Partners make the Biglaw world go ’round, and when a partner dies, especially in a manner as brutal as this, the Biglaw world weeps.
Today, we’ve got some sad news out of Minneapolis, where Nancy Sullivan, a Barnes & Thornburg partner who practiced ERISA and employee benefits law and served as the pro bono coordinator at her firm’s office, was shot and killed by her boyfriend as she tried to move out of the home they shared together. Also wounded were Sullivan’s daughter, Kathleen Fay, and Fay’s boyfriend, Tony Brown.
Suspected shooter Johnny Simpson also died, but police are not yet calling this a murder-suicide…
As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the American Lawyer recently released its Am Law 200 law firm rankings — a list that’s still closely watched, but not quite as prestigious as being a ranked member of the influential Am Law 100. Sorry, but being a part of the “Second Hundred” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
While the Am Law 100 celebrated a year of “slow growth” in 2012, it looks like the Am Law 200 will be known for its “bets on bulk.” When all of the big boys were busy playing it safe, perhaps out of fear of becoming the next Dewey, firms in the Second Hundred were gobbling up talent like there was no tomorrow.
Of course, as could’ve been expected, this kind of aggressive hiring had some pretty major effects on firms’ financial performance. So how did the Am Law 200 stack up? Let’s find out…
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….
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.
Edwards Angell & Wildman Harrold: A match made in heaven?
What results from the coupling of an angel and a wild man? One might think: angel + wild man = air traffic nightmare.
In the law firm context, however, the result is quite different. Edwards Angell is merging with Wildman Harrold, to form Edwards Wildman Palmer. The merger will take effect on October 1 and “will bring together 650 lawyers across two legacy firms renowned for their deep experience, shared dedication to client service, and highly collaborative cultures,” according to the new firm’s website.
What else do we know about Edwards Wildman Palmer? And what might be motivating this merger?
* Lawyerly Lairs: Retired Law Professor Edition. Amidst all the bellyaching by state workers demanding rich, defined-benefit pensions (which are basically extinct in the private sector), isn’t it nice to read about two old people who can pay for their own retirements — and a $3.3 million condo? [New York Times]
* Wondering why Rep. Christopher Lee stepped down so quickly? Here’s a possible answer. [Gawker]
This has not been a great day for lawyers in Indiana. Another Hoosier lawyer, this time at Barnes & Thornburg, just received a public reprimand for patronizing a prostitute (we’re only doing our part to aid in the shaming).
The Indiana Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded a Barnes & Thornburg attorney for patronizing a prostitute in February.
Hiroaki Nishikawara, of counsel in the law firm’s Indianapolis office, received the reprimand after the court approved an agreement between him and the state’s attorney disciplinary commission. Nishikawara entered into a plea agreement for committing a class A misdemeanor. The agreement required him to perform six hours of community service and attend an impact panel proceeding. The court noted that he had completed the requirements and had no prior criminal history.
Nishikawara declined to comment about the reprimand.
OK, lawyers I get it. You work ridiculously long hours and it’s really hard to meet women at 3 a.m. when you’re ambling out of work. You’ve tried your sweet charm on your secretary and failed.
But the one thing working 89 hours a day has provided you with is money. So hey, at least you can use that.
What is the upside in forcing colleagues to stay who don’t want to be there anymore? That’s unclear.
But the downside should be obvious. Letting it get to this point is like putting up a big red sign to potential future partners at Wildman that reads: “If you ever leave us we’ll do everything we can to screw you.” Wildman might not be at the boiling rabbits stage, but it’s pretty easy to get a reputation as that crazy chick nobody wants to date.
Of course, to hear Wildman tell it, nothing unusual is going on here, the firm is just following its procedures…
If you stick to the coasts, you might not have heard of Barnes & Thornburg. But it’s one of the biggest and best firms in Indiana. Unfortunately today we bring them up because of tragedy. A partner at the firm, Mary Jane Frisby, was found dead in her home. She appears to be the victim of a murder-suicide carried out by her husband. The ABA Journal reports:
The body of Mary Jane Frisby, 44, a former partner at the Indianapolis-based Barnes & Thornburg, was found in her home, the apparent victim of homicide.
Police discovered her body after her estranged husband, David Frisby, shot himself at a parking garage near the firm, which she’d recently left, reports Channel 6 in Indianapolis.
Weeks before the murder, David Frisby lashed out at lawyers from Barnes & Thornburg…
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
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 protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.