JordanFurlong + laterals   299

Do Laterals Create or Destroy Value? - Adam Smith, Esq.
Finally, back to integration:  It begins at the very start of your talks with the potential target firm or lateral hires.  And you will need to spend real money on it.  According to the study, over 90% of the acquisitions that added value spent 6% or more of the deal value on integration, while 93% of the value-destroying deals spent less.  (I know it may be hard to draw a comparison to “6% of what, exactly?” but notionally think of it as real money.  A $100-million acquisition, which probably happens across the national economy several times a week, would imply >$6-million spent on integration.)

Finally, do not
laterals  partners  strategy 
8 weeks ago by JordanFurlong
The pay-hours tradeoff in the London market | Legal Evolution (083)
Re Figure 2, notice how virtually all the orange data points (Leading Wall Street / Private Equity firms) are well above market.  Indeed, their appearance is the main reason why all but one of the green data points (Magic Circle firms) are so far below market.  Half a generation ago, the Magic Circle firms set the market. The entry of the U.S. firms into London changed that.
laterals  compensation  purpose  culture 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
Asia's Lateral Market: More Partners from U.S.-based Firms Jump to Chinese Firms; Fewer Lawyers Moving to U.S. Firms | The American Lawyer
And Fangda is only one of several elite Chinese firms that are on a recruitment tear that targets senior lawyers from global firms. Throughout 2018, nine Chinese law firms hired 22 partners who most recently practiced at global firms, according to an analysis conducted by’s  The Asian Lawyer of 228 partner-level hires recorded across Asia during the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2018.
The 22 partners more than tripled the seven moves from international firms to Chinese firms recorded in a 14-month period ended February 2016. And half of the 22 lawyers had already made partner before moving to Chinese firms, whereas in 2015-16, all seven lawyers made the jump to partner by moving from an international firm to a Chinese firm.

The Chinese firms making most of these hires—Fangda, Han Kun Law Offices, Jingtian & Gongcheng and Commerce & Finance (Tongshang)—already have sound reputations in the market and are financially capable of making more ambitious hires. Firms such as Fangda and Haiwen & Partners have traditionally hired lawyers with global firm experience and offer a shorter partnership track. But they are now willing to invest in more senior hires as they grow to compete with global players for more premium work.

Part of that expansion is to develop a viable practice in Hong Kong. Last year, 13 out of the 22 partners Chinese firms recruited from international firms were in Hong Kong. That compares to only two in 2015, both hired by Zhong Lun Law Firm, which at the time was one of the few mainland firms with a sizable Hong Kong office. In 2018, Han Kun, Jingtian and Tongshang, which didn’t have or had just started their Hong Kong offering three years earlier, were among the most active recruiters in Hong Kong as Chinese firms expanded in the city.

Many of these hires have been fueled by a push by Chinese firms for a more prominent role in Hong Kong listings work. Several of last year’s most high-profile moves, such as Shearman & Sterling Asia capital markets head Colin Law’s departure for Fangda, and Mayer Brown Hong Kong senior partner Elaine Lo’s jump to Jingtian & Gongcheng, fell into that category.
china  laterals  global 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
Junior Lawyers Are Going Extinct And Nobody Knows What To Do About It | Above the Law
Professor John Flood of Griffith University in Queensland, Australia also sees this danger. In a new academic paper titled, “Legal Professionals of the Future: Their Ethos, Role and Skills,” he writes:

The effect of automation here could be dramatic in that if junior associates were to be gradually culled from firms, the entire reproduction of the legal profession could be jeopardised since law firms are structured around associates being promoted to partnership…

Exactly. Sooner rather than later, firms are going to slow their junior hiring and focus on a narrower range of candidates. Unfortunately, the path to building a great lawyer is a pyramid scheme and it’s harder to guarantee good results when there are less bodies in the system getting tested for their professional acumen.

Moreover, screwing up the most basic tasks is a critical part of becoming a well-seasoned attorney. What happens when we lose those tasks to throw at a first-year? What replaces that hands-on education?

Legal Cheek cites a Law Society study that estimates:

Over the longer term, the number of jobs in the legal services sector will be increasingly affected by automation of legal services functions. This could mean that by 2038 total employment in the sector could be 20% less than it would otherwise have been, with a loss of 78,000 jobs — equal to 67,000 full-time equivalent jobs — compared to if productivity growth continued at its current rate.

Gloom and doom over unemployment is usually misplaced. Jobs tend to just get shifted — more firm lawyers become freelance attorneys or join non-traditional legal services companies, for example. But if the training regime for young lawyers isn’t addressed, the population of competent attorneys to fill these new gigs will simply dry up.

Firms and law schools need to start taking this challenge seriously because life comes at you fast, and the profession could face its existential crisis sooner than folks realize.
firms  laterals  training  competence  schools 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
With Risks Growing, Lateral Hiring Takes a Leap of Faith | The American Lawyer
As it has in years past, the lateral hiring market among the nation’s largest law firms remained robust in 2018. With private equity and corporate practices in the highest demand, some firms have been busy recruiting top legal talent with top paychecks to match.
But as law firms brace for the impending economic downturn, will the lateral strategies they implemented in 2018 lead them down a rabbit hole in the next year that will leave them wishing they’d chosen a different path?

Despite a dip from 2017, lateral activity was still high last year. ALM Intelligence’s Legal Compass, which tracks lateral moves, counted 2,754 partner moves among firms in the Am Law 200 from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018. This marked a drop of about 3.5 percent from the previous 12 months, during which there were 2,849 moves. Last year’s report saw a 2.25 percent decline.
Even with the small drop, legal recruiters and consultants contend that the lateral market was as strong as ever. Law firms stared down the barrel of what many economists predict is an inevitable recession in the next few years and kept on hiring.
recession  laterals  partners 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
The Big Three Annual Reports: Citi/Hildebrandt - Adam Smith, Esq.
In other words:

The “rate growth” group outpaced everyone else by over two percentage points/year over the entire seven year period and still grew demand faster than everyone else; clients were evidently not buying from these firms based on price.
Meanwhile, the “demand growth” crowd beat the daylights out of everyone else in, what, demand (up over 4 percentage points/year for the entire period) while essentially meeting the market dead on in terms of rate growth. They were not “buying” market share with discounts.
In Citi’s apt summary of these findings (emphasis mine):

In our view, brand strength and product focus are among the most highly rewarded traits of a law firm in today’s market. In recent years, much of the demand growth has come from high value work—work that is typically undertaken by firms who enjoy a strong brand, and can command high rates. Firms who have established themselves as the go-to practice in a market—whether that be by industry, practice or region—have been able to increase demand for their services while also charging higher rates.
firms  partners  laterals 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Millennials in Big Law: Resistance Is Futile | The American Lawyer
In her seminal series of articles on millennials in Big Law, Lizzy McLellan has noted that “millennials make up the largest generational group among lawyers at large and midsize firms” and that “the numbers starkly illustrate the reality facing law firm leaders: Millennials will soon take over the legal profession in sheer numbers—and soon enough they’ll dominate leadership positions and partnerships, too.”

Like the Boomers, millennials have been vilified by the generations preceding them. Millennials are often described as “self-centered, needy and entitled with unrealistic work expectations,” Jada A. Graves wrote in U.S. News & World Report, in June 2012, and perception has changed little in the ensuing six years. However, “this unsavory list of descriptors is in sharp contrast with how this generation views themselves. … They don’t see themselves as entitled, they see themselves as very hardworking, dedicated and loyal,” she wrote. Like Graves, we believe millennials are no different than their predecessors, and what they really suffer from is a classic communication gap between generations. Moreover, given their unfettered access to information via the internet, millennials are arguably the most well-informed generation. They don’t think they’re lazy—just misunderstood—and they don’t seem to care what their elders think.

