INHOUSE INSIDER Forum, News, and Career Center for In-House Counsels


Hard Times to Hit In-House Counsel Bonuses

Will law firm associates get their bonuses in 2008? That’s the questions the New York Law Journal has been asking as law firms re-evaluate the value of associate bonuses. While I empathize with associates who regularly bill 3,000 hours in the hopes of one day being rewarded with partnership, or at least getting a good bonus, I am more concerned about bonuses for in-house counsels. How will this recession impact in-house counsel bonuses?
In the last few years, the compensation trend for in-house counsels favored deferred compensation over cash salaries. Extra incentives such as bonuses and stock options were a significant component of in-house compensation packages. A typical bonus for most in-house counsels ranged between 20%-40% percent of the base, and sometimes much more depending on the position and company.

Although stock options and equity vary too greatly to be given a range; they nevertheless comprised a significant portion of an in-house counsel’s compensation package, especially for more senior level counsels (GC’s, CLO’s, Deputy Counsels, etc.)

Given that deferred compensation – which is basically tied to company performance – easily adds up to 50% of an in-house counsel’s overall compensation, the impact of this recession will be felt deeply by in-house counsels across the country. Although amid this financial credit crisis some top executives will forego their annual bonuses, 2008 bonuses will still be viable for most in-house counsels. 2009 on the other hand will be a year of serious belt-tightening across the board.

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5 Resume Mistakes: Keeping Your Resume Away from the “No” Pile.

As the economic downturn continues, more legal job seekers are vying for fewer positions — and everyone is feeling the squeeze. Candidates are looking for ways to make their resumes stand out, and many are resorting to editing decisions that may do them more harm than good.

I’ve reviewed a lot of resumes during the course of my career, and I'd like to think that I’ve seen everything…well, perhaps almost everything. What is startling are the numbers of resumes I’ve received from highly accomplished attorneys that contain what I call “harmful editing mistakes.” While these mistakes may seem fairly innocuous, and could be overlooked in a good job market, they can be fatal during a competitive market like this one.

Human resources departments do not have the time, manpower, or the inclination to contact candidates to discuss their flawed resumes. Typically, resumes that do not pass muster in terms of content and form earn a one-way ticket to the “no” pile. Have you ever gotten a call from a prospective employer asking you to explain a mistake or an omission on your resume? Probably not. In this market, it is even less likely to happen.

Many people think that the overall substance of a resume is what is more relevant. While this is generally true, form may also affect substance. It is not unusual for employers to be looking at dozens of nearly identical resumes – in terms of overall substance, experience, credentials etc. If you can only select couple of people from that long list of equally qualified candidates, whom do you think will be selected? The candidate with the clear, comprehensive, and well-written resume, or the one with missing information and typos?

Here are 5 common resume mistakes you should avoid to keep your resume away from the “no” pile:

1. Typos.

You may think that this is so basic that it is not even worth discussing. Of course there are no typos in my resume! Are you sure about that? You’d be surprised how many resumes contain at least one typo. I know that I am often guilty of this sin in my posts, despite my best attempts to keep them at a minimum. But when it comes to a resume - that's not something you want to take lightly.

Spell-checkers can be your best friend and your worst enemy. They can change words automatically, so quickly that you can easily miss the change, and they are only about 70% effective – they miss a lot of errors. So before you send out a resume, be sure to give is a ‘once over’ with a spell-checker, AND give it a second and third old-fashioned personal review. You can never be too careful.

2. Omitting Your Graduation Dates.

If I had a dollar for every resume I’ve received that's missing a graduation date, I’d give Warren Buffet a run for his money. The omission is always intentional, and it almost always comes from candidates who are more experienced. Why? Because they are worried that if they show that they graduated from law school in 1973, they may be passed over for a candidate who graduated in 1993. Is this a valid concern? Perhaps, but omitting a graduation date may actually do more harm than good.

First, the more to try to hide something, the more attention you bring to it. You are not fooling anyone; the omission will not go unnoticed. In fact, it will draw more attention to the fact that you did not include it, that you are uncomfortable with that fact, and that you may be more seasoned for the position than required.

