We have not forgotten last week’s promise of an ATL caption contest. To refresh your recollection, here’s the photo:
Here’s the actual caption:
Lawyers, from the left, Alan Lash, Justin Fienberg, and Alex Mendez, not lawyer, working on a project at Greenberg Traurig, on 27th floor of 1221 Brickell, went to lunch and found the building out of power.
Check out the suggested alternative captions, and vote for your favorite, after the jump.
A suggestion for a discussion topic, from the ATL mailbag:
I searched through the archives for a thread on this, but couldn’t find anything. As a second year law student headed to NYC Biglaw after graduation, I’m already assuming that I will work for the firm I start with for no more than three or four years. The idea of being a Biglaw partner does not sound like the life for me.
What really interests me is the possibility of moving to the business world to work for a big bank or a Fortune 500 company. Yet the qualifications and legal experience that an associate needs to get to make that sort of move are still very vague to me. It is a topic that I would be afraid to talk about at my firm as well.
So I was hoping you could start an open thread where people talk about their experience in moving from Big Law to Big Business, and how young associates should go about making the move. I hope this topic can be discussed on abovethelaw soon. Thanks.
We’re happy to oblige; here’s the requested open thread. Our general advice — which is, we admit, pretty obvious — would be: get your clients to like you as much as possible. Many of the lawyers we’ve known who have made the transition from law to business jumped over to a client who loved working with them. Some went to work for the client in a legal capacity, then moved over to the business side later; others went over directly to the business side.
In addition, to the (very persistent) commenter(s) seeking a place to talk about MBA degrees in Biglaw — special bonuses for business degree holders, enhanced job prospects, seniority credit, etc. — feel free to chime in as well.
(We previously posted an open thread on MBAs and Biglaw. But that was back in August 2007, so we figure it’s okay to revisit the subject now.) Earlier: In Biglaw, Does It Pay To Have An MBA?
We’ll be posting an update on the Dechert situation sometime soon. We’ve received some interesting tips that we’d like to pass along.
In the meantime, we have some news about Thacher Proffitt & Wood. The firm’s official position is that they haven’t laid off anyone; they’ve simply had lots of voluntary departures, some spurred by buyout offers. But that position seems harder and harder to maintain, in light of what we’ve been hearing. Even if there might be a difference in form, there isn’t much of a difference in substance between (1) getting laid off and (2) taking a buyout and/or leaving the firm, after being told that if you stay, you’ll be laid off.
Here are the latest things we’ve been hearing about TPW:
1. “[A] large part, if not all, of the people who had taken the buyout in NY, but were still staying on until May, were told to leave on Friday (buyout still intact).”
2. “Thacher is pushing harder for people to leave. Associates, especially the young ones, that were guaranteed steady work (and jobs) when this first broke last fall have been consistently billing less than 100 hours (as low as 50 hours) per month since. The slowdown is worse than the partners had initially anticipated.”
3. “About another 40 laid off and partner Ollie Armas has left with the entire Mexico City Office.”
We presented the foregoing information to the firm, which responded as follows:
To reiterate our recent statement, Thacher Proffitt has increased our efforts to provide associates with outplacement in practice areas that have been most affected by current market conditions. Other areas, such as litigation, bankruptcy and banking are very busy.
We’ll keep you posted. If you have layoff news, especially if it’s about a firm not previously mentioned in these pages, please email us. Thanks. Update: Although Ollie Armas still appears on the TPW website, we’ve confirmed that he and an unspecified number of other TPW lawyers in Mexico City are moving over to Chadbourne & Parke. Further Update: Perhaps the Mexico City group was no great loss. From a TPW tipster:
Two practice groups left: ’40 act team (3-4 lawyers) and Latin America team (along with entire Mexico City Office). Word is the latter were loss leaders and were cut loose. Both went to join Am Law 100 firms.
As we mentioned in passing on Friday, we’ve been mysteriously banned from Facebook, the popular social networking website. Our account was disabled without notice or explanation. We have not been informed of the allegations against us that led to the suspension of our account, nor have we been given the opportunity to confront our accusers.
To be sure, the Bill of Rights does not apply to Facebook. But being kicked off the FB still makes us sad. We’re going through their appellate process now, but they’re taking their sweet time in disposing of our appeal.
Professor Dan Solove has some interesting thoughts on Facebook and due process over here. Also, if you use Facebook, you might want to check out this interesting post, which lists some reasons people get banished from Facebook. Some of the rules are so vague that you could end up violating them without even knowing it. Update (1:25 PM): Yay!!! We’ve been reinstated. More details, after the jump. Further Update (3/5/08): We wrote more about our Facebook expulsion for the New York Observer.
