Alumni Advice

Kids these days. In spite of near-constant coverage of student loan debt and a struggling legal job market, aspiring lawyers choosing where to attend law school continue to prioritize school rankings over factors such as affordability and job placement statistics, according to a study from Kaplan Test Prep. In a follow-up study, however, recent law school graduates advised prospective students to reconsider their priorities. Read on for the results of both studies.

32% Prospective students who said that a law school’s ranking was the most important factor in their decision

13% Prospective students who rated affordability/tuition as a top concern

8% Prospective students who ranked job placement as a top concern

48% Recent graduates who said that prospective students should place the most weight on job placement rates or affordability (each response garnered 24 percent of the vote)

17% Graduates who said that a school’s ranking was the most important factor

Flagging Faith

Law firm managing partners continue to lose confidence in the economy, according to a new study from Citi Private Bank, which asked partners at 79 law firms to predict whether economic conditions would be better or worse in the second quarter of the year, compared with the first quarter. Although most respondents felt the same—and a significant number said they felt “somewhat better”—overall confidence in the economy fell by 19 points from last quarter.

28% Respondents who felt “somewhat better” about the economy in the second quarter of the year, as compared to the first quarter

17% Managing partners who felt “somewhat worse” about the economy in the same time period

29% Managing partners who expect to see some growth this year (40 percent expect growth below 5 percent)

17% Respondents who expect the number of equity partners to increase by more than 3 percent in the next year (more than one-third said they expect an increase of up to 3 percent)


Accelerating Actions

2011 was a record year for patent infringement actions, according to a recent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which calculated that 4,015 such actions were filed last year. In light of these results, PwC advises attorneys to pay close attention to damages assessments: This year has already seen two awards of roughly $1 billion. Read on for more results:

4,015 Patent infringement actions filed in 2012

22% Increase in number of patent infringement actions over 2010

$4 million Size of the median damages award between 2006 and 2011

$8.7 million Median jury damages award between 2006 and 2011, compared to $0.4 million awarded by the bench

34% Success rate of patent infringement actions for practicing entities, compared to 23 percent for non-practicing entities

Cost Concerns

Wells Fargo has some good news and some bad news for Biglaw. The good news: Law firm revenue increased during the first six months of 2012. The bad news: Costs rose even faster during the same period. The largest firms fared slightly better, which the study attributes to their ability to control expenses. Still, Wells Fargo warns, the second half of the year is shaping up to be even slower than the first half. 

3% Increase in law firm revenue between January and June 2012

6.5% Increase in costs during the same period

1% Increase in net income in firms with profits per partner of at least $2 million, compared to the first six months of 2011

1% Increase in the total number of hours that partners worked in the same period

Diminishing Discrimination

Following the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) April announcement that employment discrimination against transgender individuals will now be considered a form of sex discrimination, companies have more incentive than ever to ensure that such employees receive equal treatment. According to a new study from the Human Rights Campaign, companies have made particular progress in the health care arena, offering equal coverage for transgender employees.

85 Companies survey that offered equal health care benefits—including coverage for procedures such as sexual reassignment surgery—for transgender employees in 2011

207 Companies offering equal benefits this year, a 144 percent increase

50% Fortune 500 companies that now include gender identity in their non-discrimination policies

87% Percentage of the American public that believes that federal law prohibits companies from firing employees based on sexual orientation