All posts by Sako Adajian

Parents in Law Firms: Taking Stock of Pandemic Burdens and Retention Risks

Being a parent in Biglaw has always had its challenges, but we saw these challenges rise to new heights during the pandemic, especially for women.  Even in the best of times, the legal industry has had an uninspiring record of retaining and promoting female lawyers: the National Association of Women Lawyers’ 2020 survey found that just 21% of equity partners were women.  But with many women in law straining to maintain intense practices while bearing the brunt of a pandemic-induced increase in childcare demands, even that modest progress may be in jeopardy.

On a personal level, I experienced these struggles first-hand, and I don’t even practice law anymore.  With two young children at home, two working parents, and little to no outside childcare help (the nanny market is almost as crazy as the lateral attorney market, but that’s another story), I found myself drowning in unchartered waters (hello e-learning)!  Even when splitting the days with my husband so we could both work part-time, it was virtually impossible to get any work done while trying to balance the unreasonable and insatiable demands of my children.  Thankfully, things have normalized a bit since the start of the pandemic, and for the first time in over a year, we are finally in a place where we have somewhat of a routine and the kids are out of the house for most of the day.  But I will never get that 15 months of my life back, and neither will the thousands of other attorney-parents.  It’s hard to quantify the career damage actually caused by COVID-19, but we do have some data which shines some light on this issue. 

The toll on careers

A recently released American Bar Association survey gives some indication of the impact of pandemic stress on women and parents.  The survey was administered in October 2020 to over 4200 ABA members, of whom 43% identified as female.  It revealed that female respondents were significantly more likely than men to have taken on additional childcare during the pandemic (on top of the already unequal load that they were bearing pre-pandemic).  Women were also more likely to report that, relative to a year earlier, they found themselves thinking more often that it would be better to work part-time or not at all.  42% of female respondents said they more often or much more often thought it would be better to work part-time, not full-time.  37% more often or much more often thought it would be better to stop working.

These effects were particularly stark for parents of the youngest children.  53% of women with children age 5 or younger reported thinking it might be better to work part-time than full-time.  If these parents are having doubts about maintaining their current practices, the threat to firms’ future gender diversity at the senior levels could be significant.  After all, these women are the future of firm partnerships—if the firms can retain them.

How are law firms responding?

Some firms have stepped up to provide parents with additional resources during the pandemic.  In particular, firms have sought to ease some of the burden of online schooling, with support such as paying for tutoring sessions and loaning hardware for employees’ children to use.  Firms have also bolstered internal peer support networks and sponsored sessions with external well-being coaches.

Going forward, firms may wish to consider making some of those measures permanent.  Respondents to the ABA survey requested assistance such as back-up childcare and tutoring support, stipends to help defray childcare and elder care costs, parental support workshops, and adding more months of paid parental leave that can be taken to cover childcare gaps.

To the extent parents remain on the fence about whether to stick with their legal careers, firms will need to think creatively about retention strategies.  One obvious target for improvement is flex-time and part-time work arrangements.  These are hardly new concepts, but prior implementations have been uneven at best.  Too often, parents—and especially women—receive the implicit message that taking advantage of these programs will permanently damage their career trajectory.  This reduces participation and makes those who do shift to a more flexible schedule stand out even more.  Even in situations where part- or reduced-time schedules are implemented, it’s often the case that these attorneys end up working full-time hours, without the full-time salary, further disincentivizing these types of arrangements.  

Law firms need to commit to changing the culture around these programs and demonstrating that careers can thrive both during and after a stint of modified workload.  If the pandemic has taught us one thing about work, it is that there are multiple ways to achieve the necessary output.  Firms should extrapolate from the pandemic experience and embrace a range of flexible models.  Not only is this the humane thing to do, but it’s also a smart competitive move in a tight talent market.  Firms should be eager to continue to capitalize on all of the training they have invested in their female lawyers.  This is a much less expensive path than driving out parents and then trying to replace them with lateral hires.

