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pyramid scheme capstone.jpgEarlier 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.”

Silver lining?
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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Open Thread: Blame The Associates”

Lolita Vladimir Nabokov.jpgOne of our favorite law professor bloggers, Stephen Bainbridge, chimes in on yesterday’s summer associate scandal story. His commentary appears here.
Our general view of the matter was summed up by a commenter: “Guys from my high school used to seal the deal with girls from college all the time. It was no big deal.” Professor Bainbridge begs to differ.
P.S. Same rules apply. Please don’t name any individuals in the comments — including, but not limited to, the summer associate, the college intern, or the associate who brought the SA’s conduct to the attention of the hiring partner. Thanks.
Advice for Young Law Firm Associates: Don’t Poop Where You Eat [Punditry - Professor Bainbridge]
Earlier: Summer Associate of the Day: The Cradle Robber
Update: Take our reader poll:

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.”

Duane Morris LLP.jpgLate 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.

Reductions in force don’t sound very conductive to “building up” a “more experienced” team. But a “leaner” one, certainly.
Duane Morris cuts marketing, business development staff [National Law Journal]

comparing.jpgIn connection with on-campus interviewing season, we’re giving you a chance to assess the firms that made this year’s Vault 100 list of most prestigious law firms. The previous open threads listed firms in groups of five, but to up the pace, we’ll list them by ten from here on out. Here’s the next group, with prestige scores in parentheses:

21. O’Melveny & Myers LLP (6.815)
22. Clifford Chance LLP (6.772)
23. Jones Day (6.763)
24. Morrison & Foerster LLP (6.657)
25. Hogan & Hartson LLP (6.579)
26. Linklaters (6.574)
27. Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy (6.512)
28. Ropes & Gray LLP (6.501)
29. Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP (6.494)
30. Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker (6.481)

We note Magic Circle firm Linklaters making a big leap from the high 30s in the 2008 list to #26 this year — perhaps because its “notable perks” include group retreats to Europe, a drinks trolley, and an on-site doctor and dentist.
Compare. Contrast. Discuss. Thanks.
Earlier: Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009

dancing baby.jpg* It looks like 2008 will be the worst year for law firms since 2001. The American Lawyer says the “silver lining” is that firms can “winnow out unproductive lawyers and apply greater discipline to expense control.” In other words: more layoffs, fewer perks. [American Lawyer]
* Law firms aren’t the only ones suffering. Florida courts will cut 250 positions by October 1. [Daily Business Review]
* Senator Ted Stevens fails to get his corruption trial relocated from Washington, D.C. to Alaska. His need to be in his home state to campaign for reelection did not convince the judge. [Washington Post]
* “Metrolink killer” — who left his gas-doused SUV on the California rails, causing a train crash that killed 11 people — has been sentenced to 11 consecutive life sentences. [Los Angeles Times]
* University of Iowa professor Arthur Miller, accused of trading grades for gropes, has gone missing. [Iowa City Press-Citizen via TaxProf Blog]
* “Dancing baby” lawsuit can go forward. [Associated Press]

Here’s an idea for how Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft — America’s Firingest Law Firm™, which laid off 35 lawyers in January, and then 96 more last month — can keep its surviving attorneys (plus all those incoming first-years) gainfully employed.

Have them work on the litigation over managing partner Robert Link’s Hamptons house.

Cadwalader Managing Partner In Hamptons Real Estate Squabble [Am Law Daily]
Robert O. Link, Jr. v. Richard Sarcona: Complaint (PDF) [Am Law Daily]
3 Halsey Path, Southampton, NY [Zillow]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Robert Link (scroll down)
Prior ATL coverage of CWT (scroll down)

