August 2014

Never heard of Duval & Stachenfeld? Well, that’s about to change, thanks to the firm’s innovative approach to associate compensation, which is getting some media mentions. From an article by Kellie Schmitt in The Recorder:

The 50-lawyer firm, based in New York but with a small L.A. office, starts first-year associates at $60,000 — or $100,000 below the starting salary at many Am Law 100 firms.

Mid-year and senior associates, however, are promised the same total pay — or more — that they’d earn at Latham & Watkins or Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

For third-years on up, the firm says it checks what top New York firms like Cravath, Swaine & Moore are paying in base salary and bonuses, and matches that. Last year, the firm added a $10,000 sweetener.

So what exactly is the point of this unusual system?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Attention Tier Two Grads: Duval & Stachenfeld Wants You”

* New York Times Magazine profiles Justice Stevens. [New York Times Magazine]
* Breaking down the New York Knicks sexual harassment trial. [ESPN]
* Prosecutor contradicts Sen. Craig’s story. [CNN]
* NY AG subpoenas Facebook. [MSNBC]
* Vick may face state charges related to dogfighting. [Sports Illustrated]

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Evil Has Landed New York Daily News Above the Law blog.jpgEarlier today, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a controversial appearance at Columbia University. The decision to invite Ahmadinejad was defended by President Lee Bollinger, who criticized Ahmadinejad and his views while introducing him, but condemned by Columbia Law School Dean David Schizer.
Dean Schizer’s statement provides us with enough of a “law” hook to write about the controversy. Here’s what he had to say:

This event raises deep and complicated issues about how best to express our commitment to intellectual freedom, and to our free way of life. Although we believe in free and open debate at Columbia and should never suppress points of view, we are also committed to academic standards. A high-quality academic discussion depends on intellectual honesty but, unfortunately, Mr. Ahmadinejad has proven himself, time and again, to be uninterested in whether his words are true. Therefore, my personal opinion is that he should not be invited to speak. Mr. Ahmadinejad is a reprehensible and dangerous figure who presides over a repressive regime, is responsible for the death of American soldiers, denies the Holocaust, and calls for the destruction of Israel. It would be deeply regrettable if some misread this invitation as lending prestige or legitimacy to his views.

Our university is a pluralistic place, and I recognize that others within our community take a different view in good faith, and that they have the right to extend invitations that I personally would not extend. I know that we will learn from each other in discussing the difficult questions prompted by this invitation.

Do you agree with President Bollinger or Dean Schizer? Take our poll:


Statement By David M. Schizer Re: SIPA Invitation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [Columbia Law School]
Tough US Welcome for Iran’s Ahmadinejad [Associated Press]
Columbia law dean slams Ahmadinejad invite [JTA]
QuickSpec- Judgement Day edition [The Bwog]

law clerk judicial clerkship Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgMany judges are done hiring their law clerks for next year. We’re happy to report that several of our friends, whom we were informally advising on the process, landed clerkships with their top picks.
For those of you who are still going through the process, this gossip might be of interest:

Rumor check: word on the street is that a raft judges have made a decision to only hire graduates for clerkships. One person told me that means there are about 60% less positions open for 3L applicants. The end result is that a number of schools are having their worst clerkship hiring year in memory (at least for their 3L’s). Have you heard the same?

We haven’t heard this specific rumor until now. But we do know that some judges have started hiring more graduates simply because the hiring of grads — e.g., junior associates at firms — isn’t controlled by the elaborate timetable of the law clerk hiring plan. With the possible exception of feeder judges, who have no choice but to try and snag top recruits early, most judges probably think it’s less viciously competitive — or at least less of a hassle — to hire recent law school graduates (who come with the added benefit of practical experience).
So, readers, any thoughts?
Earlier: Clerkship Hiring: Today’s the Day

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver Hedges associate salary Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe aren’t the only ones having fun with the story of the Quinn Emanuel recruiting junket to Deer Valley. Check out this cartoon, over at The Recorder.
As noted by some commenters, Quinn Emanuel just launched a new, upgraded website. Sadly, the “Day in a Life of an Associate” video — which featured a fictional associate, a Yale and Stanford Law-educated hottie named “Ivy” (geddit?) — appears to have been pulled. (The site says that the video is “coming soon.”)
Some of the speculation about why the video was pulled is amusing. Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quinn Emanuel: No Video for You”

BarBri 2 bar bri bar exam review course prep course Above the Law Above the Law ATL.jpgMaybe not. A summary of the findings of a recent study, from Freakonomics:

[R]esults were unequivocal: no relationship existed between law school courseloads and the passage rate of students ranked in the first, second or fourth quarters of their law school class, while only a weak relationship existed for students who ranked in the third quarter. Overall, Rush writes, “students in the upper two quartiles passed the exam at an extremely high rate and those in the fourth quartile failed at a high rate, regardless of which classes they took in law school.”

