* Obama will propose a government spending freeze in tomorrow night’s State of the Union address. [Washington Post]
* The Justice Department gives the green light to the Ticketmaster / Live Nation merger (subject to conditions). [Main Justice]
* This Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case sounds like it might make a good movie. [WSJ Law Blog]
* A closer look at the disastrous Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village real estate deal, which just ended with Tishman Speyer handing over the keys to the complex (plus a defense of Tishman Speyer from Fried Frank’s Jonathan Mechanic). [Am Law Daily; New York Times]
* Judge Jack Weinstein (E.D.N.Y.) rails against Wall Street’s “culture of corruption.” [New York Law Journal]
* Is Justice Stevens singing his swan song? Adam Liptak wonders. [New York Times]
* Elie isn’t the only opponent of a new U. Mass law school. Former MA attorney general Thomas F. Reilly thinks it’s a bad idea too. [Boston Globe]
* University of Iowa College of Law gets a new dean. [University of Iowa]
* A successful defense of a Twitter defamation suit argues that almost half of tweets are just “pointless babble.” [National Law Journal]
* Obama will propose a government spending freeze in tomorrow night’s State of the Union address. [Washington Post]
Biglaw firms do pro bono work for all sorts of reasons: to “give back to the community,” to give associates varied legal experience, for reputational reasons, and for that warm, fuzzy feeling we all get helping those less fortunate.
Usually pro bono work makes for good press. But not always.
Pillsbury Winthrop got a good thrashing in the San Francisco Chronicle this weekend for its pro bono assistance to a man named Bob Kaufman.
Kaufman is a fan of “antique cars”… of the old and rusted variety. According to court documents, Kaufman “is addicted to acquiring vehicles. Over the last two years, he has had an average of seven cars parked on San Francisco streets at any one time.”
Kaufman violated a San Francisco parking law requiring that cars be moved every 72 hours. Two of his clunkers were confiscated. He decided to sue the city of San Francisco and the police department for taking his babies away. He met a Pillsbury attorney at a legal clinic and the firm took pity on him. From the Chronicle:
But now Kaufman has something else — Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw, a high-powered international law firm. Although the Pillsbury Web site says the local office focuses on banking, technology and real estate, currently it is helping Kaufman get two junker cars back from a tow yard.
So far, the city is out $71,320 fighting what the city attorney’s office insists is a frivolous lawsuit.
We expect the hippies in California to hate on Biglaw, but not for their pro bono efforts…
* The dog-haters and other associated meanies out there will think this link belongs in the doghouse. But if you have ever seriously thought about the legal rights of dogs and social and political implications of having a pet, you simply must read this article. [New York Magazine]
* This gives entirely new meaning to the term “scum-sucking lawyer.” [Buffalo News]
* “Should five percent appear too small, be thankful I don’t take it all.” [Tax Prof Blog]
* Lunch interviews are a great opportunity to show your prospective employers that you can handle your three martinis with grace and focus. [Law.com]
* Life in a world of opportunity flatness. [Law and More]
* Five things every prospective law student should know. [About.com]
* Metal heads have legal problems too. [Metalsucks]
* Haggis is to edible as law student is to: A) Mentally handicapped, B) Employable, C) Doable, D) Terminal? [The Scots Law Student via Blawg Review]
Last week, Wilson Sonsini was busy shuffling staffers out the door. Today, Wilson Sonsini is proud to announce bonuses for the lawyers — just in case any of them were feeling bad about their recently departed secretaries.
The firm-wide memo just went out; here’s the bonus news:
The firm will pay merit bonuses for FY10 to all eligible non-member attorneys. Continuing with the criteria implemented last year, the merit bonus program provides for hours-based awards to all attorneys in good standing who achieved 1,900 or 2,100 bonus-eligible hours over the course of the 2009 calendar year. In addition to the hours-based component, attorneys also may receive a discretionary amount based on work quality and overall contribution to the firm. …
This year’s total bonuses range from a maximum of $9,000 for eligible associates from the class of 2008 to a maximum of $49,000 for eligible associates from the 2002 and earlier classes.
While the top number is more than the Cravath scale, we have no idea how many lawyers actually exceeded the Cravath bonus. I’ll spare you the familiar rant about the uselessness of providing the high score without mentioning the average payout associates received. Suffice it to say: nobody’s fooled.
UPDATE: We now have the full bonus memo for WSGR, which appears after the jump.
Wilson Sonsini also announced salary news today. After the jump, you’ll see that it looks suspiciously like a thaw of one class year.
Jean Valjean once stole a loaf of bread to feed his starving family during a down economy in France. Despite this crime, Valjean is regarded as a hero who stole only when it was absolutely necessary, then devoted his life to helping others and serving God.
I thought of the Les Misérables story when I read a distressing tale on the ABA Journal this morning:
California bar officials are blaming the recession for an increase in lawyers being investigated for pilfering client funds or collecting fees to modify mortgages without doing anything to help.
