Optimism is in the air.
The markets are up for the week, factories are stepping up their output, and earnings reports this week — including at Silicon Valley heavyweights like Google and Intel — have been strong. The Wall Street Journal even reports the tech sector is kicking into hiring mode as the economic recovery takes hold.
And partner Mike Rhodes sounded cheerful — if still cautious — today about the outlook for the 300 lawyer litigation group he heads at Cooley.
“In terms of hours, people are working a lot harder than a year ago,” he said over the telephone from San Francisco. Litigation hours are up about 10 percent nationwide, and even more — 15 percent — in the Bay Area, he estimated.
The revival in activity comes from across the board. “I was talking to a partner in Palo Alto last week,” Rhodes said. “He had gotten three new matters in four days,” one related to licensing, one securities and a commercial class action. Rhodes says on his own plate are a couple of new Facebook privacy class actions and several consumer class actions filed in the last six weeks against Yelp.
But he says the real sign that things are looking up is the fact that, for instance, all five of Cooley’s first-years who started in January in San Diego are on pace to ring up at least 1,800 hours. “It’s not hard for me as a partner to sell my own time,” Rhodes said. “The better indicator of where you are as an institution is if you can fully engage fresh graduates in this economic climate.”
That said, Rhodes isn’t in a rush to hire just yet. “The economy looks better, but [overall] job creation is still lagging. Law firms are still in a bit of that mindset as well.”