Partner Issues

* Are associates or partners more maniacally stressed out? Science helps us answer the age-old question. [The Careerist]

* What does it take to land a Supreme Court clerkship? Luck, reputation, and a helluva lot of patience. [ABA Journal and Supreme Ambitions]

* And what should SCOTUS clerks do after they finish at One First Street if they want to make the most money? The answer may surprise you. [Breaking Views]

* As the NFL faces all those concussion lawsuits, America’s other professional football league (yes, the United Football League does exist) is getting sued… for not paying its players. [Forbes]

* An HLS student pleaded not guilty to sexual assault. What is it with all the Harvard Law folks allegedly causing trouble this week? Next thing you know, some Harvard Law grad is going to threaten to murder Big Bird. [Harvard Crimson]

* A veteran is suing the government over his frostbitten penis, which had to be “partially amputated.” Not only is that the second-worst thing I’ve ever heard, it doesn’t even really make sense. [ABC15]

* An ex-law student explains why she quit just a few weeks into the semester. Why? Bullying and backstabbing. Hmmm. That sounds familiar. [A Nerd Girl's Perspective]

* Delaware Bar Exam results are out. Congratulations to everyone who passed! [Delaware State Courts]

We have previously asked our readership: Dewey Know Who’s Next? Do we know of any major law firms that might be following the bankrupt Dewey & LeBoeuf into the dustbin of history?

How about: a firm that’s having problems paying its partners? That brings us to today’s Biglaw blind item….

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The relatively new Boston office of Latham & Watkins seems to be going gangbusters. Even though it’s just a year old, it already boasts at least 24 lawyers. (For what it’s worth, they seem to be an unusually attractive bunch; I haven’t seen such a good-looking crop of Boston lawyers since the days of Ally McBeal.)

And their ranks are about to grow. Above the Law has learned that at least three litigation partners are leaving their current firm to join Latham’s Beantown outpost.

Who are they, and where are they coming from?

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The recent survey on partner compensation conducted by Major, Lindsey & Africa, which I discussed last week, is full of interesting information. First off, I never really knew how many Biglaw partners there are. The answer? Around 75,000, which includes partners from all firms ranked on the Am Law 200, NLJ 350, or Global 100 in the last five years. Throw in another 1,000 or so partners who were Biglaw partners but left to form high-end boutiques — not included in the survey, but I consider them Biglaw partners since they typically work for similar clients — and you still have a pretty small number relative to the number of lawyers in the world. The figure of 75,000 amounts to less than two years’ worth of new U.S. law school graduates.

Very interesting, especially considering the forty-year-or-so age spread between active partners. Seriously, how realistic is it for any one law graduate (irrespective of pedigree) to think they will beat the odds and eventually make partner? So many things need to go right — it is amazing.

Here’s one surprising aspect of the MLA survey….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Buying In: Partner Paydays (Part 2)”

The world keeps getting smaller, but the law firms keep getting bigger. The American Lawyer magazine just announced its Global 100, the world’s 100 largest law firms in terms of total revenue, and Biglaw seems bigger than ever.

Despite the challenging economic climate, law firms continue to grow. In three key categories — revenue, profits per partner, and attorney headcount — the top firm for 2012 boasts a bigger number than last year’s #1 firm….

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Everyone has been mistreated — by bureaucratic institutions, unhelpful sales people, or phone systems that make you press ten buttons only to be left on hold for half an hour.

Given how awful the “usual” service is, it’s really not that hard to impress people with the quality of service that you provide. But, remarkably, lawyers (and others) screw this up all the time.

Suppose (to recount an incident I heard about recently) you’re asked to handle a trivial legal issue at a time when you’re swamped with other stuff. You are able to help; you are simply unable to help today. Consider two ways of handling this: First, silently ignore the issue for several days until you have time, and then deal with it. Second, tell the client that you’re currently swamped, but that you’ve received the request and your best guess is that you’ll handle the matter, say, early next week. If you’ve misunderstood, and this is an emergency, the client should let you know, so you can move this task up in the queue.

This should be an easy choice, shouldn’t it?

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Peter Kalis

As we head into the weekend, we’re happy to bring you additional commentary from Peter Kalis, the chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates. Earlier this week, the colorful Kalis was unanimously reelected to his leadership role by the 60 voting members of the Management Committee.

The delightfully opinionated Kalis recently gave an interview to Am Law Daily, in which he shed additional light on the state of K&L Gates. His remarks weren’t as forceful as the beatdown he administered to the firm’s anonymous detractors last week, but they are interesting….

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Law firm layoffs follow law firm mergers as naturally as Biglaw firms follow the Cravath bonus scale. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that McKenna Long & Aldridge, after absorbing Luce Forward this past March, is cutting loose some Luce lawyers.

How many lawyers are we talking about? And are these actually true layoffs? Let’s discuss….

An UPDATE, after the jump.

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Here’s a sad tale that I’ve heard repeatedly recently from senior partners at major law firms.

When these partners were associates, they were superstars. They did great work, were in high demand, and sailed through the ranks.

These folks were invited into the partnership along with (or even before) their peers.

As junior partners, these folks remained superstars. Senior partners were anxious to delegate responsibility to these people, and the then-junior partners were flattered to be asked. The junior partners were doing interesting work, being paid handsomely (if not royally) for their efforts, and were contentedly busy.

But a funny thing happened on the way to retirement. My correspondents became senior partners, and this crippled them (professionally). They had aged out of utility to their firms. . . .

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Maybe they’re on to something….

Here’s an interesting irony: some of the Biglaw firms that spend the least amount of time thinking about money are the ones that enjoy the most of it. A number of super-elite New York law firms have lockstep compensation systems, in which partners are paid purely based on seniority, and these firms are among the most profitable in the country. These firms focus on doing great work for their clients, not on divvying up the spoils from such work — and, in the end, there’s more than enough filthy lucre to keep everyone smelling like money.

On an individual level, some of the wealthiest lawyers in Biglaw — the ones who make partner, and remain partner, for years and years — don’t fixate much on money either. They focus instead on their work, which they seem to just love (often more than any hobbies, and sometimes more than their families). As for the money, well, it just comes — in copious quantities.

Let’s take a closer look at these phenomena….

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