Fulbright & Jaworski

During a time when demand for legal services is flat, average revenue per lawyer is down, and managing partners’ overall confidence in the market is slipping, the proper keeping of time for all of those billable hours generated by toiling associates has never been more important. For better or worse, law firms are desperately trying to incentivize associates to submit their hours on time.

As we mentioned way back in 2010, “Time keeping is more accurate when you do it every day (as opposed to trying to recreate your days at the end of the week or month). Firms are struggling to collect from their clients. And, for what it’s worth, billing hours is part of the job for attorneys.”

Another part of an attorney’s job is the ability to follow rules. One Biglaw firm just rolled out a new time entry policy, and if its associates don’t follow these rules, they can expect some pretty negative consequences when bonus season comes around…

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The arrival last week of the latest Am Law 100 rankings brought a hot-button subject back to the headlines: vereins.

As The Economist concisely explains, a verein is “a Swiss partnership that lets [law firms] maintain separate national or regional profit pools under a single brand.” For purposes of preparing its influential Am Law 100 rankings, the American Lawyer treats a verein as a single firm — a decision that some at non-verein firms object to.

Let’s hear some of the complaints — and then, interestingly enough, a defense of the vereins’ financial performance in 2013, which might have been better than Am Law suggested….

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Potentially landscape-altering deals don’t come along every day, and a deal that would merge a 1,000-lawyer firm with a 700-lawyer firm would be exactly that. And it’s not just headcount — the marriage of these two firms would have placed the joint entity at No. 9 in revenue for 2012.

But just because two firms are talking merger doesn’t mean it’ll happen. We’ve been let down before.

Indeed, we’ve been let down by one of these firms before. Way back in February, we reported that Pillsbury Winthrop was talking with Fulbright & Jaworski about a merger. Nothing ever came of that, but members of the management at Pillsbury are still on the prowl for a big, strong firm to sweep them off their feet. It’s all very romantic.

And now they just might have found the partner they’ve been looking for….

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For a couple months now, we’ve run an occasional series, drawing on the ATL Insider Survey, comparing firms and law schools in various geographic locales. Thus far, we looked at Boston, Chicago, New York, and “the South.”

Today, we turn toward Texas. Texas is beloved here at ATL as an apparently bottomless source of colorful legal news. The state is a frequent battleground for high profile constitutional fights while also generating a steady stream of tabloid fodder, from “judges behaving badly” to “tragic homicidal mayhem.” (Of course, there’s also the running joke among the ATL commentariat that, for what a New York Biglaw associate pays for his cramped studio apartment, one can buy a 3,500-square-foot wife house in Texas.)

But of course this is a limited, distorted view of the legal industry in Texas. Texas is a huge, diverse state with a relatively strong economy and a unique legal culture. Biglaw firms thrive in all three major cities, both local outposts of national firms, or more significantly, Texas-bred firms such as Baker Botts and Vinson & Elkins. Our ATL Insider Survey (13,000+ responses and going strong, thanks), asks attorneys at firms to evaluate their employers in terms of compensation, hours, training, morale, and culture. After the jump, we’ll look at how firms in Texas stack up in these categories — and how they compare to the national averages…

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Back in December, we told you about a football coach who had recently been fired from his position as a cornerbacks coach for West Virginia University. Back in 2010, we told you about this same football coach, because he’d recently been picked up to work for the Detroit Lions. There’s a reason we keep telling you about this football coach: it’s because he gave up what could have been a prosperous Biglaw career after graduating from Harvard Law School to work for free to pursue his dreams on the field.

Are you ready for some football?

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Here at Above the Law, we’ve been writing about the “Biglaw boys’ club” for quite some time. According to the latest report compiled by the National Association of Women Lawyers, when it comes to firm life in the fast lane, women continue to have difficulty ascending to the ranks of firm leadership. In fact, that study concluded that in the Am Law 200, women hold only 20 percent of the positions on firm governance committees. What’s worse is that only four percent of Am Law 200 firms have a firmwide managing partner who’s a woman. So much for girl power.

But when it comes to Am Law 100 firms, the American Lawyer recently conducted a similar study, and the results were less than awe-inspiring — in their discussion of the results, the editorial staff go so far as to refer to it as “the law of small numbers.” Lovely. Apparently the glass ceiling is still strong in Biglaw.

So what does the leadership hierarchy look like for women in the Am Law 100? Let’s find out….

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Law firm mergers seem to be popping up as frequently as, well, problematic emails between married generals and their gal pals. Just a week after SNR Denton’s three-way merger with international firm Salans and Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain, we’re learning of another law firm combination with Canadian and European elements.

This morning brings word of a merger between the global law firm of Norton Rose and the international but U.S.-based law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski. As you may recall, Fulbright has been the subject of merger buzz before — including rumors that featured Norton Rose as suitor.

How big will the new firm be, and what name will it operate under?

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The law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski is a leader in many fields — at least 31 of them, according to the latest Chambers rankings. In addition to recognizing Fulbright as a leading firm in 31 categories, the influential Chambers guide also named 99 Fulbright lawyers as leading individuals in their practice areas.

Fulbright excels in other areas well — for example, social media. It is one of the few major law firms that knows how to use Twitter.

Alas, these days the firm is also a leader in a less appealing arena: staff layoffs. Last October, the firm laid off at least a dozen employees.

And now it seems that more reductions might be on the way. Could Fulbright be trying to slim itself down in advance of a merger with another firm?

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(And could a merger be in the works?)

Yes, Biglaw firms do use Twitter. And apparently some of them use it quite well!

But who is the Biglaw King of 140 characters? We came across an interesting infographic today that pits two of the hottest hitters in the law firm world against each other.

Which firms are they and how do they line up?

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The Texas Law School is that way.

Everything is softer in Texas?

Occasionally we have an opportunity to look at how soft law school has become. Gone are the trials by fire immortalized in the book One L. Now it seems that law schools are taking their teaching cues from Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore.

At the University of Texas School of Law, they’ve divided their classes into “societies” that compete against each other in games, wear special uniforms, have dedicated house mentors, and employ special Care Bears who hug people when they get back from the library. Okay, one of those things isn’t true.

Of course, the Texas millennials love it…

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