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New ruling allows New Jersey firms to own other firms

Law firms can now own other law firms as a wholly-owned subsidiary according to the New Jersey Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics and the Committee on Attorney Advertising.

The new ruling is landmark because previously, law firms could only own non-law firm businesses, such as the consulting firms. Now, law firms can buy and sell other law firms as investments and can also hire pinpoint boutiques to handle certain client demand and then sell it off or shut it down when the demand falls off. The parent law firm can reap the net profits of its subsidiary but needs to be careful while advertising for the subsidiary firm. The ownership/subsidiary relationship must be disclosed. The opinion also states that a representative from the parent law firm should handle and direct the operations of the subsidiary. According to the opinion, the representative must be a licensed attorney.

Experts say that firms will now be able to acquire smaller practices and move into new territories without worrying about its overall brand. The opinion is predicted to benefit law firms in New Jersey, and other states are closely analyzing the effects of the ruling.

In-house alliance
As per an agreement between LexisNexis and Altman Weil Publications, Martindale-Hubbell and Altman Weil will work together to conduct and disseminate the results from two annual benchmarking surveys of in-house law departments.

Altman Weil's Law Department Compensation Benchmarking Survey and Law Department Metrics Benchmarking Survey are annual nationwide studies that scrutinize how corporate legal executives are paid and how they manage their departments, respectively.

The Altman Weil Law Department Compensation Benchmarking Survey is the most comprehensive analytical resource for reviewing and setting law department compensation. The Survey collects data on salary, bonus, total cash, and stock options for nine in-house positions. The Survey will help professionals to measure their department against comparable departments and will provide a meaningful baseline against which to evaluate the equity and competitiveness of the compensation system they currently use.

As per the terms of the agreement, Altman Weil will prepare the surveys, analyze the results, and publish the reports while Martindale-Hubbell will leverage its nationwide network of in-house counsel to maximize participation by in-house law departments and to disseminate the surveys.

Sponsored by Martindale-Hubbell and Altman Weil, the reports are expected to be published in August and September of 2006.

LexisNexis® is a leading provider of information and services solutions, including its flagship Web-based Lexis® and Nexis® research services, to a wide range of professionals in the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting, and academic markets. LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell provides client development solutions for the legal profession, partnering with its law firm customers to meet their practice development goals.

NYC law firms on the top
The latest edition of the Am Law 100, published by The American Lawyer, has placed New York City law firms among the most profitable.

The ranking is done on the basis of annual gross revenue, number of lawyers, and average profits generated per partner. According to the results, 22 out of 33 Manhattan law firms earned more than $1 million per partner. This was the first time that the average profitability per partner topped $1 million.

The American Lawyer has received numerous awards for excellence in journalism. It also publishes exclusive research reports, the The Am Law 100 and The Am Law 101+, the Global 100 survey of the world's largest law firms and the Corporate Scorecard, which rank the top firms and biggest deals of the year

Recruiters; Grades; Laterals

ElLawyer: How much do firms look at grades for an attorney seeking to lateral after 1YR experience at a big firm? Got my big firm job based on my 1L grades (which were pretty good: > top 20%); after my 1L year, my grades slipped significantly for various reasons (including general apathy towards law school; slipped down to top 50% of class).

So, how will firms view this drop in grades? Care? School is outside the top 14 but still respectable.

BullRunner: In my job-hunting experience it has been that your grades are extremely important to the BIGLaw firms. Mid-size and smaller firms could care less, as long as you're ready to be a slave for no pay.

ElLawyer: how do you know grades are important? do you know of associates trying to lateral that did not have any luck because of their drop in grades. i am already in a big firm—experience will not make up for anything?

BullRunner: Listen Holmes, I know this from them telling me that it is important, from when I get a rejection letter, from talking to colleages at the BIGLaw firms, from generally being a smart-mother-fucker, and from scumbag recruiters telling me that I don't make the grade.

As for experience, how this for real-world experience? I worked and paid my own way through undergrad and law school, and my grades suffered, so I could feed my family. Is there really any better experience that life itself?

Justifying a hiring decision based on grades is a bunch of crap, but it does indeed matter.

rbrown: i don't think bull needs to justify his answer. grades matter. if you don't know that, you were never in the running.

having now read the OP, the answer is, it depends, but i'd guess that it would be considered heavily. depends where you are at on the amlaw sliding scale i suppose, but if you're moving up the scale, they'd absolutely 100% look. if you move down the scale, maybe not as likely. but since you're jumping at year one, i'd guess they'd want to know.

