Occasionally we report about firms offering voluntary early retirement / buyout packages to their staff. For the most part, the programs haven’t been popular. It seems like staffers would just as soon take their chances at layoff roulette instead of voluntarily falling on their swords and slinking away into the night.
So a tipster’s report this morning really caught our eye:
50 employees at MOFO (don’t know the offices) just took an early retirement package.
Fifty? That doesn’t sound like an early retirement offer, it sounds like a Great Escape.
And it’s a true story. We have a statement from Morrison & Foerster after the jump.
We’ve told you before, and we’ll tell you again: be nice to your secretary. They do important work for you. And during their down time — when they’re not playing solitaire — they may be thinking about ways they can screw you over should you cross them.
An attorney in North Carolina apparently does not read our site and did not get this crucial PSA. Justice H. Campbell is a solo practitioner in Charlotte who helps out those who suffer from slips and falls, who commit the occasional DUI, or who need to file for worker’s compensation. According to our tipster, he’s been through several legal assistants in his career.
His last legal assistant went out with a bang. Or at least with a very loud click of the mouse.
She set up an out-of-office response to let correspondents know that she was no longer with the firm. When a court official emailed her to confirm a mediation date for Mr. Campbell, he got a blunt automatic response…
Be nice to your secretary. It’s the right thing to do.
What, basic human decency doesn’t appeal to you? Alright, how about: be nice to your secretary — or else she might totally screw you over by revealing your secrets.
It’s advice product liability lawyer David Gross might have wanted to take. The ABA Journal reports:
An unhappy secretary has brought ethics troubles for a prominent product liability lawyer in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board has recommended that litigator David Gross be disbarred for failing to share a $50,000 check with his law firm partners, the New Jersey Law Journal reports. Gross’ secretary, Claudette McCarthy, revealed the check to Gross’ partners at Budd Larner four years after he received it in 1998.
I moved offices in the middle of this year, and as a consequence I lost my lovely and very helpful administrative assistant to a Partner who was staying where she was. Since August, I have had a new, and also quite helpful, administrative assistant. I am very demanding of my assistant’s time. I am not an inconsiderate jerk, but I am very busy and thus need to delegate small tasks like copies, scheduling rooms, making binders and creating indices quite often. Both have been quite helpful in the past year.
Should I be splitting my customary holiday gift between the two of them? Right now I am thinking 60% for my original assistant and 40% for my new assistant. What are your thoughts? And how much should I pay out? $200? $150?
– King Solomon Emeritus
Dear King Solomon Emeritus,
The holidays are a time for family, friends and quiet self-reflection. And if you’re a secretary, they’re also a time for judging and bragging. Within hours of receiving your gift, the entire secretarial staff is aware that you purchased a $96 Omaha Steaks gift card for your admin, and has swiftly judged you for the 20% decrease in desirability and price from last year’s $120 Dead Sea mud wrap gift certificate.
This system obviously rules out splitting your $200 gift 60/40 between your old and new secretaries, respectively, unless you feel like booking your own conference rooms in the future. And even if you didn’t have your 2 secretaries/1 wallet problem, cash only is never a good idea anyway because the thing with money is that people can sometimes figure out how much you spent.
On Wednesday’s open thread, several commenters stated that they were giving their secretaries some cash amount and a “small gift.” Your d*ck in a box won’t cut it, but after the jump there is a list of presents that will.
It’s that time of the year again, says one ATL reader:
now would be a good time for the old “how much are you giving your secretaries for the holidays?” story
It’s customary for associates at large law firms to give a cash gift to their administrative assistants, often along with a card or small gift. Not everyone opts for cold, hard cash — some do AmEx or Visa gift cards.
This year has been a tough one. Some associates have had their salaries frozen and have gotten “baby bonuses” in comparison with years past. Are you planning to let the economic pain trickle down?
Some discussion and advice from last year, after the jump.
