Without paralegals, legal assistants, legal secretaries, clerks, and receptionists, the entire Biglaw model could come to a screeching halt. Speaking as a former legal assistant and full-time law clerk, I know this for a fact.
For some attorneys, if members of the support staff weren’t there to assist, important letters would go unwritten, coffee mugs would go unfilled, pleadings would go unproofread, and envelopes would go unlicked. So attorneys, always treat staff members graciously and respectfully — you never know when you’ll need them to get you out of a bind.
All that being said, we were a little bit shocked when we learned about what is allegedly happening at one of the world’s largest law firms, Baker & McKenzie. Apparently some members of the support staff aren’t getting the kind of support they need….
* Baker & McKenzie is being sued for $600 million. First they were the inspiration for Philadelphia. Then they gave me a cold offer. Now this? Horrific mistakes, all. [Sports Money / Forbes]
* Meanwhile, Bingham McCutchen is preemptively suing Frank McCourt for letting them screw him over so badly. [Los Angeles Times]
* The middleman in the Matthew Kluger brouhaha, Kenneth Robinson, has pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges. No word yet on whether he is a gay dad. [Bloomberg]
* The Ninth Circuit ruled that the most controversial parts of the Arizona immigration law will remain blocked. [Washington Post]
* A man was fired from his job as a part-time urine monitor because he was born a woman. He’s suing (with help from Gibson Dunn), but has already found new employment. As a package handler. [New York Times]
* Speaking of packages, this employment discrimination lawsuit filed against a Dallas law firm is struggling with penis ID. [ABA Journal]
* NFL owners and players have been ordered into mediation by a federal judge. Who gives a sh*t? It’s a great band, it’s a bad band. It’s like pizza, baby! [ESPN]
And this year, there’s a new name at the top. Baker & McKenzie leapfrogged a number of firms to become the top-grossing law firm in the world (based on 2009 revenue numbers). Baker narrowly edged out Skadden for this honor.
Of course, Skadden people shouldn’t be ashamed of their second-place finish. Baker & McKenzie is huge: it leads the Am Law list of most lawyers by more than a thousand over its nearest rival, Clifford Chance. Skadden ranks #9 on the “most lawyers” list, with an attorney headcount that is almost doubled by Baker & McKenzie. Skadden gets to #2 in the revenue rankings by having a much higher revenue-per-lawyer figure.
Let’s take a look at the top ten in terms of revenue, and drool over these billion-dollar businesses…
We’re doing our annual march through the Vault prestige rankings, to give ATL readers the opportunity to have their say about perks and pitfalls at these firms. If your firm actually let you swap your Blackberry for your iPhone, brag here. Or if your firm has such a strong stench that it makes you nauseous, vent here.
We’ve been doing open threads in batches of ten, but now we’re going to pick up the pace. Here are the Vault #41 – 60. This is when the prestige list gets a little more geographically diverse, with firms based in Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Palo Alto and even Pittsburgh:
Last week, MSNBC ran an alarmist article entitled “Details of 100 million Facebook users published online,” after a hacker security consultant compiled a list of the 171 million Facebook users who have their profiles set to show up in a public search. Any story these days with “Facebook” and “privacy” in it tends to set the Internet afire. Sometimes, the hysteria is warranted. (And when I say “sometimes,” I actually mean “rarely.” People join the social network to be social and share information, after all.)
In this case, especially, the hysteria really wasn’t warranted. The list contained people’s names, addresses, Facebook profile urls, and in some cases, phone numbers. Next time Verizon drops off my new White Pages, I expect MSNBC to break a huge, angry story about it.
The file with Facebook users’ info was available for download on the security consultant’s site. Gizmodo was able to figure out the IP addresses of people downloading the file, and published a list of the many companies that appeared to be interested in the info. Among them were three law firms: Davis Polk, O’Melveny & Myers, and Baker & McKenzie. Quite a few ATL readers have sent this our way. Said one tipster:
I understand what a corporation which markets a product or non-legal service might be doing with this kind of data, but what purpose can it serve for a law firm? All the data collected was publicly available, but the whole thing is a little shady. Maybe ATL can figure out what their plans are for using all this information.
Okay, let’s take the conspiracy theories down a notch….
Baker & McKenzie’s incoming class of 2009 can no longer fool themselves. If they haven’t started at the firm by now, they are never going to start.
Back in September, we reported that 12 of the 18 members of the 2009 Baker & McKenzie class still waiting to start had been re-deferred until June. At the time, Baker gave these people an ominous warning (emphasis added):
Starting in January, 5k stipend plus benefits for up to six months. at ANY time during six months, MAY get a call from b&m, have 1-2 weeks to report to work, but absent a major bump in work, not likely to happen. If after June, no call from b&m, “the relationship will end.”
Well, it’s June, and it appears that the relationship between Baker & McKenzie and 11 of the 12 re-deferred incoming associates has, in fact, ended…
Over the last 24 hours, there have been some managing partner shake-ups at some notable large law firms. Let’s tackle the news in Vault order. First up: Baker & McKenzie.
The firm has gone international to find its next managing partner. The WSJ Law Blog reports:
[I]f anyone had any doubts about the firm’s commitment to its international presence, consider this: It recently elected São Paulo partner Eduardo Leite as the next chairman of the firm’s eight-person executive committee…
Leite represents the firm’s first Latin American chair. And we can’t think of any other U.S.-based law firm that’s picked someone based in Latin America to lead it.
You can access the various charts via this portal page. Aric Press and Greg Mulligan summarize the results:
It could have been worse. That’s the best that can be said for the performance last year of The Am Law 100, the top-grossing law firms in the nation. Three of the four key categories we’ve measured for 25 years — gross revenue, head count, and revenue per lawyer — fell, while profits per equity partner (PPP) barely increased by 0.3 percent, or $3,463, to $1.26 million.
So PPP was basically stable in 2009 — not a bad result given the continuing economic weakness last year. Perhaps law firm partners are better business managers than they get credit for?
Last week, the “normal-seeming” couple won our reader poll in a romp over the buttoned-up, hyper-achieving competition. No danger of that this week! All three of these contestant couples give off major type-A vibes and are firmly locked in prestigious-degree-accumulation mode. And oh, how we love them.
Here are the contestants:
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…
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: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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