar and making storm plans. While New Orleans residents are wondering whether it’s safe to go home after Hurricane Gustav, their attorney general wants to make sure it’s affordable to come home.
Louisiana Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell plans to crack down on price-gougers, after getting complaints about inflated prices for hotel rooms and gasoline. But who isn’t complaining about gasoline prices these days?
From The Daily Advertiser:

The attorney general said that under state law, owners, managers, employees and “anyone who participates in jacking up prices” is subject to a $500 fine and six months in prison on each count of price gouging.
“Like a rattlesnake, first we give a warning,” ["Buddy"] said. But if a business doesn’t comply with the law, “then we bite.”

What’s that sound? It’s the long rattle of the law.
Attorney general targets gougers [The Daily Advertiser]

funny-pictures-cat-packs-himself-for-your-trip.jpgBack in January and February, we asked you whether you worked on Christmas or New Year’s, or Martin Luther King’s Birthday. We learned that about a quarter of you worked on Christmas, almost a third of you worked over New Year’s, and more than half of you worked on Martin Luther King’s Birthday. This summer, we found that 42% of you worked over the Memorial Day weekend, and 40% of you put in patriot hours over the Fourth of July weekend.
In today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we continue our exploration of the holidays. Specifically, were you able to devote this Labor Day Weekend to fun, family, and the quizzical contemplation of McCain’s veep pander pick, or did you have to bill?
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

Not Hiring sign.jpgWe are receiving great information from the readers on no offers and we continue to follow up with the firms themselves. But one thing that has become very clear is that there will be a lot of 3Ls hitting the recruiting circuit this fall.
Last month, we touched on this issue in the context of OCI cancellation. This month we are hearing that even firms that continued on with OCI decided to flat out reject all 3L applicants, even though they maintained interview slots for 3Ls on their interviewing schedule.
In times like these you’d expect your office of career services to earn its paycheck. Sadly, that does not appear to be happening. No offered 3Ls have been frustrated by the lack of institutional support available at schools around the country.
But it is not like we are living through the Great Depression. There are still jobs out there for good students from good schools. This fall, 3Ls might need to think a little outside the box, but is there any doubt that full time employment awaits all who apply?
Staying on campus while potential employers come to you is a great perk associated with top flight legal education — a perk that is not at all representative of how most people find work.
Our advice is to be proactive in your job hunt. But we’d like to bring the collective knowledge of the ATL community to bear on the matter. If you are a rising 3L who just found out that you didn’t receive an offer, what should you do?
Earlier: More on On-Campus Interview Cancellations

oj-simpson.jpg* Former Tyco execs Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz, of $6,000 shower curtain fame, are back in court, looking to overturn their convictions. [Business Week]
* O.J. Simpson, of glove-don’t-fit fame, heads to court in Las Vegas next week for his alleged gunpoint robbery incident. [Associated Press]
* The Republican Convention rolls on. Sarah Palin prepares to speak tonight… [Washington Post]
* … and prepares to speak to Alaskan investigators next month about her alleged abuse of power. [CNN]
* Construing the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act of 1942, Boston Judge Richard Stearns rules that a fraud case against Big Dig contractor employees can proceed. The running of the statute of limitations was tolled during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. [Associated Press]
* An analysis of former AG Alberto Gonzales’s latest problems, in case you “don’t recall.” [Associated Press]

apprentice apprenticeship lawyer baker.jpg

We recently heard a rumor about an associates’ meeting at a top firm, presided over by a partner. Some of the associates complained that they were being overworked. The partner was unsympathetic. His response was more diplomatically worded, but the gist of it was: “In this economy, be grateful you have a job.”
This partner might like the proposal floated last week by Dan Hull over at What About Clients:

If associates get all the benefits of training at my law firm in the first three years, and can’t really add much value anyway, why don’t they pay us?

…. Initially, say, in the first 2 or 3 years, under [this proposal], an associate would be paid in the form of experience of being immersed in learning how to be a lawyer as he or she worked with more senior lawyers. A “trainee” would: (1) be paid either very minimal or at most paralegal-level salaries–don’t laugh, a good paralegal is often markedly more valuable and cost-efficient than a “brilliant” first-year associate–and perhaps some other benefits; or (2) actually pay the law firm a nominal stipend–a “tuition”, in effect, to cover some costs (and risks) of “training”–in a flexible apprenticeship arrangement which could be revisited.

More details about the proposal, which Hull refers to as a new “Value Movement,” are available in the full post.
Readers, what do you think? A brilliant innovation, sheer lunacy, or something in between?
Should associates pay their law firms in the first 2 to 3 years? [What About Clients?]

manhattan skyline lawfim realtors.jpg* The vetting of Sarah Palin continues. As mayor of Wasilla, she hired Steven Silver. Silver was a client of Jack Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig, then was chief-of-staff for Ted Stevens. [Talking Points Memo]
* The vetting of anybody that has ever laid eyes on Sarah Palin continues. In today’s crosshairs is Thomas Van Flein, the lawyer Palin retained to help her with the ethics investigation involving her in Alaska. [WSJ Law Blog]
* At least realtors care about the struggles of Biglaw associates. [Crain's via New York Observer]
* A lawyer completely forgot about his client for two years. But I bet he’ll remember him now. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
* Marquette University Law School has started a new faculty blog. [Marquette University Law School]
* A barbecue Blawg Review. [Austin DWI Lawyer via Blawg Review]

plaquemines parish levee prisoner inmates.jpgAs was widely reported in yesterday’s coverage of Hurricane Gustav, quick thinking and brute manpower relieved the pressure on a private levee in Plaquemines Parish. The levee protected a subdivision of a couple of hundred homes.
Nearly 400 people participated in saving the levee. Their ranks included residents, first responders, the Army Corps of Engineers… and an unconfirmed number of prison inmates who were pressed into service.
Most of the prisoners from New Orleans and surrounding areas were evacuated well ahead of Gustav’s landfall. In Orleans Parish, about 300 municipal prisoners were simply delivered out of bondage. Only violent municipal offenders were kept in custody and moved with the 2500 inmates held on more serious charges.
Yet there were still enough prisoners on hand to help out when the Plaquemines Parish levee weakened.
We spoke with Pam Laborde, a spokeswomen for the Louisiana Department of Corrections. She could not tell us which parish’s prisoners were involved in the levee saving efforts. However she was not surprised that there was extra muscle on hand.

It’s not unusual in those types of emergencies to hold a few people on a work crew back so that they are able to help perform certain functions keeping the city government working. Whether they run the kitchen or as a work crew for cleaning the roads or that type of thing.

It’s one thing to scrub a latrine, but prisoners who helped to save a levee that protected homes — and potentially saved lives — should merit a “get out of jail free” card.
Laborde did not know the specifics involving efforts of these particular inmates (or their crimes), but she said that generally no such special consideration is given for state prisoners who stay behind and in harm’s way. She did say that if they were municipal prisoners, any time off would be given at the discretion of the individual Sheriffs’ departments.
Not surprisingly, Plaquemines Parish Sheriff “Jiff” Hingle could not be reached for comment.
Lawlessness can be a common occurrence during natural disasters, but apparently not all of it is bad.
Concerns about New Orleans-area levee ease [CNN]

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