October 2014

scalpel_in_hand.jpgA Kentucky man is suing his doctor, his anesthesiologist, and their medical practice after the worst operation ever. From WLKY:

According to the lawsuit, Philip Seaton, 61, went to have a circumcision last October as part of treatment for a medical condition. Seaton said when he woke up from the procedure, he realized his penis had been amputated.

Seaton has suffered mental anguish, pain, and has lost the enjoyment of life, according to the lawsuit.

The doctor says he amputated after he found cancer. But that’s definitely a call you want to run by the patient first. It’s not like you’re just removing a random mole.

An AP article suggests that Seaton will see big money. An Indianapolis man who suffered a similar fate was awarded $2.3 million in 1997. Certainly a hefty sum, but there are some things money can’t buy. Like enjoyment of life. Or a new penis.

Man Sues Doctors After Penis Amputated [WLKY]

Man claims penis amputated without consent [Associated Press]

recession california associate pay raises.jpgIt is still way too early to get hard numbers on what Biglaw bonuses will look like for 2008. But because of the economic downturn, we expect it will be a rocky bonus season.

As readers of The Shock Doctrine will note, it is important to be aware of fundamental changes to the way bonuses are paid out. You don’t want something to slip in under the guise of a (massive) market correction.

Yesterday, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati announced that 50% of their bonuses would be paid out based on performance evaluations. According to the firm, the change was made in response to associates’ concerns:

To: All Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Associates, Of Counsel, Special Counsel, and Staff Attorneys
From: John Roos
Date: September 25, 2008
Re: FY09 Associate Bonus Program

As always, the firm is committed to providing a competitive compensation package to our associates. We also are committed to listening to feedback from our associates and making adjustments to our approach to compensation as appropriate. Recently, the firm’s associates have voiced concerns about the bonus program’s heavy emphasis on billable hours. In response to those concerns and after a long and careful review of the associate bonus program, we’re pleased to announce a new component to the bonus program focused on qualitative performance factors.

[Redacted] will be sending out a memo shortly with more details on the changes, but I’d like to give you a brief rundown on the changes, as well as the process that led to them. In essence, the total bonus opportunity will consist of three independent components:

— a basic level of bonus paid at 1,900 hours;

— an adder paid at 2,100 hours; and

— a variable bonus based on work quality and overall contribution to the firm.

You’ll note that the new bonus program allows us to continue to reward high-billing associates for their hard work–a factor that many associates pressed us to maintain–but it also allows us to reward those who are exceptional performers in other ways.

More from the memo, including explanation of the qualitative bonus component, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Wilson Sonsini To Adopt Performance-Based Bonuses”

apprentice apprenticeship lawyer baker.jpgClients want associates to remember who pays their salary. As we have previously reported, the authors of What About Clients are trying to start a “Value Movement” which, among other things, asks whether associates should pay their firm for the privilege of working.

Unfortunately, this idea just won’t die. And Holden Oliver thinks that the market meltdown is a perfect opportunity to reexamine the structure of the business of law:

Hopefully, there’s this silver lining in the Down Economy: a renewal of the notion that workplaces exist to serve and give value to Customers and Clients, and the companies organized to help them. Not to serve and cater to Employees. As we see it — and most states have traditionally seen it–it’s a privilege to work. Not a right. And it’s a special honor to learn and practice the law.

More people jump on the bandwagon, below the fold.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clients Want Associates To Get To Work”

Back to the Future 2 DeLorean time machine.jpgWelcome to BACK TO THE FUTURE. In this occasional ATL feature, we’ll step into a time machine and take a look at what the legal profession looked like at some point in the past.

In a post about staff layoffs at Fried Frank, a commenter drew our attention to this fascinating 1990 article from the New York Times. It seems that the commenter was trying to challenge the recent claim by firm chair Valerie Ford Jacob that the firm has never laid off attorneys. The NYT piece — by David Margolick, former national legal correspondent for the Times, now at Portfolio (and also one of Kash’s journalism professors at NYU) — mentions Fried Frank as a firm that may have engaged in “stealth layoffs.”

Margolick’s article doesn’t use the term “stealth layoffs,” but the phenomenon it describes is essentially identical to what we’ve been reporting in the pages of ATL lately. The article begins:

They were the legal profession’s gilded generation, an army of lawyers without limits. As law students, they were wined and dined and wooed by the most prestigious law firms in New York. Once hired, they began settling into a frantic but fantastically lucrative life. It was a life of glamour, prestige and, they assumed, stability.

Now, only a few years later, dozens of these lawyers have had a crash course in the realities of modern Wall Street practice. For the first time in their lives – lives of success atop success – they find themselves in an unusual position. They have been fired.

As the sour corporate climate reaches large law firms in New York and to a lesser degree cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, a bubble has burst. With business down, particularly in corporate work, real estate, and mergers and acquisitions, several of the most famous law firms have dismissed substantial numbers of lawyers, particularly those in the early years of their careers.