The vast majority of millennials are still associates whose main responsibilities are billing hours rather than business development, and the data suggests that the traditional system of leverage, with partners landing major clients and associates putting in the hours to service them, continues to produce favorable financial results. According to McLellan, 61 percent of attorneys at the top 10 law firms by profits per equity partner are millennials, and that percentage decreases as the profitability of firms decreases. However, with the oldest millennials now entering their mid-30s and nearly a decade in practice, firms are looking to elevate them into the partnership vacancies left by the significant number of Boomer retirements expected in the coming years. Given millennials’ priorities (which differ significantly from their predecessors) and the significant post-recession shifts in the way law is practiced, it seems obvious that Big Law will need to get creative in how to accommodate, retain and elevate its largest and arguably most leverageable group of attorneys.
millennials  demographics  generations  firms  laterals  partners 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Cleary Launches New Feedback App for Associates | Legaltech News
As law firms work to develop new systems to coach and mentor their junior talent, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has launched an app that puts its associates in the driver’s seat and allows them to push for feedback when they want it.
ClearyLoop is a tech-based platform that allows associates to request an informal feedback session with senior lawyers from an app located on their desk site. The app, which was launched earlier this month in its New York office, then blocks out time for these sessions on the lawyers’ respective calendars.

The idea for ClearyLoop, which will be launched on a wider scale across the firm in 2019, was actually first developed by a team of associates earlier this year as a part of a hackathon sponsored by the firm.
“[We wanted] to get groups of associates to think about solving a problem or something that we all wanted to see improvement on at the firm,” said litigation partner Carmine Boccuzzi Jr., who chairs the firm’s associate committee.

“And we focused on the issue [of] how to improve the delive
laterals  retention  mentoring  innovation 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Eversheds rolls out app to capture internal innovation ideas - Legal Futures
A global law firm has implemented a web-based crowdsourcing app to harness innovative ideas from its thousands of employees worldwide.

IdeaDrop, an off-the-shelf product used by other large companies, was adapted by Eversheds Sutherland, which has 66 offices in 32 countries. It has been piloted and since last week is being rolled out among the legal practice’s 5,000 staff. It has already accumulated over 100 suggestions.

Similar to social media platforms, the app allows users to ‘drop’ an idea, which other users can comment on, share, like and rate.

Users can also ‘drop’ a challenge, using the app as a crowdsourcing platform in an effort to find solutions to particular problems. The firm monitors the online results and the intention is that the best ideas will be captured and put into effect.

Lee Ranson, Eversheds’ co-chief executive and former managing partner, said: “As our scale and reach grows we want to continue to drive innovation across the business globally, harnessing the creativity of our people to help deliver our strategy.

“The beauty of IdeaDrop is its simplicity and inclusivity – it allows everyone to be a part of making change happen, regardless of their role or geographical location.”

He told Legal Futures that the platform had been piloted among around 500 people in the firm’s partner group from July 2018, following a conference in New York.
innovation  crowdfunding  firms  laterals  r&d 
november 2018 by JordanFurlong
The Battle For Talent Is Disrupting The Business Of Law | The American Lawyer
When partners move (and big-money partners, in particular), they may give any number of reasons as to why, but when push comes to shove, the vast majority move for one or more of three reasons: (i) more money, (ii) and/or to stop carrying unproductive partners (this is a “social” aspect, is generally highly underrated by courting firms in the way of motivation, and goes hand in hand with making more money) and/or (iii) anxiety surrounding their firm’s strategy and general durability. Let’s look at each:

Aggressive payouts: When you are already making $5M and really like your firm, it is one thing to refute the allure of another $1M, but another $5-6M? That’s a different animal altogether. This may sound, well, odd, to the average person – “another $1M isn’t enough to jar someone loose?” – but in many-to-most instances at the higher levels, no, it is not. Generally speaking, the highest producers are not actually driven by money, which has helped them get to their current station in the first place. They work a lot because they like it; they are (almost exclusively) fiscally responsible; they focus on skill/knowledge/personal development, client service and solving practical problems; and their current financial success is a happy byproduct, not the driver, of their decisions. But, we all have our price, do we not? The current climate is proving this and it is happening more and more.

“Equality” issues: With the roots of all law firms hailing from a partnership culture – i.e., one of equality, contribution and having the same amount of “skin” in the game – it is generally very difficult for firms to openly discuss, much less act upon, what is effectively (and sometimes blatantly) unequal contributions to the firm’s bottom line. Further, with (a) the ease of information flow, (b) the (almost uniform) presence of transparent compensation systems, and (c) the relatively recent spike in huge lateral paydays, it is becoming harder for major rainmakers to feel comfortable being paid “in-and-around,” or in some cases equal to, their lesser-contributing partners.

Durability: The movement of big names, firms’ inability to backfill those names with commensurate finances and reputational capital, and the resulting optics have caused significant anxiety amongst partners in many firms, including those that once were considered bulletproof.
laterals  firms  talent  partners 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
Four charts to better understand the Class of 2017 (060) | Legal Evolution
One of the NALP findings latched onto by the legal press was the increase in hiring among 500+ lawyer firms — up 368 jobs, or 8.6% from the prior year.  However, the data in Chart 4 suggest that BigLaw is unlikely to power a recovery for law schools.  Although the number of lawyers working in 500+ lawyer firms has increased significantly over the last 11 years (+36%), associates appear to be waning in importance. We see this through the shrinking proportion new-hires within large law firms.  Why is this happening?

A partial answer is that firms are finding it harder to sustain organic growth. See, e.g., Georgetown Law, “2018 Report on the State of the Legal Market” at 14 (“Since 2008, the overall growth trend for demand for law firm services has (with certain spikes and dips) been essentially flat to negative in every year.”); MacEwen, “It’s [not] The Economy. Stupid,” Adam Smith Esq., Aug. 5, 2018 (showing large drop-off in annual revenue growth after 2008). Because many lawyers and firm managers associate size with safety, growth through mergers and lateral partner hiring has become a dominant strategy.  The idea is to focus on groups of lawyers who can pay their own way in the current fiscal year.

One of the primary consequences of this strategy is that firms are relying less on associates and more on staff attorneys, counsel, and non-equity partners. See Henderson & Parker, “The Diamond Law Firm: A New Model or the Pyramid Unraveling?,” Lawyer Metrics Industry Report No. 1 (2013). First-year associates require higher salaries; more training and supervision; engender greater client pushback; and often leave before the firm recovers recruitment costs. Thus, large firms are finding ways to get by with fewer of them.
firms  laterals  partners  admisison  schools 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
Associate Starting Salaries: The Week the Firewall Failed? | The American Lawyer
There’d be a certain justice in these increases if the only firms damaged were those who made the precipitous moves. Alas, this is unlikely to be the case. Rather, firms of comparable stature now come under increased pressure to self-harm also. Where will it stop? Reed Smith, ranked 81st by PPP among the Am Law 200, have laid down a new Greenberg-like marker by suggesting they are disinclined to move citing ‘interests of clients’. It’s 40 firms lower in PPP rank than where the firewall could have been set, but hopefully one will emerge.

Middle Law has a set of challenges distinct from those of the high-profit elite. Facing these challenges would be helped by uncoupling the cost structure of the two segments. The opportunity was there to do it. It may well have been blown. There have probably been comparable moves in other industries, but they don’t flood to mind.
laterals  compensation  firms 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Alternative Legal Service Providers: Changing buyer perception | Answers On
Who are the ALSPs?
This is still a developing, fragmented market. We’ve identified five main types of providers and an estimated market size in the table below. In addition to the legal Current use cases Areas of potential growth Law firm Corporation process outsourcing companies and e-discovery service and document review service providers that form the largest segment of the market, we see insourcing and staffing companies and the Big Four accounting and audit firms as large parts of the market. Smaller shares of the total $8.4 billion market are accounted for by law firm-owned affiliates and an emerging set of Managed Legal Service providers.
productivity  laterals  competition 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Forum Magazine: Dead Weight and “Disappeared Revenue” – The Legal Industry’s Overcapacity Problem
“You have all these data points which reinforce each other – there are fewer hours-per-lawyer billed than years ago, the growth in lawyer head count is outpacing growth in demand – and you start to see this overcapacity problem for what it is,” says Bruce MacEwen, publisher of Adam Smith, Esq. and a highly regarded legal industry consultant. “And with 110,000 lawyers populating the Am Law 200 firms, that’s about $8.2 billion in essentially disappeared revenue each year.”

