Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

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Bronte
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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby Bronte » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:05 pm

thefuturenow wrote:
AAJD2B wrote:I, for one, would feel safer landing an offer from the likes of DPW or STB versus Mayer Brown or Paul Hastings.

I figure the firms "who have so many billions of dollars riding on their legal work that they can truly spend without limit" includes the likes of:

Wachtell
Sullivan & Cromwell
Davis Polk
Cravath
Skadden
Simpson Thacher
Williams & Connolly
Quinn Emanuel
Paul Weiss
Cleary Gottlieb


....I wonder who else I am missing.


Lathamed.


Blatant trolling, like I said. Not just against the excluded V10s/20s but also against various non-NY firms that dominate their home markets and are as stable as anybody.

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guano
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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby guano » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:16 pm

Bronte wrote:
thefuturenow wrote:
AAJD2B wrote:I, for one, would feel safer landing an offer from the likes of DPW or STB versus Mayer Brown or Paul Hastings.

I figure the firms "who have so many billions of dollars riding on their legal work that they can truly spend without limit" includes the likes of:

Wachtell
Sullivan & Cromwell
Davis Polk
Cravath
Skadden
Simpson Thacher
Williams & Connolly
Quinn Emanuel
Paul Weiss
Cleary Gottlieb


....I wonder who else I am missing.


Lathamed.


Blatant trolling, like I said. Not just against the excluded V10s/20s but also against various non-NY firms that dominate their home markets and are as stable as anybody.

People put way too much stock in rankings

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rayiner
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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby rayiner » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:25 pm

The Mayer Brown partner who commented on the ATL article had the right point. It's a lot of handwaving about changes that have been in place in other industries for awhile now. The NR article can be summed up as: there is money to be made, and more competition for it. I'm not sure we should be reminiscing about the 1970's and how there was less competition, because in part that lack of competition was the result of exclusion: excluding women and minorities, etc. Things were just dandy back when Harvard accepted 25% of applicants, because, in the absence of federal student loan guarantees, the only people who applied to begin with were people who could pay out of pocket.


Vis-a-vis instability: big law is more stable than most professional jobs. Dewey going under generated several NYT articles. How much press was generated when Monitor Group (which was in the top 10 of Vault's consulting firm rankings) went under? In big law, associates run the risk of getting stealthed. In other companies (GE and IBM notably), there is an open management policy of firing the bottom 10% every year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitality_c ... philosophy. That's a bigger than Weil-sized layoff (Weil was 7% of associates--coincidentally the same number as Microsoft's bottom bucket), every single year by blue-chip companies that aren't having any financial trouble. See: http://michelbaudin.com/2012/08/14/metr ... ing-people.

You have to go past the rhetoric and look at the numbers. Demand is down a few % from peak, realization rates are down a few percent, and like in *every other industry* producer ability to increase prices is stagnant. There is no story here, other than the fact that the economy sucks and sucks for everyone in pretty similar ways.

A bigger story is what will happen to government lawyers when state governments collapse.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby Bronte » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:36 pm

Welcome back.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:48 pm

I think you missed the point of the article. I don't think the main thrust of the article was as much about how much things are tougher for Biglaw as much as it was a paen to how good it used to be and how insane it is that the model proliferated for so long.

Law is an industry that actively punishes innovation. Lawyers work off of precedent- any deviation from how things went previously is met with intense skepticism. The firms that begin doing things even remotely differently generate such tremendous publicity because the profession is so staid. When Bartlit Beck went to its diamond model instead of the billable hour, they were treated like they invented electricity. That has less to do with how innovative their model is and more to do with how broken everyone else is.

The way firms hire is stupid, the way they bill is stupid, the way they compensate is stupid and the market is finally beginnign to realize this. Consulting is a horrible analogy as is GE or any other corporation. Law firms cannot be as flexible or nimble as these diversified organizations because they only offer one core service and they cannot change that.

The only reason Cravath and S&C, etc., are at the top is because they have been at the top for so long. They aren't doing anything that is so world-beating that they can outlast anyone else on pure intellectual horsepower. They cater to the risk averse- they recruit kids who chase prestige and will do whatever it takes to last because, well, their entire academic careers were directed in the same vein and that is a strong proxy. The general counsel's hire them because they know if the deal goes south or they lose the case, they can report to the board that "what else were we supposed to do? we hired the best" and can protect themselves. The entire industry is premised on risk aversion in inputs and outputs. The lock-step compensation model is the best evidence of this.

