Here is one source’s concise communication: “Simpson Thacher bonus memo just released — matching Cravath. A**holes.” Says a second: “I feel like I got punched in the gut.” From a third: “People here are livid. Can’t believe they announced a month later than normal and matched. What BS.”
Another top firm matching Cravath? Honestly, it doesn’t sound shocking.
But the Simpson match might be slightly more newsworthy than the recent Cravath matches by Davis Polk, Cleary, and Debevoise. Here’s why….
‘Tis the season — for new partner elections at large law firms. Although there are some exceptions, most firms pick and announce their new partner classes around November and December, with partnership effective on January 1 of the following year.
These partnership announcements sometimes contain interesting information, if you read between the lines. As we’ve previously observed, “Partnership decisions often shed light on the current state of a firm, its prospects for the future, and its priorities. How many new partners did a firm make? How does the number of new partners this year compare to past years? In which practice areas did it make new partners? How many of the new partners are women or minorities?”
After the jump, we look at new partner news from ten top firms — perhaps you know some of these law firm superstars (and soon-to-be millionaires)? — and we invite you to discuss the new partners at your firm….
If you talk to law firm partners who are in charge of collecting fees, they’ll tell you that getting clients to pay has become a real hassle ever since the recession started. Clients are trying to make their books look as palatable as possible, and if that means avoiding or delaying payments to their lawyers, well, then that’s what they are going to do. Collecting fees from clients is one of the top concerns of Biglaw managers.
And it should be a top concern for Biglaw associates. Nobody is going to be getting a bonus when the firm cannot realize its profits.
You’d think every practicing attorney would be on the same page with this by now. You’d think, at the very least, every person would be diligently putting in their time to give their firm the maximum opportunity to collect on their billable hours. But apparently some people haven’t gotten the memo that putting in your hours in a timely fashion is critical in this environment.
Well, at Simpson Thacher, they want to know your hours, now. And the firm is threatening to bring the hammer down on attorney timekeepers who are putting off this important paper work. Put in your hours, or STB will hit you where it hurts — the wallet…
Now this is a list that matters. Corporate Counsel (an American Lawyer publication) has complied its annual list of the firms that Fortune 100 companies use as outside counsel. This is a list of which firms are getting work from clients with deep pockets. If you care at all about the business end of the law, then you care about this list.
And while the firms that are tapped for this kind of work won’t surprise anybody, it’s always good to take a look at who clients want to be with.
For general corporate law, these are the firms that were mentioned most by clients reporting to the magazine:
Most weeks nowadays, the New York Times weddings announcements — and our coverage of same — focus quite properly on the newlyweds and their impressive accomplishments. But occasionally, a few announcements hearken back to a simpler day, when nobody cared much about the bride and groom, because the game of social one-upmanship was played on the parental level.
This is one of those weeks. Our featured newlyweds are impressive, but some of their parents are even more so. The finalists:
Dewey might not be alone in treating its returnees in this way. Simpson Thacher — widely regarded as having invented the public interest fellowship as an innovative way of dealing with the downturn, and praised for doing so — appears to be taking a similar approach. A source reports:
Simpson, creator of the public interest year, is reneging on its “guaranteed return” promise. Multiple corporate and satellite office associates who indicated interest in the return option were told either that there might not be capacity, or just outright that there isn’t a place for them. From the firm that “invented” and still spins this program as public service, that’s disappointing.
The number of public interest fellows who aren’t being invited back to the firm is not known. We don’t believe it’s a huge number — somewhere in the single digits. (If you have information, please email us.)
We reached out to Simpson for comment. The firm has a somewhat different characterization of what’s going on here….
Thought that STB should get its props for the (completely unexpected) notice that those on the public service fellowships will receive a pro-rated portion of the bonus that their individual class years received. Not bad, considering that normally not being employed at the firm by bonus day means no bonus.
This does seem like a pleasant surprise — especially since we now know that Simpson initially didn’t budget for bonuses for younger classes. We looked back at the terms of the public interest fellowship program at Simpson for mention of prorated bonuses for participating associates, and we found none.
Supreme Court clerks continue to flood the NYT wedding pages this month, creating grim LEWW odds for mere-mortal Cornell grads and Skadden associates. Like Troy playing Florida or North Texas playing Alabama, these folks are welcome to suit up, but the only question is how bad their whuppin’ is going to hurt.
Here are your three finalist couples for the week:
We continue our series profiling the perks or fringe benefits of life at a large law firm. This one may be the breast one yet. From a (male) tipster:
A friend of mine ran across this Simpson Thatcher perk: “The Firm maintains a lactation room for new mothers in each of its New York, Los Angeles and Palo Alto offices to facilitate their transition back to work.”
I have a hard time seeing candidates asking about it during interviews, so I thought I’d pass it along. I’m not a chauvinist or anything! I just have a childish sense of humor…
You’re not alone. We’d note that this perk may have broader appeal than our correspondent might think. See here.
Also, we’d suggest to STB that they regularly sweep their lactation rooms for spycams. Remember this guy? Update: Jeez, some of you are oversensitive. With respect to the photo, here’s what happened. To avoid copyright issues — hello, Nixon Peabody! — we use pictures primarily from royalty-free, stock photography sites. People upload pics to these sites that they allow others to use for free.
Our favorite such website, to which we have contributed many photos of our own, is stock.xchng. For this post, we went to stock.xchng and ran a search for “breastfeed.” The pic we used was one of three images that came up. That’s all. Flexible Working Arrangements [Simpson Thacher & Bartlett] Male lactation [Wikipedia]
We’re beginning to wonder whether this “NY to 190″ business is just a big practical joke. But even though no real information has emerged, and the co-chair of Simpson’s personnel committee told us his firm is “not currently considering an increase in associate salaries,” the rumors continue to swirl.
Here are two email messages we’ve received that are representative of many others:
“NYC big firm starting salary may be increasing to $190k in the coming weeks. My source was a recruiter whose friend at Sidley told him the news. Have you all heard anything or is this bs?”
“[A] friend of mine, who is a partner at a big Chicago firm, with a large presence in NYC, mentioned that pay raises are likely in NYC and that the firm has budgeted $190k as the starting first-year salary.”
Such gossip is not far removed from this commenter’s parody:
My dad’s step-mom’s estranged aunt is a janitor at Cravath, and she said she found a scribbled note on the floor of a partner’s office saying “damn, looks like we have to go to at least $175k soon; call wife re: can’t add second pool to home in Nantucket this summer.”
We wish we had more to tell you right now. We’ll continue to dig.
But at this point, your guess is as good as ours. So feel speculate to discuss in the comments. Vote in our reader polls, if you haven’t done so already.
Will any of this chatter make associate pay raises happen — or happen faster? Unlikely. But hey, there are worse ways to pass the time.
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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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