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7 Firms Make "Best Places to Work" List

Vivia Chen

October 12, 2016

Vintage-office-bwNot in the mood to read a long story? No worries. Here are some quick take on the news:

Big New York law firms wouldn't be caught dead on this list. As you know, I take those "best" lists with a huge grain of salt. I'm not sure how people and institutions get on them, but my hunch is that having a good public relations firm behind the scene doesn't hurt. As Bernie or Donald would say: "The system is rigged!"

That said, isn't it curious how indigenous big New York firms seldom (actually, never) make those lists of "best" or "nicest" or "happiest" places to work?

Crains recently listed its 100 best places to work in New York—and, once again, Wall Street law firms are no where to be found. Only seven law firms made it, and they are:

Adam Leitman Bailey

Alston & Bird


Drinker Biddle

Frankfurt Kurnit

Sheppard Mullin

Wilmer Hale

The only true New York firms are Adam Leitman Bailey, a real estate boutique, and Frankfurt Kurnit, an entertainment specialty shop.

So here's the subtext: Big, powerful New York firms don't need those "pleasant to work at" awards. That's for small fries and out-of-towners.

DLA has slacker partners. At first, the measure seems Draconian. According to U.K.'s The Lawyer (sub. req.), partners at DLA "who fail to fill in a timesheet showing they have completed a minimum seven-and-a-half hours of work could have their quarterly profit drawings withheld." That comes from DLA chief operating officer Andrew Darwin in London.

Penalizing those who fail to account for 7.5 hours each work day sounds harsh, except we're not talking about billables. According to Above the Law, "those seven-and-a-half hours need not be all billing, but rather, work generally, which includes but isn’t limited to training, mentoring, supervising, and client development."

Repeat: We're not talking about billable hours.

Which means that accounting for 7.5 hours shouldn't be that hard. Though it's not clear whether DLA has problems with slacker partners world wide, I'd guess most of its American lawyers are fulfilling the hours requirement—and more. Actually, I think anyone who works full-time can account for that amount of time. Even slackers like writers and journalists.

Is Fordham Law School getting cool? Few people would describe Fordham as a groovy law school. Conservative and Catholic, Fordham has a respectable yet ho-hum reputation. Compared to its more high-profile neighbors uptown (Columbia ) and downtown (NYU), it's the stepchild of the trio in New York.

Now, however, there are signs that Fordham is getting hip. For whatever reason, it seems to be attracting female faculty who are a bit out-there.  A few years ago, the Jesuit school hired Zephyr Rain Teachout, a stalwart of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Teachout also gave Andrew Cuomo a run for his money in 2014 when she ran against him for governor of New York (she got 34 percent of the vote during the primary).

Recently, Fordham announced the appointment of a director to run its compliance programs: Alice BrightSky, whose surname, I assume, is another fanciful concoction. Maybe I'm reading too much into these names, but could Fordham be getting funky?



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I worked in private practice in the South at large firms. Alston & Bird has always had a great reputation. I only wish that so many of the firms left off the list weren't all competing for the worst places to work...

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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