Skadden

Not one single ‘F’ from the Class of 2012.

* “Whether or not the law is dictating it right now, the people are dictating it.” In light of First and Second Circuit DOMA decisions, in-house counsel are considering benefits for same-sex spouses and domestic partners. [Corporate Counsel]

* “I’m a woman of integrity. My emotions got the best of me.” A Dish Network executive had to publicly apologize for accosting a Gibson Dunn litigation partner’s elderly father outside of a courtroom after the Cablevision trial. [Am Law Daily]

* A potential farewell to the typical liberal bias in education: at the end of the day, Teresa Wagner’s political bias case against Iowa Law could alter hiring nationwide in higher education. [Iowa City Press-Citizen]

* Not prepared for the bar exam, and currently without a law job? Let’s give that school a “B” rating. The results of this survey pretty much conclude that recent law school graduates are out of their minds. [WSJ Law Blog]

* A soon-to-be high school graduate wants to know if he can “go into a creative career” with a law degree. You silly little boy, the law is where creativity goes to die. Hope that helps! [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

The world keeps getting smaller, but the law firms keep getting bigger. The American Lawyer magazine just announced its Global 100, the world’s 100 largest law firms in terms of total revenue, and Biglaw seems bigger than ever.

Despite the challenging economic climate, law firms continue to grow. In three key categories — revenue, profits per partner, and attorney headcount — the top firm for 2012 boasts a bigger number than last year’s #1 firm….

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You’ve seen it time and time again in these pages: years spent in Biglaw can lead to great excesses, and we’re not just talking about those luxurious lawyerly lairs. Biglaw veterans also go to extremes in other areas of life, including overindulgence in alcohol and violence.

Take, for example, Bryan Brooks, a former Skaddenite. After doing a four-year stint at the firm, Brooks moved in-house at American Express. It’s a good thing he chose the credit card company as his new home, because back in June 2011, Brooks had a major “don’t leave home without it” moment. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his Amex card that he was worried about.

In this case, Brooks wished that he had his defense attorney’s phone number on hand, because he was accused of slashing a bar patron’s face with the classiest weapon of all: a broken champagne flute….

An important UPDATE — namely, Brooks’s vindication at trial — after the jump.

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Money. Politics. Corruption. HORSE RACE!

Between now and the election, there are going to be a ton of stories about who is up and who is down. Barack Obama is enjoying a modest convention bounce, and with daily tracing polls, the media will have plenty of opportunities to tell us who’s winning while we wait for America to actually vote.

But there are other ways to pick winners and losers. Taking a look at fundraising is a good way to look at who is going to be able to “blitz” the airwaves with a mind-numbing array of ads. Money raised also gives us a way to look at the “enthusiasm” the candidates enjoy among their key constituents. And as we all know, “blitzing” airwaves makes people “enthusiastic” about “moving to Canada.”

I mean, I find it hard to believe that there are people who haven’t yet made up their mind as to who they are going to vote for. Mitt Romney has been running for president for eight years. Obama has been the president for four. The two parties support wildly different platforms. If last minute ads are going to influence your vote, you’ve got the mental capacity of a goldfish.

Of course, there are a few Biglaw firms who have contributed a lot of money to the candidates, they probably know just how stupid the American public can be….

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Biglaw litigators are to be feared in general, but certain Biglaw litigation departments strike fear into the hearts of their opponents like no others. BTI Consulting Group recently polled 240 in-house lawyers to determine which Biglaw firms they dread “see[ing] as lead opposing counsel in a litigation case.” Each year, after culling through all of the survey results, BTI names the “Fearsome Foursome” — the most-feared litigation firms in the country.

This year, while two litigation powerhouses remained on the list, two prominent Biglaw firms were edged out by other worthy victors. Another 15 firms were honored as “Awesome Opponents.”

So which Biglaw firms are the most feared when it comes to litigation? Let’s check out the latest rankings….

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Who is the Godzilla of law firms?

A few weeks from now — in October, to be more precise — the American Lawyer will announce the Global 100. This is Am Law’s list of the world’s 100 largest law firms, ranked by total revenue.

As a teaser of sorts, the magazine just revealed which firm will sit atop the 2012 rankings. Can you guess which one?

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Killer cups?

