Partner Issues

DLA Piper scouts locations for its Mexico City job fair.

Some major law firms might be closing offices, but others are in expansion mode. For example, Sidley Austin is opening a Houston office, with partners snagged from several other big players in town. And that’s not the only expansion taking place in the southwest.

Take DLA Piper. When we last checked in with them, the firm’s Baltimore office was operating under third world conditions. The toilets weren’t working.

This led me to joke about a fictitious DLA Guadalajara office.

Evidently, my imagination failed me. It’s not “clear parody” if it’s something that could possibly happen. Next time we joke about a DLA expansion, we need to go to straight fiction. We need to start making DLA Mustafar jokes. Because expanding to Mexico just got real….

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The mega-firm of Baker & McKenzie has a global footprint, with 70 offices in 42 countries. It’s one of the world’s largest law firms, in terms of both headcount and revenue.

But are Baker’s 70 offices about to become… 69? For weeks, reports have been circulating about the possible demise of the firm’s outpost in San Diego. As you may recall, this little office is home to big drama.

Let’s look at the latest news about Baker in San Diego….

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Last year, Sullivan & Cromwell announced spring bonuses on January 21st. Today is February 3rd. It might be time to panic.

The conceit of this entire bonus season has been that the ridiculously low bonuses bar set by Cravath, Swaine & Moore was just an opening figure. People really didn’t expect that Cravath would halve bonuses. I mean, it’s CSM. They can count. Their profits went up. Why would they pay out 50% less than last year?

Well, I guess the answer “because they can” is going to have to be enough for Biglaw associates everywhere….

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Snooki and J-WOWW

* Florida: a place where people don’t care about your income tax returns. Mitt Romney dominated the state’s primary, grabbing all 50 of the delegates needed for the Republican nomination. [New York Times]

* Entry-level hiring might be down, but lateral hiring is being approached like an NFL draft. Biglaw firms want the best of the best, and if they have to poach partners to get what they want, they will. [Wall Street Journal]

* In the wake of scandal, Edwards Wildman has named a new managing partner. Robert Shuftan will take up the position tomorrow, and he’ll get first dibs on all of the partners’ wives. [Boston Business Journal]

* Paul Ceglia was ordered to pay Facebook’s legal fees, and now he’s crying over Gibson Dunn’s Biglaw price tag. Instead, he wants to pay podunk fees for his podunk town. [Bloomberg]

* Some cities in New Jersey don’t like pollution — they want to keep the trash down the shore. Hoboken’s mayor has denied MTV’s film permit request for Snooki and J-WOWW’s spinoff show. [New York Post]

Meet the new Biglaw. Same as the old Biglaw.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the Wall Street Journal has a good article about how various recession-era cutbacks have become entrenched in Biglaw. If you have been paying attention or are a current law student, you know the issues: smaller entry-level classes, stagnant salaries, and a partnership track long enough to make a first-year Ph.D. student laugh.

Basically, if you were already a Biglaw partner when the recession hit, you are likely to say, “What recession?” Your profits per partner have probably gone up, despite the general economy’s woes. Other industries use economic downturns to retool their business models and develop new ways to compete. Not Biglaw. It appears that Biglaw has used the recession to fire a bunch of people, exclude new partners, and keep associate salaries and bonuses at recessionary levels. They haven’t developed a new business model; they’ve just found a way to reduce the costs of the old business model.

Biglaw partner: It’s great work if you can get it. The WSJ even found one partner who was so busy loving himself and his life that he appears to be totally oblivious to the struggles of everybody else…

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Hands off the dancers, sir.

Our latest Biglaw blind item concerns the sighting of a partner at a strip club.

Right now you’re probably thinking: yawn. A law firm partner at a strip club? As they say, it happens every day (or night — and often gets billed to “business development”).

But there are a few more details that make this item noteworthy….

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Keeping you unemployed since 2008.