Lolita Vladimir Nabokov.jpg“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my law firm. My sin, my soul, my summer intern. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”
Now that summer associate programs are over, and most summers have offers safely in hand, it’s a good (read: safe) time to dish about SA scandals. If you have a story to share that we haven’t previously covered, please email us.
Here’s one story that is making the rounds. We’ve omitted the firm name because the summer class was not very large. Per our usual rules, please don’t name the summer associate (or the college student) in the comments.
After a firm-sponsored event, a college student interning at the firm went out for drinks with several summer and full-time associates. She was not old enough to be drinking.
The college intern, in a state of inebriation, left the bar hanging all over one of the summer associates (hereinafter “The Cradle Robber”). Later that evening, the Cradle Robber wrote an email to several associates, claiming that “the deal was sealed” with the college intern.
An associate forwarded the email to the hiring partner. The Cradle Robber did not receive an offer.
Read our take on this series of events, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Summer Associate of the Day: The Cradle Robber”

comparing.jpgReasons for reading ATL vary from person to person. But we have been told by some people that one of the greatest benefits of following the site is gaining familiarity with law firms and the differences between them.
In that vein, we shall continue on with our series of open threads on the Vault 100. (Sorry, haters! Though we are taking under advisement the idea that we list them in groups of ten from this point forward.)
Here are the next five, with prestige scores in parentheses:

16. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP (7.056)
17. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (7.055)
18. White & Case LLP (7.054)
19. Shearman & Sterling LLP (7.043)
20. Arnold & Porter LLP (6.905)

Of the five, White & Case has the most bizarre list of notable perks: “Gender- and reason-neutral flexible work arrangement program” (what does that mean?), “Cold, anonymous” (yippee?), and “Dinosaur” (the ferocious or the fossilized kind?).
Time to compare and contrast. We invite you to have at it.
Earlier: Vault 100 Open Threads- 2009

LEWW champagne2.jpgGood news for Legal Eagle Wedding Watchers: LEWW will be returning to a more frequent and timely posting schedule! Beginning next week, we’ll once again feature our gold standard of three fabulous couples per week to ogle and dissect.
We’ll bring you more hot August weddings tomorrow and Friday, but for now, it’s time for our readers to vote on a Couple of the Month for July. Although their write-up wasn’t in the NYT and therefore didn’t run in our normal LEWW column, we’re including celebrity professors Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein, whose union merited LEWW bonus coverage last month (as well as a shout-out in the Washington Post’s Reliable Source column).
For more information on these newlyweds, click on the link below. When you’re ready to vote, here’s the poll:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch: July’s Couple of the Month”

Tropical Storm Fay.jpgTropical Storm Fay — what a beeatch! Doesn’t she know the job market is tough enough as it is?

The rising 2Ls at the University of Florida are really getting screwed because of Tropical Storm Fay. This thing hasn’t even hit land and is not even remotely near our school (but admittedly, probably is near the homes of some of the interviewers), yet the school has canceled the first three days of Early Interview Week OCI.

This is when many of the Biglaw / otherwise “good” employers come. All the firms are supposed to reschedule the interviews. But especially for the interviewers from non-Florida firms/offices, what [are the chances] that they’re going to make the effort to come back? Even if they do, by now they’ve probably started interviewing students from “better” schools.

Our correspondent wonders how other Florida law schools and law firms are dealing with the storm. If you have info to share, feel free to chime in.
Announcement emails from the career services office at UF, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Does Tropical Storm Fay Hate UF?”

128340228652187500thebosswunts.jpgWe received about 600 responses to this week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on associate reviews, and there were some interesting twists.
First, while most firms, 60%, only conduct reviews once a year, a growing number, 35%, are providing six-month reviews as well.
A handful of firms split the difference, conducting six-month reviews for laterals and first-year associates, but then defaulting back to once a year. Others are conducting mid-year reviews for “underperforming” associates only, which doesn’t appear to be a great recipe for great press.
Of course, not many associates think that they’re underperforming:
 * Almost 90% of respondents said that their reviews were “positive” (29%) or “very positive” (57%).
 * Only 6% of respondents said that their reviews were “negative,” and only one percent thought they were “very negative.”
 * The remaining 7% thought their reviews were simply “neutral.”
But even though almost 90% of respondents thought their reviews went well, that doesn’t mean they thought the reviews were fair. In fact, about a quarter of associates who thought their reviews were positive still said that they were actually more likely to look for a new job in light of those reviews.
Find out more about how associates reviewed their reviews, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Dreading That Review?”

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