Way back in 2008, back when people were wondering just how bad the recession was going to be for Biglaw, Heller Ehrman collapsed. When the firm dissolved, there was a lot of fear that it would be the first of many to fold.
While a few other firms also dissolved during the recession, we didn’t have an epidemic of dissolution across Biglaw. At the end of the day, it looks like only the firms under horrendous management paid the ultimate price.
Of course, many of the people who managed these firms into the ground landed on their feet and found new, high-paying legal jobs. Many of the associates and staff didn’t fare as well. Try getting a job in this economy when you are an associate with no experience who has already been laid off. In the immortal words of Akin Gump partner Steven Pesner, “the job market is not so good right now, in case you did not know.”
Given all that these people have been through, it’s nice to be able to report on a victory for two would-be Heller associates. Heller pushed back their start date and offered them a deferral stipend. Then the firm folded, and Heller never paid out that stipend.
Now, two years later, a California court has ruled that these two members of the Lost Generation should have been given priority when Heller came apart…
Today, we have news that GULC is extending the fellowship for an additional three months. That’s great news for GULC grads. But it’s terrible news for administrators at UCLA Law and UT Law, two schools which are hoping to knock Georgetown out of its vaunted #14 spot in next year’s U.S. News Law School Rankings. Consider GULC’s employment stats sufficiently juked.
Potentially, it’s also terrible news for part-time night students attending Georgetown. This money has to come from somewhere, and right now it looks like part-time students are helping Georgetown cover the budget…
We’ve done a lot of coverage about deferral stipends, public interest stipends, and other direct payments to graduates who are not able to secure prime, private practice employment.
If you think about it, these programs have popped up with shocking speed. In 2007, there was no such thing as a “deferral stipend” from firms, and the public interest fellowship programs offered by schools were small and for grads who wanted to wait a little while before heading into the open arms of a private law firm. Now, these programs represent the last hope for grads who are unable to secure jobs.
With everybody trying to describe what these programs are, there’s been little time to analyze how these programs work. One aspect is particularly interesting to students considering some of these stipend options: how will the stipend be taxed.
Because each program is different, the tax situations differ wildly. So you really need to work with your career service/human resource people and figure out how your stipend will be taxed.
If you didn’t put in that work with regards to the Georgetown University Law Center post-grad public interest stipend, the taxes totally screwed up your budget…
What happens to an associate deferred?
Does he dry up, like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore — and then run?
Run, run — away from Biglaw. That seems to be what at least some deferred associates are doing, as reported last week by the New York Times in an article about how they spent their deferral years — and how some of them aren’t returning to the well-feathered nests of private law firms when called back.
The Times interviewed two deferred associates who aren’t going back to their firms. Nathan Richardson, a 2009 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School who was deferred by Latham & Watkins, spent his year doing environmental law research at Resources for the Future — and plans to remain in public interest. Avi Singh, a 2009 graduate of Harvard Law School who was deferred by Quinn Emanuel, went off to the Santa Clara County public defender’s office in San Jose — and is staying there.
Due to deferrals, Latham and Quinn just lost the services of two bright young attorneys. And maybe, just maybe, this isn’t a bad thing — not just for these lawyers, but for their law firms….
This was bound to happen at some point. There have been countless associates who were promised jobs at law firms. They stopped looking for other jobs in reliance on that job offer. Then during the recession they were deferred, or their offers were rescinded. They are the leading citizens of the Lost Generation.
Do they have any legal claims against their would-be employers?
Almost certainly not, but it looks like somebody is ready to try to find out. The ABA Journal reports:
A would-be associate has sued San Francisco law firm Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin for deferring and then rescinding her job offer.
A clean test case on the issue of offer rescission? Not quite. As with most things, there’s a racial angle…
DLA Piper recently rejoined the ranks of Biglaw firms paying a $160,000 starting salary. Welcome back to the pack. Unfortunately, some incoming associates hoping to start at DLA will have to wait quite a bit before they are able to cash in on that $160K dream. A tipster reports:
DLA Piper just told their incoming first years (i.e., the people who graduated in May 2010) about their start dates. A few months ago they told everyone that they’d either be starting in January 2011 or January 2012, but didn’t state who would be starting when, how many people they expected to start on either date, or any other specific information.