Although comments in last week’s post suggest a weakening market for judicial clerk hiring, the actual survey results were mixed. A couple dozen respondents claimed that their firms were not hiring judicial clerks, but there were other respondents at almost all of these firms who said that they were hiring clerks, as well as responses from clerks stating that they had received offers from these firms. (And, in at least three cases, I’ve personally worked with clerks who received offers at the supposedly non-hiring firms.) But it does seem clear that firms are more likely to hire clerks in their larger offices, especially New York, than in smaller branches.
That said, the clerks seem to be doing pretty well overall. A quarter of responding clerks have already accepted offers for post-clerkship employment, and another fifth have received offers but haven’t yet decided where to go. Fifteen percent have started interviewing. A quarter have not yet started looking. Only about sixteen percent have started looking, but haven’t yet landed interviews.
Interestingly, 56% of the clerks who have accepted offers are going to firms that they did not work for before clerking. Almost 90% will receive clerkship bonuses, with more than half receiving $50,000.
Check out our table of clerkship bonuses, after the jump.
A number of participants were kind enough to describe their firms’ clerkship bonuses, which we merged with data from various public sources (including firm websites and Law Clerk Addict) and tips to generate the following bonus table for federal judicial clerks. (Please e-mail us with any updates or corrections, and we’ll periodically update the table.)
Bonuses For Judicial Clerks By Firm
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
Arnold & Porter
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
Cahill Gordon & Reindel
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Covington & Burling (DC)
Covington & Burling (NY)
Covington & Burling (SF)
Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Crowell & Moring
Davis Polk & Wardwell
Debevoise & Plimpton
Dewey & LeBoeuf
Edwards Angell Palmer Dodge
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson
Fulbright & Jaworski
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Hogan & Hartson
Irell & Manella
Jenner & Block
Katten Muchin Rosenman
King & Spalding
Kirkland & Ellis
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
Latham & Watkins
Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw
McDermott Will & Emery
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy
Miller & Chevalier
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
Morrison & Foerster
Munger, Tolles & Olson
O’Melveny & Myers
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler
Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
Quinn Emanuel Urguhart Oliver & Hedges
Ropes & Gray (NY)
Ropes & Gray (Outside NY)
Schulte Roth & Zabel
Shearman & Sterling
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal
Sullivan & Cromwell
Vinson & Elkins
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
Weil, Gotshal & Manges
White & Case
Williams & Connolly
Willkie Farr & Gallagher
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Winston & Strawn
*Bonus may be lower in some offices. **Bonus is only available to associates who previously summered at the firm. ***Bonus awarded for Federal Circuit clerkships only. ****Bonus may be higher in other cities. ++A higher bonus is available for 2-year clerks.
Don’t believe everything you read in these pages. If a gossip site isn’t flat-out wrong a sizable percentage of the time, it’s not sufficiently gossipy.
But we were right about something being afoot at Dechert LLP. This morning we wrote:
We’ve been hearing vague rumblings of something about to go down over at Dechert LLP. Said rumblings are reminiscent of what we heard in the days and hours leading up to Cadwalader’s Thursday Morning Massacre….
We hear that certain groups at Dechert are super-slow, and morale in some quarters is super-low. These are, of course, often harbingers of lawyer layoffs.
The slowing economy has hit home at Dechert which has just let go 13 associates strictly in its finance and real estate practice, according to a source inside the firm….
Dechert has given the 13 associates, who have worked in Dechert offices throughout the United States, until the close of business Tuesday to leave. No one was asked to leave Friday, the source said….
There were no additional layoffs prior to today, but some attorneys were shifted into other practice areas, the firm source said. The layoffs comprise less than 10 percent of the 167 attorneys listed in Dechert’s finance and real estate practice, which includes mortgage finance, structured finance and securitization, investment, and mergers and acquisitions.
The attorneys who are leaving were offered three months severance, six months of paid medical benefits and transition placement support, the source said.
Three months seems to be “market” in terms of severance. There was some fear that laid-off Dechert associates were going to get less.
ATL gets a shout-out in the piece:
Legal blog Above The Law has reported extensively on associate and staff layoffs across the country. The reports included associate layoffs at Thacher Proffitt, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft and Clifford Chance, mainly in the structured finance, real estate and capital markets practices of those firms.
The article closes with a helpful overview of the layoff landscape:
Dechert’s news puts the U.S. legal scene over the 100-attorney mark in terms of attorney layoffs and offered buyouts this economic cycle. According to data collected by The American Lawyer, 35 attorneys were laid off at Cadwalader Wickersham; 24 Thacher Proffitt mid-levels were offered buyouts plus an additional five first-years took optional buyouts; six Clifford Chance associates were laid off and 23 associates at McKee Nelson took buyouts.