Sometimes you have to love Biglaw. Back in March, we reported that Alston & Bird was quietly forcing out secretaries and administrative staff. Our sources report that this approach to staff cuts has been ongoing at the firm. A&B is either letting people know they have a limited amount of time to find a new job or encouraging them to take early retirement.
But that doesn’t mean the firm can’t have a party to celebrate those who have been shoved out of the door. A tipster reports:
Apparently demanding that the staff take early retirement is not enough for the “worker-friendly” Alston & Bird. To rub salt in these early (involuntary) retirees, A&B is throwing them a party! Because nothing says “Fortune 500 Best Place to Work” like a party… for people you effectively fired.
Faithful Coca-Cola drinkers can laugh about this one. PepsiCo is having a rough month, reports the National Law Journal. PepsiCo’s purified water brand, Aquafina, has cost it a pretty penny.
Charles Joyce and James Voigt of Wisconsin sued PepsiCo earlier this year for stealing their idea of bottling and selling purified water. They claim that they had confidential discussions with distributors about the idea in 1981 and that the distributors passed those trade secrets along to Pepsi. It sounds like a bit of a ridiculous lawsuit; PepsiCo calls their accusations “dubious.”
But the Wisconsin men won. They won big. They won $1.26 billion dollars.
How did they win? By default judgment. PepsiCo’s lawyers never responded to the complaint, and the judge awarded the Wisconsin plaintiffs a default judgment.
Why did the Pepsi people never respond? Meet PepsiCo legal secretary, Kathy Henry.
We don’t have all of the details, but multiple sources report that WilmerHale is laying off 57 staffers today (secretaries and paralegals). We understand that the staff is being informed right now.
We don’t have information about what (if any) severance package is being offered to the departed staff. Our sources report that the layoffs will affect staff in Boston, D.C., and New York offices.
Spokespeople for WilmerHale did not respond to an immediate request comment. But we hope to have more information as people are informed of their job situation.
Good luck, WilmerHale friends. UPDATE More from our tipsters, and a statement from the firm, after the jump.
Firms everywhere are trying to keep expenses down. For secretaries and administrative assistants at Alston & Bird, this means that overtime is going to be a lot harder to come by. Last week, A&B informed its secretaries of changes in the firm’s overtime policy:
As you know, from time to time we review our HR policies and practices to determine if they continue to meet the needs of the firm and our employees. In our continuing effort to hold the line on expenses and minimize our overtime costs, the firm has made the decision to revise our overtime policy for our professional staff, secretaries, and paralegals. After review of our current policy, we found that there were two areas that were outdated and not consistent with what the law allows and what other professional service firms are doing. As a result, we have made two changes to our policy.
Alston & Bird just happened to figure out that its overtime policy was inconsistent with the law? Well, I’m glad the firm — the law firm — is clearing that up.
We’ll take a look at the legal inconsistency after the jump.
It’s been a while since a firm asked people to voluntarily fire themselves. Maybe with the economy getting better it’s time to dust that strategy off?
Apparently, that is what Crowell & Moring is hoping for. The firm just asked its staff to voluntarily help them get down to a 4 to 1 attorney to staff ratio:
Our goal remains to handle this necessary reduction in a humane and generous way. Accordingly, effective today, we are offering a voluntary opportunity for our support services employees to elect to resign from the firm in exchange for payment of six months of each employee’s annual salary. We are hopeful that this opportunity may be of interest to a number of our secretaries and will bring the firm closer to achieving its goal of an average lawyer to support services ratio of 4 to 1 across our offices. This voluntary package will be available through October 23. At the end of that period, we will reassess our staffing levels and determine whether involuntary reductions are necessary.
Six months severance is a nice package, especially for staff who don’t typically receive as much severance pay as attorneys. If you assume that the firm will not be offering six months to people that are “involuntarily” laid off after October 23rd, the package could be a pretty powerful motivator.
Of course, if there are still no jobs in six months, then does it really matter? If you are a rock star secretary maybe you should just roll the dice and try to hang on.
Tough decisions abound during a recession. Good luck, Crowell & Moring staff.
Read the full internal memo after the jump.
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 email@example.com 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.
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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