They made the calls [yesterday] and almost everyone is deferred until January 2012. They said they “expected” to give a stipend of $5k a month for pro bono work but didn’t definitively confirm anything.
Well, DLA Piper has now provided information about the situation to Above the Law. All of these kids — who summered with DLA Piper in 2009 — knew there was a possibility of getting deferred until 2012. But only half of them actually will. The rest will start relatively on-time…
A little over a year ago, law firms came up with a unique plan to deal with the problem of too many associates and not enough work to go around: the deferral. It did not apply just to incoming associates; it was also offered up to those already at the firm who were open to a year-long sabbatical.
We know that many of you decided (or had to) seek out work in the public sector. But when the mainstream media picked up on the fact that law firms were paying their employees to go away from a year, they focused on those doing fun things, like the Skadden Sidebar associate planning a trip around the world. How many other deferred dreamers have taken the opportunity to do something offbeat?
Or something about beats. Rap Genius, a website that analyzes rap lyrics (called ingenious by Nick Antosca of the Huffington Post for its breakdown of Empire State of Mind), is the creation of a DL Pursuer. The site is now nine months old, and Mahbod Moghadam (Stanford Law ’08) is hoping it’s his escape out of law. Which would be a good thing, since Dewey & LeBeouf is having a hard time reabsorbing its DL Pursuits associates.
Moghadam is quite a character: he sent us a bizarre photo involving a carrot, he’s the ex-boyfriend of Victoria of Downtown Girls, and he convinced two Yale friends to quit their jobs (at Google and D. E. Shaw) to work with him on Rap Genius. What kind of Jedi mind tricks is this guy using?
Do you remember the scene in the Amityville Horror House movie where the toilet says to the family, “Get out”? That seems to be what firms are telling incoming associates when they defer first-years until 2012.
Today, we’ve got another firm that has decided to put some of its incoming associates on the long march towards nowhere in particular. Missouri Lawyers reports:
St. Louis-based Bryan Cave is among the firms that have pushed off start dates on new associates to 2012.
The firm’s St. Louis office made 14 total offers last fall to 2010 law school graduates, but told seven of them at the time that they wouldn’t be starting until January 2012, said managing partner Peter Van Cleve. The other seven were extended offers to start in January 2011.
Remember, Bryan Cave is still trying to absorb the members of the class of 2009 — at least the ones who didn’t already take the firm’s offer to split…
When it comes to deferring incoming associates, what is the new normal? A couple of months ago, we reported that Mintz Levin was deferring its class of 2010 associates to 2012. At the time, Mintz Levin didn’t reveal any information about its deferral stipend.
Today, tipsters are telling us about the Mintz Levin stipend. Let’s just say that 2010 graduates waiting for a job at Mintz Levin should strongly consider driving a cab or something. They’ll need an extra source of income to make ends meet…
The “pro bono year” is to Biglaw what a “study abroad program” is to most American universities: a time for reflection, exposure to new things, and a more relaxed pace.
It was a necessity born of the recession. Firms did not have enough work to go around; they didn’t want to lose perfectly good employees, but they also did not want to pay them six figures to sit in their offices, twiddling their thumbs until the economy picked back up. So, instead, they offered five-figure stipends and the requirement, in some cases, that their lawyers go off and serve the public good.
This fall, many of those lawyers are heading back to their firms (though some liked being “abroad” in the public interest sector so much that they don’t plan to go back). Skadden is still trying to decide how much worth the pro bono year, or “Sidebar Plus” in Skadden parlance, brought to its associates, and thus how much to pay them upon their return.
It seems though that Skadden is unsure about the worth of Sidebar itself. Though the firm has not officially commented on it, we understand that it is discontinuing the Sidebar Plus program, apparently because work at the firm has picked up and it wants all of its associates back at the farm, plowing the billable hour fields.
What will become of the “pro bono year” for Biglaw? When we emerge from the recession, will it be left behind? Heading into the fall, some firms are still offering the year-away option to incoming associates, including generous stipends…
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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