Check out the full article, which also discusses Dechert’s record-setting year in 2007 — $836 million in gross revenue, and more than $2.3 million in profits per equity partner — by clicking here. Update (5:15 PM): Okay, we’re confused. We just received this email, sent out by firm chairman Barton Winokur, and forwarded to us by a Dechert source. Our source had heard that the 13 were being laid off. But this email implies otherwise:
From: Winokur, Barton
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 4:37 PM
To: ALL Dechert Users
Due to the major shift in market conditions affecting client demands in our Finance and Real Estate practice area, we currently do not have sufficient work for all the associates in FRE. As a consequence, we have told 13 associates in the U.S. FRE group that we see no demand for them in that group in the foreseeable future. However, due to increased and substantial demand in other practice areas, we will be offering those lawyers the opportunity to work in those other groups. Barton J. Winokur
Dechert LLP Update (5:40 PM): We have reached out to Barton Winokur for clarification. We will let you know if and when he gets back to us. Update (6:20 PM): The Legal Intelligencer has revised its piece somewhat, in light of the Winokur email:
The slowing economy has hit home at Dechert which just issued layoff notices to 13 associates strictly in its finance and real estate practice, according to a source inside the firm.
Shortly after the firm confirmed the planned layoffs, the source said Chairman Barton J. Winokur issued a statement that the firm would then offer the 13 associates positions in other practice groups. [Reprints the email.]
There was no word as to whether those associates, who had been given severance packages, accepted the revised offer to switch practices.
Update (6:35 PM): We’re hearing conflicting things about whether these 13 lawyers really are being given the opportunity to switch practice groups, or whether they’re being laid off outright, with additional lawyers getting moved internally.
We will continue to monitor and report about what’s going down at Dechert. If you can clarify this somewhat murky situation for us, please email us. Thanks. Layoffs Hit Dechert Following Record Financial Year [Legal Intelligencer]
* Arnold Schwarzenegger gets his tank back, offers rides to children. [Houston Chronicle]
* The Morality of Trade: “Commerce is not a cuss word.” [Commerce Law]
* Did anybody remember that it’s a leap year? [PrawfsBlawg]
* Perhaps the shortest jury deliberation ever. [CNN]
* Virginia Supreme Court strikes down taxation without representation. So close, DC! [OpenMarket.org]
NYU School of Law announced today that it has hired Professor Kenji Yoshino as a tenured faculty member. He was a visiting professor at the school last year and again this spring.
Professor Yoshino graduated from Yale Law in 1996 and is influential in the fields of constitutional law, anti-discrimination law, and law and literature. It’s quite a score for NYU. Read the original email announcement, from Dean Ricky Revesz, after the jump.
Here’s some happy news from Heller Ehrman. It appears they have heard the complaints, and they’ve done something about them. From one source:
Attached is the long awaited Heller Ehrman compensation memo, and at first glance, I’m pretty impressed. They seemed to have listened to associates’ concerns and made some pretty significant changes. They reinstated the 2000 hour bonus and have decided to retroactively pay the 2000 hour bonus to all eligible associates for 2007. I’m happy about the compensation bump which brings us more in line with the market, but what I’m really excited about is that the firm has decreased the first year billable expectation to 1600 without decreasing salaries. With the launch of a new mentoring program and this announcement about 300 career development hours for first years, the firm is actually acting on its long-stated goal of promoting associate development.
Another tipster concurs, also zeroing in on the new program for first-year associates:
Attached is the Heller Ehrman 2008 Associates Compensation memo, which associates received this morning. I think the compensation memo demonstrates that the firm has responded to associates’ concerns in a very positive way. The firm is reinstating the 2000-hour bonus for 2008, and making retroactive 2000-hour bonus payments for 2007.
Perhaps most positively, the firm is providing 300 hours of career development for first-year associates, so that first-years will now have only a 1600-hour billable requirement. I think law students and first-year associates will see this as a very positive development, which recognizes associates’ desire for career development, but also gives the firm a way to recognize clients’ staffing concerns.
After the bad press the firm has been getting in recent months, I think this memo is some good news, and I hope ATL will recognize it as such.
Marc J. Randazza fills us in on the Texas sex toy ban, just struck down by the Fifth Circuit. According to Marc, the arguments for outlawing the sale of toys for your pleasure-parts are thus:
(1) If the Texas dildo law is invalidated as an improper encroachment upon personal liberty, this will open the floodgates, and laws on bigamy and incest will be struck down too.
(2) Striking down the law “impermissibly overrides state lawmakers’ settled ‘authority to regulate commercial activity they deem harmful to the public’” (naturally citing a dissenting opinion from the 11th Circuit).
Marc slams the arguments for his own well-articulated reasons at the link. To us, the first argument is a slippery (heh) slope argument, which is usually a weak logical tactic. The second argument is stronger, although we’d like to see a list of reasons why sex toys are so harmful.
