February 2007

Charney S&C 006A.JPG
Move over, Bryant Park. The real fashion show was going on here: New York Supreme Court, 60 Centre Street.
Last week, of course, was New York Fashion Week. Our little sister, Fashionista, covered the events extensively.
Meanwhile, downtown from the tents in Bryant Park, we too had fashion on the brain. But instead of watching runway models strut their stuff, we assessed the sartorial choices of lawyers — namely, counsel at last week’s hearing in the litigation between gay lawyer Aaron Charney and his former employer, Sullivan & Cromwell.
You’re dying to know:

– Who was the best-dressed attorney in Courtroom 540 — and who was the worst?

– Who sported the nicest footwear?

– Who had the most problematic hair?

The answers to these questions, and more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Brokeback Lawfirm: A Runway Report (Part 1)”

cupid behind bars Above the Law.GIFWe’re bestowing this honor upon Malik Cupid, and not just because today is Valentine’s Day. He actually did something to earn this award.
From the NJ Blog (emphasis in original):

Malik Cupid, an attorney, Democrat party activist and current aide to Governor Jon S. Corzine’s administration, was arraigned in Westchester County (New York) Supreme Court yesterday (which also happened to be his 31st birthday) after being charged with stealing $1,400 from his old girlfriend’s bank account and hacking into the former girlfriend’s account while she was serving on active duty with the Army in Iraq.

All told, the Westchester County district attorney’s office charged Cupid with four felonies, including grand larceny, identity theft and eavesdropping. He faces up to 16 years in state prison.

More details here — including a picture. Check out Cupid’s snazzy bow tie.
Cupid Is Crazy [NJ Blog]
Cupid Arraigned on Larceny Charge [Journal News]

Ann Banaszewski Ann S Banaszewski Justice Antonin Scalia drunk driver drunk driving Above the Law.jpgIf your mom or dad is a federal judge, that makes them perfect (by definition). But Article III infallibility does not extend to you, their offspring. Do YOU have a commission signed by the President? Where’s your fancy black robe?
In fact, federal judicial kids get into all sorts of embarrassing scrapes. For example, sometimes they spill coffee on airplanes.*
And sometimes they get into much bigger trouble. From the Chicago Tribune:

A daughter of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was arrested Monday night in Wheaton and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and child endangerment, Wheaton Deputy Police Chief Thomas Meloni said.

Ann S. Banaszewski, 45, was stopped about 7:25 p.m. in a 1996 Ford Econoline van near Gamon Road and Longfellow Drive after a citizen reported a possible drunken driver was at the McDonald’s restaurant near there, Meloni said.

Three of Banaszewski’s “small children” were in the van with her at the time, leading to the child endangerment charge, Meloni said.

Quips our tipster: “Now that I have kids, it really makes me mad to see someone drinking and driving with their kids in the car.”
(Similarly troubling: Banaszewski’s taste in vehicles. A 1996 Ford Econoline van? Not nearly as nice as the BMW her father tools around Washington in.)
Mrs. Banaszweski wasn’t eager to chat about the incident:

Banaszewski, reached by phone at home, declined to speak about the arrest, or whether she was Scalia’s daughter.

“I have no information and I certainly would not speak with a reporter about my father,” she said.

Some unsolicited advice: Next time, Ann, just say “no comment.” We don’t mean to be annoying or pedantic — we’re guessing you don’t speak to the media much — but saying you “have no information” about an episode in which you’re the protagonist isn’t true.
Anyway, we must say we’re rather surprised by this news. The offspring of Justice Scalia are an upstanding bunch. They include a priest, a military officer, and a hot ERISA lawyer. And given Justice Scalia’s emphasis on morality and personal responsibility, we think he’d be displeased to learn that his daughter was allegedly driving under the influence, with his three grandchildren in the car.
* For those of you who care, yes, we will (eventually) respond to Judge Alex Kozinski’s open letter to us. We’ve just been very, very busy.
Daughter of Supreme Court Justice Charged in DUI [Chicago Tribune]
Earlier: Flying the Friendly, Federal Judicial Skies
Judges of the Day: Patrick Young and Jan Fiss
The Honorable Nicole Richie?

Sally Struthers Above the Law.jpgWe’ve been covering the latest round of law firm associate pay raises largely from the perspective of the associates. But what about the people who have to pay for all this largesse: the partners?
Several recent articles offer a partners’-eye-view of the compensation arms race. We’ve collected the links below.
Despite the cheery announcement memos they’ve been sending out, partners aren’t happy about having to cough up more dough. From New York magazine:

[I]t’s estimated that at a big firm like Simpson (which has about 500 associates and 155 partners), average per-partner profits run about $2.4 million a year. To pay for this raise, each partner will take an approximate personal hit of $40,000 to $70,000 a year. “It’s horrible,” said one partner at a big firm.

Horrible indeed! For that kind of dough, you could get ten bespoke suits, a decent luxury car, or a house in the Hamptons for a month.
But before you start shedding tears for your benefactors, dear associates, consider this information, from the National Law Journal:

[C]omparisons from 1996 to 2005 indicate that as partners have made more, first-year associate salaries have not kept pace.

