A week ago, we reported that Pepper Hamilton surprised its summer associates with 100% offers at a Friday lunch. Now this is a trend we hope catches on.
And maybe it will. Latham & Watkins surprised its D.C. summers during a rooftop extravaganza, yesterday. A tipster reports:
Last night (Thursday), Latham & Watkins’ D.C. office officially extended offers to 100% of its summer associates during an end-of-summer party on the rooftop of the Donovan House–one of the city’s swankiest spots. The offers came unexpectedly, as summers were under the impression that they would be waiting another week or so, until the conclusion of the programs at Latham’s other national offices, to hear about offers.
Well now, that should lighten the mood.
And Latham D.C. even provided a little extra incentive for summers who accepted their offers on the spot…
As multiple tipsters have been telling us, Dave Gordon, managing partner of Latham & Watkins’s New York office is putting down the mantle of leadership. But Gordon will be staying at the firm, continuing his private practice.
Gordon attracted attention after Latham laid off 440 people a year and a half ago. First-year attorneys were caught up in the layoffs as well, especially in New York. And some of the departed associates left with bitter feelings towards the firm, and Gordon specifically.
But Kirk Davenport, a member of Latham’s executive committee, assured us that last year’s layoffs had nothing to do with Gordon’s new move…
People are always telling laid off or unemployed lawyer to “hang out a shingle” and start their own firm. They say this like it is comparatively easy for young lawyers to just go out there and drum up enough business to support themselves. It’s not, but some people are at least trying.
Today, the Washington Post profiles (gavel bang: ABA Journal) a group of lawyers that aren’t just trying to start their own firm, they’re also trying to kill the billable hour while they do it:
When clients call Washington attorney Sue Wang, the clock doesn’t start ticking.
Phone calls aren’t billed in six-minute intervals and each hour of work won’t cost several hundred dollars.
Wang and the four other lawyers in Clarity Law Group aim to reconfigure the billable-hour business model at law firms that she said tends to shut out small and start-up companies with shallow pockets.
Yeah, yeah, nobody likes the billable hour — Clarity Law Group purportedly has a “timeshare” business model. Does this mean that potential clients will get a free meal while the lawyers lock them in a room and try to sell themselves?
Back in February 2009, Latham & Watkins laid off 440 people. They weren’t the first firm to lay people off, they weren’t the last, and you can even argue that they didn’t even lay off the most associates in percentage terms.
Now, the latest ignominy. The verb “Lathamed” isn’t just in Urban Dictionary; it’s in the Latham & Watkins firm description in the Chambers guide:
In 2008 gross revenue slipped to $2 billion and profits per equity partner were down by 21 percent, according to 2009 Am Law data. The initial response was a number of performance-related layoffs which was followed, in February 2009, by the laying off of another 190 associates and 250 support staff members. Such was the severity of the cuts that the expression “to be Lathamed” (which, by its most polite definition, means “to be laid off”) was coined.
Unbillable Hours is not, however, a Latham exposé (which I’d eagerly read, by the way). Rather, the book centers on Graham’s work on a major pro bono case. The book’s publisher describes it as follows:
Landing a job at a prestigious L.A. law firm, complete with a six figure income, signaled the beginning of the good life for Ian Graham. But the harsh reality of life as an associate quickly became evident. The work was grueling and boring, the days were impossibly long, and Graham’s main goal was to rack up billable hours.
But when he took an unpaid pro bono case to escape the drudgery, Graham found the meaning in his work that he’d been looking for. As he worked to free Mario Rocha, a gifted young Latino who had been wrongly convicted at 16 and sentenced to life without parole, the shocking contrast between the quest for money and power and Mario’s desperate struggle for freedom led Graham to look long and hard at his future as a corporate lawyer.
Yesterday I chatted with Ian Graham about his book, his time at Latham, and how he made the transition from a legal career to a writing career.
On Sex and the City, Samantha was never seen scrolling through comments on news blogs to make sure her clients’ reputations weren’t being maligned. Instead, she attended fancy New York parties and talked up her roster of good-looking clients.
But SATC is dated. The work of public relations professionals has been made harder (and less glamorous) by the explosion of online news sources. We know that law firm PR folks spend a healthy amount of time monitoring the legal blogosphere to do damage control for their firms. Another place they need to watch is Wikipedia.
The crowd-source encyclopedia has become the go-to reference site for most Internetters. Society’s sages often warn people not to take everything they find in Wikipedia at face value — since the information does not necessarily come from experts and is not systematically vetted — but that advice often goes unheeded.
Because Wikipedia is such an important source of information, and so easily edited, some try to manipulate entries to give them a positive or negative spin. Lawyers at certain firms have been found guilty of this before (e.g., Wachtell). Sometimes dueling manipulation of an entry reaches the level of what Wikipedia calls an edit war — when two or more editors are continually overriding one another’s changes.
The Wikipedia gods ordered an end to the war on the page of Latham & Watkins. BLY1 noticed that the page was put on lockdown. A note from the Wikipedia war god says:
NOTE: IF YOU HAVE COME HERE TO EDIT ABOUT LAYOFFS, THINK TWICE. EDITS MUST BE FACTUALLY VERIFIABLE, AND NEUTRAL. IF YOU ARE CONNECTED TO THIS COMPANY IN ANY WAY WE ADVISE YOU *NOT* TO TOUCH IT.
Someone kept inserting references to Latham’s layoffs and how hard hit first-year associates were. That info has now been scrubbed from the page.
We decided to take a stroll though the revision history of other law firm pages to see who needs to do clean up, and who has done clean up. Cravath, for example, had a very interesting description for a short time…
Nooooo! Haven’t we learned that “too big to fail” is terrible? It’s bad for our economy when things are too big to fail — too often, too big means too inefficient to change:
Carrying dozens of offices through the worst recession in a generation might sound like a prescription for disaster. But heads of The Am Law 100′s most geographically diverse firms say that their business model is not only alive, but robust.
Have we learned nothing from everything that’s happened? Do these firms really think that the entire legal recession can be blamed on so-called “entitled” junior associates who had the audacity to accept the money firms were willing to pay them?
In a move that can best be described as cheap, Latham & Watkins joins a growing list of firms that will not allow associates to accrue vacation time. Why would a firm deny its associates the opportunity to get paid out for unused vacation days when they leave the firm (voluntarily or involuntarily)? Because it saves them money, of course.
I suppose Latham could have put it this way: “We’ll no longer honor accrued vacation time because we don’t want to be on the hook for extra paychecks after we s***can you.” But where’s the fun in that? Instead Latham tried to sell associates on the idea that its change in vacation policy would allow associates to take unlimited vacation days.
Latham associates weren’t fooled by the memo. Check it out and see if you would have fallen under the spell of spin …
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
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…
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