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- BofA's Outside Counsel Sings Two Different Tunes. Eric Roth, a litigation partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, apparently was telling the Bank of America Corp. leadership one story about how difficult it would be to escape from the merger with Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., while singing quite a different tune to the federal government. On Dec. 19 Roth advised the bank's chief executive, Ken Lewis, and its interim general counsel, Brian Moynihan, on how difficult and financially risky it would be to try to invoke a so-called MAC -- or material adverse change -- clause, which would allow the bank to get out of the merger with Merrill. But another e-mail from associate general counsel Teresa Brenner to Moynihan, sent several hours later and on the same day as Roth's e-mail, says, "Eric made a very strong case as to why there was a MAC" during a conference call with some officials from the Federal Reserve. That's why you pay "beaucoup bucks" to lawyers like those working at Wachtell; so you can have your story spin both ways. Corporate Counsel
- Greedy Deputy GC Found Guilty in $12M Fraud - Used For Shopping Spree sand Comestic Surgery. Kate Johns, the former deputy head of legal at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, was paid a salary of 150,000 pounds ($250,000) in her role at the bank. For some, that would be considered a handsome salary, but for others like Johns, that was simply the tip of the iceberg. London's Southwark Crown Court ruled that Johns was guilty of having repeatedly conned colleagues into signing off large sums of money for investment. In total, the bank lost 7.4 million pounds ($12.3 million) as a result of the scam. The money was diverted to struggling Indonesian airline Air Efata, which was owned by her friend Frank Taira-Supit. Johns received personal payoffs from Taira-Supit totaling 1.95 million pounds ($3.2 million), which the court was told she used to fund a luxury lifestyle, including shopping trips, breast surgery and paying off the mortgage on a 1.1 million pound ($1.8 million) north London townhouse. Air Efata went bankrupt last year, after which Taira-Supit committed suicide. Johns' sentence will be handed in December. It's a sad story of greed and betrayal. The Legal Week
- New Kids On The Block: PetSmart Hires New GC Emily Disckinson, and Charter Communications Hires Gregory Doody as new GC. Dickinson, 50,comes to PetSmart from Hannaford Bros. Co., which runs a chain of grocery stores and supermarkets along the Eastern seaboard. (Hannaford is owned by Delhaize Group, which operates supermarkets in Europe.). The St. Louis–based company hired Doody to serve as its chief restructuring officer in March, when Charter filed for a prearranged Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but Doody originally joined last December to assist with the company's financial restructuring. In May, Doody, who is 44, also accepted the post of general counsel. He replaces former GC Grier Raclin, now Charter's chief administrative officer. Corporate Counsel
- Want to Know Top 25 In-House Counsels in Asia, Look Here: The ALB has identified 25 of the most outstanding legal counsel in Asia - from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China and India. These lawyers represent the health, real estate, banking, technology, shipping, energy, and consumer good sectors. Some have worked on precedent-setting transactions, while others have quietly built up strong legal teams, ensuring continual compliance of their organization and also influencing the passage of legislation. ABL Legal News.
Involving a legal recruiter in your attorney job search can be very beneficial, especially if you are considering in-house legal opportunities. Legal recruiters can open the doors to great legal opportunities, and assist you in securing the right position.
Working with Legal Recruiters
In terms of in-house attorney jobs, over 50% of companies engage legal recruiters to recruit their lawyers. This means that the barrier to entry for in-house attorney jobs is very high. Companies are generally not well equipped to handle these types of searches and prefer to rely on specialized legal recruiters to identify talented attorneys for their positions. Recruiters can save them the time and expense of advertising, reviewing resumes, pre-selecting candidates, as well as keep the process confidential.
Selecting a Legal Recruiter
When selecting a recruiter, it is important to select an expert in his or her field. Working with a legal recruiting firm that specializes in in-house attorney search and placement can make a number of opportunities available to you. They can give you exposure to hidden/unknown jobs, and put you in touch with companies you would not have otherwise known about.