At law firms with 501 attorneys or more, median associate salaries were $125,000 in 2005. At the same time, profits per partner at the nation’s 100 highest-grossing law firms in 2005 averaged $1.07 million.

Consequently, associates were making 11.7 percent of the amount partners pulled in for 2005, the smallest percentage in the last 10 years.

By contrast, associate salaries in 1996 at the nation’s largest firms equaled $70,000, or 14.3 percent of the profits per partner, which that same year averaged $489,753 among the Am Law 100, the 100 highest-grossing firms.

As we wrote in these pages back in August (which feels so far away right now, given the snow and freezing temperatures):

“Associates of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your Blackberries.”

But revolution may not be necessary. Things may get better naturally on their own. From the NLJ piece:

William Johnston, a vice president of Hildebrandt International, a law firm consultancy, expects the gap between associate salaries and profits per partner to narrow in the next few years.

“Overall profitability will start to plateau,” he said. In addition, law firms will continue to feel the pinch for qualified law school graduates from their own competitors and from hedge funds and investment banks offering attractive alternatives, he said.

Firms must also compete with the opportunities offered by insider trading. If you do it right (and don’t get caught), you can earn profits that make $160K look like a pittance.
The Partner Tax [Intelligencer / New York Magazine]
Starting Pay at Top Firms Falls Farther Behind Partners’ [National Law Journal]
In the Law-Firm Pay Race, Who’s Really Ahead? [DealBook / NYT]

Happy Valentine’s Day!
* Miss Brazil wins lawsuit competition. [CNN]
* ABA: Pay the judges! [Law.com]
* Cheney and Libby will not testify in CIA leak trial. [
CNN]
* What makes a good or bad law school exam answer? [Volokh]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWe have more associate base salary information, from different Dechert offices around the country, to share with you. Alas, these pay scales aren’t as interesting as the Dechert DC memo, which announced what one commenter described as “a caste system” within that office.
But some of you did request compensation information for Dechert offices other than D.C. and Philadelphia. So here it is.
Check out the tables, if you’re interested, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: A Few More Dechert Memos”

law library Above the Law.jpgYesterday we announced our next hotties contest here at Above the Law: Law Librarians!!!
If there’s a hot legal librarian that you’d like to nominate, we are now accepting your submissions. To learn about how to make a nomination, please click here.
Since we announced the contest yesterday, nominees have been rolling in like book carts. We think you’ll be quite impressed by the final slates of candidates.
We did want to clarify one thing about the contest. It is open to ALL attractive law librarians — whether they’re at law schools, private law firms, courthouses, or any other law-related workplace. There was some language in the original post, since removed, that erroneously indicated that the contest was restricted to “law school librarians.” This is NOT the case.
As for how the language wound up there, it was through careless cutting and pasting. Just like transactional lawyers, we bloggers rely upon “precedents” — past documents that we adapt or crib from to make new ones. For the post announcing the law librarian hotties contest, we lifted some boilerplate from our prior contest for hot law school deans. We removed the word “dean,” but we accidentally left in the word “school.”
Hence the confusion, for which we apologize. Consider this a cautionary tale about the perils of ctrl-C, ctrl-V.
Earlier: Above the Law Hotties: Law Librarians!

Love is in the air. (It’s tomorrow, so get on those plans already!)
* You can imagine management pressing office couples for more detailed descriptions of their amorous couplings during drafting of “love contracts”…you know, like the usual corporate due diligence, which I know always gets me off. [Los Angeles Times]
* You’ve heard it a million times, that law school is a redux of high school, but this law student went to an actual prom a mere 10 months ago, so he has some fresh tips on how to ask that cutie from Con Law to the Barrister’s Bash (and this time, not get rejected). [TJs Double Play]
* Sometimes, you try to spread a little love, but you just end up here. Or here. Or here. (Can you imagine if this site had existed when Bill was governor?) And with no recourse to a libel suit. Yup, love bites. [San Francisco Chronicle]
* Who knew that the age of consent in Thailand is 20 years old? And that one-third of Thai teenage girls don’t find losing one’s virginity on V-Day cheesy? (No word on how romantic they’d find prom night.) [AFP via Yahoo! News]
* Florida’s code of conduct now explicitly forbids sexual harassment, and encourages horny judges to deal with any urge that may arise within the confines of those voluminous robes. I’m paraphrasing. [Sun-Sentinel]
* In India, “irreconcilable differences” is just code for “my wife wouldn’t make me tea.” [New Kerala]
* Expect loads of these seasonal surveys tomorrow, but wonder who in your office has really had sex against the vending machine. Or don’t, if you have really unattractive colleagues. [Workplace Prof Blog]

scales of justice Above the Law.jpgThe interesting comment thread to our recent post about the Seyfarth Shaw memo — aka “We’re on the List of Shame, and We’re Telling You We’re Not Going” — reminded us of something we meant to link to earlier.
It’s an article, from this month’s ABA Journal, reporting the results of a survey of young lawyers. The survey focused on the trade-off between compensation and billable hours — in other words, money versus lifestyle. Here’s a summary of the results:

[I]f associates were given an opportunity to work—and earn—a little bit less, would they?

