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    January 14, 2009  
 
 
Predictions from
Major, Lindsey;
Pepper Hamilton;
Wiley Rein

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Before our gaze turns to 1600 Penn this week, we figured one more round of 2009 Bisnow Predictions was in order. This time, from people who know what they’re talking about when it comes to the legal job market: the DC team at Major, Lindsey & Africa, largest legal placement firm in the country with 19 domestic offices (22 globally). If these intriguing predictions are as accurate as the impressive Utah-over-Alabama Sugar Bowl call by Huron Consulting’s Matt Medlin, we’re in for an interesting year.

 

Not the entire DC office, but close. Front row: Nancy Newkirk; Jeffrey Lowe, DC managing partner; Stephen Springer; and Paul Higgins. Back row: Aileen Cassidy; Katy Montgomery; Abe Pollack; Jane Sullivan Roberts; Diana Rubin; and Sarah Van Steenburg. They put their heads together and gave us the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for ’09. We start with the Good:

  • Rise of inventive law firm business models, including the possibility of public investment in firms. This may require some bar rule tweaking, but nothing’s out the window now.
  • Continued job opportunities abroad, following the trend of staffing foreign offices with stateside associates.
  • Increased pro bono efforts (the upside of less billable work).
 

Before they took up placement, Jeffrey practiced at Hogan and Nancy at Perkins Coie (she also did GC duties at non-profit Clean Sites). Here’s the Bad:

  • Partners shouldn’t count on making lateral moves unless they’re bringing a $1 million book of business.
  • The associate salary freeze will spread, and summer classes will shrink 10-20%.
  • In-house counsel will work longer hours for smaller bonuses as companies fall short of revenue targets.
 

Diana, formerly with Hale & Dorr (before the Wilmer merge) is the office’s in-house placement specialist. Brace yourself for the Ugly:

  • Very senior associates and non-equity partners will be let go at an “alarming rate.”
  • Ten more firms will go under nationwide, with at least one of them in DC.
  • Laid-off lawyers should plan on a 6-12 month job search, and may have to leave law practice to find work.

Madoff Makes Billables
 

Seems that Bernie Madoff didn’t just direct a headline-grabbing ponzi scheme—he’s also given birth to a cottage legal industry in NY and DC. With firms across town setting up special Madoff task forces, we checked in on Frank Razzano of Pepper Hamilton, which has seven partners doing a Madoff webinar today. What’s all the hubbub? Frank breaks down the significance of the scandal: a Congressional report found that all white collar crime had a $44 billion effect on the economy in 1980. Losses from the Madoff affair alone, meanwhile, are estimated at $50 billion.

 

In his old gig as an AUSA in N.J., Frank might be prosecuting some of the players in the scam. He tells us that Madoff-related work for private practitioners will come from: DOJ and SEC investigations into potential Madoff co-conspirators (civil suits, as well, will likely hit those who recommended investment with Madoff); stiffened enforcement of securities regs; and what could be Madoff’s biggest legacy, new regs on the Wild West environment in which hedge funds operate. In the six weeks since the Madoff news broke, Frank tells us the Feds have already unearthed one alleged $50 million scheme (U.S. v. Forte) and one alleged $1 billion scheme (U.S. v. Steigner).


Meet the New Partners: Wiley Rein
 

Yesterday, our tireless efforts to introduce you to the legal stars of tomorrow found us at Wiley Rein, where we shot this pic of the firm’s five newly-minted DC partners: Daniel Graham, who does government contracts work; Cara Tseng Duffield (litigation); and Rob Scheffel (IP litigation), bottom row, with Nicole Orwren-Wiest and Jessica Rosenthal in back. Last year Nicole worked a successful bid protest for Boeing over an Air Force tanker project, while Jessica, a communications transaction specialist, is working a swap with CBS involving two Houston stations of client Clear Channel. She’s so devoted to Clear Channel, in fact, that she has DC101 first on her pre-sets.

John Ford, Bisnow’s Legal Editor, listens to nothing but Neil Diamond hits. Send story pitches to john@bisnow.com.

 
 
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