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….
I’ve only been on one “retreat” of any kind. It was with my church. My parents paid for it because anytime you can pay the Catholic Church to take your kids into the woods and tell them about God’s plan, it’s something you have to do.
Of course, going to a voluntary retreat sponsored by a religious organization is one thing. Going on a mandatory retreat ordered by your employer is quite another. Traditionally, if your employer is going to make you go on one of these things, then the employer is going to cover the hotel and airfare of the employees. That’s just how corporate America works.
I bring this up because associates at one midsize firm seem to be getting the short end of the stick. Their firm is apparently forcing them to attend a two-night retreat, but the firm is only paying for a one-night stay in their hotel rooms….
Firm A: You win a major, high-profile case. The victory is covered by the legal press and mainstream media. The award to your client is huge, and the victory comes at the expense of a rival firm. Your only problem? Your client won’t pay you your millions in legal fees.
Firm B: You lose a major, high-profile case. Your well-known client gets rocked with a huge verdict, a rival firm is taking a victory lap all around town, and all you can do is tweetabout the appeals process. But you are getting paid, and you expect to earn even more in fees as you plan your next move.
All else being equal, which firm would you rather work for?
DLA Piper has released some information about its associate compensation and bonus payouts, and some associates who work for the firm are unhappy. Why? I don’t really know. I don’t know why they thought that working for the largest firm in the world would be a good thing when it came time to pay out bonuses.
Attempts to economize on associate salaries are not new at DLA Piper. The firm has been at the cutting edge (pun intended) of reduced associate base salaries, deferrals of incoming associates, and various other methods for keeping the cost of associates down. It’s just how they roll.
It should surprise no one that DLA associates are complaining about the firm’s bonus plan. In fact, I’m not even sure it’s news that the firm seems to be low-balling associates. If anything, the news hook is that there are still associates at DLA Piper who are surprised by sub-market comp….
Upon receiving an email entitled “Breakfast battles at Cardozo,” I naturally assumed there was some kind of kosher issue between the administration and secular students at the school. I was hoping for something outrageous. Perhaps a kid was ready to bite into a ham and cheese croissant when he was tackled by a gang of lunch ladies who then tried to circumcise him with a bagel cutter? But sadly it turns out that I had a prejudiced outlook towards my gmail account. Cardozo students are perfectly able to skirmish with the cafeteria staff over non-religious issues. My bad, guys.
Instead of having religious overtones, this story is an old-fashioned one about a law school trying to nickle and dime its own students during a time of recession. Cardozo isn’t being quite as cheap as Columbia (which started charging students for plastic forks during the recession), but if you were spending tens of thousands of dollars to go to law school, you’d be pissed at your school over this.
Apparently, milk has become far too expensive for Cardozo to just give away anymore….
One reader wrote to me to complain. Surely, he said, there’s room in the world for a law firm that does work that’s “good enough for the occasion at a fair price.” Isn’t perfectionism the enemy of the reasonable bill?
That reader is undeniably correct.
Small matters, whether transactional or litigation, may not bear the freight of comprehensive factual or legal research. And lawyers who don’t recognize this — whether they work in-house or at firms — won’t last very long. For many matters, “good enough” is good enough.
But I’m not going to spend much time fretting about this, for three reasons.
First, there’s plenty of mediocrity in the world. Although it may engender outrage to type these words, the average lawyer is . . . well . . . average. You don’t have to search very far to find people who produce average work….
I’ve been trying to be nice. I’ve been trying to be positive. I’ve been trying to adopt a new, sunny, smoke-free attitude that assumes certain top firms will do the right thing by their associates and announce spring bonuses along the lines of Cravath, Sullivan & Cromwell, and a bunch of other top-tier firms.
Just last week, we reminded firms that it’s not too late to announce “spring” bonuses. Dewey & LeBoeuf announced spring bonuses that it will pay in the summer. And that’s okay, nobody is really complaining, associates just want their money. If top firms are paying out spring bonuses, associates who have been told they are working at a top firm want to see their cut.
But there are a number of firms that haven’t gotten the message. Did they think their own people wouldn’t notice that they are getting shortchanged compared to the market? Is this a way for those firms to force some attrition? Surprisingly, some of the firms that are being cheap with spring bonuses were lauded for being generous around Christmastime.
Those firms know how the internet works, don’t they? Information can be updated around these parts….
There’s poor, there’s broke, and then there’s whatever you would call the economic state of current law students. They are up against it, and they know it.
It’s particularly tough on 3Ls. We’re in March, so graduating law students without jobs lined up are about to get kicked out of school and on to the street (or “mother’s basement” or “youth hostel” or whatever). So right now is about the time when these kids really start to freak out.
At one law school, fear and angst are reaching a fever pitch, over the most trivial of things. The soon-to-be graduates are having a conniption over having to pay $136 to rent a cap and gown for graduation.
Yep, some of these kids took on tens of thousands of dollars in order to go to law school, but now — at the end — they’re making a stand over a hundred bucks…
Last time we checked in with Columbia law student Julia Neyman, she was sweating her way through a year-long exercise regimen. Her new year’s resolutions were similar to many: she resolved to exercise more and spend less money. Her unique inspiration, though, was to combine these two resolutions into one: she spent 2010 working out at gyms around Manhattan — gyms that usually charge a pretty penny — for free, taking advantage of promotions and trial memberships. She then blogged about her adventures on Buns of Steal.
We thought it was a brilliant idea. (If nothing else, it seemed like a clever campaign to shame Columbia into upgrading its “dark and dank” student gym.) Others were morecritical, calling her a “mooching” “gym grifter.” Neyman says, though, that gyms were “actually really on board with the project.”
Other potential grifters, we advise you start blogs. Neyman says: “I’ve consistently gotten emails and offers from gyms offering for me to come in and work out for free. It was a win-win because for the gyms, my blog was like free advertising.”
Well, now the year is up. Neyman had planned to buy a membership to her favorite gym — revealed after the jump — but instead she has fled to Paris for the semester, where she is helping to turn Frenchmen against lawyers…
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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 (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), 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.
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