It is still illegal to sell sex toys in Alabama. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an Alabama case in 2007 on the subject, so the lower court’s ruling (upholding the ban) remains intact. This quote, from Alabama store owner Sherri Williams (the store’s name is “Pleasures”) sums up the passion of people across the Southland who find the ban ridiculous:
“My motto has been they are going to have to pry this vibrator from my cold, dead hand. I refuse to give up,” she said.
We greatly enjoyed our recentvisit to the University of Chicago Law School. The U. Chicago students were very welcoming and made us feel right at home, even inviting us to their law school musical — which, by the way, was delightful.
(We added many of them as friends on Facebook before we were mysteriously banned from the site, without notice or explanation. So if you no longer see us on FB, it’s not because we “de-friended” you, but because our account was disabled.)
A few Chicago students, however, had a bone to pick with us. They objected to this ATL post, which cast the recently announced departure of Professor Cass Sunstein — prominent scholar, beloved teacher, and possible Supreme Court nominee under President Obama — as a hiring coup by Harvard Law School, a triumph by HLS over Chicago. They emphasized that Professor Sunstein’s leaving the Windy City for Cambridge was prompted by personal rather than professional reasons.
Professor Sunstein said as much his farewell email (emphasis added; in fact, all emphases added throughout this post, unless otherwise indicated):
I’m writing to say that I’ve just accepted an appointment at Harvard Law School. It is an understatement to say that I don’t take this step easily or lightly. As most of you know, I’ve been reflecting on this question for several years. I finally decided, for personal reasons, that I need a change.
Since he’s a prominent Obama supporter — as well an adviser to the campaign, but more on that later, since it ties into our tale — it’s not surprising that Professor Sunstein is All About Change.
The law school’s popular leader, Dean Saul Levmore, also stressed the personal component to Professor Sunstein’s move. As he told the University of Chicago’s student newspaper, the Maroon:
“I’m sort of embarrassed that [the story] said that the University of Chicago couldn’t be reached for comment,” Levmore said. “It looks like we didn’t want to talk, but the truth is that this decision [to leave Chicago for Harvard] was based on personal reasons and I respect that privacy. The media will find out about them soon enough.“
With a comment like this, Dean Levmore was basically begging us to go digging. So dig we did.
Let’s see, Cass Sunstein’s “personal reasons” for leaving U. Chicago… hold on a sec. Isn’t Professor Sunstein part of legal academia’s most fabulous power couple, together with that renowned philosopher queen, Professor Martha Nussbaum? And didn’t Professor Nussbaum just turn down a Harvard offer?
That was then; this is now. What we learned in our investigation is consistent with this ATL comment, as well as this (subsequently removed) Wikipedia edit.
It appears that Professor Sunstein may be part of a new “power couple” — in the most literal sense. Rumor has it that he’s romantically involved with Professor Samantha Power — a beautiful, brainy professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who is roughly 15 years his junior. She is a Pulitzer Prize winner who has also been profiled in Men’s Vogue (see glamorous photo, at the top of this post). What’s not to like? Update: More about Samantha Power here (from a college classmate who tried to hit on her, without success, and just ended arguing politics with her).
Now, please don’t give us full credit (or blame) for bringing to light the Sunstein-Power relationship. When we attended the Chicago Law School musical last weekend, Samantha Power got a shout-out near the end of the show, when the Cass Sunstein character announced his departure for Harvard. So the rumor of her romance with Professor Sunstein is already widely known throughout the U. Chicago community (and beyond); it’s no state secret. It is already known to hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
We reached out to all three members of this Mensalicious love triangle, which seems to come straight out of a Saul Bellow novel. Find out what we learned — two of them had no comment, but one of them did — after the jump.
From one of our tipsters:
Richard Rosenbaum, president of Greenburg Traurig, made the following group email faux pas. He used the company listserv to send two emails soliciting contributions for the McCain campaign, proving that law students aren’t the only bumbling souls who screw up listserv etiquette. From Rosenbaum’s first email:
“As we have said on a number of other occasions, our firm does not support any particular presidential candidates as a firm. We are a business catering to a wide range of clients and employing lawyers and staff with a wide variety of interests and preferences in the political arena…”
Blah blah blah, a bunch of politically correct qualifiers, then BANG! The money-grab:
“I have recently been named a National Co-Chair of Senator McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. As has previously been the case, over the next several months I will be working alongside several other leaders from the American business and legal communities to personally solicit contributions and other political support for Senator McCain’s presidential campaign.”
Now, of course, Rosenbaum goes on to say that participation is voluntary, etc. But is it really appropriate for a firm President to use group email to solicit campaign funds?
More, after the jump.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.