So taking Secured Transactions really has no redeeming qualities after all.
The Science of Passing the Bar Exam: Does First-Year Torts Really Matter? [Freakonomics]

Washington Monument small Above the Law blog.JPGWe have to step away for a bit. We’ll leave you with another open thread to discuss year-end bonuses. Today we focus on our base of operations: WASHINGTON, DC.
If your firm has a stated bonus policy, what are the basic terms? If not, what are you expecting by way of a bonus this year? How will the move to $160K affect year-end bonuses in the D.C. market?
Please discuss these and related subjects, in the comments. Thanks.
Earlier: Year-end bonus open threads for New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Will Work for Food 2 Above the Law blog.JPGOn the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal, there’s an excellent article, by Amir Efrati, about the not-so-hot job prospects for non-top-tier law school graduates. Here’s the lede, which nicely summarizes the situation:

A law degree isn’t necessarily a license to print money these days.

For graduates of elite law schools, prospects have never been better. Big law firms this year boosted their starting salaries to as high as $160,000. But the majority of law-school graduates are suffering from a supply-and-demand imbalance that’s suppressing pay and job growth. The result: Graduates who don’t score at the top of their class are struggling to find well-paying jobs to make payments on law-school debts that can exceed $100,000. Some are taking temporary contract work, reviewing documents for as little as $20 an hour, without benefits. And many are blaming their law schools for failing to warn them about the dark side of the job market.

It’s a most worthwhile piece (although somewhat reminiscent of this article, by Leigh Jones for the National Law Journal). Here’s our favorite part:

Some un- or underemployed grads are seeking consolation online, where blogs and discussion boards have created venues for shared commiseration that didn’t exist before. An anonymous writer called Loyola 2L, purportedly a student at Loyola Law School, who claims the school wasn’t straight about employment prospects, has been beating a drum of discontent around the Web in the past year that’s sparked thousands of responses, and a fan base. (“2L” stands for second-year law student.) Some thank “L2L” for articulating their plight; others claim L2L should complain less and work more.

Loyola’s Dean Burcham says he wishes he knew who the student was so he could help the person. “It’s expensive to go to law school, and there are times when you second-guess yourself as a student,” he says.

One tipster quips: “Loyola Dean David Burcham wants to find and help Loyola 2L. How? By refunding his tuition?”
So, will the real Loyola 2L please stand up — and email us? We’d love to discuss potential opportunities with you. Thanks.
Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers [Wall Street Journal]
The Dark Side of the Legal Job Market [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: It’s Hard Out Here for Non-Top-Tier Law School Graduates

Jeffrey Toobin The Nine Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.jpgMore good press for Jeffrey Toobin’s new book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. It scored a front-page review in the New York Times Book Review, which is the Holy Grail of the publishing industry.
But we’re partial to this great Slate piece, by Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick (two of our favorite Supreme Court correspondents). Bazelon and Lithwick conduct a meta-review of critical reactions to Jeff Toobin’s book, which they use as a jumping off point for broader reflections on media coverage of the Court. They include a generous shout-out to ATL:

One of the oddest byproducts of the Internet has been the growth industry that is the Supreme Court gossip blog. These folks are less interested in the court as the place where Law Is Born, or where Politics Really Come From, and more fascinated by which clerks are sleeping with whom, and how much they earn while doing it.

No blog has a better bead on those items than David Lat’s Above the Law. Sure, ATL invariably tends to reduce the entire sweep of modern constitutional history to a form of girl-on-girl Jell-O-wrestling. But then at bottom, what else is there?

As one reader jokingly suggested, “Looks like your Facebook group membership finally paid off!”
Nine Ways To Read The Nine [Slate]
Meet the Supremes [New York Times Book Review]

* Wall Street Journal front page article on bleak JD job market. [WSJ via Law Blog]
* Ohio State must pay former coach $2.5 million. [ESPN]
* Florida dems risk delegates with early primary. [CNN PoliTic]
* If he did it, was it because of football injuries? [Slate]
Update: We’ll be doing a full post about the WSJ Law Blog post, featuring a huge shout-out to Loyola 2L, later today. Please bear with us; it’s Monday morning.

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