Crowell & Moring

When we covered the American Lawyer’s annual summer associate satisfaction survey last year, we noted that “[b]eing a summer associate just isn’t what it used to be.” All work and no play may make summer associates dull boys and girls, but it also makes them highly confident they’ll receive offers of full-time employment when their programs end.

Despite the fact that it’s a “buyer’s market for law firms,” many of them tossed out offers to their summer classes like Mardi Gras beads. Summer associates were no longer praying for offers, as they were in certain years past; no, this summer, they almost expected offers to be handed to them.

These were the conclusions drawn from the American Lawyer’s 2014 Summer Associate Survey. Am Law polled 5,085 law students at the nation’s largest firms about their summer experiences and used the results to rank 96 programs. This year’s crop of would-be lawyers was seemingly at ease about their situations, despite the fact that there is still a general unease permeating through Biglaw.

This summer’s overall rankings were overwhelmingly positive. If you’re a law student trying to figure out where to spend your summer, you’re probably asking: which law firms came out with the highest scores?

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Washington, D.C. has the most densely concentrated population of lawyers in the nation. The capital has an astounding 1,356 percent more lawyers per capita than New York. One in 12 District residents is an attorney. The nation’s capital is home to just one-fifth of one percent of the national population but accounts for one in every 25 of its lawyers. Could there be some correlation between this total saturation of D.C. with J.D.s and the seeming contempt that the rest of the country holds for the place? Washington’s negative perception problem is such that Slate’s political gabfest felt compelled to devote this week’s podcast to explore the proposition “Washington Is Really Not That Bad.” Examples of this not-badness included the fact that people don’t have to bribe officials to get their social security benefits. So it was kind of a low bar.

In any event, D.C.’s lawyers work in myriad capacities in Congress, government regulatory agencies, non-profits, and lobbying firms. But obviously Washington is very much a Biglaw town as well. The frustration and malaise brought on by the sequester and partisan gridlock seem to be affecting the business of Biglaw. As Lat noted yesterday, large firms there are struggling: revenue, demand and productivity are all lagging at D.C.-based law firms when compared to firms nationwide. So this might not be the ideal time to check in on how lawyers at large D.C.-based firms perceive their professional experiences. But we’ll do it anyway.

Our ATL Insider Survey (13,500+ responses and counting) asks attorneys at firms to evaluate their employers in terms of compensation, hours, training, morale, and culture. After the jump, we’ll look at how firms in Washington stack up in these categories — and how they compare to the national averages…

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This year has seen a grim procession of law firm layoff news, which seemed to pick up momentum just yesterday with the Weil Gotshal lawyer layoffs and the Jones Day staff cuts. Are we looking at a 2008 redux, or is this just a bump in the road as the economy makes its slow recovery?

The Weil news was particularly stunning. If any firm seemed poised to thrive in the post-recession “new normal,” it was Weil, with its diversified practices and hegemonic restructuring group. Alas, with yesterday’s news of Weil’s decision to cut 7% of its associates and slash annual compensation for 10% of its partners by hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is clear that Biglaw job security is a thing of the past.

Let’s explore the reasons behind law firm layoffs, review a chronology of recent reductions, and obtain your views through a reader survey….

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We have previously discussed the advantages of voluntary buyouts over layoffs, especially stealth layoffs. Voluntary retirement programs allow employees to self-select, so that employees who are well-situated to enter unemployment can opt in, while employees who need their jobs badly can keep working.

Imagine you’re a legal secretary at one firm who’s married to a high-earning partner at a different firm. You work to keep yourself busy, especially since your kids are all grown, but you don’t need your job that badly. You might take a buyout package and retire a few years early so that one of your fellow secretaries, a single mother with two young kids, can put food on the table.

Voluntary programs are so much better than layoffs — which is why we were happy to hear that rumors of secretarial layoffs at one firm actually turned out to refer to a buyout program. A program with rather generous terms, in fact….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Secretarial Separations Softened By Substantial Severance”

Rihanna

* The Am Law 200 rankings are out, and the difference between the First Hundred and Second Hundred Biglaw firms has been described as “stark.” Check out who made the grade here. [American Lawyer]

* Many Biglaw attorneys are sharks, but at Crowell & Moring, a firm with a duck as its mascot, at least they’ve got hearts. They’re awaiting the birth of little ducklings outside of their office. [Washington Post]

* Spyfall, Round Two: General David Petraeus, of CIA and sex scandal fame, is joining private equity company KKR & Co. with Williams & Connelly advising on his employment agreement. [Am Law Daily]

* Want to know at which law school you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck? Want to see which law school is best at financial efficiency? You may be surprised at some of the schools on this list. [Morse Code / U.S. News & World Report]

