Money, Skaddenfreude

Did Harvard Law School Take Your Bonus?

debt relief pill.JPGAs many people have pointed out, being angry over “only” a $20,000 bonus is something that most of the working world finds appalling. We get it: “spoiled whiners,” “real people are losing their jobs,” “nobody should complain about a six-figure salary,” yada, yada, yada.

But other people have pointed out that most of the working world doesn’t have $150,000 plus in educational debt to pay off before Biglaw lets you out of white-collar indentured servitude. Most associates don’t blow their bonuses on hookers and coke. (Fools!) Sadly, paying off debt is the final destination for most of the bonus cash.

So, in a way, law schools always take your bonus — at least a significant chunk of it. But maybe this year those schools got an additional tap into your bonus cash. Last week Harvard Law school released its 2007-2008 Report of Gifts. According to a tipster (I didn’t receive the report personally because I try to stay off the HLS grid; it has a lot to do with my hooker/coke/debt decisions), Half-Skadden and Skadden-Mart donated quite a lot to HLS. The report lists those two firms in the $1 million to $3 million range.

Putting some figures together, after the jump.

Yesterday, AmLaw calculated that DPW (Don’t Pay Workers, f/k/a Davis Polk & Wardwell) saved nearly $13 million by taking a bite out of associate bonuses (our tipster didn’t have the figures for DPW’s HLS contribution). If Half-Skadden and Skadden-Mart made similar contributions to a bunch of top law schools, you could see how those figures could have added up to a top-of-the-market bonus.

As for Skadden themselves? They were cost-conscious when it came to giving away money. Skadden donated in the $250,000 – $499,999 range, which wouldn’t buy a vine of ivy.

We approached HLS to get the full details on all law firms who gave to the institution. Usually, schools are more than proud to promote the companies that make hefty contributions to the University. But we received this surprisingly terse response from an HLS spokesperson:

[P]lease be advised that the Law School’s policy is to make the Report of Gifts available only to the donors whose gifts are reported in it. Even then, we don’t distribute the document electronically.

I understand also that you are asking whether someone here might comment on law firm support of the school’s capital campaign. It is the Law School’s general practice to decline requests for comment or information about donors.

Put another way: “I drink your milkshake! I drink it up.”

Maybe it’s not cool to give money to law schools when you’re no longer able to pay associates at the top of the market?

Still, there must be other gift giving reports floating around out there. Let us know what other law schools are benefiting from law firm largesse at

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Davis Polk & Wardwell Joins Cravath/Simpson in Race to the Bottom

Associate Bonus Watch: Cravath Offers Less Than Skadden

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