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Latham Watkins LLP Above the Law blog.JPGAs we previously wrote, there appears to be no truth to rumors of possible layoffs at Latham & Watkins. But even mentioning the words “layoff” and “Latham” in the same post got some people upset. We’d like to share some of the responses we received:

[T]he idea of layoffs [at Latham is] ridiculous. NYC M&A is still busy as hell, and on the whole the pace numbers, despite the traditional August lulls (read: not just credit market, it’s AUGUST) are very solid. They’re still bringing in laterals and still printing money.

And here’s a correction to the suggestion of possible slowness at the firm:

[O]ne of the comments you posted had incorrect data. The New York office was only at 90 percent pace for September, as some of your commenters noted. But for the year to date, even after a very slow August and September, New York’s pace is well over 100 percent. In fact, the office is about where it was last year, so things are nowhere near as bad as the doomsayers would have you think.

Plus, in the last week, things have began picking up substantially. In a few months, maybe we’ll be back to “NY to 190!”

Finally, we got our hands on firm-wide memo from Chairman and Managing Partner Robert Dell, discussing “firm culture.” It’s not very exciting, and it’s probably best read as a welcome to new associates, as opposed to some veiled discussion of layoffs.
If you’re curious, you can check it out after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Nothing to See Here, Please Move Along Watch: Latham & Watkins”

iPod nano Apple Above the Law blog.jpgWhen it comes to offeree swag, is the arms race among Biglaw shops heating up?
Sullivan & Cromwell brought out what we dubbed the “heavy artillery”: bonsai trees. But perhaps S&C has been bested — and not even by a New York firm:

Talk about firms taking recruiting to a whole new level. Last night, Choate Hall & Stewart held its offer dinner at a super-fancy, old school establishment. Choate had goody bags ready for all its offerees, and while most of us were expecting a pen (a la Goodwin) or a water bottle, lo and behold, in our red shiny gift bags, were brand new 8GB red video iPod nanos (at $200 a pop).

Soooooo sweet. It’s a little ridiculous, but at the same time, something has to be said for the financial health of the firm for them to be giving away iPods.

In the comments to one of our S&C bonsai posts, it was reported that Shearman & Sterling gave iPod shuffles to its summer associates. That’s quite nice. But it’s even nicer to give a nifty (and costly) gadget to a mere offeree, who at the end of the day might just say, “Thanks anyway, hello Ropes & Gray.”
What’s the nicest gift you’ve received, or heard of someone receiving, from a law firm encouraging acceptance of its offer? Please discuss, in the comments. Thanks.

Under Armour Under Armor underwear briefs Guantanamo Bay Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s a quick follow-up to our prior coverage of the mysterious Under Armour briefs that somehow made their way into the hands, and onto the loins, of Guantanamo Bay detainees. From Reuters:

The U.S. military has ended an inquiry into who smuggled unauthorized underwear and a bathing suit to two prisoners at Guantanamo Bay without learning the source of the contraband skivvies, an attorney said on Wednesday.

The investigators concluded more vigilance was needed to prevent contraband from entering the camp that holds 330 suspected al Qaeda operatives, said Capt. Pat McCarthy, the military’s chief lawyer for the detention operation at Guantanamo.

Is the inability to solve the Riddle of the Briefs a sad commentary on the state of military intelligence? Or is this perhaps a mystery that they didn’t want to be solved?
Mystery underwear stymies Guantanamo investigators [Reuters]
Earlier: Guantanamo Bay Perk Watch: Under Armor Briefs!

K&L Gates Kirkpatrick Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWhen it comes to perks and fringe benefits, Biglaw giveth, and Biglaw taketh away. From a tipster:

Did you see the internal memo at K&L Gates announcing that the firm will cease contributions to attorney 401k plans? I found it interesting because it mentioned that similar reductions are occurring at other “major firms.” Which strikes me as stunning if true.

