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06/27/06

Three U.S. law firms top Europe M&A rankings


As the number of international mergers and acquisitions increases, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Clifford Chance, and Linklaters continue to lead the European rankings for the second quarter.

Skadden was ranked number one in value, having handled 36 deals worth a combined total of $240 billion. Clifford Chance was in second place with a total 125 deals worth $220 billion. Linklaters was third, with just $3.6 billions behind Clifford Chance. The largest deal of the year was the $60 billion takeover of Spain's Endesa by Germany's E.ON, in which Skadden served as an advisor.

In total, eight law firms from the U.S. figured in the European rankings. Involvement in European transactions among U.S. firms has risen 20% since last year. Big deals in utilities, mining, and energy have led to involvement in European transactions among U.S. firms rising 20% since last year.

Law firms work to retain staff
Law firms are working harder at trying to prevent attorneys from leaving for greener pastures. The NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education released a study on attrition last year that examined associate departures from law firms from 2002 to 2004. The national survey revealed that 40% of first-year attorneys left within three years and 62% left within four.

Salary raises alone will no longer suffice for cutting law firm attrition rates. Other measures are required, such as appointing a senior-level attorney to address issues of training and mentoring. The Charlotte law firm, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein created a department of professional development and appointed Kristi Walters as its head. An associate at Parker Poe for seven years, Walters will follow the careers of first-year lawyers from their first days at the firm and help them decide where they best fit in.

Salaries for first-years at Midwest law firms raised
The largest law firms in the Midwest have begun increasing starting salaries for associates in a bid to keep up with competing firms in larger metro cities.

At the average Midwestern law firm, starting salaries for lawyers fresh out of law school is up by 12 to 15%, reaching a median of $95,000 per year. Lathrop & Gage is one such firm which has increased its starting pay from $83,000 to $95,000. Bryan Cave in Kansas City had previously announced a similar starting salary increase.

This phenomenon is similar to what happened on the East and West Coasts in the past. Observers feel that salary increases are cyclical and take place every 3 to 5 years.

Littler Mendelson continues to expand
The San Francisco-based labor and employment law firm is expanding at a steady pace, having opened seven new offices across the country recently.

Littler now has about 475 attorneys located across the nation in 36 offices and plans to add 500 more by Labor Day. It is presently ranked among the country's largest in employment and labor law.

Most of the lawyers joining Littler's new offices are from other law firms, though some attorneys have transferred from Littler's regional offices.

Littler Mendelson is also planning to open more overseas offices having already launched an office in Shanghai last year.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

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