October 2014

DLA Piper logo.jpgThere has been a lot of talk about DLA Piper’s new merit based compensation structure, and a lot of that talk has not been pleasant. Associates are pretty bummed that they’ll be starting at $145,000 with 15% of that salary deferred until the end of the year if they hit their performance marks. We noted those concerns earlier this month.
But there is a memo going around the offices of DLA Piper. It appears to be unsigned, but tipsters report that the memo is something that DLA management put together. It offers a very different viewpoint on the new DLA structure.
Whoever made the memo, it’s a full-throated defense of the firm’s decisions. Let’s take a look after the jump.

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Obama Santa.jpg* It’s beginning to look a lot like … what? We’re still working? The whole team? Oh all right. [ABC News]
* Gatesgate 2: The Prequel. [Courthouse News Service]
* Yes, to your friend, Forbes Magazine, you will listen about the wisdom of applying to law school. [Forbes]
* An exodus from Dickstein Shapiro to Kasowitz. [Am Law Daily]
* Mexico City has legalized same sex marriage. Kind of makes America look like a theocracy. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Microsoft is probably having its worst Christmas ever. [Bloomberg]

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGYesterday was a big news day over at Quinn Emanuel. In the morning, the firm announced its new partners; in the afternoon, the firm announced its associate bonuses.
Let’s start with the bonuses. Here are the criteria, from the firm-wide email sent by Richard Schirtzer (described in his bio as “one of the most successful big-case lawyers in California”):

Associates who have been with us since mid-August 2009, or before, and who either billed or were on target to bill at least 2000 hours for the year will receive a bonus. In calculating hours, full credit was given to time spent on collection and E & O matters, and up to 100 hours of credit was given for time spent on pro bono and/or AAIT matters.

For associates who started between January and mid-August, your hours were annualized and you will receive a pro-rated bonus based on the hours milestone you would have reached had you worked at that pace for a full year. The schedule we used to calculate bonuses is set forth below.

The bonus schedule — plus the Quinn Emanuel new partner announcement, and analysis thereof — after the jump.

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(Plus an analysis of their new partners.)


Ben Nelson annoying jerk face.JPG* What’s the difference between Senator Ben Nelson and a terrorist? The terrorist has principles. [Commentary]
* At some point, Obama is really going to have to stop being such an a$$**** when it comes to gay rights. [Crime & Federalism]
* The Fighting Sioux lawsuit got tossed. [Indian Country Today]
* UC Hastings has a new law dean. [Tax Prof Blog]
* Meanwhile, a 50% tuition scholarship for all three years at UC Irvine should keep well credentialed 1Ls flowing into the institution. [WSJ Law Blog]
* How much of your vacation time did you take in 2009? Don’t lie because you want to look hardcore. [Corporette]
*

Rudy Giuliani young.JPGThe public career of Rudolph Giuliani is likely at an end. The New York Times reports that Giuliani will not be running for the U.S. Senate:

Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has decided not to run for the Senate seat held by Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Republicans briefed on his decision said Monday evening. …
Mr. Giuliani, whose decision to forgo a race for governor was reported a month ago, plans to endorse Rick Lazio for governor of New York on Tuesday afternoon at a news conference in Manhattan, the Republicans said. Mr. Giuliani’s intentions were reported by The Daily News on its Web site Monday evening.

But don’t cry for the former mayor. Giuliani leaves public service for a lucrative life he’s made for himself.

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As Quinn Emanuel folks are well aware (“CHECK YOU EMAILS”), there are many employees out there who are expected to be chained to their work at all times. The BlackBerry goes to bed with you, and not just because of its vibrate function. Sometimes the bedroom talk makes its way onto the BlackBerry.
Such was the case for Jeff Quon, a SWAT officer in California. He was fired after his lieutenant read hundreds of steamy text messages sent from Quon’s work pager. Quon sued the police department, arguing that the search of his texts was a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.
Funny, we didn’t know SWAT officers even knew that there was a Fourth Amendment.
Now SCOTUS will be weighing in on privacy rights for personal communications on work-issued devices. Emily Bazelon sketches out the case’s path to One First Street over at Slate:

In June 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with [Quon]. He had a reasonable expectation of privacy, the court said, given what his supervisor told him about paying for extra messages — the department’s “operational reality.” The court also found that there were other, less intrusive ways for the police chief to figure out whether Quon was frittering away his time: Warning him ahead of time to quit sending so many messages, asking him to count the characters himself, or asking him to cross out the personal parts before the department reviewed them.

