Dewey might not be alone in treating its returnees in this way. Simpson Thacher — widely regarded as having invented the public interest fellowship as an innovative way of dealing with the downturn, and praised for doing so — appears to be taking a similar approach. A source reports:
Simpson, creator of the public interest year, is reneging on its “guaranteed return” promise. Multiple corporate and satellite office associates who indicated interest in the return option were told either that there might not be capacity, or just outright that there isn’t a place for them. From the firm that “invented” and still spins this program as public service, that’s disappointing.
The number of public interest fellows who aren’t being invited back to the firm is not known. We don’t believe it’s a huge number — somewhere in the single digits. (If you have information, please email us.)
We reached out to Simpson for comment. The firm has a somewhat different characterization of what’s going on here….
We did not Photoshop this picture. It actually appeared in a New York Times wedding announcement. Chuckle at it, if you must. But know that when you do, you’re fiddling while a venerable institution goes up in flames.
December isn’t a great month to get married, and this December was particularly bad. Still, our final Legal Eagle Wedding Watch couples for 2009 have some surprisingly strong Biglaw credentials. Here they are:
Thought that STB should get its props for the (completely unexpected) notice that those on the public service fellowships will receive a pro-rated portion of the bonus that their individual class years received. Not bad, considering that normally not being employed at the firm by bonus day means no bonus.
This does seem like a pleasant surprise — especially since we now know that Simpson initially didn’t budget for bonuses for younger classes. We looked back at the terms of the public interest fellowship program at Simpson for mention of prorated bonuses for participating associates, and we found none.
Last week, we shared with you a very interesting internal document from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett: a collection of notes or informal minutes from a June 2009 partners’ meeting. The notes discussed attorney headcount, possible layoffs, and compensation, among other subjects.
Today we have even more deliciousness for you: an internal memorandum from executive committee chairman Pete Ruegger to the executive committee, transmitting the complete minutes of the June 8 partners’ meeting. As it turns out, the version of the meeting notes that we previously published was accurate, but not complete.
Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite. If you think that a return to the heady days of 2007 is just around the corner, as the economy improves and Wall Street strengthens, think again:
• As we dig out of the recession, hopefully with increased utilization and decreased headcount, we should do better in 2010 and beyond, but we do not think our gross revenues and premiums are going to return to 2007 levels and our net income is unlikely to return to 2007 levels in the next couple of years.
As the matrix shows, if we can get our average hours back up over 1800, we can still have a $1M+ [partnership] point at 88% realization. But, Simpson Thacher and our peer firms are going to be less profitable businesses than they were. Pricing and margins are going to continue to be challenging. At least in the short to mid-term.
Indeed. Additional analysis and the complete documents, after the jump.
Above the Law has obtained what appear to be notes or minutes from a June 2009 partners’ meeting at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. As you would expect, they are riveting reading.
A caveat: the notes appear authentic to us, and they’ve been making the rounds at Simpson, but the firm has not officially confirmed their authenticity. In addition, a firm spokesperson stated that STB does not maintain official minutes of partnership meetings. So please read this post with these warnings in mind. (We welcome private feedback on the notes and their contents; please feel free to email us.)
Let’s start with the important stuff. Back in June, when this meeting took place, Simpson seriously considered doing layoffs, in the truest sense of the word — large in scale, and open and notorious (not stealth). To their credit, however, the partners decided not to go down that path — even though it meant taking a financial hit, by forfeiting potential cost savings. From the minutes:
• Headcount: We continue to be oversized relative to demand in New York corporate, particularly among the younger classes and in California corporate. We have been working closely with Personnel and have aggressively been moving out underperformers and people who have been passed over for partner….
Obviously, we could “right size” faster if we implemented a lay-off (100 attys). And, we could target the younger corporate classes in New York and the younger classes in California. However, none of the top-tier firms has engaged in lay-offs. We do not want to be the first top-tier firm to engage in lay-offs. From a financial point of view, given the market practice that has developed, with respect to severance, the cost savings produced by a lay-off, as opposed to our aggressive performance-based reductions, is modest [no savings this year / $30K per/point next year].
More discussion, plus the complete minutes, after the jump.
