For those DL members in the legal industry,
how are things in your neck of the woods?
I work for a legal consulting firm and our clients are lot of the Am Law 100 firms. We're stable but running very 'lean' with minimal admin staff,etc. (We didn't even have a staff holiday lunch last December and we used to have the most amazing holiday events.)
We have busy cycles with lot of overtime and lost weekends and then dead spells that make me so anxious.
I get nervous every time I read news like this.
Any thoughts for the future or do you think this news is a good thing to 'trim the bloat'?
Tabbi, I hear that they are currently graduating 6 lawyers for very 1 job opening since the inception of the over supply of law schools, over representation of job statistics and lowered admission standards.
Some law schools are even hiring/creating jobs for graduates so they cam make it look they like they have high placement stats...So it's one of the latest bubbles...if you became a lawyer before 2000 you are probably doing alright. I hear many new attorneys are happy to be doing doc review in basements for $20 an hour.
They have over 100,000 in non-dis-chargeable debt and no way to pay it.
Many legal jobs are outsourced or done by computers as well.
My firm has a couple of offices and a big Trusts & Estates and real estate practice but we're a medium-sized firm. We trimmed a few years ago and are using temp to perm paralegals but we have a big Summer Associate program this year and we've had the usual Summer and Winter parties where they really lay it on. The firm had a meeting a few weeks ago and outlined how and why we're doing well and it looks like the layoffs are over.
This has been going on for over 5 years. So many layoffs and consolidation in the legal industry.
A third of corporate lawyers are nasty assholes so they can go fuck themselves - entitled, mean, and WAY overcompensated. Fucking psychopaths.
I feel really bad for the other ones.
Not surprised. I was laid off two years ago from a very large firm. There was hardly any work for associates when I left. Everyone was padding like crazy, even partners. If clients took a hard look at their bills they would be demanding that the bill be halved to get rid of the bloat.
There will be more layoffs, I'm sure.
Sorry to freak you out OP, but several firms are starting to use paralegals in India to now do the grunt work.
r5 speaks the truth. Jones Day just laid off 65 in their IT department. Reading between the lines of management's "advancing technology" comment I wonder if some outsourcing isn't going on.
I've been fortunate with my job at a 35 lawyer "boutique" firm which has been slowly growing over the last ten years. We do have two conference rooms filled with "temp" lawyers who've been doing doc review work for the last 4 months, so I've seen a lot of lawyers who are relying on that kind of work.
Legal sucks right now. Outsourcing of both legal an legal admin is happening all over. Then there's all the giant mergers, and there will be lots more of those.
Doc review temp attorney here. We've been watching our industry shrink every year. Jobs are harder to come by, wages are going down, no overtime pay, fewer days of holiday pay.
OP, if anything you're going to be getting *more* work. What's happening is that corporate clients in particular are no longer accepting "blank check" legal bills for "services rendered," and instead demanding that a lot of the easier parts of case work be outsourced instead of given to junior associates or paralegals. The clients are tightening the purse strings, and law firms will be doing the same. A lot of lawyers have been expecting a shoe to drop in this area for a couple of years now, and the fact that a firm as prestigious as Weil Gotshal was the first to act (and, unlike last year's Dewey & LeBoeuf meltdown, didn't fire people because of massive financial mismanagement) means that we're likely to see a lot more of this type of thing at the top-100 firms.
R1, you're correct that law schools are producing far too many law graduates, but that issue isn't germane to this particular topic. The top firms hire the top law school graduates, ones who historically have had multiple offers to pick from before graduation, even over the past five years. The grads you're referring to are ones from bottom-tier schools and/or in the bottom tier of their graduating classes. The job market remains quite strong for grads of any law school in the top 50, and especially strong for those in the top 20, where most grads will likely end up at a top firm making $160K/year (the current "BigLaw" standard for first-year associates regardless of metro area, e.g. lawyers in NYC and Dallas get paid the same amount even though the cost of living is vastly less in Texas).
One of the fastest growing industries outsourcing right now is Hospitals.
Good riddance! Too many of them and they're all horrible. Maybe they should have considered a career in the food industry like working over a steam table and wearing a hair net.
All my law degree got me was a six figure debt and a drinking problem.
Living here in the midwest, I can tell you that the top grads from state law schools are getting decent jobs. The bottom third without good contacts are having trouble, but they've always had trouble getting jobs in the legal field.
R9, wasn't what was "shocking" about the Weil layoffs was that given the firm's position, the associates being laid off were exactly those coveted law grads sought by most firms - top 20 schools, good GPA's, etc., and the firm had no reason for booting them besides declining PPP?
The hiring market in Big Law is still healthy (especially compared to the huge downturn in 2008), but I guess the Weil layoffs just underline that even when things are going relatively well, associates should be adjusting their expectations about job security.
Though really, I think most Big Law associates are pretty realistic about their shelf life and how expendable they are, since attrition rates have always been huge (and partnership chances have always been tiny). I think what's changing is that law firms are becoming a little less "genteel" in pushing them out - most top law firms used to quietly take associates aside and helped them transition to their next position over a couple of months, or blamed layoffs on the economic downturn rather than performance-related reasons, rather than having front page news that they're cutting people while times are good and anybody currently interviewing for lateral positions should be considered detritus. The Weil layoffs just seem a bit... "crass" in comparison.