Yes, say an overwhelming number of young lawyers who participated in an unscientific online survey conducted by the ABA Journal in November. Respondents identified themselves as associates.

Of the 2,377 respondents who answered all or part of the survey, 84.2 percent indicated they would be willing to earn less money in exchange for lower billable-hour requirements.

A sizable minority of associates are looking for a big workload cut—31.9 percent of respondents favored a 20 percent reduction in billable hours. That was followed by a 10 percent cut in hours (chosen by 27.8 percent of respondents), a 15 percent cut (14.3 percent), a 25 percent reduction (13.5 percent) and a 5 percent cut (4.3 percent).

Heck, who wouldn’t want to work less? But the survey respondents were willing to put their money where their mouths are:

A majority of respondents—no matter how much less they wanted to work—were willing to accept a pay cut equal to the percentage reduction in their workload. (Though 15.1 percent of those looking for a 20 percent cut in billable hours would be willing to sacrifice 25 percent or 30 percent of their pay for less time at work.)

Could we see a significant rise in either true lifestyle firms, or lifestyle tracks at Biglaw firms — where associates work (and earn) less than the average Biglaw lawyer? It’s doubtful:

[P]artners and consultants say no to the idea, for the most part.

“I don’t think this would work if you want to have a very successful firm,” says Carl A. Leonard, former chairman of Morrison & Foerster. “The world has always been competitive, and it just gets more so.”

These sentiments are echoed by Paul Irving, chairman of Manatt Phelps & Phillips:

[L]owering billable-hour requirements for all his associates, [Irving] says, would not work. The firm has a starting annual salary of $145,000 and a billable-hours requirement of 2,000 hours a year.

“Our experience is that, for the most part, the people we recruit are looking for top compensation and a highly engaging work experience.”

Referring to billing 2,000+ hours, on things like document review or due diligence, as a “highly engaging work experience”? That takes the prize for our “Euphemism of the Day.”
(And that’s no mean feat. The Seyfarth Shaw memo is FULL of great doublespeak.)
The Ultimate Time-Money Trade-off [ABA Journal]
Earlier: Skaddenfreude: Seyfarth Shaw Makes Itself At Home on the List of Shame

Wall Street Michael Douglas Above the Law Charlie Sheen Above the Law.jpgVia our financially-minded big sibling, Dealbreaker, we just learned about an interesting (and bizarre) insider trading case. It’s about a family that set up its own hedge fund in order to trade on insider information.
And as it turns out, a friend of ours appears to be involved. From today’s CCH Wall Street:

The SEC has charged an entire family and two associates with conducting an insider trading scheme that illegally created more than $3.7 million in profits.

The Commission has charged Zvi Rosenthal of Tenafly, New Jersey, and former Vice President of Israeli-based Taro Pharmaceuticals with providing nonpublic information regarding pending FDA drug approvals and earnings statements to his sons.

The SEC has also charged the sons, Amir Rosenthal, 29, and Ayal Rosenthal, 26, both of New York, New York, and Oren Rosenthal, 31, of Los Angeles, California. It has also charged Amir Rosenthal with providing the nonpublic information to his father-in-law, Bahram Delshad, his work supervisor, Young Kim, and his best friend, David Heyman.

All of the defendants allegedly used the tip-offs to illegally trade ahead of eight Taro earnings announcements and five FDA drug approval announcements from at least 2001 through 2005, the SEC charged.

As noted by Best In Class, several of the defendants are Biglaw lawyers. Amir Rosenthal was an associate at Thacher Proffitt & Wood, where he worked in the Structured Finance Group under co-defendant Young Kim.
We don’t know Young Kim or Amir Rosenthal. But we do know Oren Rosenthal, who we can say from personal knowledge is a very nice, smart, and attractive fellow. He struck us as a truly decent person. We were shocked to see his name in the SEC press release.
(We met Oren when he was an associate in the New York office of O’Melveny & Myers; he subsequently relocated to the firm’s Los Angeles office. Oren’s bio has disappeared from the OMM website, but you can see it here via Google Cache. One irony is that Oren specialized in white collar criminal defense.)
In addition to the SEC proceedings, criminal cases have been brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Four of the seven SEC defendants were charged criminally, and those defendants — Zvi Rosenthal, his sons Ayal and Amir (the former TPW associate), and David Heyman — have pleaded guilty.
Random factoid: Amir Rosenthal is represented in the criminal proceedings by Paul Shechtman. Schechtman is a name partner at Stillman, Friedman & Shechtman — Charles Stillman’s firm, now representing Sullivan & Cromwell in the Brokeback Lawfirm matter.
Insider Trading: It’s A Family Affair! [DealBreaker]
The “Family Business” Built on Insider Trading [Best in Class / Garden City Group]
The Family That Trades on Inside Information Together Goes to Jail Together [White Collar Crime Prof Blog]
SEC Charges Family with Insider Trading Scheme [CCH Wall Street]
Former Thacher Proffitt Associate Admits Role in Insider Trading Scheme [New York Law Journal]
SEC Charges Family-Run Hedge Fund With a $3.7 Million Insider Trading Scheme [SEC.gov]

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