K&L Gates

As we mentioned this morning, preliminary reports suggest that profits and revenue at large law firms were up in 2012. As we noted yesterday, some firms — e.g., litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel — enjoyed double-digit increases in gross revenue and net profit.

Of course, these firm financial reports, reported to and compiled by the American Lawyer magazine, are not as detailed as they could be. They certainly aren’t as detailed as the quarterly and annual reports filed by publicly traded companies, even though a fair number of Biglaw firms have revenues and profits that exceed those of public companies.

And they probably never will be, at least as long as U.S. law firms are private partnerships rather than publicly traded companies. But at least one firm is opening the door a crack and letting more light in….

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PPP at one top law firm?

* Law School Transparency? Nay, Biglaw Transparency! Peter Kalis, global managing partner of K&L Gates, just opened the kimono wide on his firm’s financial performance in an “unusually detailed” fashion. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Talk about a pain in the pocketbook: although profits per partner and revenues are up overall, one firm saw shrinkage of 16 percent in PPP. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The ABA is just now thinking of trying to find someone who will audit the graduate employment data that law schools release each year. Gee, it only took 15 fraud lawsuits to get the ball rolling. [National Law Journal]

* Oh my God, you guys, carrying six figures of law school debt on your shoulders is “unsustainable” in the long run, especially when your salary sucks. This is new information that no one’s heard before. [News-Gazette]

* Former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten is now Tulane Law’s new assistant dean for experiential learning. For the school’s sake, hopefully he’ll be able to control his students better than he did his AUSAs. [Tulane Hullabaloo]

* “You’re a cold-blooded murderer and I’ll stare you down until I die.” Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the murder of his third wife. A sequel to the Lifetime movie is likely forthcoming. [Reuters]

Ed. note: This is the first installment of The ATL Interrogatories, brought to you by David Carrie LLC. This recurring feature will give a notable law firm partner an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.

Peter Kalis is the chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates.

1. What is the greatest challenge to the legal industry over the next five years?

Although I’m tempted to do a passable imitation of a legal consultant and talk about globalization, innovation and the New Normal, all of which are important, in fact the fundamental challenge facing our industry over the next five years and beyond is to preserve the Rule of Law in a world in which an increasing number of globally significant economies have no comparable tradition and in which some governments don’t respect rights of individuals and enterprises. The world, our industry and our profession would be much different if norms we associate with the Rule of Law were defined downward as a by-product of globalization. I know it’s a stretch for an audience focused during difficult times on real and immediate career challenges to shift gears and focus on a seemingly abstract concept such as the Rule of Law. The times tend to divert all of our gazes inward. But there is no one reading this who is more self-absorbed than the least self-absorbed law firm managing partner.

We all need to do a better job when it comes to talking about and vindicating the Rule of Law in our day to day lives. I know that I do. With all of the misguided talk about vocationalism in legal education, moreover, I also worry that our law schools are not pounding away sufficiently at the foundational importance of the Rule of Law or the role of U.S. lawyers, among others, as its missionaries.

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Musical Chairs

Is lateral partner hiring a game of musical chairs that law firms can’t win? Anecdotes about unsuccessful lateral hires abound. You hear stories about high-profile partners moving from Firm A to Firm B, often lured by huge guarantees, only to leave Firm B a few years later, after failing to integrate or deliver the expected business.

And some of the most successful firms in all the land, places with immense prestige and sky-high profits, do very little lateral hiring. Their refusal to engage in the lateral market hasn’t seemed to hurt them.

When it comes to lateral hiring, should firms “just say no”? Well, that’s not what’s actually happening in the marketplace. Last year, lateral partner hiring climbed, suggesting that it must be working out — at least for some firms….

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* “Given health care, I don’t care if he speaks in tongues.” Chief Justice John Roberts botched Barack Obama’s presidential oath at his first inauguration, but this time he managed to get it right. [New York Times]

* What was more important to Justice Sonia Sotomayor than swearing in Joe Biden as VP at noon on Sunday? Signing books at Barnes & Noble in New York City. Not-so wise Latina. [Los Angeles Times]

* D.C. Biglaw firms — like Holland & Knight, Covington, K&L Gates, and Jones Day — allowed others to bask in their prestige at their swanky inauguration parties. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* It’s been 40 years since SCOTUS made its ruling in Roe v. Wade, and this is what we’ve got to show for it: a deep moral divide over women being able to do what they want with their own bodies. [Huffington Post]

