Biglaw

It used to be that the world of corporate transactions was the sole province of Biglaw. After all, handling complex matters like mergers and acquisitions required manpower and overhead — and lots of it. Well-paid junior associates were an integral part of the process, and the costs of doing business were driven by corporate clients’ expectations of grandiose reception areas and white-glove treatment as proof of both commitment and excellence.

These days, however, technology has leveled the playing field, making it possible for boutique law firms to compete with Biglaw in ways never before possible. Many of these boutique firms, comprised of Biglaw lawyers seeking to practice law on their own terms, have sprung up in the wake of large-firm mergers and dissolutions. Creative thinking and the innovative use of technology have been the keys to their success, allowing these boutiques to reduce overhead costs and run their practices more effectively and efficiently, saving their clients time and money.

Don’t believe me? Well, look no further than Bailey Duquette, a Manhattan-based boutique law firm….

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‘That’ll be $27,000… XOXO, Dentons’

* Let’s get ready to rumble! Not wanting to be left out of the party, Oklahoma has also asked the Supreme Court to take a look at its same-sex marriage statute which was recently slapped down by the Tenth Circuit. [National Law Journal]

* Dewey know what financial restructuring adviser Joff Mitchell of Zolfo Cooper said to this failing firm’s partners right before it flopped for good? “Look, there is no way here to save this firm.” Ouch. That had to have sucked. [Forbes]

* The examiner who was appointed to monitor law firm billing for the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy is now questioning Dentons’ fees of up to $27K per month to talk to the press. Whoa there… [Detroit Free Press]

* Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers have released the latest ranking of the Top 50 Law Firms for Women. Vivia Chen feels “a bit dirty” after reading the list — and you probably should, too. [The Careerist]

* Leisure Suit Larry’s successors are here to stay for a while: Case Western Reserve Law’s co-interim deans will stay on in their current positions for the upcoming school year. [Crain's Cleveland Business]

As the dates for on-campus interviews approach, I would like to share with rising 2Ls a few lessons that I have learned from colleagues at firms and law schools about the summer associate application process. As always, in doing so, I run the risk of being called an elitist pig; however, my firm has over 30 positions to fill this fall, and this elitist pig would be delighted if you were one of the individuals to land one of these well-paid spots.

1. You will be given 20 to 30 minutes to make a favorable impression on the on-campus interviewer. Over the years, candidates have tried every tactic in the book to be remembered. This includes outlandish outfits, bringing the interviewer baked goods, and, the worst, flirting with the interviewer. I believe that your main task during the interview is to demonstrate MATURITY. You do not need to demonstrate that you are cool, fun, athletic, perpetually happy, etc. You just need to leave the interviewer thinking that you seemed like a mature individual.

The on-campus interviewer is only going to take a risk on a candidate who he or she thinks will reflect well on him or her. In other words, Partner X wants to call back candidates who will perform well during the callback; if the candidate does well, Partner X looks good to his colleagues. Stated differently, any candidate who is a risk will not be given a callback because Partner X is concerned that his peers will question his judgment by offering a callback to an immature, unfocused, or odd candidate.

Be safe by presenting as mature. So how does a candidate demonstrate maturity?

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* Utah appealed its same-sex marriage case to the Supreme Court, making it the first state whose law was smacked down by an appellate court to do so. Let the countdown begin. [National Law Journal]

* In the ruling that saved Alabama’s abortion clinics, Judge Myron Thompson likened the right to have an abortion to the right to bear arms. We can think of a few people who would take issue with that. [CNN]

* In case you’ve been wondering why tax inversions are hot right now, you can blame it all on some bicycling tax and M&A lawyers from Skadden — call them bikedudes at law, if you will. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Law schools tout the fact that their graduates are finding jobs in “J.D. Advantage” positions. Meanwhile, it remains unclear how much of an advantage a law degree actually offers in these jobs. [Am Law Daily]

* In a lawsuit peppered with crazy allegations, a law prof at Florida A&M claims in a gender discrimination complaint that male professors are “paid considerably more” than female professors. [Tampa Tribune]

Once again, we’ve had a slow summer in terms of summer associate gossip. Thanks to the plight of recent law school graduates and their ever-lasting joblessness, it’s a “buyer’s market for law firms” out there, and they’re using it to their advantage.