How We Got Here
If you look at the chart that shows the balance between lawyer growth, demand growth and productivity over the past several years, you can see the path that the legal industry has been on. Since 2012, as the chart shows, demand growth, though often fluctuating moderately and dipping often into negative territory, stayed pretty reliably in the range between -1% and +1% growth per quarter.

Lawyer growth, on the other hand, remained steady, though moving down from 2% quarterly growth to the 1% range in recent quarters. Still, that means even at the slower pace, the hiring continues even if the client business isn’t there to meet it – which is why productivity, the end result of the interplay of these two factors, has been on a general downward trend over the last several years and in fact, hit historic lows in Q4 2017.
productivity  laterals  competition 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Associate Salary Increases: Don’t Follow Milbank’s Lead |
There is another reason most law firms should resist following Milbank’s lead. The tradition of matching salaries is a relic from a different, simpler, time in the legal industry. Announcing across the board salary increases and automatically matching Cravath’s or Milbank’s pay scales makes no sense in today’s legal market. The current system only benefits the Cravath’s and Milbanks of the world. Most law firms should be actively trying to undermine this system.

To that end, here is a summary of the advice this analyst is giving law firm leaders:

Follow if You Must

Some law firms will have to follow Milbank’s lead. If your firm is one of those few, do so quickly.

Milbank’s announcement was, for all intents and purposes, a branding initiative. The firm is signaling to the market that they are willing to pay top dollar for the best talent. In doing so, they have, essentially, labeled themselves as the home of the best talent in the legal market. The firms that compete with Milbank for talent should not cede that ground to them. They should match, or even surpass, Milbank’s new pay scale. It would be savvy for Cravath, for example, to one up Milbank and announce a $20,000 increase. Such a move would allow Cravath to retain their position as the ultimate arbiter of associate pay. It would also help further differentiate themselves from the firms which are not willing to follow.

Most Firms Should Not Follow
laterals  compensation  admission 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Clients have 2 big sources of insomnia. Law firms only cause 1. — BTI Consulting Group
Almost 30% of corporate counsel are unnerved because of the following experiences with their primary law firms:

Partner turnover—lateral movement is making clients less confident in their firm’s ability to deliver without gaps and turnover. Clients are also concerned about the loss of institutional memory and the additional labor and elapsed time required to bring a new partner up to speed.
Partner retirements—clients know when key partners at their primary law firms are nearing retirement—but clients believe their firms just passively react to the departures and let things take their course. These clients believe there is no formal plan or thought as to how their matters will be managed going forward. This has the same negative impact as partner turnover.
Loss of associates—just as clients are getting to know associates working on their cases, these associates seem to disappear. Clients are fully aware of the high associate turnover rate—but believe their firms will be figuring out how to retain their best associates—which, of course, is any associate your client really likes.
No support—clients are discovering their law firms just want to do the work. These firms have no apparent interest in helping their client think through new issues, initiate and carry on conversations to help clients sort out their thoughts, and engage at a level beyond the scope of work. Clients believe this type of dialogue is not only helpful but also crucial to understanding client goals and sensitivities.
No team—many attorneys are doing the work, and clients don’t see 1 single attorney as being in charge or accountable. Clients perceive the finger pointing among partners when things don’t go according to plan as evasiveness.
Inconsistency—clients experience superstars, mediocrity, and embarrassments all from the same firm. These corporate counsel openly worry the performance will sink to the lowest level delivered.
clients  quality  partners  laterals  strategy  firms 
may 2018 by JordanFurlong
Parsing the Data as Susskind Warns of ‘The End of Leverage’ | The American Lawyer
Nicholas Bruch, a senior analyst at ALM Intelligence, said he does not predict an “end” of leverage, but rather that the high leverage model would be reduced to a smaller amount of firms and practice areas. As clients demand more efficient services and technology makes more types of legal work routine, Bruch said determining the composition of a law firm will become more complicated.

“There is a tendency to see these things as either dead or alive,” Bruch said. “The truth is usually somewhere in between. But we’re definitely seeing the breakdown of this model.”

One law firm that has long eschewed a high leverage model is Honigman. The firm’s 2005 leverage was 1.67, and that number has since fallen to 0.97 last year, making it among the lowest-levered firms in the Am Law Second Hundred.

Foltyn, Honigman’s leader, said he has seen changes in his firm’s staffing model across the spectrum. Work that used to be done by second-year associates, for example, is often now done by staff attorneys who aren’t on the typical partner track. That change goes “all the way up the chain,” said Foltyn, with the goal today being to have “the right person doing each task.”

“Lots of what the 15- or 20-year person does can be done by an eight-year person, and a lot of what the eight-year person does can be one by a four- or five-year person,” Foltyn said.

Foltyn noted that Honigman can deliver a “better, less-expensive product” at a similar margin for the firm when matters are “proportionately leveraged.”

“In that sense, I think leverage is increasing but in a nontraditional way,” Foltyn said. “It’s not the typical triangle model of the law firm where a bunch of associates are working for a few partners. It’s a more complicated leverage model.”

leverage  partners  laterals 
october 2017 by JordanFurlong
Prism Legal Document Assembly in the Real World (Live #ArkKM) - Prism Legal
Faster, better, cheaper, smarter, happier > the key drivers.

When billing by the hour, faster drafting makes a practice more competitive. One firm cites big drop in write-offs – and cost reduction – by using D/A.

Faster is great, but must also deliver high value. One firm says using D/A right way takes time from 40 hours to 20 minutes.

D/A ensures higher consistency than humans can.

Re-allocate lawyer time from mechanical drafting to higher value, critical thinking.

Practice analytics, for example, capture party data systematically

Embed training in the document to assist new lawyers.

Improve lawyer satisfaction by reducing drudge work.

Collaborate more effectively with clients.

Benefit form vendor-provided, ready-to-go templates.


Leadership buy-in: Management may be skeptical that it’s possible to automate complex documents. One way to overcome: do a proof a concept.

Form development: Can be hard and time consuming. Some practices have forms that are not so good, they may blame D/A software or KM for fact that it’s hard to automate form – when the form itself is bad. Another example: one practice realized, from doing PoC, that it had to change it forms. Note that some providers, not just D/A ones, provide forms.

Billable hour reductions: Management may not like reduction in hours = “Associate Killing Technology”.

Commoditization fears

Cost concenrs

Labor / staffing

Training opportunities: More senior lawyers say “I learned by spending hours or weeks going through a form – others should do so”. Panelists believe that’s not necessary. (RF: I agree with panel)


Is It the Right Solution?

Volume of use must be high enough to justify investment in building an automated form.

If turn aound time is key, then yes.

If consistency is critical, then yes.

If firm or practice faces price pressure, yes.

If keeping associates is a goal, yes.

If above answers are no, you may have to wait.
docs  it  firms  process  laterals 
october 2017 by JordanFurlong
Lexpert ® | Casual or Committed?
Blessing duly received, Prefix Legal LLP had to set up accounting, financial management, marketing and its own web page. The new subsidiary was officially unveiled this spring, about 18 months after that first lunch, with Peter Willis as its Chief Operating Officer. Will Prefix be looking at acquiring other types of legal outsourcing companies or technology in areas such as e-discovery, document management, contract management or due diligence? “No, we expect the growth from this point forward to happen organically,” Willis says, “but if something came our way that made sense, we wouldn’t rule it out.”

That’s kind of the problem. As firms like McMillan look at ways to bring down costs and grow revenue, they’re finding outsourcers that specialize in one thing and can offer a certain type of work at low cost and high quality. The question becomes not so much whether to use them and their platforms, but how.

Dating, going steady, marriage — or staying single and using the same tools to build from the ground up?

AT THE START OF THIS YEAR, there was something of a small revolution at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, and it speaks volumes about where the legal market is headed when it comes to outsourcers. The firm acquired Wortzmans, a respected firm with about 100 contract lawyers that specializes in litigation support and data governance. Unlike Prefix Legal and LexLocom, these firms aren’t going steady; this is a marriage. Wortzmans will remain in its existing office and retain its own email and document servers, but founder Susan Wortzman is now an equity partner at McCarthy. In Toronto, McCarthy’s e-discovery people moved over to the Wortzmans office at the start of the year.

