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The Proactive Lawyer

When I graduated from law school, there were systems in place to point us in a direction. That was way back in 1987, when systems still seemed reliable and functioned well for those who were amenable to them. In law, that included about 95% of us. The other 5% were brilliant and rebellious and made names...

Vanishing Act: Large Law Firms Shrink for the Second Year in a Row

1,400 attorneys disappeared from the nation's 250 largest law firms this year, a nightmarish magic act repeating the decline from 2009. The National Law Journal survey of the nation's largest firms revealed a 1.1% drop in headcount in 2009, following an even more dramatic loss of 4% in 2009....

A Clearer Career Path Needed for Associates

"Can't Get No Satisfaction?" These are unhappy days for many associates. Web sites like LawShucks , Above the Law and Vault are full of negative and cynical stories and comments, propelled by years of layoffs and cutbacks in associate staffing and compensation. Some have spent up to...

The SMART Way for Associates to Grow a Career

Associate development requires planning, developing overall goals and specific strategies that are preparation for the partnership. The issue is not more billable hours by associates, it's what kind of billable work and what it contributes to the firm. The firm must be able to measure the growth...

How Do You Profit Your Firm?

If Oscar Wilde's famous definition of a cynic - "someone who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing" - is true, then many associates may need a dose of cynicism when assessing where they stand in their firms. Not the superficially cynical "why don't they appreciate...

Associates May no Longer be Trapped in Lateral Lockdown

Law firm layoffs have been front-and-center over the past few years. Many firms have cut costs and large chunks of their associate pools, leaving remaining associates clinging tightly to their fragile positions. And what about those associates-the ones spared from the legal layoff slaughter? Their resumes...

Personal Strategic Planning for Associates and New Attorneys

What, precisely, is that is going to make you special (or even more special) in the marketplace over the next few years? Would you like to develop a specialized expertise in a particular technical area, in certain types of transaction, in the problems of certain types of clients? You probably can develop...

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I receintly received this question from an associate at a large law firm: I am with a large law firm, well compensated as a fourth-year associate, but putting in long hours, including weekends, to make my 2,200 billable hours. Fortunately, I shall be able to pay off my educational loans...

Former Associate Demands More High-quality Work, with Disastrous Results

Associates at large law firms typically aren't assigned the most ground-breaking or intellectually stimulating work during their first years, but one former Kasowitz associate believes that his unjustly mundane workload merits a 75-million dollar suit against his former employer. Gregory S. Berry...

Is Lockstep Compensation the Key to Happy Associates?

As part of its special section on the future of BigLaw, the New York Times examined the culture at firms that have held on to a pure lockstep compensation structure-for both partners and associates. According to the managing partners at Cravath , Cleary and Debevoise , the lockstep system-in which attorneys...