There’s been a lot of negativity surrounding the first steps of Biglaw into the outsourcing market. For obvious reasons: the U.S. legal job market is soft, and recent graduates are terrified that their entry-level jobs will flow out of the country.
And they’re probably right. If outsourcing catches on, the structure of a law firm in 2020 could be wildly different from the structure of a law firm in 2010. But maybe that’s a good thing. Let’s face it: whether you’re being paid $145K, $160K, or even (dare to dream) $190K, spending 2,000 hours a year on menial document monkey tasks is no fun. If some of these rote, mind-numbing functions can be done by attorneys overseas, attorneys in the U.S. might have a reason to actually bring their brains to work, along with their mouse-clicking index fingers.
What happens to an associate deferred?
Does he dry up, like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore — and then run?
Run, run — away from Biglaw. That seems to be what at least some deferred associates are doing, as reported last week by the New York Times in an article about how they spent their deferral years — and how some of them aren’t returning to the well-feathered nests of private law firms when called back.
The Times interviewed two deferred associates who aren’t going back to their firms. Nathan Richardson, a 2009 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School who was deferred by Latham & Watkins, spent his year doing environmental law research at Resources for the Future — and plans to remain in public interest. Avi Singh, a 2009 graduate of Harvard Law School who was deferred by Quinn Emanuel, went off to the Santa Clara County public defender’s office in San Jose — and is staying there.
Due to deferrals, Latham and Quinn just lost the services of two bright young attorneys. And maybe, just maybe, this isn’t a bad thing — not just for these lawyers, but for their law firms….
Ed. note: Law Shucks focuses on life in, and after, Biglaw, including by tracking layoffs, bonuses, and laterals. Above the Law is pleased to bring you this weekly column, which analyzes news at the world’s top law firms.
One of the stopgap measures adopted by firms was deferring associates. Most of the deferred will end up at their firms, albeit more than a year after their expected start dates. Some have lingered on, with perpetual deferrals and no updates on start dates. And some have had their offers rescinded.
We called BS on that back in February. We can’t imagine any firm is going to be so penny-wise pound-foolish as to go after a lawyer they don’t have to hire (cheap severance!) and who found her calling in public service (good PR!).
After the jump, we catch up on the latest activity in BigLaw — including another week with layoff news — and try to sort through the mixed signals.
* The reigning Miss USA, Rima Fakih (pictured), is Muslim — and she thinks the Ground Zero mosque is a bad idea. So… she just found a way to become relevant for 15 minutes. [Color Lines]
* Meanwhile, the New York City Bar has come out in favor of the mosque. As long as it’s okay to have a public debate about what private building should go up next to Ground Zero, can we also talk a little bit about what gets built, you know, on Ground Zero? Because the GIANT HOLE just isn’t doing it for me. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Note to the fellas: if you have tasted breast milk — yes, Lat, I’m looking atyou — please don’t talk about it at work, or else women might get offended (and sue). Note to the ladies offended by conversations regarding breast milk: really? [Washington Post]
Looking for confidential minded person that is a people person and well manicured. We do some work with the adult entertainment business so it is not for everyone. Looking for the classic super manicured secretary at a younger progressive firm.
Federal judges are people too — and I have proof. Earlier this week, one federal appellate judge accepted my friend request on Facebook. Another circuit judge emailed me — from a Gmail account (although we didn’t Gchat; that would have been too cool for words).
Judges are real people — with opinions, not just of the judicial kind, and with personalities. They have interesting lives — off the bench, and before they’re appointed to the bench. Judges are not grown in petri dishes, and donning the robes cannot and does not erase their personal or professional histories.
I know a little something about video game addiction. While working in Biglaw, I was a respected guild member in Everquest II — before I realized that I was wasting giant amounts of time and had more than enough money to be able to interact with fellow humans in the flesh. In law school I once played 28 seasons of Madden (every game, ten minute quarters, including preseason; I would even make up a draft board). In college I played enough Civilization 2 that I thought it should count for one of my history core requirements. I legitimately fear for my job when Civilization 5 drops one month from now.
I’m serious about the Civ 5 thing. I quit my job at Debevoise just before Civilization 4 was released. I can’t truthfully say that the one thing had nothing at all to do with the other. I’m considering not even buying Civ 5, just because I like writing for you guys. I’m married, for Christ’s sake. A wife, a job, and a new Civ game? Something’s gotta give.
See, I know what I’m getting into when I open the box on certain video games. Hawaii resident Craig Smallwood claims he did not. He’s sued the makers of Lineage II, claiming that the game makers didn’t adequately warn him that its game was addictive.
Shockingly, his lawsuit has survived a motion to dismiss…
The recruiter calls are picking up, and I want out. However, it’s August, and that bonus payout is getting very close. I have an option to get out of here just after Labor Day, but the position might not be open in February.
Should I leave now, or should I hang on, get my bonus, and restart my search in the new year?
– It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Dear It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,
A few months ago, I would have said some Chicken Soup for the Soul crap, like “your bonus cannot buy you happiness.” That was before my associate friend bought an amazing NYC apartment, and I spent three weeks in a jealous rage…
People are talking about an interesting Slate article entitled “Leaving Big Law Behind: The many frustrations that cause well-paid lawyers to hang out their own shingles.” It’s currently the most-read piece on the site. But it’s actually quite similar, even down to some of the sources, to an article that appeared a few days earlier in Crain’s New York Business:
A lawyer’s hourly billing rate used to be a badge of pride — the higher the number, the more valuable (and supposedly brilliant) the lawyer. But over the past 18 months, a strange phenomenon has been sweeping the legal arena: Partners at major law firms are quitting because they want to be able to charge less for their services.
This is, of course, not a new development. Kash and I wrote about it in a December 2009 cover story for Washingtonian magazine, in which we interviewed a former member of the $1,000-an-hour club who left a large law firm and started his own shop so he could offer clients better value. But all the recent coverage — in Crain’s, Slate, and elsewhere — suggests that the trend is picking up steam.
Which kinds of lawyers are leaving Biglaw to hang up their own shingles? Why are they doing it? And how’s it going for them?
Late last night, we received a tip that has become all too common in the dog days of August. This tipster sent us this letter from the career services office at Georgetown Law:
Haynes and Boone, LLP has just informed us that they will no longer have a summer program in their Washington, DC and Austin, TX offices. Please contact me if you are interested in switching your interview to either the Dallas, TX, Houston, TX, or New York, NY offices or if you would like us to cancel your interview.
These late-breaking summer program cancellations, partial cancellations, or substantive summer-program changes really need to stop…
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 six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.