Here’s where the revolution part comes in. While Wortzmans, now a division of McCarthy Tétrault, is maintaining its brand, it “will absolutely work with and continue taking mandates from other law firms and working with clients directly,” says Matthew Peters, McCarthy’s national innovation leader and a technology partner. Other law firms have been very receptive to the arrangement, he adds.
offshoring  laterals  admission  training  flex  temp 
july 2017 by JordanFurlong
Is Deutsche Bank’s Refusal to Pay Junior Lawyers Misguided? | Big Law Business
General counsels have long bemoaned paying for work performed by first-year associates at law firms. But what happens if a company doesn’t pay for those lawyers altogether? The result will likely have some unwelcome consequences, said one lawyer.

“In my view, it creates some disincentives,” said Brackett Denniston, the lawyer who ran General Electric’s law department for 11 years before retiring in 2015.

“If training first-year associates by giving them work is uncompensated, firms will try to make it up in other rates. Getting good associates is vital to firm performance, so it’s not like you can make costs go away… At bottom, this is a fundamental problem with the hourly rate — and better pricing is the way to address it.”

Steve Reich, general counsel of Deutsche Bank, declined to comment through a bank spokesman.

It’s not the first time that an in-house corporate law department has refused to pay for junior legal talent. A 2011 survey by the Associate of Corporate Counsel, as noted by Legal Week, found that more than 20 percent of 366 in-house law departments had at one point refused to pay for the work of first- or second-year associates
clients  firms  pricing  laterals 
march 2017 by JordanFurlong
The lucrative days of document review are over | Precedent
When I speak with Ben Alarie, a law professor at the University of Toronto, he offers a bleak analogy. “Document and contract reviewers are like Uber drivers,” he says. “With Uber investing in self-driving cars, those drivers are looking at a short career. The same thing is probably true of lawyers who review documents. It will only get easier to automate large parts of their work, so it’s hard to see how those jobs are sustainable.”

Over at Blakes, Glover concedes that, going forward, there will be fewer partner-track associates at big firms. But she’s an optimist at heart. She thinks that as law firms become more efficient, they can generate more business. And she predicts that the ongoing upheaval in Big Law will spawn new types of legal jobs that no one can foresee. “Look, I’m a partner at a big downtown law firm and I’m doing something I never would have expected,” she says. “It’s true that the old business model doesn’t work. So we have to change. And change scares people. But it also creates opportunities. To me, that’s really exciting.”

This story is from our Spring 2017 issue.




Illustrations by Sébastien Thibault

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robolawyers  laterals  it  firms  process  innovation 
march 2017 by JordanFurlong
Majority of lateral lawyer hires don't meet revenue expectations, survey says
The survey by ALM Intelligence found that 30 percent of lawyers who are lateral hires deliver less than half their expected book of business in the first year, (sub. req.) reports. And 21 percent of lateral hires deliver between half and three-quarters of their expected book of business.
january 2017 by JordanFurlong
Slaughters seeks to maintain no billable hours culture with associate pay revamp |
The Magic Circle firm reiterated a commitment not to pay on the basis of performance and maintain its no billable hours culture following an employee survey.

The firm will keep its associate lockstep relatively pure, similar to the flat structure at partnership level, but unlike a number of US competitor firms which run 'eat what you kill' pay systems rewarding performance.

The changes to the firm's associate lockstep scale will increase pay for newly-qualified lawyers from £71,500 to £78,000, while 1PQE pay will increase from £79,000 to £87,000, 2PQE pay will increase from £90,250 to £98,500 and 3PQE from £99,750 to £108,000.

The increases see pay boosted by between 9% and 10.8% for some associates. Last years' pay changes at the firm were more muted with increases of between 2% and 5%. Trainee pay will remain unchanged at £43,000 for first year trainees and £48,000 to second year trainees.

The associate bonus range will remain between 9% and 16% in line with a new bonus structure brought in at the firm in 2015.

The remuneration changes will also see associates gain the option to work one day a week from home from January 2017 as well as 30 days' annual holiday, while 3PQE associates will be offered a four week paid sabbatical.

Slaughter and May senior partner Steve Cooke (pictured) said: 'There is a strong collective belief in our no billable hours targets culture and indeed 95% of associates believe that billable hours targets would have a detrimental effect on the firm's culture. This clearly differentiates us from our competitors – in a positive way. Further, the overwhelming message from our associates and trainees is that they do not want to see pay differentiated on the basis of performance.'
compensation  training  laterals  culture 
december 2016 by JordanFurlong
Law Firms Struggle With Lateral Partner Due Diligence, Report Finds | The American Lawyer
An ALI survey found that 96 percent of respondents consider hiring lateral lawyers with a client following "very important" or "moderately important" to their revenue growth strategies. But 30 percent of laterals deliver less than half their expected book of business in their first year at the new firm. Another 21 percent deliver only half to three-quarters.
"All firms will fail at lateral hiring at some point," said Steve Kovalan, the author of the ALI report. "Unfortunately, these are extremely costly failures, impacting firm finances, cultural stability, brand and client relationships."
Many firms have no formal vetting process at all for lateral candidates, Kovalan said. Those that do often aren't rigorous enough about collecting business development plans and other information.
Most firms don't fail at lateral hiring all the time, Kovalan added. They get inconsistent results because they put their trust in gut instinct or personal relationships instead of doing due diligence.
The report recommends a three-part process for lateral hiring: develop a candidate profile, collect candidate data and then use a scorecard.
laterals  partners  firms 
december 2016 by JordanFurlong
The Lateral Unicorn - Recruiting a Fantasy
When clients both resist rate increases and demand efficiency (i.e., fewer hours), all that’s left is seemingly to add timekeepers if the firm is expected to grow. So law firm leaders breathlessly pursue a clever strategy of recruiting laterals whose books of business will take the firm to new levels of performance.

The challenge also lies in the wish list of characteristics that the target rainmaker must possess. It’s a glorious dream filled with rainbows and unicorns:
november 2016 by JordanFurlong
Where Are All the Female Partners? The Effect of the Lateral Hiring Process on Gender Diversity |
Ironically, ALM Intelligence analysis indicates that focusing on portability of book of business has been unsuccessful for most firms. In last year’s ALM Intelligence report on lateral partner hiring, 30% of firms reported that lateral hires brought in less than 50% of the anticipated book of business after one year.

So the status quo fails on both practical and aspirational grounds. Law firms remain focused on lateral hiring processes that do not work — in fact, last year’s lateral hiring report noted that more than 50% of lateral hires do not even reach the break-even point — and the lateral hiring process as it is currently implemented contributes to the lack of gender parity in Big Law.
laterals  women  compensation 
october 2016 by JordanFurlong
Faking it – the great unmentionable of orchestral playing - The Strad
Faking, smudging, flying, putting the orchestral pedal down – there are so many ways to describe not being able to nail every last note. Yet it is, to some degree, the great unmentionable of orchestral playing, as witnessed by the fact that every musician I interviewed preferred not to be quoted by name. Perhaps that’s because we’re professionals. We’re supposed to be able to play anything, at the switching on of a little red light. Yet I can still remember these heartening words from the principal cellist of a major orchestra about the ‘Storm’ from Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony: ‘How do I play it? I don’t play it; I fake it. I never even met anybody who could play it!’
training  laterals  admission 
september 2016 by JordanFurlong
Reducing the ranks: CC to cut trainee intake by a fifth by 2018 |
is to cut down its UK trainee intake for 2018 by 20%, reducing numbers from around 100 trainees each year to 80.

The Magic Circle firm's intake is a significant drop on the 136 the firm took on in 2010. Retention figures at the firm have also dropped sharply, with the firm keeping on 40 of its September 2016 cohort, or 82% compared to 96% in 2015. The firm had 49 trainees for the intake, down from 74 in its autumn 2010 intake.

In March the firm also saw a major drop in spring retention figures, retaining only 80% of its cohort compared to 91% in 2015.