The young associates have few if any ties to their firms because they are totally expendable. This gives young associates immense power because they don't have to buy-in as much as their predecessors did because the chance at the brass ring is ephemeral at best. They have power to say no and to do things differently, they just don't realize it fully, yet. There will be new law firms that emerge and will combine with other professionals to offer services that are different than just legal services. They will be problem solving firms. The article's best point was that it showed how the rule shift re LLPs changed the way partnership worked. That was 100% spot on. There will be other rule changes but it should be up to the young lawyers to lead the charge on creating them once the young lawyer realizes that the current system is not designed to work to their advantage.

This article could have been written about any firm in the v100. The author could find any angry ex-partner and jilted ex-associate at any firm. No firm is devoid of this. At least the Mayer chairman had the guts to admit that demand was changing across the landscape when his PR person wanted to gloss over that simple fact.

How the industry progresses is in the hands of the young lawyer- and the young lawyer should not be afraid to cut a new path given that the current one is wrought with pitfalls.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby Arbiter213 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:52 pm

NYstate wrote: Partners aren't going to take less just to hold a firm together, at least not for the long term.


Cleary Gottlieb and the other lockstep firms laugh at your absurd proclamation.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby NYstate » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:00 pm

I'm not up with Cleary, has no partner ever left there to make more money at another firm? What about all these other lockstep firms.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby Arbiter213 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:11 pm

NYstate wrote:I'm not up with Cleary, has no partner ever left there to make more money at another firm? What about all these other lockstep firms.


It's extraordinarily rare, from my understanding. Same for Debevois. Cravath partners do leave from time to time, though.

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manofjustice
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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby manofjustice » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:16 pm

We talk a lot about how "big law isn't innovative enough," as if writing a good brief isn't good enough unless it's an Apple product.

Mayer Brown got innovative. According to the article, it did all sorts of things to attempt to properly incentivize and compensate its partners. For instance, it allotted double the points for origination to the partner billing the client so that he could reward those who helped. This was supposed to foster a team mentality--good for all--while maintaining compensation and incentives for the individual--good for one. It failed. But it sure was innovative. Additional innovations could have been added to attempt to prevent gaming the original innovation. Would those have failed too?

I am a conservative sympathizer. One of the things conservatives tell us is to remember that our forbearers were smart people and might have already had all the ideas we think we just discovered. They might have game-planned all this shit.

Who has heard of a traditional, lockstep firm going under? They all seem to have survived and now to be rebounding. Perhaps the lockstop Cravath model was invented in the first place in part to prevent all that is going wrong with the "innovative" firms now.

It just seems almost prima facia false that law firms should operate more like publicly held companies--more like Dewey. It also seems odd that people are honesty thinking that having law firms operate like publicly held companies is something but a terrible idea.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby IAFG » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think you missed the point of the article. I don't think the main thrust of the article was as much about how much things are tougher for Biglaw as much as it was a paen to how good it used to be and how insane it is that the model proliferated for so long.

Law is an industry that actively punishes innovation. Lawyers work off of precedent- any deviation from how things went previously is met with intense skepticism. The firms that begin doing things even remotely differently generate such tremendous publicity because the profession is so staid. When Bartlit Beck went to its diamond model instead of the billable hour, they were treated like they invented electricity. That has less to do with how innovative their model is and more to do with how broken everyone else is.

The way firms hire is stupid, the way they bill is stupid, the way they compensate is stupid and the market is finally beginnign to realize this. Consulting is a horrible analogy as is GE or any other corporation. Law firms cannot be as flexible or nimble as these diversified organizations because they only offer one core service and they cannot change that.

The only reason Cravath and S&C, etc., are at the top is because they have been at the top for so long. They aren't doing anything that is so world-beating that they can outlast anyone else on pure intellectual horsepower. They cater to the risk averse- they recruit kids who chase prestige and will do whatever it takes to last because, well, their entire academic careers were directed in the same vein and that is a strong proxy. The general counsel's hire them because they know if the deal goes south or they lose the case, they can report to the board that "what else were we supposed to do? we hired the best" and can protect themselves. The entire industry is premised on risk aversion in inputs and outputs. The lock-step compensation model is the best evidence of this.