ElLawyer: thanks for the response. i really could care less about law firm rankings. i would move down on the rankings if i was presented with a better opportunity. i just want to know whether i would have options. perhaps my best bet is to hide out at my current firm for at least 2 years before testing the waters. do you know of anyone that faced a similar situation?

rbrown: yes, you definitely have options, but it's really hit or miss on the demand for 2nd years. i was in the same boat, hated my job, and was on the prowl after year one. unfortunately, general corp and general lit. are a dime a dozen, and 1 year just doesn't open that many doors. you'll be competing with many first years, unless you drop way down in size/prestige. going small or mid- isn't necessarily a bad thing.

anyway, if you're flip flopping between large law firms, you're looking 2 years. 1.5 at least, and then focus your search.

Greedo: By the end of your second year, you will be more marketable as you will be entering those sweet sweet mid level years where you don't cost too much, you know how to wipe your ass, and you aren't eyeing partnership. Everyone understands how grades can slip during your second and third year. Basically first year grades are still the most important. You should be able to get a job at some very busy shop, so don't worry about it. But if your current place isn't too bad, then stay until next year. It will look at little better on the resume to have put in two full years.

johndoe1: After one year of experience, most firms will rely on grades, unless you really had significant work experience in that first year to fill up your resume. I started looking for a job at the end of my second year, and I found that most firms were not looking at my grades or GPA, but at the experience I gained during my two years of experience. I was getting interviews at all the top law firms. However, I also specialize in a particular area of law, so it's not like I'm competing with hundreds of people for one job.

pulgita: Well, I had a professor indicate that some of the best attorneys and/or successful attorneys were students with C averages. Book smart and grades just indicate that you are able to test well. I think persona and personal skills are important. And if you have a shysta kind of personality it will work in the legal world.

BullRunner: Not working at a huge law firm - 30 lawyers, 3 offices. The rest of the posts by rbrown are right on point. If they aren't killing you stay put for another year or so.

Also, watch out for those recruiters that cold call. I have had very bad experiences with them in the past. Just a friendly heads up!

ElLawyer: well, why that my be true in some instances, biglaw is a whole different animal. so, while grades may not mean a lot in terms of judging a lawyer's ability, as per your professor, it does mean something to big law firms and how they perceive you.

rbrown: no, i haven't made a move, yet. you'll always get a recruiter to give you time. they are the true ambulance chasers and con-artists. somewhere between a used car salesman and a realtor.

where do you live? otherwise, it's always safe to say that small will pay 35-80K. varies wildly on what you do, and how small is small, and so on.

talentscout: The following is really informational—to give folks an idea of the kinds of marching orders that recruiters get from law firms who are the ones, remember, who pay our fees.

Couple of things. In New York at least, big firms will want to see your transcript until you are at an of counsel level. This is one of the few professions that your academics do matter after your first job. And there are even smaller firms (the boutique ones which count themselves as having former Big Firm associates) which are insane. I know one which won't see anyone with a C on their transcript. I mean, they wouldn't even see a cum laude out of a top ten law law school who had one C on her transcript.

The salary range of the smaller firms that I see— the ones in the neighborhood of 10-40 lawyers and who are willing to pay recruiters— tends to be around 130 for a mid-level associate. These firms target the former Big Law associates.

If your grades declined markedly after first year you are putting pressure on yourself with respect to your choice for and how well you do at your second summer job. If you get an offer, take it and stay there for a couple of years. You will still have fewer options in your first six years out than someone with a consistently good transcript but the good training you receive should take most of the sting out of a less than stellar two years. If you aren't in a position to accept a permanent offer from a second summer job, you are only making it harder for yourself to find comparable opportunities.

One thing that I would like to mention is the converse— those people with great academics who's first job is at a firm which not highly regarded for training. THEY, too will often have difficulties in moving because training can mitigate the effects of bad grades but it can also drag down the value of good grades. So, go to the firm you can which has the best reputation for training!

Recruiters get candidates through three ways, referrals, advertisements and cold calls. ALL recruiters cold call. PERIOD. I get a fair number of referrals but the referrals don't always match the positions that I am asked to fill. If I am targeting a trusts and estates job, I can't be assured that a qualified candidate will come in off the street. And employers prefer the superstars who are currently employed by their competitors rather than someone who is between jobs.

Recruiters call folks based upon a narrow range of information which they get from commercially available lists, Martindale, firm websites and other intel. That info is imperfect at best and doesn't tell the aspirations or predilections of each candidate.

Sorry that some of you have had bad experiences with recruiters. As with everything else, there are good recruiters and bad recruiters. Good recruiters can persuade firms to see a candidate who they might not otherwise see and intuit which of a range of opportunities a candidate might not have considered independently and which might be suitable. At the bottom line, we present folks with opportunities which they might not know about and/or haven't taken the time to consider and get people in the door. It's up to him or her to determine whether or not moving at any given time is in his or her best interest.

From my standpoint, I don't want to put candidates in positions for which they aren't suited—they'll only leave before any guarantee period has run—injuring my relationship with both the candidate (for purposes of future referrals) and the firm he or she leaves.

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