Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, like the rest of the nuptial media, is in a state of giddy anticipation over Chelsea Clinton’s upcoming wedding, scheduled for tomorrow in Rhinebeck, NY. We’ll be gobbling up all the juicy details as they leak out, just like the lucky guests will be devouring the vegan and gluten-free fare. Yum!
Chelsea’s big day is one of the social events of the season and is estimated to have up to a $2 million pricetag. This week’s featured weddings may not quite reach that stratospheric territory, but they do have lawyers out the wazoo (unfortunately, neither Chelsea nor her fiancé has a JD; her parents, of course, have two).
This thread covers the firms ranked #11 through #20. This is your chance to discuss these firms — their upsides and downsides and whether Vault got their rankings right. The Vault site has entries for each firm, similar to the Firm Snapshots in our own Career Center.
The “downers” category for most firms tends to be rather general: they treat me like a number, “long hours,” “unfun,” etc. But someone at #20-ranked White & Case had a very specific complaint about the firm’s lack of tech savvy: “The technology is very outdated. We still run Outlook 2003 and are not allowed to use iPhones. The blackberries we are given are over 2 years old and do not work well at times. The firm is not receptive to these issues.”
Little known White & Case perk: every new associate gets their own Commodore 64 for home use.
What are the reviews for the other firms in this bracket?
The heady days of the “mutual assured destruction” approach to associate compensation by Biglaw firms are behind us. But some associates would still like to see how they are doing in comparison to their colleagues at other firms. A tipster recently wrote us:
Can you do a post requesting commenters to post grade schedules a la greedyassociates back in the day showing salary per year. This would make comparisons easier. I’ll start:
1st year 145K
then it gets vague with a range from 240-265K.
Some of this information is available in the firm profiles on the Above the Law Career Center. But as good greedy Sheppard-ite must know, comparing salaries is much more complicated these days due to some firms instituting merit-based compensation models.
WilmerHale is one of those firms. Yesterday, Wilmer released its projected salary structure for 2011. We’ll see if it’s a merit-based market leader…
Jamie Gorelick is a Washington D.C. power lawyer. She’s a former Deputy Attorney General, former general counsel to the Defense Department, and current partner at WilmerHale, where she chairs the national security and public policy practice groups. She’s had — and continues to have — an amazing career.
Former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick will head the legal team for British oil giant BP PLC as it prepares to respond to legal challenges related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Greenwire reported Wednesday.
“We have been retained to help the company respond to the numerous congressional inquiries that are underway,” Gorelick, now of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, said in an e-mail to Greenwire. “We have not been retained to advocate for any position.”
For the past five years, Yale Law School has produced a list of the top “family friendly” law firms. And for the past five years, men have acted like “family” issues are something only women need to worry about.
Maybe that’s true if you are a committed bachelor who never intends to procreate or know the love of a real woman. Maybe that’s true if you subscribe to some kind of 1950′s television ideal where the man works and the woman is exclusively a stay-at-home mom. Mind the pool boy, fellas.
But the majority of men will one day marry and spawn. In many cases, they’ll marry a woman of equal career ambitions. At that point, being able to take some paternity leave might be very important. Maybe their wife won’t even be a lawyer, and thus make more money than her husband (have you seen what legal salaries are like these days). Most likely we will see more and more male primary care givers, and the firms will have to adjust. We’ve heard a lot about the “mommy track,” in our professional lifetimes one expects the “daddy track” to become just as important.
So which firms are already ahead of the family friendly curve?
* Wal-mart’s going to have a hard time keeping the price of this one down. The Ninth Circuit grants class action status to gender discrimination lawsuit against Wal-mart, with plaintiffs estimated to number two million women. [New York Times]
Back in December, WilmerHale announced that it was moving away from lockstep associate compensation. The plan will be phased in through 2012, but at the time of the announcement, WilmerHale gave precious little information about how the firm would determine which associates were meritorious and deserving of advancement. At the time, I wrote:
Many lawyers were liberal arts majors in college, so they should be comfortable with the array of soft and nebulous factors that will now determine how much they get paid.
WilmerHale supporters didn’t like that line too much. They told me that I should give the firm time. They told me that the firm would eventually come up with objective indicators of merit, so that associates wouldn’t feel that their pay was tied to soft factors and office politics.
In fact, word on the street was that WilmerHale was working with consultants to come up with the merit factors crucial to their anti-lockstep plans.
Well, a tipster reports that WilmerHale has given associates some more guidance on the new merit-based factors — and, well, you’re going to want to check these out for yourself…
This week brought good news from WilmerHale. The firm’s profits per partner climbed by approximately 7 percent last year, from $1.08 million in 2008 to $1.16 million in 2009, according to the National Law Journal.
The increase in PPP was driven, in part, by a dip in partner headcount (from about 330 in 2008 to 318 in 2009). Sometimes a decline in the number of partners is a bad thing, but not for WilmerHale. As co-managing partner William Perlstein explained to the NLJ, it was due in part to “at least a dozen” partners being recruited away by the Obama administration — a testament to the talents and connectedness of Wilmer lawyers.
WilmerHale has a long and distinguished history of sending its lawyers to top government jobs and then taking them back afterward, so the firm’s clients can benefit from expertise and connections developed while in the public sector. The firm boasts such all-stars as former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick and former Solicitor General Seth Waxman, who served in the Clinton Administration.
Due in large part to folks like Gorelick and Waxman, WilmerHale has long been recognized as a liberal legal powerhouse. This reputation was further burnished when numerous Wilmer lawyers took prominent positions in the White House Counsel’s office and the Department of Justice last January, after Barack Obama took office.
Despite its reputation as a left-leaning law firm, WilmerHale has also been assembling an impressive team of conservative legal talent, including notable alums of the Bush Administration. Some of these hires are quite recent. They include Carl Nichols, who joined the firm earlier this month after serving in high-ranking Justice Department positions, and Dan Gallagher, a former aide to Chris Cox at the SEC.
That’s right — conservative (or libertarian) lawyers, located squarely to the right of center, many of them card-carrying members of the Federalist Society and/or the Republican Party. At WilmerHale. We kid you not.
The Day That Lockstep Died
(to the tune of “American Pie”)
My, my, pushin’ lockstep aside,
They say merit — do they mean it? ‘Cause my raise has run dry.
But top-tier firms are not inclined to comply:
Sayin’, we’re not sure if this s**t will fly; we’re not sure if this s**t will fly.
What started out as a trickle is turning into a flood. Orrick and DLA Piper have already announced new associate compensation models for 2010 — and now WimerHale wants in on the action. The firm announced the change in a memo to all of its associates:
The Firm has decided to transition to a merit-based compensation program for associates and counsel in our U.S. offices. This afternoon we will hold local office meetings to discuss the details with you followed by an open forum for questions. Shortly you will receive a calendar invitation for this meeting, but first we wanted to provide you with background on the plan, the timing, and our thought process.
Before we lay out the details of the new model, it is important to recognize that this step is one that falls within a much larger framework. As you have heard us say before, whether at the State of the Firm address or in smaller group settings, the traditional structure and method of doing business for law firms is changing and needs to change.
The plan will be phased in through 2012 — but why wait until 2012 to address labor costs, when you can freeze associates’ salaries for 2010? Today’s WilmerHale announcement includes the news that the firm will be freezing associate salaries (except for second-year associates, who will be bumped up to $165K).
Additional details on the new compensation scheme and the full memo, after the jump.
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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