July 2014

Thanksgiving turkey Above the Law blog.jpgGreetings, ATL readers. Please accept our wishes for a very Happy Thanksgiving!
We hope that you aren’t spending much time in front of the computer today. But if you are — for some depressing reason, like work — feel free to bemoan your fate in the comments.
Or, on a more cheery note, list what you’re thankful for. This year, we are thankful for ATL’s large and devoted readership. We are also thankful for our Best Law Blog award, which we won thanks to reader support. Thanks, everyone!
P.S. Apologies to ATL’s sizable readership in Canada; we’re taking off today. Why not just move your Thanksgiving so that it coincides with ours?
[Photo credit: yours truly.]

south carolina map bar exam controversy.jpgFor those of you who followed the South Carolina bar exam controversy, previously discussed here and here, we bring you an update.
The South Carolina Supreme Court recently issued a supplemental statement on the matter. According to the Court, the elimination of the Trusts and Estates section from the scoring process had nothing to do with complaints from the kids of prominent public figures.
An excerpt from the court’s statement, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Further Update on the South Carolina Bar Exam”

In the Senate chamber yesterday, crickets were chirping. From the New York Times:

Jim Webb Senator James Webb Above the Law blog.jpgWho says the Senate cannot act quickly? It conducted a full day’s business in less than 30 seconds on Tuesday.

Of course, there was no real business to conduct. But fearing that President Bush would again use a Congressional recess to install disputed executive branch appointees without Senate confirmation, Democrats convened the Senate for the first of four microsessions to be held during the holiday break, precisely to thwart such an end run….

No legislation can pass at pro forma sessions, but they allow the Senate to fulfill its constitutional requirement that, when not in recess, it meet on the day following three consecutive days off. Tuesday’s session was such a rush job that the traditional opening prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance were dispensed with. [Virginia Senator Jim Webb] was the only senator in the chamber, and even the otherwise ever-present teenage pages were absent, having been sent home for Thanksgiving.

Jim Webb has flashbacks to his 11th birthday party, when he sat all alone at the skating rink because none of the guests showed up.
Also, note the omission of the prayer and the Pledge. Godless Democrats!
Democrats Move to Block Bush Appointments [New York Times]

Hillary Clinton Rocks My World Above the Law blog.jpgIf a blog post is published on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, does anyone read it?
* Apparently the movie “Redacted” has nothing to do with document production. [Likelihood of Success]
* And you thought $1,000 an hour was expensive. Try hiring John Ashcroft’s consulting firm. [Newark Star-Ledger]
* We believe that Hillary’s experience as First Lady, during which she traveled the world and met with numerous world leaders, would help her conduct foreign policy as president. But Glenn Reynolds’s quip did make us chuckle. [Instapundit]
* Interesting professorial perspectives on the D.C. gun control case and its implications for the 2008 elections. [Balkinization; Althouse]
P.S. We are delighted to have one of our quotes featured in the banner at the top of Althouse. Thanks, Professor Althouse!

Merry Christmas Grinch Above the Law blog.jpgThe woes of structured finance lawyers in the wake of the credit crunch have been extensively chronicled in these pages. Now they’ve migrated over to the MSM. One of our favorite young reporters, Lindsay Fortado of Bloomberg News, has this detailed report:

New York law firms are cutting associates for the first time since 2001 as the collapse of the subprime mortgage and credit markets causes private equity deal volume and structured finance work to slow.

Clifford Chance, the world’s highest-grossing law firm, dismissed six senior associates who worked on mortgage-backed securities in its structured finance practice on Nov. 5. At least two other firms asked associates, or salaried lawyers, to take sabbaticals or switch departments, a move that often precedes job cuts. Partners, about one-fourth of the attorneys at the biggest firms, may also face some belt tightening.

The subprime collapse and its effect on the credit market and the volume of deals have brought a slowdown in work, probably leading to job cuts. While structured finance practices have been hit the hardest, mergers and acquisitions and private equity practices also face a slowdown, legal consultants said.

Troubling. If the problem remains confined to structured finance, that’s one thing; but if it spreads to M&A, that’s another thing entirely. Since M&A work is such a big driver of firm profitability, troubles in the merger market could scuttle any chance of “NY to 190″ in the foreseeable future.
More excerpts from Fortado’s extremely interesting (and long) article, plus additional discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Will Lumps of Coal (and Pink Slips) Fill Lawyer Stockings This Year?”