* People like it when the members of the Supreme Court agree with each other, except when the justices forget to tell them exactly what to do. Poor sheeple. [Washington Post]

* If you’re wondering why you can’t get a Biglaw job, it’s because the firms don’t need you. Well, they probably do, but definitely they need their money more. [Wall Street Journal]

* Chadbourne & Parke to 190K square feet: partners seem to be pissy about the move, but this white-shoe firm may soon be a blue-chip tenant at One World Trade Center. [New York Times]

* British blokes like scamming folks. Kevin Steele, a former Mishcon de Reya partner, has been sentenced to more than five years for his role in a $28M fraud scheme. [The Guardian]

* Florida’s former foreclosure king might have been dethroned, but David J. Stern refuses to give up his crown. Say hello to the Five Guys burger king. [Real Time / Palm Beach Post]

* My Fair Wedding? More like My F**ked Wedding. A New York couple is suing celebrity wedding planner David Tutera, alleging that he left them waiting at the altar. [New York Daily News]

1112 Park Avenue

Partners at high-powered Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, where profits per partner in 2010 clocked in at almost $2.4 million, appreciate the finer things in life. These include $6 million houses in the Hamptons and the company of former Playboy models (who used to date movie stars like Matt Dillon).

Now, fabulous though they may be, beach houses in the Hamptons and Playboy model girlfriends sound… a bit flashy, a trifle arriviste. Some might view them as not very white-shoe, and not what you’d expect from partners of the oldest continuing Wall Street law practice in the United States. (Sure, some old-money people have places in the Hamptons, but these days the locale appeals more to celebrities.)

Thankfully there are some CWT partners who are kicking it old school. They live in exclusive prewar coops on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. No lofts in Tribeca or Soho — or, God forbid, Brooklyn — for these genteel types.

Let’s look at the Lawyerly Lair that a senior Cadwalader lawyer recently acquired — on Park Avenue, one of the world’s legendary thoroughfares — for just a shade under $6 million….

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The “commenters” at Above the Law are — as you know if you’ve ever looked — a tough crowd. If you’re a partner at a big firm, then you’re a loser, because you’re a workaholic stiff with no life. If you’re a partner at a small firm, then you’re a loser, because you couldn’t succeed at a big firm. If you’re an associate at a big firm, you’re a loser, because you’re a lifeless drone who doesn’t have the courage to pursue your dreams. If you’re a scholar, then you’re a loser: Those who can’t do, teach. If you’re a judge, then you couldn’t cut it in private practice, so you had to bail out.

You get my drift.

The correspondents who choose to write to me personally (by clicking on this link) are an entirely different breed. (Perhaps it’s because they’re not anonymous.) My correspondents have been consistently civilized and reasonable, and often quite thoughtful. But I recently received a well-crafted, nicely written email from a law student who utterly missed the boat. I devote this column to that correspondent, and to others who might be suffering from a similar misconception.

Here’s the backstory: I wrote a column about how improving the quality of law firm interviews might improve the quality of associates that a law firm hires. A law-student-correspondent suggested that law firms might in fact not care about the quality of associates. To paraphrase: “Law firms count on having high attrition in the associate ranks. So you need a fair number of associates who will either leave on their own or have to be shown the door. And law firms make very few partners, so, after an entering class has been winnowed down over the course of a decade, the firm is likely to have one or two remaining candidates who can be offered partnership. That’s true regardless of the quality of the entering class.”

That email is proof that insanity can be made to sound plausible . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Silly Email Of The Year Award”

I believe the defendant failed a saving throw against berserker, so when he killed those people he didn't know right from wrong.

* Dressing shrinks as wizards when they testify would be an AWESOME idea. I’m serious. Why can’t we have this? And titles, too. “Your Honor, I call Dr. Freud — Ph.D in weakness management and keeper of the sacred staffs of Ivory guard — to the stand.” [Overlawyered]

* iTextbooks! Could be awesome, could widen the gap between the rich and the iPoor. [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Old lawyer accidentally smuggles a gun onto a plane, mainly because security — which noticed said gun — forgot to stop her. TSA doesn’t make us more safe, folks. It just makes us more molested. [Daily Mail]

* Apparently, LLMs go great with Brazilians. The people, not the grooming. Or maybe both — I don’t know, but I was only asked about people. [Live Mint]

* To be clear, putting slavery analogies into our math problems is bad… unless you are a college basketball or football star trying to work out how much you got paid in free tuition for last night’s game, versus how much the university made off of the performance of your team. Then the analogy is “apt.” [CBS Atlanta]

* White people problems, written by a former Cahill Gordon associate who quit to take a job in television. [Funny or Die]

* Additional impressive hires by an elite litigation boutique. How long before MoloLamken ends up on somebody’s hot list? [MoloLamken]

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