Second, you are now making an employer guess what that date might be. Worse, it clearly shows that you are hiding something, and if it is something as innocuous as a graduation date, an employer can only guess what else you might not have been upfront about in your resume. Doubt creates questions, and questions create doubt. This is the last thing you want your resume to do.

3. Inaccurate or Missing Employment Dates.

If you are no longer employed with a company or firm, not making that fact known by keeping an open date (such as ‘1998-present’ or ‘2004-now’) or not including a date at all, is not only misleading but can be very damaging to a resume.

Obviously, you may be worried that if your resume reflects that you are no longer actively employed, it will be detrimental to your chances of securing a position. While this is a valid concern, it does not take away from the fact that you are not being straightforward with a potential employer.

Again the omission or inaccuracy on your resume will only bring more attention to the fact that you are currently unemployed, or that you have made lots of transitions in a short time period. If this is something you do not want to highlight any more than it has to be, just be honest and include the correct dates. If a potential employer has an issue with this, it is better that you know now rather than waste their time or yours.

Again, these types of omissions and inaccuracies will bring into question your good faith, honesty, and integrity. These are not things you want a potential employer to challenge. Honesty and full disclosure are the best policy when it comes to the information on your resume – you need to present yourself as you are, with the good, the bad, and the ugly.

4. Not Including Titles.

While a title is not always indicative of the type of work and/or level of responsibility of a particular position, it is nevertheless an important marker for employers to be able to examine. It may show an upward trend, highlight a lateral transition, or give one a better sense of where you are operating within a larger matrix. Without titles, you are not only forcing an employer to guess about your level, but you are also making them wonder about your progress.

5. Not Including Your Geographical Location.

This is probably the most difficult omission to understand. I have seen resumes that not only omit a candidate’s current address, but also fail to provide the location of their various positions altogether. Inevitably the question becomes: where is this candidate located, and where are they practicing? If the concern that prompted the omission is relocation, this approach to your resume will inevitably fail. Whether a company is willing to relocate a candidate or not, or is focusing on a particular region or not, is made well before a search begins. This is not a factor that will change based on one great candidate or resume alone.

Again, you need to be upfront with your location. Location can tell a lot about a candidate such as geographical ties, willingness to move etc. This is information that is important for an employer to be able to evaluate; when it is missing it casts doubt, and when time is limited and candidates are plentiful, it may earn the resume a one-way ticket to the “no” pile.

Conclusion. Next time you send out your resume, make sure you proofread it multiple times, and remember the following: honesty and full disclosure are the best policy.

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Corporate Legal Department Layoffs: The Market in 2008

Markets are braced for more hemorrhaging in jobs, with a Friday employment report expected to record 200,00 more jobs vaporized in October. This would push the jobless rate up two—tenths of a point to 6.3 percent.

December could be an even more brutal month for in-house attorneys as the economy continues to worsen and more companies look for ways to cut costs before the end of the year.

What affects the market as a whole also affects legal departments While there are many lists detailing law firm layoffs, little information is available regarding corporate legal department layoffs. While some companies have received specific publicity for their in-house attorney layoffs; the majority of corporate legal department layoffs are folded into overall company layoffs.

[We will continue to monitor the market, update this list, and attempt to provide more figures regarding corporate legal department layoffs.] Here's a rundown of some of the publicized mass corporate legal department layoffs:

  • Bearn Stearns. 100+ legal positions.
  • Lehman Brothers. 200+ legal positions.
  • Merrill Lynch. Exact numbers unknown.
  • Wachovia. Exact numbers unknown.
  • Home Depot. 17+ attorneys.
  • JP Morgan Chase. Exact numbers unknown.

Have you been part of a corporate legal department layoff? Please share your stories, an help us keep an accurate tally.

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Law Firm Layoffs: Employment shifts at The Am Law 200

November 11, 2008

These days Wall Street's woes seem to equal law firms' losses. As business dries up in certain practice areas, firm managers are facing tough decisions. The American Lawyer and its sibling publications present ongoing coverage of law firm layoffs and related news. Check here for updated information on firm layoffs. [Report produced by Incisive Media].