This ruling, by Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw for a panel of three judges, implicitly recognizes that company pagers and e-mail accounts often turn into personal ones.

Should Quon be protected against the eyes of the boss, and in this case the law, reading the responses to “What R U wearing?”

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Hogan Hartson logo.jpgMuch of the recent talk about Hogan & Hartson has focused on their merger with Lovells. While transatlantic mergers thrill the imagination, back on the ground in the States, people are still concerned about their paychecks.
Hogan has long had a two-track salary system. The higher track paid market salary with the expectation that associates bill 1950 hours. The lower track paid less and had an 1800-hour billable expectation. Associates traditionally got to choose which track they wanted.
But Hogan turned its system on its head last spring. In April, Hogan placed associates in the lower salary track if they weren’t on target with their hours through the first quarter. The firm promised to pay the money back at the end of the year if associates did hit 1950 hours.
Well, here we are at the end of the year, and Hogan & Hartson is making restitution. And it’s paying a bonus. And it’s unfreezing salaries (although it’s not giving its people a “true-up” to where they would have been without last year’s salary freeze).
The Hogan salary structure for its two tracks, plus discussion, after the jump.

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2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGLast year, associate bonuses at Wachtell Lipton dipped below 100 percent of base salary, for the first time since 2005. This year, they continued their downward slide.

But given the problems plaguing both the broader economy and the legal profession, bonuses didn’t go down by as much as many WLRK associates expected. The general reaction at 51 West 52nd Street was one of pleasant surprise: “Less than last year, but better than expected,” according to one source. The bonuses were announced last week, around the time of the Wachtell holiday party.

So how much are your friends and classmates at Wachtell taking home this year? Find out, after the jump.

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pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgAs firms start to unfreeze salaries, all in different ways, we at Above the Law have started to notice a lot of confusion about what these unfrozen salary structures look like. We’ve been seeing a lot of comments and emails like this one:

wtf is a true up vs. a thaw…dude…not everyone reads this blog 24/7…these are critical details that you are leaving up to assumption that the reader knows wtf nerd language you are talking about…

Good point.
To help clarify things, we have put together a little chart. To make things easier, we have looked at the salary of a fictitious soon-to-be third year from the incoming class of 2007. It seems appropriate to look at this class of people; since they are about to enter their third full year of work, they’ve experienced the recession in all of its glorious forms. And looking at one class’ salary over the years is less confusing than looking at everybody’s salary at every level.
To refresh your memory, here’s what our class of 2007 associate has been paid at a top tier firm that didn’t freeze, year-by-year. A person working at Davis Polk, for instance:
FIRM THAT NEVER FROZE
’07 (stub-first year) = $160K
’08 (full first year) = $160K
’09 (second year) = $170K
’10 (third year) = $185K
But not everybody can work at Davis Polk (or someplace similar). How the other half lives after the jump.

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Career Center AboveTheLaw Lateral Link ATL.jpgWe received over 1,000 responses to last week’s Career Center survey on whether your vacation plans have been affected by the economic downturn.  The results reveal that almost 70% of associates are still taking vacation time, regardless of whether they have met their billable hours or not.  Less than 10% of respondents say that they are not taking vacation because they worry it might look bad.  However, almost a quarter of respondents report that they are actually too busy to use their full vacation time this year.
Check out the full survey results after the jump — and visit the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link — for more on which firm has deferred start dates again, which firm recently announced a mega-merger with a London-based firm, and which firm reportedly awarded 2009 bonuses of up to $90,000.
Full survey results, after the jump.

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