* No, silly, he wasn’t being an antisocial gunner, he just wasn’t old enough to go to the bar with you. Harvard Law recently graduated one of its youngest African-American students ever. [Boston Globe]

* A legal Hail Mary? Joe Paterno’s family, former Penn State football players, and select members of the school’s board of trustees are suing the NCAA over its Sandusky sanctions. [Legal Intelligencer]

* A woman is suing MAC after she allegedly picked up the gift that keeps on giving from Rihanna’s lipstick: herpes! Chris Brown, don’t hurt me for implying it was from Rihanna. [New York Daily News]

* The Senate approved a bill that will keep the government running through September, and it will likely pass in the House, but much of the sequester is still in place. I think we’re supposed to be excited about this. Uh… yay? [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Douglas Arnsten, the former Crowell & Moring associate who embezzled $10.7M in client funds and spent it at fancy restaurants and strip clubs, has been officially disbarred in New York. But he was just trying to support single moms. Sigh. [Am Law Daily]

* Sorry, folks, but you’re going to have to continue taking the LSAT in order to get into law school because the ABA says so. Drop that $118 into the burgeoning money pit that is law school, stat! [National Law Journal]

* For all of that work allegedly spent trying to protect their yield rate, UVA Law didn’t even make the Top 10 list of the most popular schools. You might be surprised at some of the schools here. [U.S. News & World Report]

* You must remember that time when the University of Texas Law School Foundation authorized $5.5M in forgivable loans to faculty. Well, now the regents are calling for a probe. Yikes! [San Antonio Express-News]

* Mary Jo White isn’t the only Debevoise partner who will face high scrutiny while being vetted for the SEC. Andrew Ceresney may be up for co-chief of enforcement. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The Crowell & Moring ethics complaint alleging the firm suggested Appalachians have family circles instead of family trees was chalked up to an “inbreeding memo mishap.” [Am Law Daily]

* A panel of the Appellate Division, Second Department will hold court at St. John’s School of Law next month. Perhaps the students will be a little less embarrassed happier with the school now. [New York Law Journal]

* Patrick Fitzgerald, ex-U.S. attorney and current Skadden partner, will teach a course in national security law at Chicago Law School. Attend his class, lest his “extraordinary brilliance” go to waste. [National Law Journal]

* Looks like somebody forgot about Dre. The rapper’s headphones company, Beats By Dr. Dre, is now going after people for trying to register anything with “beat” or “beats” as trademarks. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Ross Ehlinger, a litigator who died while competing in the Alcatraz triathlon, RIP. [San Francisco Chronicle]

The field of contenders in our fourth annual law firm holiday card contest was quite impressive. We received numerous nominations, and we thank everyone who participated. It took many hours to review the plethora of submissions.

Like last year, apparently reading comprehension isn’t a skill that many lawyers possess, as a few of you declined to follow rule #3 of our contest, limiting the entries to “cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool…. cards with some attitude, with that extra je ne sais quoi.” But because it’s the holiday season, we won’t rag on you too much. Even if you can’t follow simple instructions, you’re still great.

But some of you were greater than others. Let’s look at this year’s finalists….

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Steven Nataupsky’s résumé?

* Conflict of interest? What conflict of interest? We didn’t have a conflict of interest! Covington & Burling is appealing its disqualification from representing Minnesota in a suit against former client 3M. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* “If I sent my résumé through the firm, I wouldn’t get looked at.” Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear is hiring so many awesome associates that the firm’s managing partner doesn’t even know if he’d stand a chance. [National Law Journal]

* Doug Arntsen, the ex-Crowell associate who stole $10.7M in client funds and spent it at strip clubs, was sentenced to four-to-12 years in prison. [New York Law Journal]

* Music to Benula Bensam’s ears? In a case of dueling sentencing memos, prosecutors want Rajat Gupta to spend 10 years in prison, but his own lawyers want him to be sent to Rwanda. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Donald Polden, the dean of Santa Clara Law, will be stepping down at the end of this academic year. Hope they’ll be able to find a new dean, because every “influential” school needs one. [San Jose Mercury News]

Douglas R. Arntsen

We regret the harm caused by Douglas Arntsen to our clients and our firm and are pleased Mr. Arntsen has acknowledged his crimes with a guilty plea.

Crowell & Moring’s managing partner, Ellen Dwyer, commenting on ex-associate Douglas Arntsen’s guilty plea after he stole more than $10 million from the firm’s clients. Arntsen reportedly spent the money on fancy restaurants, sporting events, strip clubs, and purchasing various businesses, including a laundromat and cookie and potato chip distributorships.

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