The happiness emanating from the offices of Biglaw partners is palpable. Cravath paid a 2009 bonus despite a stronger 2010, and lowballing associates means more money for partners. Partners are giving anonymous quotes expressing their happiness. Skadden whipped off its Cravath-matching bonus memo so quickly it looked like a damn blog post. And, predictably, consultants are now scrambling to support the low bonus numbers.
It would seem that Biglaw has successfully colluded settled upon this year’s bonus schedule, and it is what it is.
But what if a firm already privately promised its associates a bonus scale that is better than last year? Would such a firm happily break its unwritten word just because Cravath set the bonus bar so low? Looks like we’re going to find out.
If you’ve been reading the comments on our bonus posts, you already know that Kirkland & Ellis associates expect to be paid more than the Cravath scale, because that’s what Kirkland has told them…
I am getting married in December so I would love to work at a family-friendly firm. Like Elie, I’m a raging liberal, and I heard Paul Weiss seems to fit that bill. On the other hand, I want to be at a firm with plenty of lovely women. I am bi and my soon-to-be hubby doesn’t mind if I taste a woman’s sweet nectar. Plus I simply cannot live without a pair of supple breasts in my life. (My man is ripped so no manboobs for me.) I met many cute associates at Davis Polk too and I remember an ATL article that mentions the great number of hotties at DPW.
So many choices! Can you help me out?
– Paradox of Choice
Dear Paradox of Choice,
Nice try, but this question’s a flame because nobody uses the term “sweet nectar” unless they’re (1) referring to the drink Odysseus used to get the Cyclops drunk and poke his eye out, or (2) a copywriter at Cosmo. Nevertheless, we’ll answer it because it’s slim pickings around here this week, and it’s better than another snooze-alert “should I quit law school?” question. Of course you should quit law school. Don’t be ridiculous.
Now this is a list that matters. Corporate Counsel (an American Lawyer publication) has complied its annual list of the firms that Fortune 100 companies use as outside counsel. This is a list of which firms are getting work from clients with deep pockets. If you care at all about the business end of the law, then you care about this list.
And while the firms that are tapped for this kind of work won’t surprise anybody, it’s always good to take a look at who clients want to be with.
For general corporate law, these are the firms that were mentioned most by clients reporting to the magazine:
We feel like we’re taking magic Biglaw pills today and having hallucinatory flashbacks to 2006. The good news has been rolling in. Just today, we covered raises at Sheppard Mullin, and a 100% offer rate for D.C. summer associates at Latham & Watkins.
And over at Am Law Daily, Zach Lowe predicts good things for 2011. There will be more summer associate spots to go around next year, law school kiddies:
On-campus interviewing starts in two weeks at some schools, and early indications are that hiring at premier law firms will jump–in some cases by a lot–after plummeting this summer, according to sources at law schools and firms.
Cravath, Skadden, and Ropes & Gray, among others, plan to hire more warm bodies next summer than this one. This summer was dismal, after all, in terms of summer associate hiring, as demonstrated by these charts from the National Law Journal and Am Law Daily.
The upside of hiring fewer summer associates, though, is an increase in the likelihood of all of them getting hired. We’ve had more reports of 100% offer rates from a few firms today, along with fun ways of spreading the good news. Eyewitness accounts, after the jump.
It’s not every day that a partner leaves the storied firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. But it’s not every day that a suitor with comparable prestige, wealth, and WASPiness comes calling. Dealbook reports:
Morgan Stanley said on Thursday that it has hired Francis P. Barron, a partner at the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, as its chief legal officer. Mr. Barron will replace Gary G. Lynch, who will remain with Morgan Stanley as a vice chairman in London…. The hiring is the latest management shake-up under James P. Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive since the beginning of the year.
At Cravath, where he has worked for 32 years, Mr. Barron specialized in litigation, corporate matters and advising boards. Among his clients are financial firms like Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, UBS and Goldman Sachs, as well as General Electric.
Moving from a law firm to Wall Street isn’t uncommon. On New York magazine’s recent list of hottest Wall Street bachelors — co-authored by Bess Levin, of our sister site Dealbreaker, and Jessica Pressler — two out of the 15 “foxes of finance” have law degrees (one from Harvard and one from Seton Hall).
A move at this high a level, from a Cravath partnership to an investment bank, is less common. But such moves happen — and, interestingly enough, Frank Barron isn’t even the first ex-Cravath partner to wind up in a top position at Morgan Stanley….
