It’s about time a group of summer associates grew a backbone and showed some personality. At Akin Gump, a group of summers decided to “ice” some of the full-time associates at the firm.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, BrosIcingBros is was a website devoted to friends forcing friends to chug a gawd-awful Smirnoff Ice. It’s a pretty simple concept: if someone presents you with a Smirnoff Ice, you have to drink it — unless you happen to be carrying your own Smirnoff Ice, to pull off an Icing Deflection. In my humble opinion, there are few things worse than being forced to drink a Smirnoff Ice, and it is because of the horrible penalty that this phenomenon caught on and went viral.
Sadly, the site that started it all, BrosIcingBros.com, has been stopped. Apparently the people at Smirnoff don’t understand that there is no other reasonable use for their product. From AdAge:
“[Smirnoff Ice parent] Diageo has taken measures to stop this misuse of its Smirnoff Ice brand and marks, and to make it clear that ‘icing’ does not comply with our marketing code, and was not created or promoted by Diageo, Smirnoff Ice, or anyone associated with Diageo,” the company said in a statement.
Whatever. Icing will live on as the most appropriate use for your product no matter how many websites you try to kill.
Luckily, Smirnoff can’t stop the Akin Gump summer class…
It started with DLA Piper. After offering recession salaries to associates for a while under the guise of merit-based compensation, DLA relented earlier this month and restored the $160K base salary scale to its associates. Yesterday, WilmerHale announced that while it too is going forward with a merit-based compensation plan, it will be offering base salaries along the established $160K scale.
It seems that this little experiment of using merit-based compensation to undercut the market for base associate salaries is dying a quiet death. Today we have news that Akin Gump’s 2011 compensation model will once again include base salaries that match the market and are not tied to performance.
And even better, a tipster reports that all Akin Gump offices will be put on the New York market, $160K scale — which should represent a significant bump in salary for some associates…
Former Akin Gump partner Ken Mehlman — a 1991 graduate of Harvard Law School, just like Obama, but more known for his work in politics, also like Obama — has purchased a fabulous new Manhattan apartment. Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, is settling in Chelsea, which has raised someeyebrows.
So how much did he pay for his place? And what does it look like?
Have you had the privilege of voluntarily leaving your Biglaw job? I have, and let me tell you, the last day is a special kind of awesome. You kind of walk around, taking a survey of things you no longer have to deal with. Many of your friends and colleagues look at you with envy in their eyes. Friends of mine outside of the law have told me that leaving a job is bittersweet; but most associates who have left Biglaw on their own terms describe the sensation as “delicious.”
Now, when I left, I said all the right things, said goodbye to all the appropriate people, and wrote a standard, passionless departure memo. No gloating from me, I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as I could. But looking back on it, I wish I had done something notable. Nothing outrageous: boiling the managing partner’s pet rabbit sounds appropriate but is ultimately unsatisfying. I just wish I had taken advantage of my last day in some mildly humorous way.
An associate who left Akin Gump last week will have no such longstanding regrets. Here’s the “seeking contacts” email that was sent to the entire firm once the associate had both feet out of the door:
Sent: Friday, February 26, 2010 11:59 AM
To: FW ALL
Subject: Seeking contacts
Pardon the interruption. Please respond to sender only if you can recommend a reasonably priced plaintiffs’ attorney in Costa Rica. A friend of the firm has a handful of potential plaintiffs who believe there is a connection between their testicle cancer and a chemical used to make tea bags. They are looking for an attorney in Costa Rica to advise and represent them in this matter.
You know, the lives of Biglaw attorneys are such that on first blush one might think that this message was intended seriously.
But we spoke with the associate who sent out the message. Thankfully, the message was a product of a last day dare.
The voting wasn’t even close. There were seven entrants, but Akin walked away with over 44 percent of the vote. It was the commenters’ favorite, too:
“I work at HayBoo [Haynes and Boone], and really like our card. But I was actually laughing (alone in my office) at Akin Gump’s. A little cliched, but still, well-executed.”
“Akin hands down. All others were simply dreadful.”
“OK, the Akin Gump ‘holiday’ card (we all know we are talking xmas cards here) is hands down the best by a very wide margin, although the Goodwin Procter ‘gift’ of a pile of blow on the mantle at the end of their e-card was a nice touch.”
Once again, congratulations to Akin Gump on a well-deserved victory!
P.S. We received a few nice late submissions, like Proctor Heyman (inspired by the Abbey Road album cover) and Howard Rice (donating the savings from sending electronic rather than physical cards to a charity chosen by readers). Unfortunately, we were unable to include them because voting was already underway. Check ATL early and often, so as not to miss our contests and other features.
Before Christmas, we highlighted one law firm holiday card that we particularly enjoyed (from Haynes and Boone). We also invited readers to email us with other holiday cards we might enjoy. We stated that, if we received sufficient submissions, we might even hold a contest.
Lo and behold, we did receive enough entrants. So we are happy to hold Above the Law’s first holiday card contest.
Check out the nominees and vote — you’re stuck in the office between Christmas and New Year’s, and you’re bored — after the jump.
On the Way Out:
* The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California (San Francisco), Kevin Ryan, is stepping down. He cited “personal and professional reasons” for his departure.
(Does this mean that ATL favorite Eumi Choi might be placed in charge of the office for a while, even if only in an acting capacity? We hope so.)
* In New York, Brooklyn Civil Term Administrative Justice Theodore T. Jones Jr. has been nominated by Attorney General Governor Eliot Spitzer to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.
* Over in London, Camille Abousleiman and Louise Roman Bernstein, described by the WSJ Law Blog as “capital-markets stars,” are leaving the troubled Dewey Ballantine for LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.
* Litigator Kristan Peters, to Dorsey & Whitney, from Fulbright & Jaworski.
* Akin Gump: Eighteen new partners. Names here.
* Dow Lohnes: M&A and corporate lawyer Matthew Block (described to us as “a hard worker” and “a great guy”).
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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.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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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