Other Magic Circle firms have also pulled back on the size of their trainee cohorts, with just 42 qualifiers at Allen & Overy in 2016, down from 66 in spring 2010.

While numbers are down at the Magic Circle firm, CC has revamped its remuneration for newly qualified lawyers. In May, the firm increased its pay bands for 2016/17 to see a rise, including bonuses, to £85,000 compared to £70,000 before bonuses in 2015.
articling  admission  laterals  jobs 
september 2016 by JordanFurlong
Paralegals Edging Out First-Years as Firms Face Profit Squeeze | The Legal Intelligencer
More firm leaders are looking to nonlawyer staff members, such as paralegals, to take over duties that may have once fallen on first-year associates, industry observers said. It has allowed them to lower the costs for clients, and in many cases increase the firm's profit margin.
But as those tasks fall on other professionals, firms will likely hire fewer new lawyers to fill the traditional role of a first-year associate.
"They realize that their profitability is driven in significant part by lowering what it costs them to deliver the legal services," Kent Zimmermann of the Zeughauser Group said. "And that's causing many firms to look at how they staff matters."
According to Altman Weil's 2016 Law Firms in Transition report, more than 70 percent of firm leaders are changing or considering changing their strategic approach to staffing. And nearly 38 percent of them expect to shift work from lawyers to paraprofessional staff. Among firms with more than 250 lawyers, that percentage rose to nearly 42.
laterals  paraprofessionals  firms 
september 2016 by JordanFurlong
Time for a Change? Lessons for Avoiding Lateral Mistakes |
As the number of moves continues to climb–reaching a post-financial crisis high of nearly 2,900 moves last year—the regrets seem to be piling up faster too. Recruiters and consultants say lawyers change their minds in about 1 in 20 lateral moves. That doesn’t include partners who arrive at a new firm only to second-guess their decision, and either suffer the consequences or plan yet another move.
laterals  partners 
july 2016 by JordanFurlong
Associate Salary Stratification More Likely in 'Buyer’s Market' |
Since Cravath, Swaine & Moore upped the ante on associate salaries last month, others in the big law community have responded gradually, some going all-in and others devising region-specific pay scales. In the current market, industry watchers said, the salary game has changed, and most firms will need to take the more thoughtful approach.
compensation  laterals 
july 2016 by JordanFurlong
The Cravath Pay Raise: Challenges and Opportunities for Law Firms (Perspective) | Big Law Business
This time is different. Not because Big Law has moved into some form of corporate socialism, but because circumstances have changed. As power has shifted to buyers of legal services and the options for legal service delivery have expanded, the idea that firms will be able to shift some or all of the cost of associate compensation to rate increases seems almost inconceivable. Over a period of years? Perhaps. From the start? Not likely. As Bloomberg Big Law’s Casey Sullivan noted in an article discussing the odd way in which the industry sets compensation, he quotes Craig Silliman, the General Counsel of Verizon:
compensation  laterals  partners  firmd 
june 2016 by JordanFurlong
Prism Legal Who's Managing Big Law Alternative Staffing? - Prism Legal
Who’s Managing Big Law Alternative Staffing?
May 30, 2016 by Ron Friedmann1 Comment
Altman Weil’s recently released 2016 Law Firms in Transition survey is good reading for all law firm management. For me, the questions it raises are the number of non-partner track lawyers and who’s managing Big Law alternative staffing?

The survey found that a

“majority of firms are practicing basic labor arbitrage – shifting work to less costly lawyers. More than half of all law firms are utilizing part-time lawyers (59%) and contract lawyers (56%) to meet demand as needed. Three quarters of firms with 250 or more lawyers are using part-time and contract lawyers.”

A report table provides more detail:
firms  laterals  flex  outsourcing 
june 2016 by JordanFurlong
Will Law Firms Be Disrupted by High-End Temping Gigs? | Big Law Business
James Jones, senior fellow at Georgetown’s Center for the Study of the Legal Profession and former managing partner of Arnold & Porter, said these new model firms represent a categorical shift in the market.

“There’s been a lot of denial about [New Model firms] going on at law firms,” said Jones. “They regard it as a mere sliver of the market that is insignificant. While in fairness it’s not a huge percentage of the market, these companies have really gained a foothold.”
flex  laterals  firms 
may 2016 by JordanFurlong
Too Many Lawyers Report Faults Firms for Resisting Layoffs | The American Lawyer
• Respondents said that the most immediate threat to demand for legal services is coming from corporate legal departments. Two-thirds of the firms surveyed said that they have lost business because the work has gone in-house.  
• More than have half of the large firms surveyed said that they are making changes to how they approach pricing. At large firms, typically around one-third of all fees were discounted. 
• More than 88 percent of law firm leaders reported that they believe technology will continue to replace human resources.  
• Seventy-five percent of large firms surveyed are using part-time lawyers and contract lawyers. 
• About half of the firms surveyed said they had increased their equity partner, nonequity partner and partner-track associate ranks in 2015. 
• Nearly all large firms said that they would grow by acquiring laterals this year. Just over 88 percent said that they would acquire groups; 30 percent said that they would open new offices; and 42.7 percent said that they would acquire other law firms. 
firms  laterals  strategy  partners 
may 2016 by JordanFurlong
More Law Firms Take Aim at Associate Student Loan Debt | The American Lawyer
Hoping to keep up with their peers and lighten their associates’ student debt burdens, more and more law firms are adopting initiatives to help lawyers refinance their law school loans at reduced rates.
firms  schools  laterals 
april 2016 by JordanFurlong
The Legal Whiteboard
In my experience, law firms undervalue the importance of coaching and mentorship. Carter and Sporkin had the power to make these investments on their own. Yet, today’s modern law firm emphasizes the production of revenues. The cost of nonbillable time can be readily calculated; the same cannot be said, however, about the value of nonbillable time. Partners who have given little thought to the power of professional development are most likely to resist large investments. They lack the systems perspective of Paul Cravath. I have studied lawyer development for over a decade. I think these partners are trading dollars for pennies.
firms  diversity  training  mentoring  laterals 
march 2016 by JordanFurlong
Perspective: Lawyers Face Displacement — Breaking Up is Hard to Do | Big Law Business
alas, ye legal Luddites, there is a new scourge upon the legal landscape: machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing. It goes by many names — computer programs that are on the brink of being able to analyze, synthesize, categorize, and classify documents and contract provisions — at a level that could make some lawyers quake in their designer shoes.