* Dewey know how much it costs to keep this failed firm on life support while its remaining partners try to collect D&L’s unpaid bills? A little more than $2M a month, according to the latest reports. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Former Missouri senators — including two Am Law 200 partners — are asking begging Rep. Todd Akin to step aside so the Republicans’ chances of securing the Senate seat aren’t legitimately raped. [Am Law Daily]

* Howrey going to explain this one to the judge? The defunct firm is blaming a deadly forklift accident at a document-storage warehouse for hindering its wind-down process. [Bankruptcy Beat / Wall Street Journal]

* “No matter what they said, it’s not material? Is that what you’re alleging?” It figures that a Skadden partner argued that employment statistics were irrelevant in the fraud class action suit against Brooklyn Law School, but at least the judge attempted to set him straight. [National Law Journal]

* Alaska is suing to overturn federal oversight of its elections, because the portions of the VRA aimed at protecting African Americans aren’t applicable if you can see Russia from your house. [Chicago Tribune]

* An official at ICE is suing because his boss, a woman, allegedly “created a frat house-type atmosphere that is targeted to humiliate and intimidate male employees.” Pledging totally sucks, bro. [New York Times]

* Psst, we think we know what Victoria’s secret is, and she’s no angel. According to police, she’s got a very bad temper, and if you deny her money for booze, she may strangle you to death with her bra. [Daily Mail]

* Jerome Richter, former Blank Rome litigation department chairman, RIP. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Contrary to popular belief, many lawyers who toil in Biglaw actually enjoy what they do. This is especially true of partners (as opposed to associates who just pass through on their way to in-house or government opportunities). Some partners enjoy their work so much that they’d do it for free — or at least for much less than the millions they typically receive.

Of course, even if you find fulfillment in the work you do as a law firm partner, you can’t deny that the other benefits are nice. Being a Biglaw partner certainly allows you to provide an upscale lifestyle for your family. And it might permit you to enjoy an early retirement for yourself.

When you earn millions of dollars a year in partner profits, with lucrative retirement benefits on top of that (assuming your firm doesn’t do a Dewey), you don’t need to work until you’re 65 or 70. Instead, you can get an early start on your golden years, pursuing all of the hobbies and interests that you never had the chance to explore while billing 2000-plus hours a year.

That’s exactly what a retired Skadden corporate partner, James Freund, has been doing. Freund, who is now 77, retired from SASMF back in 1996, around the age of 61 (a little early, but not hugely so).

A few years ago, Freund scaled back his lifestyle. He traded in his $5 million townhouse for an apartment — one that cost a mere $3 million. Being a retired Skadden M&A partner is a tough life, but somebody’s got to live it….

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I think we can say that the notion of spring bonuses is officially dead. It’s already June, and the summer solstice is right around the corner. The lockstep Biglaw firms are just not going to be paying spring bonuses this year.

But spring/summer tips are still alive and well. When Sullivan & Cromwell announced its spring bonuses, I wrote, “This isn’t a bonus, it’s a tip.” S&C paid its associates between $1,000 and $5,000 this spring, a sum that is really a tip when you are a Biglaw Manhattan attorney.

Now Skadden is getting into the tip-giving game. The partners there are digging deep into their pockets and coming up with some loose change to dispense to their associates. If you work really hard at Skadden, you might just get a gift card! (Hey, it’s more than what Cravath is doing.)

So how much are we talking about?

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... to take a survey.

Yesterday, David Lat took a detailed look at the National Law Journal’s newly released list of “go-to” law schools — the ones placing the highest percentage of their 2011 graduates in Biglaw. Of course congratulations are due to Penn and Northwestern and the other schools whose graduates are still landing associate positions. But the real news is how seriously discouraging the NLJ data is. We all know the legal job market is tough, yet Bruce MacEwen’s observation that 85% of law schools give students a worse than 10% chance of getting a job in Biglaw still manages to startle.

Our ongoing ATL School & Firm Insider Survey (take it here!), asks current law students, among other things, “What do you expect to do after you graduate?” A whopping 71% tell us that they expect to work for a firm. (This percentage was consistent across class years.) That this proportion is so high, and so at odds with the NLJ findings, can mean some combination of two things:

  • The ATL student readership skews heavily toward that minority of students who will actually snag Biglaw gigs.
  • Many (if not most) expectations of law firm employment will be dashed against the reality of a contracting job market. In other words, a majority of students think they are in the fortunate minority

After the jump, we’ll look at how wide the gap between student expectation and market reality is, even at the “go-to” schools:

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