That year, Latham fell from #7 to #17 on the Vault 100 list of the most prestigious law firms. It was one of the biggest single year drops ever on the Vault list. At the time, I asked: “Is this as far as [Latham] will fall?”
Two years removed from that question, I’m staring at the brand-new Vault 100 rankings. Latham & Watkins is ranked #11.
Memory, my friends, is not something they screen for on the LSAT…
The votes have been tallied, and we have a new champion. The Coolest Law Firm in the land, according to you, the readers of Above the Law, is Davis Polk. DPW crushed Sullivan & Cromwell in the final vote. It was a good run for S&C, but I guess people who aren’t attractive enough to work at Davis Polk want what they can’t have. It’s kind of like high school.
Actually, it’s a pretty big week for DPW. Not only did they win the tournament, the firm is now under new management!
While the real NCAA men’s basketball tournament has devolved into a three-point shooting exhibition, the ATL bracket pits an irresistible force against an immovable object: Davis Polk versus Sullivan & Cromwell, or hot versus rich.
Check out the bracket below and start mulling things over. One of these firms will be named the “coolest” in all the land…
There haven’t been any VCU-style upsets in our Coolest Law Firm Bracket. That’s probably because lawyers don’t like upsets. Lawyers get paid to make sure no “surprises” happen; lawyers like things to proceed in a predictable and organized fashion. Sure, Davis Polk (ranked #5 by Vault) topped Skadden (ranked #4) in the Elite Eight. But the real surprise there is that the gargantuan-sized Skadden couldn’t whip up enough of its own people to vote it through to the next round.
As we move into the Final Four, we’ve got some intriguing match-ups. On one side of the bracket, people will have to choose whether or not making money is cooler than being attractive. On the other side of the bracket, we’ll answer the question: Is being “first” more important than being “best”?
We will have a new winner in this year’s Coolest Law Firm contest. When Above the Law first ran this bracket back in 2008, you picked Latham & Watkins as the victor. This time around, they got… Lathamed, in the first round. Cravath crushed Latham by a 60% – 40% margin. That was the second-highest margin of victory among all of the first-round match-ups.
As we move into the Elite Eight, some of our readers are asking us to give a more clear definition of what is “cool.” We respectfully decline to do so. It’s up to you to tell us what makes a top law firm cool. Is it job security, making maximum bank, prestige points? It’s really up to you. Personally I think the coolest law firm would be the one most likely to represent bad-ass clients on the correct side of moral issues, but… eeek, that’s not really what Biglaw is all about.
So bring your own prejudices to the table when you vote in the next round of the Coolest Law Firm Tournament. Use whatever reasoning makes sense to you. Just don’t go with chalk because you can’t be bothered to actually form an opinion — don’t be boring, son….
* The S.E.C. is being attacked again about its ethical standards. It’s not like these problems started with Cam Newton. I mean, the S.E… what’s that? The Securities and Exchange Commission? What? No, I don’t even know what that is. What does that have to do with football? [New York Times]
* Horrifying syphilis experiments keep coming back to haunt the United States government. That’s so syphilis. [Charlotte Observer]
* Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation today ending capital punishment. I couldn’t think of a joke here, but this cat thinks it’s a frog. [Chicago Tribune]
* A judge helped cut an attorney out of his father’s will and claimed he was still able to act impartially on a case the attorney was handling. That sh*t-eating grin on the judge’s face every time the attorney spoke? Oh, that was just a joke he remembered. [WSJ Law Blog]
In today’s New York Times, there’s an interesting profile of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who replaced Senatrix Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate. To be honest, despite my weakness for high-powered women with gold-plated credentials — Gillibrand’s résumé features Dartmouth, UCLA Law, a Second Circuit clerkship, Davis Polk, and Boies Schiller (where she was a partner) — I’m not a huge Gillibrand fan.
If you’ve ever heard Gillibrand speak, you can understand why her congressional peers nicknamed her Tracy Flick. She sounds like a super-perky high school president, not a United States Senator. She has no gravitas. She occupies the Senate seat once held by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but Kirsten Gillibrand is not fit to kneel down and remove Hillary’s kitten heels.
Anyway, enough ranting. The NYT profile of Gillibrand, despite its occasionally fawning tone, is worth reading, due to some fun tidbits about Gilliband’s stint as an associate at Davis Polk….
This may be disappointing, but it honestly shouldn’t be shocking. Davis Polk may be a market leader when it comes to beautiful offices or beautiful associates, but historically it has been cheap hasn’t led the way on associate compensation.
Despite the lack of surprise, early reactions to the DPW bonus news seem… unfavorable. It’s not normal to see a Davis Polk lawyer use his or her temper, but some associates are clearly upset.
‘Tis the season — for new partner elections at large law firms. Although there are some exceptions, most firms pick and announce their new partner classes around November and December, with partnership effective on January 1 of the following year.
These partnership announcements sometimes contain interesting information, if you read between the lines. As we’ve previously observed, “Partnership decisions often shed light on the current state of a firm, its prospects for the future, and its priorities. How many new partners did a firm make? How does the number of new partners this year compare to past years? In which practice areas did it make new partners? How many of the new partners are women or minorities?”
After the jump, we look at new partner news from ten top firms — perhaps you know some of these law firm superstars (and soon-to-be millionaires)? — and we invite you to discuss the new partners at your firm….
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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