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.
In 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:
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
* 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]
“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.
Reasons 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
Good 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:
Tropical 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.
We 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.
Jiminy jillickers! ATL editors are going all over the place over the next month or so. Or at least all over the Eastern Seaboard. If we aren’t heading to your neck of the woods on these trips, never fear, we may hit you up on the next time around. We’ve already hit up Houston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the past year.
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
The JOBS Act created new tools for companies to publicly advertise securities deals online. As a result, thousands of new deals have hit the market and hundreds of millions in capital has been raised, spurring a wealth of new business development opportunities for attorneys.
Fund deals, startup capital raises, PIPE deals and loan syndicates are just a handful of the transactions benefiting from the JOBS Act. InvestorID FirmTM is a platform designed to help attorneys equip their clients with the workflow, marketing and compliance tools to publicly solicit a securities offering online. By providing clients with the tools to painlessly navigate the regulatory landscape of general solicitation, InvestorID FirmTM helps attorneys add value above just legal services.
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) went into effect in 2013 and permits Regulation D offerings of securities to be advertised publicly. This means that funds and companies can now use social media, emails and web sites to market transactions to new “accredited” investors.
However, with these new powers come new pain points. InvestorID FirmTM provides a secure, fully hosted, cloud-based platform with a breadth of tools for your clients, including: