In an era when “disruption” is celebrated, the world of large law firms is one of the last redoubts of conventional wisdom. For a uniquely rule- and precedent-bound profession, this makes sense. Biglaw’s conventional wisdom has the added virtue of being reliable. For example, we can count on Cravath taking the lead — at least chronologically — on bonuses, and for DLA Piper to have the most random Third developing-world offices.
Another reflection of conventional wisdom is the way in which Biglaw lends itself to — and revels in — superlatives and rankings. There tends to be a generally acknowledged and perennially dominant player (or a few) in most practice areas: Wachtell Lipton for M&A, Weil Gotshal for Chapter 11 work, Patton Boggs for lobbying, and so forth. There’s no doubt that many worthy firms get overlooked.
Last year we took a look at which firms’ practice groups were considered “underrated” by peers in the field. Among the notable 2012 nominees: Cahill for corporate law, Arnold & Porter in litigation, and Proskauer for its bankruptcy and tax practices.
We wondered whether the same practice groups were still considered by practitioners to be unfairly underrated. Or are there other firms deserving more recognition?
Ed. note: This is the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories, brought to you by Lateral Link. This recurring feature will give notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.
Jeffrey E. Stone is Co-Chair of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and Chair of the Firm’s Management Committee. In addition to his management roles, Jeffrey is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He concentrates his practice in the areas of white-collar criminal defense, complex commercial litigation, internal investigations and RICO. He represents corporations, boards of directors, senior executives and other individuals in a variety of complex civil litigation and criminal prosecutions, involving a broad range of industries, including health care, manufacturing and financial services. He has tried more than 40 cases to verdict before juries in federal and state court.
Jeffrey has served as National Chairman of the Stanford Fund (responsible for all annual giving to Stanford University), as a National Trustee for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, as outside counsel to the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board, as a board member of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, and as president of the Jewish Family and Community Services agency. He currently serves as a member of the national Board of Governors for the American Jewish Committee.
1. What is the greatest challenge to the legal industry over the next 5 years?
* Bernard Knight Jr., general counsel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will be taking his intellectual property talents to McDermott Will & Emery as a new — and rather cute — partner. Congratulations! [Corporate Counsel]
* The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a Texas man in a Monopoly money Bitcoin-related Ponzi scheme. Unfortunately for him, the associated jail time for the crime isn’t virtual. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* When applying to law school, it’s wise to have a unique personal statement topic. But considering the application cycle, you could probably get away with writing “LOL” and still get into the school of your choice. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* Russia has granted NSA leaker Edward Snowden a pass to leave the Moscow airport’s transit zone. Be prepared to welcome borscht into your life, and be sure to always say spasibo. [Associated Press]
* Sorry folks, but Carlos Danger, more popularly known as Anthony Weiner, won’t be pulling out of the New York City mayoral race. I, for one, would love to see his AMAs on Reddit. [New York Times]
* It looks like Aaron Hernandez shot himself in the foot when lawyering up for a civil suit where he’s accused of shooting someone in the eye. His attorney specializes in banking litigation. [USA Today]
* The justices of the Supreme Court gave a thumbs down to hearing a challenge to New York’s “de facto ban” on carrying guns in public, prompting members of the National Rifle Association to poop their pants. [New York Times]
* Now that Mary Jo White is the chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Debevoise has picked her successor to act as co-chair of the litigation department. Congratulations go out to Mary Beth Hogan. [DealBook / New York Times]
* In its latest court filings, Ropes & Gray explains why failing to give its “token black associate” a recommendation letter wasn’t an act of retaliation. That’ll surely be an interesting read. [Am Law Daily]
* A former client sues a major law firm, raising fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and other claims. [Bailey & Glasser (press release and complaint)]
* Boston Biglaw firms — like Dechert, Edwards Wildman, and Foley & Lardner — were “really shaken” by yesterday’s blasts, but report that all employees are safe and accounted for. [National Law Journal]
* Six out of 10 of the 4,967 class of 2012 graduates from New York’s law schools were able to find full-time, long-term positions as lawyers nine months after graduation. Yay? [New York Law Journal]
* Secrets, secrets are no fun; secrets, secrets hurt… someone’s wallet. Sorry, Jamie McCourt, but all of the secret MLB documents concerning the Dodgers’ $2 billion sale will remain secret. [Bloomberg]
In fairness to DLA Piper, the craziness might not be that high on a per capita basis. DLA Piper is one of the largest law firms in the world. In the most recent Global 100 rankings, DLA took second place in both total revenue and attorney headcount.
Many of the DLA Piper stories are on the lighter side. But this latest one — involving serious allegations of overbilling, apparently supported by internal DLA emails saying things like “churn that bill, baby!” — is no laughing matter….
Hurricane Sandy hit the legal world hard, as we’ve chronicled in these pages. And many lawyers and legal employers are stillfeeling its effects — quite literally. If you work at one prominent downtown law firm, for example, we hope you’re wearing thermal underwear.
As we mentioned on Friday, some individuals have been exploiting the Superstorm Sandy crisis to take advantage of others. The Justice Department and the SEC have issued warnings about various “Sandy scams.”
On the opposite end of the decency spectrum, some lawyers and law firms are stepping up to the plate and supporting Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery efforts. Let’s see what they’re doing — and give them some well-deserved kudos for their work….
Apparently also underrated? The corporate group at Cahill Gordon, according to the ATL audience. Cahill received the most mentions as having an “underrated” corporate group in our ATL Insider Survey. Biglaw has a fairly stable roster of alpha dogs in each practice category (Weil in bankruptcy, Wachtell in M&A, etc.), but we wondered which firms’ practice groups deserve more recognition. So, among other things, our survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with underrated (and overrated) practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, tax lawyers do the same for tax groups, and so on.
Read on and have a look at the top three underrated firms in each practice area:
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?
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…
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.
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