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2006 "State of the Market" report on law firms

2006 "State of the Market" report on law firms
« on: May 31, 2006, 11:31:32 AM »

Here's NY:

New York
By Carey Bertolet

It's the holiday season, and it appears that Manhattan is singular of purpose: celebrating the end of the year. However, we have been somewhat surprised to find ourselves more busy than usual in the New York office. While past years may have seen a shuttering up at the end of the year, many firms are truly gearing up their lateral recruiting efforts, and BCG candidates continue to interview on a daily basis!

Of course, many of us, when thinking about Christmastime, think of large-scale commercial litigation. While that's certainly not true, it is true that firms are focusing on their litigation searches, many of which are quite different from the others. While some large firms are specifically pinpointing laterals with significant litigation experience outside of the library, others are more focused on those with investigations experience, especially with respect to criminal investigations before the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, or the Federal Trade Commission, to name a few. There is a high demand for litigators who show a great deal of maturity and personality and who are likely candidates to go to client meetings and represent the firms. Intellectual property patent litigators with a good client-development orientation will do very well.

As always, New York is the capital of cutting-edge corporate work, and that work includes the most novel and interesting corporate transactions. All manner of debt and equity transactions, from the warehouse-backed securitization to the LBO to the IPO to the CDO, go on here in large measure. Clearly, then, an attorney with these specialties in any degree is quite in demand. While a junior-level associate with access to some of these types of transactions has great mobility, more senior spots are generally reserved for those with more of a focus and specialization. We are seeing great demand for senior-level associates with broker/dealer regulatory experience, among a myriad of other corporate and finance specialties.

Corporate attorneys should also be aware of what conventional wisdom sees as a fairly significant experience gap, not surprisingly, from the classes of 2000 to 2002. An associate at that level who is at or above his/her class in terms of actual transactional experience in the corporate work—especially securities, high-yield 144a offerings, and mergers and acquisitions—will have significant opportunities. Importantly, many of these opportunities have a better road to promotion because even in large corporate departments, there will be less likelihood of competition.

Intellectual property is still very much focused on electrical engineers and computer science majors, who are desperately needed by firms for patent prosecution and, at the more senior level, litigation, transactional work, and counseling. For those firms looking for patent prosecutors, the class-year level they are willing to consider is much more constrained—a senior electrical engineer may have too high a billing rate to participate solely in prosecution.

We have seen more trademark positions, although they are already in more limited supply relative to other practice areas, given the perception that the work is more fun than that of other intellectual property practices. Increasingly, many of the trademark positions integrate both traditional trademark prosecution and litigation, so they are especially attractive to those lawyers who like a bit of diversity in their day-to-day trademark matters.

All year, it's been all about real estate attorneys. Similarly, firms are not indiscriminately hiring any real estate attorney that crosses their paths. Many firms have slowed their searches to wait for candidates who are more mid-level associates and are focused on those who have taken on significant transactional responsibility. Residential real estate experience will, more often than not, not satisfy the commercial real estate groups looking, although there are firms who are handling marquee residential real estate transactions. More than before, real estate finance is the type of experience sought, and a candidate with even limited access to sophisticated real estate finance transactions will have substantial opportunities.

We are still working on some incredibly exciting antitrust opportunities, both regulatory- and litigation-oriented. It bears repeating that partnership opportunities may be much more likely in this area, as are several opportunities to do high-level newspaper-headline-making work. A candidate who can legitimately claim a facility with Hart-Scott-Rodino will likely do extremely well in terms of a lateral move.

We have seen quite a bit of interest in good trusts and estates lawyers, and several searches have been quite urgent and have opened and closed rather quickly. Firms are stating some specific needs in tax, although the hiring in that practice area has simply not been matched by the stated needs of firms. There has been some labor and employment litigation activity, but generally speaking, we have not seen too robust a market for these lawyers, although a smattering of very good opportunities does exist.

The holiday season is often an emotional time for people, who take stock of where they are in terms of their families and lives. We believe it is also an appropriate time to take stock of your career goals and consider whether there are opportunities suited to your background.


Do these sorts of reports influence what fields you want to practice in?

Lily Jaye

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Re: 2006 "State of the Market" report on law firms
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2006, 12:26:38 PM »
You rock, Legapp! Thanks :)

Slow Blues

Re: 2006 "State of the Market" report on law firms
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2006, 12:27:03 PM »
Not really. I think your interests develop and change as you spend time in school. Plus, what's in demand in 2006 may not be hot in 2009. I just know there are fields I definitely want to avoid, like criminal law, immigration law and labor law.