If you are looking for work in the legal marketplace, someone who has experience in the legal field will be better able to understand your needs and the expectations of potential legal employers. How can you find a good legal recruiter? Ask friends and colleagues for referrals. Also consider contacting a few recruiting professionals in your area. In addition to checking their experience, expertise, and open positions, you must also be comfortable with the person with whom you have partnered. The key is to identify a legal recruiter you can trust and who can represent you effectively to potential employers.
What Legal Recruiters Can Do For You
Legal recruiters can save you a great deal of time. Good legal recruiting firms spend a lot of time and resources researching the market, contacting companies about job openings, and determining who is and who isn’t hiring. In other words, attorney recruiters can give you a good sense of the market, and direct you to companies and industries that are active in the marketplace. Something you would neither have the time nor the resources to do by yourself.
In addition to giving you access to active and unknown job opportunities, a good legal recruiter can provide you with invaluable services including sharing key information about a particular position or company, reviewing and revising your legal resume, assisting you with interview preparation, and helping negotiate your compensation package. Because the employer, and not the job seeker, pays a legal recruiter’s fee, all of these services come completely free to you.
While a legal recruiter, like a good trainer, can give you the tools to win the race, they can’t do it for you. In other words, you still need to continue your independent job search efforts. Legal recruiters can be invaluable in helping you secure an in-house attorney job, but in most situations working with a legal recruiter should only be one piece of your job search plan.
While this is an accurate statement; there are other factors at work that are negatively impacting in-house counsel compensation that were not addressed in this article.
Existing In-House Counsels vs. Newly Hired In-House Counsels.
If existing in-house counsels at Fortune 500 Companies are not enjoying increases in their base salaries, newly hired in-house counsels are seeing a significant dip in base salaries. It’s a supply and demand market, and the majority of law departments hiring in-house counsels are offering packages that are notably lower than those they were offering to in-house counsels just a year ago.
An existing counsel pondering whether he/she will get a 3-8% percent increase on a compensation package of over $200,000, is quite different from a newly hired counsel with the same level of experience and practice area looking at a compensation package of $150,000 or less. If cost-cutting measures have not had a significant impact on the overall compensation package of existing in-house counsels, they have had a disparate impact on the compensation package of newly hired in-house counsels. It’s a tale of two cities between new hires and existing counsels.
Cash Compensation and Company Performance.
According to the ABA article, when Hildebrandt asked companies responding to the 2009 survey to report total cash compensation numbers for March 2008 and 2009, they reported a year-over-year increase of 3 percent. Last year’s survey reported a year-over-year increase of 8 percent in total cash compensation.
The decrease in cash compensation may not only be related to company cost-cutting measures, but also to company performance. It is a well-known fact that in-house bonuses are tied intimately to personal as well as company performance. A dip in overall cash compensation could most likely be attributed to a decrease in overall profit or lack thereof as a result of the recession, rather than cost cutting measures.
Fortune 500 In-House Counsels vs. Others.
If the average total cash compensation—base salary plus cash bonuses — for in-house lawyers in March 2009 was $229,000 — those figures are not reflective of the overall in-house legal market. Those figures are representative of senior counsels, with typically 10 years or more of practice experience, working at companies with a minimum of $9 billion in revenues with at least 30 lawyers, 18,000 employees and $28.0 million in total legal spending – in other words, primarily Fortune 500 Companies. That’s a sliver of the in-house legal market. Median cash compensation for most in-house senior counsels, typically falls between the $100,000 and $150,000 mark.
Here are the other findings that The Intelligencer and Hildebrandt reported from their Fortune 500 survey:
- The average total cash compensation—base salary plus cash bonuses—was $229,000 for in-house lawyers in March 2009.
- The average total cash compensation—base salary plus cash bonuses—was $236,000 for in-house lawyers in March 2008 survey.
