Non-lawyers are often surprised to learn of the lockstep salary schemes of large law firms and the near-perfect information we have about them. (Recall Kevin Drum’s befuddlement at the bi-modal distribution of law graduate salaries and the “weird cultural collusion” it suggested.) Even annual bonuses are frequently spelled out in what amounts to public memoranda and are typically some variation of the “market” dictated by our Cravath overlords. Of course, there are some “black box” firms and a few gilded outliers such as Wachtell Lipton or Boies Schiller, but generally speaking, the world of large firms practices a degree of relative transparency around compensation that is unsurpassed outside the public sector.
In order to distinguish among firms, we have to look to the margins. For example, law firms vary quite a bit when it comes to paying for the bar and living expenses of incoming associates. Some firms may reimburse for covered expenses after the fact; others may pay some expenses directly to the provider. Some may give a stipend to cover living expenses, whereas others may offer the ability to take out an advance on salary.
Greater transparency (or, at least, aggregated information) on these questions might make one firm’s offer more attractive than another’s, or perhaps even give an offeree some basis for negotiating a package upgrade (but of course tread very lightly there)….
* PepsiCo can no longer label its Naked juices as “natural” because the only place you can find more unnatural substances in something naked is in a Vivid Video production. [New York Daily News]
* The New Yorker shines a light on the world of civil asset forfeiture. In honor of Shark Week, the article should have spent a lot more time on the United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins case. [The New Yorker]
* Thomas J. Kim, the Chief Counsel and Associate Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Corporation Finance since 2007, is going to be a partner at Sidley Austin. Don’t let the revolving door hit you on the way out! [Bloomberg Businessweek]
We last spoke about the best law firms for women (in terms of power and pay) in June, and back then, we noted that every few months, a new list or ranking system appears. We were right, because about two months have passed, and now there’s another “best of” list for female attorneys to pore over.
Today, Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers released their annual list of the 50 Best Law Firms for Women. These law firms are considered pioneers in the field when it comes to “attracting, retaining and promoting women lawyers.” These law firms stand out as “family friendly” workplaces, while at the same time ensuring that women shine in their equity partnership ranks.
These law firms are places you might want to work for. Which ones made this year’s cut?
We’ve just entered August, so you know what that means: the start of on-campus interviewing season. If you’re a law student researching firms or a lawyer involved in your firm’s recruiting efforts, check out Above the Law’s law firm directory, where law firms get letter grades in different categories. Law firms might look alike on the surface, but there are very real differences between them, as our grading system reflects.
For example, law firms diverge when it comes to diversity. While every firm gives lip service to diversity, some firms have the goods to back up their claims, while others do not.
Let’s check out the latest diversity rankings, from two different news outlets, to see which firms are truly diverse….
On the “Our Professionals” section of its website, Finnegan Henderson boasts that it has “375 lawyers focused on IP.” It may be time to revise that downward: “371 lawyers focused on IP.”
Last night, the high-powered, intellectual-property-focused firm announced four notable partner departures. The Finnegan partners in question practice in the generally hot area of IP litigation (although we’ve heard anecdotal reports of cooling, including stealth layoffs of IP litigators — see here and here).
Who are the departing Finnegan partners, and where are they going?
If someone asks you whether they should go to law school, here is a very safe response: “Sure, provided that you get into a top law school and can go for free.” Even the biggest critics of legal education would admit that, assuming you want to be a lawyer, going for free to an elite law school is not a bad idea. See, e.g., Professor Paul Campos, Don’t Go To Law School (Unless) (affiliate link).
How can this be achieved? It’s not impossible. As we’ve mentioned before, more than 10 percent of law students graduate with zero debt, and another 5 percent or so graduate with less than $20,000 in student loans. Some of these students receive generous scholarships from their schools; others have savings or come from well-to-do families.
But there are other options. For example, does your employer offer tuition reimbursement?
* With the capture of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, many legal questions are being asked, like if he’ll be Mirandized, where he’ll be tried, and if he’ll be considered an enemy combatant. [New York Times]
* Thanks for kicking this keg, Mr. Baer: the Department of Justice and Anheuser-Busch InBev have settled their antitrust differences with respect to beer brewery’s planned acquisition of Grupo Modelo. [Legal Times]
* Which firm has a “generous tuition reimbursement” program? And by “generous,” we mean 100% of law school tuition, which is awesome. We may have more on this later today. [Capital Business / Washington Post]
* Stan Chesley, the “master of disaster,” is retiring — not because he wants to, but because he’s disbarred in Kentucky and surrendered his Ohio license before the state could take it from him. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* California may soon follow in New York’s footsteps when it comes a pro bono mandate before bar admission, but the New Jersey Bar Association has an active hit out on the idea. [National Law Journal]
* In an effort to avoid a trial that would’ve lasted longer than their sham marriage did in the first place, fauxlebrity Kim Kardashian and NBA player Kris Humphries settled their divorce last week. [Reuters]
Lateral partner movement continues in the world of intellectual property law. As we noted in Morning Docket, four partners and one of counsel are departing from Finnegan Henderson, one of the leading IP-only firms in the country.
Where are they going? What else is going on over at Finnegan? And what does the future hold for large, IP-focused law firms like Finnegan?
* An attorney from Orrick with two SCOTUS clerkships under his belt will now be arguing a case before the high court. Seems standard, but the exciting part is that this guy’s still an associate. Congratulations! [Am Law Daily]
* From Biglaw to Boutique, the Finnegan edition: five IP lawyers, including a member of the firm’s management committee, will be starting their own practice. We may have more on this later. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Calling all wannabe government lawyers! Screw the sequester; the Department of Justice is planning to add more than 100 positions in 2014. Let’s hope these budget requests are approved. [Legal Times]
* “I actually felt sick working him for him.” If you were a paralegal and your boss was allegedly trying to recruit you to be his “third wife,” you’d feel the same. Expect more on this on this later. [New York Post]
* Here are 25 Northeast law schools ranked by employment rate. At least my school wasn’t ranked dead last on this list, and that’s something to be excited about… right? [Boston Business Journal]
* Maybe more people will care about law schools when their credit ratings tank. Speaking of which, thanks to a 14% drop in enrollment, Standard & Poor’s has downgraded Albany Law. [Times Union]
* Joseph Feller, an environmentalist and beloved professor at ASU College of Law, RIP. [ASU Law]
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.