What about corporate legal department layoffs? We are currently compiling a list which will be available shortly.



  • Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll
  • Bell Boyd & Lloyd
  • Bingham Mccutchen
  • Blank Rome
  • Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
  • Clifford Chance
  • Dechert
  • Dewey & Leboeuf
  • DLA Piper
  • Duane Morris
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson
  • Heller Ehrman
  • Holland & Knight
  • Hunton & Williams
  • Jenner & Block
  • Katten Muchin Rosenman
  • Kaye Scholer
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Loeb & Loeb
  • McKee Nelson
  • Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy
  • Moore & Van Allen
  • Morgan & Finnegan
  • O'Melveny & Myers
  • Patton Boggs
  • Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker
  • Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
  • Powell Goldstein
  • Reed Smith
  • Seyfarth Shaw
  • Shutts & Bowen
  • Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
  • Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal
  • Sutherland Asbill & Brennan
  • Synnestvedt & Lechner
  • Taylor Wessing
  • Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner
  • Thatcher Profitt & Wood
  • White & Case
  • Winstead



Law Firms See More Layoffs, Departures of Staff and Associates
The Legal Intelligencer
June 5, 2008

Chicago's Bell Boyd & Lloyd Lays Off 10 Associates
The National Law Journal
Nov. 3, 2008

Bell Boyd Confirms Layoffs
Above the Law
Oct. 30, 2008

Bingham McCutchen Lays Off 10 Staff Members
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog
July 30, 2008

Bingham Lays Off San Francisco Bay Area Staff
The National Law Journal
May 21, 2008

Law Firms See More Layoffs, Departures of Staff and Associates
The Legal Intelligencer
June 5, 2008

Cadwalader Lays Off 96 More Lawyers
The American Lawyer
July 30, 2008

Cadwalader Laying Off 35 in Wake of Slumping Markets
New York Law Journal
Jan. 10, 2008

With '01 in Mind, Law Firms Alter Layoff Strategy
The National Law Journal
Oct. 29, 2008

Dechert Chairman: Layoff Rumors Are 'Bull'
The Legal Intelligencer
Oct. 22, 2008

Layoffs Hit Dechert Following Record Financial Year
The Legal Intelligencer
Feb. 29, 2008

Dewey & LeBoeuf Closes Charlotte Office
Above the Law
Oct. 20, 2008

Dewey Stay or Dewey Go? D&L Decamps from Hartford, Austin, Jacksonville
Above the Law
April 4, 2008

DLA Review Sees Five Lawyers Redundant
The Lawyer
Aug. 4, 2008

Duane Morris Lays Off Additional Staff
The Legal Intelligencer
Aug. 22, 2008

Freshfields Lays Off Real Estate Associates
Legal Week
Sept. 22, 2008

Fried Frank Trimming ‘Less Than 10 Percent’ of Firm’s Staff
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog
Aug. 20, 2008

Big Wave of Layoffs Hits Heller
The Recorder
Oct. 17, 2008

Mass Layoffs at Heller
The Recorder
Oct. 13, 2008

South Florida Law Firms Feel the Real Estate Slump
The National Law Journal
May 29, 2008

Hunton & Williams to Redeploy Charlotte Associates
The American Lawyer
May 16, 2008

Jenner & Block Shows 10 Partners the Door
The National Law Journal
Oct. 21, 2008

Layoffs Hit Attorneys, Staff at Katten and Sonnenschein Firms
The National Law Journal
Oct. 20, 200

Kaye Scholer Trims Five Secretaries
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog
May 22, 2008

Loeb & Loeb Cuts Eight Associates
The National Law Journal
November 11, 2008

McKee Nelson Lays Off Attorneys and Staff; Co-Founder Optimistic
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog
Nov. 3, 2008