- 18% of the respondents anticipated a decrease in the number of in-house lawyers in their departments.
- 30% of the respondents anticipated an increase in the number of in-house lawyers in their departments. The numbers reflect a cost-reduction strategy of bringing more work inside that had been done by outside counsel, according to the press release.
- Nearly a 1/3rd of the respondents expect to use fewer outside firms in the United States. Only 8 percent expect to increase the number of law firms they use.
- 46% of the responding companies anticipate that alternative billing arrangements will make up more than 11 percent of their outside legal budget, compared to 33 percent last year.
- Total legal spending increased by 5 percent in the United States, the same rate of increase as the year before.
Train to win the race, but don’t overdo it.
You need to train for your attorney job search – and if you have to channel images of Rocky and blast “Eye of The Tiger” to do it, go for it. The first step is to make a plan, and to stick to it:
- Step 1: Keep the same habits as when you were working. Get up, get dressed, make your coffee, and get started in your “home office.”
- Step 2: Make a “to do” list, no more than 10 items, and make sure to get to all of them by the end of the day.
- Step 3: Keep regular office hours. Resist the temptation to change them because you are tired, feeling anxious, want to do more, or find yourself distracted.
Searching for a job can be a challenging, stressful, and ultimately necessary. Sometimes even the most determined job seeker can have difficulty staying motivated when he or she receives little response from prospective employers or, sometimes worse, polite rejections. How can you keep the motivation going?
- Stay Connected. Spend time with friends, preferably those who are still employed. While you can commiserate and help those in your situation, remember that a positive attitude is just as catchy as a negative one. So stay connected with people who are positive.
- Exercise. It doesn’t matter what you do, or how long you do it. Just getting the blood moving through your veins will make you feel better, pump up your adrenaline, and help you stay positive and energetic.
- Get Out of the House. It’s easy to get stuck in front of the computer and the TV and let the day pass you by. Don’t stay home all week; be sure to make lunch appointments, take coffee breaks outside, or just take a walk.
- Take a Break from the News. While you want to stay on top of current events, it’s easy to get sucked into a spiral of negative news about the job market. Mix it up a little. Skip the news once in a while, and read articles unrelated to the economy, career, jobs, etc.
- Have Some Fun. While it’s easier said than done, life goes on and so should you. Take some time to do the things you enjoy, pick‐up the hobbies you did not have time for when you were working, or find new hobbies and interests.
- Outside Counsel Spending Projected to Drop By 4.7%, But Regulatory Hiring Is On the Rise. A new study projects a 4.3 percent slide in corporate spending on outside counsel next year. Outside counsel spending dropped from an average of $20.8 million in 2008 to $18.5 million this year and is projected to dip to $17.7 million in 2010, according to a study by BTI Consulting Group. Wile that's not good news for lawyers looking to go in-house, there is a glimmer of hope. Regulatory hiring has been on the rise. The National Law Journal
- Deferred Associates Seek Interim Jobs, Some Taking Waitressing Jobs. Next time your order that chicken salad, the person waiting on you may not be starving actor, but rather a starving law graduate. Law firms have been asking new hires to defer their employment start dates, an unprecedented step for many firms that had weathered previous economic downturns without wide-scale postponements. To cope, some would-be attorneys are seeking pro-bono fellowships, while others are taking jobs ranging from temporary work for their alma maters to waitressing or bartending. And law school career-service officials are advising students to take whatever work they can find to pay their bills. What about law school reducing their admission rates as well? Apparently, that's not an option they are putting on the table. The Wall Street Journal.
