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by Vault Law Editors | June 04, 2009


Hello again, Internet.

Every year, we publish a ‘State of the Law’ piece as part of our Vault Guide to the Top 100 Law Firms.  The State of the Law attempts to encapsulate the previous year’s historic deals and cases, as well as describe the most relevant legal industry developments and trends.

The roughly 6,000 words in last year’s SOTL could be distilled thus: Bubble burst! Layoffs! Clients demand more for less! Bear Stearns died! Asia! Outsourcing! Gitmo! No more cushy summer associate gigs! Layoooooooooffs!

This year, rather than writing something along the lines of:

More of the same … but way, way more of the same.  And, alas, those erstwhile ‘shocking’ layoffs—well, we hardly notice them anymore.”

We’d instead like to share (with permission) a favorite recent blog post by the Onion-esque Litination ( ‘The Truth, the Half Truth, and Nothing Like the Truth . . . So Help Me Law’).  It captures the BigLaw zeitgeist by spoofing us:

Vault Announces ‘Firms to Avoid’ Rankings

In the Spring of 2009, Vault contacted more than 15,000 current and former associates at 167 formerly prominent law firms across the country to seek their participation in a new set of rankings it plans to release this week. Participants were asked to rate their current or former firm in terms of how it handled issues related to the slumping economy. Vault compiled this data to calculate its brand new Top ‘20 Firms to Avoid If You Want a Paycheck’ rankings, which in 2009 will join its traditional slate of ‘Top 100 Law Firms’, ‘Best 20 Law Firms for Diversity’ and ‘Vault Partner Rankings.’

Associates were asked to assign one to five stars on issues such as frequency of interaction with HR personnel, quantity of empty or dark associate offices, farewell happy hour attendance, shrinking or frozen compensation, and ability to switch practice groups before getting kicked to the curb. Other factors such as number of partner offices with closed doors, blatant lying about layoffs, touting ‘profits per partner’ while slashing bonuses and asking real estate associates to actually come into work were considered. The firms were then scored against each other.

Upon learning about the new rankings, Heller Erhman’s former managing partner expressed disappointment that the now defunct firm would not reach the top of any Vault ranking before dissolving. In contrast, Thatcher Proffitt & Wood's former chairman rejoiced at the reality that his firm was almost certain to finally jump to the top of the law firm heap. The former Thatcher Proffitt leader released a statement that while he is still looking for a job he is ‘generally delighted by the wealth of opportunities for associate diminution and degradation that are presented by this bear economy.’ Similarly, in an email to several old colleagues Wolf Block's former chairman noted that while he’s ‘never paid much attention to rankings,’ he can certainly recall droves of ‘idiotic, credit-card wielding associates at his old firm that wouldn't even notice these rankings if they were pasted to their foreheads.’

Vault claims that these new rankings will help the company stay relevant in this rapidly changing economy. ‘We know that these aren’t typical, feel good ratings,” explained Vault Vice President Sally Isaacs, ‘but the reality is that managing a legal career takes more than just getting average grades at a top tier law school and then defaulting to a New York law firm. Frankly, our readership is looking for less focus on quality of life issues and more insight into the quality and quantity of a potential paycheck.’

                                                 -posted by brian  (thanks to Litination)




Filed Under: Law
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