And speaking of natural disasters, we hear that some folks in North Carolina received their bar exam results today. Congratulations — you’re first to get your bar exam results this year, and you’re first to get ravaged by Irene.
Hopefully this will all blow over. But in case it doesn’t, it’s important to be prepared.
Let’s see how law firms and law schools are getting ready for Hurricane Irene….
One of the lasting effects of the recession has been clients wising up on the value of first-year associates (or the lack thereof). Many at large law firms knew that junior associates contributed little more than manpower during their first couple of years at a firm. But only in the crucible of the recession did clients start asking why they were paying money to finish the training of junior Biglaw associates.
Of course, being able to bill out your new labor at high billing rates is a key part of the law firm business model. Firms are already in a bind: since American law schools insist on graduating students with little to no practical skills, the kids must be trained. Training them on the client’s dime (while the law firm partners pocket a profit) is just one of the ways it has always been done.
But those who do not innovate die. Today brings news that two major law firms are going to try something different with their first-years.
The first-years will get paid their usual $160K salary. But at least at the start, they’ll have to go through more training…
Ebony and ivory, billing together in perfect harmony.
We’ve talked a lot in these pages about the value of diversity. It’s important to clients, it’s important to law firms, and it’s important to the legal profession as a whole.
Given the significance of diversity, it’s not surprising that several organizations and news outlets focus on it, especially with respect to large law firms. In the past few weeks, we’ve discussed diversity data from Building A Better Legal Profession and from the American Lawyer, for example.
Today brings news of more diversity rankings, this time from the ranking gurus over at Vault. They’ve compiled a list of 25 best law firms for diversity.
Which firms made the cut? Is your firm on the list?
* You’d think the following would go without saying, but the kids these days need it spelled out, so here goes: If you are Facebook friends with a hostage taker, DO NOT send him status updates alerting him to SWAT team movements during a standoff. [Legal Blog Watch]
* Maurizio Levi-Minzi, hiring partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, says that the firm is looking for people who are passionate about something, not necessarily the law. I can, like, vouch for that and stuff. [The Careerist]
* Unlike that Stanford guy, Walter Olson eschews sensational headlines, even though editors can sometimes overrule him. Oh, but as a blogger, I’m required to write this blurb this way: Walter Olson, establishment lapdog, defends the evil Wal-Mart and other enemies of galactic peace. [Overlawyered]
As many of you know, here at Above the Law we have been tracking which major law firms offer a non-salary benefit that we’ve dubbed the gay gross-up. As we’ve previously explained, quoting a memo issued by Simpson Thacher, the gay gross-up is “[a] ‘gross-up’ for employees who enroll same-sex partners in the Firm’s health benefits plans to offset any federal, state and local income taxes paid on the value of the partners’ benefits which heterosexual spouses are not subject to.”
Today we are pleased to report that two top firms have joined the club. Kudos to Debevoise & Plimpton and Shearman & Sterling for standing on the side of equality. You can read their announcement memos, issued earlier this month, after the jump.
We have added these firms to our list. By the way, for those firms that would rather appear on a list maintained by the New York Times than one maintained by Above the Law, you should note that the NYT is also monitoring which workplaces provide this perk. The NYT list includes employers of many different types, not just law firms, and features some of the nation’s most innovative companies, such as Google and Facebook and Apple.
With the addition of Debevoise and Shearman, which leading law firms provide this benefit? Let’s take a look….
Ed. note This is the second in a series of posts that Alex Aldridge, a London-based journalist who covers legal affairs, will be writing for Above the Law about the upcoming royal wedding of HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton. You can read the first post here.
In Britain, middle-class people who don’t know what to do with their lives have the option of trying to wed a royal.
If that doesn’t work, the situation is much the same as in the US: they become lawyers. A case in point is Prince Harry’s on-and-off girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, who will begin a traineeship with “Magic Circle” law firm Allen & Overy in September, having failed to secure the ginger hell-raiser on a permanent basis. Had Kate Middleton’s 2007 split with Prince William proved final, our future queen — whose ex is an in-house lawyer — may well have gone down the same route.
Needless to say, royals don’t do law. It’s too aspirational. They don’t even sue; one lawyer who has had dealings with The Firm once told me (in jest, possibly): “The royal family don’t take people to court, they kill them.”
Perhaps this explains why they’re so keen on the military: Wills and Harry have followed family tradition by going into the air force and army, respectively. They probably won’t stick around long, though. Like Princes Charles and Andrew before them, the pair will soon be eased into a middle age of government handouts and state-provided housing. Royals, bless ‘em, are basically very rich poor people.
So is a union between a very rich poor person and a member of the middle class likely to work?
* Speaking of Debevoise, I probably could have used these tips on how to resign gracefully from my former firm. Instead, I think I stood up in the middle of a conference room and started shouting, “give us, us free.” [Corporette]
* Why do law school administrators act like telling the truth is one option among many, instead of a professional responsibility? [Vault]
In terms of the Above the Law publishing schedule, it would have been nice for firms to spread out their springtime bonus announcements. Then we’d have spring bonus posts to write up throughout the entire week. In case of emergency, break glass; in case of slow news day, write spring bonus post.
Alas, with no consideration for the convenience of your ATL editors, many major firms decided to act today. This morning brought spring bonus announcements from Paul Weiss and Weil Gotshal.
And this afternoon brings spring bonus news from Debevoise & Plimpton. Congratulations, Debevoise associates; now you can spring for Château Margaux at your Valentine’s Day dinners.
The memo, plus a quick summary of which firms have paid spring bonuses at which levels, after the jump.
With so many top firms already matching Cravath — including several in the Vault’s top ten for prestige, such as Skadden, Davis Polk, and Weil Gotshal — is it less likely that Sullivan & Cromwell will try to beat Cravath, since “peer firms” are already signaling that they’d like to just stick with the CSM scale? Or is it maybe more likely, since it would make S&C look that much better in the eyes of prospective hires to trounce multiple rivals in the compensation department?
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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.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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