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Cleary's international clout

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has announced they will be advising Euronext, the first genuinely cross-border exchange organization in Europe, on multi-billion dollar bids.

Cleary's international clout

Euronext N.V. provides services for regulated stock and derivatives markets in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Portugal, as well as in the UK (derivatives only). It is Europe's leading stock exchange based on trading volumes on the central order book.

Cleary has landed numerous lead roles in high-profile international transaction in the past few months, including the £5.5 billion London float of Russian oil giant Rosneft. It also represented Mittal Steel in its £18.2 billion bid for Luxembourg-based rival Arcelor.

Earlier this month, the firm recruited top English corporate lawyer Michael McDonald, who has been recognized by Chambers and Partners as a leading UK M&A lawyer. McDonald's appointment brings the total number of Cleary Gottlieb partners to 181. The firm placed first in completed U.S. M&A deals, with $100.8 billion in transaction volume, in the recently released Thomson Financial league tables for the first quarter of 2006. For worldwide completed deals, Cleary ranked fourth with a total of $110.2 billion in deals.

Minority hiring
For years, law firms have been investing time and resources to attract and retain minority attorneys. While progress has been slow, it has yielded an increased number of minorities at the nation's top law firms.

According to the Minority Law Journal's Diversity Scorecard, the percentage of minority associates at the 240 largest U.S. firms has grown to over 11%. The percentage of minority law firm partners increased to 5% overall. Greenberg Traurig reported the highest total number of minority partners, 57. Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison topped the list with 23% minority attorneys, while Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati boasts over 17%.

What remains clear is that the top U.S. firms still have a long way to go to promote diversity within their ranks.

U.S. Supreme Court goes electronic
After many years of using a traditional paper filing system, the Supreme Court approved several proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to accommodate electronic discovery. The new rules and amendments include revisions and additions to Rules 16, 26, 33, 34, 37 and 45, as well as Form 35.

The amendments may be accessed on the U.S. Court's Federal Rulemaking website at:

Electronic filing, while considered to be easier and more efficient, poses a challenge to firms still stuck on paper.

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 colleagues at the BIGLaw firms, from generally being a smart-mother, and from 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: 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. 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.

talentscout: 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.

Dancer: So, out of curiosity and not to be rude, how much do recruiters make for each placement (who makes it through the guarantee period)?

talentscout: The range is between 15 - 30% of the candidate's first year salary. The most common Big Firm commission is 25%. In terms of what I see from that amount, my agency gets half. Some recruiting firms incentivize recruiters to establish relationships with particular law firms by giving them larger percentages of the commission if they place more than one candidate at a single firm. That's a client-driven model. We don't do that here. The percentage for the recruiter is the same whether it's your first hire at a particular firm or your gizzillionth. That is more of a candidate-driven model. When I target an opening to pitch to a candidate it tends to be because I like the firm (sometimes because I might know personally some of the partners or have gotten to know them well through having candidates interview with them or because I placed them at their current firm) or because the job sounds interesting to me personally—yes, that is quite subjective but it is what it is. And, I apprise candidates of all appropriate opennings irrespective of what the commission percentage back to me might be. If the LA recruiter lived in a good apartment, it was probably because he or she was good at what he or she did— or it was just before the dot-com crash (I had my own dot-com at that time and wasn't a recruiter) when demand for attorneys at all credential levels was very, very high.

Understand that AT LEAST 80% of anything I am working on will crash and that the market for candidates within the narrow band we work with is fierce—both for the firm and among recruiters to get them to firms.

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

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