A partner at Morrison & Foerster accidentally “replied all” to an email on which “List/Attorney/All” was cc’d. Emails sent to “List/Attorney/All” go out to all 1,000-plus MoFo lawyers around the world.
What the partner wrote in the email was probably not something that should have been shared with the rest of the firm….
One of the lasting effects of the recession has been clients wising up on the value of first-year associates (or the lack thereof). Many at large law firms knew that junior associates contributed little more than manpower during their first couple of years at a firm. But only in the crucible of the recession did clients start asking why they were paying money to finish the training of junior Biglaw associates.
Of course, being able to bill out your new labor at high billing rates is a key part of the law firm business model. Firms are already in a bind: since American law schools insist on graduating students with little to no practical skills, the kids must be trained. Training them on the client’s dime (while the law firm partners pocket a profit) is just one of the ways it has always been done.
But those who do not innovate die. Today brings news that two major law firms are going to try something different with their first-years.
The first-years will get paid their usual $160K salary. But at least at the start, they’ll have to go through more training…
* Howrey’s pre-Labor Day, everything must go, furniture sale. Don’t miss it. [Am Law Daily]
* CBS settles the case with two women suing Dr. Phil for unleashing a naked dinner guest on them for his show. I’m not sure if this is a case of two really uptight women or one really ugly dude, but I do know that alcohol would have solved this problem better than any counseling Dr. Phil could have provided. [Lowering the Bar]
* Obama is confident Supreme Court will uphold Obamacare? Did a justice die while I was away and nobody told me? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Do you think any of these new law firm models can use a thousand highly paid yet unskilled associates straight out of law school for a limited time until they go on to do actually interesting things with their lives? Oh, no reason, I was just asking. [Legal Blog Watch]
* This list of organizations who heavily contributed to members of the Deficit Super Committee includes Skadden. Actually, it looks like many lawyers are heavily invested with these politicians. [Maplight]
When I was in Biglaw, I always dreamed of taking part in a beauty contest. I do not really understand how it goes down, but it sounded very exciting (at least more than my fifty-state-survey.) According to YouTube, it looks something like this.
When I went to the small firm, I did not hear mention of beauty contests. Clients mostly came through referrals, and any client pitches were much more informal. For instance, I heard a story about two partners trying to get an FLSA class action, so they went to the employer’s factory and donned the poultry processor workers’ uniforms (and perhaps touched some chicken parts going down the conveyor belt). Unlike the stories of the Biglaw beauty contests, there were not lawyer teams from several other small firms lined up in their chicken-suits.
If a team from Skadden or Sidley were lined up in chicken-garb, however, how would the small-firm attorneys best position themselves to win the contest? I asked some Biglaw-turned-small-firm attorneys for their best tips….
The statistics about women equity partners are bad. There is no shortage of “experts” opining on how to improve the statistics. The solutions often involve a cardigan (apparently the successful woman’s secret weapon), full-time nannies (the successful woman’s not-so-secret weapon), and a miracle.
There are some who offer more specific solutions. I personally love Skadden’s idea of hiring a “den mother” to mentor and guide their young female associates. Indeed, Sheli Rosenberg is correct when she channeled Madeleine Albright’s famous saying that “[t]here’s a place in hell for women who don’t support other women.”
I have had many conversations with small-firm attorneys about whether or not small firms may offer the solution to the gender gap among partners. Unfortunately, there is little to no research regarding the statistics of female partners in small law firms, so the discussions are based on personal experience as opposed to objective facts. Given the sources of the data, the results are, not surprisingly, mixed. Some say that small firms are better for women because the women have direct access to the decision-makers and clients, and there is less politics when it comes to promotion decisions in small firms. Some say that small firms are worse because the firms, unlike Biglaw, often do not disclose demographic information and so feel insulated — and because firm managers, who tend to be male, promotes their own….
A friend of mine is a plaintiff’s lawyer in Boston. We’ve opposed each other on several cases, and our interactions (always on the phone; weirdly, we’ve never met in person) are characterized by good-natured but acerbic jabs. Typically, he would bemoan my clients’ “colossally stupid” behavior. For my part, I would make fun of his firm’s name.
Don’t get me wrong: his firm is one of the most respected plaintiff’s firms in town. But its name follows the classic ego-gratifying law-firm style of putting all the partners’ surnames on the letterhead. With Biglaw firms, this doesn’t matter much, because the name partners tend to be, well, not-so-much alive. And the sheer number of partners at big firms means that ego notwithstanding, most aren’t getting their names on the sign.
But small firms have (by definition) fewer partners — with just as much ego. And they tend to be living. So the firm names are long and subject to frequent change.
Why is this a problem for small firms, and what they should do about it?
For the past week, a conversation has percolating around Skadden that has made its way into the ATL inbox. A Skadden corporate associate, Lisa M. Johnstone, died last week. Her obituary ran earlier this week in the San Diego Union Tribune. And her memorial service was yesterday. She died of an apparent heart attack, though we understand that her autopsy has not yet been completed. She was 32.
We’re talking about Lisa Johnstone’s death because reports indicate that she died while doing legal work from her home office on a Sunday. We’re talking about Lisa Johnstone because for over a week, Skadden associates have been talking about just how many hours Johnstone had been working. We’re talking about Johnstone because while the root cause of her death my never be known, many Skadden associates and others who know the story are taking this as an opportunity to assess their lives and their mental and physical well-being.
And that’s a good thing. The best advice I ever received in Biglaw was the partner who said: “You don’t have a thermostat”…
Allegations of criminal conduct can be made against attorneys from all walks of life. An innocent-looking solo practitioner in Illinois can be accused of prostitution. A partner in a well-regarded Minnesota law firm, the incoming president of the state bar association, can be accused of molesting a child (and convicted of criminal sexual conduct, after pleading guilty).
Such seamy accusations aren’t limited to the heartland; we also see them here in New York, at elite law firms. As we mentioned last night, Moshe Gerstein — a 35-year-old corporate associate in the New York office of Gibson Dunn, who also once worked at Skadden — has been charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office with child pornography possession. And we’re not talking about garden-variety kiddie porn, but images of a particularly disturbing nature.
Let’s learn more about the charges against this young lawyer, have a look at Moshe’s mug, and hear from some tipsters who know him — including a former colleague….
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.