This is a new paradigm in the legal industry. The economic imperatives are unavoidable. High billable rate associates can be greatly assisted, if not eventually replaced, by computer programs that learn by modeling human decisions. The unsettling thing for some lawyers not previously threatened by outsourcing is that the type of tasks that are starting to be automated are far more complex and impinge on their expertise and decision-making ability.
firms  it  robolawyer  laterals 
march 2016 by JordanFurlong
Deloitte’s deal with Conduit Law continues its march into legal services | Financial Post -
If the other Big Four accounting firms follow suit — and there’s no reason to believe that they won’t — we could very well see a significant restructuring of Canada’s larger law firms to become boutique practices performing only legal work that requires the highest level of subject matter expertise, while outsourcing all other aspects of a particular matter to a member of the Big Four.
accountants  competition  laterals  firms  newlaw 
march 2016 by JordanFurlong
In-House Lawyers Swapped Jobs for Three Months. Here’s What They Learned. | Corporate Counsel
this sort of lawyer swap is “a very novel concept.” But he doubts whether the program is realistic for small legal departments like his, which consists of just 12 people. For Telstra and Westpac, which have legal teams of 200 and 130 employees, respectively, the swap “made sense,” he says. But lawyers at small companies are more “generalist,” he says, making a secondment less ideal.
Lisa Strauch Eggers, who most recently served as interim general counsel for Eddie Bauer, wishes more companies would follow Telstra and Westpac’s lead. “It’s a great way to develop best practices and learn from other people and companies in your industry,” Eggers says.
Sure, there are risks, but Eggers thinks “if you can get past that,” the benefits could outweigh them.
Eggers says to look for a partner that’s in an analogous industry but not a competitor. “If I’m Eddie Bauer, I’m going to look at Home Depot. It would be inappropriate to be swapping lawyers with Patagonia or North Face,” she says.
clients  laterals  training 
march 2016 by JordanFurlong
The Global Lawyer: How The Am Law 100 Screws Contract Lawyers | The American Lawyer
My article documents that since 2005, the average Am Law 100 profits per partner have risen 56 percent, while the national average legal temp wage has fallen 29 percent. (Adjusting for inflation, annual PPP has risen about 25 percent, while the legal temp hourly rate has fallen about 40 percent.)
The decline of annual temp income is even steeper when one takes into account that—while overtime pay used to be standard—legal temps today are often either denied overtime pay or denied overtime hours. A 2005 temp who worked 50 hours a week for $38 an hour plus overtime for 50 weeks would make $95,000. (That’s about $119,000 in today’s dollars.) A 2015 temp working 50 hours a week for $27 an hour without overtime would make $67,500. Perhaps more likely, a 2015 temp who worked 40 hours a week at $27 an hour would make $54,000. Now consider that most of these young lawyers must service high debt loads and buy their own health insurance before they can live off that "premium" income. And many won't be lucky
temp  flex  laterals  firms 
march 2016 by JordanFurlong
Prism Legal Data Analytics in Law Firms (Zev Eigen Presentation) - Prism Legal
“Going to Harvard is predictive of nothing.” Resumes are just a proxy and not a good one. Getting the data, however, takes a lot of work. If you want “good lawyers”, you have to define what good means. Firms must measure the outcomes for which want to maximize. There are over 60 public social media sources that can inform about candidates. In general, avoid proxies (eg, resumes) and go directly to real data. With real data, you can predict turnover.
Predict outcomes in the legal realm. Littler has CaseSmart for managing higher volume cases. Zev is now building predictive model: length of case, likelihood of dismissal, opposing counsel receptivity to settling.
Predict legal risks. The firm also helps client predict legal risks. For example, the firm helps clients with California Fair Pay Act. Use data analytics to avoid risk or defend with existing risk
Also damage assessments… the firm internalizes damages computation.

Zev notes that the most successful businesses – Uber, Google – rely on data science. Companies that apply data science on HR front are more successful.

Uptake of data analytics in legal is slow. It does not make sense for law firms to get into predictive science if they compare themselves to other firms. Looking at other firms, there is no impetus to change because you look the same as your competitors. The same was true for taxi companies before Uber. Taxi companies made the mistake of thinking that no one other than other taxi companies would enter the market for private car services. If, however, law firms compare themselves to universe of services that clients can use to improve legal outcomes, then the need for law firms to innovate becomes compelling. Clients will turn to service providers that best solve their real problems.

Entering the market of data analytics is hard because there are not enough data scientists. Even Google has trouble hiring data scientists. Zev emphasizes the big talent gap. A good data scientist is a statistician who is pretty good at programming or a programmer who is pretty good at stats. Zev has strong preference for the former and values other subject matter expertise such as social science or psychology.
data  analytics  laterals  leadership 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
Chasing Lateral Growth, Big Law Leaders Lose Their Way | The American Lawyer
That leads to another explanation for the continuing lateral hiring frenzy: The opposite of leadership. Most managing partners relish the creation of ever-expanding empires over which they can preside. Having made more than enough money to feed their families for generations, now they’re feeding their egos.
laterals  leadership 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
The lateral-partner revenue mirage — RainmakerVT
The February 1 online edition of The American Lawyer features The Big Law Lateral Hiring Frenzy Continues. It reports the results of a survey that portrays a perverse dynamic, one in which everyone pursues the same strategy despite acknowledging that it only works in a small percentage of cases.
laterals  firms  strategy 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
The Most Prized Lateral of 2015 Wasn't a Partner | The American Lawyer
For several years, we have been studying the lateral partner market. Much of what we have learned has appeared in the annual February Lateral Report (see Of Partners and Peacocks (2014) and A Rx for Lateral Heartache (2015)). We believe that the lateral hiring of the Mattis team by Herbert Smith Freehills reflects a gradual sea change in the market for elite legal services, one that will, in the long-run, shrink the strategic importance of lateral partner hiring.
Herbert Smith Freehills hired Mattis and her team to augment its global Legal Project Management (LPM) offering. HSF is an international law firm whose clients need and want seamless, high-quality legal services across multiple jurisdictions. To be sure, such clients are not uninterested in price. But a much more important threshold requirement is consistency of service delivery and results.
Partners at large law firms may find this surprising, but such consistency is not best achieved by hiring dozens of smart, highly credentialed (and expensive) lawyers. Rather, it requires skilled technicians who can design and build ,elegant, flexible legal processes and experienced teams skilled in project management. Perhaps not surprisingly, before being hired by HSF, Mattis had just completed an MBA in process and operations management.
laterals  process  nonlawyer 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
Cognition LLP Announces Corporate Reorganization, Acquisition by Axiom and Establishment of Caravel Law | Business Wire
TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cognition LLP announced today the reorganization of its business to align more specifically to its two primary customer lines: larger corporations with legal departments (General Counsel Clients) and small/medium enterprises without in-house legal counsel (SME Clients). Axiom Cognition will focus on Canadian General Counsel Clients and will be acquired by Axiom at the end of January, while Caravel Law, a newly established professional corporation, will concentrate on SME Clients. Both Axiom Cognition and Caravel share the mission of providing innovative, cost effective legal services and technology-enabled solutions to their respective client bases.
newlaw  laterals  competition  flex 
january 2016 by JordanFurlong
Axiom to Acquire the General Counsel Business of Cognition LLP | Business Wire
As part of the deal, Cognition LLP will separate into two distinct entities: Axiom Cognition, an Axiom corporation serving corporate clients with in-house legal departments; and Caravel Law, a law firm serving small and medium sized enterprises without internal legal departments.
newlaw  laterals  competition  flex 
january 2016 by JordanFurlong
Prism Legal The Evolving Corporate Law Ecosystem - Prism Legal
Contracting includes at least four business models:

