[Guest post by DRJ]
Look what top law firms do to attract young lawyers:
“In Perkins Coie’s Chicago office, members of the firm’s “happiness committee” recently left candied apples on everyone’s desks. Last month, the happiness committee surprised lawyers, paralegals and assistants in the Washington office with milkshakes from a local Potbelly Sandwich Works, a favorite lunch spot.
“That’s the whole beauty of it all — it’s random acts of kindness,” said Lori Anger, client relations manager of Perkins Coie, which is based in Seattle. “We have pretty strict hours, so it’s a nice way to surprise people.”
The benefits go beyond the laptops and BlackBerrys, late-night rides home, Friday beer-and-pretzel fests and sports tickets that are standard fare at many large and midsize law firms. Many of the new perks recognize a lifestyle change that law firms are just coming to grips with.
On offer now are concierge services, in which a lawyer can have the equivalent of a personal valet pick up theater and sports tickets, the dry cleaning, take a car to the repair shop or even choose a Halloween costume.
“We compete in terms of having a life,” Ms. Anger said. “We don’t compete by dangling a lot of material perks.” Unusual in the industry, Perkins Coie offers pet insurance.”
Starting salaries for associates can be $160,000 in top markets, with bonuses of $45,000 to $85,000, but billable hour requirements have also continued to increase. In addition, firms offer benefits like on-site child care or paid emergency nannies, sabbaticals, and more:
“For example, Sullivan & Cromwell, another old-line firm, with more than 600 lawyers, guarantees the first $100,000 of mortgages of associates who have been with the firm for at least six months.
DLA Piper, the nation’s largest law firm, reimburses employees $2,000 when they buy a hybrid car. Fulbright & Jaworski offers on-site tailoring and reimbursements to employees who buy a Subaru, Nissan or General Motors vehicle. “In our business, people are our main asset so our benefits are designed to keep people happy and healthy,” a spokesman for DLA Piper, Jason Costa, said.
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, a 600-lawyer firm based in New York, offers employees a service akin to a personal issues coach and psychotherapist through a deal with Corporate Counseling Associates of Manhattan. The consulting firm has a battery of staff psychologists and social workers to provide advice on issues including stress, anxiety, depression and divorce.”
Depending on where the firm is located, additional perks include catered food, yoga, or recliners:
“The new perks are separate from the wining and dining that top law firms conduct each year for their summer associates, whom they hope to lure back after they finish law school.
Still, the parties and the food for lawyers are getting better. “We’re not talking a ham sandwich and a cup of coffee anymore,” said William M. O’Connor, a partner in the boutique litigation firm of Crowell & Moring, which is based in Washington. Crowell & Moring recently began giving wine parties at its New York office, with tuna tartare, baby lamb chops and vegetable trays. One associate requested that the firm “explore Spanish wines,” a spokeswoman related, so Crowell & Moring recently provided bottles of a 2001 Rondan and a 2005 Olivares Altos de la Hoya.
At Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s New York office, lawyers who work into the evenings can have dinner delivered, on a silver tray, from the Palm restaurant, a hot spot for media and financial executives.
It is true that many of the perks have a lifestyle flavor. O’Melveny & Myers, a large California-based law firm with offices in Asia, holds yoga classes at its Newport Beach office for lawyers and their staffs.
And Kilpatrick Stockton, a large firm with offices throughout the Southeast, has a nap room in its Raleigh, N.C., office, complete with a reclining chair, sofa and travel alarm clock. “Yes, it gets used, “ said Carol Vassey, the chief administrator in the Raleigh office, though rarely for more than 15 minutes at a time.”
Not everyone likes the new legal order:
“Forget the pet insurance and concierge services: that’s setting up people’s lives, and I find that appalling,” said Mitchell S. Roth, a principal at Much Shelist Denenberg Ament & Rubenstein, a comparatively small firm based in Chicago. “The perk we offer in our world is a culture of collegiality and training.”
Still, Mr. Roth acknowledged that Much Shelist occasionally brought in a masseuse. “It’s for morale,” he said.”
It’s a battle for talent. May the best firm win, although clients don’t seem as supportive of this as attorneys are. Maybe it has something to do with being charged $300+/hour.