This article could have been written yesterday. But it was actually written over 18 years ago; the dateline is August 12, 1990. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

More excerpts and discussion — including a brief comment from Margolick, plus information about what junior associates earned back in 1990 — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Back to the Future: Stealth Layoffs in 1990″

flipphone.jpg* The bailout is not on. Talks imploded at 10:30 p.m. last night. Congress is back at it today. [New York Times]

* Two-time ATL Lawyer of the Day Jack Thompson, the crazy controversial video game crusader, has been permanently disbarred. [Crave / CNET News]

* Words to live by: Don’t make sex videos. And don’t store said sex videos on your cell phone. [Courthouse News Service]

* A whistleblower suit against Medtronic for perks paid to doctors was filed by the company’s own lawyer. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

* The young Indiana Jones has a crushed hand, but no misdemeanor. No DUI charges for Shia LaBeouf after all. [People]

Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGAt a firm-wide meeting held at 1 p.m. Pacific time, Heller associates were informed that there would be an “orderly dissolution” of the firm, starting on Monday.

Associates have been given 60 days’ notice, with pay.

But it’s not a severance payment. Associates are expected to show up and participate in the “orderly dissolution.” As one tipster puts it:

[O]ver the next 60 days the focus will be collections, finding employment for associates and shareholders, ethically transitioning client matters from Heller to other firms when associates and shareholders take their clients with them, and general administrative clean-up. There will be a small core staff that remains after the 60 days in order to deal with finance matters, etc.

Another Heller insider tells us:

Everything is contingent on the vote tomorrow which needs 2/3 of the Shareholders to approve dissolution. And banks control all cash.

Individual meetings are still taking place. We’ll bring you updates as we have them.

We hope that everybody lands on their feet.

Update (7:45 PM): More Heller information appears here. It looks like getting paid for accrued vacation time will be the next battleground.

man begs for sex.JPG* If you lie to get sex — and succeed — is that rape? [Volokh Conspiracy]

* What are the best case names ever? [Supreme Dicta]

* I’m still waiting for somebody to give me one good reason for the third year of law school. Anyone? All of my loan repayment checks say, “For 1L year only.” (Yes. The vast majority of them bounce). [The Shark]

* What to watch for during today’s associate video conference at Heller Ehrman. [Heller Highwater]

citi field skadden.JPGYou’d think Skadden attorneys would have better things to bill Citigroup for than running around after small-time advertisers. But, then again, there are an awful lot of Skadden attorneys.

Citi-Mobile is an advertising company that utilizes trucks as mobile billboards. Citigroup is a large commercial bank that is trying to ride out the current economic downturn. Skadden wants you to know the difference:

The much bigger Citi, which Skadden rather optimistically describes in court docs as “one of the largest and most renowned” banks in the world, is a little bit concerned that the public will think the financial giant decided to buy a bunch of trucks, paint them crazy colors, and make money by marketing roast beef subs and cameras to innocent pedestrians. So they’re asking a court to prohibit Citi-Mobile (and its parent company Citi-Advertising) from using the hallowed “Citi” name.

For those playing along at home, that means Citi wants no part of a mildly annoying advertising campaign, yet they are willing to pay $20M/year for 20 years to lord their name over the New York Mets? How long before Skadden sues Mets owner Fred Wilpon for non-performance based on the theory that Citi contracted to name a “baseball field,” instead of a cute park where little boys go to choke themselves to death?

Or maybe they’ll just sue City Wok?

Read the full complaint here.

Citi’s Lawyers Never Sleep [Citylife]

recession california associate pay raises.jpgNo real legal angle here since Paulson, Dodd & Co. stopped talking to the lawyers long ago.

But in case you haven’t heard, the $700 billion bailout is going to happen.

Boy, aren’t you glad you elected a Democratic Congress that could stand up to Bush when he goes on television, terrifies millions of Americans, and then intimidates the opposition party into giving him a blank check?

Feel free to defend/slam the bailout in the comments.

Lawmakers Agree on Outline of Bailout [New York Times]

Hughes Hubbard Reed LLP HHR logo.jpgWe mentioned that litigation boutiques would likely be big winners from the market collapse. Some small firms are already cashing in. The bankruptcy boutique of Luskin, Stern & Eisler has merged with Hughes Hubbard & Reed.

There was enough room on the Hughes Hubbard bandwagon for everybody at Luskin. All eight lawyers will be joining Hughes Hubbard’s bankruptcy practice, with name partner Richard Stern becoming the co-chair of the group.

The merger makes perfect sense if Hughes Hubbard is trying to position itself to capitalize on creditor actions coming out of the Wall Street meltdown. Of course, that is not what Hughes Hubbard says they are doing:

Hughes Hubbard says it is merely a coincidence that the deal was finalized after a week of heavy financial turmoil.

“We had wanted to do this for a while,” James Modlin, co-chair of the firm’s lateral hiring committee, tells The Am Law Daily. “Starting last summer, we realized the time was right to bolster our bankruptcy practice. Bankruptcy goes in cycles, and we were thinking this might be a boom time.”

Maybe Hughes Hubbard does own the world’s best Magic 8 Ball. However they planned this acquisition, they got the execution exactly right.

Hughes Hubbard Makes Timely Acquisition of Bankruptcy Boutique [Law.com]

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