Size matters, and to be successful today you really have to be in that Am Law 50.
– Alan Levin, managing partner of Edwards Wildman, commenting on the importance of being viewed as a “tier 1″ law firm in the overall Biglaw hierarchy. Levin identified possible merger partners by commissioning a study to separate firms into “tier 1″ and “tier 2″ groupings. Locke Lord was considered a “tier 1″ firm, and Levin will become vice chair of Locke Lord Edwards if the merger goes through.
Law firms have been in a “slow growth” phase ever since the nation began its recovery from the Great Recession. As we mentioned when we discussed the 2013 Am Law 100, “success now comes in the form of single-digit returns with regard to key financial metrics,” with Biglaw gains described as “modest” and “spotty” across the board.
Big-name lateral hires can sometimes bring in enough positive publicity and fanfare to make even the sickest of firms seem like the very picture of health and vitality. According to the latest American Lawyer Lateral Report, those lateral moves can be likened to a peacock’s tail: they offer “no advantage” for a firm’s ultimate survival, and may hinder the firm in the future. It happened at Dewey, and it can happen at other firms if they’re not careful. If only partners’ attentions weren’t so easily grabbed by the promise of higher profits.
So if this growing reliance on lateral hiring is truly capable of destabilizing law firms, wouldn’t you like to know which firms did the most lateral hiring over the past year? We’ve got the details for you….
* The justices of the Supreme Court gave a thumbs down to hearing a challenge to New York’s “de facto ban” on carrying guns in public, prompting members of the National Rifle Association to poop their pants. [New York Times]
* Now that Mary Jo White is the chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Debevoise has picked her successor to act as co-chair of the litigation department. Congratulations go out to Mary Beth Hogan. [DealBook / New York Times]
* In its latest court filings, Ropes & Gray explains why failing to give its “token black associate” a recommendation letter wasn’t an act of retaliation. That’ll surely be an interesting read. [Am Law Daily]
* A former client sues a major law firm, raising fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and other claims. [Bailey & Glasser (press release and complaint)]
* Boston Biglaw firms — like Dechert, Edwards Wildman, and Foley & Lardner — were “really shaken” by yesterday’s blasts, but report that all employees are safe and accounted for. [National Law Journal]
* Six out of 10 of the 4,967 class of 2012 graduates from New York’s law schools were able to find full-time, long-term positions as lawyers nine months after graduation. Yay? [New York Law Journal]
* Secrets, secrets are no fun; secrets, secrets hurt… someone’s wallet. Sorry, Jamie McCourt, but all of the secret MLB documents concerning the Dodgers’ $2 billion sale will remain secret. [Bloomberg]
When the merger of Edwards Angell and Wildman Harrold was announced back in August 2011, some observers, such as our beloved commenters here at Above the Law, viewed the move as an act of desperation. Because both firms had a tough time during the recession, the notion of their combining with each other reminded some people of… well, this.
Now, as we approach the two-year anniversary of the merger’s announcement, how are things going over at Edwards Wildman? Are Angells flapping their wings with joy and Wildmen hoisting glasses of grog?
* Six Supreme Court justices attended last night’s State of the Union address, and although it was all hugs and kisses and handshakes to start off with, some looked as if they were due for naptime by its end (coughRBGcough). [Blog of Legal Times]
* It’s a clash of the Biglaw titans! In a face off between legal heavyweights, the Second Circuit has set aside time to hear arguments from Ted Olson and David Boies in the Argentine bondholder case. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Dewey know if this document specialist’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act lawsuit has got any legs to it? It certainly must, because Judge Martin Glenn very recently denied the failed firm’s motion to dismiss it. [Am Law Daily]
* Congratulations to Paulette Brown of Edwards Wildman Palmer. This Jersey girl is the uncontested nominee for ABA president in 2015, making her the first minority woman to hold the title. [New Jersey Law Journal]
* Send in the clowns (or loads of O’Melveny and Akin lawyers): Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has a low opinion of David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital lawsuit, referring to it as nothing more than a “silly sideshow.” [Reuters]
* “It is up to us in the academy to prepare our students for the future no matter what it holds.” Dean Frank Wu of UC Hastings seems to be on the right track when it comes to necessary law firm reforms. [Huffington Post]
* Poor, poor Teresa Wagner. She was allegedly denied a job because of her conservative views, and her case ended in a mistrial. That kind of a thing could drive a woman to drink… and drive. [Iowa City Press Citizen]
* Not only does Lehigh University ruin every college basketball bracket in the nation, but it also provides great “I’m suing you because of my crappy grades” fodder. Oh my God, I really miss you, Lehigh! [Morning Call]
* Thanks to the wisdom of the Ninth Circuit, we now know that, at least in Washington, a spit-laden hamburger from Burger King is grounds for emotional distress damages. Ugh, that’s nasty! [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Dewey know when Judge Martin Glenn will issue his ruling on the failed firm’s proposed partner contribution plan? If all goes according to plan, we can expect to learn if the PCP’s been approved or rejected as early as next week. [Am Law Daily]
* Hot on the heels of Google’s digital-book settlement, the company announced that it would be appealing its copyright infringement jury verdict in the Oracle trial. One thing’s for sure: Judge Alsup will be angered terribly by this. [Bloomberg]
* David Askew, formerly the director of Edwards Wildman’s pro bono program, will now lead the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms as CEO and general counsel. [Corporate Counsel]
* The American Bar Association submitted an amicus brief in support of using race as a factor in college admissions, because diversity in college education is a must for diversity in law schools, duh. [ABA Journal]
* Remember the family law judge who got caught beating his daughter in a video that went viral? Now he wants the Texas Supreme Court to reinstate him, over his ex-wife’s objections. Good luck with that. [CNN]
The first month of the new year turned out to be a great one for lawyers, but as usual, we don’t exactly mean that in the nicest of ways. January brought us new legal controversies of all varieties, from all kinds of places.
With terroristic threats allegedly made by an associate at one Biglaw firm, and scandalous sexual allegations raised by a partner from another one, we knew that we’d have a crop of crass and sex-crazed behavior for this round of our Lawyer of the Month competition.
That being said, let’s check out our nominees for the month of January….
* Florida: a place where people don’t care about your income tax returns. Mitt Romney dominated the state’s primary, grabbing all 50 of the delegates needed for the Republican nomination. [New York Times]
* Entry-level hiring might be down, but lateral hiring is being approached like an NFL draft. Biglaw firms want the best of the best, and if they have to poach partners to get what they want, they will. [Wall Street Journal]
* Paul Ceglia was ordered to pay Facebook’s legal fees, and now he’s crying over Gibson Dunn’s Biglaw price tag. Instead, he wants to pay podunk fees for his podunk town. [Bloomberg]
* Some cities in New Jersey don’t like pollution — they want to keep the trash down the shore. Hoboken’s mayor has denied MTV’s film permit request for Snooki and J-WOWW’s spinoff show. [New York Post]
* Occupy Wall Street supporters, please take note: this is how you stage a protest. Yesterday’s internet blackout definitely made lawmakers think twice. SOPA bill backers dropped like flies. [New York Times]
* A judge has nixed Duncan Law’s request for injunctive relief against the ABA. Because really, what’s the harm in a memo about a lack of accreditation when you never had it in the first place? [ABA Journal]
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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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!