In light of the possibletrouble that may lie ahead for large law firms, it should come as no surprise that some of them are battening down the hatches. One way to prepare for a tough economic climate is to reduce one’s expenses. And one way to reduce expenses is to conduct layoffs, of attorneys or of staff.
But the work, the work that generates revenue for firms, still needs to get done. One way of reducing expenses while still getting all the work done is to outsource certain functions to an outside service provider. This effectively gets job positions “off the books” of the law firm, which no longer has to pay salaries or benefits for the lawyers or staffers in question; the law firm just has to pay the vendor. (This could be viewed as a form of financing; as you may recall, cash-strapped Dewey used vendors for many services — vendors who are now its creditors in bankruptcy.)
Let’s learn about the latest firm that is reducing the ranks of its staff in favor of relying on an outside company….
* Patton Boggs partner Benjamin Ginsberg serves as the Mitt Romney campaign’s top lawyer, and he’s taking flak for GOP rules revisions that have been likened to “killing a fly with a sledgehammer.” [Am Law Daily]
* “I am still shocked that I did everything right and find myself on the brink of destitution.” This just in from the Things Everyone Already Knew Desk: even law firms have been hit hard by the recession. [Washington Times]
* The lead lawyer in the inquisition against Madam Justice Lori Douglas turned in a resignation letter. Perhaps he grew tired of being part of judicial farce that’s spread wider than Her Honor’s legs. [Canadian Press]
* A would-be law student wants to know if he has a good chance of getting into a top 20 school with a low 150s LSAT and an average GPA. You’ll get in everywhere you apply! [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* Roger Fisher, Harvard Law School professor and co-author of “Getting to Yes,” RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]
The fable of the ant and the grasshopper may have lessons for the world of large law firms.
As regular readers of Above the Law well know, most major law firms — with a fewnotableexceptions — did not pay spring or mid-year bonuses in 2012. Our associate readers generally viewed this news with disappointment, while our partner readers had less of a problem with it.
But perhaps even associates should have been supportive of their firms’ decisions not to pay spring bonuses. Storm clouds are gathering over the law firm world. So says a recent report by Biglaw’s biggest bankers, over at Citigroup….
If you’re a lawyer who managed to make your way into a large law firm, congratulations. For attorneys, the world of Biglaw seems to be somewhat stable. Revenue and profits are up by modest amounts, and it has been a while since we’ve seen major lawyer layoffs (setting aside the collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf, of course).
Things have not been so happy for staff. Over the past year or so, we’ve covered staff layoffs at several prominent Biglaw firms. Many of these reductions appear to be fueled by either outsourcing or improvements in technology that allow firms to get by with fewer staff.
The latest firm with news of staff layoffs — and unconfirmed reports of lawyer layoffs — is Fish & Richardson. Fish is a leading intellectual property shop, and the world of IP litigation certainly seemsbusy these days. But maybe it’s not busy enough?
Let’s get the details on the recent cuts at Fish….
The law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski is a leader in many fields — at least 31 of them, according to the latest Chambers rankings. In addition to recognizing Fulbright as a leading firm in 31 categories, the influential Chambers guide also named 99 Fulbright lawyers as leading individuals in their practice areas.
* What information Dewey know about the ongoing criminal investigation that’s being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office? From the sound of it, ex-chairman Steven Davis’s LeBoeuf may be cooked. [Am Law Daily (reg. req.)]
* Dewey know when to admit defeat? A spokesman for the failing firm has insisted that it’s “not formally closed.” Great, because that’ll certainly make it easier to prepare for the involuntary bankruptcy filing that’s in the works. [Reuters]
* Meanwhile, D&L amended its WARN notice with the New York State Department of Labor to raise its total employee count by 100, for a grand total of 533 — 433 of whom have been laid off thus far. [Bloomberg]
* “The defense wasn’t sexy, but the defense doesn’t want sexy. It wants an acquittal.” John Edwards’s legal team rested its case yesterday without calling any of the major players involved to testify. [Associated Press]
* Show me your papers: the California Supreme Court will be deciding whether a law license should be granted to an illegal immigrant who’s already been certified by the State Bar of California. [Los Angeles Times]
* Thank you, Jesus! Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law now has an additional $4M in its collection plate to put toward a new building thanks to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [National Law Journal]
Based on recent remarks by current and former leadership at Dewey & LeBoeuf, it seems that the firm is going to end with a whimper, not a bang. The current plan apparently involves no bankruptcy filing or dissolution vote, but just the defection of one partner after another, until nobody is left.
* Dewey need to declare bankruptcy yet? While the delusional firm has “no plans to file bankruptcy,” partner defectors and retirees are being advised to contact personal bankruptcy lawyers ASAP. [New York Times]
* When Dewey become a part of the great unwashed? When you’re being sued for $300K in unpaid janitors’ bills. But that claim’s going to be nickel and dimed, just like the firm’s partner guarantees. [Businessweek]
* Maybe Greenberg Traurig ditched its merger talks with D&L because they had problems of their own. The firm apparently laid off staff to achieve a 4-to-1 attorney-secretary ratio. [Daily Business Review (sub. req.)]
* The judge presiding over the John Edwards campaign finance trial denied a motion to dismiss the charges against the former presidential candidate. Like all the rest of us, Judge Eagles probably just wants to see if he and his baby mama, Rielle Hunter, will take the stand. [MSNBC]
* In the wake of the Elizabeth Warren controversy, many have wondered what goes into law school hiring decisions. Generally, they look for good teachers, but being 1/32 Native American certainly helps. [ABC News]
* Try to bring up ethics charges on the Wisconsin justice who allegedly choked a bitch in chambers, and you might find your career as Chairman of the state’s Judicial Commission in a stranglehold. [Telegraph Herald]
* Dewey seriously have one chairman again? Good Lord, this law firm is literally falling apart! Martin Bienenstock had “no plans to file bankruptcy” because he knew he was taking the first life raft off this sinking ship. [WSJ Law Blog]
* When Dewey WARN people? When it’s already too late. In case you missed it last night, the firm was served with its first suit following its en-masse layoffs. The more the merrier, because it’s a class action. [Bloomberg; WSJ Law Blog]
* Elizabeth Warren can’t decide whether she’s white or Native American. Apparently it depends on her geographic location, because she was white at UT Law, but a minority while at Penn Law. [Boston Globe]
* Racial profiling still ain’t easy, but Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio “will fight this to the bitter end.” The Department of Justice has filed a civil rights suit against the no-nonsense Sheriff and his department. [Associated Press]
* New Jersey Governor Chris Christie must be gearing up for his inevitable 2016 presidential run, because yesterday he vetoed an online insurance marketplace required by the Affordable Care Act. [New York Times]
* Syracuse Law recently broke ground on a $90M building that will serve as its new home. May political plagiarizers continue to grace the law school’s halls for years and years to come. [National Law Journal]
The revolving door continues to spin, quite furiously, at the rapidly collapsing Dewey & LeBoeuf. We mentioned some of the latest partner departures in last night’s post (which we updated again this morning).
These are major defections, which strike at the heart of what was left of the firm. In case there was any doubt after last Friday’s WARN Act notice or yesterday’s big layoffs, it may soon be time to stick a fork in LeBoeuf.
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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…
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