Summer associates have worked harder than ever before, and they’ve been on their best behavior. Trust us when we say we would have already heard about it if they weren’t, and the only sounds we’re heard have been the chirping of crickets.

We long for the days of lesbianic liplocks and helicopter hijinks, but we suppose we’ll have to settle for what the new normal has given us, which has been nothing short of boatloads of boring.

Given all goody-two-shoes summer associates this year, we’d like to think that offer rates will be absolutely awesome. Let’s find out which firms are rocking the 100 percent offer rate — information that rising 2Ls will want to know as the new on-campus interviewing season starts up…

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Let’s start with a definition. Merriam-Webster defines “autonomy” as “the state of existing or acting separately from others.” Meaning you have the proverbial “control over your own destiny,” or put another way, are not dependent on others. In many respects, complete autonomy is a fiction for a lawyer. We are all dependent — on our clients, our partners, our firms. But lawyers still value autonomy. It may be elusive, particularly in Biglaw, but it is an important contributor to career satisfaction and performance.

In fact, earning a significant degree of autonomy was among the leading factors in making my Biglaw experience a positive one. Yes, I said earned, rather than “being granted” or “given.” In Biglaw, you need to carve out personal space for yourself. It is not something that is given. Nor does anyone tell you what you need to do to earn your measure of independence. At a very high level, it is necessary to project both confidence and competence — to your clients, peers, and superiors, at all times. If you are successful, and earn some autonomy, there is a higher likelihood that you will be happy in your Biglaw job. Imagine that.

Perhaps surprisingly, your Biglaw firm actually wants you to have a degree of autonomy….

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Ed. note: Please welcome Above the Law’s guest conversationalist, Zach Abramowitz, of blogcasting platform ReplyAll. You can see some of his other conversations and musings here.

Before leaving Biglaw for good, I considered doing what I felt like was the next best thing to launching my own startup: working at a firm whose clients were primarily startups. The pitch from recruiters was always the same: startups and venture capital clients are much better to work with than their “big company” and private equity counterparts.

But I wasn’t buying it. Biglaw is Biglaw. It doesn’t matter if your client is Alcoa or three co-founders with the hottest new dating app (it uses an algorithm to tell you who at the nightclub wants you to buy them a drink); clients will be demanding, and legal work is legal work.

But more and more of my former colleagues who have made the jump have been telling me that there’s truth to the claim that “startups are more fun.” So, to get some clarity on this issue, I decided to invite Ed Zimmerman, the founder of the tech group at Lowenstein Sandler and a columnist at the WSJ Accelerators Blog, to join me for a conversation on this topic. Since on-campus interviews are right around the corner, I thought this topic would be nicely timed.

And since we’re creating the conversation using ReplyAll, make sure to keep checking back on our conversation as it develops over the course of the week…

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Some Biglaw firms put on variety shows and have associates sing, dance, and act out lame sketch comedy. It’s all about associates demeaning themselves for the amusement of partners in new and more interesting ways. And I guess it’s supposed to engender some kind of camaraderie, though it’s not clear how.

But sketch comedy can go horribly wrong. Like, any time a white guy shows up in blackface.

That’s a problem. And yet this Biglaw firm doesn’t seem to understand why….

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She didn’t get an offer this summer…

Clients increasingly don’t want to pay for first-year and sometimes second-year associates. Because of that, firms hire less of them.

Kent Zimmermann, a law firm consultant at the Zeughauser Group, commenting on the hiring differences between Biglaw today and the days of yore. Since it’s a “buyer’s market for law firms,” summer associates need to be impressive to receive offers.

Woo, Biglaw! Being a summer associate is the best!

It’s the first full week of August, and you know what that means: summer associate programs are wrapping up, and people are beginning to pop bottles of bubbly to celebrate their offers. Before we get to our annual offer rate round-up, we want to know which firm hosted the best summer associate event of the season.

It goes without saying that summer associate programs aren’t what they used to be, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any fun to be had. Biglaw firms are still wining and dining their seasonal employees, but these days, perhaps due to a still dismal job market, summers are better at keeping their clothes on and hiding their inebriation.

That being said, we’d love to know: which law firm put on the best summer associate event of 2014?

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