You have to hand it to the people at Latham & Watkins. Former employees can bitch and moan all they want about being laid-off, but the firm has a certain kind of “star quality.”
Take this story from this month’s American Lawyer. It turns out that when Oliver Stone needed to figure out what was really going on during the height of the recession, he turned to Latham attorneys Alexander Cohen and Brian Cartwright. The lawyers are at Latham now, but their previous government experience gave Stone the inside knowledge he was looking for.
The fantastically successful firm of Goldman Sachs isn’t just “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” It also discriminates against women, according to the allegations in a lawsuit filed earlier today.
Three female ex-employees of Goldman Sachs accuse the venerable bank of maintaining an “outdated corporate culture” that discriminates against women in terms of pay and promotions. The Goldman Girls — not to be confused with Betty White et al. — seek class-action certification for a class consisting of all female managing directors, vice presidents and associates in the last six years.
The lawsuit alleges that women are underrepresented in GS management, making up just 14 percent of partners, 17 percent of managing directors, and 29 percent of vice presidents. Given what it means to be a partner at Goldman — the New York Times recently described it as “the equivalent of winning the lottery,” in an interesting article about some GS partners being stripped of partnership (law firms aren’t the only ones who can play that game) — the stakes are high.
That’s the straightforward stuff. Other claims in the lawsuit, as noted by Nathan Koppel of the Wall Street Journal, are “a bit more salacious”….
If you’re going to generate million-dollar fees, you’re going to need million-dollar clients. And in New York, the self-proclaimed center of the universe, America’s millionaires come to live and mingle. So says the Metro Wealth Index, which has completed its annual report on high-net worth individuals:
New York City continued to top the Index and had more [high-net worth individuals] than the next top three [metropolitan statistical areas] – Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. – combined.
The power might have shifted to Washington, the glitz might be in L.A., and the coronary disorders might be in Chicago — but New York still has the money. Lots of it.
And with money comes jobs and clients. Right?
What other cities around the country are faring well in terms of the millionaire count?
Partners are on the move, and this time it’s major. Latham & Watkins is losing some serious firepower from its banking group, with the windfall going to Milbank. Am Law Daily reports:
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy made a rare venture into the U.S. lateral market Tuesday, announcing that it had lured five Latham & Watkins finance partners, including the co-head of Latham’s banking practice group….
Milbank chair Mel Immergut said the Latham hires will have “an enormously positive impact” on his firm’s leveraged finance practice, while the chair of Latham’s New York office released a statement wishing the partners well and assuring everyone that Latham retains “a very deep bench of talent” in New York, the NYLJ reports.
When banking partners are making major lateral moves, it’s got to be a good sign for the legal economy.
While Milbank was relatively restrained in its public comments to Am Law, the internal Milbank memo obtained by Above the Law shows that the firm is eager to crow about its new talent…
Last November, we scrutinized the compensation of one of America’s best-paid in-house lawyers: Gregory Palm, general counsel of Goldman Sachs. There was some nit-picking from readers about the precise size of his (pay) package, reflected in the various updates appended to the post, but there was unanimity on the main point: serving as Goldman’s top lawyer is a path to riches.
Over the weekend, the New York Times published a long, interesting, behind-the-scenes look at the negotiations between Goldman and the SEC that culminated in the bank’s $550 million settlement — negotiations in which Greg Palm played a leading role. For some good commentary on Louise Story’s article, check out Larry Ribstein (who sees the case as a strike suit that just happened to be brought by the SEC).
What we found most intriguing about the NYT piece — which weighed in at a hefty 3,200 words, as noted by the WSJ Law Blog — was the delicious dish about Gregory Palm’s pay….
It’s not every day that a partner leaves the storied firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. But it’s not every day that a suitor with comparable prestige, wealth, and WASPiness comes calling. Dealbook reports:
Morgan Stanley said on Thursday that it has hired Francis P. Barron, a partner at the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, as its chief legal officer. Mr. Barron will replace Gary G. Lynch, who will remain with Morgan Stanley as a vice chairman in London…. The hiring is the latest management shake-up under James P. Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive since the beginning of the year.
