Welcome to the next in our series on the results of the 2010 ATL/Career Center Associate Satisfaction survey. We’ve used the survey results to revamp the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link, with completely updated profiles and each week, we are highlighting insider information that Members shared about their firms in the eight key areas of associate satisfaction covered by the Career Center. Today, what’s in it for you – Benefits.
This West Coast firm, specializing in representing high tech and life sciences clients, offers its associates the opportunity to participate in an investment partnership fund that invests in select clients.
This Midwestern firm, known for its work for Major League Baseball, lacks an on-site cafeteria or gym but makes up for it with "on-site massage and yoga classes."
This firm, known for its strong IP and technology practices, keeps its associates satisfied (calorie-wise) with bi-weekly attorney lunches, monthly "wine-and-cheese" hours, free soda, and "free pizza and beer every other Friday" in select offices.
Associates at this New York-based firm, well-known for its bankruptcy and restructuring, litigation and private equity practices, receive a $750 annual subsidy to cover gym membership fees.
More fun perks — perhaps your firm should adopt them? — after the jump.
In a move that can best be described as cheap, Latham & Watkins joins a growing list of firms that will not allow associates to accrue vacation time. Why would a firm deny its associates the opportunity to get paid out for unused vacation days when they leave the firm (voluntarily or involuntarily)? Because it saves them money, of course.
I suppose Latham could have put it this way: “We’ll no longer honor accrued vacation time because we don’t want to be on the hook for extra paychecks after we s***can you.” But where’s the fun in that? Instead Latham tried to sell associates on the idea that its change in vacation policy would allow associates to take unlimited vacation days.
Latham associates weren’t fooled by the memo. Check it out and see if you would have fallen under the spell of spin …
Most Biglaw New York lawyers would die of malnutrition without SeamlessWeb. Malnutrition, people! Because nobody has time to run down 50 floors to grab a bite to eat after hours.
Given the recession, charging 6:30 steak dinners to clients is no longer cool. But Schulte Roth & Zabel could be taking its anti-Seamless policy a bit too far. Here’s the email Schulte attorneys received last night:
The Firm cafeteria goes to great lengths to provide menu choices that reflect your preferences, and we are constantly looking for new ways to improve those offerings and keep the cafeteria operating as efficiently as possible. Attorneys and legal assistants working in the office on a client-related matter past 7:30 p.m. are encouraged to patronize Café 23, which is open for dinner Monday through Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Beginning April 5th, 2010, you will not be able to place orders through SeamlessWeb until 8:30 p.m. on weekday evenings.
We recognize that this change will cause some of you to rethink your dining options and, to that end, we ask you to let us know what types of food you would like the cafeteria to provide at dinnertime and then give Café 23 a try. Please email your comments and suggestions to [Redacted], Director of Food Services. Thank you.
Screwing around with SeamlessWeb is one sure way to piss off everybody that works for you. And boy are Schulte associates pissed …
We previously reported on Ropes & Gray hoarding Tamiflu for its employees. Reaction was mixed. Some people applauded Ropes looking out for the health of their employees and their families; others feared that Ropes was unwittingly contributing to a drug-resistant strain of the H1N1 virus.
But there are many ways to prevent an outbreak of piggy pestilence at a law firm near you. One of the most, dare I say rational, measures is to make sure that people who are sick aren’t coming into work.
That’s what they are doing at Akerman Senterfitt. The Washington Post reports (gavel bang: ABA Journal) that the firm is allowing people with the sickness to take time off of work, without counting it against their allotted leave time:
When Great Falls resident Carolyn Cuppernull’s 10-year-old daughter came down with swine flu, she didn’t have to take time off work to stay home with her.
Cuppernull is senior marketing manager of the Washington office of the law firm Akerman Senterfitt. Under the group’s former policy, she would have had to use paid leave to stay home if she or a relative got sick. But the firm recently updated its rules to allow employees to stay home with full pay — without using leave time — for H1N1-related absences.
Now that’s a way to make sure your office doesn’t suffer a swine flu outbreak without potentially contributing to the mutation of a global super virus.
Of course, there is a downside.
The competition between NYU Law and Columbia Law is always fierce — even when it is a race to the penny-pinching bottom. Two weeks ago, we told you that Columbia is now charging students for plastic forks (though chopsticks remain free).
Not to be outdone, a disgruntled NYU Law tipster reports:
So I’m in my last year at NYU Law and just had a fairly shocking experience…. I went to the lounge to get a cup for water from the water fountain. I grabbed a cup and walked away, and the cashier yelled at me. I thought she thought I was stealing a cup of coffee, so I told her I just wanted water. She said “that’s 25 cents.” I said “no, I just want water.” She said “I know,that’ll be 25 cents. We have to pay for those cups.” The worst part? It was a cup from Starbucks with the “we proudly serve Starbucks coffee” logo on the side.
Indignation from our tipster, plus a clarification about Columbia cutlery, after the jump.
