Hughes Hubbard & Reed

An old white male and his younger diverse peeps.

Law firm diversity matters. It matters to corporate clients, many of them public companies that want to demonstrate their commitment to diversity through their selection of vendors and service providers — which is what law firms are, at the end of the day. It matters to the law students and lawyers that firms are trying to recruit — which is the premise behind the data collection conducted by Building A Better Legal Profession.

So there should be keen interest in the latest edition of the American Lawyer’s Diversity Scorecard 2011, which the magazine just released. As Am Law explains, the Scorecard constitutes its annual ranking of large law firms by their percentage of minority attorneys and minority partners.

Let’s take a look at the top firms for diversity. Did your firm make the list?

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Law firm layoffs might be down, but they’re not out. Today we bring news of staff layoffs in the Los Angeles office of Hughes Hubbard & Reed.

We heard reports that approximately 12 out of 18 support staff members have been or will be laid off. According to these reports, eleven were laid off earlier this month, and one will be leaving in a few weeks.

In response to an inquiry from Above the Law, a spokesperson for the firm confirmed the essential accuracy of these reports. No associates were affected by the reduction, she noted.

“This was a difficult move; we had to let go of some very good people,” said Gerard F. Cruse, the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, in a statement issued to ATL. “But, despite the fact we had another record year last year, the recession has impacted our L.A. office and we couldn’t continue to be overstaffed there. We are confident about its future and are planning the L.A. office’s expansion.”

Some additional information, after the jump.

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I find it funny that firms that want to skimp on bonuses also expect associates to make sure they are helping the overall health and performance of the firm. At some level, why should associates care if the firm is up to date on its collections? It’s not like that money is going to trickle down to the time keepers once their hours are realized. Hell, we’ve got people in the comments claiming they are going to purposely underbill in order to hurt firms in 2011 for stinginess in 2010.

The firms aren’t wrong to be doing everything they can to get associates to enter in their hours in a timely fashion. 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. I just find it ironic that firms are trying to pressure their associates to produce more money for them even as they are sharing a smaller percentage of those profits with associates.

It’s pretty clear that being a part of a Biglaw firm isn’t a “team” proposition. Everybody for themselves; that’s how the partners act, and that’s how partners expect associates to act.

And so Hughes Hubbard is bringing a little personal punishment to associates who are late with their time…

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It’s not that we’re snobs. It’s because we couldn’t trust it. The reason clients pay us what they pay us is because they know we’re 100 percent quality control.

– Hughes, Hubbard & Reed partner Kenneth A. Lefkowitz in a New York Times/City Room story about outsourcing.

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