Back when I was at the law firm, billing more hours than I knew were in a week, there were people who thought I was “gunning” for partnership. I billed a ton of hours, had basic social skills and a good mentor, and hey, I’d look pretty good in any “diversity” partner puff piece. Just add ten years of sustaining a maniacal pace, learning how to generate rain in a shrinking market, and navigating the political minefield of kissing the right people’s asses, and maybe I could have had a shot.
Suuuure I would have. Making partner at the Biglaw firm that you started with is functionally impossible. It happens so infrequently that setting it as a goal is about as realistic as children saying they want to walk on the Moon when they grow up. The odds were long before the economic crisis that caused partnerships to close their ranks and protect their profits like dragons hoarding treasure.
It’s not going to happen, but trying to get there ruins a lot of people. They can be having perfectly fine, perfectly serviceable Biglaw careers, but then somebody starts dangling the possibility of “partnership” in front of them, and suddenly they are trying to schmooze late into the night and kick their billable hours up into the 3,000-a-year range. And maybe if they’re lucky they’ll be able to get into a less prestigious firm, slog another couple of backbreaking years as “counsel,” and then get equity at some other shop.
Am Law Daily has the story of a man who finally got his shot at the brass ring, was fired over his alcoholism, and died a short while later. It’s a sad and extreme story, but many people fall in all sorts of ways on the path to partnership….
* Billable hours in Biglaw are down 1.5 percent, and 15 percent of U.S. firms are planning to reduce their partnership ranks in early 2013. Thanks to Wells Fargo for bringing us the news of all this holiday cheer! [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Hostess may be winding down its business and liquidating its assets, but Biglaw will always be there to clean up the crumbs. Jones Day, Venable, and Stinson Morrison Hecker obviously think money tastes better than Twinkies. [Am Law Daily]
* How’s that “don’t be evil” thing working out for you? Google’s $22.5M proposed privacy settlement with the FTC over tracking cookies planted on Safari browsers was accepted by a federal judge. [Bloomberg]
* Perhaps the third time will be the charm: ex-Mayer Brown partner Joseph Collins was convicted, again, for helping Refco steal more than $2B from investors by concealing the company’s fraud. [New York Law Journal]
* H. Warren Knight, founder of alternative dispute resolution company JAMS, RIP. [National Law Journal]
In a time when many law firms are relatively less stable than their employees would like, it’s definitely not good to hear about a Biglaw executive allegedly defrauding his firm out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But such is the world we live in. So let’s get to it: which former executive at Chicago-based Mayer Brown is facing pretty egregious fraud charges?
Truth be told, I’m not a fan of law firms giving offers to 100 percent of their summer associates. Whatever happened to selectivity? Given how perfunctory the hiring process is, there has to be at least one mistake in any summer class of decent size, right?
A commenter on our last post about offer rates put it well: “[A] 100% offer rate is not always a good thing. If we don’t want to work with the little weirdo who managed to slip through by pretending he was normal in 20-minute increments in callbacks, there’s a good chance the other SAs don’t either. Firms shouldn’t be so captured by the desire to have 100% offer rates that they give offers to people with serious social issues or work product problems, particularly in small offices where their general offensiveness will really have an opportunity to shine.”
Another reason I don’t like 100 percent offer rates is that I enjoy hearing funny stories of summer associate misbehavior, which often culminate in a no offer or a cold offer. You can share such stories with us by email or by text message (646-820-8477; texts only, not a voice line).
Alas, Biglaw firms are not obliging me. Let’s find out which firms are indiscriminately doling out offers to their summers….
Which former White House official lives in this charming abode?
As we move deeper into election season, more of the nation’s attention is turning to Washington. So it seems only fitting for Lawyerly Lairs, our peek into the homes and offices of top legal talent, to follow suit.
In our last visit to D.C., we looked at residences worth around $500,000, a perfectly respectable sum. But today, to enhance the voyeuristic thrill, we’re upping the price point. We’re limiting ourselves to seven-figure residences.
Let’s have a look at some million-dollar homes in the Washington metropolitan area, shall we?
