Partner Issues

Judge Richard Posner

* A unanimous Seventh Circuit panel, in an opinion by Judge Posner, just struck down Wisconsin and Indiana’s bans on same-sex marriage. The result isn’t surprising in light of the blistering benchslaps delivered by Judge Posner at oral argument, but the timing is faster than usual (for a federal appellate opinion in a high-profile case, not for the prolific Posner). [BuzzFeed]

* Bad news for Cahill Gordon: the Third Circuit just revived a fraud case against the high-powered firm and one of its clients, a unit of BASF. [WSJ Law Blog]

* And badder news for BP: a federal judge just concluded that the oil giant was grossly negligent in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. [New York Times]

* Freshfields gets fresh talent, adding former Wachtell partner Mitchell Presser and former Skadden partner James Douglas to its ranks. [American Lawyer]

* The dean of Seton Hall Law, Patrick Hobbs, will step down from the deanship at the end of the current academic year. Congratulations to Dean Hobbs on a long and successful tenure. [South Orange Juice]

* And congratulations to John Grisham and Jason Bailey, winners of, respectively, the 2014 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and the 2014 ABA Journal/Ross Short Fiction Contest. [ABA Journal]

* Brittany McGrath, Brooklyn Law class of 2014, RIP. [TaxProf Blog]

Michael Allen

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Michael Allen is Managing Principal at Lateral Link, focusing exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

A legal recruiter is very similar to a partner at an Am Law 200 law firm in terms of compensation and day-to-day routine, but without the billable hour. Both get paid based on their book of business (i.e., eat what you kill) and maintain a stable of relationships that help them bring in business.

My colleagues and I started out as attorneys at Am Law 200 firms, including several who were partners, such as Larry Latourette (formerly Managing Partner of Preston Gates, D.C. office), Victoria Holstein-Childress (formerly a partner at Troutman Sanders), Ed Wisneski (formerly a partner at Patton Boggs), and Holly Moetell (formerly a partner at Shaw Pittman), just to name a few. Through nearly ten years of legal recruiting experience, I have found that recruiting is not only personally rewarding, but also very lucrative if you have a fire in your belly. Between the compensation, hours, collaborative atmosphere, and meaningful work, legal recruiting offers the same upside as partnership with a law firm but without the billable-hour requirement.

Here are my top five reasons for considering legal recruiting.

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Bruce Stachenfeld

This is the first of a four-article series focusing on the following matters:

  • First Article – Profits Per Partner: A Good Servant But A Bad Master
  • Second Article – A Profits-Per-Partner Emancipation Plan
  • Third Article – Beyond Profits Per Partner – Embracing Volatility
  • Fourth Article – How to Embrace Volatility as a Law Firm

Those of us running law firms have two sets of clients:

  • Clients – parties that hire us for legal work.
  • Lawyers – parties that do the legal work for the clients.

One without the other is pointless, obviously – they are yin and yang. However, despite this almost symbiotic relationship, most law firms are set up to attract great clients a lot more than they are set up to attract great lawyers. That is how law firms define “marketing.” The other function is called “recruiting.”

Indeed, let me ask you — in your firm, which is cooler: to be on the marketing committee, or to be on the recruiting committee? Which one is more likely to result in success at your firm, including money, power, fame, a big office, etc.?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Reinventing The Law Business: Profits Per Partner — A Good Servant But A Bad Master”


The ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” has been wildly successful, raising more than $107 million to support the nonprofit and its great work fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The success even prompted the association to file trademark applications for “Ice Bucket Challenge” and “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” (ultimately withdrawn, so as not to stop other worthy causes from using the challenge).

As we reported last month, the Ice Bucket Challenge has been very popular within the legal profession. Even your Above the Law editors got into it. I was challenged by Travis Lenkner of Gerchen Keller Capital, the litigation finance firm, and I responded to that challenge by making a donation in lieu of icing myself. I then challenged my colleague Staci Zaretsky, who responded by dumping ice on herself (and contributing too).

