In movies and the media “partners” seem to be a big deal. For instance, the Adam Sandler movie Click portrays the protagonist Michael Newman as a workaholic who desperately wants to become a “partner” in his firm. Many different professions have “partners” as the pinnacle achievement of success. So if being a partner is such a big deal what exactly is a partner?
The term “partner” can have many meanings. Just click on www.dictionary.com and look it up. Specifically for this article a partner is generally someone who is associated with others as a co-owner of a business venture. Which means if the business venture does well the partners reap the benefits. It also means if the business fails so do the partners.
In a law firm setting, a partner is usually someone with experience in a specific area of law and a client base. Although many law firm use the lure of becoming a partner as an incentive to attract and keep well-educated and hard-working young associates. A few of these associates eventually become partners even though they lack sufficient experience in a specific area of law and have no client base.
Starting at the top, a partner typically has a very large cephalic dome. This is sometime referred to as a “big-head.” Sometimes it is covered with a fibrous material but more often it is smooth and shiny. The “head” has various cavities leading to the inside; an area better left unexplored. The largest of the cavities is a lower front-side opening lined with yellowish-brown stalagmites and stalactites. Often loud and undecipherable noises are heard coming from this opening. The head is attached to an often misshapen torso suffering from a gravity induced sag. The lack of shape to this torso is the result of years of confinement in an environment hostile to the development of toned musculature. Protruding from the left and right lateral sides of the torso are long limbs used for procuring items of value that typically belong to other entities. Attached to the bottom of the torso on the left and right side are another set of limbs. It is believed that these limbs were once used for walking, running, balance and other mobility functions. Unfortunately, these limbs have completely lost the functionality for which they were designed. Instead, these limbs are used for stepping on smaller, defenseless creatures that happen upon the path of a partner.
Once upon a time the “partner” was a formidable position worthy of only the greatest ambition. Nowadays, you are probably better off becoming a celebrity.
On Thursday, January 21, 2010, Duke Law School announced a new LLM program beginning the fall of 2010. The Law and Entrepreneurship LLM Program will be a two semester master’s program designed for lawyers who are planning to be entrepreneurs and/or legal counsel for innovative businesses. Law professor James Cox is going to be directing the program. He is a leading scholar of corporate and securities law and is currently Duke’s Brainerd Currie Professor of Law.
The program will consist of course work as well as practical “hands-on” project based work. Some of the course will include intellectual property, corporate finance, tax, corporate formation and partnerships. Duke’s news release stated that “the practicum will place students either in-house with a company, with law firms advising entrepreneurial ventures or in other similar settings.”
The application deadline to Duke’s LLM program is typically January 20. However, for this new program, application information and associated deadlines will be announced in February.
The founder of hedge fund Galleon Group has hired a new lawyer. John Dowd of Akin Gump was selected as new counsel by Raj Rajaratnam who was arrested on insider trading charges. James Walden of Gibson Dunn represented Mr. Rajaratnam most recently in his white collar criminal defense.
In March of this year Morgan Lewis laid off 55 associates and 161 legal staff. Around the same time Bingham McCutchen laid off only 16 associates and and 23 legal staff. Last year Morgan Lewis had annual revenues of $1.12 billion which is an 8.47% increase over 2007. Bingham’s annual revenues for the same time period were only $767 million amounting to a mere 3.2% increase over 2007. Profits per partner at Morgan Lewis were up one and a half percent in 2008 to $1.45 million. Profits per partner last year at Bingham made a significantly higher jump of 6.4% to $1.42 million. All in all it appears that both firms are doing okay. So why did 5 partners and 6 associates from Bingham leave and join Morgan Lewis? What does Morgan Lewis have that Bingham doesn’t?
Despite what you may read on law firm websites, the recession is wreaking financial havoc on all biglaw firms with substantial financial, capital markets and corporate practices. However, if layoffs are any indicator of financial strength, neither of these firms seems to be hurting worse than the other. Still Morgan Lewis must have offered something and Bingham must have been lacking something to cause 5 partners and 6 associates to jump ship.