Of course, as noted in the comments to our earlier open thread on retirement benefits, many top law firms don’t contribute to attorney 401(k) plans in the first place. But if you know which “major firms” are being referred to in the memo, please share what you know, in the comments.
We received this information from a reliable source, but we haven’t seen the K&L Gates memo itself. If you have a copy to pass along, please email us. Thanks.
Earlier: Biglaw Perk Watch: Retirement Benefits and Financial Planning

* Clarence Darrow? How cliche. Anywho, this guy is now a New Mexico Supreme Court justice. [Albuquerque Journal (free trial pass required) and New Mexico Business Weekly, via How Appealing]
* Step 1: Stop killing monks. [Jurist]
* Death for the death penalty? [New York Times]
* Latham lawyer DQ’ed in KPMG trial. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Thomas in the ATL. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Kirkland Ellis LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGSome sources at Kirkland & Ellis have been upset by our recent coverage of layoff rumors. These rumors were focused on K&E’s office in Chicago, but New York was also implicated.
As we’ve repeatedly noted, these rumors are just that — rumors. We were reporting more on the existence of the rumors, as opposed to offering them for their truth value.
But let’s say the rumors are true, and K&E has adopted more rigorous associate review standards this year, in light of growing economic uncertainty. Would that be such a bad thing? Consider this

Kirkland & Ellis is one of the nation’s preeminent and most profitable law firms. So it appears they have a sound strategic business sense and are watching the bottom line. What is wrong with that? Don’t a lot of us aspire to work for a preeminent, highly profitable firm?

A law firm feels economic cycles. I’d much prefer to work for a firm that aggressively manages staffing levels as opposed to letting underproductive people [stay on indefinitely].

Recall that K&E’s bonuses have historically been well above market. If K&E is trimming some fat, so it can once again pay generous bonuses to the associates who DO meet its standards, what’s wrong with that?
Remember, too, that K&E, unlike most other Biglaw shops, doesn’t pay lockstep bonuses. Bonuses at Kirkland are highly individualized. In this sense, could K&E be the law firm of the future? Evaluate associates according to their individual merits, richly reward the superstars, and dump the underperformers? Might this be a better business model than the traditional “treat unequal associates equally” model of Biglaw?
Nevertheless, some Kirkland lawyers resist even this favorable characterization of the firm. They claim that K&E’s associate review process was conducted exactly as it has been in past years — that it was simply “business as usual,” and the same standards were applied this year as in prior years.
It’s only fair to give equal time to their views. Check out their rebuttals, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Normal Associate Review Process Watch: A Rebuttal to the Rumors About Kirkland & Ellis”

Ave Maria School of Law Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Holy Lawsuit, Batman! Professors sue Ave Maria. []
* TMI indeed; spare us talk of that burning sensation. Just say you have a doctor’s appointment, and leave it at that. [Nasty, Brutish & Short]
Patrick J Fitzgerald 2 Patrick Fitzgerald Pat Fitzgerald Above the Law blog.JPG* Just because you’re a 46-year-old man who has never been married doesn’t mean you’re gay. Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald — whom we met earlier this month, btw — is engaged. Congrats, Pat! [WSJ Law Blog]
* Milberg Weiss and the Democrats: politics makes for not-so-strange bedfellows. [Overlawyered; Overlawyered]
* Some undergraduates earn cash by selling their class notes online. How long before this trend takes hold in law schools? [Conglomerate]
* Who says Yale Law grads can’t be funny? [Wonkette]

As we first reported yesterday, Professor D. Marvin Jones, who teaches constitutional law and criminal procedure (!) at the University of Miami law school, has been arrested for solicitation of a prostitute. Here’s an interesting tidbit, from Blogonaut:

Professor Jones is the author of Race, Sex, and Suspicion: The Myth of the Black Male. Dare we predict a racially based defense? Or perhaps the good professor was merely researching a new book?

Some of you asked for more details about the alleged conduct. We’ve gotten on our hands on the incident report, which appears below. Note the tension between (1) Professor Jones’s pimpin’ ride, a Mercedes SL500, and (2) his alleged offer of a mere $20 to the “undercover officer possing [sic] as a prostitute.”

Law professors don’t make as much as Biglaw partners. But surely the driver of a Mercedes could be a little more generous!

