Partner Issues

In our last report on the beleaguered Bingham McCutchen, we predicted that its partners would vote in favor of the proposed merger with Morgan Lewis — even if some of them might get de-equitized as a result. Why? Because “it’s not clear that Bingham has better options.”

Talk about understatement. Maybe this is fearmongering to get Bingham partners to approve the deal, but check out what management is saying might happen if this deal doesn’t go through….

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FYI Jami and Therese: On Wednesdays, we wear pink!

* SCOTUS justices added 11 cases to this term’s docket yesterday following their megaconference earlier this week. Alas, no same-sex marriage cases have been added yet. [New York Times]

* The Fifth Circuit allowed Texas to enforce its new abortion clinic restrictions. The only thing that will stop its “devastating impact on abortion access” is SCOTUS intervention. [MSNBC]

* Two more women just joined the ranks of the highest tier of Biglaw firm leadership. Congrats to Jami Wintz McKeon of Morgan Lewis and Therese Pritchard of Bryan Cave. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Gibson Dunn poached a prominent partner from U.K. firm Ashurst following his fall from grace as its leader last year. He’s thrilled to work for “one of the strongest U.S. firms around.” [Am Law Daily]

* The Thomas Jefferson School of Law may be “California’s worst-performing law school,” but it certainly performs well in terms of providing entertainment for those who are big fans of schadenfreude. [City Journal]

* Many schools pay their grads to count them as employed — but not UNC Law. Its career services office is aware that “jobs don’t grow on trees,” but hey, at least they’re trying to be transparent. [Daily Tar Heel]

Bruce Stachenfeld

This is a continuation of the past two articles that I published in ATL over the past month. My first article gave my view that the profitability metric of Profits Per Partner is a good servant but a bad master and, as a master, it is a root cause of serious problems for Biglaw. In my second article, I put forth a Profits Per Partner Emancipation Plan as a different way of doing business that I hope will eventually be adopted. Now, here I am giving my theory on what I think is a higher level of law firm profitability analysis, which is to “Embrace Volatility.”

Let me start by asking you: what is it that we all crave in our hearts? I mean, we all want money and power and fame and to be cool and good-looking and talented at sports or music or acting — but in addition to that — I think it is one of the basest human emotions to crave:

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Hallelujah and rejoice, for there are new Biglaw rankings upon us. Today, the American Lawyer magazine announced its Global 100, a ranking of the world’s 100 largest law firms in terms of total revenue. As we learned from the 2014 Am Law 100, the super-rich among the world’s Biglaw firms are only getting richer, and the latest rankings serve only as confirmation of this fact.

Last year, there were some surprising moves among the top 10 global firms, with DLA Piper swooping in to steal Baker & McKenzie’s thunder as the top-grossing firm in the world. Did the global mega-firm manage to reclaim its glory in the Global 100?

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How do you think we pick lawyers to defend us in litigation?

Judging from some of the emails I get, this is the picture in your mind’s eye:

“Hey, boss, we just got sued in New York. We’ll have to defend ourselves.”

“Shoot! New York City! Do they have any lawyers there?”

“Damned if I know. Lemme grab the New York City phone directory and take a look.”

An hour later:

“Good news, boss. There’re a whole gaggle of lawyers in New York. I think we should hire Bigg & Mediocre.”

“Why’s that?”

“They have an 800 number, so we’ll save some money. And they have a whole bunch of lawyers; one of ‘em probably knows what this ‘RICO’ thing stands for. And their website is really fancy; you wouldn’t believe it.”

“Great! Call that 800 number and ask them to connect you to a litigator.”

If that’s what corporations are doing, then at least you know how to develop business . . . .

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Earlier this month, we reported on Bingham McCutchen and Morgan Lewis & Bockius’s agreement to merge. The 750-lawyer Bingham firm has been going through a rough patch lately, so news of the deal with 1,200-lawyer Morgan Lewis sounded like a rescue to some observers.

But rescues come with terms and conditions. What are the ones at issue here? There’s good news for some Bingham partners, and bad news for others….

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She’s not a porn star, she’s a law student. We could see where you might be confused by that one.

* Now that we know Eric Holder is resigning, there’s been speculation as to where he’ll go next. The obvious choice is a return to Covington & Burling, but he could still surprise everyone. [National Law Journal]

* “Judicial campaign cash is burning a hole in the Constitution.” State court judges are pumping money into their election campaigns, and some have been left to wonder about its true price. [New York Times]

* Details have emerged as to conditions that must be met for Bingham McCutchen’s proposed merger with Morgan Lewis: partner promises, de-equitizations, and forgivable loans, oh my! [Reuters (sub. req.)]

* In the wake of Dean Makau Mutua’s decision to step down at Buffalo Law, a “deep rift” among faculty has been brought to light. The school’s future doesn’t seem as “bright” as we were once told. [Buffalo News]

* A former law student who was falsely identified as a porn star on the radio had her day in court and pulled out a win. Here’s the money shot: she’s walking away with $1 million in damages. [Kansas City Star]

Ed. note: Stat of the Week is a new feature that pulls data points from ATL Research as well as noteworthy sources across the web.

Rumors of a Bingham McCutchen/Morgan Lewis merger were confirmed this week when news broke that the two firms had reached an agreement to combine. The firms have a lot in common in terms of financial metrics: for 2013, Bingham came in at $1.48 million for profits per partner and $960,000 for revenue per lawyer, while Morgan Lewis posted similar numbers, $1.57 million and $945,000, in those categories (according to Am Law).

Something the two firms don’t have in common? The direction they’ve been heading in….

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Eventually, we will live in a country where we are all victims of bullying. We will all be victims of cyber-bullying or schoolyard bullying or workplace bullying. Then we can all cry about it over a glass of wine and talk about our feelings. And our evolution into France will be complete.

We’re not there yet, but a new study seems like an important data point on our slow decline into perpetual butthurt. Business Insider reports on a Career Builder survey where people in management were more likely to say that they had been bullied at work (27%) than people in entry-level jobs (26%).

Now sure, some of that is just probably due to career length. On your way up to the top (or to the middle, as it were), you probably have had more opportunities to be bullied than a new worker. But, you know, there was a time in this country when the boss wouldn’t bitch and moan about how mean other people have been to him.

That time is evidently over. My God people, you should just check out what some of these people even count as bullying…

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Every firm has its big book partners.  And the size of the book doesn’t always correlate in an obvious way to the skills of the lawyer, or even to relationships.  There are other ways to get rich…

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