I have been thinking about how to explain the Am Law 100 rankings to a layman. Quite frankly, there is little use in trying to engage in a productive discussion of the rankings with colleagues. One segment of the Biglaw population is fixated on the fictional profits-per-partner figure, while another marvels at the “global reach” and exploding headcounts of the giga-firms. Some like to talk about the firms they interviewed with in law school, while others only care about the firms that have stronger resources in their practice areas. If you are in Biglaw, or hoping to be, you will come up with your own way of making sense of it all. Have fun.
What is more interesting to me is the following question: How can a normal person relate to this year’s Am Law 100 rankings? Put another way, if I was told that I was eligible for a large cash prize if I could explain the Am Law 100 chart to ten random strangers in a way that was compelling to them, what would I say?
* Yesterday, we shared Paul Caron’s plan to end the sequester by forcing government officials to experience delays due to air traffic control furloughs. Well, Congress voted to end the furloughs. We should have known that once the sequester inconvenienced a member of Congress this would end. [Reuters via Yahoo!]
* Ken Langone does not agree with Richard Farley of Paul Hastings. And tells him so. Loudly. [DealBreaker]
* If you’re looking for CLE credits in Houston, check out this event where you can win a semi-automatic 12-gauge shotgun for your trouble. And it counts for Ethics! [NRA Blog]
* “Izadi suggested she could pay her law school tuition by turning tricks.” Is a pimp really that much worse than Sallie Mae? [Las Vegas Review Journal]
* Overlawyered is now part of the CATO Institute. Enjoy working for the Koch brothers! I hear they’re really easy to work with over there. [Overlawyered]
* Getting tossed from a case for “bad behavior”? That’s the Chicago way! [Chicago Tribune]
* An interview with American Lawyer Editor-in-Chief Robin Sparkman about the newly released Am Law 100 law firm rankings, after the jump….
As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the American Lawyer recently released its highly influential, closely watched Am Law 100 law firm rankings. They say that “slow and steady wins the race,” and with regard to economic recovery, Biglaw firms seem to have taken that up as their new motto.
Yes, partners are still living as large as they ever were, but their success now comes in the form of single-digit returns with regard to key financial metrics. The divide between the “haves and the have-nots” in the world of major law firms has grown to epic proportions, and some Am Law 100 staples have fallen out of the top hundred firms altogether. Welcome to the new normal.
Are you ready to get excited about “modest” and “spotty” gains across the board? Let’s dig in….
* The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to wade into the constitutional contretemps of recess appointments, but if the high court refuses to take up the case, it may be back to the drawing board for the NLRB. [National Law Journal]
* The Am Law 100 law firm rankings are out, and it looks like there’s a new leader of the pack in terms of gross revenue. But which firm could it be? Not Skadden or Baker & McKenzie. We’ll likely have coverage on this later. [American Lawyer]
* Apparently the FBI wanted to continue questioning Dzhokhar Tsarnaev under Miranda’s public-safety exception, but a judge read the accused bomber his rights anyway. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* “This case is over. Someone should put it out of its misery.” Be that as it may, New York’s attorney general is desperate to get AIG’s Maurice Greenberg on the stand at trial. [DealBook / New York Times]
* “I have had it with these motherf**king snakes in my motherf**king files!” This spring, clerks in this old Mississippi courthouse are finding more and more snakes filed under “Ssssssss.” [Associated Press]
The 2012 Biglaw numbers are starting to trickle in. The American Lawyer (and the rest of the legal press) follows a near-uniform format in reporting them. Revenues — up or down x percent. Profits per partner — slightly to moderately up (if your executive committee was unable to generate higher profits, via financial sophistry or good-old de-equitizations or stealth layoffs, I am very sorry). Revenue-per-lawyer, slightly up. Feel-good comment by managing partner. Slightly passive-aggressive commentary by a “legal consultant.” Repeat, on a daily basis for about a month, until the Am Law 100 (and “interesting” Am Law 200 firms as well) is covered.
As a partner, you obviously hope your firm is reporting good news, even though the likelihood of that news reflecting on your personal situation is pretty low for most Biglaw partners. No one wants to be associated (or own the obligations of) a loser, and when everyone is proclaiming “modest” or “respectable” growth, the peer pressure can be tremendous. Especially where the Biglaw death spiral is a recognized phenomenon, and firms who report poor performance in a generally positive climate are quickly judged negatively, like a figure skater stuck doing double lutzes when everyone else is knocking out triples. Outliers, for good, but mostly for bad, stick out, and their ignominy is frequently paraded on these pages. With bonus Lat commentary for additional effect.