Tuition at Columbia Law School this year is $48,004 (which doesn’t include $1,638 for health insurance and a $95 “transcript fee”). The estimated living cost for an academic year is $21,263. Putting it all together, students are looking at more than $70,000 for a year of legal education, during the worst recession in the legal industry most people can remember.
You’d think all of that would at least buy you a plastic fork at lunchtime. But you’d be wrong. Tipsters report that Columbia is now charging $.15 for plasticware in the law school cafeteria.
I’ve been doing this job for over a year now, and in that time some pretty petty cutbacks have scrawled across my inbox. But this might be the most outrageous “reverse perk” of all.
Let’s take a stroll through some other recession cutbacks.
We are fighting two wars, the economy is in the toilet, and the assassinations of Biggie and Tupac remain unsolved, but our elected leaders have spent a lot of time concerning themselves with soda (a.k.a: pop). Literally, the President of the United States is concerned about this.
Here in New York, wealthy overlord mayor Michael Bloomberg has an entire ad campaign running against soda. It’s probably just a precursor to the soda tax that is often talked about.
As a meat-eating smoker who detests physical activity and enjoys it when cows are fed beer, I’m immune to the so-called “doctors” and their calls for basic health. To me, taxing soft drinks is a violation of the social compact.
But in Biglaw, the war against soda is on. Foley & Lardner has already taken up arms against soft drinks. And it looks like Quinn Emanuel will be next.
Details after the jump.
Like most days, I started my morning with a Red Bull and the best morning man in the business, Pat Kiernan. Everything was proceeding normally, until I received this tip in the ATL inbox:
Women lawyers at City firm Clifford Chance have been given a £90 lingerie allowance.
Now, as you can well imagine, I don’t normally “spring” into anything — much less action. But within nanoseconds of receiving this information, I fired off a flurry of emails.
It turns out that the story comes from the Guardian – U.K. Here are some additional details about this (lacy?) fringe benefit:
Women lawyers at top City firm Clifford Chance are bucking the trend for reduced expenses now that their £90 lingerie-and-blouse allowance, if they work later than 11pm, has been reinstated. Inevitably dubbed the “90 nicker knicker allowance”, this may or may not be the most reliable indicator yet that the credit crunch is over. (Business is apparently so hectic that the firm has also installed sleeping pods.)
If you “work” later than 11 o’clock, you get to buy new panties? Why didn’t I think of that? More importantly, why didn’t Ben Franklin think of that and put it in the Constitution?
After consulting colleagues in London, a spokesperson for Clifford Chance in New York got back to me about bringing this commitment to sensual excellence to America. Sadly, it turns out that what sounds like one of the greatest Biglaw perks ever is in fact just a pedestrian acknowledgment of basic hygiene.
First they came for the Kleenex. Then they came for the coffee.
All around the country, law firms large and small are cutting costs by revoking perks. Today we heard from an unhappy camper — perhaps deprived of their customary caffeine? — at Foley & Lardner:
I can handle them taking away the Christmas party and giving us a 10% pay cut. But ratcheting up the cost of my soda by 150% is where I draw the line!
From an internal memo that went around this morning:
Vending machine prices – It has been several years since we last changed the price of beverages in the vending machines, yet our costs have increased steadily over those years. In order to bring the prices we charge in line with current costs, the price for soda and water will increase to $.75 and the price for juice will increase to $1.00. The new prices are still well below those found in public vending machines or stores, but will reduce or eliminate the need for the office to subsidize these items.
Frankly, we’re a bit puzzled. Isn’t it in Foley’s business interest to have well-caffeinated associates? Could the associates deprived of discounted Dr. Pepper have a Good Samaritan claim — oh, never mind….
The full memo — apparently there’s no such thing as a free lunch, at least at Foley & Lardner — after the jump.
It has been a tough two weeks for employees at McDermott Will & Emery. First the firm cut the salaries of summer associates. Then MWE fired 72 people.
Today, word came down to all associates and non-attorney personnel that the firm is also cutting benefits. A firm-wide memo explained:
The Firm has evaluated its employee benefit plans and is making changes effective July 1, 2009.
We began our evaluation late last year in response to the deteriorating economy and the fact that changes to employee benefits plans were occurring throughout corporate America. After a thorough review by our benefits consultants, we were informed that our plans were above market and that specific changes, if implemented, would bring our plans more in line with the market.
Right. Who wants to pay an “above market” benefit package?
Remember, McDermott is the firm that canceled aspects of its coffee service. At the point where the firm is looking to save nickels and dimes on coffee, it shouldn’t be surprising that it has found a way to save some money on more important employee benefits.
A tipster reports that the top line changes to MWE’s benefit structure include an increase in some premiums and deductibles, as well as a reduction in the percentage of pharmaceutical costs that are covered by the firm’s health plan. Suddenly, the nationwide health care debate expected to take place in Congress this summer just became much more important to employees at McDermott.
In fairness, MWE isn’t the first firm to go down this path. Last month, Kirkland & Ellis made similar changes to its health care coverage for associates.
Read the full memo after the jump.
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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