The partners leaving Bingham and joining Morgan Lewis are:
Robert A. J. Barry
Jonathan K. Bernstein
Sula R. Fiszman
Matthew F. Furlong
The associates aimlessly following their fearless leaders are:
Anastasia J. Caviris
Kevin T. Jarboe
Victoria A. Labriola
Marc R. Leduc
Mark D. Silva
Does this mean Bingham is hurting? Maybe losing some extra partners and associates helps lighten the financial load for Bingham. Regardless, it is quite entertaining the hear the spokesperson for Bingham state that “Bingham is stronger than ever, and the finance and banking practice in our Boston office and firmwide will continue to prosper and play an important role for our local, national and international clients” even though they just lost a significant number of important finance partners and crew.
Recently I conducted a survey at some of the top firms around the country to find out who is actively hiring. The vast majority of BIGLAW firms did not want to go on record as actually hiring. Most of the human resource managers made no comment and immediately transferred my call to the PR department. Unfortunately, most of the PR departments did not know whether their firms were hiring and offered to call me back with specifics. After several attempts to contact and re-contact hiring personnel and public relations personnel without success I gave up. Out of the thirty top firms I contacted none of them wanted to publicly admit they were hiring. That should not be much of a surprise consider the current economic conditions and the seemingly constant flow of layoffs. However, there is at least one glimmer of hope. McKenna Long & Aldridge is actively hiring.
On their website you will find the following description: “McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP (MLA) is an international law firm with 475 attorneys and public policy advisors. The firm provides business solutions in the areas of environmental regulation, international law, public policy and regulatory affairs, corporate law, government contracts, intellectual property and technology, complex litigation, real estate, energy and finance. MLA’s diverse range of services fall into three broad categories: transactional, litigation and government/regulatory.”
In my search, I have found that MLA is hiring in Colorado, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, DC. They appear to be looking for attorneys with experience in appellate brief writing, government contracting and toxic tort litigation. You can see these jobs listing on their website or through the various online legal job databases.
Description: We need a corporate Legal Counsel to help us develop our growing international roster of hardware and software partners. This stuff isn’t easy, and it s a daily challenge to navigate the various laws and regulations that relate to our products, our websites, and our company in general. Experience with software or technology licensing, contract negotiation, and familiarity with intellectual property issues, including patent, copyright and trademark law, are key elements of this exciting position. Additionally, an understanding of international labor/employment issues is a plus. — Continue reading
Description: The ideal candidate would have a solid academic and professional background, with three to ten years of experience, and the ability to step right in and handle cases from start to finish. — Continue reading
Description: Seeking attorneys with 2-6 years of litigation experience. We are a growing Insurance Defense Firm and are currently looking for attorneys experienced in Personal Injury and Business Litigation. Excellent research, writing and analytical skills; attention to detail; and the ability to work professionally with clients, associates and staff are a must. — Continue reading
Description: Preparing and prosecuting patent applications; Preparing and prosecuting trademark applications; Assisting with federal court intellectual property litigation; Assisting with TTAB litigation. — Continue reading
Description: Seeking an associate with strong academic credentials. This position offers the opportunity to handle a significant case load with the ability to gain immediate exposure to the courtroom at the state and federal level. — Continue reading
Description: Admission to the New York State Bar and 2 years of service in the Associate Court Attorney title or 8 years of relevant legal experience gained after admission to the New York State Bar. — Continue reading
Description: Seeking to add two new associates with no more than three years experience. Telecom and high tech lawyers are particularly busy right now, so an interest in those areas would be a plus. We are not divided into formal practice groups and we are always in the market for talented generalists. — Continue reading
Description: Seeking a mid-level general commercial litigation associate with 3-4 years of experience to join our fast paced litigation team in Atlanta. Candidate should have strong communication and analytical skills as well as demonstrated writing ability. — Continue reading
Description: Seeking a transactional associate with 2-3 years’ transactions experience in commercial, multifamily, health care or conduit transactions, with FHA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac experience preferred. Substantial independent responsibility and client contact. Strong experience in real estate and property law matters is preferred. — Continue reading
Description: Looking for an attorney specializing in real estate litigation and Bankruptcies. We have a division handling loan modification cases and needs an attorney that has experience in real estate litigation and consumer protection acts. Working knowledge of federal acts including RESPA, TILA, FCRA, FDCPA is highly preferred. — Continue reading
Description: Seeking a General Liability Litigation Attorney to work in our New York City office, who is self-motivated, intelligent, team oriented and who will deliver the best legal results to our clients. — Continue reading
Description: Seeking an attorney with excellent research, analysis and writing skills; as many of our cases involve cutting edge areas of the law. Frequent court and deposition work are also a part of this position. Great benefits, friendly team environment, competitive salary — Continue reading