We were joined by many other lawyers and law students in this endeavor. Here’s a round-up of Ice Bucket Challenges from around the legal world….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. As Michael Allen, Managing Principal at Lateral Link, recently announced, “We are pleased to announce the hiring of Ryan Turley [pictured], who brings years of legal and recruiting experience to Lateral Link. We recently sat down and he gave me his thoughts on the Chicago market and how it compares to the national market.”

As we become further and further distanced from the recession of 2008 and 2009, the market seems to be settling into a new equilibrium state that has seen a modest uptick in the demand for legal services and a sharp rise in the volume of lateral moves since 2009.

My own stomping ground, Chicago, is no exception. From 2009 to today, the Windy City has seen a significant increase in lateral moves:

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Fictional depictions of high-powered executives and lawyers feature personal assistants with job portfolios more akin to “slave child” than “professional.” Sometimes these assistants are associates, but usually they’re in some other job — like legal secretaries, or whatever Waylon Smithers does. These jobs don’t usually exist in real life. Sure, a partner might ask a paralegal or secretary for a cup of coffee, but they aren’t really so full of themselves as to expect some low-wage employee to peel grapes and fan palm leaves.

Unless you’re this guy, of course. This guy is a partner who wants an employee to “reduce my stress level” by handling every task that he feels is beneath his lofty stature. Behold someone so out of touch with basic decency….

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The week before Labor Day is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Has been for a long time. Even during my decade-plus in Biglaw, a fact that may be shocking to those who believe that the Biglaw experience ranges from the tolerable to the miserable — and never enjoyable. But even for those who feel trapped in the ravenous clutches of the insatiable Biglaw billable hours beast, the end of August almost always offers a welcome, if brief, respite. Because late August is prime Biglaw vacation season, and offices nationwide are running on a skeleton staff.

Partners, and even some associates, are trying to squeeze in some family time before the start of school. The younger set is off for a final round of beach weekends, or just enjoying lazy days in the office, relishing the chance to kick out at a normal hour. With time to hit the gym, before a meal in a real restaurant, rather than a Seamless-delivered dinner in a takeout tray. During my Biglaw years, the end of August meant the last few days of commuting down to the Jersey Shore by ferry from Manhattan, with twilight views of the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Bridge. Moments of serenity, even in a city of perpetual motion.

The end of summer can be wonderful, and the temptation to milk the most relaxation out of the waning days of the season great. But it would be a mistake to view this period as only one of enjoyment….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Beyond Biglaw: Winning The Preseason”

When a firm starts losing partners to its rivals and slowing down their hiring (or even conducting layoffs), it’s usually a bad sign. But one Biglaw firm that’s lost a number of high-profile partners over the last year is touting its new, streamlined approach. You see, they meant to suffer all those defections and lose some of their biggest clients. It’s all part of reinventing the firm for the modern business climate.

Is this just good public relations, or are they on to something?

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For months, we talked to counsel about our prospects in the case. He was sanguine:

“There’s nothing to worry about here. The plaintiff put a huge number in its prayer for relief, but you can’t possibly lose that much. Plaintiff’s liability case is thin, and the damages are inflated. You’ll probably win. If you lose, you’d lose no more than $1 million on an average day. On the worst day known to man, you can’t even theoretically lose more than $5 million. I wouldn’t offer more than a couple hundred grand to settle.”

A few months before trial, we ask counsel to put some skin in the game: “It’ll be expensive to try this case, and you feel good about our prospects. We’d like you to propose an alternative fee agreement that aligns your interests with ours. We’d like to pay you less than your ordinary hourly rates in the months leading up to trial, but we’ll give you a success fee if we win. Please think about it, and let us know if you have any ideas.”

A couple of weeks pass, as counsel discusses the case with his firm’s “senior management.” When the alternative fee proposal arrives, the goalposts have miraculously moved! In the course of just two uneventful weeks, our prospects for success have changed entirely!

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Ed note: Stat of the Week is a new feature that pulls custom data points from ATL Research as well as noteworthy sources across the web.

Which Am Law 50 firm has the highest percentage of women partners?

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