* The latest weapon in the fight against terrorism is the legal system. The Second Circuit recently issued a major blow to those seeking to finance militant attacks in secret. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* “Firms don’t just hire a body anymore.” The 2012 BLS jobs data is in, and if you thought employment in the legal sector was going to magically bounce back to pre-recession levels, you were delusional. [Am Law Daily]

* Three months have come and gone since Hurricane Sandy rocked law firm life as we know it in Manhattan, but firms like Fragomen and Gordon & Rees are still stuck in temporary offices. [New York Law Journal]

* This seems like it may be too good to be true, but it looks like New York’s chief judge may be on board to grant law students bar eligibility after the completion of only two years of law school. [National Law Journal]

* Law professors may soon be in for a nasty surprise when it comes to their salaries if their schools follow Vermont Law’s lead and remove them as salaried employees, paying only on a part-time basis. [Valley News]

* Resorting to a life of crime to pay off your law school debt is never a good thing — unless you’re doing it while wearing a Bucky Badger hat. We’ll have more on these allegations later. [Wisconsin State Journal]

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you some important news about Middletons: she’s having a baby!

Oops, sorry, wrong Middletons. We’re talking about the Australian law firm, not the Duchess of Cambridge.

The long-running merger talks between K&L Gates and Middletons have borne fruit. The partnerships of both firms just voted to approve the transaction.

Let’s learn more about the shape of this new entity…

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* “Maybe in the future you could let us know when something as definite as that comes [at the last minute.]” It would appear Chief Justice John Roberts has yet again been angered terribly by a lawyer from the Department of Justice over policy changes. [CNN]

* G’day, mate! Perhaps Peter Kalis was telling the truth about his firm, because everything really is great at K&L Gates after last night’s announcement. Partners at the Biglaw firm just approved a merger with Australian firm Middletons. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The commission overseeing the revisions to Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code will focus their energies on labor and benefits. Aww, how nice of them to think of the little people. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The suit over job stats against Thomas Jefferson School of Law lives to fight another day. The school was “disappointed,” but probably not as disappointed as the students it allegedly duped. [National Law Journal]

* And speaking of disappointment, people are still pissed off about Case Western Law Dean Lawrence Mitchell’s defense of going to law school, aka “a full-throated defense of the indefensible.” [New York Times]

* If you’ve made a mistake on your law school application, fret not, because there’s a way to correct it. (Note: some would say the real mistake was applying in the first place.) [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Another day, another lawsuit filed against the much-sued and oft-creepy Dov Charney. This time, an ex-store manager alleges the American Apparel CEO choked him out and tried to rub dirt in his face. [Huffington Post]

Peter Kalis

As we head into the weekend, we’re happy to bring you additional commentary from Peter Kalis, the chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates. Earlier this week, the colorful Kalis was unanimously reelected to his leadership role by the 60 voting members of the Management Committee.

The delightfully opinionated Kalis recently gave an interview to Am Law Daily, in which he shed additional light on the state of K&L Gates. His remarks weren’t as forceful as the beatdown he administered to the firm’s anonymous detractors last week, but they are interesting….

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Peter Kalis: hail to the chief!

Much like the similarly named Kelis, his milkshake brings all the boys (and girls) to the yard. Peter Kalis, the chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates, just won a fifth consecutive term at the helm of the global mega-firm. As noted in the firm’s press release, which we received here at Above the Law, the 60 voting members of the Management Committee supported Kalis unanimously.

Kalis assumed leadership of the firm in 1997, back when it was called Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. On Kalis’s watch, the firm conducted eight mergers, including the combination with Preston Gates & Ellis that resulted in the “K&L Gates” moniker. When Kalis took the helm, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart was a regional firm with six offices, all in the Eastern time zone of the United States. Now K&L Gates boasts almost 2,000 lawyers in 41 offices on four continents.

But growth brings with it growing pains. Let’s discuss those, and get some information about partner capital contributions at the firm….

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Now this is how you handle negative rumors about your firm.

As we mentioned last night, in the past week or so we’ve seen media reports of possible trouble at K&L Gates. Stories in Law360 and Crain’s Chicago Business speculated about “an alarming rate” of partner departures and “attorneys increasingly los[ing] faith in the firm’s leadership and strict compensation policies.”

The chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates, Peter J. Kalis, isn’t taking all this sitting down. Very early this morning, the famously outspoken Kalis sent around a firm-wide memo that powerfully refutes some of the claims made about the firm.

If you’re at all involved in law firm management, you should read it. The Kalis email offers a master class in how to thoroughly respond to negative rumors….

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