Altman Weil

It’s always sunny – or raining money? – in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia: it’s all about the Benjamin. The city abounds in tributes to its famous founding father, Benjamin Franklin. It even boasts a museum devoted to his life and times.

And maybe Philly will be all about the benjamins, plural — as in hundred-dollar bills. There’s speculation afoot that the new going rate for first-year associates in this city could rise to $160,000.

What’s the basis of the speculation? And could a Philadelphia pay raise have implications for other markets?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Could Philadelphia To $160K Drive NY To $190K?”

Entry-level Biglaw salaries soon?

* The times are a-changin’ for Biglaw in many ways, and lawyers may soon see their starting pay take a dive because clients think they “continue to be too expensive.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* Foley & Lardner plans to shutter its San Diego shop, following in the footsteps of other Biglaw behemoths. Not to worry, no one’s been laid off — that we know of, that is. [Am Law Daily]

* Say hello to Alabama Law’s new dean, Mark Brandon. Maybe he’ll be the man to propel the school to a #5 ranking in a publication other than National Jurist. ROLL TIDE! [National Law Journal]

* Earlier this week, an Idaho judge struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage, and now she’s refusing to issue a stay. Good on you, judge, but the Ninth Circuit may put those marriages in limbo for a while. [NPR]

* Speaking of judges who’re refusing to stay same-sex marriage rulings, last night, the Arkansas Supreme Court turned down the state attorney general’s request to put a stop to marriage equality. [USA Today]

* A lawyer working as Board of Education president in Mahopac, New York, resigned from his position after calling a PTA volunteer a “chubby wubby” at a school board meeting. That’s not very nice. [Journal News]

* According to Altman Weil, law firm merger mania is on pace for record highs as firms desperately attempt to stave off financial problems by gobbling up smaller firms’ clients. [Am Law Daily]

* The NCAA better watch its back: Jeffrey Kessler, the Winston & Strawn partner who helped bring free agency to the NFL, wants in on the potential case for unpaid college athletes. [Bloomberg]

* Lawyers doing regulatory work are very afraid that the shutdown will decimate their fourth quarter billables because “[t]he longer it goes, the more problematic it will be.” Yay government. [Reuters]

* GrayRobinson partner Philippe Devé is in need of a bone marrow transplant, and his firm is using its social media presence to crowdsource a donor. Will you lend a helping hand? [Daily Business Review]

* UpCounsel has successfully raised $1.5 million in funding to beef up its international patent practice, proving the point that it costs a pretty penny to protect clients from the world’s patent trolls. [TechCrunch]

* Law schools in New York State are feeling the pain of the drop in applications, and some are now willing admit that their graduates had to start “cannibalizing each other” in the job market. [New York Law Journal]

* But really, so what if applications are down? Lots of law schools consider themselves lucky to be keeping the lights on with the assistance of generous alumni donations in the millions. [National Law Journal]

* Another day, another “diploma mill.” Sorry to disappoint you, law students and alumni, but Charleston School of Law is moving forward with its plans to sell out to the InfiLaw System. [Post and Courier]

* Who’s bad? Not AEG Live. A jury made up of people unable to answer yes or no questions during the reading of the verdict found that the concert promoter wasn’t liable in Michael Jackson’s death. [CNN]


‘The layoff train’s gonna derail Biglaw!’

I’m surprised that anybody’s surprised. You’re going to continue to see it as firms look [to save money] in a slow-growth or no-growth economy. By far and away the biggest savings area is people.

Thomas S. Clay, a principal with Altman Weil, explaining that additional staff layoffs will soon be coming down the pipeline at Biglaw firms nationwide, specifically because nonlawyer staff salaries represent about 40 percent of a firm’s expenses.