The State Bar of California is investigating 1,200 loan modification cases and more than 300 lawyers who were involved, the Fresno Bee reports. More lawyers are also being accused of mishandling client funds, according to Carol Langford, a lawyer who defends lawyers accused of ethical wrongdoing. Most of the lawyers under investigation were retired or relatively new to practice, the story says.
Hmm … I just don’t know if “Les Avocats” will be quite as catchy.
Should we feel sorry for California lawyers forced into a life of crime?
Berkeley law professor John Yoo, author of the so-called “torture memos” — as well as a new book on executive power, Crisis and Command, which has been getting very good reviews (even from such outlets as the New York Times and the Washington Post) — once again finds himself in the hot seat. And we’re not just talking about snarky (but ineffectual) attempts by Jon Stewart to make Yoo look bad.
From the Daily Californian (via Business Insider):
The Boalt Hall School of Law administration has come under fire once again over the undisclosed location of Professor John Yoo’s spring semester California Constitution class.
Yoo, who has been criticized for memos he wrote under the Bush administration justifying alleged torture practices, was scheduled to begin his first class of the semester Tuesday night and is the only professor in the law school whose class location is not listed on the law school’s class schedule. Anti-war groups World Can’t Wait and Fire John Yoo! have targeted Yoo since he returned from sabbatical last fall and criticized the Boalt Hall administration Tuesday.
About 25 people, some clad in orange jumpsuits, gathered Tuesday outside Boalt Hall Dean Christopher Edley’s office, demanding that the location of Yoo’s class be made public.
People in orange jumpsuits, roving the streets of California. Is this Judge Reinhardt’s doing?
We reached out to Professor Yoo to see if he had any comment on the classroom controversy, and he sent us a rather amusing reply.
If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed that the value proposition for going to law school is diminishing. Legal salaries are in a deflationary state, despite the fact that law school tuition is on the rise. And that debt/salary ratio is really only a concern for the law school graduates who are lucky enough to find an actual legal salary. Many recent law school graduates and current law students are having difficulty turning their legal education into a job as an attorney.
Confronted with these challenges, law school administrators have taken a number of innovative steps. There’s the “let’s totally ignore the problem and hope new law students are too stupid to research what’s happening in the legal economy” move. Hey, nobody ever went broke betting on the gullibility of the masses. A cherished yet under-reported program is the “let’s juke our employed-upon-graduation statistics and hope that U.S. News doesn’t really notice or care” option. Don’t knock that one until you’ve tried it. But my favorite thing is when law schools go with a “let’s announce a new initiative that won’t actually help anybody get a job, but it will look like we are doing something.” Trying something that was pioneered by the crew of the Titanic is an option that’s too good to pass up.
The latest example of this wonderful strategy comes to us from the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University. Apparently the administration has spent weeks cooking up a new plan that will allow 2Ls to take classes over the upcoming summer, and then graduate early in December 2010 (as opposed to May 2011). That’s right, if you are desperate to get out onto the barren job market as soon as possible, IU can make that happen for you.
By allowing students to graduate early, IU is bucking a trend. At other law schools, the idea is to allow students to graduate later — for a fee, of course — as schools try to grab just a little more money out of students before they enter the jobless recovery.
Exciting details after the jump.
Are we breaking the back of the recession? Today, we have news that Hughes Hubbard is making raises that put will put its associates back to pre-salary freeze levels. Here’s the salary information from the firm-wide memo:
In recognition of those efforts, we will be implementing raises in annual salaries in all offices retroactive to January 1, 2010. For all associates who perform up to expectations, the salaries in the New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. offices will be set at the levels listed below; salaries in our Los Angeles and Miami offices will be adjusted on a case-by-case basis.
Class Year Salary
2000 and above $280,000
If you check out our salary thaw chart, you’ll see that this is a true-up raise. Hughes Hubbard is back to paying associate salaries at the top of the market.
CORRECTION: HHR is at market for the first five years, but senior associates should be earning more, as noted by this commenter: “Market salaries should be: 2004 = $250K (not $240K); 2003 = $265K (not $250K); 2002 = $280K (not $265).”
After the jump, there’s good news — plus a CORRECTION — on bonuses.
We’ve told you before, and we’ll tell you again: be nice to your secretary. They do important work for you. And during their down time — when they’re not playing solitaire — they may be thinking about ways they can screw you over should you cross them.
An attorney in North Carolina apparently does not read our site and did not get this crucial PSA. Justice H. Campbell is a solo practitioner in Charlotte who helps out those who suffer from slips and falls, who commit the occasional DUI, or who need to file for worker’s compensation. According to our tipster, he’s been through several legal assistants in his career.
His last legal assistant went out with a bang. Or at least with a very loud click of the mouse.
She set up an out-of-office response to let correspondents know that she was no longer with the firm. When a court official emailed her to confirm a mediation date for Mr. Campbell, he got a blunt automatic response…