Yesterday we discussed the merger talks that are currently taking place between Akin Gump and Orrick. We solicited your views on a possible combination, and we received some interesting feedback (in the comments and by other means).
Let’s start with the happy stuff. Here are some positive takes on an Orrick / Akin merger, from the comments (yes, positivity in the comments — it happens):
“I have been at both firms and I believe it would be a good fit both geographically and practice-wise. Orrick is almost all about finance, and finance is one key area that Akin lacks real depth.” [FN1]
“#1 Vacuum company in America + #1 brand of cocktail shrimp = unstoppable legal force.”
But it’s not all vacuums and cocktail shrimp, sunshine and puppies. Insiders with knowledge of both firms also identified downsides to a possible Orrick / Akin merger….
Last month, we reported on the Best Value Law School Rankings produced by National Jurist. The initial list just mentioned the publication’s “honorees,” with a promise of numerical rankings later. That day has arrived, and the magazine is ready to tell us which is the very best value for law school in 2010.
You can’t get two clicks into the legal blogosphere today without seeing a repackaged press release from Sidley Austin. Here’s one of the headlines we received today, which blares louder than a New York City fire engine stuck in mid-tier midtown traffic:
Sidley Austin LLP has received 20 first-tier national rankings in the inaugural U.S.News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” survey, the most of any U.S. law firm.
Okay Sidley, we hear you; congratulations. Maybe you and Lady Gaga should confer and figure out how to get U.S. News to rank music video award shows.
Meanwhile, if you’ve spent any time clicking around the U.S. News law firm rankings since they went live last night (no, I haven’t really slept), you’ll notice that Sidley doesn’t seem to show up in the bottom right corner of the page under the heading “Featured Firm.” Instead of Sidley (or any of the other firms that garnered many first-tier practice area mentions), if you keep clicking refresh — I’ve done that about 100 times in the last hour, via multiple Firefox tabs — you see a bunch of firms that are outside the Am Law 100. And Squire Sanders.
Why aren’t the most well-respected firms the “featured” ones? The answer is obvious: the featured firms bought ads with U.S. News. Which begs the question: just how is U.S. News making money off of this exhaustive gambit into the law firm rankings market?
We told you this day would come. Way back in July 2009, we reported that the rankings behemoth, U.S. News & World Report, would soon be ranking law firms. In February 2010, we reported that the American Bar Association — so toothless in the face of U.S. News’s law school rankings — was worried about how this new U.S. News product would affect the profession.
Well, for better or for worse, the day has finally arrived. As of midnight (give or take a few minutes), U.S. News went live with rankings of 8,782 firms across 81 different practice areas. From their press release:
These inaugural rankings, which are presented in tiers both nationally and by metropolitan area or by state, showcase 8,782 different law firms ranked in one or more of 81 major practice areas. Full data is available online for the law firms that received rankings, from the largest firms in the country to hundreds of one-person and two-person law firms, providing a comprehensive view of the U.S. legal profession that is unprecedented both in the range of firms represented and in the range of qualitative and quantitative data used to develop the rankings.
It’s like Christmas morning — if only Santa were a jolly red prestige whore. Let’s get to it…
In July, we profiled the efforts of a group of Vanderbilt law students who are trying to bring more accuracy and transparency to the employment statistics provided by law schools. Their group, Law School Transparency, has requested all ABA-accredited schools to provide useful information to prospective law students — information that neither the ABA nor U.S. News currently collects.
Without the regulatory hammer of ABA (which the organization inexplicably refuses to wield), or the public shaming of U.S News (a for-profit magazine, not an industry watchdog), LST is up against some long odds. They’re trying their best, but their interim report indicates that thus far, 188 law schools have completely ignored their efforts to report simple facts on the employment prospects of law school graduates.
In fact, to this point no school (not even Vanderbilt Law) has agreed to provide the information LST is requesting. Poor Zenovia Evans would have starved to death by now.
But 11 schools did find the time to send out a courtesy letter citing the reasons these schools cooked up to justify keeping people in the dark about employment prospects for law school graduates…
Working Mother just released its annual list of the top 100 companies to work for. As we are (hopefully) coming out of the recession, it is possible that people might actually start caring again about family issues and work/life balance issues.
This year, four law firms made the list. Before we get to the “winners,” let’s take a look at the process required to be up for consideration. To be on the list, first you have to fill out an application with 600 questions.
What is the magazine looking for? Here’s the explanation from their methodology section:
Eight areas are scored: workforce profile; benefits; women’s issues and advancement; child care; flexible work; paid time off and leaves; company culture; and work-life programs. An essay regarding best practices to support working mothers is also evaluated…
Working Mother considers not only the programs, benefits and opportunities offered by companies but also recently settled, decided or still-pending gender discrimination lawsuits.
An essay, do you say? Well, so much for rigid objectivity in list making.
Still, the four law firm winners should be proud. Let’s highlight them from out of the other top 100 companies…
If you are a current midlevel associate at a top firm, that means you survived the worst of the Biglaw layoffs. In fact, it probably means you survived while friends and colleagues were having their careers ruined.
That should make you happy, right? Not according to the American Lawyer’s annual midlevel associate survey. The results, released this morning, show that midlevel associates are anything but satisfied with their careers. From the report:
Many people would consider Am Law 200 midlevel associates to be extremely fortunate. While thousands of their colleagues lost jobs, these young lawyers are gainfully employed with salaries in the six figures. The midlevels tell us that they survived the recession in part because of the quality of their work, and that they aren’t worried about losing their jobs going forward. And even though revenue and profits dipped at the majority of their firms, relative to other industries, Big Law wasn’t hit as hard during the recession. In many ways, once their student loans are paid off, midlevel associates’ prospects seem bright.
But that’s not how they see it. Maybe it’s the posttraumatic stress syndrome from watching so many associates and law firm staffers get the ax, but the midlevels who survived the great purge aren’t feeling particularly fortunate. In fact, they seem downright cranky.
Survivor’s guilt? Not bloody likely. The result are probably due to people working harder than they were before the recession for less pay and job security than they had before the recession. Add in the fact that their secretaries have probably been fired (and so the partners now treat them like paralegals), and the fact that they’re more likely to get struck by a bolt of lightning than make partner, and you can see why these people are a little disappointed with the way things have turned out.
I’ll pause now so all the members of the Lost Generation can comment on how they would change places with these disgruntled midlevels faster than one can ask “would you like fries with that”…
Readers, we’ve reached the end of the road. After this post, we will have exhausted the Vault 100 law firms — the one hundred most prestigious large law firms in the country. We’ve been doing a series of open threads on these firms so that readers can discuss, in the comments, how these firms stack up against each other.
We were impressed by the quality, but not the quantity, of the comments on our last law firm open thread. Will the final 20 generate as much discussion? Here they are:
* We know you love rankings. Here are the top 25 national universities and liberal arts colleges, according to the 2011 U.S. News college rankings. [TaxProf Blog]
* CHECK YOU ETHICS? In the seemingly endless Barbie/Bratz litigation, lawyers from Orrick, which now represents Bratz maker MGA, have accused Mattel lawyers from Quinn Emanuel of participating in an elaborate corporate espionage scheme. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Give her a gold-plated gavel: Wisconsin Law professor Victoria Nourse, nominated to the Seventh Circuit, has a net worth of almost $20 million. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
* Do you hate parking boots? So does this guy — and his taking a stand against them might bring about legal change in the U.K. [AltTransport]
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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@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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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