Minority Law Journal Issues Its 2009 Diversity Scorecard

The Minority Law Journal, an American Legal Media (, AmLaw, etc.) publication, has issued its annual Diversity Scorecard, which is an attempt to measure and rank Biglaw’s diversity efforts. 

This posting is not an endorsement of the survey or its methodology.  As with any survey, you should review the methodology and make your own critical evaluation as to its value/usefulness to you.

Mid-Sized Firms In Mid-Sized Cities Faring Better In This Economy

The National Law Journal published a piece entitled “Midsize Midwest Firms Steady In a Storm.”  It makes the point that these types of firms [which don’t generally come to OCIP] have, by and large, not felt the impact of the economy anywhere near as badly as large firms in large cities, which tend to be more dependent on M & A and capital markets.   As the article notes:  “Less expensive overhead, lawyers with broader skill sets and lower billing rates have also helped . . .”  Read the whole thing.  

What Law Firm Q1 2009 Numbers Reveal

Great article in Thursday’s Recorder (sorry to be only catching up to it now) about trends in the demand for legal services.

Comparing the first quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2008, it appears the demand for legal services dropped much more in NY and LA (9.5% and 8% respectively) than it did in SF  (which, granted is a much, much smaller legal market to begin with), which saw only a 1% fall.

Looking at practice areas nationally, the article reports that bankruptcy, not surprisingly, is up (13%) (though my understanding is that there isn’t that much bankruptcy work in SF –relative to NY and LA).  Also, litigation remains flat on a nationwide basis.  Everything else, according to the article, is “down significantly.”  

These numbers come from the Peer Monitor system, a service that allows law firms to access their peers’ financial data (in the aggregate) in exchange for supplying their own data to the system for others to access (on a normalized and aggregated basis).  The article reports that there are 35 Am Law 100 firms, 35 Am Law 200 firms and 30 NLJ 250 firms in the system.  

Law Recruiters’ Tips to Associates on the Job Market – Just As Useful To Students

A round up of comments from legal recuiters in the DC area recently appeared in the Legal Times.  You should read the whole thing, but here are some interesting insights:

Networking is key, but remember its not just your professional network that can help you — your personal contacts can be a fruitful source of leads.  Also, don’t limit yourself to online networking tactics.  A handwritten letter or phone call may work better with some.

The most marketable associates are the ones with a niche practice (areas that don’t have alot of competition and where it would be difficult to try to re-train an existing under-utilized associate from another practice area).  Examples mentioned in the article were: FDA, energy, export control, Section 337/patent litigation before the ITC, patent prosecution, bankruptcy, SEC enforcement, antitrust and health care.

Don’t assume the only jobs out there are the ones that are posted on a jobs site.  Your network is critical in identifying opportunities because, in today’s economy, if an employer posts a position, they will be inundated with resumes that they can’t possibly work their way through.

Legal Market Expert Predicts Smaller Summer Programs and Opportunities for Smaller Firms

In an interview in the Legal Intelligencer (which we found via, consultant Frank D’Amore made a number of predictions about the future of law firm recruiting.  You should read the whole thing, but among the predictions were:

1) Smaller law firms being more competitive with larger ones when it comes to recruiting top law school talent (and an increased interest among law students in smaller firms who, by and large, seem to be surviving better in this down economy and

2) Large firms scaling back their summer programs and increasingly relying on lateral recruitment. 

Certain Pockets of Real Estate Practice Get A Boost from the ‘Stimulus’ Package

Yesterday’s New York Lawyer reported on some firms actually adding partners to their real estate practices.  While real estate practices are generally slow, there are some areas where growth is expected.  They include:  public/private development projects (e.g., roads, buildings, remodeling), construction projects for local governments, and representing lenders and developers in loan restructurings and foreclosures.   

Some Big Law Partners Finding A Home In Mid-Sized Firms

The National Law Journal has a great article about how some big firm partners are moving over to smaller firms and finding them to be better places for their clients during the current economic crisis.  Smaller firms can be more flexible in their billing amounts and arrangements and often present fewer conflicts of interest when partners move there (as opposed to going to another large law firm).      

Climate Change Practice Groups

An article in the Recorder from last week, which was posted on talks about the creation of Climate Change practice groups at law firms as a response to changine federal and state regulations in this area. 

We’ve mentioned before the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC) has put together a really useful career guide for Energy, Climate and Clean Tech Law.  

Non-Equity Partner Leverage

Another post for those of you considering Big Law. 

Bruce MacEwen of the Adam Smith, Esq. blog weighs in on the subject of leverage by focussing on Big Law’s non-equity partner ranks.   His post was prompted, in part, by the one I linked to in my previous post on law firm leverage.  See the last paragraph of my prior post for why you should care about leverage.   

MacEwen includes a table of the firms with the highest and lowest ratios of equity to non-equity partners and a chart that demonstrates that non-equity partners are systematically among the least productive lawyers at firms.  

His conclusion (other than the obvious fact that the non-equity tier represents the most expensive kind of leverage there is): 

Those with de minimis or non-existent non-equity ranks all share “an unusually high combination of cultural cohesion and readily articulable strategy. . . . [E]ach of those firms . . . stand[s] for something, and      . . . achieving partnership there is dependent on several dimensions beyond that of being a mighty rainmaker.”  As for those firms with ratios greater than 1, “it must be said of that group that their strategies are extremely diverse and, in some cases, as yet unproven.  Additionally, many of the firms in that group have high proportions of relatively new lateral partners.”

He suggests that firms ought to be looking at “deleveraging” in this area and rethinking the two-tiered partnership structure.