How can Lateral Link help?
At Lateral Link, we are in constant conversation with partners and associates at Biglaw firms, mid-size firms, and boutiques all over the country, so we have reliable information on which firms are most supportive of parents.  All firms claim to support women and parents, but the reality is that some execute on those promises more effectively than others.  If your firm is not offering the support you need, we encourage you to explore your options.  A long-term law firm career is not for everyone, but if you’re feeling burned out, it’s worth learning about alternatives to your current firm before making a decision to leave the law.  Please feel free to reach out to me or any of my colleagues to discuss your unique situation.

Biglaw Associate Salaries and Cost of Living: An Imperfect Correlation

With Biglaw offices reopening and office attendance soon to be expected at most firms (at least for part of the week), many associates are contemplating their post-pandemic Biglaw futures and considering their options. It still remains to be seen whether the exodus from large, high-cost cities during the pandemic will end up being a momentary blip or a permanent shift. But even assuming the migration to lower-cost locales partially reverses, the relative advantages of living in different parts of the United States remain front-of-mind for many associates.

A move from a high-cost city to a lower-cost one is a particularly good deal if you can continue to earn the same compensation. But it may be a tougher call if it comes with a salary cut. That’s a trade-off that employees of some major tech companies are currently weighing. Facebook and Google have both taken a relatively flexible approach to the post-pandemic workplace, allowing employees to request office transfers or permanent remote arrangements. But there’s a catch: pay localization. Facebook and Google have thus far declined to explain publicly how they will recalculate the salaries of employees who move. But judging from the approach of companies like Stripe, base salary cuts of around 10% are likely on the table.

Tech workers may not like it, but the reality is that paying lower salaries in lower-cost cities has historically been the norm for many industries. That’s also true of the legal industry, to a point. But Biglaw is an anomaly. Top firms largely ignore cost of living and instead pay associates the “New York” rate in several “major” markets, including the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Boston, and DC. On a cost of living basis, paying New York salaries in San Francisco is justified. In Houston? Not so much.

It’s good to be a Houston Biglaw associate

A November 2019 NALP analysis of median private practice first-year associate salaries relative to cost of living found stark differences in associate buying power. NALP calculated that Houston first-year associates enjoyed 2.4 times the buying power of their New York counterparts. Chicago associates were at 1.9 times the New York baseline. Meanwhile, first-year associates in cities like Miami, Portland, and San Diego were found to have less buying power than their New York peers.

The NALP survey looked at private practice salaries overall, rather than Biglaw salaries exclusively. If the analysis had been limited to Biglaw offices, the results would surely have been somewhat different. But the broader point is unassailable: associate salaries are poorly correlated with cost of living.

Billing rates are a key driver

If cost of living isn’t driving associate salaries, what is? The answer is billing rates. Houston and Chicago may not be high-cost cities, but they have plenty of clients willing to pay firms top-dollar rates. Viewed from that lens, paying top salaries in these markets seems fair: associates are being compensated for the value they create. Over time, as clients become more accustomed to the notion of top legal talent being based in regional cities, we may see more lawyers being paid New York rates in cities across the country. Biglaw firms in markets like Kansas City and St. Louis, for example, have raised their first year associate salaries up to 30% this year, significantly narrowing the salary gap.  That’s not to say that median associate salaries in secondary cities will rival the New York level. But for lawyers with top-flight credentials, geographic arbitrage may become increasingly possible and alluring.  

As we discussed last week, however, we aren’t quite there yet. The post-pandemic market is still sorting itself out, and for most Biglaw associates, the work-from-anywhere dream is not yet a reality. Still, that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. If you are a New York or Bay Area associate tired of putting up with relatively low buying power, you may wish to consider a lateral move to Texas. Needless to say, plenty of professionals have had the same idea recently, so housing isn’t as cheap as it used to be. But at least you’ll pay no state income tax!

Remote Biglaw Positions: Separating Fact from Myth

Besides the pandemic itself, perhaps no topic has dominated recent conversation among white-collar professionals like working from home. The upsides. The downsides. How long it will last. Whether the nature of work has changed forever. Everyone has an opinion and a preference.

