Back in March, we reported that Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s motion to dismiss Anna Alaburda’s class action lawsuit over the school’s allegedly misleading employment statistics was “not well-taken,” and the case moved on to the discovery phase. We had previously wondered if Thomas Jefferson could actually lose the case, but given the wave of dismissals in the other law school lawsuits, that glimmer of hope soon faded. But then again, none of those cases ever made it to discovery.
Today, we’ve got news that will make all other schools pray that existing and potential cases against them never make it as far as that of Alaburda v. TJSL, the very first law school lawsuit filed. Everything — and we do mean everything — changes when you get to discovery.
For example, you may find out that your law school was allegedly engaged in a deliberate scheme to inflate its own employment statistics….
And be careful about what you place in the trash. Law firms have paper shredders for a reason; use them. Consider this your practice pointer for the day.
Earlier this month, an ATL reader sent us a collection of documents relating to Sullivan & Cromwell’s on-campus interviewing program at the University of Michigan Law School. For the record, our tipster didn’t have to go dumpster diving for this find. The documents were contained in a black binder that was conveniently placed on top of an outdoor recycling bin, where it caught our reader’s eye. (As we all know from California v. Greenwood, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in stuff you leave in the trash.)
So, what was in these documents? The contents will be of interest to partners and associates at other firms, as well as law students going through the OCI process right now….
Last month, the firm of WilmerHale denied that any layoffs have taken place at the firm. The accuracy of that statement depends on what the meaning of “layoff” is.
In an internal memo obtained by Above the Law, the firm acknowledges that “a very small number of individuals” have been asked to leave WH for economic reasons. The memo also notes that the performance review process “is affected by the reality of current economic conditions, as performance issues sometimes come to light more when business is slower.”
(This may constitute some welcome candor. Other firms try to claim, somewhat implausibly, that performance reviews are utterly unaffected by the economy, i.e., that associates are judged by the exact same standards as in boom times.)
Still, the knowledge that the economy contributed to one’s purportedly performance-based dismissal is cold comfort. From an affected associate at WilmerHale:
I was one of the ones that was cut for “performance” reasons. My evaluations were [several] pages long, single spaced — of accolades… with one half of one sentence that mentioned something I could improve on… from one partner out of [many] that evaluated me. I was let go based on that one phase, copied and pasted on the front of the eval…. Unlike the claim [in the memo] that the firm cannot give associates “three or four” chances to make improvements, I had never received a similar comment in the past.
Many partners were apparently left out of the process of deciding which associates to cut — and as a result have begun to “vent” to the associates that were cut about the process. We (as cut associates) actually had the incredibly uncomfortable task of informing partners that we worked with, who did not know we had been cut, that we were leaving. The resulting frustration of partners has led to a leak of a few tidbits of info on the numbers cut. The numbers floating around differ, but I’ve heard that between 10-15% of all associates firm wide were informed of their “transitions” over the past month. Apparently, another round may be coming in the fall.
Anxiety-inducing for current WilmerHale associates, but perhaps not a surprise. Expect a number of firms to trim their ranks after summer associates head back to school.
More discussion, plus the full memo, after the jump.
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.
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If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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