The young associates have few if any ties to their firms because they are totally expendable. This gives young associates immense power because they don't have to buy-in as much as their predecessors did because the chance at the brass ring is ephemeral at best. They have power to say no and to do things differently, they just don't realize it fully, yet. There will be new law firms that emerge and will combine with other professionals to offer services that are different than just legal services. They will be problem solving firms. The article's best point was that it showed how the rule shift re LLPs changed the way partnership worked. That was 100% spot on. There will be other rule changes but it should be up to the young lawyers to lead the charge on creating them once the young lawyer realizes that the current system is not designed to work to their advantage.

This article could have been written about any firm in the v100. The author could find any angry ex-partner and jilted ex-associate at any firm. No firm is devoid of this. At least the Mayer chairman had the guts to admit that demand was changing across the landscape when his PR person wanted to gloss over that simple fact.

How the industry progresses is in the hands of the young lawyer- and the young lawyer should not be afraid to cut a new path given that the current one is wrought with pitfalls.

I read your whole post twice and all I can say is: wat

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:29 pm

rayiner wrote:The Mayer Brown partner who commented on the ATL article had the right point. It's a lot of handwaving about changes that have been in place in other industries for awhile now. The NR article can be summed up as: there is money to be made, and more competition for it. I'm not sure we should be reminiscing about the 1970's and how there was less competition, because in part that lack of competition was the result of exclusion: excluding women and minorities, etc. Things were just dandy back when Harvard accepted 25% of applicants, because, in the absence of federal student loan guarantees, the only people who applied to begin with were people who could pay out of pocket.


Vis-a-vis instability: big law is more stable than most professional jobs. Dewey going under generated several NYT articles. How much press was generated when Monitor Group (which was in the top 10 of Vault's consulting firm rankings) went under? In big law, associates run the risk of getting stealthed. In other companies (GE and IBM notably), there is an open management policy of firing the bottom 10% every year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitality_c ... philosophy. That's a bigger than Weil-sized layoff (Weil was 7% of associates--coincidentally the same number as Microsoft's bottom bucket), every single year by blue-chip companies that aren't having any financial trouble. See: http://michelbaudin.com/2012/08/14/metr ... ing-people.

You have to go past the rhetoric and look at the numbers. Demand is down a few % from peak, realization rates are down a few percent, and like in *every other industry* producer ability to increase prices is stagnant. There is no story here, other than the fact that the economy sucks and sucks for everyone in pretty similar ways.

A bigger story is what will happen to government lawyers when state governments collapse.


You alluded to this point somewhat in your post, but the biggest thing making it hard for new lawyers is not the economy but the fact that THERE ARE TOO MANY NEW LAWYERS and law school is extremely expensive now compared to what it used to cost. If the God damn law professors would stop making new law schools and increasing class sizes (which it looks like they may finally be doing), then competition wouldn't be so fierce for entry level jobs. When demand is basically constant or slightly down, and you have a lot more supply, salaries are going to come down, associates are going to get laid off for higher quality associates, etc.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby AreJay711 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:36 pm

manofjustice wrote:We talk a lot about how "big law isn't innovative enough," as if writing a good brief isn't good enough unless it's an Apple product.



Yeah bro, if your lawyer has to get initiative you are either shit out of luck or about to make a veritable shit-ton of money.

There will be new law firms that emerge and will combine with other professionals to offer services that are different than just legal services.


Maybe, but this would run into attorney-client privilege waiver issues. Idk enough about the economics of law firms to comment on the rest.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby manofjustice » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Law is an industry that actively punishes innovation. Lawyers work off of precedent- any deviation from how things went previously is met with intense skepticism.


If your lawyer ever says this, call Cravath. Wait three rings if you have to.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby Br3v » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:52 pm

Bronte wrote:Welcome back.