McKee Nelson Lays Off 17 Associates
New York Law Journal
Nov. 4, 2008

Milbank Didn't Fire 'All' Its Staff Attorneys
Above the Law
April 18, 2008

Moore & Van Allen Lays Off 20 Staff Members
Above the Law
Oct. 15, 2008

Nationwide Layoff Watch: Morgan & Finnegan
Above the Law
Aug. 21, 2008

O'Melveny Cuts Associate, Staff Headcount
The National Law Journal
Oct. 27, 2008

Nationwide Layoff Watch: O'Melveny & Myers
Above the Law
Oct. 23, 2008

Pain at Patton Boggs
Texas Lawyer
July 2, 2008

Paul Hastings Denies Reports of Layoffs
The American Lawyer
May 12, 2008

More About Pillsbury Winthrop (but at Least They Get iPhones!)
Above the Law
July 16, 2008

Pillsbury Winthrop Axes 15 in California?
Above the Law
July 14, 2008

Powell Goldstein Associates, Staff Feel the Pinch of Layoffs
Fulton County Daily Report
June 23, 2008

Law Firms See More Layoffs, Departures of Staff and Associates
The Legal Intelligencer
June 5, 2008

Nationwide Start Date/Layoff Watch: Seyfarth Shaw
Above the Law
July 10, 2008

South Florida Law Firms Feel the Real Estate Slump
The National Law Journal
May 29, 2008

Simpson Thacher Denies Layoffs Report
The American Lawyer
Aug. 12, 2008

Layoffs Hit Attorneys, Staff at Katten and Sonnenschein Firms
The National Law Journal
Oct. 20, 2008

Sonnenschein Announces Layoffs -- More Than 100 Legal, Nonlegal Jobs Cut
The American Lawyer
May 28, 2008

Sutherland Trims Associate Ranks
Fulton County Daily Report
April 30, 2008

IP Boutique's Fall Is Fox Rothschild's Gain
The American Lawyer
Aug. 27, 2008

Taylor Wessing Becomes Latest Firm to Cut Jobs
Legal Week
Oct. 31, 2008

Thelen Lays Off 26 Associates, 85 Staffers
The Recorder
March 20, 2008

White & Case Lays Off 70 Associates
The Am Law Daily
Nov. 11, 2008

Nationwide Layoff Watch: White & Case Brings Layoffs into the Vault Top 20
Above The Law
Nov. 11, 2008

Divorce, Italian Style
The American Lawyer
Oct. 24, 2008

Winstead to Lay Off 20 in Dallas Office
The Dallas Morning News
Feb. 14, 2008

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Compensation for 2008: GC’s Up, Everyone Else Down, and IP Still Golden.

U.S. chief legal officer total cash compensation (salaries plus bonuses) increased by more than 13 percent this year to $467,100, according to the 2008 Law Department Compensation Benchmarking Survey.
While median salaries rose just seven percent, median bonuses grew by almost 27 percent. The study analyzes compensation data for more than 7,000 lawyers in 312 corporate law departments across the country.

While CLO compensation increased, however, total cash compensation for deputy chief legal officers, division general counsel and managing attorneys decreased during the same period, by 6 percent, 2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. This year's results also include the following:

  • CLOs in departments with more than 25 lawyers earned $771,000 in total cash compensation, 65 percent more than the national median. In contrast, CLOs in one-lawyer departments earned $240,000, 49 percent less than the national median.
  • For non-management positions, intellectual property or patents is the most lucrative specialty for senior attorneys and attorneys. Senior IP attorneys took home 40 percent more than the national median total cash compensation last year.

Approximately 44 percent of participants were in organizations with 5,000 or more employees. The largest group of participating law departments was from organizations with annual sales revenues of over $10 billion.

What about 2009? At ESQ Recruiting, we predict that bonuses will be the hardest hit, and expect lower increase in compensation across the board – we anticipate a decrease for U.S. chief legal officer and salary freezes for other counsels.

[Report prepared by: Incisive Legal Intelligence's survey group, a division of Incisive Media, parent company to leading legal media including The American Lawyer, The National Law Journal and Legal Week.]

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