You know associates are pissed when they end their emails to Above the Law with lines like this one, from a message we received last night:
NO ONE SHOULD COME HERE. EVERYONE HERE SHOULD LEAVE.
Jacob Riis photographs associates at one Biglaw firm
That’s what happens when you tell your associates that they’re going to get paid significantly below market and like it.
Several firms have not yet announced spring bonuses, and associates at these firms are annoyed. But there are only a handful of Biglaw firms that cut associate salaries back during the recession and have not yet brought their people back to market-level base compensation.
One of the firms that is lagging behind the rest of the market had an “all associates” conference call yesterday, during which management tried to explain why associates were being underpaid and undervalued by the firm.
Not surprisingly, the top reason for putting in extra billable hours was that people just had work that needed to get done, even though no one specifically asked them to work. But it likely also had something to do with the fact that 32% of respondents who worked said their firm does not recognize MLK Day as an official firm holiday. Instead, some of these firms consider it a “floating holiday,” meaning that attorneys can either choose to take a day off on MLK Day or on another floating holiday.
What were some other reasons given for working on MLK Day?
Yesterday we reported on a change in management at Nixon Peabody. We understand that some people at Nixon hope that the shift at the top will be followed by a return to Nixon Peabody’s old law firm culture.
But maybe NP people will have to get ready to assimilate into an entirely different culture? A well-placed tipster reports that some Locke Lord partners were told that the firm is exploring a possible merger with Nixon Peabody.
Locke Lord denies the rumor, while Nixon Peabody won’t comment. But our sources have been right before, especially when it comes to potential mergers…
Nixon Peabody has suffered a series of partner defections over the last year. Last month, we reported that a number of partners at Nixon were preparing for a mass exodus from the firm.
According to our Nixon Peabody sources, the disgruntled partners wanted one thing: managing partner Richard Langan’s head on a plate. From our original story: “Our sources have also offered up a lot of speculation about why these partners want out, and the message is that they feel like Langan is ‘ruining’ the culture of the firm.”
Apparently, these partners are getting their wish. Richard Langan is out as managing partner. Taking his place is Andrew Glincher, who has been the managing partner of Nixon’s Boston office.
So did the mutinous partners win? According to a Nixon spokesperson, Langan’s ouster is all part of Nixon’s regularly scheduled programming…
We know that most Biglaw shops couldn’t care less about mass associate departures. As exhibit A, I present this year’s bonus news.
But partner defections are another matter entirely — especially if a number of partners leave all at once, or if a thriving practice group jumps ship all at the same time. According to Above the Law sources, this is the situation Nixon Peabody could be facing in the days and weeks ahead. Multiple sources have told Above the Law to expect a significant exodus of Nixon Peabody partners and that the defections could start as early as this week.
We’ve been told that these defections will happen unless the disgruntled partners receive significant concessions from Nixon Peabody managing partner Richard Langan. And apparently some partners will not be satisfied with anything less than Langan’s outright removal…
With fall recruiting gearing up, and the lateral market warming up, we continue our annual series of open threads about the law firms featured in the Vault prestige rankings. These threads provide ATL readers with a forum to discuss the different firms and their various strengths and weaknesses.
The end of the Vault 100 is in sight. We’re covering the firms in batches of 20 now. Here are the firms ranked #61 to #80, which will provide today’s discussion fodder:
It must be a slow news week over in mainstream media land. Earlier this week, the New York Times did a survey piece about American salary cuts that tangentially touched on lawyer salaries — old news for people on top of the legal market, but probably new to a more general audience.
Today, the Boston Globe is getting in on the lawyer pay action. Its report focuses on the move towards merit-based associate compensation that’s been happening for at least a year:
Boston’s top law firms are dramatically changing how they pay young lawyers, adapting to a changing market by adopting Wall Street-style compensation systems that rely on performance bonuses for large shares of annual earnings.
Major law firms have traditionally hired junior lawyers at six-figure salaries and awarded annual increases based on the number of years at the firm, a system known as “lockstep.’’ But several of Boston’s largest and best-known firms are telling associates that they no longer can count on automatic raises. Instead, they will receive salaries and bonuses based on how partners assess their performance.
Wall Street-style compensation, is it? Well then, I guess we should expect bonuses in Boston this year to be all over the map, instead of in strict lockstep with what peer firms end up paying…
Nixon Peabody was awinner in Signature Flight Support Corp. v. Landow Aviation, a dispute between two aviation companies at the Washington Dulles airport. Nixon landed a victory for Signature Flight, and filed a motion for Landow to pay attorneys’ fees in the case.
Landow thought Nixon’s fees were sky-high and opposed the motion, resulting in a review of Nixon’s bills by Judge James Cacheris (E.D. Va.). Judge Cacheris buzzed Nixon’s bills. From the National Law Journal:
U.S. District Judge James Cacheris of the Eastern District of Virginia determined that Nixon Peabody’s $1.57 million in fees was too high and slashed about $440,000 off that amount, awarding $1.13 million….
In his July 30 decision, Cacheris found that the number of hours Nixon Peabody expended on the case demonstrated a “lack of billing judgment exercised by plaintiff’s counsel” and “overall excessiveness of plaintiff’s fee request.”
Less than half a million slashed? Pocket change — though that was on top of $205,102.50 that Nixon says it had already excluded from the bill.
Reading the opinion offers lots of fun Skaddenfreude, perhaps particularly for attorneys laid off by Nixon Peabody early last year. Partner Louis Dolan got knocked by the court for spending hundreds of billable hours at the end of 2008 doing work better suited for a junior associate…
Before Christmas, we highlighted one law firm holiday card that we particularly enjoyed (from Haynes and Boone). We also invited readers to email us with other holiday cards we might enjoy. We stated that, if we received sufficient submissions, we might even hold a contest.
Lo and behold, we did receive enough entrants. So we are happy to hold Above the Law’s first holiday card contest.
Check out the nominees and vote — you’re stuck in the office between Christmas and New Year’s, and you’re bored — after the jump.
The Human Rights Campaign has some answers. HRC, which is the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, recently released its annual list of Best Places to Work. And law firms were prominently represented:
[T]he Human Rights Campaign Foundation released a report showing that numerous large U.S. law firms are providing important benefits and protections for their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) attorneys and staff. In this year’s report, which is part of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s broader Corporate Equality Index, 30 law firms earned the top rating of 100 percent. 80 law firms earned scores of 80 percent or above.
You can see the list of top firms by clicking here (PDF; scroll down to page 48). Alas, no 100 percent rating for Sullivan & Cromwell, of Charney v. S&C fame — despite their generous gifts of Kiehl’s products at LGBT job fairs.
But our friends at Nixon Peabody earned a perfect score. Will they commission a theme song to celebrate? Like “Everyone Loves Gay People at Nixon Peabody”?
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this post, we linked to (and reprinted info from) this page on the HRC website. But an HRC rep has informed us that the page hasn’t been updated from last year, and still reflects scores from the 2007 report.
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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