As in-house columnist Mark Herrmann put it, “Dewey know who’s next?” No, we don’t. But we certainly have some guesses about major law firms that are existentially challenged.
Here at Above the Law, we do maintain a shortlist of Biglaw firms that could go under. But, truth be told, the list is not that exciting. With a handful of exceptions, the firms that populate it are big regional firms, not national or international behemoths, and they cluster toward the lower echelons of the Am Law 200 or NLJ 350. Put another way, no firm on our list boasts the size and stature of Dewey & LeBoeuf. (If you know of a firm that should be placed on our list, please email us, subject line “Biglaw Death Watch,” or text us, at 646-820-8477.)
But even if a firm isn’t a household name, lawyers and staffers will suffer when it goes under. Let’s hear about the latest large law firm that appears to be on the ropes….
* Will adjudicate for food? With a little more than one week until the end of the fiscal year, the federal judiciary is facing down a “worst-case scenario” with respect to its budget. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* An unremarkable percentage of firms are led by women lawyers, but Kim Koopersmith of Akin Gump awaits a day when being a first woman in law won’t be “newsworthy.” [Capital Business / Washington Post]
* Law firm merger mania, Heartland edition: Stinson Morrison Hecker did the do-si-do with Leonard Street & Deinard and will promenade home as Stinson Leonard Street in January. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Hearts are breaking on either side of the nationwide same-sex marriage debate, and county clerks are bearing the brunt of all the complaints. When will all states “bit[e] the bullet” and legalize it? [Reuters]
* “The last time I went into court, I was wearing something that I got at Goodwill.” It turns out even geniuses are stupid enough to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in law school debt. [Los Angeles Times]
* In the latest round of musical chairs, Skadden Arps managed to scoop up products liability queen and top woman litigator Lisa Gilford from Alston & Bird. Congratulations! [The Recorder (sub. req.)]
* Is merger mania a thing of the past? With pocketbooks tighter than ever, “pseudo-mergers” are starting to look great. No one will complain about more lawyers with less liability. [Legal Intelligencer]
* Man, it’d be great if you could represent plaintiffs in a class action suit and keep all of the settlement funds without having to pay your clients a cent. Oh wait, you can actually do that? [New York Times]
* Daniel Chong, the student that the DEA locked in a cell and forgot about for a few days, has settled his lawsuit against the government for $4.1 million. No snark here, congratulations. [CNN]
* Meanwhile, O.J. Simpson is getting parole (but not quite getting released yet). Here comes Naked Gun 4! [ABC News]
* A Kenyan lawyer is challenging the trial of Jesus Christ at the International Court of Justice. [Legal Cheek]
* Professor Paul Campos notes that from 2004-2013, it’s gotten much easier to get into law school. This year 80 percent of students applying to law school will get in somewhere. At least the profession is upholding its high standards. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]
* DMX declared bankruptcy because bankruptcy actually makes it easier to get a passport. How is DMX broke? Are the residuals from Exit Wounds not paying the bills? [Grantland]
* King & Wood Mallesons and SJ Berwin LLP are merging to create one of the largest law firms in the world. Dewey think a merger is a good idea? [WSJ Law Blog]
* A follow-up on a previous item, checking in on the status of the petition to save the federal defenders one week in. [PrawfsBlawg]
* A profile of the “eighth governor” of the Federal Reserve and Georgetown Law grad, General Counsel Scott G. Alvarez. I would say this is a fascinating look at a prominent regulatory staff member, but the article makes it clear that “regulation” is not exactly the Alvarez agenda. [DealBook]
* Watch the dean of a law school defend a 0 percent bar passage rate. [ABC 33/40]
* Another new resource out there — LawTrades. Basically, it’s ZocDoc for lawyers where lawyers can register and prospective clients can search for an attorney who meets their needs. [LawTrades]
* What are the greatest legal novels of all time? The ABA Journal assembled a panel including our own David Lat and provided a list. You can disagree, but I see one of Archer’s favorites made the list (clip after the jump)…
* Akin Gump partner Patricia Millett is willing to take a whopping pay cut to serve on the D.C. Circuit — from $1MM to $184K — and for that alone she should be confirmed ASAP. [National Law Journal]
* With the number of law firm mergers in the last six months alone, we’re on a “potentially record-setting pace” for 2013. Hey, look at it this way: it’s cheaper than hiring and firing laterals. [Am Law Daily]
* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June, the legal industry lost more jobs than it has in a single month since June 2011. Congrats, Class of 2013! welcome to the real world. [Am Law Daily]
* In its defense, Standard & Poor’s claims its ratings were puffery, and that no reasonable investor would rely on them. Aww, poor widdle “sophisticated consumers of [investment information].” [Bloomberg]
* For those of you practicing personal injury law in New York, this case is a bombshell. If you want to put the whole insurance industry on trial, follow the action here. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* Sarah Jones, the ex-cheerleader who sued TheDirty.com for defamation, was back in federal court yesterday for the beginning of her case’s retrial. What a way to start an engagement. [ABC News]
