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."