As a part of Above the Legislation’s 2020 in overview every of the editors are throwing collectively our own list of top stories of 2020. After all, 2020 was a dumpster fireplace, so virtually the entire tales on my private listing are a reminder of terrible.

With that miserable word, right here it’s: my high tales of 2020.

#10 New Law School Ranking Gives Different Spin On The T14

Legal professionals love an excellent rating, particularly an sudden one. Legislation faculty rankings — not less than on the high of the listing — are typically fairly static, the High 14 regulation faculties have just about all the time been the identical. So a brand new rating that upends that custom — effectively, readers simply cherished that.

Pepperdine Legislation dean Paul L. Caron put collectively what he calls the Princeton Evaluate’s total regulation faculty rankings, rating faculties by giving equal weight to every of the Princeton Evaluate’s most complete rankings: Admissions Selectivity, Educational Expertise, Professors: Instructing, Professors: Accessibility, and Profession Ranking.

So what’s the consequence? Properly, whereas there are plenty of regulation faculties that we often see on the high of rankings, there are some surprises. Take, for instance, BU and Notre Dame, taking pictures effectively above their USNWR rating and coming in at a tie for seventh.

#9 Law Firm Layoffs Amid COVID-19
The quantity 9 story involves us from early within the pandemic, when layoffs or different austerity measures nonetheless appeared like a novelty.

New York Metropolis-based 50-lawyer agency of Robinson Brog made the troublesome resolution to layoff employees members amid the worldwide well being disaster. As managing accomplice Roger A. Raimond wrote in an e-mail despatched to these remaining on the agency:

[T]he Govt Committee made the choice to trim our roster to curb the potential unfavorable financial results we face. Though we’re all saddened by the discount of our employees, the choices have been made in an effort to keep up the agency’s long run viability. I converse for the complete Govt Committee after I say that we stay dedicated to every of you and I’m assured that collectively we’ll get by these troublesome instances.

Although it’s at present unclear precisely what number of workers have been impacted by the agency’s resolution to “trim [their] roster,” we sympathize with anybody who has to cope with the nervousness of a worldwide well being disaster PLUS monetary insecurity.

#8 Even A Billion Dollars In Revenue Can’t Stop COVID-19 Layoffs

High 25 Biglaw agency Goodwin Procter additionally needed to make some troublesome cuts.

Based on Above the Legislation tipsters, ~50 employees members have been laid off by the Biglaw agency. A Goodwin Procter spokesperson confirmed the cuts and offered the next assertion:

We not too long ago reviewed the efficiency and dimension of our international operations crew given the present and anticipated results of the coronavirus pandemic on the worldwide financial system. On account of our evaluation, we made the troublesome resolution to ask a restricted variety of our international operations crew members to depart the agency. We’re offering severance packages, primarily based on tenure, to impacted workers. As well as, we’ll make continued contribution to healthcare advantages by September 30, 2020 for all affected personnel. Our international operations crew continues to play a key function in supporting the agency’s operations, legal professionals and purchasers throughout the enterprise of regulation.

And whereas the agency actually appears to be doing the very best they will by these now former workers, from the ideas we’ve obtained, of us aren’t impressed. One tipster reported being “shocked.”

#7 Top 25 Law Firm Conducts Stealth Layoffs

That wasn’t the tip of the cuts at Goodwin.

We knew this was going to begin occurring. Stealth layoffs are a Biglaw specialty and the financial upheaval surrounding COVID-19 is ripe for them. Above the Legislation is listening to from a number of insiders on the agency that during the last month or so, Goodwin Procter has been letting associates go. They’ve already laid off employees members, and now it appears it’s chopping some associates from its payroll. As a reminder, the agency revamped a billion {dollars} in gross income final 12 months — $1,330,176,000 to be exact — making it twenty second on the latest Am Legislation 100.

Significantly prevalent throughout financial downturns, stealth layoffs enable corporations to chop headcount with out confirming that there have been economic-based layoffs. Slightly than sign some perceived weak spot, a agency tries to chop overhead with out making a splash. So, they’ll give the associates X variety of months/weeks to discover a new job and the agency might even sofa the reductions in efficiency overview phrases, making these let go doubt their lawyering expertise.

#6 Partner Shows All The Compassion You’d Expect From Biglaw (Read: None At All)

The COVID-19 upheaval impacted everybody, however at Kirkland & Ellis, a accomplice wished everybody to comprehend it didn’t change associates’ billable hours requirement:

The e-mail in query was despatched to associates within the Houston workplace of Kirkland & Ellis by Andy Calder, a accomplice and member of the agency’s international administration committee. The e-mail scolds of us that they should hold churning out billable hours and that the agency “isn’t a gravy practice the place you may simply chill and be alongside for the trip” and that “the maths will not be going to work out effectively for you on the finish of the 12 months.”

Discover, if you’ll, the whole lack of empathy within the letter — no point out that individuals who work on the agency is perhaps affected by COVID-19 or have a cherished one hospitalized with the virus, or that in-person faculty has been canceled and all of the mother and father working for him are doubtless attempting to stability the calls for of their kids with the calls for of this job, or that the isolation brought on by the pandemic can exacerbate current psychological well being points. Nope, none of those very actual considerations are talked about, not to mention validated within the e-mail. The message — from a member of the administration committee — is evident: you might be solely helpful to the agency when you carry on billing. And when you can’t invoice as a result of there’s a goddamned pandemic happening? Robust shit, determine it out your self.

