No Offers

Tampa is lovely this time of year.

Hello from Tampa, Florida, site of the 2013 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (aka NALP). Elie Mystal, Brian Dalton and I have been attending some excellent panels, catching up with old friends, and making new ones (although some law school folks here have given Elie the stink eye).

Yesterday I attended an interesting panel entitled “Homegrown or Not: Lateral Hiring vs. Law Student Recruiting.” The important topic drew a standing room only crowd….

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Less ‘mentally taxing’ than social events?

Things have definitely changed since the summer associate days of yore. There are no more Aquagirls, no more lesbianic lip-locks, and no more Katten kreeps. These days, we’re looking at a group of law students who were so scared about being no-offered that they actually wished their firms would’ve worked them harder instead of forcing them to have mandatory fun.

At least that seems to be the conclusion to be drawn from the American Lawyer’s 2012 Summer Associate Survey. Am Law polled 4,138 interns at 138 firms about their summer experiences and used the results to rank 111 summer programs. Truth be told, it seems like they were too anxious to really enjoy their time as summers, because when asked to rank their “worry level” on a 1-to-5 scale, the average was higher than it has been since 2009′s summer of discontent.

But even so, the overall rankings were still pretty good. If you’re a law student trying to figure out where to spend your summer, you’re probably asking: which law firms came out with the highest scores?

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Don’t look so sad; it is possible to bounce back from a career setback.

Last week we covered news of associate layoffs and summer associate no-offers over at Winston & Strawn. We heard primarily from sources who were upset over the news, and because the firm declined to comment on personnel matters, we didn’t hear Winston’s side of the story. But now, thanks to some helpful sources, we have a few pro-Winston comments that we will now share.

First, the number of “stealth layoff” victims may have been overstated. According to word on the street among Chicago associates, “while some people were let go, 30 seems pretty high.”

Second, it seems the layoffs were focused in Chicago; other offices may have escaped relatively unscathed. According to a source in Winston’s New York office, “nobody has heard about layoffs” there.

Third, the changes to the timing of associate reviews — which were viewed by some as ominous, perhaps laying the groundwork for additional cuts — may actually be quite innocent. Said a source: “The review cycle was also moved forward for some classes and back for others, but it is part of a general re-vamp of the evaluation process, and I’m not convinced there are any sinister motives behind it.”

Fourth, although the firm’s Chicago office doled out a relatively high number of no-offers — about 10 out of 30 summer associates did not get offers of permanent employment — we hear that this was primarily a Chicago phenomenon. As noted by a commenter, “The offer percentages are, to the best of my knowledge, significantly higher in the other offices.”

Of course, after our story we also received additional criticism of Winston, to which we now turn….

Please note the addition of multiple UPDATES, after the jump.

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The first half of 2012 was not great in terms of the financial performance of Biglaw. It wasn’t disastrous — we’re not talking about late 2008 and early 2009 — but it was certainly sluggish.

This has caused some legal industry observers to wonder: Might we see a return of layoffs? We’ve already seen significant staff layoffs in the past year, but limited lawyer layoffs. Is that about to change?

Today we bring you bad news about Winston & Strawn, concerning both full-time associates and summer associates….

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If you want to show off guns to your summer associates, just take them to a firing range.

Our latest summer associate story — involving a gun, too much wine, the managing partner’s boyfriend, and the summer associate who slapped him — is turning into the Biglaw version of Rashomon. We’ve heard so many different versions of the tale, from so many different perspectives.

Was the managing partner’s boyfriend a lowly transit cop or an NYPD detective? Did he brandish his firearm, or did it “come out in a joking manner”? How inappropriately did the summer associate in question act? How drunk was everyone at this wine tasting event?

If you’ve had enough of this tale, you can stop reading here. But if you’re willing to hear one more account of the proceedings, keep reading….

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Hands off the managing partner, please.

This morning we told you about an incident in which the boyfriend of a managing partner allegedly pulled a gun on a summer associate. The claim was that the summer associate had touched the managing partner’s arm. A managing partner of a major law firm is a pretty important person, but applying a “do not touch” rule to her, as if she were the Queen of England, might be taking things a bit far.

We stated in our post that there had to be another side to this story — and we were right. In the alternative version, the gun in question was not actually pointed at the summer associate. And the summer associate was not exactly a saint — which might be the real reason he got no-offered by the firm.

Let’s find out what he allegedly did, as well as the identity of the law firm in question….

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This could be the last thing you see before you get no offered.

Haven’t we all been there? You’re a summer associate at a law firm event. You see the managing partner. You down your drink and work up the courage to introduce yourself to her, determined to make a good impression. You’re trying to get her attention, and maybe you brush up against her arm. And the next thing you know, her boyfriend is pointing a gun in your face.

Oh wait, that never happens to anybody. At least, it’s not supposed to. But according to one source, it did happen to a summer associate at an IP boutique around town.

And, you’re not going to believe this, but the kid apparently did not get an offer from the firm…

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He got an offer. Did you?

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….

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Smile if you got an offer!

We’ve had a decent amount of drama involving summer associates at major law firms this year. We’ve heard stories of dramatic helicopter rescues in Canada, showstopping performances at the Apollo, guns found in drawers, and steamy lesbianic trysts (which are, of course, nothing new for summer associates).

Are these antics affecting offer rates? Here’s what we’ve heard about a handful of firms that have announced offers….

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Now that Labor Day is behind us, fall is fast approaching. You can tell by the chill in the evening air.

Or is that just the cold offers we’re feeling? Last month, we asked you for stories about firms giving out cold offers to summer associates. As we explained, a “cold offer” or “fake offer” is, in the words of NALP, an employment offer made “with the understanding that the offer will not be accepted.”

This “offer,” made with a wink and a nudge, allows the employing law firm to report (and boast about) a 100 percent offer rate, when in reality it isn’t welcoming back 100 percent of its summer associates. It also has an advantage for the recipient: when she goes through 3L recruiting, she can truthfully say, “Yes, I received an offer from the firm where I summered.”

We recently heard a story about a pretty cold offer (not from summer 2011, but from not too long ago summer 2010). This summer associate, who wasn’t the most popular person in her class, received a full-time employment offer “contingent upon obtaining a federal clerkship.” Given how hard it is to land a federal judicial clerkship, that’s a pretty cold offer — especially considering that the student in question, now graduated, didn’t go to a law school known for cranking out lots of clerks.

But wait, it gets better….

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