Law blog roundup

alarm clockHappy Monday, the first official one of the summer. When you’re done sharing stories with co-workers about the weekend’s supermoon, here are some law tidbits to nosh on:

– SCOTUSblog lives for days like Monday.

– Pennsylvania lawmakers and courts are battling over who gets to define a charity. (HT: Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog)

– The 10 most surprising findings from a CDC study of gun violence in the United States.

– You better be prompt in your arrival time if you’re working at this law firm.

Summer associate hiring down last year amid sluggish legal market

Alas, it looks like 2012 was not the best year for law firm summer associate hirings.

The median and average numbers of summer associate offers to 2Ls dipped a little bit according to NALP (formerly the National Association for Law Placement). Also down: the percentage of interviews resulting in the offer of a summer associate position.

“We have seen some faltering in recruiting volumes this past fall, and that reflects the continuing faltering in the larger legal economy,” NALP executive director Jim Leipold told The National Law Journal. “If you read the client advisories coming from some of the private banks that are involved in law firm financing, it’s clear that 2013 is not likely to be dramatically better.”

Leipold predicted that law firms will remain cautious about hiring summer associates in 2013.

Last year was also the fourth consecutive year law firms pulled back on filling entry-level positions. The lowest point for summer associate hiring remains 2009, when just 36 percent of 2L interviews led to offers. But those numbers have been inching back up and reached 46 percent in 2011. And last fall, 44 percent of callback interviews led to employment offers.

The hiring outlook also remained grim for 3Ls. A mere 19 percent of law firm offices said they considered 3Ls last fall, and only 280 callback interviews given to 3Ls led to just 82 job offers. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of 2012 summer associates got jobs from the firms for which they’d worked. That did, however, represent a 1 percent drop from 2011.

So Maryland law students: how is your summer associate job hunt going? And lawyers: Are your firms offering more summer associate positions this year? Comment below or hit me up (beth.moszkowicz@thedailyrecord.com) or on twitter (@TDRBeth).

No money, mo problems

Looks like more bad news this week for law school graduates.

Starting salaries for the class of 2011 are down across the board. Mean starting salaries for first-year associates fell 6.5 percent, according to numbers from the National Association for Law Placement.

The class of 2010 was paid a mean salary of $84,111, while the class of 2011′s mean salary was $78,653, according to the data. Mean salaries fell 15 percent compared to the class of 2009, which reported a mean salary of $93,454.

The median salary fell from $63,00 to $60,000 between 2010 and 2011,  according to the data.

Last month, we wrote about law school graduate employment numbers falling across the country, including for law school grads in Maryland. Fewer than half of the state’s law school graduates from the class of 2011 have full-time, permanent jobs, according to American Bar Association data released in June. Both Maryland law schools, the University of Baltimore School of Law and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, had numbers that fell below the national average of 55 percent.

Then there’s that Boston law firm that advertised a first-year associate position with $10,000 salary.

So, per this week’s news, not only are fewer recent law school grads finding jobs, those who have, are getting paid less. But, hey, at least it’s Friday?

How law firms here fared in the Vault rankings

The Vault rankings of law firm prestige are out. The Vault rankings are based on surveys filled out by 15,000 law firm associates who rate firms on perceived status. No matter how you feel about rankings, these are an interesting read because they include some of the associates’ comments about the firms.

No firm based in Baltimore made the list, but several large firms with a major presence here did. Here’s are their rankings and a sampling what Vault and associates said about them.

  • Hogan & Hartson (the survey was done before Hogan merged with the British firm Lovells earlier this year) ranked 28 this year, down from 25 last year. Vault comments, “As one would expect of the largest and oldest BigLaw firm with roots in Washington, D.C., Hogan & Hartson’s Beltway influence runs deep” and notes that Chief Justice John Roberts is a Hogan alum. Associates called the firm “lifestyle-friendly” but also “legends in their own minds” and criticized Hogan for “stealth layoffs.”
  • DLA Piper ranked 53, down from 44 last year. Vault comments, “Some love it, some dislike it, but generally associates agree that recent salary cuts have lowered morale.” Associates said things like “competitive and diverse,” “amazing pro bono opportunities” and, somewhat bewilderingly, “extra large pizza with no toppings.” Associates also said the firm is too big. One senior associate told Vault, “Within 12 months, I have gone from my friends saying “wow” when I tell them I work at DLA Piper, to them snickering and asking me why I haven’t left yet.”
  • McGuireWoods‘ ranking is unchanged from last year, at 82. Vault says, “McGuire attorneys enjoy the rewards of working at a big-market firm in small-market settings, entering friendly offices in the morning and heading home to their families at night.” Associates made comments like, “good firm; good people,” “old school, boring,” “less pressure than many other similar-sized firms” and “favoritism toward anointed associates.”
  • Venable comes in at 83, up from 85 last year. Vault comments, “Venable LLP is a mid-Atlantic force that, until the capital markets meltdown, had defined itself by aggressive expansion.” Associates said, “very nice mid-Atlantic practice,” “quirky,” “strong pro bono commitment” and “bonus and compensation system allows firm to rationalize less-than-market salaries for certain associates.” There’s also a comment from a Baltimore corporate associate: “In Baltimore, we do fairly sophisticated work. It’s not Wall Street, but the projects are interesting and challenging. My practice group covers a lot of people and a lot of different sub-specialties, so it can be hard to find your place when you start. It is difficult to see what the future of the group is. While it’s not written anywhere, if you bill 2000 hours people are pleased.”

