Partner to associate ratios dropping? Fixed fee arrangements being adopted? Large document review projects being outsourced to contract lawyers and overseas? It’s all part of the plan at O’Melveny & Meyers.
Until now, IP has been somewhat immune from the downturn that has hit other legal practice areas. But with infringement filings down in the first quarter of 2009 and companies being more cautious about investing in patent protection, some IP firms and practice groups are now facing layoffs.
When the economy turns the corner, this will undoubtedly cause big problems for law firms. Finding patent lawyers who have the right expertise has never been easy. I suspect it will be particularly challenging when corporations loosen the purse strings and want to start spending again. The increase in spending will probably happen faster than law firms can hire associates and tech specialists. So here’s my next prediction: that same bottleneck will create good opportunities for companies like IPEngine.
Why would any law firm client be willing to pay more than the agreed upon billing rate? Why would any law firm agree up front to discount its rates for clients who are unhappy with the service they received? Well at least one law firm is banking on being on the winning side of this billing strategy. Read the rest of this entry »
In the past six months, a majority of AmLaw100 firms have announced both layoffs and delays in start dates for the class of 2009 (in some instances, by as much as a year). There have also been rumors that salary cuts are on the way, though much speculation that no one wants to go first. Well the rubicon has been crossed. Womble Carlyle, a firm with 530 lawyers and a large presence in the Southeast, has announced that it will cut some associate salaries by 10 percent. Read the rest of this entry »
The drumbeat of layoffs at large and mid-sized law firms has been slow and steady for months. But for the most part, IP boutiques have not been reporting these staffing cuts…until yesterday when IP boutique Townsend and Townsend and Crew announced a layoff. In a memo sent around to firm employees (published in AbovetheLaw) the chairman raised the fact that patent filings were down in the first quarter of 2009 and clients are scaling back their spending.
As IP services have become more commoditized, its actually surprising that there have not been more announcements like this. Firms are really facing the combined effects of a down economy (which is causing companies to be more judicious in their IP spending) with the fact that before the current slowdown, corporate counsel were already demanding lower fees for prosecution and related work.