- New Kids On The Block: Quiznos Hires New GC Pat Meyeres, and VMWare Hires Dawn Smith as new GC. Denver-based The Quiznos Master LLC, known for its toasted sandwiches, has named Pat Meyers as its new legal chief. Meyers was the company's general counsel for ten years, and left two years ago to become chief legal officer of Consumer Capital Partners, one of the private company's largest investors. Dawn Smith who made partner two years ago at Morrison & Foerster will now serve as general counsel at one of Silicon Valley's biggest new companies, VMWare Inc. Smith, 45, has no in-house experience, which is unusual for this type of hire. We wish them both lots of luck in their new endeavor. The Recorder and Corporate Counsel
- Recruiter Got Zip in 12-Lawyer Leap, Now Seeks $100M in Federal Suit. Just when you thought it was safe to recruit and collect your fees again, there goes another fee dispute. And this time, the numbers are big. C.B. Legal Search has sued Los Angeles-based Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith for $100 million in actual and punitive damages, contending that the 700-attorney law firm squeezed it out of a 12-attorney placement deal it helped orchestrate. In March, C.B. Legal Search introduced partner Edward Ruberry of Bollinger Ruberry & Garvey to "senior-level employees" at Lewis Brisbois and he revealed the identities of insurance lawyers at his Chicago firm who would be interested in moving to Lewis Brisbois, alleges the suit, which is now in federal court in the Southern District of Texas.After the initial meeting, C.B. Legal Search asked Lewis Brisbois to sign a confidentiality agreement, the suit says, and the firm's then-chief financial officer e-mailed the recruiting firm that each party would do so. But, the suit states, no such agreement was ever signed. Courts have not been kind to legal recruiters in the past (See our previous posts: Good Faith Went Up In Smoke In Lost Recruiting Fees and The Wheel Turns On Another Recruiter Fee Dispute). Perhaps C.B. Legal Search will be luckier than its predecessors. The National Law Journal.
- BofA Shareholder Urges Board to Unmuzzle Former GC - The Saga Continues. If this was Summer, this would make for an interesting beach read, full of twists and turns and mystery. The BofA saga seems to continue to unravel, to the delight of many news agencies. Everyone wants to know what happened in the BofA and Merrill Lynch merger: If only Mayopoulos culd speak and shed some light? large shareholder at Bank of America Corp. That's exactly what a large shareholder is urging its board of directors to do: allow ex-general counsel Tim Mayopoulos to testify about the bank's merger with Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. The shareholder also is asking the board to hire outside counsel to conduct an internal probe into the deal. Stay tuned for more. Corporate Counsel.
Put together a team to help you win the race.
I am assuming that by now you have told your closest friends and colleagues about your attorney job search. The key to networking is to dust off your rolodex, or Internet address book, and start contacting both the people you know well, as well as those you don’t know as well.
Yes, this can seem scary and awkward, but trust me you are not alone. Plus remember this: networking is quid pro quo. Those people you are contacting would be doing the same thing with you if they were conducting their own job search – or at least you should now expect them to do so in the future.
Let them know about your attorney job search situation, the route you have chosen to take, and determine whether they are willing or able to help you achieve your goal. The key is to sell them on what you bring as much as you would a potential employer. If you can present yourself as a talented and skilled attorney and make a personal connection, you will get much farther with your networking efforts.
The key to networking is to gather information – not necessarily land a job. It is to get the word out, obtain information about the marketplace (who is hiring, not hiring, who knows who and what), and to obtain contacts, and even more contacts. In other words, you need to think of this process as free advertisement and information gathering.
Let as many people know that “John Doe” the best jockey of the West is racing in the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. Lucky will be the one ready to sponsor him to win this race! Ok, so I am stretching it a bit here, but hopefully I am making my point clear. You have to generate interest and excitement about your attorney job search, get the word out, and hope that employers will eventually find you, or that you will find them.
While the news are not encouraging, the numbers are lower than last spring. We've also noticed that law firm layoffs slowed down last month as well.
Baker Botts recently cut an unspecified number of associates. Cooley Goward layed off 58 staffers, nearly 6 percent of the firm’s total staff, in addition to a previous cut of 52 lawyers and 62 staff in January.