Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

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romothesavior
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Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby romothesavior » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:58 am

http://abovethelaw.com/2010/06/the-coming-law-firm-staffing-shortage-2/

Not sure if this has been posted yet and I apologize if this is a re-post, but I wanted to get thoughts on this article. It suggests that firms may be undermanned in the next year or two. Some hiring experts feel that there will be a gaping hole in mid-level associates in the coming years, as a result of the small recent classes and the lack of loyalty that many associates feel as a result of how they've been treated. There seems to be an atmosphere of bad blood and uneasiness between associates and partners. After all, a lot of these associates watched their peers get no-offered and deferred, and they may feel uneasy and want to bail (especially if they are not on partner track). Many may leave once they get their bonuses.

Also, if you read the comments at the bottom, almost everyone (I'm guessing biglaw attorneys?) said that this is a real concern at their firms, so it doesn't seem like this idea is being pulled out of thin air. This sounds like it could really happen. Not "ZOMG NYC TO 190!" or back to pre-ITE levels, but perhaps we'll see at least a lower no-offer rate and fewer deferrals. An increase in demand can't be a bad thing.

I don't mean to set off rampant optimism (trust me, I'm feeling pretty down and pessimistic right now about the legal economy, as those of you who know me can attest to). Caution is still the best course right now. But this is perhaps a glimmer of light for those of us about to start law school.

Thoughts?

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Core
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby Core » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:22 am

Thank you for posting this :)

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Kohinoor
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby Kohinoor » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:54 am

The problem is that biglaw understaffing is the norm. It is highly unlikely that partners will look at their PPP in one hand and tired, unhappy associates in the other and decide to double the size of their summer classes absent a guarantee that they can bill them all out for 2500 hours.

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Scallywaggums
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby Scallywaggums » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:15 am

Let's say it's real and it is good news.

Do you folks think that the thousands who've been laid off in '09 (http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wil ... law-2010-1 ) will be pulled back in as openings arise? I would assume yes (at least those with good track records) but I have no basis other than "experience".

Also, what about all the deferred offerings? Think they'll get the call?

Also, what about the low % of offers to summer associates. Many of those no-offers were qualified folk who were only turned down due to a tightened purse. Think they'll keep trying, with a leg up?

Lastly, what about T-14 students with X class rank, where X definitely would have made them contenders before ITE, but ITE they were forced to look elsewhere. Do you think they'll be competing to get back into the biglaw scene they feel jipped out of?

In other words, even if firms stop shedding jobs and actually start adding some, won't the competition for a still-less-than-before-ITE number of jobs pit fresh grads against a backlog of qualified folk?

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NoleinNY
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby NoleinNY » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:30 am

Scallywaggums wrote:Let's say it's real and it is good news.

Do you folks think that the thousands who've been laid off in '09 (http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wil ... law-2010-1 ) will be pulled back in as openings arise? I would assume yes (at least those with good track records) but I have no basis other than "experience".

Also, what about all the deferred offerings? Think they'll get the call?

Also, what about the low % of offers to summer associates. Many of those no-offers were qualified folk who were only turned down due to a tightened purse. Think they'll keep trying, with a leg up?

Lastly, what about T-14 students with X class rank, where X definitely would have made them contenders before ITE, but ITE they were forced to look elsewhere. Do you think they'll be competing to get back into the biglaw scene they feel jipped out of?

In other words, even if firms stop shedding jobs and actually start adding some, won't the competition for a still-less-than-before-ITE number of jobs pit fresh grads against a backlog of qualified folk?


That's the real big unknown, isn't it? Are the grads of 09-11 truly a lost generation? And if so, and the firms only want fresh blood, what would become of the mid-levels and deferred? The pessimistic answer would be to say "they're boned." Maybe that's true. A hopeful and entrepreneurial possibility we could see is a rise of new firms or practices formed started up by the disgruntled midlevels and populated with old blood (other midlevels), very little new blood (fresh grads), and stale blood (the "lost generation"). How feasible that would be is beyond my level of business or legal understandings; as a future and current members of the profession, we can bust ass and hope for the best...

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UnitarySpace
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby UnitarySpace » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:32 am

They ain't competing for the same jobs

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romothesavior
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby romothesavior » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:42 am

All signs point to the recent no-offers and lay-offs not getting rehired by these firms (for the most part). For one, that's not the norm. If you miss biglaw, you typically miss it for life. Second, many of the students who got no-offered or laid off have found other jobs in mid-law, small law, government, etc. (although a good chunk are likely unemployed). A lot of them have moved on or at least tried to, and based on what I've read and based on some of the comments I've seen on ATL, many of these people were so angry and have lost so much trust in these firms, they may not even want to go back. They got put thru the ringer and got treated like crap, so many are unlikely to want to go back. And lastly, most experts and hiring partners have said that these people are unlikely to get re-absorbed.

