In August of 2009, while driving around Silicon Valley after speaking at Santa Clara Law, I saw an office park in East Palo Alto with a sign that jumped out at me. Being a Biglaw groupie, I stopped and snapped a picture:
I parked, got out of my rental car, and walked around. I was struck by the beauty of the overall office complex, with its expansive plaza, immaculate landscaping, and fountains. It was a veritable law firm Xanadu!
According to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), small law firms have adopted the mantra: merge or die. Indeed, the number of law firm mergers is staggering. “At least 60 mergers occurred in the U.S. and abroad last year, the highest level since 2008 and a 54% jump from 2010, according to legal-industry consulting firm Altman Weil Inc. Industry experts expect the figure to rise this year.”
Why the up-tick in mergers? The economic downturn has caused a shift when it comes to legal service providers: it is a “seller’s market for the first time in 20 years.” In other words, law firms are not able to raise rates in order to increase profits. So, small firms turn to mergers as a way to increase their revenue and allow them to compete with all-purpose, larger firms. Randall H. Miller, who as managing partner at Denver-based Holme Roberts & Owen LLP helped engineer its acquisition by Bryan Cave, explained that “[l]ittle by little, our ability to service our clients’ needs ha[d] been limited by our smaller size,” which was why he pushed for the merger.
Yet, small firm to large firm mergers are not the answer for all small firms. The article featured several potential problems….
* Herman Cain’s got Wood over all of these sexual harassment accusers. No, seriously. He hired Bryan Cave defector L. Lin Wood to handle his possible defamation claims. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Sad and depressing old man news: Joe Paterno’s legal innocence was irrelevant. Instead of letting him retire at the end of the year, the Penn State Board of Trustees fired him last night. [New York Times]
* A woman from Idaho with some real backwoods charm. What to do when your husband — a lawyer — plots to kill you? Stand by your man and blame the corrupt government. [ABC News]
* Tired of getting screwed? Mayor Bloomberg makes nice with the OWS people, congratulating them for “generally . . . not break[ing] the law.” What a sad great accomplishment. [New York Post]
* And this is why you don’t play games with your résumé, folks. Here’s some proof that next time you lie about being covered in Ivy, you’re going to get a wicked bad rash. [Boston Herald]
* If assignments like this appeared more often, I bet people would stop procrastinating so much and do their homework all day, every day (and then do it again for extra credit). [Arizona Republic]
With fall recruiting gearing up, and the lateral market warming up, we continue our annual series of open threads about the law firms featured in the Vault prestige rankings. These threads provide ATL readers with a forum to discuss the different firms and their various strengths and weaknesses.
The end of the Vault 100 is in sight. We’re covering the firms in batches of 20 now. Here are the firms ranked #61 to #80, which will provide today’s discussion fodder:
Do you remember the scene in the Amityville Horror House movie where the toilet says to the family, “Get out”? That seems to be what firms are telling incoming associates when they defer first-years until 2012.
Today, we’ve got another firm that has decided to put some of its incoming associates on the long march towards nowhere in particular. Missouri Lawyers reports:
St. Louis-based Bryan Cave is among the firms that have pushed off start dates on new associates to 2012.
The firm’s St. Louis office made 14 total offers last fall to 2010 law school graduates, but told seven of them at the time that they wouldn’t be starting until January 2012, said managing partner Peter Van Cleve. The other seven were extended offers to start in January 2011.
Remember, Bryan Cave is still trying to absorb the members of the class of 2009 — at least the ones who didn’t already take the firm’s offer to split…
Every now and then, we like to offer our readers some career alternatives — things you can do with your law degree and legal training that don’t involve, say, working in a large law firm or as a contract lawyer. We’ve profiled a wide range of individuals, from lawyers who have left the law for everything from football coaching to CEO-ing to therapy (giving, not receiving).
Today we continue down the path of attorneys who have gone from representing companies to launching them. Our latest interviewee has started a company, Urban Interns, that might be of interest to any ATL readers who are looking to hire interns — or any ATL readers who are looking for internships, which can provide valuable experience and/or a paycheck (of great value during these times of still-high unemployment).
When a big group of attorneys leave, it sometimes spooks those left behind. We hear that one partner at Bryan Cave was really spooked.
The attorneys that left had all been on the 22nd floor, the main floor of the Phoenix office on which clients are greeted. Their departure left the floor eerily vacant, so the firm asked some partners and attorneys to move into the empty offices. One of those asked to move was longtime partner Bob Shely. He felt his new office was tainted, though; according to reports circulating widely at the two firms, he said it had an “evil feeling.”
I see defected people?
According to the rumor mill, he wanted the carpets torn out and the office renovated. But a recruiting coordinator at the firm offered a cheaper solution: a do-it-yourself spiritual cleansing kit….
Jiminy jillickers! ATL editors are going all over the place over the next month or so. Or at least all over the Eastern Seaboard. If we aren’t heading to your neck of the woods on these trips, never fear, we may hit you up on the next time around. We’ve already hit up Houston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the past year.
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
The JOBS Act created new tools for companies to publicly advertise securities deals online. As a result, thousands of new deals have hit the market and hundreds of millions in capital has been raised, spurring a wealth of new business development opportunities for attorneys.
Fund deals, startup capital raises, PIPE deals and loan syndicates are just a handful of the transactions benefiting from the JOBS Act. InvestorID FirmTM is a platform designed to help attorneys equip their clients with the workflow, marketing and compliance tools to publicly solicit a securities offering online. By providing clients with the tools to painlessly navigate the regulatory landscape of general solicitation, InvestorID FirmTM helps attorneys add value above just legal services.
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) went into effect in 2013 and permits Regulation D offerings of securities to be advertised publicly. This means that funds and companies can now use social media, emails and web sites to market transactions to new “accredited” investors.
However, with these new powers come new pain points. InvestorID FirmTM provides a secure, fully hosted, cloud-based platform with a breadth of tools for your clients, including: