Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

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dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:16 pm

c3pO4 wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:

Name a Fortune 100 company that is a partnership, performs exactly one service that only people with one particular educational background are qualified to do, only hires people en masse as a class once every year, and has a rigid up-or-out practice making the average employee tenure only three or four years. It's an asinine comparison.


ummm, all of these things sound like pretty terrible business practices. they should all change too, and eventually will one way or another. also, many of the high performance jobs in big F500 publicly traded companies do require fairly specialized education / career path (mba/career equivalent exp). law firms exist to make profit, just like any other business, even if they are a "partnership" instead of a C corp.

Law firms exist to do precisely whatever the partnership wants them to do, which as someone mentioned is a fundamental, and permanent, difference between Weil and a publicly traded corporation.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:28 pm

c3pO4 wrote:ummm, all of these things sound like pretty terrible business practices. they should all change too, and eventually will one way or another. also, many of the high performance jobs in big F500 publicly traded companies do require fairly specialized education / career path (mba/career equivalent exp). law firms exist to make profit, just like any other business, even if they are a "partnership" instead of a C corp.


Yes, law firms are operated to make a profit, but there's a difference between what's immediately profitable right now and what's profitable in the long term. Part of the point of having partnership is that the shareholders are not short-term passive investors who bail whenever they feel like it, but incentivized, invested employees who will make the best decisions for the long term. A partnership insulates you from short termism.

As a side note, insulating companies from the short-term demands of public shareholders is basically the business model of private equity, and that seems to have worked out pretty well for them. Aside from private equity, many of the most successful tech companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) are effectively run as partnerships since one or two people control the majority of the voting power, and you consistently see these companies investing in speculative ventures that have a large probability of a short term loss in order to preserve their long-term position. A third example would be consulting, where pretty much all of the most successful firms (McKinsey, BCG, Bain) are run as partnerships.

Weil's decision to lay off associates and effectively push out partners to keep up PPP is clearly profitable short-term, but is it a wise decision in the long term? I have no idea, but there's a very good argument it's not because of concerns such as hurting recruiting, negatively impacting the cohesiveness of the partnership, etc. And many of the most successful and profitable law firms don't do this.
Last edited by imchuckbass58 on Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

redbullvodka
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby redbullvodka » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:28 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:
IAFG wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:Nothing about "it is possible for the partners to take lower draws to preserve jobs" is inconsistent with that. There are firms where some rainmakers bring in much more business than their compensation would suggest, and those rainmakers do not flee en masse to firms with more flexible compensation structures.


List of partners where this is the case.


This is true at pretty much every firm with a lockstep partnership (Cravath, Wachtell, Cleary, DPW, Debevoise). Several of these firms deliberately took a PPP hit to not lay off associates during the recession. At each of these firms, there are superstar partners who could make many multiples of what they make if they moved to an eat what you kill firm. Yet these firms have some of the lowest partner turnover of any firms out there, because they retain partners not solely using money.

You think Evan Chesler couldn't have made more at Kirkland? Or that Mary Jo White couldn't have gotten a hefty compensation package from a non-lockstep firm instead of going back to Debevoise after being US Attorney, where she made the same as every other senior partner? At all of these firms, there are partners who are responsible for disproportionate shares of the firm's business, but they stick around.


+1000

c3pO4
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby c3pO4 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:35 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:
c3pO4 wrote:ummm, all of these things sound like pretty terrible business practices. they should all change too, and eventually will one way or another. also, many of the high performance jobs in big F500 publicly traded companies do require fairly specialized education / career path (mba/career equivalent exp). law firms exist to make profit, just like any other business, even if they are a "partnership" instead of a C corp.


Yes, law firms are operated to make a profit, but there's a difference between what's immediately profitable right now and what's profitable in the long term. Part of the point of having partnership is that the shareholders are not short-term passive investors who bail whenever they feel like it, but incentivized, invested employees who will make the best decisions for the long term. A partnership insulates you from short termism.

As a side note, insulating companies from the short-term demands of public shareholders is basically the business model of private equity, and that seems to have worked out pretty well for them. Aside from private equity, many of the most successful tech companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) are effectively run as partnerships since one or two people control the majority of the voting power, and you consistently see these companies investing in speculative ventures that have a large probability of a short term loss in order to preserve their long-term position. A third example would be consulting, where pretty much all of the most successful firms (McKinsey, BCG, Bain) are run as partnerships.

Weil's decision to lay off associates and effectively push out partners to keep up PPP is clearly profitable short-term, but is it a wise decision in the long term? I have no idea, but there's a very good argument it's not because of concerns such as hurting recruiting, negatively impacting the cohesiveness of the partnership, etc. And many of the most successful and profitable law firms don't do this.


i think i agree with most of what you said, and i like your manner of presenting your thoughts. generally though, i still think along the lines of "growth is dead" and that almost all firms are operating a flawed business model just because they are reluctant to get with the changed structure of the industry. i don't know if the weil lawyoffs represent a waking up to structural changes, or yet another short-term decision that continues ignoring them. just because they said "new normal" a bunch of times in the press release doesn't actually mean they are fundamentally changing their business in any way. i still think that laying off low performing groups/people is a good approach and nothing to get up in arms about.

timbs4339
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:55 pm

IAFG wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
See Swaine and Moore, Cravath.


Firms that pay partners lockstep generally get away with it because of institutional clients who aren't going to leave with the lawyer.

I am not saying every rainmaker is maximizing their pay, I am saying your suggestion for avoiding layoffs is mostly unworkable/not consistent with the reality of the biglaw business model.


The argument was not whether it's a strategy that would be practiced by a majority of firms or the choices of a majority of rainmakers. The argument was whether it was possible. As others have said, there are several firms where top rainmakers forego compensation they could have earned elsewhere.

c3pO4 wrote:i still think that laying off low performing groups/people is a good approach and nothing to get up in arms about.


What might be an even better approach is not overextending yourself in the first place or getting into cities/practice groups that are not sustainable. I don't think Weil is suddenly at-risk, but the same tactic was a huge factor in the Howrey breakup. The difference is that you seem to be saying that this shows "good management." I disagree- it exposes that management made a mistake.
Last edited by timbs4339 on Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:57 pm

Associate at an NY big firm here:

redbullvodka wrote:
imchuckbass58 wrote:
IAFG wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:Nothing about "it is possible for the partners to take lower draws to preserve jobs" is inconsistent with that. There are firms where some rainmakers bring in much more business than their compensation would suggest, and those rainmakers do not flee en masse to firms with more flexible compensation structures.


List of partners where this is the case.


This is true at pretty much every firm with a lockstep partnership (Cravath, Wachtell, Cleary, DPW, Debevoise). Several of these firms deliberately took a PPP hit to not lay off associates during the recession. At each of these firms, there are superstar partners who could make many multiples of what they make if they moved to an eat what you kill firm. Yet these firms have some of the lowest partner turnover of any firms out there, because they retain partners not solely using money.

You think Evan Chesler couldn't have made more at Kirkland? Or that Mary Jo White couldn't have gotten a hefty compensation package from a non-lockstep firm instead of going back to Debevoise after being US Attorney, where she made the same as every other senior partner? At all of these firms, there are partners who are responsible for disproportionate shares of the firm's business, but they stick around.


+1000


+another thousand.

c3pO4 wrote: i still think that laying off low performing groups/people is a good approach and nothing to get up in arms about.


Big firms have staggeringly high levels of turnover relative to major businesses. It's already engrained in the business model. People are pushed out, subtly or not so subtly. It's silly to think firms were good old boys clubs where non-performers just hung around for dat 6 figure salary.

I had a performance review once at my firm where the partner actually used the phrase "up or out" to describe the career path. It's not exactly a secret that law firms shed employees at a prodigious rate even before resorting to mass layoffs.

c3pO4
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby c3pO4 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:00 pm

timbs4339 wrote:
What might be an even better approach is not overextending yourself in the first place or getting into cities/practice groups that are not sustainable. I don't think Weil is suddenly at-risk, but the same tactic was a huge factor in the Howrey breakup. The difference is that you seem to be saying that this shows "good management." I disagree- it exposes that management made a mistake.


You are right, I agree. On the bright side, though, they recognized the mistake and are trying to do something about it. Could just keep making the same mistakes until they turn into Dewey/Howrey. The mistake is in the past, the layoffs are a decent move given the past mistake.

NYstate
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby NYstate » Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:26 pm

The problem isn't just not having the work. The problem is that clients aren't paying the same and that clients are going to smaller firms that will charge less. This isn't just impacting Weil corporate. This demand for reduced fees and refusal to pay for low level associates is hitting all law firms.

Remember the article that there are no real economies of scale in law firms? Being large is not an advantage and it is a hinderance if you can't be competitive for fees.

That aside, Weil could easily do without a Boston office. I'm not sure why it started or which clients are there. It is probably a left over from the glory days of pre-ITE.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:59 pm

NYstate wrote:The problem isn't just not having the work. The problem is that clients aren't paying the same and that clients are going to smaller firms that will charge less. This isn't just impacting Weil corporate. This demand for reduced fees and refusal to pay for low level associates is hitting all law firms.


This is true, but it's much less true for certain types of matters and in certain geographies compared to others. Major M&A deals are much less price-sensitive than most litigation. Even within litigation, deal litigation or other extremely high-value matters such as antitrust suits or patent matters (most of which are in NY, DC, and to a lesser extent CA) are less price sensitive than general commercial litigation.

I think one problem is that while is much less of a capital markets-centric firm than many other V10s. Cravath, STB, S&C, DPW, etc. basically only do large mergers, capital markets work, and select high-stakes litigation such as securities lit or major IP litigation. It doesn't make them immune to price pressure, but it insulates them a lot. Weil, on the other hand, opened a lot of satellite offices, and expanded the scope of the work it does.

This article is behind a paywall, but it has excellent reporting (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 87410.html):

"The problem has been especially acute for the firm in markets outside New York, where top local lawyers routinely charge less than Weil lawyers, said one laid off associate in Houston. Weil priced itself out of the market because of its reputation for refusing to cut rates, the associate said. 'This white-shoe insistence on not getting dirty has left us dinosaured out of the situation,' one associate based in Houston said. . . . Several associates said that they had been assigned to little or no local litigation work recently because Weil wasn't able to sell itself to oil-and-gas companies. 'You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that if you're not doing oil-and-gas work in Houston, you're not doing anything,' one of them said."

anon168
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby anon168 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:32 pm

timbs4339 wrote:
c3pO4 wrote:i think the most interesting aspect of this is that in corporate america, regular layoffs are business as usual. law firms maybe moving from the 1970's to the 1980's and no longer retaining even low performers "just 'cause." this "new normal" is actually 30 years old in every other industry. i can't help but think firms adjusting to reflect longstanding structural changes is a welcome sight and long overdue. weil is probably accurate to say they are doing this from a position of strength and it will probably help them moving forward relative to all these other firms whose management doesn't know how to run a business and choose to stay willfully ignorant...


This may come as a complete shock to you, but it is possible for the partners to take lower draws to preserve jobs, rather than spend a lot of money in order to hire midlevels and seniors if the market picks up again (perhaps at an increased pay rate). If not, attrition can thin the herd.

IIRC, Dewey and Howrey both claimed until the day they died that they were merely rightsizing. Weil won't go the way of those firms, but to say that cutting jobs means that management knows how to run a business is foolish. In fact, I read layoffs as an indication that management screwed up somewhere along the line.


Perhaps the better question is why not have associates take reduced salaries and benefits so that their colleagues are not laid off?

timbs4339
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:35 pm

anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
c3pO4 wrote:i think the most interesting aspect of this is that in corporate america, regular layoffs are business as usual. law firms maybe moving from the 1970's to the 1980's and no longer retaining even low performers "just 'cause." this "new normal" is actually 30 years old in every other industry. i can't help but think firms adjusting to reflect longstanding structural changes is a welcome sight and long overdue. weil is probably accurate to say they are doing this from a position of strength and it will probably help them moving forward relative to all these other firms whose management doesn't know how to run a business and choose to stay willfully ignorant...


This may come as a complete shock to you, but it is possible for the partners to take lower draws to preserve jobs, rather than spend a lot of money in order to hire midlevels and seniors if the market picks up again (perhaps at an increased pay rate). If not, attrition can thin the herd.

IIRC, Dewey and Howrey both claimed until the day they died that they were merely rightsizing. Weil won't go the way of those firms, but to say that cutting jobs means that management knows how to run a business is foolish. In fact, I read layoffs as an indication that management screwed up somewhere along the line.


Perhaps the better question is why not have associates take reduced salaries and benefits so that their colleagues are not laid off?


It's a question, I'm not sure it's the "better" one. Why not both? And again, not really the point I made.

http://abovethelaw.com/2009/11/nationwi ... n-burling/
http://abovethelaw.com/2010/02/covingto ... r-in-2009/

Anonymous User
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:36 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:
NYstate wrote:The problem isn't just not having the work. The problem is that clients aren't paying the same and that clients are going to smaller firms that will charge less. This isn't just impacting Weil corporate. This demand for reduced fees and refusal to pay for low level associates is hitting all law firms.


This is true, but it's much less true for certain types of matters and in certain geographies compared to others. Major M&A deals are much less price-sensitive than most litigation. Even within litigation, deal litigation or other extremely high-value matters such as antitrust suits or patent matters (most of which are in NY, DC, and to a lesser extent CA) are less price sensitive than general commercial litigation.

I think one problem is that while is much less of a capital markets-centric firm than many other V10s. Cravath, STB, S&C, DPW, etc. basically only do large mergers, capital markets work, and select high-stakes litigation such as securities lit or major IP litigation. It doesn't make them immune to price pressure, but it insulates them a lot. Weil, on the other hand, opened a lot of satellite offices, and expanded the scope of the work it does.

This article is behind a paywall, but it has excellent reporting (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 87410.html):

"The problem has been especially acute for the firm in markets outside New York, where top local lawyers routinely charge less than Weil lawyers, said one laid off associate in Houston. Weil priced itself out of the market because of its reputation for refusing to cut rates, the associate said. 'This white-shoe insistence on not getting dirty has left us dinosaured out of the situation,' one associate based in Houston said. . . . Several associates said that they had been assigned to little or no local litigation work recently because Weil wasn't able to sell itself to oil-and-gas companies. 'You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that if you're not doing oil-and-gas work in Houston, you're not doing anything,' one of them said."


This is interesting. Houston has gotten so hot lately it's insane. Vinson & Elkins, Baker Botts, and F&J dominate that place, and it seems like the only "outsider" who has made any headway has been Latham. It makes me wonder whether some other firms that have tried to crack that market are going to similarly shed practice groups down there eventually.

anon168
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby anon168 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:23 pm

timbs4339 wrote:
anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
c3pO4 wrote:i think the most interesting aspect of this is that in corporate america, regular layoffs are business as usual. law firms maybe moving from the 1970's to the 1980's and no longer retaining even low performers "just 'cause." this "new normal" is actually 30 years old in every other industry. i can't help but think firms adjusting to reflect longstanding structural changes is a welcome sight and long overdue. weil is probably accurate to say they are doing this from a position of strength and it will probably help them moving forward relative to all these other firms whose management doesn't know how to run a business and choose to stay willfully ignorant...


This may come as a complete shock to you, but it is possible for the partners to take lower draws to preserve jobs, rather than spend a lot of money in order to hire midlevels and seniors if the market picks up again (perhaps at an increased pay rate). If not, attrition can thin the herd.

IIRC, Dewey and Howrey both claimed until the day they died that they were merely rightsizing. Weil won't go the way of those firms, but to say that cutting jobs means that management knows how to run a business is foolish. In fact, I read layoffs as an indication that management screwed up somewhere along the line.


Perhaps the better question is why not have associates take reduced salaries and benefits so that their colleagues are not laid off?


It's a question, I'm not sure it's the "better" one. Why not both? And again, not really the point I made.

http://abovethelaw.com/2009/11/nationwi ... n-burling/
http://abovethelaw.com/2010/02/covingto ... r-in-2009/


It's the better one because there's no reason for partners to take reduced salaries for the sake of associates.

I don't understand why associates think they are anything but fungible commodities vis-a-vis biglaw.
Last edited by anon168 on Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Borg
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby Borg » Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:29 pm

To those who were worried about M&A activity slowing because of rising interest rates, I think the concern is unfounded. The Fed isn't going to raise interest rates until it's no longer necessary to keep them low. They know that prematurely raising rates before the economy can handle it will cause a backslide, so it's not going to happen until we reach a stage where it isn't going to slow M&A activity.

timbs4339
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:36 pm

anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
anon168 wrote:Perhaps the better question is why not have associates take reduced salaries and benefits so that their colleagues are not laid off?


It's a question, I'm not sure it's the "better" one. Why not both? And again, not really the point I made.

http://abovethelaw.com/2009/11/nationwi ... n-burling/
http://abovethelaw.com/2010/02/covingto ... r-in-2009/


It's the better one because there's no reason for partners to take reduced salaries for the sake of associates.


You can't think of a single (even completely, utterly self-interested) reason why partners might take short-term PPP hits in order to maintain staffing levels at their current size? Think like a rational actor and not a cliche from an Ayn Rand novel.

Do you know how much it costs to hire a lateral associate?

anon168
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby anon168 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:39 pm

timbs4339 wrote:
anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
anon168 wrote:Perhaps the better question is why not have associates take reduced salaries and benefits so that their colleagues are not laid off?


It's a question, I'm not sure it's the "better" one. Why not both? And again, not really the point I made.

http://abovethelaw.com/2009/11/nationwi ... n-burling/
http://abovethelaw.com/2010/02/covingto ... r-in-2009/


It's the better one because there's no reason for partners to take reduced salaries for the sake of associates.


You can't think of a single (even completely, utterly self-interested) reason why partners might take short-term PPP hits in order to maintain staffing levels at their current size? Think like a rational actor and not a cliche from an Ayn Rand novel.

Do you know how much it costs to hire a lateral associate?


In fact, I actually do.

It's not about hiring a lateral associate to replace the laid off ones. It's just about cutting fat.

timbs4339
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:41 pm

anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:It's a question, I'm not sure it's the "better" one. Why not both? And again, not really the point I made.

http://abovethelaw.com/2009/11/nationwi ... n-burling/
http://abovethelaw.com/2010/02/covingto ... r-in-2009/


It's the better one because there's no reason for partners to take reduced salaries for the sake of associates.


You can't think of a single (even completely, utterly self-interested) reason why partners might take short-term PPP hits in order to maintain staffing levels at their current size? Think like a rational actor and not a cliche from an Ayn Rand novel.

Do you know how much it costs to hire a lateral associate?


In fact, I actually do.

It's not about hiring a lateral associate to replace the laid off ones. It's just about cutting fat.


Cut too much and eventually you hit bone.

But let's expand this analogy out a bit. It costs energy (money) to lose mass and gain mass when you need it. It might simply be better for everyone concerned if you erred on the side of a little plump.

anon168
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby anon168 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:07 pm

timbs4339 wrote:
But let's expand this analogy out a bit. It costs energy (money) to lose mass and gain mass when you need it. It might simply be better for everyone concerned if you erred on the side of a little plump.


Someday you'll understand. If and when you decide to join the partnership ranks and either own or manage a firm, you'll come to the cold hard realization that firms are built based on its partner-level talent. Associates are, at best, a rounding error on the balance sheet; at worst, an expendable expense like the gratis Starbucks coffee machine in the breakroom.

This is why I have incessantly preached on this forum that your grades always matter -- no matter what. Even if you've secured a job as a summer, someday everyone needs to find a job, for the __th time. And when that day comes, if you are still an associate, or even a jr. partner/of counsel level person, your grades will still matter.

