"Boston law firm plans San Diego expansion"

Oh, boy, firms expanding & lawyers changing firms. See the details in this San Diego Union-Tribune news article:

"The Boston law firm Goodwin Procter has recruited prominent local biotechnology lawyer Stephen C. Ferruolo to launch an office in San Diego as part of the firm's push into California.

"Stephen C. Ferruolo is expected to take much of his client base with him.
Ferruolo, 56, has been a highly visible face for Heller Ehrman, one of the few one-stop-shopping law firms for San Diego's biotechnology companies. He is also vice president and general counsel for Biocom, the region's biotechnology industry organization.

"Also leaving Heller Ehrman's life sciences practice for Goodwin Procter are partner Ryan Murr, several associates and a paralegal."

Nice to see the mention of a paralegal moving too; better, of course, if that person had also been named...

"Firms Predict More Work, Less Equity"

What does this news mean for paralegals? I'm guessing higher required billable hours & maybe higher salaries too:

"Although law firm leaders at a recent conference publicly pooh-poohed predictions that industry profitability would stumble, in a new survey they say increasing expenses will cut into their bottom line this year.

"Lawyers can expect to be pushed for more billable hours while facing a harder struggle to make equity partner. And the ranks of associates and nonequity partners will rise much faster than any increase in equity slots, law firm leaders said.

"The first managing partner confidence index [be sure to check the comments to this post!] -- a survey of more than 100 Am Law 200 firm leaders -- was released this week by Citigroup Private Bank, which serves as banker to 550 law firms, including many of the nation's largest.


"Am Law 200 firms reported big growth last year. But while most respondents predict revenue will continue to climb, they also expect expenses -- led by lawyer salaries -- to do the same. More than 90 percent said lawyer salaries would be the primary rising cost this year -- and that was before the recent round of associate salary raises that brought first-years up to $160,000 in New York and $145,000 most everywhere else.


"Non-lawyer staff salaries and real estate costs are also expected to grow at a faster clip [emphasis added] than last year, [Danilo DiPietro, client head of Citigroup's law firm group] said."

"Complicated End of an Ex-Law Firm"

Yeah, law firm breakups spawn messy news. Almost as bad as a divorce:

"At one time, the breakup of a big, prestigious law firm was rare. But since the technology boom and bust, implosions of once highflying firms like Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison and Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault have occurred with more frequency.

"Yet the bankruptcy of Coudert Brothers still stands out. Eighteen months after the firm voted to dissolve, its unwinding continues to be a complicated, messy affair.

"Creditors and at least one former partner have filed lawsuits against the firm. Malpractice claims have accrued as well. There are allegations in court filings that three overseas lawyers sequestered money from the firm as it tried to pay off its creditors."

"Should Associates Vote on Partnerships? Latham's Do"

Don't you think paralegals have just as much to contribute to partnership decisions as associates?

"Making partner usually means stiff competition with other associates.

"But at Latham & Watkins, associates are asked to put down their swords and shields and objectively evaluate whether their peers have what it takes to make partner.

"Most firms wouldn't do it. They'd be looking to prevent scheming associates from using any power they have to benefit their own chance at partnership.

"But at Latham, associates are selected to serve a two-year term on the associates committee, which makes partnership recommendations for the firm's partners to vote on. The committee has 45 members -- half are partners, and half are associates.

"'Empowering associates and having them involved in decision-making is terrific for employee morale," said Latham partner Richard Bress, who chairs the committee. 'It's also good for partners on the committee because associates have grassroots ways of knowing things.'"

I mean, really, who's better placed in a law firm's "grassroots" than paralegals? Okay, maybe secretaries....