Sup Kid wrote:
Among the other firms, there are some that people seem to think have better overall business outlooks, and some that haven't been doing great as of late (but aren't having serious problems).
Off the top of my head, some of the ones in the latter category might include Mayer Brown, Morgan Lewis, Cadwalader, Shearman, Fried Frank, Proskauer, Paul Hastings.
You have any sources of information about these, or does "off the top of my head" just mean randomly naming big firms that are lower than V20?
Most of these firms (Mayer Brown, MLB, Cadwalader, Proskauer, maybe others) conducted announced layoffs and/or no-offered (MLB cancelled its 2010 summer program). I'm not going to pull all the links for you, but each of these took worse than normal hits to revenue, RPL, and/or PPP. Some have also had high-profile partner departures (i.e., Dennis Block, who basically was Cadwalader's entire M&A department), and have/had concentrations in sectors that haven't really recovered (e.g., securitization used to be a huge chunk of Cadwalader's business).
Edit: Here's info on layoffs - http://www.americanlawyer.com/PubArticl ... 2425647706
- there are lots of firms listed, but take a look and sheer numbers and multiple rounds for many of the firms listed above.
What firms did in 2008 is of very little relevance to their financial health now. Cadwalader is a perfect example: they are probably in fine financial shape precisely because they didn't hesitate to fire most of the firm when securities work died. Really, from a student's point of view, the only thing the layoff numbers are useful for at this point is holding a grudge against the firms that conducted them.
Your point about departures is a much better thing to watch, and I would advise any student to start digging through the legal industry news sources to see if there are patterns of either departures of high-profile lateral hires at any firm they are considering. The "healthiest" firms will have very few of either. One or two departures might not be a big deal (and can even be positive sign), but if the rats are jumping ship in droves, it can be a sign things aren't going well. Same goes for high-profile lateral hires. If a firm is filling a specific niche, it can be a great sign they have hired a rainmaking lateral. But, at the same time, often the reason 'rainmakers' leave firms is that they are no longer brining in the business they once did, and they don't want to have their draw reduced, so they leave for a firm that will give them a contract, and often that firm ends up overpaying and regretting it( see, e.g. Dewey)
Edit to add: As I look at your list a little closer, I emphatically disagree with some of your examples. Some of those firms seem to be in very good shape, thanks to diverse practice areas and realistic growth models. I would agree that Cadwalader and Proskauer deserve a little scrutiny for the reasons I mentioned above. Cadwalader did a good job diversifying after the crash, but they have had a number of high-profile defections. Maybe it's good, maybe it's bad, but it's worth watching. The inverse is true for Proskauer: they have made a few too many lateral acquisitions recently for my comfort. Again, maybe its part of a well-reasoned diversification or growth plan; but there's also the chance for a winner's curse that will saddle them with high payments to underperforming partners.