Imagine this: You graduated from a middling law school at the top of your class, and you somehow managed to land a job at a Biglaw firm that’s notorious for laying people off. You’ve kept your job there because you’re incredibly intelligent. You’re an actual law firm 10. In fact, you’re beautiful. You seem to have everything going for you.
There’s just one little problem. It’s your husband. You see, he kind of had sex with an underage girl in your bed — numerous times. But like many of the wives of New York politicians and public figures who “strayed and only thought with the lower half of [their] body,” you’re standing by your man, because… why? Your husband is neither of those things; he’s just a teacher who banged a student.
This year has seen a grim procession of law firm layoff news, which seemed to pick up momentum just yesterday with the Weil Gotshal lawyer layoffs and the Jones Day staff cuts. Are we looking at a 2008 redux, or is this just a bump in the road as the economy makes its slow recovery?
The Weil news was particularly stunning. If any firm seemed poised to thrive in the post-recession “new normal,” it was Weil, with its diversified practices and hegemonic restructuring group. Alas, with yesterday’s news of Weil’s decision to cut 7% of its associates and slash annual compensation for 10% of its partners by hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is clear that Biglaw job security is a thing of the past.
Let’s explore the reasons behind law firm layoffs, review a chronology of recent reductions, and obtain your views through a reader survey….
* Congratulations to Sri Srinivasan on his unanimous confirmation to the D.C. Circuit. Fun Fact: Sri Srinivasan played high school basketball on the same team as Danny Manning. No joke there, it’s just a random fun fact I know about him. [USA Today]
* Should health care cover sex for people with disabilities? Sure, but spring for the Cadillac plan so you don’t get stuck with Helen Hunt. [PrawfsBlawg]
* The federal government has almost $5 billion invested in law schools. That’s around 4.4% of the total federal investment in higher education. So screw you future microbiologist, we need moar lawyerz! [Law School Cafe]
* Skadden covertly recruited its lawyers and staff best versed in Star Wars to sort through the intellectual property rights to 209 characters to make sure Disney successfully acquired the proper rights for every core character. If they had any decency they’d just let Jar Jar go. [Hollywood Reporter via ABA Journal]
* Law school to reconsider applicant it dinged the first time around. As Paul Caron notes, “Money quote from Dean: ‘we wanted to make sure that we weren’t taking advantage of them.’” How magnanimous of you to reconsider taking their money. [Tax Prof Blog]
* Judges manipulated the system to promote a vendor they personally operated on the State’s time. That’s one way to pad that judicial salary. [Washington Times]
* Kirkland and Ellis associate Roy Cho is mulling a run for Congress in New Jersey. It’s not official yet, but he has set up a campaign-ready Twitter account, and in politics that’s like changing to “In a Relationship” on Facebook. [NJ Herald]
* Zachary Cohn, age 6, drowned after becoming entrapped in the drain of his family’s swimming pool. The Connecticut Superior Court recently finalized a combined settlement of $40 million to Zac’s estate. Now his parents have taken all of the net proceeds from the case to establish The ZAC Foundation to tackle the nationwide issue of pool suction entrapment in private and public pools and to improve overall water safety. [Daily Business Review]
* The Times Publishing House is suing a 22-year-old law student for defamation. A newspaper suing a new media reporter with the very laws that land them constantly in court? *Cuts off nose to spite face* [Spicy IP India]
Law firms adapt notoriously slowly to the advance of technology. Firm libraries remained years after Westlaw and Lexis usurped print. Fax machines continued to whir after the advent of the PDF. The pyramid scheme of career advancement rolls on.
So it’s refreshing when law firms take the bull by the horns and seize on new technology. A few Biglaw firms have created smartphone apps as a new avenue for putting their work product in front of clients.
* Dewey know when we’ll be able to stop using this pun? Hmm, at this rate, probably never. Steve Otillar and Citi recently settled their dueling suits over the ex-D&L partner’s capital contribution loan to the failed firm. [Am Law Daily]
* Cahill Gordon was supposed to investigate the Rutgers basketball scandal, but the firm cited a conflict of interest, so Skadden Arps stepped in. [Insert the joke of your choice here. I don't like or watch this sport.] [Reuters]
* She’s got a death wish: the aggravation phase of the Jodi Arias trial was postponed at the last minute yesterday, and some think it’s because of the interview she gave after the verdict was announced. [CNN]
In round one of our Above the Law March Madness bracket, aimed at finding the law firm with the brightest future, Davis Polk is up against (and currently beating) Latham & Watkins. I actually found that to be a pretty rough opening match-up; both Davis and Latham strike me as firms that should be in the Sweet 16, and maybe even the Elite Eight.
Thanks to its top talent, superb brand, and global footprint, Latham has a bright future as a firm. Of course, working there can be like riding a roller-coaster: it expands like crazy and mints money during good times, then conducts massive layoffs during bad times. But if you can stomach the ups and downs, LW can be a great place to work.
Alas, not everyone at the firm will get to keep working there….
Continuing our annual tradition honoring March Madness, Above the Law is running a law-related bracket, advancing law firms or law schools based on the outcome of reader polls. If you’ve been around for a while, you know the drill. But remember, I’m the new guy, so I’ve made a couple changes to the format this year.
This year, it’s time to talk about law firms. Specifically, your collective editors pose this question: Which law firm has the brightest future? The economy is still fragile and people are writing books with scary titles like The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis (affiliate link). The firms in our competition may look healthy today, but we all could have said the same thing at one time about Howrey, Brobeck, Heller, or Dewey.
What firm’s future is so bright their senior partners gotta wear shades?
* What to do when your federal agency’s website has been hacked by Anonymous and you’re unable to post a major report online for public dissemination? Well, just ask a law professor to do it for you on his blog; that’s not embarrassing, not at all. [WSJ Law Blog]
* The many victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster can now rejoice, because yesterday, Transocean pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act, and will pay the second-largest environmental fine in United States history to the tune of $400 million. [CNN]
* Money takes flight: eleventy billion Biglaw firms are behind the beast that is this awful airline merger, but taking the lead are lawyers from Weil Gotshal for AMR and Latham & Watkins for US Airways. [Am Law Daily]
* After questioning the validity of one of the NBA players union’s contracts, Paul Weiss is withholding details about it thanks to the government’s intrusion. Way to block nepotism’s alleged slam dunk. [New York Times]
* “When is the last time you took the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street to trial?” Elizabeth Warren took the Socratic method to the Senate Banking Committee and she was applauded for it. [National Law Journal]
* If you liked it, then perhaps you should’ve put a ring on it, but not a Tiffany’s diamond engagement ring that you’ve purchased from Costco, because according to this trademark lawsuit, it may be a knockoff. [Bloomberg]
* “We feel very badly for Megan Thode.” A Pennsylvania judge ruled against the Lehigh student who sued over her grade of C+ because let’s be serious, did ANYONE AT ALL really think he wouldn’t do that?! [Morning Call]
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
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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