Some summer associates are already halfway through their Biglaw summer experiences. We hope that Northwestern’s “No More I Love Yous” is not ringing true for you, and that your offices don’t bear any resemblance to the photo from our last Caption Contest.
We have heard that you’re not eating out as often or spending as much on lunch. That is inexcusable! Sure, times are tough, but the firms have brought in far fewer SAs this year, so they should be able to splurge a bit.
Skadden and Paul Weiss both had 102 summer associates in 2009, and have just 34 and 58, respectively, this year. Cravath cut its summer class from 121 to 22. Weil dropped from 96 in 2009 to 20 this year. With those drastic reductions in numbers, being a summer associate this year should be like being an only child — you get spoiled.
(By the by, we hear that a San Diego office dropped its numbers by one this month — anyone with information, email us!)
Please tell us about your spoils. Which firm has the best summer associate event this year? We’re holding a contest: make your submissions for Biggest & Bestest Biglaw Event of Summer 2010 by email or in the comments.
We had five finalists for the prize last year: Cleary Gottlieb, Sidley Austin, Cadwalader, Carlton Fields, and Fish & Richardson. Which firm won?
Forget Queer Eye and the Biggest Loser. When it comes to makeovers, we’re far more entertained when Biglaw firms overhaul their websites. Especially when they involve mind games (MoFo), body shots (Ballard Spahr and Cox Smith), or hotties (Davis Polk).
Cravath previously had an Internet 1.0-type website. It was extremely basic; its sole function seemed to be to list email addresses. The dull site failed to capture the arrogance prestige of this elite law firm.
The new site, on the other hand, does capture this aspect of Cravath. The Biglaw way is not to be the biggest, but to be the best, according to Cravath’s philosophy page:
At Cravath, we hire only the top students from the nation’s finest law schools, we train those associates through rigorous rotation of practice, we elevate partners exclusively from within and we compensate partners on a lockstep model throughout their careers. The Cravath model has been adopted by many prominent law firms and consulting firms. While some firms have abandoned the model over time to promote lateral growth and global expansion, we have not. We do not seek to be the largest firm by number of offices, lawyers or specialty groups. We promote excellence in client service, at the expense of short-term profit. We believe that maintaining a true partnership of the finest educated and trained lawyers is the single, best manner of handling our clients’ most challenging legal issues, most significant business transactions and most critical disputes.
The new site also has a newsy feel about it. Check out the front page — it looks like The Cravath Swaine Journal.
And Cravath has learned to embrace photos. At least for its partners and senior associates. Though Cravath attracts the best and the brightest young lawyers, as noted above, it doesn’t want to show them off on its website. If you’re a junior associate, no bio or photo for you on the site!
On Sex and the City, Samantha was never seen scrolling through comments on news blogs to make sure her clients’ reputations weren’t being maligned. Instead, she attended fancy New York parties and talked up her roster of good-looking clients.
But SATC is dated. The work of public relations professionals has been made harder (and less glamorous) by the explosion of online news sources. We know that law firm PR folks spend a healthy amount of time monitoring the legal blogosphere to do damage control for their firms. Another place they need to watch is Wikipedia.
The crowd-source encyclopedia has become the go-to reference site for most Internetters. Society’s sages often warn people not to take everything they find in Wikipedia at face value — since the information does not necessarily come from experts and is not systematically vetted — but that advice often goes unheeded.
Because Wikipedia is such an important source of information, and so easily edited, some try to manipulate entries to give them a positive or negative spin. Lawyers at certain firms have been found guilty of this before (e.g., Wachtell). Sometimes dueling manipulation of an entry reaches the level of what Wikipedia calls an edit war — when two or more editors are continually overriding one another’s changes.
The Wikipedia gods ordered an end to the war on the page of Latham & Watkins. BLY1 noticed that the page was put on lockdown. A note from the Wikipedia war god says:
NOTE: IF YOU HAVE COME HERE TO EDIT ABOUT LAYOFFS, THINK TWICE. EDITS MUST BE FACTUALLY VERIFIABLE, AND NEUTRAL. IF YOU ARE CONNECTED TO THIS COMPANY IN ANY WAY WE ADVISE YOU *NOT* TO TOUCH IT.
Someone kept inserting references to Latham’s layoffs and how hard hit first-year associates were. That info has now been scrubbed from the page.
We decided to take a stroll though the revision history of other law firm pages to see who needs to do clean up, and who has done clean up. Cravath, for example, had a very interesting description for a short time…
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@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!