Staffing agencies provide lawyers for specified time periods. Customers pay the staffing agency and the agency pays the lawyers. The agency profits from the difference between the fee the client pays and what it pays the lawyers. (AdventBalance in Australia and Axiom Law in multiple jurisdictions offer staffing models.)
Marketplaces offer a pool of lawyers that customers can screen, evaluate, and select, then hire and pay lawyer(s) directly for a specified time. The marketplace provider profits from transaction fees. Jarred explained that staffing agencies offer “labor for hire” and market-makers are brokers.
Large law firms arguably are a specialized contracting model that bundle multiple lawyers and other professionals primarily for law departments. The fit of firms in this taxonomy is a topic for another day.
Captive agencies or marketplaces are law-firm or -department built, owned, and operated for the own use. This may be a small set. Jarred rightly notes that building and operating either is expensive. (That DLA Piper UK turned to Lawyers on Demand for contract lawyers supports this point; see “Brave” DLA Piper teams up with LOD for flexible resourcing venture, The Lawyer, 11 Nov 2015.)
outsourcing  laterals  flex 
january 2016 by JordanFurlong
Associate Comp & Econ 101
In the course of navigating published analysis and coverage of our beloved industry, I can rely on regularly coming across pat assertions displaying such frightful ignorance of basic economics that I’m forced to conclude the speakers’ only encounter with Economics 101 was seeing it listed in a course catalog and hastily moving on. These assertions also tend to be advanced with a degree of certitude and self-confidence directly correlated with the violence they do to the simplest of economic principles.
laterals  compensation  schools  finances 
december 2015 by JordanFurlong
Stress Cracks and Repairs to the Big Law Structure | Big Law Business
Can law firm service provider “spin-offs” compete with companies built specifically to address key delivery components such as eDiscovery, contract management, cyber-security, and data management? And would law firms be better advised — as DLA elected to do — to turn to a proven provider such as LOD instead of building out subsidiaries on their own?
flex  offshore  business  firms  laterals 
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
DLA strikes groundbreaking deal to offer contract lawyering via LOD |
In a pioneering nod towards calls for the modern legal profession to be more collaborative, DLA Piper has struck a highly unusual deal to provide contract services to its clients via Lawyers On Demand (LOD).
flex  laterals  competition  innovation 
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
Jackson Lewis: Why we got rid of billable hours for associates - Kansas City Business Journal
ow employees will be evaluated on things such as work quality, responsiveness, work ethic, team orientation and client service, he said.
He said he also hopes it will encourage more associates to spend time on pro bono and volunteer work.
"There was some skepticism about it because it seemed almost too good to be true," said Lindsey Poling, an associate with the firm's Overland Park office. "But then as we've had several teleconferences nationwide regarding the rollout, it became quite clear that the firm was very serious about this culture shift and it's very exciting. It's a very positive change. It changes the way you approach coming into work every day."
compensation  laterals  culture 
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
“Catalyst for significant change” – DLA Piper and Lawyers on Demand announce collaboration | Legal IT Insider
DLA Piper has bucked the trend among international law firms to set up their own contract lawyer service by collaborating with Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP’s) flexible resource arm Lawyers on Demand.
The firms’ ground-breaking venture will enable DLA to tap into a pool of its own alumni, which will be set up and managed by LOD on behalf of DLA.
flex  firms  offshore  competition  laterals 
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
Graying Firms Wrestle With Making Room for Younger Lawyers - The New York Times
In an effort to broaden its approach, Bryan Cave, a 950-lawyer firm that began in St. Louis 142 years ago, started a “business academy” two years ago to give associates the opportunity to brainstorm ways to better serve clients. At its most recent meeting last spring, about 100 entry-level associates offered ideas to improve client service. A winning idea was to offer electronic tagging of federal bankruptcy filings so interested clients are updated automatically, according to Therese D. Pritchard, the firm’s chairwoman.
laterals  training  partners  compensation 
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
Survey: New Partners Optimistic There's Room at the Top | The American Lawyer
A smaller percentage than last year deemed it "nearly impossible to make partner" at their firms: Just 34.6 percent agreed that it's "nearly impossible" for associates at large firms to become a partner, compared with 43 percent in 2014. More than 65 percent disagreed, compared with 57 percent last year, which seems to indicate that more newly promoted partners who have accomplished the feat think that others can do the same.
partners  laterals 
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
Computer vs. Lawyer Many Firm Leaders Expect Computers to Win | The American Lawyer
In a large-scale survey released this month, 35 percent of law firm leaders said they could envision replacing first-year associates with law-focused computer intelligence within the next five to 10 years. That's up from less than a quarter of respondents who gave the same answer in 2011.
The survey, conducted by law firm management consulting firm Altman Weil, included responses from chairs and managing partners at 320 firms with lawyer head counts ranging from 50 to more than 1,000.
More senior associates also wouldn’t be immune to replacement, according to the survey. One in five respondents thought technology could make second- and third-year associates redundant in the next decade.
Nearly half—47 percent—saw computers potentially replacing the paralegal tier.
robolawyer  firms  laterals 
october 2015 by JordanFurlong
viDesktop | Talent Management Software: Employee Performance Management, Recruiting, Career Development
With viSkills, you can lay a roadmap of skills required for mastery in each practice group, equipping associates with a visual guide to day-to-day progress on an upward career trajectory. At each level of associate advancement, you can measure skills acquisition in concrete terms to guide planning and plug skills gaps. In addition, your performance evaluations and associated goals can work in tandem with associates' benchmark progress and reflect its content.
cle  training  laterals  firms 
october 2015 by JordanFurlong
A Lateral Boom of Older Lawyers | The American Lawyer
Hession's choice to switch firms rather than go gently into that good golf condominium seems to be an increasingly common one. Half of respondents to a flash survey of lawyers at Am Law 200 firms by ALM Legal Intelligence in June indicated that their firm had hired a partner or counsel in the past 12 to 24 months who had reached, or was about to reach, retirement age at their previous firm.
What's more, a growing number of lawyers are continuing to work well past the traditional 60 or 65 years of age. Our ALM Legal Intelligence data indicates that 6 percent of all Am Law 200 partners are 65 years old or more. (The data was based on their graduation dates from law school as recorded by Rival Edge, which doesn't include titles such as counsel that many firms use.) According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, about 10.9 percent of U.S. lawyers in general are 65 or older. A recent survey by consulting firm Altman Weil Inc. finds that partners age 60 or older control 30 percent of revenue in U.S. law firms with 50 or more partners.
succession  retirement  laterals  partners 
august 2015 by JordanFurlong
How law firms are innovating when it comes to hiring - ABA Journal
cellence in a predefined set of competencies, including resilience, an ability to work in teams, empathy, and leadership, is central to getting hired. The interview process, therefore, is not about having an unstructured conversation at a meal. Rather, the applicants are invited to an offsite retreat that includes behavioral interviews with seven different law firm team members. The firm also asks everyone invited to this offsite event to conduct a group project and a writing assignment. In effect, the firm seeks to evaluate directly the sorts of activities that associates are asked to do on the job. For law firm hiring, this is a radical concept.
The results of its initial effort surprised Kilpatrick Townsend. For starters, some of those candidates who looked great on paper, or even at lunch, failed measurably. The firm tells of one applicant who, when asked to work on a group project, stood apart from the group texting. The firm also reported that the more intensive interviewing effort had a tremendous “second order effect”: The lawyers and staff involved in this effort built bonds with one another and more self-consciously embraced the norms that the firm was seeking to develop.
Other law firms are developing similar experiments geared to discern more directly the competencies that lawyers will actually be called up to display in practice. At Womble Carlyle, for example, applicants are asked to submit a short video in which they respond to questions that call on them to demonstrate their thoughtfulness in addressing issues that they would face in practice.
Similarly, Schiff Hardin worked with Lawyer Metrics (a company founded by Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor Bill Henderson) to develop structured behavioral panel interviews that it could use in its hiring rather than the legacy subjective model, which the firm believed was hurting its efforts to find the best talent and promote a more diverse talent pool. (For a compelling challenge to the profession on the need to redouble diversity efforts, see Deborah Rhode’s piece here.) The firm complemented these interviews with a writing assignment—one that involved summarizing legal information for a non-lawyer—that all applicants were asked to complete onsite at the firm during the interview. The firm’s professional development partner, Lisa Brown, reported that this approach generated more selectivity in giving offers, a greater rate of their acceptance (with the professionalism and fairness of the interview process cited as a significant factor), and a notably more diverse group.
talent  laterals  training  skills 
july 2015 by JordanFurlong
Chicago Lawyer - Bryan Cave asks ... what if the associates ran the asylum?
I have never seen a firm do anything like this,” he said. “What I have never seen is an internally driven, ongoing training program that really invites associates to take the reins. This is Bryan Cave doing a little R&D in their future. It’s an experiment.”
Generation gap

Generational transition has vexed lawyers ever since they entered into partnerships. But the current and pending transference of power will present new challenges, all highlighted during the Bryan Cave associate seminar
r&d  firms  laterals  innovation  p 
july 2015 by JordanFurlong
Are Contract Attorney Markups Of Any Concern to Clients | The Legal Intelligencer
Some have described a 513 percent markup as "stratospheric" while others have said a firm's internal profitability is none of the client's business as long as the client feels it is getting the perceived value from the business transaction.
firms  pricing  laterals  contract 
june 2015 by JordanFurlong
Struggling Law Firms and the Lateral Partner Feast | Big Law Business
Partners who want to leave may remain for fear of losing their capital: Equity partners with significant capital invested in their firm (and are usually among the highest paid) may see their firm headed in a bad direction, but face a tough dilemma.  They may want to leave, but realize that if their current firm fails, they may lose their capital, ranging from mid-six to seven figures.  For a high profile partner, leaving and taking a large group out of their struggling firm may only ensure their loss of capital.  So unless the new firm makes them whole (which can be a tough proposition for approval), the partner(s) may be inclined to remain as long as there may be hope of a merger or “savior” acquiring firm. Remember, sometimes the most thorough attorneys sign their existing firm’s partnership agreement without looking at it closely.  When it comes time to tally the cost of leaving, many are shocked at the potential costs embedded in the process, and will change their mind at the last minute.  Be sure they have read, understand, priced and accepted those partnership agreement provisions before you invest too much time and effort to only have them discover—at the last minute—they have to disgorge a bonus, forfeit accrued but undistributed income, or have a capital loan that comes due on departure.
partners  laterals 
may 2015 by JordanFurlong
Law School Grads’ Jobs Rate Rises—But There’s a Catch | National Law Journal
Still, demand for new lawyers was flat—the actual number of jobs obtained by recent graduates declined by 2 percent in 2014. In other words, the higher employment rate happened because law schools turned out fewer graduates, not because the job market picked up.
admission  laterals  schools 
april 2015 by JordanFurlong
Magic circle re-builds the pyramid structure | Analysis | The Lawyer
But the change in fortune in terms of retention rates at A&O and Clifford Chance can be explained by a single common factor: both have chosen to drastically cut their trainee intakes.  