Thanks for the article BTW :)


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Re: 2006 "State of the Market" report on law firms
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2007, 08:08:13 AM »,0,7646215.story?coll=orl-news-growth-special
A revolving door of public attorneys
Better pay at private firms is causing lots of turnover

Jad Brewer graduated law school in 2003 and became a prosecutor with the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office.

But with outstanding student loans and a chance to make more money, Brewer left his $43,000-a-year job in August to be a private attorney with an Altamonte Springs firm.

"I wasn't disgruntled or anything. They just can't pay enough," said Brewer, 28, adding that his new job brought a "substantial" raise in pay.

Brewer is among 26 prosecutors who have left the Orange-Osceola office this year. The Orange-Osceola Public Defender's Office lost 25 attorneys.

Officials say the problem isn't new and isn't going to get better. Law schools are churning out more attorneys with massive student loans. Central Florida is a booming region, and with that growth comes more crime -- and more cases to the courthouses. Last year, authorities made more than 1 million arrests in Orange County alone. At the same time, private law firms are enticing new attorneys with higher salaries -- and state agencies can't compete.

"I can't ask them to grow old with me," said Orange-Osceola Public Defender Bob Wesley, whose office has one of the highest turnover rates in the state. "The gap that kills us is the 18-month to three-year employee. It's no coincidence that the student-loan obligation kicks in around that time."

Wesley has often said he doesn't expect his assistant public defenders to stay more than five years, because he knows he doesn't have the money to pay them.

State attorneys' offices suffer the same problem.

"If we can get them past three years, we can keep them much longer," said Ric Ridgway, the chief assistant state attorney in the 5th Circuit, which covers Lake, Sumter, Marion, Citrus and Hernando counties.

Central Florida assistant public defenders and prosecutors with up to three years' experience average between $40,000 and $56,000 a year, according to the Judicial Administration Commission, a Tallahassee-based organization that provides administrative support for the state's 20 public defenders' offices and state attorneys' offices.

Recognizing the low pay, some recruiters ask job candidates how much loan debt they face. For some, it's more than $100,000.

"It's one of the factors we consider when looking at how long they are going to stay with us," Ridgway said.

In the 2005-06 fiscal year, the turnover rate in state attorneys' offices averaged 20 percent across the state. Statewide, turnover in the public defenders' offices averaged 26 percent.

The Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office -- with 23 percent turnover -- was the only Central Florida state attorney's office above the state average. The public defenders' offices were higher. The 18th Circuit, which covers Seminole and Brevard counties, had 57 percent. The 5th Circuit had a 21 percent turnover rate, and the 10th Circuit, which is Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties, had 26 percent.

"Turnover is getting to be an insurmountable problem," said Skip Babb, the 5th Circuit public defender and former president of the Florida Public Defender Association. "It's not just the money. It's the job satisfaction."

Last spring in Orlando, for the first time, the Public Defender Association hosted a statewide job fair.

"The job is hard and is getting harder," Babb said. "It's not easy to go over to the jail and try to explain to [clients] that they are looking at 20 years and have to spend 85 percent of the time before they become eligible for parole."

Some young lawyers use their short time with the state to get more trial experience before going into the private sector.

"I wanted immediate courtroom experience and experience handling my own caseload," said Shane Fischer, 29, who worked at the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office from 2001 to 2004. "At a private law firm, it would take about five years to get the same type of experience."

Some in the legal community are trying to find incentives for prosecutors and assistant public defenders to stay longer.

In Broward County this year, a group of former prosecutors started an organization dubbed Friends of Florida Assistant State Attorneys. They plan to lobby legislators to pass a loan-forgiveness program -- an effort that has failed the past five years. The program would allow prosecutors and assistant public defenders to get $3,000 a year in loan money after they serve three years. After five, the amount goes up to $5,000 year. The repayment caps at $44,000.

Loan forgiveness -- while court officials would accept the money -- raises fairness issues, some say.

It's a question of whether giving extra to those with school debt is fair to those who worked through law school and took out small loan amounts, said Randy Means, a spokesman for the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office.

"I think their intentions are good," he said.

Luckily, recruiters can still find eager lawyers coming out of school wanting to work for their offices.

Florida State University law-school graduate Jonathan Kerr, 26, liked what he heard from Wesley and took a job with the Orange-Osceola Public Defender's Office in March.

"I don't know how long I'll stay," Kerr said. "I'm not looking for another job. I like my job."