* Does SCOTUS need some affirmative action for non-Ivy League grads? [New York Times]
* White & Case partner Tom Lauria, who got SCOTUS to issue a stay in the Chrysler-Fiat deal, is pissing people off and “enjoying the heck out of it.” He may take on GM next. [Wall Street Journal]
* SCOTUS decided yesterday to lift the Chrysler-Fiat stay, so that sale can move forward. [Washington Post]
* Sonnenschein hit with a $30 million poaching suit. [American Lawyer]
* Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is threatening to sue HarperCollins if they defame him while publicizing a book on September 11. [Chicago Sun-Times]
* The Northern District of California courthouse sounds like a wild place. [Courthouse News Service]
White & Case
* Does SCOTUS need some affirmative action for non-Ivy League grads? [New York Times]
Above The Law used to be a place for perk-watching. Bonus wars! Pay raise watches! Perk craziness! Extending the length of maternity and paternity leaves!
As the economy has taken its toll on the legal industry, our coverage here has taken some dark turns. The layoff watch. The salary freeze watch. The delayed start date watch. The shrinking summer associate programs.
The New York Times has been reading. This weekend, they ran a piece proclaiming the end of Biglaw as we know it, entitled A Study in Why Major Law Firms Are Shrinking:
As the apocalypse on Wall Street ripples out into the larger economy, a thick red tide is lapping at the once-impregnable foundations of New York’s corporate law firms, threatening to turn the industry — and with it, some iconic city characters — into an endangered species.
White & Case offered itself up to the sacrificial altar for the piece, with chairman Hugh Verrier telling the tale of the firm’s troubles. White & Case has laid off over 200 associates, with the bulk of them let go on March 9, a day we called “bloody, black March Monday,” as the layoff announcements came rolling in from so many firms on that day. But the firm stands virtually alone in this NYT piece and will now be known as THE firm representing the downfall of Biglaw.
Why was Verrier willing to lay White & Case on the altar? In talking about the layoffs of associates and partners at the firm, he told the NYT:
Mr. Verrier said he saw the storm approaching shortly after he took control in 2007, and considered three options, in consultation with a group of core partners: Do nothing, which risked the firm’s survival; couch layoffs as decisions based on poor performance; or own up to the crisis and bid large numbers of lawyers a harsh but needed goodbye.
His choice to confront the situation directly, while lauded by many on the staff, carried the risk of seeming weak, of becoming the poster child for the industry’s demise. But he saw it as opening a window for White & Case to eventually reposition itself.
Perhaps this is his hope with the NYT article as well. Insight into the demise of Biglaw using White & Case as the poster child, after the jump.
We reported yesterday that White
‘n & Case sent out a firm-wide memo announcing the layoffs of 200 associates and 200 staff. However, we’re hearing that there’s not yet blood on the dance floor, as no layoffs occurred yesterday, at least not in the NY office. But there’s still panic at the disco:
I don’t think they’ve told anybody whether they are fired or not fired yet. Odd planning since they sent out the message today. Just got everybody worried.
Rumors are flying about why there’s a lag between the memo and the axe, as only the most powerful force would seemingly able to stop the engines of a layoff express already in motion. That mighty force, friends, is Purim.
A couple people said that it would be later in the week…and mentioned that this was because of Purim. I have NO IDEA if this is because people heard something from a valid source or just speculation because, as you know, tomorrow is Purim.
For those of you unfamiliar with the festival that is about as relevant to Judaism as Groundhog Day is to Americans, Purim is a costume holiday in which Jews commemorate their deliverance from death at the hands of the tyrant Haman. Haman conspired to kill the Jews and drew lots to determine the day on which he would hang them from the gallows he had built, but his plan was foiled by Queen Esther and Mordechai, with God pulling up the rear.
Find out how righteous White & Case may be observing the hamentashen holiday, after the jump.
We are now firmly into the “second round” of law firm layoffs. We are increasingly dealing with firms who already laid people off in late 2008 or early 2009 who have to go back and make more cuts as the economic outlook continues to worsen.
But, in a rare move, White & Case sent around an internal memo announcing that partners would be next on the chopping block:
These measures follow a thorough, strategic review of our business, including discussions with our Regional Section Heads, Global Practice Leaders and Office Executive Partners.
It is clear from this review that the deterioration of the global economy will continue to affect our clients and their demand for our services for the foreseeable future. As a result, we are planning the following actions:
• An evaluation of our partnership, which will result in a reduction in the number of our partners, commensurate with current and anticipated business needs.
And many incoming White & Case first years will have to find something else to do this fall:
• Deferring the start date of about 60% of this year’s incoming associate class in the United States until 2010. Incoming associates who are not deferred will join the Firm on November 2, 2009.
How terrible are the projections for 2009? And how many more rounds of layoffs do we have to go?
White & Case brings us to 731 associates and staff laid off today. What a bloody, black, March Monday.
Read the full statement after the jump.
Californians, as we understand it, really care about their cars — and their parking spots. So White & Case’s latest maneuver out in Palo Alto could mean war:
White & Case’s Silicon Valley office is in a Palo Alto office complex shared with several other firms. Historically, all the parking, including a large parking garage, has been shared among all firms.
Apparently, White & Case used the downturn in the commercial lease market to renegotiate its terms with the management company. Just after the new year, around a dozen primo parking spots in parking garage were rebranded to indicate that they were for “White & Case guests.” This did not sit well with the locals.
