Until Cravath proves me wrong, I’m going to keep on believing that associate bonuses will be better this year than last. But this early indication from the notoriously secretive firm of Jones Day doesn’t bode well for my prediction.
Today Jones Day communicated to its administrative staff that it wouldn’t be paying them a bonus this year.
Actually, it’s worse than that for staff at Jones Day. Not only will they not be getting bonuses this year, but the firm’s entire “Year End Payment Program” has been terminated. Jones Day says that now it will only pay its staff based on “performance.”
Let’s take a look at the memo to staff, and shudder to think about what this might mean for Jones Day associates…
Greetings, loved ones. Hello there, California girls (and boys). We hope that you’re doing well. Gay marriage might be on hold for now, but there are other unions to celebrate on the West Coast.
Like unions between law firms and job-seeking law students. As we’ve discussed in these pages before, on-campus interviewing at law schools seems to be on the upswing.
And it’s not just in New York, where schools like Columbia and NYU report increased interviewing activity. It’s happening in California too, as reported by Sara Randazzo and Kari Hamanaka of the Daily Journal:
Career counselors around the state are reporting that the number of employers signing on to the recruiting process this year is either steady or up slightly. The mood, however, is still tempered by the reality that the recruiting climate is nowhere near the fever pitch preceding the downturn when there were barely enough top law students to go around for associate-hungry firms.
“When I talk to lawyers in the field, it seems things are busier, but given all the excess in the hiring pipelines they are still very conservative,” said Terrence Galligan, assistant dean of career development at UC Berkeley School of Law.
Well, conservative can be good (and not just politically). The conservative hiring of summer associates for 2010, for example, seems to have resulted in very high offerrates.
For 2011, some firms that stayed on the sidelines in 2010 are back in the game….
Firing people sucks. The fired feel lousy about themselves. Those doing the firing feel like jerks. The day the ax falls is a dark one for everybody.
But it’s darkest for the ones who lose their jobs. Especially if they have to leave the building immediately. And don’t have time to clear out their desks. And have things in their desk that will result in at least 15 years of prison time.
Back in June, Jones Day confirmed that it had laid off staff in Dallas and Los Angeles. A recent press release from the FBI suggests that the firm had layoffs in D.C., too. The firm did not mention this back in June, perhaps because it did not want to have to relate the disturbing story of what was found in the desk drawer of one of their recently-axed employees…
Earlier this month, we reported on staff layoffs in the Los Angeles and Dallas offices of Jones Day. Now we’re hearing about additional layoffs at the firm, which raise the question: Could staff layoffs at JD perhaps be a firm-wide phenomenon, even if the firm only confesses to what it’s confronted with?
Yesterday the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Jones Day cut an unspecified number of non-lawyer employees in its Cleveland office. The firm cited the old “technology allows us to be more efficient” rationale, which has been widely invoked by law firms when they cut stuff:
[T]he 117-year-old firm issued a statement saying that “universal adoption of smart phones, voicemail and email enables (and requires) lawyers to be more self-sufficient,” reducing the need to have as many support staff to perform duties now done directly by lawyers.
“Although we deeply regret the need for this action, these changes preserve our ability to best serve clients and remain one of the leading global law firms,” the company said.
[M]any of our peer competitors will come out weaker, not stronger. They may well protect their short-term financial metrics (although it will be interesting to see how we fare vs. the firms that slashed and burned), but they will pay a long-term price. Some of it is obvious: Firing staff and associates, or freezing associate salaries, or doing away with summer programs entirely makes it very clear to those groups that either that firm was not efficiently organized and managed before this crisis, or its first interest is protecting the owners’ incomes, not the various constituents that depend on the firm. While that is hardly un-American, it does tend to focus people’s minds on the fact that their firm clearly does not have their interests at the top of its agenda.
So, if Jones Day were to fire staff, would that make it “very clear” that JD isn’t efficiently organized?
On Friday, Jones Day hiring partner Gregory Shumaker sat down with The Careerist (gavel bang: ABA Journal) to give people the 4-1-1 on how to snag a job at one of Biglaw’s most secretive firms. Apparently, the people at Jones Day don’t like new lawyers who think too highly of themselves:
What turns you off about a candidate during an interview?
If I sense entitlement; if they think they’re better than their colleagues or if they are too focused on themselves.
Right, because the last thing you want is self-confident people who think they are better than their classmates and entitled to decent treatment and the prevailing market wage in exchange for their hard work and commitment.
But it’s an employer’s market, and Jones Day can afford to be choosy. Therefore, it’s not just low self-esteem that helps you get a job at Jones Day; you also have to buy into the firm’s culture of secrecy…
In journalism, there are certain go-to stories that one writes around big events. At Halloween, everyone writes the “most popular costume” story. At Christmas, it’s the “most popular toy” story. At Thanksgiving, it’s the “how the community is giving back” story.
Over the last two years, a recurring event has been “the big bankruptcy.” And it seems that the journalistic go-to is the “how much are the greedy lawyers making off of this” story. We’ve seen it with the GM bankruptcy, the Tribune bankruptcy, and the Chrysler bankruptcy. Yesterday, the New York Times applied the story model to the Lehman bankruptcy, but they got pay czar Kenneth Feinberg to weigh in — and lay into the firms working on the case: Weil, Jones Day, and Milbank.
“It violates any sense of proportion,” says Kenneth Feinberg, the Washington lawyer who serves as the “pay czar” for banks bailed out by the government and whom the court appointed last June to monitor fees associated with the Lehman bankruptcy. The court asked him to participate after concerns were raised in the news media about the soaring fees in the Lehman case.
“Unemployment is over 9 percent, and to be paying first-year associates $500 an hour angers the public,” he observes. “People read about all of this and say that lawyers and the legal system are one more example of Wall Street out of control.”
The article outlines the fees that have outraged — tangential Nationwide Perk Watch: Weil attorneys get limo transport — and the new limits that have been placed on bankruptcy attorneys on the case. No first class for you!
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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