While the headline statistics speak of high retention, junior lawyers are actually facing a tougher recruitment market than ever before.

Back in December 2012, Clifford Chance announced that it would be cutting its trainee intake for 2015 from up to 120 to a maximum of 100. Of course, that intake has not yet begun to train, let alone qualify.

Clifford Chance actually started to trim its numbers back in 2010. Aside from a slight boost in 2012/2013, its numbers have plummeted. In the four years between 2010 and 2014, its trainee cohort size shrunk by 26 per cent (see Clifford Change NQ retention, below).
talent  admission  training  laterals 
march 2015 by JordanFurlong
An Rx for Lateral Heartache | The American Lawyer
For cultural and political reasons, many firms would prefer to pilot-test any new approach to lateral hiring before adopting it firmwide. One of the main advantages of doing so is that it permits the firm to use a controlled experiment to assess the efficacy of the new method. The existing method (the control group) is operated in parallel with a new method (the treatment group). The key factor is that the control and treatment groups need to be as similar as possible; this is most effectively accomplished by selecting the two groups randomly. At the end of the clinical trial period, the outcomes of the two groups are compared, and the benefits assessed. In empirical scientific research, this approach is the gold standard; it is how scientists determine the efficacy of new drugs, governments assess the effect of public health campaigns and businesses measure the impact of their marketing efforts. Lawyers who would argue against such an approach have become unmoored from the most fundamental principles of the physical and social sciences.
firms  partners  laterals 
february 2015 by JordanFurlong
Lateral Partner ROI « Talent Think Tank
Partner 1: “Um, I don’t think we have a lateral integration program…”

Partner 2: “Do we have a lateral integration program?”

Partner 3: “The firm does its best but really, I had to figure things out on my own.”
laterals  firms 
september 2014 by JordanFurlong
Top-tier set to launch new roles and merit-based pay
Jane Lewis, Director of People & Development at Allens, told Australasian Lawyer that managing associates will be expected to play a key role in all aspects of the practice, and in particular demonstrate an understanding of client and team management skills, as well as practice economics and management.
laterals  partners  careers  innovation  compensation 
june 2014 by JordanFurlong
Business Development Starters for Associates - Attorney at Work - Attorney at Work
I remember when partners would say to associates, “Don’t worry about getting business. Just spend your time doing the work and learning your craft.” Then, firms would make someone partner and tell them to build a practice. Without having planted the seeds as an associate, it was an uphill battle at best.
bizdev  laterals 
june 2014 by JordanFurlong
Median salary is $95K for new law grads working in law firms, NALP study shows
NALP also highlighted employment figures for the class of 2013, measured nine months after graduation. Only 64.4 percent had a job requiring bar passage, unchanged from 2012. The figure is the lowest percentage ever measured by NALP. The percentage falls to 59 percent when the group is restricted to those with full-time jobs requiring bar passage that last at least a year.

An additional 13.8 percent of graduates had jobs for which a JD is an advantage or even a requirement, but a law license is not required. It is the highest number since NALP began tracking the figure in 2001.
admission  schools  laterals 
june 2014 by JordanFurlong
Legal Jobs Picture: 'We're Not Going Back to 2006' | National Law Journal
Starting median salaries for law graduates have decreased since 2008, in large part because large firms simply aren’t hiring as many associates at salaries of $160,000 these days. The average number of summer associate offers from firms with 700 or more attorneys fell from 30 in 2007 to 12 in 2013. More graduates piece together part time work for as long as 18 months before they land fulltime jobs, Leipold said.
Still, the hiring picture isn’t entirely bleak. In fact, the worst may be in the past. “I think the class of 2011 will historically come to be seen as the bottom of the market,” he said.
There have been modest indications that the employment market is creeping back up. The American Bar Association on Wednesday released figures showing that 57 percent of the class of 2013 landed fulltime, long-term jobs for which bar passage was required, up from 56.2 the previous year. Some legal employers reported recruiting at more law schools in 2013 than 2012, while others said they recruited at fewer schools.
schools  admission  laterals  firms 
april 2014 by JordanFurlong
The Illusion of Attorney Job Security and Practical Implications -
Many have seen the practice of law at major, large law firms or within an in-house setting as a safe choice for earning solid compensation and enjoying excellent job stability. That conception suffered during the Great Recession in the face of mass Biglaw and significant corporate in-house layoffs. But long-term stability was lacking even before that time. The National Association for Law Placement found in 2007 that 78% of entry-level associates departed their initial large firms within five years. ([1].Formatted.1.pdf, page 61). Also, promotions to partnership are rare, and a 2012 study by the American Lawyer showed that BigLaw associates wait on average 10.5 years to become partner. But even making partner is no guarantee of security; many service partners without self-sustaining business lost their jobs within the last several years.
laterals  talent  clients 
march 2014 by JordanFurlong
What Will The Lawyers Do Now? | Expert Thinking @ Neota Logic
We nominate these steam engines of legal services:

Online legal research, the law’s first foray into big and digital data.
Electronic mail and networks, the harbinger of infinite interconnectedness.
Document automation, drafting contracts with software rather than pencils.
Search, from Recommind for lawyers’ own stuff to Google for everything else.
Predictive coding (a/k/a technology-assisted review), replacing armies of junior lawyers.
Expert systems, context-specific guidance at scale and speed.
Setting aside email and networks, there are three technologies based on machine learning (research, search, TAR) and two based on rules (drafting and guidance). (Neota Logic is mostly in the rules business,  for expert systems and document automation, though machine learning techniques can be used for rule induction.)

Note that we do not include process improvement as a technology. Although the impact on the cost of legal services for business clients (particularly big companies) is likely greater, at least in the near-term, than any of the technologies listed, process mapping, project management, and value-based fees do not depend on technology at all. Whiteboards, Post-It notes, and sharp pencils are sufficient.

Can the impact of the listed technologies (or others that others would nominate) be seen in industry statistics? Is there evidence of Tyler Cowen’s thesis in Average Is Over? Evidence that computers are taking some of the average jobs in the profession?

This chart combines degrees granted data from the American Bar Association with employment data from the National Association for Law Placement.
laterals  it  robolawyer  admission  competition 
march 2014 by JordanFurlong
Delusions of Crowds
So with me and lateral partner recruitment as a “strategy.” As far as I’m concerned, the burden of proof is decidedly on the advocate to show why this lateral hire can beat the odds, and steep odds they are. (See Our Arms’ Race 1 and Our Arms’ Race 2.) And when I say “burden of proof on the advocate,” I also mean accountability: As in $$.
partners  laterals 
february 2014 by JordanFurlong
The Diamond Law Firm - A New Model or the Pyramid Unraveling? | Lawyer Metrics - JDSupra
Since 2008, there are fewer associates working in National Law Journal (NLJ) 250 law firms than partners.
laterals  partners  firms  admission 
december 2013 by JordanFurlong
The Legal Whiteboard
Based on the chart below, which reflects 35 years of large law firm data, the answer appears to be yes.  The chart enables us to compare two very simple trendlines: the percentage of lawyers in NLJ 250 law firms who have the title of Associates versus the percentage with the title of Partner. 
laterals  partners  firms  admission 
december 2013 by JordanFurlong
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