October 2014

The world we live in.JPG* “Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization.” Just take a look at Cravath’s bonus memo from last year and read the happy comments. [Above The Law]

* A Houston based law firm is getting Miley Cyrus to perform at their holiday party. Yes, “harvest” should be even better next year. [Legal Blog Watch]

* A lawyer found a job! Sure, it was Paul Clement, and the job was at King & Spalding. But hey, a job’s a job. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Janet Jackson. Boob. Court. Holy crap did you guys see that Skadden is paying double bonuses compared to Cravath? [SCOTUSblog]

animated siren gif animated siren gif animated siren gif drudge report.GIFIf you work at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, prepare to be very, very angry. From the bonus memo just issued by presiding partner Evan Chesler:

Both 2006 and 2007 were extraordinary years for our Firm. In 2006 we paid large year-end bonuses to our associates, and in 2007 we further supplemented those bonuses. As a result of the deterioration of the business environment, the Firm’s financial performance in 2008 will not be in line with those earlier years. While the Firm believes that we should pay year-end bonuses this year, in light of the current business climate we do not think it is appropriate to pay the full bonuses that were paid in 2006 and 2007 or the additional supplemental bonuses paid in 2007.

Just yesterday, Skadden announced that they would match the 2006/2007 bonuses less the “special” bonus paid in 2007. For Cravath to come in under that number is pretty surprising. The official Cravath bonus structure for 2008 is as follows:

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgClass of 2008 — $17,500 (pro-rated)

Class of 2007 — $17,500
Class of 2006 — $20,000
Class of 2005 — $22,500
Class of 2004 — $25,000
Class of 2003 — $27,500
Class of 2002 — $30,000
Class of 2001 — $30,000

Suddenly, the question is no longer “Is Skadden the ceiling?” Instead, we must ponder “Is Cravath the floor?”

Done being angry? Okay. Now prepared to get very, very frightened:

Given the uncertainty of the economy and the business climate going forward, we will not be able to address the issue of whether there will be any year-end bonuses in 2009 until this time next year. However, associates should be prepared for the likelihood that the economy and the Firm’s financial performance next year will not show a significant improvement over this year and they may receive significantly reduced or no year-end bonuses next year.

Update (6:22 PM): Of all the tips that have crashed ATL’s inbox in the last 45 minutes, this one best captures the raging rage people are feeling:

WTF does Cravath think it’s doing? They’re basically threatening no bonus for NEXT YEAR? They’re not being Nostradamus, they’re trying to force people out. Cravath associates will get that memo, collect their garbage 2008 [bonus] and lateral the hell out before they get screwed again.

Why not just conduct stealth layoffs? Forced attrition is the same thing. Go home, Cravath. You’re embarrassing yourself.

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Cravath Offers Less Than Skadden”

mayer brown logo.JPGHaving had the opportunity to tell all affected associates, Mayer Brown is ready to publicly confirm the extent of the firm-wide layoffs that took place today:

Despite the current conditions in the worldwide financial markets, Mayer Brown is having a strong year, with an increase in gross revenues. Most of our practice areas are performing well. We have benefited greatly from our practice area and geographic diversity, including our recent

merger with JSM in Asia. However, as is the case in all other comparable law firms, some of our practice areas have been adversely affected by the slowdown in economic activity.

Accordingly, we have asked 33 lawyers and some support and administrative staff in our US offices to leave the firm. This reduction does not include lawyers who were asked to leave this year through our performance review process.

Those affected by this decision are good lawyers who have made valuable contributions to the firm. We intend to give them access to outplacement services and other benefits and a substantial period of time to find another job.

How many lawyers have left during the performance review process? The firm declined to say.

The firm also declined to break down the layoffs by office, but we’ve learned that New York and Charlotte were the hardest hit.

Multiple tipsters have reported that the decision was driven by Chicago management, not the branch office partners.

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Mayer Brown Update”

squire snaders staff attorney offers.gifMore bad news today, this time from Squire Sanders.

