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05/09/06

Boston firms on the rise


Good news for equity partners at Boston law firms. The Boston legal market, busy with merger and acquisition deals and bolstered by an intellectual property boom, has boosted partner paydays.

Partners at two of Boston's largest firms collected about $1.2 million last year. Those firms are Bingham McCutchen LLP, an international law firm with 950 attorneys in 11 offices, and Goodwin Procter LLP, one of the nation's leading law firms, with a team of 650 attorneys serving clients through offices in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Annual gains for those firms ranged from 1.9% to 18.4%.

Additionally, profits at Ropes & Gray LLP reached $1.1 million, while partner payday at Duane Morris LLP rose to $675,000.

Specialization: the key to success?
An emerging trend among small and mid-sized firms is to offer specialized services to clients. Market analysts forecast that specialization of services will give smaller firms a competitive edge against biglaw.

The agenda of Harrison Clark, an established Worcester-based firm of Solicitors, is to offer a comprehensive range of legal services, tailored to the individual needs of private and corporate clients. According to firm sources, the returns have been worth the effort.

The firm's profits have gone up by 60% and show no signs of slowing down. The recent launch of its business services group will offer a wider range of specialty practice areas.

Martin Pringle partner receives government appointment
Jeff Kennedy, Managing Partner of the Wichita firm Martin, Pringle, Oliver, Wallace & Bauer LLP, has been appointed to the Kansas Energy Council, a body charged with formulating comprehensive energy plans by Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

Kennedy began his legal career as Assistant General Counsel for the Kansas Corporation Commission, handling oil and gas and environmental matters. Since joining Martin Pringle in 1986, he has expanded his practice to focus on a wide range of energy and natural resource matters.

The Kansas Energy Council was established by Governor Kathleen Sebelius in 2004 to develop a state energy policy and to make recommendations on long-term energy policy to the Governor, Legislature, Kansas Corporation Commission and other appropriate entities.

COOL THREAD OF THE DAY
This thread is about a prickly situation that a lot of young attorneys find themselves in. They take whatever job they can find. When they want to move on to a better job, even if it means settling for only a little bit of money, the bosses think they're too good to be true.

Jesse is a new member of Judged. Below, we see some of our regulars offer some advice.

Unemployable 4 years after graduation

Jesse: I had no idea where to post this topic but here goes: I graduated top 50% from a top 30-40 (first-tier) school in 2002 and have since been working as a research clerk for a solo practitioner because I just don't seem to be able to find a job to save my life. Before anyone says it's my personality or communication skills - I did very very well in both Moot Court and Trial Advocacy, competing with the team in regional and national competitions, winning one of them, and receiving a best brief award. Mock interviews with career services went very well too.

In the past 4 years I have sent out over 200 job applications and received just one interview in return, with the public defender office - the interviewer didn't think I was interested enough in advocacy work! I tried the local legal aid office through a friend who works there, but his boss wasn't interested in interviewing me after seeing my resume, saying that I wouldn't stick around for long on $45,000 with my qualifications. $45,000! I currently earn less than $20,000, so yes, I would stick it out. I doubt it can be my interviewing skills, because I'm just not getting any. As for my resume and cover letters - they're okay too, and I actually help undergrads at my local school with theirs, and they get interviews with them!

Is this unusual? After the first year I thought it was, but now that I'm at 4th year associate stage, I'm beginning to get concerned. I have tried to boost my options by passing three state bar exams in the past 4 years (Colorado, California, and New York), and I am thinking of doing an LLM. I also speak fluent French and Italian.

What freakin gives?

johndoe1: Have you tried a headhunter? A headhunter can take a look at your resume and give you suggestions on how to improve it. What exactly do you do as a research clerk? Are you doing any type of legal writing or litigation? Is it more of a paralegal-type job?

Jesse: do a lot of motion drafting, and often argue the motion. I also draft discovery requests and responses, pleadings and responses, and I have also drafted a few appeal briefs. However, as far as advocacy goes, I've only first-chaired 3 jury trials, 2 arbitrations, and 2 oral arguments on appeal in the past 4 years (about half lost and half won if that makes any difference), so not much substantial experience there, although I've second-chaired quite a few trials with my boss and first-chaired lots of smaller civil bench trials.

I've tried headhunters - my impression is that they only work with Ivy League/top20 grads or those with a few years experience working at Am100 firms? Understandably, since that's how they make their money. Perhaps there are some good headhunters out there who work with small firms and those who graduated with average grades from lower tier schools?

Bitter: Did you clerk while in law school? Can you get anyone from your summer clerkships to write a recommendation? You might also want to try contract lawyering which could possibly lead to a permanent placement. I would think some trial experience is positive even as a fourth year.

lawbones: this sounds familiar. i applied to big law firms for 2 or 3 years before i realized that they just weren't that into me.

networking is crucial. its more than just keeping an ear to the ground. i wrote to local hotshot attorneys requesting a chance to sit down with them and get career advice. its a little ass-kissy and you feel like such a dork, but it worked and was eventually referred to the place i work today.

Bullrunner: You sound too good to be true. Do you have three heads or three eyes? Maybe you come across during the interview as though you are entitled to something. Obviously no one is entitled to shit in this world. Those are the only things I can suggest, so my wife is right, I am useless. But at least I have a job.
I'm not sure Jesse is better equipped to face the legal job market now than before, but maybe Judged has offered him a couple of new ways to take on his battle. Good luck! And try saying you make less than $X amount at your current job rather than specifying the exact amount.

Ropes & Gray LLP.

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