I for one, enjoy reading this kind of reportage…..
Here at Above the Law, we’ve been writing about the “Biglaw boys’ club” for quite some time. According to the latest report compiled by the National Association of Women Lawyers, when it comes to firm life in the fast lane, women continue to have difficulty ascending to the ranks of firm leadership. In fact, that study concluded that in the Am Law 200, women hold only 20 percent of the positions on firm governance committees. What’s worse is that only four percent of Am Law 200 firms have a firmwide managing partner who’s a woman. So much for girl power.
But when it comes to Am Law 100 firms, the American Lawyer recently conducted a similar study, and the results were less than awe-inspiring — in their discussion of the results, the editorial staff go so far as to refer to it as “the law of small numbers.” Lovely. Apparently the glass ceiling is still strong in Biglaw.
So what does the leadership hierarchy look like for women in the Am Law 100? Let’s find out….
As we mentioned last week, the American Lawyer recently released its highly influential, closely watched Am Law 100 law firm rankings. And despite all the doom and gloom permeating the legal profession, as well as the stagnant bonuses for associates lucky enough to make it into Biglaw, partners at large law firms are living just as large as ever.
In a way, the recovery in Biglaw is not unlike the recovery in America in general. If you were already well-off, you’re doing great now. It’s just not trickling down to anybody else. See, e.g., anemic spring bonuses.
Interestingly enough, the division of the world into “haves and have-nots” continues even into the world of major law firms. Partners at super-top-tier firms are putting even more distance between themselves and partners at less high-powered or less profitable firms.
Two comments from folks who recently moved in-house prompt this post.
The first comment came from a guy who spent more than ten years with an Am Law 100 firm before moving in-house: “When I was reading the newspaper on Sunday, I realized something. Before I moved in-house, I never truly understood ‘Dilbert’ and the cubicle culture. Now, I do.”
The second comment came from a guy who spent more than 20 years with two different AmLaw 100 firms before moving in-house: “When I moved laterally between law firms, my new firm understood that my time had value. I arrived at 9 on the first day and was working on client matters before noon. My office was ready to go, and we held the bureaucratic stuff to a minimum.
“I moved in-house, and it took days before I could start working. I screwed around with immigration forms and health insurance; I needed computer passwords; when I arrived, my office didn’t have even a pen and pad of paper, let alone a telephone or a computer in it. You realize pretty quickly that you’re in a nonbillable world, and no one seems to care very much whether or not you actually do anything. I figure that, if they don’t care, why should I?”
The danger in having a for profit magazine in charge of collecting and publicizing critical information is that the magazine doesn’t have any oversight audit authority to confirm that its information is accurate.
As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the big scandal of the day involved the Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group unit suggesting that as high as 22% of the top 50 firms have inaccurate profits per partner numbers listed in Am Law.
The WSJ Law Blog now has the story up. This all could be a simple matter of Am Law counting “partners” differently from Citi. But these are the perils of trying to wrest information out of an industry that values secrecy over transparency….
* Unfortunately, it looks like law schools aren’t the only ones cooking the books. According to Citigroup, partner profits in the Am Law 100 may have been a teensy bit overstated last year. [Wall Street Journal]
* A perp walk is a terrible thing to waste. Prosecutors may be dropping the charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn faster than the old frog can allegedly drop his pants in a hotel room. [New York Times]
* Ethics investigation? Florida better realize that it’s dealing with the legal community’s honey badger. Jose Baez don’t care. Jose Baez don’t give a sh*t. [Crimesider / CBS News]
* Lindsay Lohan wants Pitbull to give her everything in this new lawsuit. Sorry honey, but you’ve already done more irreparable harm to yourself than a rap lyric ever could. [New York Daily News]
* In a lawsuit against Urban Outfitters over a picture, we learn that underage boobs are going for $14M a pop these days. Damn you, inflation, damn you to hell. [International Business Times]
* I see an orange jumpsuit in your future. And when you’re facing 47 counts of wire fraud after being busted in Operation Crystal Ball, that’s a pretty accurate fortune. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
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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.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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