Donald Marvin Jones 2 incident report Professor D Marvin Jones Above the Law blog.JPG

University of Miami Law Professor Arrested for Soliciting Prostitution [Blogonaut]
Race, Sex, and Suspicion: The Myth of the Black Male [Amazon]
D. Marvin Jones bio [University of Miami School of Law]

Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: D. Marvin Jones

rejected rejection letter Above the Law blog.jpgGetting rejected by a law firm and having lots of your classmates learn about it: embarrassing.
Getting rejected by a firm you didn’t even apply to: priceless.
I’m afraid I must reject your rejection [TJ's Double Play]
Earlier: Public Humiliation, Courtesy of Your Friends at Wilson Sonsini

Secretary law firm Biglaw Maggie Gyllenhaal James Spader Above the Law blog.jpgDuring one of our darkest hours as a law firm associate, when we were at our most stressed and depressed, we tried to boost our morale by typing up a Word document entitled “Things I Like About My Job.” Here’s an excerpt:

– My Blackberry and (free) cell phone.

– My laptop.

– Really good health insurance.

– Having a secretary.

But in reality, we didn’t use our secretary very much. Her primary duty was to assist us in printing out correspondence so that the text of letters fell below the sprawling firm letterhead.
We didn’t know how to best utilize our secretary. And based on your emails, it seems we’re not alone:

“You should do a post on secretaries. I have no idea what to do with mine other than expense reports. I think junior associates would appreciate it!”

“How about an open thread on what attorneys have their secretaries do? A lot of us first-year associates starting now have no idea how to use them. This applies to both transactional lawyers and litigators.”

We’re guessing our correspondents don’t have this secretary.
Here are a few other topics to add to the mix:

“You really should do an ATL piece on secretaries. E.g., how many high-powered partners are run by their secretaries, with their secretaries as the gatekeepers; how many leading lawyers couldn’t live without their secretaries, taking them from one position to the next.”

So here’s an open thread for discussion of Biglaw secretaries / administrative assistants. Any secretaries who are reading this site should feel free to chime in too — we know you have a lot to say about your bosses. In fact, some of you could even fill a book with your gripes (see link below). Thanks.
The Diary of a Mad Legal Secretary []

Our colleagues over at DealBreaker have been extensively covering one heck of a lawsuit. It’s our Lawsuit of the Day, but it really ought to be our Lawsuit of the Week — it’s that good.

The defendant is wealthy New York financier Jeffrey Epstein, who already stands accused, in Florida state court, of sex crimes involving underage girls. This latest case is a civil action filed in New York. Here’s a teaser:

[W]e’re knee-deep into the latest sex suit against Jeffrey Epstein, brought by a girl who, at the time, was whatever the opposite of over eighteen is. This one’s from Maximilia Cordero [at right], an aspiring model, who claims that in 2000, Epstein lured her to his Upper East Side apartment on the promise that “he and his wealthy friends would help…with her modeling career.”….

Epstein, in order to quell the girl’s fears as to what people would think of her blowing a man old enough to be her father, swore that he “wouldn’t tell anyone.” Bet he’s wishing he’d gotten her to do the same! Ah, well, hindsight.

Then he came in her mouth and requested that she return with her “14, 15, and 16 year old girlfriends next time.”

More — ’cause you know you want it — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Cordero v. Epstein”

Chapman Cutler LLP AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgWhat’s the hot new trend in Biglaw? Two-track systems for associates. They’re regarded as a sensible way for law firms to address the twin challenges of (1) higher associate salaries and (2) associate attrition (often due to a frustration with long hours).
Here’s word of the latest law firm to join the party, from (reg. req’d):

Chapman and Cutler, a Chicago-based firm with three offices and about 220 attorneys, has joined the parade of firms boosting first-year associate pay to $160,000, but the firm is taking a new path once associates reach their second year.

Second-year associates can opt for one of two compensation tracks at the firm under a new system that took effect last month, said Rick Cosgrove, who is chief executive partner at the firm. They can choose to work fewer hours at a lower pay level or more hours at a higher salary level, he said.

Cosgrove declined to specify the hours required and related pay rates under the new pay program for competitive reasons.

If you have info on the Chapman and Cutler scale that you’d be willing to share, please email us. According to a poster at Greedy Chicago:

The higher track is essentially Biglaw market, so long as you hit 2000 billables/year. The lower track is compressed to about $5k-$10k/year, depending on class year, and you need to hit 1850.

Other firms with two-track systems (click on each firm’s name for a memo and/or details): Hogan & Hartson, Wiley Rein, Fenwick & West, and Thelen (formerly Thelen Reid, and FYI, “Thelen” rhymes with “wheelin’”; see here).
Do you have an opinion about this two-tiered approach? If so, vote in our reader polls, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chapman and Cutler Blazes The Trail of Tiers”

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