Thelen Reid & Priest

Thelen LLP new logo.jpgLoeb & Loeb announced the addition of two new partners to their New York office, Kenneth A. Adler and Steve A. Semerdjian. Both partners are Thelen refugees.
As you may have heard, Thelen is limping. Not Lehman Brothers limping (Dealbreaker has the latest on Lehman’s desperation). But Thelen clearly needs something positive to happen for them.
We’ll get back to piling on in the near future, but as Adler and Semerdjian cruise away in their lifeboat, we’re forced to wonder how much partner defections actually mean to working associates.
Not that Thelen is hiring anybody, but if they were would you avoid Thelen because Adler and Semerdjian left the firm? Conversely, are there people out there who are thinking “I wasn’t going to take that call-back with Loeb, but now that Adler and Semerdjian are there, sign me up baby!”
loeb loeb.gifPartner defections mean a lot to partners. But how much of that rain really trickles down to the associate level? Thelen’s troubles were obvious long before partners started floating away. Somehow we can’t see Loeb associates having a truck party just because profits per partner might go up thanks to the new acquisitions.
We’ll see when the bonuses come out if Loeb’s additions are anything more than Thelen’s subtractions.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Thelen

Thelen LLP new logo.jpgToo many tipsters to count have alerted us that Thelen appears to have canceled their 2009 summer associate program. People who had scheduled call backs with Thelen were informed this afternoon. As we understand it, this is a firm-wide decision affecting every office. We also believe Thelen has canceled all remaining OCI interviews.
A few tipsters reported that the stated reasons from Thelen were communicated over the phone. They told aspiring summers that their budget overview and ongoing merger talks prevented an accurate assessment of their future hiring needs.
The firm could not be reached for comment. We will update you as soon as the firm updates us.
If true, this information doesn’t really come as a surprise. Thelen has been rumored to be on the merger market for quite some time. The most recent suitor was Nixon Peabody, but there have been rumors of others.
At this point, canceling the entire summer program in preparation for a big-time merger is the best possible reason, right? We’ll keep you posted.
Earlier: Law Firm Merger Mania: Nixon Peabody + Thelen = Nixlen Thelpea?
Law Firm Merger Mania: Thelen Sending Out Feelers?

law firm merger.jpgThelen has laid off attorneys and changed its name, the law firm equivalent of hitting the gym and getting a makeover. Now they’re back in the club and looking for a mate.
Leigh Jones of the National Law Journal reports:

Thelen and Nixon Peabody are in merger talks, with a possible agreement pending, according to sources close to the situation. The law firms have been in extensive talks, with Nixon Peabody leaders traveling to San Francisco to meet with Thelen leaders, according to two sources.

Wasn’t this the plot to the movie Made of Honor? Nixon plays the role of Dr. McDreamy, with its dulcet law firm song. Thelen is the cute platonic friend, who suddenly starts looking really hot when she’s about to get hitched to somebody else.
Given the amount of coverage ATL devotes to these two firms, we wholeheartedly endorse the pairing. Maybe we could convince them to adopt a firm mascot — Nixlen Kittens, anyone?
Thelen in merger talks with Nixon Peabody [National Law Journal via Law.com]
Earlier: Law Firm Merger Mania: Thelen Sending Out Feelers?
Law Firm Merger Mania: Everyone’s a Winner at…. Nixon Pillsbury?


Thelen LLP new logo.jpgAs we reported last month, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner is on the prowl for a merger partner. And just like a divorcée plunging back into the dating market, the firm is taking steps to make itself more attractive.
Like changing its name. From the firm’s press release:

In a move to present a clear and strong brand in the legal marketplace, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP, an international Am Law 100 law firm, announced today that it is shortening the legal name of the firm to Thelen LLP.

The name change will be effective September 9 and will better reflect the firm’s 80-year history as one of the world’s premier law firms. A single corporate identity also has the added benefit of consistent branding in the domestic and global markets in which Thelen operates.

There are other advantages, too. As reported in today’s National Law Journal, name partner Jeffrey Steiner just defected to DLA Piper. This follows the departures of name partners Peter Brown (to Baker Hostetler) and Richard Raysman (to Otterbourg Steindler). Scrubbing their names from the firm name makes sense (and may have been required).
It’s much safer for the firm simply to be known as “Thelen.” Max Thelen isn’t going anywhere.
Thelen Announces New Firm Name [press release]
Defections continue at Thelen [National Law Journal]
Thelen Faces Departures During Merger Search [Legal Times]
Thelen, It Rhymes With Wheelin’ [WSJ Law Blog]

Thelen LLP new logo.jpgAs we reported last month, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner is on the prowl for a merger partner. And just like a divorcée plunging back into the dating market, the firm is taking steps to make itself more attractive.
Like changing its name. From the firm’s press release:

In a move to present a clear and strong brand in the legal marketplace, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP, an international Am Law 100 law firm, announced today that it is shortening the legal name of the firm to Thelen LLP.