* Who is the real John Roberts? Will he forever be known as health care reform’s savior, or the man who disregarded precedent to gut minority voting rights? Hell if we know, so we’ll let you be the judge. [Opinionator / New York Times]
* The man may be a mystery, but one thing’s for sure when it comes to Chief Justice Roberts: it’s fair to say that at this point, he’d sincerely appreciate it if his colleagues would kindly STFU during oral argument. [Big Story / Associated Press]
* Elena Kagan, a justice who was never a judge, is now being praised for her ability to put the law into terms that non-lawyers can understand. That’s a score for law professors everywhere. [New York Times]
* In terms of the Voting Rights Act, while the chances of the current Congress enacting a universal voting law are approximately nil, there are other effective avenues that could be taken. [New York Times]
* On Friday, the Ninth Circuit lifted the stay on gay marriages in California, and less than 24 hours later, Prop 8 supporters filed an emergency motion with SCOTUS to stop all of the weddings. Lovely. [NPR]
* Meanwhile, ex-judge Vaughn Walker thinks Justice Scalia’s having joined the high court’s majority on standing telegraphed the fact that he didn’t have votes to uphold Prop 8 as constitutional. [NPR]
* Rubber stamp this: Judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are so upset that they’re being made out as government patsies that they’re talking to the press about it. [Washington Post]
* Whether you think Chevron is “suing [Patton Boggs] lawyers for litigating” or for promoting fraud that “shocks the conscience,” here’s a summary of what’s going on in an epic case. [Washington Post]
* Got a high-profile criminal defense firm? Look out, because you may have captured Biglaw’s eye. Take, for example, Stillman & Friedman, which will be merging with Ballard Spahr. [New York Times]
* Apparently being in your mid-50s is a “good time to [retire]” for law deans who pull in six figures. Ken Randall, outgoing dean of Alabama Law, says he’s “really ready for the next challenge.” [AL.com]
* As we wait for the biggest cases of this term, the question that seems to be on everyone’s minds is: “What would Justice Kennedy do?” We might find out the answer today if we’re lucky. [New Yorker]
* At least we know what Justice Kennedy wouldn’t do. He’d never disrespect his elders like Justice Alito did yesterday after rolling his eyes at Justice Ginsburg while on the bench. [Washington Post]
* Meanwhile, although the Supreme Court punted an important affirmative action ruling yesterday, Jen Gratz’s life has been defined by a more meaningful one made about a decade ago. [Washington Post]
* It’s not what you know, it’s who you know: Covington, the firm where ex-DOJ lawyers go to make money, is representing some very big tech companies in their dealings with the NSA. [Am Law Daily]
* Fox Rothschild picked up a small Denver firm to reach a “critical mass” of attorneys in its new office and offer full service. FYI, “full service” in Colorado means weed law now, you know. [Legal Intelligencer]
* “[G]iven the significant decline in law school applications,” Cincinnati Law is pushing for a 30 percent tuition and fees reduction for out-of-state students. That’s a step in the right direction. [WCPO ABC 9]
* This guy had the chance to go to law school, and I bet he’s really kicking himself now after choosing to be a member of the Boston Red Sox bullpen instead. Poor kid, he could’ve had it all. [MassLive.com]
* I’ll get into this more tomorrow (unless Fisher drops), but Washington & Lee’s third year “experiential learning” program has met with underwhelming results in terms of job placement. Theories abound as to why, but this is basically why I say (a) the third year is useless, and (b) stop telling me what your law professors can do, and start telling me what your career services officers are doing. [Law School Cafe via Tax Prof Blog]
* A nice review for Marcia Coyle’s new book, The Roberts Court (affiliate link). It’ll be fun to see how the Court looks at this moment in time, before what will surely be viewed as legacy-defining decisions on race and gay rights coming any minute now. [Seattle Times]
* Justice Ginsburg is optimistic about the future of women on the court. She’s also optimistic about the future of skeletons on the court, and she’s super-excited about the possibility of downloading her brain into a robotic body so that she can keep her job forever. [Blog of the Legal Times]
* Just like he said in 2008, President Barack Obama says that he’s going to close Guantanamo Bay, and this time, he means it. No, really, he appointed a Skadden partner to handle it, so we know he means business now. [Blog of Legal Times]
* The Supreme Court just invalidated Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship voter registration law, so of course Ted Cruz wants to add an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill to require citizenship to vote because, well… duh. [Politico]
* According to a Pew Research survey, a majority of Americans think Edward Snowden should be prosecuted for his NSA leaks. It’s also likely that same majority don’t even know what Edward Snowden leaked. [USA Today]
* It looks like Jon Leibowitz, the FTC’s ex-chairman, got some great birthday presents this week. Davis Polk partnership and a SCOTUS victory aren’t too shabby. [DealBook / New York Times]
* They don’t give a damn ’bout their bad reputation: malpractice claims filed against attorneys and firms were up in 2012, and some say mergers and laterals are to blame. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* ¡Ay dios mío! The Hispanic National Bar Association is hoping that a week spent in law school will inspire minority high school students to become lawyers in the distant future. [National Law Journal]
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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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!