In law, esp. biglaw, we are all fungible. Even most partners are fungible, save the very few who have books of business that make the Magna Carta look like the Cliff's Notes for War and Peace.

timbs4339
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:21 pm

anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
But let's expand this analogy out a bit. It costs energy (money) to lose mass and gain mass when you need it. It might simply be better for everyone concerned if you erred on the side of a little plump.


Someday you'll understand. If and when you decide to join the partnership ranks and either own or manage a firm, you'll come to the cold hard realization that firms are built based on its partner-level talent. Associates are, at best, a rounding error on the balance sheet; at worst, an expendable expense like the gratis Starbucks coffee machine in the breakroom.

This is why I have incessantly preached on this forum that your grades always matter -- no matter what. Even if you've secured a job as a summer, someday everyone needs to find a job, for the __th time. And when that day comes, if you are still an associate, or even a jr. partner/of counsel level person, your grades will still matter.

In law, esp. biglaw, we are all fungible. Even most partners are fungible, save the very few who have books of business that make the Magna Carta look like the Cliff's Notes for War and Peace.


Your rant is completely irrelevant to whether there might be good reasons for a partnership to take short-term PPP hits to maintain staffing levels. Again, I'm not talking about whether it was a good idea for Weil in this new normal (ITNN), or whether it should be a law that you can't fire associates, or that people don't like money, or whatever you think I'm saying.

HYPO: I predict a 10% dropoff in work in Y1, and then a 20% increase in Y2. Does it make sense to fire associates, give them 90K in severance for six months while my competitors hire them, and then have to hire associates to meet the increased demand?

c3pO4
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby c3pO4 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:29 pm

anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
But let's expand this analogy out a bit. It costs energy (money) to lose mass and gain mass when you need it. It might simply be better for everyone concerned if you erred on the side of a little plump.


Someday you'll understand. If and when you decide to join the partnership ranks and either own or manage a firm, you'll come to the cold hard realization that firms are built based on its partner-level talent. Associates are, at best, a rounding error on the balance sheet; at worst, an expendable expense like the gratis Starbucks coffee machine in the breakroom.

This is why I have incessantly preached on this forum that your grades always matter -- no matter what. Even if you've secured a job as a summer, someday everyone needs to find a job, for the __th time. And when that day comes, if you are still an associate, or even a jr. partner/of counsel level person, your grades will still matter.

In law, esp. biglaw, we are all fungible. Even most partners are fungible, save the very few who have books of business that make the Magna Carta look like the Cliff's Notes for War and Peace.


looking for a new job 10 years out means your grades matter? check out the google interview where they admit to being wrong about requiring certain gpa/school degrees and realized it had 0 correlation to job performance. when you look for that Nth job, it's your skills that you've developed, network, and reputation that will come into play. anybody looking at grades at that point when making a hiring decision is not somewhere you really want to work, and anybody repping their grades 10 years out is not somebody you want to hire.

itbdvorm
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby itbdvorm » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:54 pm

timbs4339 wrote:
anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
But let's expand this analogy out a bit. It costs energy (money) to lose mass and gain mass when you need it. It might simply be better for everyone concerned if you erred on the side of a little plump.


Someday you'll understand. If and when you decide to join the partnership ranks and either own or manage a firm, you'll come to the cold hard realization that firms are built based on its partner-level talent. Associates are, at best, a rounding error on the balance sheet; at worst, an expendable expense like the gratis Starbucks coffee machine in the breakroom.

This is why I have incessantly preached on this forum that your grades always matter -- no matter what. Even if you've secured a job as a summer, someday everyone needs to find a job, for the __th time. And when that day comes, if you are still an associate, or even a jr. partner/of counsel level person, your grades will still matter.

In law, esp. biglaw, we are all fungible. Even most partners are fungible, save the very few who have books of business that make the Magna Carta look like the Cliff's Notes for War and Peace.


Your rant is completely irrelevant to whether there might be good reasons for a partnership to take short-term PPP hits to maintain staffing levels. Again, I'm not talking about whether it was a good idea for Weil in this new normal (ITNN), or whether it should be a law that you can't fire associates, or that people don't like money, or whatever you think I'm saying.