Getting sued for malpractice, even if the claims lack merit, is never fun. Earlier this week, we wrote about Seyfarth Shaw, which is being sued by Tae Bo star Billy Blanks for malpractice (and being sued by a current partner for breach of fiduciary duty, among other claims).
Let’s declare this week “West Coast Malpractice Week” here at Above the Law. Yesterday a California appellate court reinstated a malpractice lawsuit against the super-prestigious firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and two of its partners, George Newcombe and Alexis Coll-Very, based in STB’s Palo Alto office.
The underlying lawsuit is somewhat complex; here’s the gist of it. Simpson Thacher represented PrediWave Corporation, a (now-bankrupt) California technology company, and its former CEO and president, Jianping “Tony” Qu. Prediwave alleges that Tony Qu was essentially looting the company, siphoning away its assets, and that Simpson Thacher — which represented both the company and Qu, a claimed conflict of interest — didn’t adequately protect the company’s interests against Qu (and even made it more difficult for the company to investigate Qu and his alleged self-dealing).
In the trial court, Simpson Thacher — represented by another powerhouse firm, Munger, Tolles & Olson (aka West Coast magnet for SCOTUS clerks) — won dismissal of the lawsuit, pursuant to California’s “anti-SLAPP” statute. If you’re not familiar with anti-SLAPP statutes, one of a blogger’s best friends (along with Section 230), here’s a brief description:
SLAPPs are Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. SLAPPs are lawsuits filed against people or organizations because they have exercised their right to petition the government or speak out on public issues. SLAPPs frequently contain claims for libel, slander, defamation, malicious prosecution, and/or abuse of process.
Can an anti-SLAPP law be used to secure swift dismissal of a malpractice action brought by a client against its former counsel? PrediWave, represented by Squire Sanders and California appellate boutique Horvitz & Levy (previously discussed here), argued that this is not a proper application of the statute. In its opinion (PDF), the California Court of Appeal (Sixth Appellate District) agreed, reinstating the suit against Simpson. (The court did not address the underlying merits of the case, leaving those to the trial court on remand.)
More discussion — including a statement from Simpson Thacher, which calls Prediwave’s claims “baseless” and declares that STB will “defend this claim vigorously” — after the jump.
Earlier this month, we wrote about Duke 2L Andrew Blumberg. He scored an appearance on the Food Network Challenge because he is a “Simpsons superfan.”
He was teamed up with a professional cake designer to advise her on making a Bart Simpson cake that was faithful to the original character. Blumberg was an excellent cake consigliere; his partner won the challenge. (We now have photos of their winning creation, after the jump.)
According to Duke Law News, Blumberg’s superfandom is rooted in more than just watching tons of Simpsons episodes. He also worked on a project incorporating Simpsons clips into a lesson on contracts law.
We’ve found out that Blumberg’s Simpsons obsession goes even further. Guess which firm he’s summering with? Punchline, after the jump.
The bonus news is coming fast and furious today. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is trying to nail down the market at the Cravath level. Multiple tipsters sent in the STB bonus announcement and the firm is following Cravath at all class levels.
Regular Above the Law readers will note that there is absolutely no surprise about Simpson’s bonus. Last year at around this time — when there was still a clear separation between Skadden’s bonus and Cravath’s bonus — Simpson rushed in to follow Cravath.
Given that history, we don’t know a lot of people that expected Simpson to do anything other than follow Cravath. Long gone are the days when Simpson led the charge to $160K.
But don’t forget about Sullivan & Cromwell. The firm’s had a good year, and with all of its competitors falling in line behind Cravath, they could get some real market separation here with a bonus that is still smaller than what they paid out last year.
What a fun Friday. I wonder if anybody else will rush out a bonus announcement before five o’clock? I’m going to need another Red Bull.
Read the STB bonus memo, after the jump.
The stalk-and-eventually-marry-your-doorman phenomenon continues to enthrall the NYT weddings editors. This week they shine the spotlight on yet another bride — this time a producer at CNN — who found love in the lobby. LEWW encourages female Biglaw associates to embrace this trend. You’re in and out of office buildings all day, ladies — open your eyes to the lusciousness perched behind those security desks!
And now, this week’s finalist couples:
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 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.
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