The first quarter of 2014 was relatively good for large law firms. But that hasn’t stopped major firms from trimming their ranks. In fact, some of the strong performance in the first quarter appears to be attributable to prudent management of expenses — including employee compensation.
This week brings word of still more layoffs. The latest reduction is sizable, affecting about 40 employees.
Which firm is making the cuts, and what is the mix between lawyers and staffers?
On multiple days over the past week or so, one of the top ten search terms bringing visitors to Above the Law has been K&L Gates. For whatever reason, people seem keenly interested in what’s going on right now at this major international law firm.
(But maybe we shouldn’t read too much into such queries. Also in the top ten search engine terms: “pictures of tacos.”)
So what is going on at K&L Gates? A significant amount of partner attrition, as various news outlets have recently pointed out….
Earlier this week, we reported that salary cuts have spread to the Pacific Northwest. Now it appears that the salary cutting craze has migrated to the Southwest. Surely, our territories in Guam will be next.
The Phoenix based firm Snell & Wilmer has cut associate salaries by 10%. Above the Law received this statement from the firm:
We held meetings with our associates in each of our offices on Tuesday, June 16, announced the following, and answered associates’ questions:
* Associates’ salaries will be reduced 10% across the board, effective with associates’ July 15, 2009, paychecks; and
* Snell & Wilmer will be paying performance-based bonuses later this year.
We have obtained a letter that Snell & Wilmer partner Tracy Fowler sent to Judge Dale Kimball (D. Utah) concerning Timestampgate.
Our source for the letter expressed the following opinion (opinion! opinion! no verifiable statement of fact!):
Attached is a letter Tracy Fowler sent to Judge Kimball explaining that he is “shocked and embarrassed” that his firm was caught for the SECOND time [allegedly] trying to deceive the court. Not surprisingly, Fowler claims to have no knowledge of what transpired and assures the court that Snell & Wilmer is undertaking a thorough investigation.
The fact that the letter came from Fowler, the partner on the case in question, rather than the managing partner of Snell & Wilmer is kind of like the fox assuring the farmer that he will conduct a thorough investigation into the hens missing from the hen house.
We hope you noticed the colorful rhetoric and hyperbole employed by our source’s “hen house” comparison — which, as noted, is merely opinion (opinion! opinion! no verifiable statement of fact!).
One could hold a very different opinion based on the same facts. For example, one could argue that it was most logical for the letter to come from Tracy Fowler, rather than some other Snell & Wilmer partner, because Fowler is lead counsel in this case.
Okay, enough preliminaries. The letter appears after the jump.
Last week, we did an item on Judge Dale Kimball (D. Utah) benchslapping some Snell & Wilmer lawyers for allegedly engaging in questionable conduct involving the court’s time stamp machine and outside drop box.
Yesterday the WSJ Law Blog put up a post on the controversy. Most of their post will be familiar to readers of our earlier item. But here’s a new tidbit they unearthed:
The Law Blog spoke with Alan Sullivan, managing partner of Snell & Wilmer’s Salt Lake City office, who said that his law firm took responsibility for the improperly dated court filings. He also confirmed said that a Snell & Wilmer associate staffed on the Yamaha matter resigned from the law firm on Friday.
A question: Was the associate in question entirely responsible for the alleged conduct? Or did partner Tracy Fowler, who remains at Snell & Wilmer, know anything about it?
In case you’re curious, we believe that this individual is the associate who resigned last week. Her bio on the Snell & Wilmer website was functional as of Friday, but it has since been taken down. If you go to where her bio used to be, you’re informed that “the current record has been deleted.”
Thank God for Google Cache and Archive.org. For those of you who are curious — nobody’s forcing you to look at it — a screenshot of this associate’s bio appears after the jump.
Dying for just a few extra days on that brief? Ever thought about trying to game that little date stamp machine outside the court house?
The attached order has been causing some buzz here in Salt Lake City. Judge Dale Kimball is not exactly a divo, but I love this order, not only for the slimy behavior of the Snell & Wilmer attorneys that got totally busted (check the docket for the exact attorney names), but also for the clever detective work by the court staff.
This is a good lesson. And a great example of an attorney getting benchslapped!
Here’s the first page of the order:
And now it’s time for this court to rip counsel a new one. The rest of order follows after the jump.
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.