October 2014

The #1-seed, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, hath fallen, along with all of the other top-seeded law firms, in an Elite Eight that was good for “underdog” lovers. Heading into the Final Four are Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton (#7), Davis Polk & Wardwell (#5), Latham & Watkins (#8), and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett (#6).
It’s anybody’s game. Here are the updated brackets:
Final Four copy.jpg
Time to vote down to the two “coolest” firms, defining “cool” however you please. Polls and information on the Elite Eight voting are available after the jump. Polls close Sunday at midnight!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March April Madness for Law Firms, Round 3: Upsets Galore Heading Into the Final Four”

Thacher Proffitt Wood LLP Above the Law blog.jpgThat’s what many of you have been wondering, in emails to us and in comments. We’ve investigated the situation at Thacher Proffitt & Wood, and we now bring you this detailed report.
We’ll start off with the big rumors:
1. Thacher Proffitt laid off additional associates earlier this week.
The firm’s response: “As always, we continue to talk to associates in the areas most affected by the market conditions.”
Sounds a tad Orwellian, and suggests that some additional reductions in the associate ranks did in fact take place (since it’s not an outright denial). But we don’t have any details, in terms of numbers of lawyers affected, departments, severance, etc. If you do, we’d love to hear from you.
2. TPW is delaying the start date for the incoming first year class until late October (which may need to be extended until January).
Partly true, partly not. From the firm: “The start date for incoming litigation associates remains the same. The start date for others has been moved to October 20th.”
3. The White Plains office is being closed.
The firm denies this outright: “The rumor related to our White Plains office is not true.”
Update (10/27/08): The White Plains office is now closed.
More detailed discussion about the situation at Thacher Proffitt — which sounds rather grave, according to the former, current, and future TPW lawyers we heard from — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Going On at Thacher Proffitt & Wood?”

Jay Spechler Judge Jay Spechler Jay Sprechler Above the Law blog.jpgThe fabulous Monica Goodling — if you’re on Facebook, join her fan club — isn’t the only person being accused of anti-lesbian bias these days. From the Daily Business Review (via JAABlog):

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Jay Spechler”

Marlboro Light Cigarettes small Judge Jack Weinstein Above the Law Blog.jpg* You’ve come a long way, baby — but you’re not getting past the Second Circuit. Appeals court tosses $800 billion class-action lawsuit over light cigarettes. [New York Times]
* The economy is in the toilet. Does that still count as news? [AP]
* West Virginia Supreme Court, after shedding some members via recusals, rules in favor of Massey Energy once again. [Charleston Gazette via WSJ Law Blog]
* En banc Ninth Circuit rules against Roommates.com, ruling that Section 230 immunity doesn’t protect the site from being sued for violating fair housing laws. [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* Speaking of bad news for bloggers, kinda sucks to be one in China. They’re not real big on free speech out there. [WSJ Law Blog]

Dewey LeBoeuf LLP logo D&L DL Above the Law blog.jpgThe firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf — which, by the way, had a great 2007, with total firm revenue over $1 billion, and profits per partner of $1.57 million — just announced its new bonus policy. You can check out the full memo after the jump.
The new policy reconciles differences between the pre-merger firms. “Legacy Dewey” essentially gave billable-hours credit for all pro bono hours and firm-related activities (dubbed “Accountable Hours,” and including work on client alerts, business development, article research, summer associate recruiting events, etc.). “Legacy LeBoeuf” had a policy that was somewhat less generous, with limits on how much pro bono and firm-related work could be counted towards the hours cutoffs for bonuses.
One source views the new policy as a fair compromise (especially in light of a rumor that the firm was considering giving no credit for pro bono and firm activities). Also, since the firm is a bit slow right now, “if accountable hours didn’t count, we’d all be screwed for bonus.”
Speaking of D&L, we’re going to be writing about their closing of a few offices. If you have any info on that front, please feel free to email us.
Bonus policy memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey & LeBoeuf’s Post-Merger Bonus Policy”