+1

I read the article a few days back but just got a lot more insight from Rayiners post.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby bdubs » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:40 pm

rayiner wrote:The Mayer Brown partner who commented on the ATL article had the right point. It's a lot of handwaving about changes that have been in place in other industries for awhile now. The NR article can be summed up as: there is money to be made, and more competition for it. I'm not sure we should be reminiscing about the 1970's and how there was less competition, because in part that lack of competition was the result of exclusion: excluding women and minorities, etc. Things were just dandy back when Harvard accepted 25% of applicants, because, in the absence of federal student loan guarantees, the only people who applied to begin with were people who could pay out of pocket.


Vis-a-vis instability: big law is more stable than most professional jobs. Dewey going under generated several NYT articles. How much press was generated when Monitor Group (which was in the top 10 of Vault's consulting firm rankings) went under? In big law, associates run the risk of getting stealthed. In other companies (GE and IBM notably), there is an open management policy of firing the bottom 10% every year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitality_c ... philosophy. That's a bigger than Weil-sized layoff (Weil was 7% of associates--coincidentally the same number as Microsoft's bottom bucket), every single year by blue-chip companies that aren't having any financial trouble. See: http://michelbaudin.com/2012/08/14/metr ... ing-people.

You have to go past the rhetoric and look at the numbers. Demand is down a few % from peak, realization rates are down a few percent, and like in *every other industry* producer ability to increase prices is stagnant. There is no story here, other than the fact that the economy sucks and sucks for everyone in pretty similar ways.

A bigger story is what will happen to government lawyers when state governments collapse.


I don't think it's a commandment that the employment market for lawyers should behave differently, but in a sense it is very different than the industries you referenced. People who work(ed) at GE, Monitor, and IBM all have one thing that most lawyers don't: flexibility. Other industries have demand for their services and their skills are flexible. Most people don't take a job with GE and worry that if they get fired they will either be unemployed or stuck making 1/3 or less of the pay (as the MB Associate in the NR story was). For the most part those people also don't invest the equivalent of a non-dischargable home mortgage in order to get their job. The inflexibility of alternatives combined with the barriers to entry make legal jobs different than run of the mill corporate jobs.

Medicine is similar in the US and will be the subject of similar articles if the pay of doctors is curtailed significantly. At the moment these are really the only two "professions" that have survived in this country, although law may be going through a painful transition from "profession" to "job" much like engineering did several decades ago (although engineers are recognized as having much more transferable skills). The primary problem at the moment is that no one really knows what to do with a trained lawyer other than legal work and lots of people have invested money as though they were entering a profession with all the perks that it entailed (stability & moderate to high pay).

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby guano » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:28 am

bdubs wrote:o one really knows what to do with a trained lawyer other than legal work

Considering the number of lawyers who have transitioned into Ibanking and industry management, I'd say you're wrong

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby bdubs » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:30 am

guano wrote:
bdubs wrote:o one really knows what to do with a trained lawyer other than legal work

Considering the number of lawyers who have transitioned into Ibanking and industry management, I'd say you're wrong


How many banks are recruiting at law schools?

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby guano » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:41 am

bdubs wrote:
guano wrote:
bdubs wrote:o one really knows what to do with a trained lawyer other than legal work

Considering the number of lawyers who have transitioned into Ibanking and industry management, I'd say you're wrong


How many banks are recruiting at law schools?

You said "trained lawyer".
You were also talking about people at GE getting fired.

That being said, I heard (but cannot verify) that top consulting and Ibanking firms do attend OCI at some schools, like Harvard, but someone else will need to confirm

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby guano » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:12 am

guano wrote:
bdubs wrote:
guano wrote:
bdubs wrote:o one really knows what to do with a trained lawyer other than legal work

Considering the number of lawyers who have transitioned into Ibanking and industry management, I'd say you're wrong


How many banks are recruiting at law schools?

You said "trained lawyer".
You were also talking about people at GE getting fired.

That being said, I heard (but cannot verify) that top consulting and Ibanking firms do attend OCI at some schools, like Harvard, but someone else will need to confirm


Edit: apart from the fact that top ibanks and consulting firms only interview at a very limited number of schools to begin with, there isn't much point. They only hire from the top, but how many top students would take entry level Ibanking/consulting, when those same candidates can choose between a number of law firms that are paying nearly double?

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:05 am

AAJD2B wrote:I, for one, would feel safer landing an offer from the likes of DPW or STB versus Mayer Brown or Paul Hastings.

