New Resource From West For Lawyers In Transition

In response to the economy, the folks at Thomsen Reuters (who own Westlaw) have launched a new website called “Between Cases.”  Its a website that links to Westlaw  job search tools, legal education offerings from West LegalEdcenter, and information and resources for setting up a private practice. 

It also allows deferred associates or out-of-work attorneys who are doing volunteer work access to some of West’s legal research resources in furtherance of their pro bono efforts. 

Q-1 2009 Law Firm Financials

The American Lawyer reports on Citibank’s Private Banking Flash Report on their law firm clients from the first quarter of 2009.  They aggregate the data (without identifying individual firms) of their participating clients, which consist of 71 Am Law 100 firms, 50 Second Hundred firms, and 54 smaller firms. 

A few key findings:

Revenues were down 3.7% over 2008 Q-1; demand was down 6%; and headcount up 2.5%.  Also, AmLaw 100 firms were more affected than the rest.

Read the whole thing — especially Citibank’s recommendations to its clients. 


Lawyers Without Borders

The National Law Journal recently interviewed the founder of Lawyers Without Borders, an organization that connects attorneys with pro bono projects in Africa and elsewhere.  You can find it here.

Legal Market Experts Discuss Firm Deferrals

Leigh Jones published a piece in the National Law Journal today (available via containing some troubling news for members of the Class of 2009 and 2010.  Legal market followers express a great deal of skepticism about whether firms will be able to start graduates from these classes when they say they can.  These experts note a “pile-up of talent” and uncertainty among firm leaders about “what their next business model might be” and how exactly new associates will fit into it.   Their conclusion is that “most firms won’t need all of their deferred associates once the deferral date arrives.” 

Free Podcast for 3Ls and Alums: Managing A Career Transition In Tough Times

As a public service, NALP and ALI-ABA are offering Managing a Legal Career Transition in Tough Times — a 75-minute presentation by Marcia Pennington Shannon and Susan G. Manch of Shannon & Manch LLP, who generously donated their time and talent to this special project to assist lawyers and 3Ls who are currently seeking employment.

The presentation addresses the current state of the legal employment market, the five basic steps for an effective job search, and such additional considerations as financial assessments, emotional ups and downs, gaining experience while waiting for the next job, and negotiating in a down market.

Watch it here

A Look At The Recent Financial History of the 15 Most Profitable NY Corporate Firms

The American Lawyer published an interesting read called: “Are Blue Chip NY Firms Losing Their Balance?” available via

A particularly interesting fact, which helps put the current dismal financials into perspective, is that, in the 4 year run-up to the 2008 melt-down, many of these elite firms saw their profits per partner increase something like 60, and in some cases 80 or 90%! 

Some of this increase was the result of leveraging up — several had leverage ratios in excess of 4:1.   The least leveraged of the elite 15 had a ratio of 2.9:1.      

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.