For most of 2020 and early 2021, the remote work debate didn’t have much immediate practical implication. Like it or not, Biglaw attorneys were mainly working from home. But now that offices are reopening, lawyers face a choice: either accept whatever new policy their firm is adopting or look to move to a firm that better aligns with their preferences.

Varied expectations for office presence

By now firms have generally re-opened their U.S. offices, with summer attendance guidelines ranging from voluntary at firms like Ropes & Gray to “strongly encouraged” at firms like Sullivan & Cromwell. As for the fall, firms have articulated varying expectations. Paul Hastings has said it expects all attorneys to work from the office as a “default” policy. Several firms have specified a minimum number of office days each week: Skadden’s expectation of at least three days per week is typical. Nixon Peabody is offering a range of configurations, including 100% remote arrangements for some lawyers.

Many firms have presented their guidelines as applying from September through the end of 2021, avoiding longer-term commitments. That makes sense in an environment where firms understand the tight market for talent will require them to offer flexibility but it remains to be seen how much.

So where does that leave the typical associate? For those who prefer to work from the office, there isn’t much to worry about. Few firms are going to discourage a lawyer who wants to spend every weekday in the office from doing so. But for those who have enjoyed working from home and are not eager to resume office life, it’s a tougher call. You can sit tight and hope that market pressures will ultimately force your firm to permit frequent, if not total, remote work. Or you can try to lateral now to a firm that is committed to offering officially remote roles.

For those considering such a move, we at Lateral Link think it’s important to separate fact from myth when it comes to remote positions in Biglaw. We’re hearing from many associates who are keen to maximize flexibility but are not well-informed about the state of the market.

Myth: Many Biglaw firms are offering remote positions

In fact, most firms are not offering fully remote roles. There is a lot of misinformation on this point, driven in part by recruiters incorrectly telling candidates that a firm is open to remote work when the reality is different. You should understand that firms offering fully remote positions are outliers, at least for now.

Myth: Openness to remote work is the same across major markets

Law firms tend to be influenced by the cultural norms of their client base, so it’s not surprising that a split on remote work is emerging between east and west. In New York, most of the banks that serve as anchor Biglaw clients are calling their staff back to the office this summer, and most New York firms want their lawyers largely back in the office in September. In contrast, the tech companies that drive the Bay Area economy are taking a more favorable view of long-term remote work, and at least some Bay Area law firms are following their clients’ lead.

Myth: You can work remotely for a law firm located in another country

Hiring employees in a given state or country has tax implications for the employer. And in the case of transnational work, there may also be work authorization restrictions to consider. Even within the United States, remote roles are often limited to particular states where the employer has made provision to operate. So no, if you are a lawyer living in the United States, you very likely cannot work remotely for a firm outside the United States. And similarly, remote roles for American firms paid through American payroll are limited to United States residents with the legal authorization to work in the United States.

Lateral Link can help lawyers navigate the evolving market

It remains to be seen what the typical Biglaw workweek will look like a year from now. Based on what most firms are saying today, it will probably involve some days in the office and some days at home. That likely means that moving far from a major city will, for many lawyers, continue to require the tradeoff of leaving Biglaw practice.

However, we expect that policies will continue to evolve as firms survey the competitive landscape and (re)position themselves accordingly. In such a fluid situation, it’s especially important to have an advisor who is in constant contact with a range of firms and can give you accurate information about how the market is trending. If you are thinking about switching to a firm that better matches your remote work preferences, Lateral Link is happy to discuss the options with you.

Looking To Be A Legal Recruiter? Lateral Link Is Hiring

Over the past decade, Lateral Link has become the prominent player in the legal recruiting industry. As we continue to grow our global footprint, we are looking to add recruiters to our San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York offices.

Our Success

Lateral Link has made thousands of placements with almost every Am Law 200 law firm in the nation. Not only do we have personal relationships with decision-makers at the biggest and best firms in the nation, but our exclusives with — and insider information about — some of the most desirable law firms separates us from ALL of our competitors in the field.  We are a market mover, not a follower.

