Ed. note: This is the second column by Anonymous Partner based on his interview of a more-senior partner, “Old School Partner” (“OSP”). You can read the first column in the series here.
“It was a nice profession,” Old School Partner told me, especially for a senior partner at a white-shoe firm. Collegiality, interesting work, and a good living were his. Despite occasional internal dust-ups about compensation within the partnership, partners were generally content with what they were making.
But things were about to change, and what had been a guarded and close-knit segment of the legal profession was soon thrust into an unwanted spotlight. It was a “watershed” moment for partners.
The “watershed” that mucked things up? The launch of American Lawyer magazine….
We’re entering on-campus interviewing season. If you’re a law student going through OCI, or if you’re a lawyer involved in your firm’s recruiting process, be sure to check out Above the Law’s new law student career center, a repository job search resources, and our law firm directory, where law firms get letter grades in different categories.
One area that interviewees are always interested in is diversity. Diverse attorneys — okay, that’s a bad way of putting it — minority attorneys want to know where they’ll feel welcome. Even lawyers who aren’t minorities want workplaces that are open and inclusive. And corporate clients are increasingly keen on sending their work to firms that show a commitment to diversity.
So which Biglaw firms are the biggest on diversity? Let’s check out the latest rankings….
The main audience of the U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings is not meant to be law schools or law school deans—and the rankings should not be a management tool that law school administrators use as the basis for proving that their school is improving or declining. The rankings are produced primarily for prospective students as one tool to help them determine the relative merits between schools they are considering.
Today the ABA fined Illinois Law $250,000. The ABA also censured the law school.
The Chicago Tribune reports that this is the first time the ABA has fined a law school for inaccurate consumer information. I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Still, considering the average salary for an Illinois College of Law full professor is $194,624, it’s hard to see the fine meaning very much to the school’s operations…
Last year, all things considered, wasn’t a bad year for Biglaw. The law firms of the Am Law 100, for example, experienced decent growth. In 2011, for the Am Law 100 as a whole, gross revenue grew by 5.3 percent, revenue per lawyer grew by 1.9 percent, and profits per partner grew by 3 percent. It was a perfectly fine year for partners.
How did their counterparts on the corporate side fare? Alas, not as well, according to Corporate Counsel’s latest compensation survey of the nation’s general counsel. Base pay for GCs in the survey declined by 1.8 percent, to an average of $611,411. Bonuses and nonequity incentive pay slid by an even larger number, 7.7 percent, to an average of $1,125,458. Meanwhile, in terms of non-cash compensation, the average stock award fell by 10.8 percent, to $1,426,325, and the average stock option award dropped by a whopping 18.7 percent, to $732,453.
These are just the top-line figures — which, of course, conceal a lot of individual variability. Let’s take a look at some specific names and numbers, as well as the top ten highest-paid general counsel….
Which law firms are the best law firms to work for? The ones that pay salaries (ideally in excess of $10,000 a year). In a still-challengingjob market, law students and young lawyers will generally work for whichever law firm will have them.
But some prospective employees of Biglaw have the luxury of choosing between multiple employers. And for these privileged and talented few, things like quality of life — to the extent that one can have a quality of life, or a life at all, while toiling away at a top firm — do matter.
Last month, our friends at Vault issued their closely watched Vault 100 rankings, ordering the nation’s major law firms by perceived prestige. Now they’ve followed them up with their annual “quality of life” rankings, expressed as a list of the best law firms to work for.
Do you know why your parents always encouraged you to be a doctor or a lawyer when you were younger? Because you can still make bank in either field.
Although it seems that we’re constantly painting doom-and-gloom pictures of the imploding legal profession here at Above the Law, we’ve got to admit that for some, law is still a financially-booming career path. In fact, according to data pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, being a lawyer still has significant monetary perks. CNBC compiled a list of the 15 highest paying jobs in the country, and despite meager Biglaw bonuses and the Dewey effect, lawyers continue to reign near the top.
Where do lawyers fall on the list? Let’s find out….
Since 1955, Fortune magazine has published the Fortune 500, a comprehensive ranking of the top closely held and public corporations in the United States as ranked by gross revenue. In the past, we’ve spoken about other Fortune magazine rankings, like its annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, where top law firms have been included year after year.
But it seems that lawyers have pervaded the Fortune 500 rankings as well, because some of the biggest companies in the nation are headed by law school graduates. As we noted in Morning Docket, of the 498 CEOs named on this year’s list, 46 of them went to law school.
But which schools did they attend? Let’s find out….
* Pay up or shut up: Dewey former partners need to worry about getting our kneecaps busted by the banks that loaned us money to fulfill our capital contributions? [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* Senate leaders reached a tentative deal to keep student-loan interest rates at 3.4%. Too bad this only applies to undergrads — law students are still left holding the bag. [Wall Street Journal]
* Your mom probably told you not to be a tattletale, but evidently that kind of behavior really pays off in court. Adam Smith, formerly of Galleon, was sentenced to only two years’ probation for his “very substantial” aid in Raj Rajaratnam’s insider trading trial. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Forty-six CEOs on the 2012 Fortune 500 list went to law school, but only four hold degrees from schools outside the U.S. News Top 100, and just one went to an RNP school. Yikes. [U.S. News & World Report]
* Was this Nova Law professor “mentally deranged enough to engage in a campus shooting rampage”? That’s apparently what members of the administration thought when they fired him. [National Law Journal]
* Anna Gristina, the accused “Millionaire Madam,” was released last night on $250K bond after spending four months behind bars. Looks like it’s back to the world’s oldest profession for this soccer mom. [Reuters]
If you want to get into Biglaw, it's all about the Ivy.
It’s a list that should mean more than it does: which law schools are best at sending their graduates to large law firms, aka Biglaw?
There are a lot of reasons this question isn’t asked more often: law schools don’t like their supposed professional value to be reduced to placements at top firms, prospective law students don’t like to think that in three years they’ll have a “Biglaw or bust” mentality, and Biglaw placement lists undervalue clerkship appointments (which often turn into Biglaw gigs a year or two later). Intellectually, it feels small-minded to put a heavy focus on whether or not a school sends a high proportion of its graduates straight into Biglaw after graduation.
Except that in a world with ever-rising tuition costs, the ability to place students in Biglaw is more important than ever. Biglaw jobs are pretty much the only ones out there that pay enough money for graduates to be able to manage their ridiculous debt loads. And there are fewer Biglaw jobs than before. Top law schools should be able to place well in Biglaw, or they should be offering tuition rebates to students.
If the kids who are thinking about going to law school refuse to pay attention to life’s realities, maybe the parents who are pushing their children into the legal profession will take note. Here are the top schools for placing in Biglaw. If your kid isn’t getting into one of these schools, maybe you should reconsider co-signing their loans…
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 protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…