campbell.jpg*Naomi Campbell in trouble with the law… again. Campbell being arrested is barely novel news, but it gives us an excuse to post her photo. [Breitbart via Drudge]
*Attorneys general react to financial crisis, telling failing businesses to be sure to shred personal documents on the way out. [Law.com]
*The president of the California State Bar wants to do away with billable hours. [California Bar Journal]
*Chicago recently got love from Ropes & Gray; now it’s getting some love from Proskauer Rose. [Chicago Tribune]
*This German law professor is heading to prison, but if he gets to keep his newly-renovated Hamburg mansion, maybe he doesn’t mind. [TaxProf Blog]
*We question the legality of this new version of street justice in New York. “You must first plead your case, by submitting a plea on Punch’s web site for why the prospective punchee deserves violence.” [Thrillist]

Mr_Easter_Bunny.jpgSome of you have wondered about the delay in choosing finalists for the ATL Caption Contest. We did not forget about it; we just wanted to save a little Easter for April, the proper month for the holiday. Easter in March is just plain wrong.
As a refresher, this is the photo of President Bush and his White House Counsel — Fred Fielding, former senior partner at Wiley Rein (fka Wiley Rein & Fielding), dressed up as the Easter Bunny — at the White House Easter Egg Roll last month. Without further ado, out of 200 comments, these are our ten finalists. [FN1]
A. “I left a firm with over $4 million in PPP to do THIS???” -Anonymous
B. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare discuss the legality of waterboarding the Dormouse. -Klerk
C. “Mr. President, I wanted to let you know that I put the last of those White House e-mails down the rabbit hole.” -Anonymous
D. Yeah, well, nobody wants to be the guy that told the POTUS there is no Easter Bunny and Cheney said that if I play along I’ll get a Supreme Court nomination. Hey, whatever happened with that Harriet woman? -Anonymous
E. I dressed up in this bunny suit and all I got was a feature on ATL. -Anonymous
F. After ignoring the rule of law for seven years, President Bush finally found a use for the White House Counsel. -Anonymous
G. “Someone please tell me that’s not a wombat behind me.” -Anonymous
H. I guess that answers the question of whether its better to get a JD or an MBA. -Anonymous
I. Fred (thinking): “That f-n headhunter promised me I would be supporting the President on matters of national importance. G-d D-MN it!” -Anonymous
J. George: Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
Bunny: Why do you wear that stupid man suit? -133t
We invite you to vote for the winner after the jump. Poll closes at midnight tomorrow.
[FN1] There were many funny comments, but we exercised a bias in favor of those with a legal connection.
Earlier: ATL Caption Contest: Mr. Easter Bunny, White House Counsel Fred Fielding
The rabbit behind the man: White House counsel Fred Fielding [Washington Post]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Caption Contest Finalists: Mr. Easter Bunny and POTUS”

Sonnenschein Nath Rosenthal Above the Law blog.jpgOver at Greedy South, various rumors are circulating about Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. One poster claimed that the firm rescinded offers of summer employment to several incoming summer associates in the Charlotte office. Later on in the thread, others chimed in to claim that the firm is rescinding offers to full-time associates who were set to arrive in the fall (possibly beyond Charlotte as well).
An ATL tipster wrote us:

I know things are really, really, slow at most firms in Charlotte (as has been noted by the firings at Cadwalader and Dechert), but is there any way that you could find out whether this is actually true? It seems like the elephant in the room is everyone’s hope that securitization will magically pick up again, but everyone seems to forget that it’s difficult for a market segment to “rebound” that wasn’t even in existence 10 years ago.

Is this a sign of Sonnenschein closing its Charlotte office (after only 1 year)? Have you heard anything about other offices having the same types of problems? Just trying to find out what’s going on.