Multiple sources reported massive layoffs at Squire Sanders yesterday. The firm has confirmed that 30 associates and paralegals were let go:

We have completed annual reviews of all of our associates and, as a result of that process and with regret have advised some of our associates that they should explore career opportunities elsewhere and we are giving them time to do so. About 30 associates and paralegals will be affected firmwide,including three associates in Phoenix. This is a higher number than usual leaving following performance reviews. Admittedly, current and projected business conditions influenced the timing of these decisions. Like all firms, we are forced to align our resource capabilities with project client service levels and make some hard personnel decisions. That may sound harsh to some and sound like a ‘lay off’ to others but we are working closely with all professionals affected and providing support and assistance.

The Phoenix news is significant. Markets like Phoenix (and Tampa, another Squire branch location) are hurting (because of the housing market) but have not yet felt the brunt of Biglaw layoffs.

We understand that the targets of the cuts were more expensive senior associates. We don’t have any word on what severance package Squire Sanders is offering.

From the firm’s statement, it looks like another case of “forced attrition.”

After the jump, we look into the recent past of Squire Sanders.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: 30 Out At Squire Sanders”

sandra day o'connor 2 justice o'connor.jpgIt has been a while since our last Eyes of the Law legal celebrity sighting, so here’s a fun one for your consideration. A D.C. tipster tells us:

We saw Sandra Day O’Connor in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s exhibit on Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams. She had on the same red sweater she can be seen wearing in photos dating from the late ’90’s hanging on the wall at Georgetown. I guess the retired justice pension package isn’t as generous as I thought. Or she just really likes that sweater.

SOC was accompanied by two women in their late 20’s or early 30’s… possibly granddaughters, possibly ex-clerks. We didn’t detect any particular resemblance — neither was wearing a red sweater that looked as though it might have been knitted or handed down from grandma.

Old people and museums: perfect together. Please pass the Bengay.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities [Smithsonian American Art Museum]

Brown Rudnick logo.JPGThe Boston-based law firm Brown Rudnick is the latest to sacrifice associates to the global economic crisis. Yesterday they parted ways with 20 attorneys, 3 paralegals, and 20 other staffers.

But the anticipation might have been worse than the hammer. Brown Rudnick told associates they were laying people off before anybody was actually laid off. This firm-wide email went out yesterday:

I regret to inform you that today we are having a layoff. Layoff notifications have begun this morning and will continue until approximately 4:00 PM ET today. This action will affect just under 10% of our attorneys, paralegals and staff….

Out of respect for those who are being laid off, we are unable to share more information with you at this time, but we will answer your questions when the notification process is complete. Please refrain from approaching members of the Management Committee, Managing Directors or Administrative Directors, prior to 4:00 PM ET, with questions about the layoff, as they, too, need to honor the privacy of our colleagues.

Everyone who is impacted by today’s action will be receiving severance and outplacement assistance. No other layoffs are planned after today.

The Firm remains strong. Today’s action is intended to better align our staffing with current work levels at the Firm and to position the Firm to be successful in this challenging economic environment.

… [W]e will be holding two meetings in the Boston Event Center later today with video connection to Hartford, New York, Providence and Washington. I encourage you to attend these group meetings. I will answer your questions at that time.

That’s a tough day. Waiting by your phone to learn if you still have a job.

After the jump, it was all over by 4:00 p.m.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Brown Rudnick Takes A Big Dig At Attorneys”

Nick Thompson Ultimate Fighter.jpgIn July, we wrote a post on How Not To Spend the Week Before the Bar Exam. A University of Minnesota law grad, Nick “The Goat” Thompson, had been featured in a Sports Illustrated article on an ultimate fighting EliteXC tournament broadcast on CBS. Thompson had lost his match, but had a good excuse: studying for the bar exam had likely cut into his training time. He took the Minnesota bar two days after the match.

We forgot about this article until last month, when his wife e-mailed us to share the good news that Thompson had passed the bar (as did 89% of test takers.)

We talked to Nick last weekend about what’s it like to be a professional mixed martial arts fighter, esquire. Find out how he’s combining ultimate fighting with a law degree, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Profile: Nick ‘Ultimate Fighting Lawyer’ Thompson”

financial crisis legal salaries.JPGWhen we last saw Bryan Cave, the firm was busy acquiring Powell Goldstein, and saying great things about their long-term future and financial health.

