Biglaw

Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Way Worse Than Being A Dentist, is available on Amazon, as is his previous book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy (affiliate links).

A law student client — already an MBA — said she needed convincing to drop out of her third-tier school.

I told her to calculate the return on investment for the final three semesters.

She crunched the numbers.

“Debit-wise, I’ve burned $80k in savings and I’m looking at another $100k of borrowed money. On the credit side, I might find a low-salary doc review gig.” She pretended to scratch notes. “So… big loans, interest payments, inadequate cash flow…opportunity cost of 18 more wasted months learning legal mumbo-jumbo followed by the bar exam…”

“In other words…” I egged her on.

“I’d be totally screwed.” She affixed the cap on her pen. “Thanks. I’m convinced.”

I posed the question we were dancing around: “Why are we having this conversation?”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall into the Gap”

We’re getting the sense, based on anecdotal evidence showing up in our inbox, that law firms are quietly making cuts to the ranks of attorneys and staff. They’re doing so somewhat stealthily, however — in dribs and drabs, spread out over decent stretches of time, often invoking performance reasons. So we’re having a hard time obtaining enough information on any one firm to issue a report.

We need your help in keeping law firms honest. If you have layoff news to report, please send it our way, by email or by text message (646-820-8477 / 646-820-TIPS). As you’ve probably already noticed, we do not name our sources.

One firm that’s being commendably upfront about its reductions is Bingham McCutchen. This afternoon, the firm announced some staff layoffs….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Staff Layoff Watch: Bingham McCutchen Makes Cuts”

Which law school helped her land a fabulous Biglaw job?

The general economy started to turn around last year, but the legal job market remains sluggish. In 2011, many top law schools sent fewer graduates into first-year associate jobs at the nation’s largest 250 law firms than they did in 2010. That’s the bottom-line finding of the National Law Journal’s annual survey of which schools the NLJ 250 firms relied on most heavily when filling first-year associate classes.

The results of the survey should be interesting to current law students and law firm attorneys. And they’re of possible practical import to prospective law students who are now choosing between law schools (or deciding whether to go to law school at all, based on a cost-benefit analysis that pits tuition and student loans against post-graduate job prospects).

So let’s look at the top 10 law schools, ranked by the percentage of their 2011 juris doctor graduates who landed jobs at NLJ 250 firms (i.e., “Biglaw”)….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Best Law Schools for Getting a Biglaw Job (2012)”

Howrey dissolved almost an entire year ago, but its bones are still filling warehouses and servers across the world, and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in storage fees.

The firm’s estate is embroiled in the painstaking process of destroying old files or returning them to former clients. There is still a long, long way to go. In today’s Washington Post, we get to see a vivid illustration of the problems involved in putting to rest a massive law firm that bridged the paper and electronic eras.

It is also a good cautionary tale for other firms: these documents will not just go away, even if your firm bites the dust…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Howrey’s Old Client Files Are Neither Gone Nor Forgotten”

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been receiving interesting reports about Dewey & LeBoeuf. They were nothing but vague rumblings for a while, but they’ve now reached the point where we have enough to write about.

So let’s check in and ask: How do things stand at this major, top-tier law firm? In other words, “Where’s LeBoeuf?”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Where’s LeBoeuf? An Update on Doings at Dewey”

I won’t say whether I actually heard these conversations or I just dreamt them.

First: The head of the business unit confronted with a new litigation matter:

“This is an outrage! How could they have accused us of this? We want to fight! Fight! Fight!”

“The defense costs will be charged to your business unit, which will reduce your bonus pool.”

“Settle!”

Second: One partner at a law firm — who wants to visit a client, make a presentation, and take the client to dinner — to a second partner — who is the relationship lawyer for the client:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Creating The Wrong Incentives”

Not to be all on Catherine Rampell’s jock today, but the other thing I read in the Economix while I was catching up on the internet seemed far more interesting than imagining Shearman & Sterling partners bitch about how flat profits per partner left them with only $1.56 million, on average, to play around with in 2011.

On the one hand, it’s an obvious point: a study about the most “sleep-deprived” professions found lawyers to average only 7 hours of sleep a night. Only “home health aides” received less sleep.

It doesn’t come as a galloping shock to anybody that lawyers average less sleep than almost anybody else. What did surprise me was the figure. What the hell kind of lazy lawyer is getting seven entire hours of sleep every day?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “You Guys Aren’t Getting A Lot Of Sleep, Are You?”

* Apparently attorneys at a “prestigious firm” in Washington, D.C. are fans of hobo hunting. What the hell does that mean? Well, there’s an app for that (one that Apple has rejected three times for its outrageous offensiveness). [VICE]

* “I want to (blank) Michelle Bachmann in her (blank) with a Vietnam era machete.” First of all: eww. Second of all: not a proper use of Twitter. Third of all: this is going before a grand jury. [Suits & Sentences / McClatchy]

* When your kid is an alleged aficionado of pilfered products, it helps to have friends in high places — like judges who look like Christopher McDonald and expect people to respect his authoritah. [Houston Chronicle]

Justice Jim Sharp

* I don’t think “gunner” means what you think it means. A 1L from Osgoode Hall Law in Toronto is accused of shooting up a residence hall with a 12-gauge Remington 870 shotgun. O Canada! [CityNews]

* It’s been a while since we wrote about law license plates, but just in case you’re thinking of getting vanity plates that read “NO TAGS,” don’t do it. You could get $20K in tickets like this clever guy. [Legal Blog Watch]

* FYI: you can only sometimes get away with paying kids to slap you in the face and pee on you. The rest of the time, you’re going to jail. [Legal Juice]

We know how you love blind items. And we know how you enjoy potty humor. So let’s mash up these two categories, to generate a Biglaw bathroom blind item.

If you dislike frivolous fare or if you have delicate sensibilities, please stop reading here. Otherwise, you may proceed….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Biglaw Bathroom Blind Item”

Everyone knows how challenging it can be for lawyers to find satisfying work in today’s economy. Employers who are looking to hire associate attorneys seem to have the upper hand because there are so many qualified candidates available.

Even with an abundance of candidates, however, hiring associates and support staff can be particularly challenging for small and boutique law firms. Although Biglaw firms are notoriously selective, in some ways they are actually less selective than their smaller counterparts.

Unfortunately for most, and fortunately for some, larger firms’ hiring is largely focused on the candidate’s objective credentials. Every firm pays lip service to its unique culture, but for junior associates your resume is often more important than your personality.

In a small or boutique firm, personality and “fit” are more important than they are in Biglaw. A small firm is more likely to have a distinct firm culture that is a reflection of its partners. The more owners, the more diffuse the personalities and culture. If nothing else, in a smaller environment you are going to be working in closer physical proximity to the other employees.

So, how can small firms find new associates who fit best?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Growing Pains”

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