In the nascent spirit of positivity aroundhere, let’s take a look at where, according to our research, Biglaw’s happiest troopers can be found.
To be sure, lawyers are a notoriously depressive lot. Various studies — and presumably Will Meyerhofer — suggest that the characteristics that make a good lawyer actually correlate with clinical depression. Combine these alleged traits with crushing debt, an oversaturated job market, and an uncertain future, and the industry seems mired in malaise.
But what about those fortunate ones who’ve managed to snag a coveted Biglaw gig? Why, not only are they employed, but they have a realistic chance to pay off their loans. Are they any more upbeat than the industry’s rank-and-file? Our own survey data strongly suggests the answer is definitely maybe.
Respondents to our ongoing ATL School & Firm Insider Survey give their “firm morale” a mean rating of 6.81 out of 10. (By the way, if you haven’t yet, please take the survey here.) For context, lawyers rate morale a bit higher than “hours” (6.55) and bit lower than “training” (6.88). So, generally speaking, firm morale is not conspicuously singled out by lawyers as a negative.
But which are the happiest firms? And the unhappiest? Let’s have a look at the Biglaw shops getting top marks for esprit de corps….
Which former Cabinet member sold the house with the blue door?
Are we too New York-centric in Lawyerly Lairs, our inside look at the homes (and occasionally offices) of lawyers and law students? Perhaps. It makes sense that we focus on Gotham, since Above the Law is headquartered here. But we realize that other cities and states boast great real estate too (and not just the 3500-square-foot houses enjoyed by the average associate at a Texas law firm).
Today let’s take a trip down to the nation’s capital. We’ll check out a few Lawyerly Lairs down in Washington, D.C. — including the $2 million Georgetown home shown above, recently sold by a former Cabinet member turned law firm partner….
Back in 2009, we wrote about a Title VII suit that a former associate filed against Mayer Brown. To make a long story short (read our prior posts for the full background), Venus Yvette Springs, an African American woman, alleges that the firm discriminated against her because of her race, and eventually fired her in 2008 during the height of layoff season.
Springs filed her complaint against the Biglaw firm more than two and a half years ago, and in the time since, both parties have filed lengthy motions for summary judgment. Springs, who apparently had some time on her hands, also filed a lawsuit against Ally Financial, claiming that she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for her suit against Mayer Brown.
On Friday, a federal judge ruled on the motions, and we’ve finally got an update. Will this discrimination suit be allowed to proceed?
* In trying to resolve the Texas redistricting problem, the Supreme Court has come to a realization: everything really is bigger in that state, including its congressional delegation. [Los Angeles Times]
* Talk about a crappy ROI. Alison Fournier, a former i-banker, is Gloria Allred’s latest litigant. She claims that a drunken pervert groped her abroad thanks to Starwood’s lax hotel security. [Reuters]
Agreeing on this point is former Kirkland & Ellis partner Steven Harper (whose apparent pro-associate stance may make him a sort of Biglaw apostate). As Harper points out, “equity partner profit trees have resumed their growth to the sky. As the economy struggled, Cravath’s average partner profits increased to $2.7 million in 2009 and to $3.17 million in 2010 … That’s not ‘treading water.’ It’s returning to 2007 profit levels — the height of ‘amazing’ boom years that most observers had declared gone forever. Watch for 2011 profits to be even higher.”
And yet associate bonuses remain stagnant at 2009 levels. Furthermore, as ATL commenter “The Cravath Cut” is so fond of noting, when viewed as a percentage of profits, bonuses appear especially measly, at least from the associate p.o.v. (The current $7,500 market rate for first-years is just 0.23% of Cravath’s profits per partner. Back in 2007, first-year bonuses equalled 1.36%.) Despite these numbers, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone Biglaw’s rank and file will follow Cravath’s lead.
Cravath is among the most profitable firms in the world. We thought it would be interesting to see what the implications of matching Cravath are for those firms with much lower profit margins. Which firms’ partners willingly take the biggest hit by keeping up? Are these firms arguably more “generous”? After the jump, check out those firms that pay the largest percentage of PPP in bonuses.
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: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.