I figure the firms "who have so many billions of dollars riding on their legal work that they can truly spend without limit" includes the likes of:

Wachtell
Sullivan & Cromwell
Davis Polk
Cravath
Skadden
Simpson Thacher
Williams & Connolly
Quinn Emanuel
Paul Weiss
Cleary Gottlieb


....I wonder who else I am missing.


Gibson Dunn, Kirkland & Covington should both be on this list.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby rayiner » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:33 am

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
rayiner wrote:The Mayer Brown partner who commented on the ATL article had the right point. It's a lot of handwaving about changes that have been in place in other industries for awhile now. The NR article can be summed up as: there is money to be made, and more competition for it. I'm not sure we should be reminiscing about the 1970's and how there was less competition, because in part that lack of competition was the result of exclusion: excluding women and minorities, etc. Things were just dandy back when Harvard accepted 25% of applicants, because, in the absence of federal student loan guarantees, the only people who applied to begin with were people who could pay out of pocket.


Vis-a-vis instability: big law is more stable than most professional jobs. Dewey going under generated several NYT articles. How much press was generated when Monitor Group (which was in the top 10 of Vault's consulting firm rankings) went under? In big law, associates run the risk of getting stealthed. In other companies (GE and IBM notably), there is an open management policy of firing the bottom 10% every year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitality_c ... philosophy. That's a bigger than Weil-sized layoff (Weil was 7% of associates--coincidentally the same number as Microsoft's bottom bucket), every single year by blue-chip companies that aren't having any financial trouble. See: http://michelbaudin.com/2012/08/14/metr ... ing-people.

You have to go past the rhetoric and look at the numbers. Demand is down a few % from peak, realization rates are down a few percent, and like in *every other industry* producer ability to increase prices is stagnant. There is no story here, other than the fact that the economy sucks and sucks for everyone in pretty similar ways.

A bigger story is what will happen to government lawyers when state governments collapse.


You alluded to this point somewhat in your post, but the biggest thing making it hard for new lawyers is not the economy but the fact that THERE ARE TOO MANY NEW LAWYERS and law school is extremely expensive now compared to what it used to cost. If the God damn law professors would stop making new law schools and increasing class sizes (which it looks like they may finally be doing), then competition wouldn't be so fierce for entry level jobs. When demand is basically constant or slightly down, and you have a lot more supply, salaries are going to come down, associates are going to get laid off for higher quality associates, etc.


That's certainly a fair point, but it's a problem in every single job. How many B.B.A.'s from second-tier state schools are fighting for jobs at consulting firms? How man B.A.'s from Columbia are fighting for jobs at Best Buy? There is oversupply in the whole economy--at least in law the bizarre prestige-mongering limits competition for those who manage to get admitted to the top schools.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby rayiner » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:37 am

.
Last edited by rayiner on Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby rayiner » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:39 am

guano wrote:Edit: apart from the fact that top ibanks and consulting firms only interview at a very limited number of schools to begin with, there isn't much point. They only hire from the top, but how many top students would take entry level Ibanking/consulting, when those same candidates can choose between a number of law firms that are paying nearly double?


Your average double-HLS/V5 corporate lawyer would give his left nut to get an ibanking gig.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby thefuturenow » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:03 am

rayiner wrote: Vis-a-vis instability: big law is more stable than most professional jobs. Dewey going under generated several NYT articles. How much press was generated when Monitor Group (which was in the top 10 of Vault's consulting firm rankings) went under?



It's not we're linking those articles and having entertainingly painful discussions about it on TLS.

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Re: Last Days of Big Law - New Republic article Mayer Brown

Postby thefuturenow » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:
AAJD2B wrote:I, for one, would feel safer landing an offer from the likes of DPW or STB versus Mayer Brown or Paul Hastings.

I figure the firms "who have so many billions of dollars riding on their legal work that they can truly spend without limit" includes the likes of:

Wachtell
Sullivan & Cromwell
Davis Polk
Cravath
Skadden
Simpson Thacher
Williams & Connolly
Quinn Emanuel
Paul Weiss
Cleary Gottlieb


....I wonder who else I am missing.


Gibson Dunn, Kirkland & Covington should both be on this list.


+>100 other firms.




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