Monday law blog round-up

Happy Monday! Here are some law links to start your day:

  • Did you know it’s legal to marry your first cousin in Maryland? Legislators, including the powerful head of the House Judiciary Committee, want to change that.
  • The ever-fiery Page Croyder says district court judges are handsomely compensated for doing not much work. Anyone want to respond to her allegations?
  • It was really tough to get a job as an associate at a top law firm in 2009, even if you were graduating from an excellent law school.
  • It’s four years to the day since Clarence Thomas’ last question at oral arguments. A new paper argues that his silence hurts the court and his own reputation.
  • Last Wednesday, an Iowa prosecutor returned from a lunch break in a murder trial with ash on his forehead. The defense attorney objected, saying it might sway the jury, the judge agreed, and the prosecutor wiped it off. Thoughts?
  • The lady who crusaded against dog poop on the streets of New York, leading the city to enact a pooper-scooper law, has died at age 99. Sounds like she was a real pistol.

Law blog round-up

Happy Monday! Enjoy these law links:

DLA Piper to start 2009 summers in 2011 or 2012

Above the Law is reporting that DLA Piper will be inviting the 2009 summer associates who get job offers to come on board in January of 2011 rather than September of 2010. The firm will be encouraging the current summer associates to defer further, to January 2012.

The 2011 start date is not terribly surprising, given that last year’s crop of summer associates, who just graduated from law school in May, will not be starting until January 2010. It’s hard to imagine any firm in this economy wanting one big group of people to start in January and a second big group to start just eight months later.

The firm’s also going to wait on recruiting summers for 2010. DLA Piper will not do on-campus recruiting until November, after it sees what kind of response it gets from the 2009 summers who get offers. My guess? They’ll get a pretty darn good response, even with the 2011 or 2012 start date. In this law market, if you’re offered a job, any job, you take it. If it’s with one of the biggest firms in the world, so much the better.

New lawyers’ pay still polarized

NALP has done a survey of lawyer starting salaries and has discovered that the median salary for new lawyers in 2008 was $72,000 and the mean was $92,000. This tells us… approximately nothing.

Almost nobody is actually making these salaries. Instead, starting salaries are clustered around $50,000 and $160,000, giving NALP’s accompanying graph the look of a weird stylized two-humped camel. (You don’t see it? Not even a little?)

2008 actually had the widest bimodal salary distribution of any previous year, meaning that the pay gap between those working at white-shoe firms and those doing almost anything else was bigger than ever.

As the National Law Journal points out, this graph may look different next year. While in 2008, the going rate for a first-year associate at a top firm was $160,000, in 2009, many big firms have scaled back pay in a nod to the terrible economy. In Maryland alone, DLA Piper, Miles & Stockbridge, McGuire Woods and Venable have all decreased starting salaries, and I’ll be shocked if some of the other big firms here don’t follow suit.

Of course, there’s a limit to how much the look of this graph will change from this year to next. While the big firms are lowering salaries, they’re not really going below $120,000 or so, and you can bet other entry-level lawyers are not seeing their salaries increasing.

Venable cuts salaries across the board

It was only a matter of time.

Our 2009 incoming associate salary chart showed earlier this month that Venable was still planning on paying the current crop of incoming associates–well, the crop that was supposed to start in September but now will start in January 2010–last year’s going rate of $160,000. According to Above the Law, an in-house memo says that first-years will now earn a mere $145,000, in line with what other big firms, such as DLA Piper, are doing.

That’s just the beginning of the cuts. Everyone, possibly even up to equity partners, will see their numbers go down, effective July 11.