The name change will be effective September 9 and will better reflect the firm’s 80-year history as one of the world’s premier law firms. A single corporate identity also has the added benefit of consistent branding in the domestic and global markets in which Thelen operates.

There are other advantages, too. As reported in today’s National Law Journal, name partner Jeffrey Steiner just defected to DLA Piper. This follows the departures of name partners Peter Brown (to Baker Hostetler) and Richard Raysman (to Otterbourg Steindler). Scrubbing their names from the firm name makes sense (and may have been required).
It’s much safer for the firm simply to be known as “Thelen.” Max Thelen isn’t going anywhere.
Thelen Announces New Firm Name [press release]
Defections continue at Thelen [National Law Journal]
Thelen Faces Departures During Merger Search [Legal Times]
Thelen, It Rhymes With Wheelin’ [WSJ Law Blog]

K&L Gates Kirkpatrick Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThanks to the worsening economy, law firms don’t have enough work for the lawyers already on their payrolls. Some firms have decided to save money by having incoming first-year associates start later than originally planned. What’s the point of bringing new kids on board, at starting salaries of $160,000 each, if you don’t have enough work to give them?
The latest Biglaw shop to push back start dates: K&L Gates. The original firm-wide start date was September 15; the new start date is October 20.
We contacted K&L Gates for comment. The firm’s director of recruiting, Roz Pitts, explained that the change was made not for any economic reason, but due to “crazy scheduling.” She explained that the firm’s partner retreat in Phoenix is taking place in early October, and they didn’t want the first-years to start work only to have the entire partnership disappear a few weeks later. She added that the firm stands by all its offers — i.e., no offers have been rescinded — and that all incoming associates will be notified of the start date change by today. (Some offices started notifying associates on Friday, which is when we learned of this change.)
But even if K&L Gates were making this change for economic reasons, would there be any shame in that? Other prominent law firms have already announced postponed start dates:

1. Pillsbury Winthrop: start dates pushed back, possibly as far back as January 2009 (the firm told the Wall Street Journal that it “is staggering start dates over several months”).

2. Thacher Proffitt & Wood: the start date for non-litigation first-years has been pushed back to October 20.

3. Thelen Reid: start dates for first-year associates pushed back from September 2008 to January 2009.

Do you know of a Biglaw shop that has announced it’s pushing back start dates? If so, feel free to drop us a line. Thanks.
P.S. When it comes to start dates, maybe there’s no way to please everyone. Back in February, some Sidley Austin associates complained about excessively early start dates.

Thelen new Thelen Reid Brown Raysman Steiner LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog tabloid.jpgThe rumor making the rounds of lawyer and staff layoffs at Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner is true. We just spoke to Thelen’s co-chair, Stephen V. O’Neal, who provided confirmation and details.
The firm is in the process of laying off 26 associates and 85 staff members, on a firm-wide basis, “in response to recessionary pressures.” (Unlike President Bush, Mr. O’Neal was not afraid to use the “r” word.) Thelen has approximately 600 lawyers, per its website, so the cuts amount to roughly 4 percent of total headcount.
With respect to the location of the affected lawyers, the cuts affected all major offices. With respect to seniority — one source told us that some first- and second-year associates were fired — Mr. O’Neal said that “some were fairly junior, and some more senior.”
In terms of practice areas, Mr. O’Neal said the layoffs were spread out among groups, but with “some areas more impacted than others,” including certain parts of capital markets and cap-markets-related real estate work. He noted that other practice areas are “thriving and increasing in scope,” including renewable energy, cross-border M&A, China practice, litigation, and workouts / bankruptcy.
With respect to staff layoffs, Mr. O’Neal explained that they are due in part to the economic climate, but in part due to post-merger staff redundancies. The merger of Thelen Reid and Brown Raysman took place in late 2006, making the consolidated firm a little over a year old. But the firm did not do much cutting of staff in 2007.
Last year “was not a year when we tried to make deep cutbacks in anything, even though we had combined two good-sized firms,” explained Mr. O’Neal. “It was a year of building, coordinating, and consolidating. We wanted to understand how best to organize this new entity.” Now that the firm has a better understanding of its staffing needs, and is in the process of consolidating multiple offices in the same cities (e.g., New York), it is reducing staff redundancies.
As for associate severance packages, Mr. O’Neal stated that firm provided a “market-level” package. We floated three to four months as our understanding of market, and he said that the firm is “in that ballpark.”
“We are anticipating a profitable 2008,” said Mr. O’Neal. “We are being prudent businesspeople, and when you are dealing with recessionary pressures, you adjust your business so you will have — and maintain — a strong level of profitability, notwithstanding those pressures.”
We thank the firm for the information and candor with respect to the layoffs (i.e., not casting these departures as “performance-based”). If you have more information, feel free to email us.
Updates: A few additional nuggets:

1. As noted in the comments, total headcount includes partners and counsel, so the percentage of associates laid off is higher than 4 percent. Some of you suggest it’s around 10 percent.