We reached out to the firm for comment earlier this week but they never got back to us. If you have any info to share, please email us. Thanks.
Sonnenschein Firings? [Greedy South / Infirmation]

Over the past few months, we’ve devoted several of our ATL / Lateral Link survey posts to compensation issues like base salaries, bonus amounts, and clerkship bonuses. But we’ve received quite a few requests to do another survey or open thread on another compensation issue: starting bonuses and stipends.
Associates at four New York firms (anonymized) have recently e-mailed the same general question:

Next year top law firms in New York, as well as those around the country (Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.), will pay their incoming associates $160,000 plus a $10,000 STARTING BONUS. [My v5 firm], on the other hand, will pay incoming associates $160,000 with a $10,000 SALARY ADVANCE. Simply put, I will be going on a bar trip this summer with money I loaned myself from my first year salary! I find this very strange considering that [my firm] considers itself to be the cream of the crop in New York in terms of pay.

i’m wondering if you can post a thread on firms giving incoming associates stipends for the summer. i’m at a v5 nyc firm and just learned that they don’t offer a summer stipend but do allow an advance (up to 12k, i believe). some friends i know at peer firms mentioned that they’ll be receiving stipends (10k from what i hear) as opposed to advances. any assistance in shedding some light on this would be greatly appreciated. thanks.

I read your blog and I have a suggestion for a thread – the types of loan/stipend firms give to cover studying for the bar. I’ve heard that some firms give out-right cash bonuses, whereas others (including my Vault Top 5 firm) give a no-interest loan that you must then repay over your first year. Since these amounts are usually around $10,000, it can make a not insignificant difference in first year compensation.

Thought you might want to run a story on advances/stipends offered by law firms for incoming associates. I’m an incoming associate at [big prestigious firm], and was frustrated when I heard that most other top law firms pay a stipend of $10,000 to their associates for the summer of the bar, while [big prestigious firm] is offering only a “$3,000 signing bonus” and a 7k loan, which will be deducted from our first 6 months of salary.
I know several other incoming associates who are surprised to see [big prestigious firm] below market, but are afraid to communicate this to the firm.

About a year ago, when ATL previously posted an open thread on the subject, commenters suggested that firms in New York were more likely than non-NY firms to pay stub bonuses (first year bonuses pro-rated for the number of months worked), which made up for the lack of a signing bonus. But is that true today?
Today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey will probe your firm’s policy on signing bonuses and salary advances. Feel free to speak up in the comments, too. Or send us information by email. If we get enough responses, we’ll put together a table like the clerkship, maternity, and paternity leave tables (each of which will be updated this weekend, by the way, so feel free to send tips about those as well).
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

Servaas.jpgMichigan brings us today’s Judge of the Day, and there’s a shout-out to the University of Michigan… sort of. Rockford District Judge Steven Servaas never grew out of the middle school humor stage. Apparently, he likes to doodle on court documents and make jokes about chest size:

The State Judicial Tenure Commission is trying to force Servaas off the bench with claims he made inappropriate remarks to female court employees, drew inappropriate cartoons featuring male and female body parts on court documents, and lived outside of the area his Rockford court covers.
One of the allegations involves a remark Servaas admits making to a female court worker, Rebecca Andrus.
It involved a University of Michigan sweatshirt she wore during a November 2007 retirement party at the court’s Grand Rapids Township Division and her chest size.
“I said Beck, if you are going to wear a sweatshirt like that, you need bigger chest or a smaller school, like Albion, or, I mean Alma,” said Servaas.
“Do you think it’s acceptable to make jokes of a sexual nature with employees and staffers?” he was asked by Paul Fisher, the attorney for the Tenure Commission.
“It wasn’t sexual,” Servaas replied. “It was a party and yeah, I go to a party to make jokes and hear jokes.”

We go to parties to hear and make jokes too, but that’s a bad one! We bet no one at the party, or in the court, laughed.
He’s also in trouble for living outside of his district, showing his jock strap to female co-workers at a Christmas party, and drawing what looked like a penis on court files. He denies the doodling and says no one saw him draw it. Hmmm….. We love that this story comes to us from Wood TV.
Embattled judge takes the stand [WOODTV]

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