Aric Press

* Apparently Hogwarts has opened up a law school. Protip: Slytherin kids make the best lawyers. [Legal Cheek]

* Judge Ana Gardiner was disbarred for texting the prosecutor while presiding over a murder trial. It’s good to see Broward County take back the spotlight of crazy from Brevard County. [Daily Business Review]

* Don’t dress as an animal at a zoo unless you want to get shot. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

* Remember the Seinfeld episode where Uncle Leo thinks every bad break is the result of anti-Semitism? Meet Uncle Leo the Lawyer. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

* What does your hair mean for your career? [Corporette]

* Skadden Arps says there’s no such thing as “clandestine contracts” with high-frequency traders. They probably wanted to check with their clients before making that claim… [Wall Street on Parade]

* Elizabeth Wurtzel wants to have babies. Woe to the Republic. [Time]

* We are entering the Age of Narcissism. [What About Clients]

* We’ve discussed the troubling statistics showing that black people are by and large shut out of career advancement in Biglaw. Aric Press, editor-in-chief at ALM, discusses the study with Lee Pacchia below…. [Mimesis Law]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 06.05.14″

The arrival last week of the latest Am Law 100 rankings brought a hot-button subject back to the headlines: vereins.

As The Economist concisely explains, a verein is “a Swiss partnership that lets [law firms] maintain separate national or regional profit pools under a single brand.” For purposes of preparing its influential Am Law 100 rankings, the American Lawyer treats a verein as a single firm — a decision that some at non-verein firms object to.

Let’s hear some of the complaints — and then, interestingly enough, a defense of the vereins’ financial performance in 2013, which might have been better than Am Law suggested….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Are The Am Law 100 Rankings Unfair? Let’s Whine About Vereins”

The book that everyone’s talking about right now is Capital in the Twenty-First Century by French economist Thomas Piketty. In his bestselling, critically acclaimed, 600-page tome, Piketty documents and diagnoses the growth of income inequality in the United States and around the world.

What’s true for the global economy seems to be true for law firms as well. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the American Lawyer just released the latest Am Law 100 rankings, the biggest rankings in the world of Biglaw. Here’s the key takeaway, captured in the magazine’s headline: “The Super Rich Get Richer.”

How rich are the “Super Rich” these days? Let’s peek at those profits per partner….

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Business development sometimes seems like an impossible task. Winning new clients, or generating new business from existing clients, isn’t easy. If you doubt this, check out in-house columnist Mark Herrmann’s excellent column, Nothing You Can Say Can Cause Me To Retain You (explaining all the strategies for trying to obtain his business that won’t work). The challenge of getting new clients explains why so many firms resort to effectively trying to buy clients, by luring lateral partners and hoping their books of business come with them.

But still, every now and then a law firm does get hired by a new client. And every now and then a law firm gets fired by an existing or even longstanding client (even though it’s not easy to displace incumbent counsel, especially if they’re decent).

Why do clients hire and fire their outside counsel? A new survey offers some answers….

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We have partner profits on the brain here at Above the Law. Earlier today, we wrote about a law firm that instituted a 20 percent holdback on partner pay — a move that was met with anger by some.

In that story, we noted the “continued expansion in the gap in power and pay between what we’d call ‘super-partners’ — partners in firm management and major rainmakers, who are often one and the same — and rank-and-file partners.” You can see this yawning chasm in the disparities in partner pay that exist within the same firm. As partner turned pundit Steven Harper has argued, partners aren’t true “partners” when they are paid and treated so differently.

New information from the American Lawyer shows how extreme some of these gaps between partners have gotten….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Which Firms Have The Biggest Gaps Between Their Highest- and Lowest-Paid Partners?”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGThe American Lawyer’s 2007 Associates Survey is now available, via Law.com. Good stuff!

A summary of the survey’s key findings, by editor-in-chief Aric Press, appears here. The WSJ Law Blog collects additional highlights here.

It seems that ATL readers and law firm consultants aren’t the only ones predicting pay raises in the reasonably near future. From Aric Press’s write-up, here’s the money quote (hehe):

This year’s famous hike to $160,000 in starting pay for first-year associates did not buy hiring firms anything in terms of separating themselves from their competition. The firms that can afford to pay more will pay more; but there is a price point that not all Am Law 200 firms will be willing to match. We’re confident that that number begins with a 2.

What Press describes is similar to this excellent analysis, by Bill Henderson of the Empirical Legal Studies blog:

[T]he Big Law market is the midst of a “separating equilibrium”. In short, a few dozen elite firms are pulling away from their BigLaw peers in the competition for premium, price-insensitive work….

So what does the future look like? BigLaw will no longer be synonymous with “large full service firms”, which was the mantra throughout the ’90s. Successful financial services and labor & employment lawyers will tend to migrate to different firms [i.e., super-lucrative and less-lucrative firms, respectively].

In terms of leading New York firms — the shops with big-time transactional practices, and profits per partner of $2 million or more — we’d speculate that a move, to a starting salary at or close to $200,000, will happen in the next twelve to eighteen months. If it doesn’t happen in time for this fall recruiting cycle, it will happen in time for the next one.

The foregoing analysis assumes, of course, that U.S. law firms chug along nicely over the next year or two. If we have a general economic meltdown, then all bets are off.

Annual Survey Shows the New Reality of Associate Life [The American Lawyer]
Associate Survey: Want to Leave? Big Law’s OK With That [WSJ Law Blog]
Howrey Associate Pay Scale: What Merit Really Means [Empirical Legal Studies]