Moreover, we only hire the best and almost all of our recruiters are law school graduates with extensive Biglaw experience.

Highest Compensation in Our Industry

We understand that hiring and retaining the best legal recruiters requires spreading the wealth.  Not only do you deserve it, but you should demand it.  Lateral Link’s recruiters earn 50-85 percent ABOVE the market.  Also, our Principals partake in real profit sharing. Our compensation formula also favors hard workers and high earners, and the more you make, the more you keep.

Teamwork & Culture

If you have to define the legal recruiting industry, you would probably say it is a “dog eat dog world.” At Lateral Link, our recruiters find working together and collaborating on searches gives us an edge over our regional or national competition.  If you don’t have access to decision-makers and your brand isn’t opening the door in a meaningful way, why are you bringing more to a platform than what you are giving?  We encourage you to look at the contributions you make.  Is your platform really helping you?

Many Perks

We know the business aspect is important, but we also like to have a bit of fun at Lateral Link. We believe it is important to bring all of our colleagues together, from across the nation, annually at our company retreats.

If you are interested in working for us please email  or click here to apply.

Job of the Week: Complex Litigation Opportunity in D.C.

An elite mid-sized firm in D.C. is looking for two associates for its Complex Litigation practice:

  • One Junior Associate (Class of ‘17 to ‘18) and;
  • One Mid-Level Associate (Class of ‘14 to ’16).

The ideal candidate will have stellar academics and be familiar with bankruptcy and/or creditors’ rights. 

Why should you consider this position?

  • This highly regarded firm is mid-size in structure but has the experience and essence of a boutique;
  • It is ranked by Vault.com among the “Top 150 Under 150 [Attorneys]” and “Best Midsize Law Firms for Hours” and;
  • The firms litigation group recently landed two major cases, the firm is offering a substantial signing bonus to attract the right candidate! 

If interested, please contact Kristina Marlow at .

Job of the Week: General Counsel for Tech Company in Silicon Valley

Company

Confidential – Register here to find out.

Location

Silicon Valley

Job Description

We are working with a Silicon Valley technology company on a search for a General Counsel level position. The ideal candidate will have a range of experience with a technology transactions background.

Compensation ($$$): Very competitive compensation package that includes top of the market base pay and RSUs!

About the Company

  • This company is focused on SAAS and product lifestyle management in the fashion, luxury goods and consumer goods space.

Requirements

  • 10-25 years experience, including in-house technology transactions experience.
  • Preferred experience includes dealing with corporate governance, insurance and subsidiaries.

Contact

Andrew Ng:

Lateral Link Job of the Week: Boutique in Atlanta

Firm

Confidential – Register here to find out.

Location

Atlanta

Job Description

We are working with an Atlanta-based boutique on a search for a second-to-fourth year litigation associate who focuses his or her practice on employment litigation.

About the Firm

  • This firm is a boutique labor and employment and business litigation law firm with a national client base and scope of practice that they service out of their offices in Atlanta and Los Angeles.
  • The firm represents Fortune 500 companies in class actions, complex commercial disputes of all types, and labor and employment disputes in jurisdictions across the country. The firm also provides consulting services, training, day-to-day advice, and conducts internal investigations in the areas in which they litigate.
  • Over the last few years alone, this firm has handled cases in over 35 states. Many of these cases involved hundreds of millions of dollars in potential exposure and garnered significant media attention.
  • Representative clients include: Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, Georgia-Pacific, Comcast Corporation, Global Payments, Inc., FleetCor Technologies, Cox Communications, Assurant, Turner Broadcasting System, Hyatt Corporation, Johnny Rockets, Allegheny Energy, JPMorgan Chase, Reverse Mortgage Solutions, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, Columbian Chemicals, Cbeyond Communications, and Birch Communications.
  • Compensation is commensurate with BigLaw in Atlanta.

Requirements

  1. A second-to-fourth year litigator who focuses his or her practice on employment litigation.
  2. Outstanding academic credentials from a top tier law school. Preference for candidates who were on their school’s law review.
  3. Strong preference for attorneys who completed a federal clerkship.
  4. Open to local and relocation candidates.

