Might this be the kindest cut of all? Perkins Coie just announced a salary cut for associates, but it’s rather small — and it was accompanied by good news.
Today a firm-wide voice mail from managing partner Robert Giles went out, announcing the following:
– an average 3.8 percent pay cut for Perkins Coie associates, effective September 1;
– deferred salary rollbacks in some offices — e.g., Menlo Park — until “our competitors in these markets rollback associate salaries” (hmm, sounds like an invitation to us); and
– an expression of confidence that there will be no more layoffs this year.
There was no LEWW last Friday because last week’s wedding pages were even bleaker than the Biglaw employment news. We’ve bounced back nicely, though, because Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this year, making this week’s weddings section a February feast of premium nuptial news.
We present three outstanding couples for your consideration:
As we noted in yesterday’s Morning Docket, even the New York Times has taken note of the salary freeze trend at law firms. The Times reached out to Above The Law’s own David Lat for the story:
Although many associates are angry about the freezes, others are relieved, said David Lat, founding editor of AboveTheLaw.com, a blog about law firms and the profession.
“There is this sense that firms didn’t act prudently during the boom and now they are getting religion, and that it’s better late than never,” Mr. Lat said. “Many associates we have spoken to think the freeze probably saved jobs.”
At the beginning of the month, we did a round-up of firms that have frozen 2009 salary rates at 2008 levels. That list was 16 firms long. Since then, quite a few other firms have announced freezes. Due to frequent requests, we’re updating the round-up list since the number of firms with freezes (that we know of) has more than doubled, to 33 32. Check out the as-comprehensive-as-we-can-make-it list, after the jump.
Yesterday, I mentioned that Fortune released a list of the Top 100 places to work. In that post I failed to note that Perkins Coie was ranked 82nd on that list.
According to Fortune:
A support staffer gave this impressive list of her benefits: $2,000 in technology flex plan allowance, $80 for wellness program participation, $475 for 20th anniversary with firm, $1,500 performance bonus, $50 Nordstrom gift card, $3,500 year-end bonus.
Well, tipsters report that Perkins Coie management is pumped about the news. Check out the firm-wide email and fun tipster responses after the jump.
Law firm offers world-class benefits to staff and attorneys: 18 weeks’ paid leave for maternity and adoption, $5,000 for adoption fees, $30,000 for fertility services, free onsite fitness center, on- and off-site child care.
I guess a salary freeze that their peer firms in the Vault 20 are largely avoiding doesn’t trump a free gym.
Fortune also released a list of the top 20 companies that are great places to work and still hiring. No law firms made that list.
So I guess we’ll focus on other law firms in the top 100 after the jump.
After saying nice things about top Texas firms yesterday, our inbox was flooded today with news of a salary freeze at Fulbright & Jaworski.
As we understand it, the firm is only freezing salaries through the first quarter of 2009, so it’s a Slurpee freeze.
So much for Texas being the beacon of hope for the legal industry.
But, perhaps more surprisingly, Perkins Coie is also freezing salaries:
The 2009 economic picture remains extremely uncertain. Although we continue to have no debt and the firm is in excellent financial shape, we have determined to take a number of significant steps to ensure the firm’s financial health in 2009 for the benefit of all personnel.
The firm’s budget contemplates approximately a 10% reduction in average partner income in 2009, and partner draw percentages for January and February were significantly reduced in order to avoid any need to borrow funds. We have also frozen salaries for senior administrative staff who are evaluated on a calendar year basis. Most staff have salary adjustments on July 1 and no decision will be made on compensation adjustments applicable to them until that time.
We have also decided to hold associates at their current base salary levels. Associates will remain at their 2008 base salary for 2009, subject to two limited exceptions. Adjustments will be made to productivity build-ins for affected associates in the Bellevue, Seattle and Washington, DC offices, and changes will be made to address a few unique compensation arrangements previously scheduled for adjustment in 2009. New compensation memos will be distributed within the next few weeks.
I guess having partners that are tight with Obama isn’t enough to stave off a “solid ice” freeze. So much for unicorns.
But, after the jump, some positive news to report.
Apparently, the activities of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are now a matter of national import. The group, best known for absolutely nothing prior to a month ago, is now poised to “threaten the fabric of democracy,” according to Senator John McCain.
One might have expected the Obama campaign to take the knuckleball in the dirt, but there is only one October. Last Friday, the Obama campaign called in lawyers from Perkins Coie to harass USAG Michael Mukasey into harassing McCain to stop harassing Obama.
Perkins Coie partner Robert Bauer asked Mukasey to instruct special prosecutor Nora Dannehy to add McCain’s recent conduct to allegations of partisan misconduct within the Justice Department. According to The Blog of the LegalTimes:
[The letter] alleges that Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign and the Republican Party made false claims of voting fraud as part of a Republican effort to influence the presidential election. The letter accuses Republican officeholders of calling on the Justice Department to investigate allegations of fraud, and Justice Department officials of spurring what he called “baseless” investigations.
It is with a great deal of regret that we write to inform you that we will not be able to pay you for work performed after today, Friday October 10 and, as a result, that your employment with the firm will be terminated today. We also expect that we will need to inform other employees over the following two weeks that we are unable to pay them any further and will need to terminate their employment. We do expect that we will be able to continue to pay some people for a longer period of time. Regular paychecks will be provided today but because of the volume of final paychecks we will need to prepare, it may take a few days to get your final paycheck to you. We know this is important to you but please be assured your colleagues in the Payroll Department will be working as hard and as quickly as they can to get you your paycheck.
These actions have been forced upon us by the two banks — Citibank and Bank of America — that control our ability to make any payments. Generally, they have refused to pay employees who we cannot convince them are necessary (as they define it) for the wind down efforts. We understand how upsetting this news is. You should continue your activities to serve clients, including, where applicable, to bill your time. Time billing and client service are two of the criteria the banks are examining in our continuing negotiations with them to maintain an orderly transition.
We want to thank you for your professionalism and forbearance to date and ask you to continue to proceed with the same degree of professionalism you have demonstrated during your valuable service to the firm and to its clients.
The Vault 100 march continues! In this series of open threads, we list the firms, and you all discuss their upsides and downsides. We’ll be wrapping this puppy up this week.
Here are the next ten (with prestige scores in parentheses):
Usually, we have fun with the “notable perks” chosen by Vault. But as we move down the list, the perks are becoming distinctly less notable — e.g., gym membership discounts, free parking, and “good views.” Oh well.
You know what to do! Have at it in the comments. Earlier:Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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