Arguing about the ruthlessness of any Law firm, is like complaining, Great White sharks are not vegans.
Most Lawyers are trained Corporate Dobermans - defenders of the 1 percent. Lets hope they ALL turn against each other and kill each other off.
[quote]One of the fastest growing industries outsourcing right now is Hospitals.
To take things a bit off track, I just had some experience with this. My elderly mother developed cellulitis and an edema on her leg from a scrape she kept picking on. I wound up taking her to the ER where the performed an ultrasound to check for clots. The tech. was a contractor from Wisconsin (the hospital is in CA). I'm not sure what was going on there. The hospital was paying for Extended Stay America lodgings. I can't imagine it was saving much money by not hiring locals on regular staff.
I suppose popping down to housing court and helping some nearly-evicted tenants stay in their homes, for a reasonable fee, is out of the question.
Same for poping by federal court for some civil rights cases, or maybe intervening if you see someone being defamed online (where just having a lawyer would scare away the wrongdoers), etc.
I guess if all you want is to be overpaid by clients in the one percent, the job market sucks for you.
Cry me a fucking river. I'll toss an extra $1 in the g-string of the secretary you laid off.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, since nwe grads are being minted every year. Another wave will hit in September.
Younger people with advanced degrees are being asked to subsist without jobs or nest eggs, as they watch bloated pension and retirement checks go to peeople who are no longer contributing to the economy, where you have "dead weight" cashing in more each month than the younger people are earning for work.
Does that sound sustainable to you? Get ready for the uglistest class warfare in this country's history.
[quote]The hiring market in Big Law is still healthy (especially compared to the huge downturn in 2008), but I guess the Weil layoffs just underline that even when things are going relatively well, associates should be adjusting their expectations about job security.
I don't disagree in the least. That said, the fired Weil Gotshal associates will likely have new jobs within a month. It's the trickle-down effect that current (and future) law students should worry about: the fired BigLaw associates will be taking somewhat lower-rung jobs, thus pushing those who *would* have gotten those jobs further down the rung ... and so on.
My impression was that a lot of those jobs are really competitive, too, r17. I was looking at legal internship opportunities recently (not in corporate law), and I saw one that essentially said that they would consider resumes from students, but they'd really prefer to have a bar-admitted attorney for this unpaid internship, please. Has your experience been different? (Please chime in if it has been. I have no interest in corporate law and would love you forever if you told me that my job prospects were less sucky than my corporate law-gunning classmates.)
I'm curious: what's the main difference between being a partner in a firm doing corporate work, and someone who is a general counsel at a big firm? Is one more prestigious than the other? Is GC a big deal job?
R21, partners and general counsel are usually operating in different realms - partners as outside advisers, general counsel as the client. "Partners" usually refers to senior lawyers within a law firm who have been promoted and are entitled to a share of the firm's profits, while "general counsel" (or Chief Legal Officer) usually refers to the top in-house legal executive within a company / corporation, who liases with outside law firms on the company's legal matters and also oversees any legal work handled internally.
Whether one's more "prestigious" than the other depends on different things I guess - mainly the size of the firm or company. On one hand, partners at the top law firms can make millions of dollars per year, but at the same time their power depends on being able to bring in big clients and revenue, and especially nowadays that means having to deal with client demands in a "service" role. They only have influence within their own firm if they bring in money (especially as "rainmakers"), and many firms will drop partners if they're not generating enough revenue to justify their profit share.
GC's at big companies make a lot of money as well - generally a lot less in annual base salary than a partner at a big firm, but their company stock options can dwarf partner profits (especially when something like an IPO happens). They hold power because they choose which firms represent the company (and therefore direct where millions in legal fees go), so law firm partners will suck up to them and try to keep the relationship healthy. But in many companies legal departments are seen as a money pit, so internally GC's tend to have less influence than executives in charge of generating revenue, and are also on the hook whenever legal costs get too high or the company suffers a legal setback or screw-up. But yeah, generally it's a "big deal" job.
R21, actually, looking at your question, you might be referring to something else. Sometimes law firms have a separate category of attorneys for senior lawyers who are not partners (and not entitled to the firm's profits). They get called different things - "senior attorneys", "special counsel", "of counsel", etc. (though usually not "general counsel").
These attorneys have more experience than associates and might even manage cases - they might be associates who stayed with the firm who failed to make partner, retired partners, or laterals with specific skills or specialties who don't have a revenue-generating practice. But they generally get paid a fixed or negotiated salary rather than a profit share like partners do.
Also, since firms have to deal with their own internal legal matters (e.g. human resources and malpractice suits, etc.), some firms will also have their own version of a "general counsel" who handles representing and managing the firm itself.
r17 .... another DL charmer.
New grads are usually in massive debt because of what law school
costs. Your plan is not exactly realistic.
They never should've gone in the first place, one could argue...