HYPO: I predict a 10% dropoff in work in Y1, and then a 20% increase in Y2. Does it make sense to fire associates, give them 90K in severance for six months while my competitors hire them, and then have to hire associates to meet the increased demand?


Actually, possibly it does - because by cutting the fat in Y1 the associate who remain get better experience, and are thus more capable of running matters in Y2.

And to whomever posted above about those firms "not doing layoffs" - no, they did, they just marketed them better / hid their cuts from the public. Literally every firm not named Wachtell found a way to push people out.

Anonymous User
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:06 pm

itbdvorm wrote:And to whomever posted above about those firms "not doing layoffs" - no, they did, they just marketed them better / hid their cuts from the public. Literally every firm not named Wachtell found a way to push people out.

My midlaw firm didn't push out anyone out, even when transactional people were billing 700 hr/yr.

fanlinxun
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby fanlinxun » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:37 pm

c3pO4 wrote:
anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
looking for a new job 10 years out means your grades matter? check out the google interview where they admit to being wrong about requiring certain gpa/school degrees and realized it had 0 correlation to job performance. when you look for that Nth job, it's your skills that you've developed, network, and reputation that will come into play. anybody looking at grades at that point when making a hiring decision is not somewhere you really want to work, and anybody repping their grades 10 years out is not somebody you want to hire.


Spend some time on headhunting site with postings for laterals before you reach this conclusion. It doesn't matter what google thought about gpa and degrees. It matters what law firms think. Yes, your skills, reputation, network etc. are all very important. But many firms still have strict gpa and school requirements up until they are hiring lateral partners. (At which point, admittedly, they are interested in your portable book of business) Since most of us will never make partner it is probably worth a little effort to keep your grades up just in case.

AllTheLawz
Posts: 369
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby AllTheLawz » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:45 pm

NYstate wrote:The problem isn't just not having the work. The problem is that clients aren't paying the same and that clients are going to smaller firms that will charge less. This isn't just impacting Weil corporate. This demand for reduced fees and refusal to pay for low level associates is hitting all law firms.

Remember the article that there are no real economies of scale in law firms? Being large is not an advantage and it is a hinderance if you can't be competitive for fees.

That aside, Weil could easily do without a Boston office. I'm not sure why it started or which clients are there. It is probably a left over from the glory days of pre-ITE.


Weil Boston was initially almost solely a PE shop. Weil Boston's PE group is pretty profitable (or at least it was a year ago) and actually sources a good bit of work out to NY. The commercial lit group was pretty new and the firm seemed to pushing for growth for some reason. Obviously that didn't go so well.

c3pO4
Posts: 835
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:34 pm

Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby c3pO4 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:56 pm

fanlinxun wrote:
c3pO4 wrote:
anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
looking for a new job 10 years out means your grades matter? check out the google interview where they admit to being wrong about requiring certain gpa/school degrees and realized it had 0 correlation to job performance. when you look for that Nth job, it's your skills that you've developed, network, and reputation that will come into play. anybody looking at grades at that point when making a hiring decision is not somewhere you really want to work, and anybody repping their grades 10 years out is not somebody you want to hire.


Spend some time on headhunting site with postings for laterals before you reach this conclusion. It doesn't matter what google thought about gpa and degrees. It matters what law firms think. Yes, your skills, reputation, network etc. are all very important. But many firms still have strict gpa and school requirements up until they are hiring lateral partners. (At which point, admittedly, they are interested in your portable book of business) Since most of us will never make partner it is probably worth a little effort to keep your grades up just in case.


maybe you can't move up beyond whatever Vault band you started in, due to grade snobbery. but if you start out in biglaw, your lateral moves will be based on experience not GPA. i guess i am assuming you keep the same grades you had when you got the job. if you are saying you shouldn't tank your grades, i guess I agree. all i'm saying is whatever got you into biglaw will be enough to let you lateral around--the key factors will be exp/reputation/network and luck




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