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romothesavior
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby romothesavior » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:50 am

Kohinoor wrote:The problem is that biglaw understaffing is the norm. It is highly unlikely that partners will look at their PPP in one hand and tired, unhappy associates in the other and decide to double the size of their summer classes absent a guarantee that they can bill them all out for 2500 hours.


But on the other hand, if partners are already starting to leave (as a lot of the comments on this ATL article suggest), jacking up billables isn't going to help the situation.

Obviously a lot of this is conjecture. But I definitely place more stock in conjecture on the part of hiring partners, current associates, and biglaw experts more than I do 0Ls or even current students.

And trust me, this article is exactly what I needed. I was in killself mode about 4 hours ago.

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MorningHood
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby MorningHood » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:06 am

bookmarked. gotta read later.

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SplitterPride
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby SplitterPride » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:06 am

Cogs dont have a choice. If some cogs dont want to take part in the pig farm anymore, they can become Hillshire Hot dogs for all I care. Plenty of cogs out there to take their place.

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98234872348
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby 98234872348 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:11 am

Scallywaggums wrote:Let's say it's real and it is good news.

Do you folks think that the thousands who've been laid off in '09 (http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wil ... law-2010-1 ) will be pulled back in as openings arise? I would assume yes (at least those with good track records) but I have no basis other than "experience".

Also, what about all the deferred offerings? Think they'll get the call?

Also, what about the low % of offers to summer associates. Many of those no-offers were qualified folk who were only turned down due to a tightened purse. Think they'll keep trying, with a leg up?

Lastly, what about T-14 students with X class rank, where X definitely would have made them contenders before ITE, but ITE they were forced to look elsewhere. Do you think they'll be competing to get back into the biglaw scene they feel jipped out of?

In other words, even if firms stop shedding jobs and actually start adding some, won't the competition for a still-less-than-before-ITE number of jobs pit fresh grads against a backlog of qualified folk?

I don't think I am alone when I glaze over every post in every thread you contribute to.

Just saying, chill out 0L.

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Scallywaggums
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby Scallywaggums » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:24 am

romothesavior wrote:All signs point to the recent no-offers and lay-offs not getting rehired by these firms (for the most part). For one, that's not the norm. If you miss biglaw, you typically miss it for life. Second, many of the students who got no-offered or laid off have found other jobs in mid-law, small law, government, etc. (although a good chunk are likely unemployed). A lot of them have moved on or at least tried to, and based on what I've read and based on some of the comments I've seen on ATL, many of these people were so angry and have lost so much trust in these firms, they may not even want to go back. They got put thru the ringer and got treated like crap, so many are unlikely to want to go back. And lastly, most experts and hiring partners have said that these people are unlikely to get re-absorbed.


Thanks.

While I feel bad for those folks, I can't help breathing a sigh of relief.

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bwv812
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby bwv812 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:00 am

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rando
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby rando » Sat Jun 12, 2010 7:22 am

Kohinoor wrote:The problem is that biglaw understaffing is the norm. It is highly unlikely that partners will look at their PPP in one hand and tired, unhappy associates in the other and decide to double the size of their summer classes absent a guarantee that they can bill them all out for 2500 hours.


This isn't so much the way it works. So long as a new associate would not be feeding off of other people's billables they will bring new people in when it's busy. Partners actually make more money from higher leverage, not less. It's only in times of downturn when everyone is sitting on their thumbs that partners were trying to decrease their leverage but cutting associates. 160k isn't exactly that much overhead for an associate to cover so long as the group is busy. An interesting anecdote along these lines; a family friend is a hiring partner at a regional/large firm and he says that most SAs actually end up coming close to paying for themselves through the miniscule billable they actually put out. I can guarantee you that SA's are not taking work out of full-time associates hands.

As far as filling in the BigLaw classes with those who got shafted. Its not going to happen. But those who are still on the deferral train will likely get called in early. They aren't lost yet. Others are right though, to mention that this won't mean a large uptick for current law students. For one, firms are being cautions. They also can't replace a mid-level with a newbie LS.

In general though, it is good news that things may be approaching normalcy or at least better than the hysteria going on at OCI last year.

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KMaine
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby KMaine » Sat Jun 12, 2010 7:29 am

Scallywaggums wrote:Scallywaggums wrote:
Do you think they'll be competing to get back into the biglaw scene they feel jipped out of?

Gonna assume you are unaware that this is widely viewed as a racial slur.