But while you're pissing on gay lawyers ... and law firm lawyers ... they won the Prop 8 case. A gay man from a law firm argued Perry and Lawrence. He was chosen because of the experience his firm gave him at the Court.
You owe your rights to the likes of him, and the law firms and rich gay lawyers who fund Lambda.
So do fuck off.
Add me to the list of anti-lawyer posters. This thread has been delicious to read - lawyers suffering hardship brings bliss to others.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply, r22. You answered my question well.
How much are lawyers being affected by things like legal zoom?
I am the sole admin in a small firm in Manhattan. Among my duties is payroll. I am making almost as much as the most junior attorney, who has been out of law school for three years. In my last job, I was making almost $20,000 more than he makes. I was not graduated from university but I have tons of experience.
R27 - Legalzoom had a big layoff in March.
R27 - absolutely zero effect on top law firms like Weil. Legal Zoom's (and similar services) market is individuals and small businesses who need routine filings and work done, and don't want to hire a lawyer - simple matters which don't require much individual detail and which don't deviate from a template (e.g. filling out a company registration form). Most law firms concentrate on more complex high-end work - bank financings, mergers, tax issues, massive litigations, etc. which require teams of lawyers. Legal Zoom and similar services are really competing against solo practitioners or small-firm lawyers who do routine general corporate work to pay the bills.
No company is going to handle their billion-dollar financing or defend their key software patents by filling out a form online.
At the same time, even complex cases have more routine / template elements (like going through millions of pages of documents searching for keywords) which are increasingly being outsourced to lower-cost providers, non-lawyers, or computer software instead of junior lawyers - and that is the cause for cost-cutting and layoffs by top firms.
Yeah, I noticed the clients don't want to pay anymore. They stopped paying a few years ago, or else demanded, and got, large write-offs and discounts. The partners even had to write letters to the other partners' clients demanding payment of their debts. My boss, a nice guy and top partner, saw his oldest client walk out the door when he and I switched to this firm, which has an excellent reputation, and charges for it. One of the name partners has an excellent reputation which sets the tone for the rest of the firm. He's got everyone from old money to rock stars. I feel badly for all the law school grads who are struggling. I don't buy the anger. I didn't graduate high school, but law firms have given me a good, albeit clerical, career for a long time. I admire smart people who play by the rules and possess the ability to graduate summa cum laude from Harvard Law. These people work their butts off for just enough money to live in Manhattan, by the office of course.
What's most disturbing about the Weil layoffs is not the lawyers laid off, but the 110 non-legal staff (i.e., Admins). That is ONE HALF of the entire admin staff at Weil's NY office. And since all the NYC BigLaws have been belt-tightening since the 2008 recession, and they all have hiring freezes, those 110 admins ain't getting equal-paying jobs anywhere else in the legal field.
The days when a Legal Admin was a prestigious well-paying job are over. Better get to know your temp agency counselor really well, 'cause you're gonna need that contact to make a paycheck - and forget about benefits like 401(k) and health insurance (pensions were abandoned years ago).
[quote]I was not graduated from university
Yes, dear, I think everyone's figured that one out.
To add a bit to R22's comments: R21, keep in mind that there's a world of difference between a general counsel and corporate counsel. Many larger companies usually have multiple attorneys on staff; the GC is merely their boss, in that instance. Also, R22's comments about GCs making big money off an IPO refer to about 1 in 5,000, if that, given the paucity of companies going public these days. (Caveat: GCs working for a tech startup that gets bought by Google or Facebook or Microsoft can still nevertheless make a shitload from their stock options. Still, the vast majority of general/corporate counsel work for companies that are already public or will never go public.)
Prestige, in law, depends entirely on which law firm or company you happen to be employed by and in which field you ork. The old-school "white shoe" NYC firms like Cravath are arguably the most prestigious in finance circles; Skadden is top of the peak in D.C. circles; Silicon Valley-based Wilson Sonsini has arguably the best rep in the tech world; and Houston-based firms like Baker Botts and Vinson & Elkins get much of the lucrative energy-industry work. Finally, a lot of prestigious American law firms are starting to merge with overseas firms to form global powerhouses; Fulbright & Jaworski, for instance, just merged with London-based Norton Rose.
I'd disagree with R22 that GC is a particularly prestigious position, unless it's at either a high-profile Fortune 500 corporation or a superhot Internet startup. Finally, the one major difference between law firms and corporate law is the lack of pressure to rack up billable hours in the latter; young associates in particular are worked to death to get them to bill 2000 hours a year minimum (and keep in mind that "billable hour" has little relationship to actual hours worked - some lawyers spend half their time taking care of shit that can't be billed, particularly if they're something like a managing partner and work primarily on overseeing the firm's own operations as opposed to direct client work).
Oh, and R32 is right: the days of thinking a life as either a legal secretary or a paralegal is a guaranteed path to a strong salary are nearing an end. A lot of the work they do is either being outsourced, automated, or given to junior associates. Also, it's almost unheard of today for an attorney -- aside from the most senior partners at the largest firms -- to have an admin all to themselves; most admins do work for multiple attorneys.
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