Jodi Arias

* A bipartisan immigration reform bill made its way through the Senate Judiciary Committee and will head to the Senate floor. Of course, the amendments in support of gay marriage didn’t make it in, but that may be moot soon anyway. [CNN]

* IRS official Lois Lerner may not be very “good at math,” but at least she seems to know the basic principles of constitutional law. She’ll invoke her Fifth Amendment rights before the House Oversight Committee today. [Politico]

* The D.C. Circuit ruled that the top secret Osama bin Laden death photos will remain top secret, but the internet’s desperate cries of “pics or it didn’t happen” will live on in our hearts. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Attention naysayers: it may be time to face the music. According to the latest Altman Weil survey, most law firm leaders think all of these fun recession-driven changes are here to stay. [Am Law Daily]

* Twenty-two law firms are banding together to fight against fraudulent financial products on a worldwide scale. It’s too bad this legal alliance didn’t exist before the Bernie Madoff scandal. [New York Times]

* It looks like New Jersey may soon be hopping aboard the “pro bono work before bar admission” train. You better hope you get your clinic placements in order, people. [New Jersey Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* The results for the February 2013 bar exam in California are out, and they’re frightening. It’s time to try that acting thing again, because only 41 percent of all test takers passed the exam. [The Recorder]

* Jodi Arias is now begging jurors to allow her to live out the rest of her days in prison. She wants to contribute to society by painting, recycling, and… not slashing additional throats. Lovely. [Fox News]

[Think of hourly fees] as the equivalent of a sticker on the car at a dealership. It’s the beginning of a negotiation…. Law firms think they are setting the rates, but clients are the ones determining what they’re going to pay.

Ward Bower, a principal at the legal consultancy Altman Weil, commenting on the ever-growing price tag for the Biglaw billable hour — and the deep discounts that are available to clients who simply refuse to pay full freight.

Kamala Harris

* If President Obama could send a love note to California Attorney General Kamala Harris, it’d probably say something like this: “Girl, you look good. Won’t you back that ass up?” [ABC News]

* The fun things you learn during a Supreme Court justice’s book tour: apparently Sandra Day O’Connor dated William Rehnquist when they were at school together at Stanford Law. [Legal Times]

* When it comes to law firms, size really does matter. Quite a few midsize firms had the urge to merge in the first quarter of 2013, according to the latest Altman Weil survey. [Am Law Daily]

* In case you haven’t heard the news by now, NYU Law School has a new dean, and he was poached fresh from Columbia. The bonus here is that he’s actually pretty cute. We’ll have more on this story later today. [NYU Law News]

* Law faculties may be a tad too liberal, say some at Harvard Law School, which is basically a bastion of leftie law professors. Cut to Ted Cruz muttering about Commies under his breath. [USA Today]

* Here’s an obvious protip that may not be obvious to 0Ls: if you’re going to ask for a recommendation letter, you should probably make sure that it’s going to be a positive one. [U.S. News & World Report]

As businesses go, the business of law isn’t extremely capital intensive. Most of the capital in Biglaw is really human capital. As one bankruptcy lawyer put it, “It’s incredible how fragile law firms are. Unlike a company, the principal assets walk out the door every night.”

But law firms do need some capital. Those fabulous offices — and fabulous associates, at $160,000 and up — don’t come cheap.

Firms can obtain the capital they need to operate through borrowing; but credit needs to be used judiciously, lest a firm go the way of Dewey & LeBoeuf. And partners make capital contributions to the firm, most notably when they buy into the partnership.

But sometimes that capital isn’t enough. So firms issue capital calls to their partners, which brings us to today’s topic….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Some Comments on Capital Calls (and a Closer Look at Greenberg Traurig’s)”

I have a friend who is looking for a job at a small law firm. (No, this is not one of those instances in which a person refers to herself as a “friend.” Do you see any quotation marks?) Not surprisingly, she is finding it difficult to land said job. As reported on Vault’s Law Blog, June was a particularly bad month when it came to legal unemployment.

My friend’s situation is not great. Of course, I did not say this to her. Indeed, like most conversations with my good friends, I say this behind her back instead. I am, after all, a good friend.

While things may not be looking so rosy for my friend as an aspiring small-firm lawyer, they are looking pretty sweet for some employed small-firm lawyers….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Size Matters: Small Firms Growing In This Economy”