Contact

Marion Wilson – 

Lateral Link Brings in 5 New Recruiters

Lateral Link, along with our sister divisions Cadence Counsel and Bridgeline Solutions, is proud to announce five new hires. Please welcome Jaclyn Genchi, J’lene Mortimer, Susan Agopian, Naomi Kaplan and Stephanie Ruiter to our team!

“We have a simple plan. As we are only as good as our recruiters, we hire the best talent possible. The Lateral Link family is thrilled to welcome Jackie, J’lene, Naomi, Stephanie, and Susan. Collectively, our fabulous new additions speak four languages, have lived abroad for over a lifetime in multiple continents, maneuver with precision both cars and motorcycles, and are some of the brightest, most hardworking, and interesting people in our space. Please join me in welcoming our newest team members to Lateral Link. We are proud to work alongside them in servicing our clients and candidates across the country”, said Michael Allen, founder/CEO of Lateral Link.

Jaclyn Genchi

Jaclyn Genchi is a Director based in South Florida. She focuses on placing associates and partners at AmLaw 100 and 200 law firms, prominent regional firms, and elite boutiques throughout the Southeast, and also on placing in-house attorneys and general counsel in corporate legal departments nationwide.

Prior to joining Lateral Link, Jackie was an associate for ten years at two AmLaw 100 firms, working on bankruptcy matters in New York, litigation matters in Miami, and FCPA/investigation matters in Paris and DC. As she made a lateral move herself, which included a practice group switch and a move from New York to Miami, she well understands the process from the candidate’s perspective.

Jackie received her BA and MA from the University of Florida and her JD from Duke University School of Law. She lives in West Palm Beach, Florida with her rescue pup Winnye and, in her free time, Jackie is a devoted spa junkie with a fondness for French skincare.

Jackie can be reached at .

J’lene Mortimer

J’lene Mortimer practiced at several law firms including Jones Day, Quinn Emanuel, and McGuireWoods before joining Lateral Link. J’lene completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, Berkeley and received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Originally from Los Angeles, California, J’lene now lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, three sons, and chocolate Labrador.  When she is not working, J’lene is an avid recreational runner and a devoted hockey and lacrosse mom.  Although with the many geographic allegiances in her house, she is torn whether to root for the Flyers, the Capitals or the Kings!

J’lene can be reached at .

Susan Agopian

Susan Agopian specializes in partner representation in the lateral market in California. Born and raised in Bulgaria, Susan brings a unique and worldly perspective to her current position. She spent her formative years traveling through Europe with her mother, a prima ballerina, before making Los Angeles her permanent home in 1994 and allowing basketball to complement her lifelong love affair with soccer. Susan’s MA in Philosophy enabled her to turn down Virginia law school, instead spending the past decade mastering the headhunting profession. Susan manages to balance her work life with a wide range of culinary and bucket list items. An animal lover, she is a passionate supporter of the ASPCA and the Humane Society. She is also a movie buff, 70s music fan, car enthusiast and an avid follower of Grand Prix motorcycle racing.

Susan can be reached at .

Naomi Kaplan

Naomi Kaplan is a Director in the Los Angeles office focusing on document review solutions nationwide for law firms and corporations, as well as temporary attorney and support staff placements. Prior to joining Lateral Link, Naomi owned a legal recruiting firm and worked at The Walt Disney Company. Prior to recruiting, Naomi was a litigation associate with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP.

Naomi holds a J.D., cum laude, from Boston College Law School where she was Senior Articles Editor of The Third World Law Journal, and a B.A. in English, cum laude, from Boston University. Between college and law school, Naomi worked as a Litigation Paralegal at Skadden in Boston and then lived and worked in Benin, West Africa with the Peace Corps for two years.

Naomi can be reached at .

