Weil

This year has seen a grim procession of law firm layoff news, which seemed to pick up momentum just yesterday with the Weil Gotshal lawyer layoffs and the Jones Day staff cuts. Are we looking at a 2008 redux, or is this just a bump in the road as the economy makes its slow recovery?

The Weil news was particularly stunning. If any firm seemed poised to thrive in the post-recession “new normal,” it was Weil, with its diversified practices and hegemonic restructuring group. Alas, with yesterday’s news of Weil’s decision to cut 7% of its associates and slash annual compensation for 10% of its partners by hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is clear that Biglaw job security is a thing of the past.

Let’s explore the reasons behind law firm layoffs, review a chronology of recent reductions, and obtain your views through a reader survey….

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Casey Anthony

* “Is there a public interest in unwanted pregnancies … that can often result in abortions?” The judge who ordered that Plan B be made available to all women regardless of age is pissed at the DOJ. [The Caucus / New York Times]

* Mary Jo White, the littlest litigatrix, will “review” the Securities and Exchange Commission’s policy of allowing financial firms to settle civil suits without affirming or denying culpability, but for now, she’s defending it. [Reuters]

* Dewey know what this failed firm is supposed to pay its advisers for work done during the first nine months of its bankruptcy proceedings? We certainly do, and it’s quite the pretty penny. [Am Law Daily]

* In a round of musical chairs that started at Weil Gotshal, Cadwalader just lost the co-chairs of its bankruptcy practice and another bankruptcy partner to O’Melveny. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Another day, another law school comparison website. Take a look at Law Jobs: By the Numbers, which includes a formula from the laughable National Jurist rankings system. [National Law Journal]

* In a move that shocked absolutely no one, attorneys for Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes announced they will enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for their client. [CNN]

* From the “hindsight is 20/20″ file: the judge who presided over the Casey Anthony trial thinks there was enough evidence to convict the ex-MILF. He also likened Jose Baez to a used car salesman. [AP]

* Check out Logan Beirne’s book (affiliate link). Even when sensationalizing George Washington’s rise from general to president, attention must be paid to the rule of law. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

We recently reported that Weil Gotshal will be paying associate bonuses for 2012 in January 2013. This was a return to the firm’s historical practice, after two years of trying out December as the payment month, but some readers attributed ulterior tax motives to the firm.

The firm just issued its bonus memo for this year, announcing its latest position on the timing of bonus payments. And Weil diverges from the Cravath 2012 bonus scale, actually….

Please note the UPDATE added after the jump.

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Yesterday, Cravath made it rain with a decent bonus scale, especially for those who survived the meltdown. A fifth-year associate at Cravath is making $230,000 in base salary and will receive a $34,000 bonus. Nice work if you can get it. (Actually, it’s not nice work. It’s grueling, soul-crushing. Luckily, most people can’t get it.)

Soon after the Cravath bonuses came out, Weil Gotshal issued some bonus news of its own. The firm is expected to match Cravath, but yesterday Weil announced that it won’t pay bonuses until the end of January, 2013. The timing represents a change for Weil; in recent years, the firm has paid out bonuses in December, not January.

Is it no big deal? Well, if you are a fifth-year expecting a Cravath-level bonus, it could be a huge deal. That bonus is going to push you over the $250,000 mark, and that could make a big difference if we’re talking about 2012 versus 2013…

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American Airlines: something bankrupt in the air.

Complaining about air travel has become a cliché — but it’s still fun. The other night, while flying out to San Francisco for an event I’m doing on Monday (to which you’re invited), I was delayed by two and a half hours — due to a plane turned “biohazard.”

My experience — with United Airlines, which I generally like — pales in comparison to what the novelist Gary Shteyngart experienced recently with American Airlines. He wrote about in a New York Times piece that’s horrifying and hilarious.

But some folks have much warmer feelings for AA — namely, the lawyers and law firms that are making millions from the American Airlines bankruptcy case. Let’s find out how much they are seeking in fees….

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Back in July, we brought you some news about the law firms that you should be considering if you’re in search of diversity — the latest Vault rankings for the Best Law Firms for Diversity. In an ideal world, everyone would be able to work at a firm that’s open, inclusive, and welcoming to all.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the world that we’re living in. Now that you’ve seen which Biglaw firms are the biggest on diversity, let’s head down south to the Lone Star state, where it’s anything but a small world after all.

Eighteen of the 20 largest firms in Dallas, Texas, just received failing scores for diversity in a report issued by the Dallas Diversity Task Force. The other two firms received grades of C+. Let’s see which firms made the grade….

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Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s summer associate event contest. Many of you nominated events, and almost 1,500 of you voted in the reader poll to crown this year’s winner.

We had five fantastic finalists, coming from five leading law firms: Latham & Watkins, Quinn Emanuel, Ropes & Gray, Schulte Roth & Zabel, and Weil Gotshal & Manges. They covered a wide range of activities, from karting to karaoke and from hiking to Heat-watching (the Miami Heat, that is).

Which Biglaw firm took home the big prize?

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We recently requested entries for our summer associate event contest. Even if being a summer associate at a large law firm is more work than play these days, there is still fun to be had.

Here’s a comment on the post from “Dewey & LeBoeuf Summer Associate”:

It’s tough to choose just one event from my summer to nominate for The Best Biglaw Summer Associate Event of 2012. First, there was “Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day,” which was so successful the firm extended the event for the entire summer. Another one of my favorites was the cooking class I attended, “Upgrading Your Kitchen: 101 Ramen Recipes.”

Some of the firm’s events were also educational. I particularly enjoyed the invaluable seminar “Dodging Your Debts,” featuring guest speaker Elie Mystal. And each week I looked forward to the “Friday Bonfire,” where the other summer associates and I gathered to roast off-brand marshmallows in the tall fire we’d built with that week’s haul of rejection letters as we basked in the glow of the flames of our legal careers.

Fortunately, most summer associates are working at firms that aren’t in bankruptcy. Let’s take a look at our quintet of impressive entries for this year’s summer associate event contest….

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He got an offer. Did you?

Truth be told, I’m not a fan of law firms giving offers to 100 percent of their summer associates. Whatever happened to selectivity? Given how perfunctory the hiring process is, there has to be at least one mistake in any summer class of decent size, right?

A commenter on our last post about offer rates put it well: “[A] 100% offer rate is not always a good thing. If we don’t want to work with the little weirdo who managed to slip through by pretending he was normal in 20-minute increments in callbacks, there’s a good chance the other SAs don’t either. Firms shouldn’t be so captured by the desire to have 100% offer rates that they give offers to people with serious social issues or work product problems, particularly in small offices where their general offensiveness will really have an opportunity to shine.”

Another reason I don’t like 100 percent offer rates is that I enjoy hearing funny stories of summer associate misbehavior, which often culminate in a no offer or a cold offer. You can share such stories with us by email or by text message (646-820-8477; texts only, not a voice line).

Alas, Biglaw firms are not obliging me. Let’s find out which firms are indiscriminately doling out offers to their summers….

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Smile if you got an offer!

We’ve had a decent amount of drama involving summer associates at major law firms this year. We’ve heard stories of dramatic helicopter rescues in Canada, showstopping performances at the Apollo, guns found in drawers, and steamy lesbianic trysts (which are, of course, nothing new for summer associates).

Are these antics affecting offer rates? Here’s what we’ve heard about a handful of firms that have announced offers….

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