Complaining about air travel has become a cliché — but it’s still fun. The other night, while flying out to San Francisco for an event I’m doing on Monday (to which you’re invited), I was delayed by two and a half hours — due to a plane turned “biohazard.”
My experience — with United Airlines, which I generally like — pales in comparison to what the novelist Gary Shteyngart experienced recently with American Airlines. He wrote about in a New York Times piece that’s horrifying and hilarious.
But some folks have much warmer feelings for AA — namely, the lawyers and law firms that are making millions from the American Airlines bankruptcy case. Let’s find out how much they are seeking in fees….
Here’s an interesting irony: some of the Biglaw firms that spend the least amount of time thinking about money are the ones that enjoy the most of it. A number of super-elite New York law firms have lockstep compensation systems, in which partners are paid purely based on seniority, and these firms are among the most profitable in the country. These firms focus on doing great work for their clients, not on divvying up the spoils from such work — and, in the end, there’s more than enough filthy lucre to keep everyone smelling like money.
On an individual level, some of the wealthiest lawyers in Biglaw — the ones who make partner, and remain partner, for years and years — don’t fixate much on money either. They focus instead on their work, which they seem to just love (often more than any hobbies, and sometimes more than their families). As for the money, well, it just comes — in copious quantities.
We’re entering on-campus interviewing season. If you’re a law student going through OCI, or if you’re a lawyer involved in your firm’s recruiting process, be sure to check out Above the Law’s new law student career center, a repository job search resources, and our law firm directory, where law firms get letter grades in different categories.
One area that interviewees are always interested in is diversity. Diverse attorneys — okay, that’s a bad way of putting it — minority attorneys want to know where they’ll feel welcome. Even lawyers who aren’t minorities want workplaces that are open and inclusive. And corporate clients are increasingly keen on sending their work to firms that show a commitment to diversity.
So which Biglaw firms are the biggest on diversity? Let’s check out the latest rankings….
Sorkin has a long standing “crush” on Debevoise. On The West Wing, Josh Lyman’s father, Noah Lyman, was said to be a partner there, and Joe Quincy (played by Matthew Perry) was said to have an offer waiting for him at Debevoise. Sorkin is an old friend of Debevoise partner Steve Hertz.
(After the jump, we’ve got pictures of Sorkin sitting with the Debevoise summer associates.)
* Who needs a Declaration of Internet Freedom when the government supports protesting citizens who go buckwild in the streets? The European Union voted against ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. [Associated Press]
* Kenneth Schneider, the former Debevoise & Plimpton associate serving a 15-year sentence for forcing a Russian teenager to be his sex slave, was suspended from practice pending further disciplinary proceedings. [New York Law Journal]
* Glenn Mulcaire, the investigator who intercepted voicemail messages on behalf of News of the World, lost a bid to remain silent about who commissioned his services. Rupert’s gonna be sooo pissed. [New York Times]
* Congratulations to the team from the University of Chicago Law School that won the United States Supreme Court Prediction Competition. They won $5K for betting on their Con Law nerd-dom. [SCOTUS Competition]
* Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. is expected to rule on George Zimmerman’s motion for bond today, and perhaps he won’t be so quick to forget that the defendant already lied to the court to get out of jail. [Orlando Sentinel]
* “You can’t just arbitrarily add anything you want to a sentence.” Well, it looks like you can, because in addition to jail time, a judge in South Carolina tacked on a Biblical book report to this woman’s sentence. [Daily Mail]
I used to work at Debevoise & Plimpton. Before I interviewed with them, I learned that the firm was called Debevoise (rhymes with “noise”) and not Debevoise (rhymes with voire “boudoir”).
Not everybody who showed for interviews had that level of commitment. How embarrassing for them. At Debevoise, they’re a little touchy about the proper pronunciation of the firm’s name — and not just with potential recruits. Do you know how stupid you sound when you are sitting with a bunch of Biglaw New York lawyers and your roll out with “Debevoir” or “Curtis Mallet” (as in hammer)? You sound like an idiot. People will make fun of you when you go to the bathroom. I once heard a person pronounce Cravath like “cravat,” and it was so jarring that I swear that’s the only thing I remember about the person. If I saw him again, our mutual friend would have to pull me aside and say, “That’s the ‘cravat’ guy.”
There are services out there to help you avoid these embarrassing mistakes. You should put in a little bit of time before you head to New York, or D.C., or L.A., or anywhere where top lawyers are likely to be….
In the nascent spirit of positivity aroundhere, let’s take a look at where, according to our research, Biglaw’s happiest troopers can be found.
To be sure, lawyers are a notoriously depressive lot. Various studies — and presumably Will Meyerhofer — suggest that the characteristics that make a good lawyer actually correlate with clinical depression. Combine these alleged traits with crushing debt, an oversaturated job market, and an uncertain future, and the industry seems mired in malaise.
But what about those fortunate ones who’ve managed to snag a coveted Biglaw gig? Why, not only are they employed, but they have a realistic chance to pay off their loans. Are they any more upbeat than the industry’s rank-and-file? Our own survey data strongly suggests the answer is definitely maybe.
Respondents to our ongoing ATL School & Firm Insider Survey give their “firm morale” a mean rating of 6.81 out of 10. (By the way, if you haven’t yet, please take the survey here.) For context, lawyers rate morale a bit higher than “hours” (6.55) and bit lower than “training” (6.88). So, generally speaking, firm morale is not conspicuously singled out by lawyers as a negative.
But which are the happiest firms? And the unhappiest? Let’s have a look at the Biglaw shops getting top marks for esprit de corps….
This is my least favorite post to write every year. The Debevoise & Plimpton bonuses were just announced. So now it’s time for me to sit back and marvel at how much money I personally left on the table when I decided to quit Debevoise what feels like a lifetime ago.
In fact, the very first time I can remember hearing about the website “Above the Law” was when a person sitting next to me in a cubicle at the New York Press said: “Jesus Elie, your old firm just paid twice as much in bonus than we’ll make this year. It’s all over this Above the Law site.”
Ah, but it’s not like that this year. This year, Debevoise is just matching the S&C bonuses that aren’t overly impressive. Bottom rail on top now, mister….
Not surprisingly, we’ve noticed a sharp uptick in same-sex weddings in the NYT since New York legalized gay marriage this summer. If you’re planning your own same-sex celebration, don’t miss this article on “Dressing Two Grooms.” Apparently lesbians are on their own.
Although we don’t have any gay finalists this week, we’ve unintentionally chosen a slate of opposite-sex finalists that looks like a United Colors of Benetton ad campaign. Here are our fabulously diverse contestants:
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.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
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