Think you have to spell it with a "gy" to get the true racial slur effect.

miamiman
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby miamiman » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:46 am

I read the artcile a few days ago and walked away kinda feeling "meh". Few things:

1) my understanding from reading ATL and XOXO is that laid off associates are all but f*cked. Some who got Lathamed reportedly were picked up by large firms and others by prestigious government etc. but, generally speaking, laidoff attorneys are perceived as irreparably damaged in BigLaw and have had to refocus their sights on midlaw and small law.

2) While I think it's possible that firms will ramp up junior associate hiring, especially as the economy rebounds, there still exists the problem of justifying their billables to clients who have pushed back.

There also exists the issue of firms being afraid of leveraging in the face of an uncertain economic climate.

3) Regarding the "lost" generation, c/o 2009-2011 (and perhaps more). There was an interesting ATL article that ran not too long ago; commentary from recruiters at the NALP nference in Puerto Rico. Mostly commentary on whether these classes would ever be re-absorbed. Worth a read (http://abovethelaw.com/2010/04/nalp-201 ... -the-gaps/) Further coverage (http://abovethelaw.com/2010/05/nalp-201 ... eneration/)

4) That said, I maintain now and I have said before that I think signs are slightly positive moving forward. Most of the news I hear from current associates suggests anecdotally work is up. Most law schools and firms are forecasting a modest improvement in their OCI; several deferred classes of associates have been called back early; many firms which had foregone OCI last year have rebooted their summer program for next year. And, broadly speaking, the economic environment in which OCI will be conducted will represent a vast improvement upon where things were just a year ago. Shoots of green all around.

Also, Romo. No need to have been in killself mode. This just isn't worth slitting your wrists over.

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romothesavior
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby romothesavior » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:56 pm

Great points by everyone. I do agree that this doesn't necessarily mean a lot higher biglaw numbers for c/o 2012 and c/o 2013. It might help, but there is no guarantee.

But I do think it could mean better job prospects overall, if we're talking about beyond biglaw. Obviously, biglaw is sort of the driver of legal employment in many ways. When the big firms tighten up hiring, there is a trickle down that hurts everyone (e.g., if a firm goes from 100 SAs to 20, those other 80 students find jobs in other areas and affect the market all the way down). Wouldn't it make sense that if big firms start taking laterals and there is movement into big law, there would be a "trickle up :? "? Perhaps the pressure in smaller firms will be released a bit, and hiring could pick up somewhat outside of biglaw as well?

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profs<3mycomments
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby profs<3mycomments » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:13 pm

mistergoft wrote:
Scallywaggums wrote:Let's say it's real and it is good news.

Do you folks think that the thousands who've been laid off in '09 (http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wil ... law-2010-1 ) will be pulled back in as openings arise? I would assume yes (at least those with good track records) but I have no basis other than "experience".

Also, what about all the deferred offerings? Think they'll get the call?

Also, what about the low % of offers to summer associates. Many of those no-offers were qualified folk who were only turned down due to a tightened purse. Think they'll keep trying, with a leg up?

Lastly, what about T-14 students with X class rank, where X definitely would have made them contenders before ITE, but ITE they were forced to look elsewhere. Do you think they'll be competing to get back into the biglaw scene they feel jipped out of?

In other words, even if firms stop shedding jobs and actually start adding some, won't the competition for a still-less-than-before-ITE number of jobs pit fresh grads against a backlog of qualified folk?

I don't think I am alone when I glaze over every post in every thread you contribute to.

Just saying, chill out 0L.


whoa read my mind

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dood
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby dood » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:17 pm

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romothesavior
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby romothesavior » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:23 pm

dood wrote:They are also trying to predict when the economy will pick up and don't want to be caught with their pants down when it booms again. There is no question the economy will boom again; it's just a matter of when.


:? Highly skeptical of this. Unless you mean like a decade from now or something.

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dood
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby dood » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:26 pm

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dood
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby dood » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:28 pm

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rando
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby rando » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:28 pm

romothesavior wrote:
dood wrote:They are also trying to predict when the economy will pick up and don't want to be caught with their pants down when it booms again. There is no question the economy will boom again; it's just a matter of when.


:? Highly skeptical of this. Unless you mean like a decade from now or something.


The premise isn't that far-fetched actually. There are a few firms I know in ATL that are absolutely slammed right now. There are laterals interviewing every week.

But hiring a bunch of current LS to not get caught with their pants down isn't really where they are looking. There is such a gluttony of well-qualified lawyers out there right now that they don't need to do that. As far as a few years down the road . . . everyone seems to think (BigLaw peeps included) that the hiring model will change, i.e. no more SA classes of 80-100 etc. How it will change? No clue. But the good news would seem to be that at least C/O 2013 probably won't get killed as bad as we did.

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dood
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby dood » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:33 pm

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NYAssociate
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Re: Potential Biglaw Understaffing?

Postby NYAssociate » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:39 pm

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