SIGNING OF THE TIMES - Given that deal work is keeping law firms so busy that it’s basically ruining people’s lives, it’s an understatement to say that mid-level associates with transactional experience are in demand right now. Demand is so high, in fact, that law firms are handing over signing and retention bonuses to those associates with M&A, private equity and capital markets expertise, with some even going so far as to dole out referral fees for other lawyers who help reel them in, Law.com’s Andrew Maloney reports. Firms are also offering recruiters larger than normal placement fees to help land top associates. “The need is exponential, more than I’ve ever seen,” said New York recruiter Alisa Levin of Greene-Levin-Snyder. But the bonuses for top talent may also come with strings attached, including the requirement that an associate stay at a firm for one to two years to keep the money, recruiters say. Whether that deters a competitor from poaching an associate it really wants, however, is unlikely. “If I’m an associate and I took $100,000 with a handcuff that I stay two years, and somebody comes at me six months from now—I’ve got the $100,000 and I either spend it or it’s in my bank account—that [second] firm will pay off the handcuff,” said Kay Hoppe, a recruiter based in Chicago.
INSIDE AND OUT - While diversity and inclusion has increasingly topped the priority lists of corporations over the last several years, corporate legal departments are calling upon their outside counsel to keep up, Law.com’s Sarah Tincher-Numbers reports. But progress is a two-way street, and legal departments have their own room to grow. According to Concilio’s 2019-2020 Law Department Operations Survey, only 21% of legal departments indicated that they have an outside counsel diversity program, and another 32% said they have plans to implement one. “And frankly, that number feels a little bit low, at least for larger or more mature legal departments,” Consilio managing director Doug Ventola said during an ACC panel last week, titled, “Measuring, Reporting, and Improving Outside Counsel Diversity.” “There’s got to be accountability on both sides,” said Ed Blakemore, assistant general counsel at Rockwell Automation. “So corporate counsel have to hold themselves accountable to actually review their bills and know who’s doing their work. That’s a non-negotiable. And then outside counsel have to actually staff your matters with diverse folks.”