At Cravath, where he has worked for 32 years, Mr. Barron specialized in litigation, corporate matters and advising boards. Among his clients are financial firms like Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, UBS and Goldman Sachs, as well as General Electric.
Moving from a law firm to Wall Street isn’t uncommon. On New York magazine’s recent list of hottest Wall Street bachelors — co-authored by Bess Levin, of our sister site Dealbreaker, and Jessica Pressler — two out of the 15 “foxes of finance” have law degrees (one from Harvard and one from Seton Hall).
A move at this high a level, from a Cravath partnership to an investment bank, is less common. But such moves happen — and, interestingly enough, Frank Barron isn’t even the first ex-Cravath partner to wind up in a top position at Morgan Stanley….
Despite the depressing efforts of Marin County and Michigan Law School, there is a leading indicator that could portend good news for Biglaw lawyers. Wall Street is hiring bankers again. Bloomberg reports:
Firms are adding jobs for the first time in two years, rebuilding businesses cut during the financial crisis and offering guaranteed payouts to lure top bankers. In New York, 6,800 financial-industry positions were added from the end of February through May, the largest three-month increase since 2008, according to the New York State Department of Labor.
If bankers are being hired, they will (a) want to make deals, and (b) screw those deals up. Both realities should make opportunities for lawyers…
The ABA might remain silent when it comes to stopping law schools from taking financial advantage of law students. They might pass rules that allow legal work to flow freely overseas, damaging the livelihoods of lawyers back home. But when it comes to Congress potentially stepping in to regulate lawyers, the organization finds its voice and gets to work.
The ABA Journal reports that the ABA is spearheading an effort to get practicing lawyers excluded from the increased regulation contemplated in the financial reform bill which is now in reconciliation:
The spate of recession-induced financial help scams loomed large in the push for national consumer protection, and competing House and Senate bills now headed for conference committee both specifically target for regulation anyone involved in offering a “consumer financial product or service.”
But the House version has an exemption for lawyers engaged in the practice of law as well as employees directly supervised by them, or in matters incidental to the practice and within the scope of attorney-client relationship. The Senate version does not. In the Senate version, for example, simply holding a trust account would bring a lawyer under the eyes of federal regulators.
Almost a year ago, I noted that it would be very bad if the general public decided to hold lawyers to the same level of scrutiny as bankers in response to the global economic crisis. But screw the public; it should go without saying that lawyers don’t need the federal government on their backs…
You know something is capturing cultural attention when your mother asks, “Did you write about that woman who got fired for being attractive?”
Earlier this week, the Village Voice ran a cover story on a woman who is suing Citibank for wrongful termination. She claims that her bosses found her too hot — and thus distracting to the other people trying to do their jobs.
Since Judge Denny Chin is moving on up to the Second Circuit, the S.D.N.Y. cases pending before him have to be redistributed. Lawyers for Bank of America, which has 15 civil shareholder lawsuits on Chin’s docket, sent the chief judge a letter requesting that the cases be reassigned using a lottery system. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Cleary Gottlieb, Davis Polk, and Wachtell Lipton all signed the letter.
Why did they need to send this special letter? Because they were scared of B of A landing again in the lap of Judge Jed Rakoff, says the Wall Street Journal:
Judge Rakoff disappointed bank executives last year when he rejected a $30 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had charged the bank with misleading shareholders about bonuses paid prior to the Merrill merger. The New York judge reluctantly approved a new $150 million agreement in February but called it “half-baked justice at best.”
One of the pending shareholder cases accuses the bank of failing to “disclose billions in Merrill losses before shareholders approved the deal in December 2008.”
Apparently, the lawyers debated whether or not to name Judge Rakoff in their letter, thus making it clear that he was the particular judge they hoped to avoid. They ultimately decided to name names.
They were successful in steering their cases clear of Rakoff, though the chief judge claims the letter wasn’t a factor in her decision to assign the cases to Judge Kevin Castel (aka the John Gotti judge). How did she decide?
When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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