#5 Oh, To Be A Fly On The Wall At Jones Day As Dissension At The Firm Grows

Jones Day had an… fascinating 2020. There was the New York Occasions article blowing up Jones Day (and Porter Wright) over their election litigation representations. Then there was Jones Day’s anemic response to the controversy. The Lincoln Challenge additionally promised to spend $500,000 on an ad campaign going after them — and, importantly, their purchasers — over the illustration. However the MeidasTouch PAC truly beat them to the punch by releasing a Jones Day attack video first. All of the whereas, different Biglaw corporations have been fleeing the election litigation like rats from a ship.

However the high Jones Day story was about an inside e-mail expressing disappointment on the agency over their illustration of the GOP in election litigation.

It’s fairly clear that the hurt this illustration is inflicting Jones Day goes deeper than these on the skin. Let’s not overlook, “Pile On Jones Day” week bought began as a result of inside sources at Jones Day that have been upset with the agency’s involvement in election litigation spoke with the New York Occasions. So we *know* there are folks inside the enormous Biglaw agency which are upset about… the whole lot the agency’s doing proper now. However this is among the first quasi-public (ship one thing to a whole workplace and it’s certain to get out) statements anybody from Jones Day has made on the topic, and it comes from an affiliate.

To this point, companions on the agency have been conspicuously quiet, although I think they aren’t as sanguine behind closed doorways. As a result of if I had a large ebook of enterprise and moveable purchasers and the agency’s pursuit of a pet right-wing authorized principle was threatening to unleash this PR nightmare on them, effectively, I’d suppose lengthy and exhausting about find out how to finest serve my very own purchasers.

#4 No, Seriously, Amy Coney Barrett Would Be A Dumpster Fire Of A Supreme Court Justice

From the second of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s unlucky passing, Court docket watchers knew the Trump administration deliberate on putting in Amy Coney Barrett in her seat. Barrett’s retrograde jurisprudence is the ultimate step within the spiritual proper’s takeover of the Court docket.

Right here’s the factor — it is a actually, actually massive deal. It’s not simply because as somebody with a uterus, it’s unattainable for me to not oppose the approaching erosion of reproductive freedom. However that is solely the tip of the iceberg — one the precise has been priming the general public for since Coney Barrett was one 12 months previous. There’ll certainly be different marginalized teams that see their exhausting gained rights take successful as a really explicit form of conservative philosophy retains tightening its grip on American jurisprudence. You shouldn’t want your personal rights on the chopping block to see the issue with empowering this jurisprudence.

#3 Wishing David Lat A Speedy Recovery From COVID-19

This is among the extra awkward columns I’ve ever needed to write. Above the Legislation is understood for being irreverent and snarky, so a heartfelt put up a few private buddy feels somewhat unusual. But in addition unusual will not be acknowledging {that a} distinguished determine within the authorized world is at present hospitalized with the coronavirus. That’s proper: David Lat, who based Above the Legislation in 2006, has been recognized with the coronavirus.

Happily Lat made a restoration and is again to his common duties as an Above the Legislation columnist. However his harrowing expertise was a reminder of simply how harmful COVID-19 could be.

#2 Am Law 100 Firm Announces Associate Layoffs And Other Cost-Cutting Measures

Affiliate layoffs are, usually talking, a agency’s cost-cutting measure of final resort. So, when a Biglaw agency begins chopping attorneys from the payroll, we take word.

Based on a number of sources on the agency, Womble Bond Dickinson introduced on Friday afternoon a sequence of cost-cutting measures. That features affiliate layoffs, worker furloughs, and cuts to lawyer compensation for these left on the agency. As a tipster experiences:

FYI Womble Bind Dickinson made an announcement this afternoon about layoffs and furloughs to associates and employees. Additionally they introduced a ten % pay discount for anybody making over $100k and a decrease proportion discount within the $50k to $100k vary and the beneath $50k vary. Announcement was made through convention name. No memo despatched out to anybody but

It’s beginning to really feel lots like 2009 up in right here.

#1 What Biglaw Is Saying About The Unrest Sweeping The Nation

My high Above the Legislation story of 2020 documented precisely how Biglaw responded to the unrest brought on by the homicide of George Floyd.

It’s not an unfair criticism of Biglaw to say they’re disconnected from the society they ostensibly serve. They continuously function in a world of excessive finance and guess the corporate litigation that feels faraway from the on a regular basis lives of so many. However that’s the factor about 2020, it has a knack for bringing the issues of the world proper to your entrance door.

So within the wake of protests in opposition to racism sparked by the demise of George Floyd underneath the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin, how is Biglaw responding? Each agency could have it owns response from the concrete (donating assets and professional bono hours) to the symbolic (expressing outrage) to the silent (the work by no means stops in Biglaw). Above the Legislation is dedicated to documenting the reactions of all of the Biglaw corporations.


headshotKathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Legislation, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the very best, so please join together with her. Be at liberty to e-mail her with any suggestions, questions, or feedback and comply with her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).