But if you think that White & Case backed down, you’ve got another thing coming. Details after the jump.
A couple of internal emails came across our desk today, heralding good news — at least for the partners.
Profits per Partner are up at WilmerHale:
PPP are $1,080,000, which is up from last year by a little bit. Also, 6.7% of total hours billed by the firm were to pro bono matters.
And the firm is passing some of those profits back down to associates. Individualized bonus memos are making the rounds at WilmerHale today, and at 2000 hours associates will be receiving a Cravath level bonus. Our Boston based sources are pretty happy with that.
Perhaps more importantly, WilmerHale announced that they will not be freezing salaries. So while associates at Goodwin Procter will be getting a better bonus, WilmerHale associates will be getting pay raises that are reflected in their February paychecks.
White & Case also shows a revenue increase after the jump.
- Clifford Chance, JPMorgan Chase, K&L Gates, Latham & Watkins, Morgan Stanley, Morning Docket, O.J. Simpson, White & Case
* There were 13 law firm mergers in the third quarter this year (not unusual). The largest number of combinations (5) were in the southeast. [The Birmingham News]
* O.J. Simpson is finally going to jail. He will be sentenced today in Nevada. This time, he stole back sports memorabilia from two people. Can you think of a more inelegant end to the Simpson saga? [The Associated Press]
* If you break the law in New York, at least you get free day care. Thanks to Judge Judith S. Kaye (New York State’s cheif judge), there are 34 children’s centers across the state in family, criminal, and civil courts. They provide a safe and happy place for children whose parents are involved in legal battles. [NYT]
* Singapore awarded Clifford Chance, White & Case, and Latham & Watkins licenses to practice law, as part of an attempt to compete with Hong Kong and other cities in China and the Middle East that have benefitted from having international law practices. [Bloomberg]
* Discover is mad at Morgan Stanley for secretly hanging-out with Visa and Mastercard behind Discover’s back. Sounds a lot like middle school, only in the real world, you can sue. [Bloomberg]
The first news started to leak this morning about some terrible news at a top firm:
White & Case [is] currently calling people and laying them off. I haven’t heard anything in regards to scope, but [I] hear that it’s big.
Now that White & Case has had time to tell all of the affected associates, they are ready to talk about how deeply the cuts went. A firm spokesperson tells us:
As part of its planning for 2009, White & Case LLP is reviewing its global operations against current and anticipated market conditions and expected client needs. While the Firm anticipates a strong 2008, with significant revenue growth across our globally diverse network, we are exercising prudent business judgment and taking several steps in advance of what is likely to be a significantly weakened global economy in 2009.
Among these actions, the Firm is reducing its global legal and nonlegal headcount by about 3% from current levels, or notifying employees that they are at risk of redundancy. These reductions are being driven in large part by a decline in attrition rates. Those who have been asked to leave will receive a competitive severance package.
“We are living in a time of unique economic challenges, and well-managed, successful businesses, including White & Case, must assess their operations in light of current market realities,” said White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier. “We believe this is a necessary step to adjust to the global economic downturn and to ensure a strong, long-term future for the Firm.”
Upon information and belief — the firm did not give us specific numbers — 70 associates nationwide were let go.
Read about some associate reaction after the jump.
We’ve reported that firms with “oversubscribed” summer classes are calling up 2Ls and encouraging them to not accept their 2009 summer associate offers. Unlike Akin Gump’s move, the tactic is a clever dodge around the NALP guidelines. As we understand it, firms are not committing these “cold offers” to email, instead using the telephone and avoiding a paper trail.
Career services departments are trying to cope with this new law firm tactic. Some Michigan students received this email from their career services dean:
Hi. It is my understanding that you have an offer from White and Case in New York. After talking to contacts in the New York legal market, it appears that White and Case may have over-hired for next summer and has a particularly large class. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to take another offer if you have one.
A spokesman for White & Case told the Law Blog: “We don’t know, honestly, why a law school career services office would send out these letters. No on has talked to us about the situation, and we’ve certainly not encouraged anyone to send out letters to students.”
Notice how White & Case did not say “we intend to honor every summer associate offer we’ve made.”
We have been consistently encouraging 2Ls to accept their offers sooner rather than later. Many career services departments have echoed that advice. White & Case joins Proskauer as one of the firm that has been “outed” as telling people that they should look elsewhere for offers, but we suspect that many firms are doing this.
After the jump, speculation about other firms.
- Arnold & Porter, Gibson Dunn, Shearman & Sterling, Vault 100 open threads - 2009, White & Case, WilmerHale
Reasons for reading ATL vary from person to person. But we have been told by some people that one of the greatest benefits of following the site is gaining familiarity with law firms and the differences between them.
In that vein, we shall continue on with our series of open threads on the Vault 100. (Sorry, haters! Though we are taking under advisement the idea that we list them in groups of ten from this point forward.)
Here are the next five, with prestige scores in parentheses:
16. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP (7.056)
17. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (7.055)
18. White & Case LLP (7.054)
19. Shearman & Sterling LLP (7.043)
20. Arnold & Porter LLP (6.905)
Of the five, White & Case has the most bizarre list of notable perks: “Gender- and reason-neutral flexible work arrangement program” (what does that mean?), “Cold, anonymous” (yippee?), and “Dinosaur” (the ferocious or the fossilized kind?).
Time to compare and contrast. We invite you to have at it.
Earlier: Vault 100 Open Threads- 2009