Stephanie Ruiter 

Stephanie Ruiter moved to New York and joined Lateral Link as a Director after practicing as a litigator at two small DC area firms. She finds the skills she used in helping her clients as an attorney transfer to her recruiting practice; both careers require truly listening to your clients to best understand the right strategy and approach to achieving their goals. The key to Stephanie’s success as a recruiter is to develop a relationship with clients that extends past their placement.

Stephanie attended the University of Delaware for undergrad and received her law degree from the University of Georgia. Stephanie currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with her 3-year-old rescue lab, Trina the Diamond Princess. She loves to do the New York Times crossword puzzle and is hoping to one day compete in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. On weekends, you can catch her exploring the city or cheering on her beloved Dawgs.

Stephanie can be reached at .

Reach out to our new team members today with any questions you might have about your next big career move.

We look forward to seeing Jaclyn, J’lene, Susan, Naomi and Stephanie in Las Vegas for our annual company retreat in mid-October.

September 11, 2019 – Lateral Link Job of the Week: Chambers Ranked LA Firm

Firm

Confidential – Register here to find out.

Location

Los Angeles, CA

Job Description

We are working with a top Am-Law firm on a confidential search for a second to fifth-year patent litigation associate in the LA office. This is a very rare opportunity to get in on the ground floor with some of the best patent litigators in the nation, who also practice soft IP and licensing across the technology and life sciences industries. Individual litigation verdicts in the hundreds of millions of dollars and a small group ensure unparalleled experience and a friendly work environment at a firm well-known for taking care of its associates in LA.

About the Firm

  • Chambers-ranked in California
  • Known for its friendly culture and relaxed atmosphere in LA
  • Compensation is top of the LA market.
  • A growing group investing in patent litigation and therefore offering above-average partnership prospects in the BigLaw space

Requirements

1. A second to fifth-year litigation associate with a technology or life sciences background – patent prosecution and general litigation associates with such backgrounds and an interest in patent litigation are encouraged to apply.

2. Tech backgrounds preferred: electrical engineering, computer science, physics.

3. Life sciences backgrounds preferred: bio, chem, biomedical, and related engineering disciplines.

4. Open to local and relocation candidates – CA bar exam must have been taken in July of 2019 at a minimum for candidates relocating from out of state.

Contact

Ata Farhadi –

 

August 19, 2019 – Recent Attorney Moves

Law firms and companies throughout the world are always looking for the best legal talent to bolster their various practice groups. This past week, the below companies added talent to their already impressive legal teams.

El Pollo Loco Names Jason Weintraub Chief Legal Officer – QSR magazine

New general counsel for ACA – Auto Service World   

Henry Stokes appointed general counsel at Perpetual Guardian – The National Business Review   

GREENBERG TRAURIG: Greenberg Traurig Adds David Bloch as Intellectual Property Shareholder in San Francisco – Northern California Record

Trial Litigator Nate Kritzer Joins Steptoe in New York   

Leading Corporate Partner Joins Dechert’s Dubai Office   

Chandra Westergaard joins Norton Rose Fulbright in Denver – Global Legal Group 

Lewis Brisbois Gets 11-Lawyer Team from Dissolving LeClairRyan – Bloomberg Law

Kirkland Adds Real Estate Attorneys from Paul Hastings, Jones Day – Bloomberg Big Law Business

Norton Rose Fulbright Grabs Energy Lawyers in Lone Star State – Bloomberg Big Law Business

LSI Industries Appoints New Senior VP of HR and General Counsel – CStore – Convenience Store Decisions

Anderson Kill Expands Crypto With New Partner Bob Cornish

Proskauer Continues Growth of Private Funds Team in London with Addition of Partner Leith Moghli 

Morrison & Foerster Further Expands Antitrust and Cartel Capabilities with New Partner in San Francisco

Milbank Scoops Irell & Manella IP Litigation Team – Bloomberg Big Law Business

Jones Day welcomes patent litigator Nicole Smith in LA – Global Legal Group

Clyde & Co expands its African horizons | ALB Article – African Law & Business (ALB)

Your career is important to us and our team of well-versed legal recruiters are here to make your next lateral move as seamless as possible.

 

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