2. We’re a little annoyed at Legal Pad for the lack of an ATL shout-out — in both the blogosphere and the MSM, it’s proper form to credit and/or link to the source that breaks a story first (even if you were working on the same story too) — but we’ll link to them anyway.

They have more on the Thelen layoffs here. Much of the info in their post appeared previously in ours, but they do add that the firm “is also trimming its summer program from eleven to eight weeks and is pushing the start date for first-years from September to January.”

3. A source at the firm tells us that the severance packages were in the two- to three-month range.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of layoffs (scroll down)

Chapman Cutler LLP AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgWhat’s the hot new trend in Biglaw? Two-track systems for associates. They’re regarded as a sensible way for law firms to address the twin challenges of (1) higher associate salaries and (2) associate attrition (often due to a frustration with long hours).
Here’s word of the latest law firm to join the party, from NYLawyer.com (reg. req’d):

Chapman and Cutler, a Chicago-based firm with three offices and about 220 attorneys, has joined the parade of firms boosting first-year associate pay to $160,000, but the firm is taking a new path once associates reach their second year.

Second-year associates can opt for one of two compensation tracks at the firm under a new system that took effect last month, said Rick Cosgrove, who is chief executive partner at the firm. They can choose to work fewer hours at a lower pay level or more hours at a higher salary level, he said.

Cosgrove declined to specify the hours required and related pay rates under the new pay program for competitive reasons.

If you have info on the Chapman and Cutler scale that you’d be willing to share, please email us. According to a poster at Greedy Chicago:

The higher track is essentially Biglaw market, so long as you hit 2000 billables/year. The lower track is compressed to about $5k-$10k/year, depending on class year, and you need to hit 1850.

Other firms with two-track systems (click on each firm’s name for a memo and/or details): Hogan & Hartson, Wiley Rein, Fenwick & West, and Thelen (formerly Thelen Reid, and FYI, “Thelen” rhymes with “wheelin'”; see here).
Do you have an opinion about this two-tiered approach? If so, vote in our reader polls, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chapman and Cutler Blazes The Trail of Tiers”

Dodgeball Thelen Reid Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* She was listed in the NYT wedding announcements as an HLS magna grad — and would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids! [Jossip] [FN1]
* Don’t dress up in a giant pink bunny suit and hang out by a bank, unless you want to get yo’self tasered. [FourthAmendment.com]
* Thelen kicks O’Melveny’s ass — in dodgeball. [Legal Pad]
* Not worth a separate post, but here’s a link, plus a comment: “Dickie C is taking the reigns while GW gets poked in the anus. What’s funny about this is how the media reports this as news. As if Dick isn’t always in control.” [AFP]
[FN1] In response to an email we received: our tagline is tongue-in-cheek. We have no reason to doubt the Times’s explanation that the magna mistake resulted from “an editing error,” and not any attempt at deception by the bride.
(Jeez, people, you need to lighten up a bit…)

Hartford Connecticut Hartford CT Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGIf you care only about associate compensation in major legal markets, stop reading now; do not sully your eyes with this post. But if you have an interest in what associates make outside the biggest cities, keep reading.
Yesterday we covered Denver, to kick off what one commenter described as “Mid-Market Salary Mania.” Today we shine the spotlight on Hartford — aka “New England’s Rising Star” — and Connecticut more generally.
From the Connecticut Law Tribune (subscription):

In the wake of a flurry of first-year salary hikes, two more national firms recently announced pay raises in their Hartford, Conn., branch offices. Their compensation philosophies are starkly different, however.

Dechert increased its Hartford starting salaries in mid-February to $145,000 to match those in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Newport Beach, Calif., and Washington, D.C….

Meanwhile, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner bumped its entry-level salaries in late February to $105,000 in Hartford, up from $97,500 the year before. That followed an earlier announcement from the firm that it increased rookie compensation to $160,000 in New York and $145,000 in its California, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey offices — decisions that closely mirror the maneuverings of other national firms.

But this was back in March. Has there been significant salary movement in Connecticut since then? If not, any thoughts on if and when CT associates will see their base salaries increase?
Please discuss in the comments. Thanks.
Conn. Big-Law Associates in Line for More Money [Connecticut Law Tribune (subscription)]

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