New York Observer logo small Above the Law blog.jpgIt’s very quiet around here today. We’re guessing everyone is getting ready for Turkey Day and leaving early (or trying to get actual work done before leaving early, and therefore not visiting ATL).
But if you are looking for a way to kill time before your office closes for Thanksgiving, here’s some procrastination material for you: our latest column for the New York Observer. It’s about — surprise surprise — associate bonuses, and associate layoffs. The content of the column shouldn’t come as news to regular readers of ATL, but it does offer an overview of where we are now, as well as some thoughts about the future.
Also, while we’re in self-promotional mode (when aren’t we?), we were just interviewed by Rob La Gatta of LexBlog. You can check out the interview — in which we discuss future plans for ATL, unruly commenters, and the legal profession’s uneasy relationship with the blogosphere — by clicking here.
May It Please the Court? Massive Law-Firm Bonuses, Not So Much [New York Observer]
LexBlog Q & A: David Lat, Editor-in-Chief of Above The Law [LexBlog]

Binghamton University Law School Above the Law blog.jpgConsidering the grim job prospects for graduates of non-top-tier law schools, maybe we should be shuttering law schools rather than opening them.
But the trend may be going in the opposite direction. From the National Law Journal:

State University at Binghamton in New York is in the early stages of planning to open a law school, which would be the third public law school in the state.

Binghamton University President Lois DeFleur said that she has been in ongoing talks with State University of New York (SUNY) officials and with the American Bar Association about the school. The proposal would need the approval of state’s education department and the governor.

The other publicly supported law schools in New York are the University of Buffalo, part of the SUNY system, and the City University of New York School of Law at Queens College.

Okay, maybe this wouldn’t be such a horrible idea. First, Binghamton is a well-respected university, so presumably its law school would be strong as well. Second, it would be a public school, with more affordable tuition. So even if its graduates have trouble finding jobs, at least they won’t be six figures in debt.
From a tipster:

There is really no great option for affordable legal education in New York (Buffalo?) and very few options at all outside of NYC (i.e., Cornell). Another thing to consider is that the closest schools to Binghamton (besides Cornell) are Albany and Syracuse, both of which are private schools. So, presumably there would be a market for this school.

Thoughts? To any Binghamton undergrad alums: Would you like your alma mater to launch a law school?
SUNY Binghamton makes a bid to create law school [National Law Journal]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re sorry we don’t have more associate bonus news to report. Unfortunately, we have to wait for it to happen; we can’t just make it up.
So while we wait for more announcements — it’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so we’re hoping for some announcements in the afternoon — let’s talk about a related subject: staff bonuses.
In its bonus memo from earlier this month, Willkie Farr & Gallagher announced that it would be paying a special bonus to its administrative staff as well as its associates. And it turns out that Willkie is not alone. We’re hearing that Weil, Gotshal & Manges is paying its support staff a special bonus as well.
The Weil special bonus equals one week’s base salary. It will go to all support staff: “secretaries, paralegals, litigation support — the whole nine yards.”
The amount is not life-changing; at a week’s salary, the bonus equals about 2 percent of base. But it’s still a nice move, and something else for Weil paralegals to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
What other firms besides Willkie and Weil are paying special bonuses to staff? Feel free to discuss in the comments.

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re sorry we don’t have more associate bonus news to report. Unfortunately, we have to wait for it to happen; we can’t just make it up.
So while we wait for more announcements — it’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so we’re hoping for some announcements in the afternoon — let’s talk about a related subject: staff bonuses.
In its bonus memo from earlier this month, Willkie Farr & Gallagher announced that it would be paying a special bonus to its administrative staff as well as its associates. And it turns out that Willkie is not alone. We’re hearing that Weil, Gotshal & Manges is paying its support staff a special bonus as well.
The Weil special bonus equals one week’s base salary. It will go to all support staff: “secretaries, paralegals, litigation support — the whole nine yards.”
The amount is not life-changing; at a week’s salary, the bonus equals about 2 percent of base. But it’s still a nice move, and something else for Weil paralegals to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
What other firms besides Willkie and Weil are paying special bonuses to staff? Feel free to discuss in the comments.

* Former Press Secretary McClellan blames Bush, Cheney, Libby, and Rove in CIA-Plame leak case. [CNN]
* Polygamist Jeffs sentenced to 10 years. [MSNBC]
* Rich people rank their lawyers. [ABA Journal]
* Trainer really, really won’t testify against Bonds in BALCO case. [MSNBC]
* Dayton firm to acquire one of those leather chairs. [The Onion]

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