Having just added so many new attorneys, the message ATL received this morning was surprising.

Two pieces of news for Bryan Cave associates today: they’re deferring salary increases by three months and eliminating the associate shared fee program (where associates got bonuses for bringing in new clients)….

The spin on the deferrals is that they’re a better option than layoffs and less drastic than an all-out salary freeze.

Shortly after this first report, we received the full firm-wide email announcing the changes:

In light of the continuing volatility in the economy and the uncertainties in the marketplace as we move into 2009, we believe it is now prudent to implement the following actions with respect to our compensation programs:

* Deferral of Consideration of Increases for Counsel and Associates. Consideration of increases for counsel and associates will be deferred in all offices. For example, for those cities where increases were previously effective January 1, the date for 2009 will be April 1. Offices with different compensation consideration dates will

Occasionally, commenters in our layoffs posts suggest that they would be willing to give up some of their salary in exchange for keeping their jobs. So … here’s a chance to do just that, at least for a period of time.

But most Bryan Cave associates will be pissed. Because you know what would have been even more “less drastic” than an all-out salary freeze? Not acquiring the debts and liabilities of Powell Goldstein.

More tipster reaction and the full Bryan Cave memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bryan Cave Delays Associate Pay Raise By Three Months”

UT cheerleaders.JPGSeven members of the Morton Ranch High School cheerleader squad were indicted for hazing. This marks the first time minors have been charged under the 1995 Texas anti-hazing statute.

Their crime? Blindfolding junior cheerleaders and throwing them into a swimming pool.

That’s it:

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Diane De La Cruz, mother of Laura De La Cruz, 15, one of the junior varsity cheerleaders. “We are thankful that the grand jury came up with an indictment because we have known all along that the (varsity) girls were guilty of hazing.”

Diane De La Cruz and her husband had a premonition that high school girls might start acting like high school girls:

[De La Cruz] said her husband had an uneasy feeling when the older cheerleaders arrived about 4 a.m. on July 25 to take the couple’s daughter to the ritual breakfast.

“He said, ‘I hope this is not going to turn into an initiation,’ ” De La Cruz recounted. “We trusted them to just drive our girls to IHOP.”

An initiation? In Texas? By high school students? Who could have possibly seen that coming?

Hazing is serious business … to people with no friends who’ve never been a part of anything:

Chicago psychologist Jean Alberti termed hazing “child abuse by children.” …

“(Youths) think it’s funny, parents think it’s funny. They think it’s normal adolescent development, but this is an aberration. It didn’t happen 30 or 40 years ago. Now we have video on YouTube showing girls kicking other girls in the head.”

No we didn’t have YouTube 30 or 40 years ago, but I’m pretty sure that if we did “girls kicking other girls in the head” would have been “tame” for the times.

But after the jump, the law is on the anti-hazing side.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Grand Jury Overreaction Indictment of the Day: ‘Mean Girls’ Get No Love In Texas”

Kaye Scholer LLP logo Above the Law legal blog.jpgLast month, we reported that K&L Gates would stop paying bar association fees for their attorneys.

Now, we’ve learned that Kaye Scholer has decided to stop paying membership fees for the New York Intellectual Property Law Association:

As announced in October, each individual attorney now is responsible for maintaining his or her membership in NYIPLA. Both new membership and renewals for 2009 should be paid in full and received by NYIPLA no later than December 31, 2008.

I thought IP attorneys were a golden goose in this rapidly declining legal market? Why would you piss them off?

The annual membership dues are $200 for lawyers with more than five years experience, $130 for attorneys with less than five years under their belt.

Based on figures we’ve received, Kaye Scholer stands to save (wait for it …) $9,920.

Keeping your associates enrolled in an organization that helps them enhance their skills < $9K?


Well, at least the holiday party is still on.

Earlier: K&L Gates to Nickels and Dimes

Kaye Scholer to More Cowbell

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