Akin Gump

Legal services are expensive. Duh. And sometimes clients do not want to pay their bills. Maybe the case outcome wasn’t what the client hoped for. Maybe the bill was significantly higher than expected. There are all sorts of reasons that attorneys just have to say, “Eff you, pay me.

The thing is, you normally associate breach of contract disputes with litigation or other standard lawyering. Not Biglaw attorneys brokering movie finance deals, and suing when the client doesn’t pay his finders fee.

But Akin Gump filed suit last week against a Hollywood movie producer, for breach of contract and promissory fraud, alleging that he did not fork over the finders fee he owed a firm partner for helping secure loans and finding a distributor for one of his projects.

The firm says Mark Manuel owes a lot of money. So how much does he owe, and which movie is at the center of the controversy?

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This is a most hellish contraption.

Obviously, the heartbreaking news this morning is that Twinkies is filing for bankruptcy. Don’t act like I’m the only one saddened by this news. The Wall Street Journal reports that Hostess, the maker of the All-American snack, is carrying $860 million in debt and facing higher costs for sugar, flour, and whatever kind of rendered artery fat they inject directly into the center of those things.

Well, as long as SeamlessWeb is operating smoothly, lawyers will still be able to find adequate ways to become soft in the middle.

But not every lawyer. There are still a few legal types out there who take care of their bodies, and I’m not just talking about Reema Bajaj. I’m talking about lawyers who are actual athletes.

It’s a rare breed, but today we’re going to take a look at two of them. One is an Olympian, while the other is just a record-breaking weekend warrior…

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This week we’re pretending that it’s not January by looking back at some of the biggest legal weddings of late 2011. There was a lot of muy prestigioso lawyer matrimony in the last part of the year. Before we delve into the January crop of weddings, which — let’s face it — is often subpar, here are some from the fall that we haven’t featured yet.

These are good ones, folks. Think Rhodes Scholars. Think SCOTUS clerks.

These are our finalists:

Lacey Schwartz and Antonio Delgado

Trisha Anderson and Charles Newman

Cate Edwards and Trevor Upham

Get the scoop on these couples, plus even more lawyer newlyweds, after the jump.

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Many law firms send out rather lame holiday cards, cards that marketing guru Ross Fishman would describe as “boring pieces of crap.” Thankfully that wasn’t the case for the eleven finalists in our third annual law firm holiday card contest.

Some of these cards were clever, some were beautiful, and some were funny. All of them were excellent, deserving of recognition and praise for the thoughtfulness and creativity that went into them.

Okay, enough with the sentimental and sappy stuff — you’re lawyers, and you’re competitive. You want to know who won….

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The field of contenders for our third annual law firm holiday card contest was more impressive than ever. We received numerous nominations, and we thank everyone who participated. It took many hours to review the plethora of submissions.

We could complain about how some of you failed to follow contest rule #3, limiting the contest to “cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool…. cards with some attitude, with that extra je ne sais quoi.” But we won’t; the holiday spirit has us in a good mood. You are all wonderful!

But some of you are more wonderful than others. Let’s look at this year’s finalists….

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We are pleased and proud to announce Above the Law’s third annual law firm holiday card contest. This happy, heartwarming feature is a Christmastime favorite, as beloved as figgy pudding. It’s the perfect cure for the bonus season blues.

For the past two years, Biglaw and small firms have duked it out for the distinction of having the best Christmas card. Last year’s honors went to a small firm: Proctor Heyman, the Delaware corporate litigation and counseling boutique. In the inaugural holiday card contest, a large firm prevailed: Akin Gump (which recently announced its bonuses, at least in New York).

We’ve already received several emails asking about when this year’s contest would start. The answer is: it starts today!

Read on — and read carefully — for the official contest rules….

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Akin Gump, it seems to me, has taken the reasonable approach for any firm that does not want to be a market leader in terms of compensation: it’s going to wait. Of course the firm is going to match. Most of the firms will end up matching the prevailing market for associate bonuses.

But as far as how much money that’ll be, we just don’t know yet. Instead of making a regular bonus announcement with a flashy bonus scale and the fiction that the numbers bear any kind of relation to the actual profitability of the firm, Akin Gump is just going to wait and see what happens, and then match the market.

It’s a prudent approach to a crazy bonus season….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Akin Gump Matches in New York, But Won’t Really Get Into This Thing Until January”

This morning’s news that Boies Schiller is making a mockery of the Cravath bonus scale simply reinforces the prevailing view (pace David Lat) around here that the 2011 Cravath bonus scale is fundamentally unfair.

Agreeing on this point is former Kirkland & Ellis partner Steven Harper (whose apparent pro-associate stance may make him a sort of Biglaw apostate). As Harper points out, “equity partner profit trees have resumed their growth to the sky. As the economy struggled, Cravath’s average partner profits increased to $2.7 million in 2009 and to $3.17 million in 2010 … That’s not ‘treading water.’ It’s returning to 2007 profit levels — the height of ‘amazing’ boom years that most observers had declared gone forever. Watch for 2011 profits to be even higher.”

And yet associate bonuses remain stagnant at 2009 levels. Furthermore, as ATL commenter “The Cravath Cut” is so fond of noting, when viewed as a percentage of profits, bonuses appear especially measly, at least from the associate p.o.v. (The current $7,500 market rate for first-years is just 0.23% of Cravath’s profits per partner. Back in 2007, first-year bonuses equalled 1.36%.) Despite these numbers, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone Biglaw’s rank and file will follow Cravath’s lead.

Cravath is among the most profitable firms in the world. We thought it would be interesting to see what the implications of matching Cravath are for those firms with much lower profit margins. Which firms’ partners willingly take the biggest hit by keeping up? Are these firms arguably more “generous”? After the jump, check out those firms that pay the largest percentage of PPP in bonuses.

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Today we head into the nation’s capital to bring you six of the best partners to work for as chosen by our readers.

These partners go above and beyond the call of duty, and do so while working at some of the finest law firms: Akin Gump, SNR Denton, Hogan Lovells, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, Fried Frank, and Chadbourne & Parke.

Who are these phenomenal partners?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center Survey Results: Top Partners to Work For – Washington, D.C. (Part 1)”

Earlier this week, we introduced the first group of top New York partners whom our readers nominated as being great to work for. Today we present you with another eight partners from the Big Apple.

They hail from some of the heaviest hitters among Biglaw firms: Paul Weiss; Simpson Thacher; Kasowitz Benson; Cleary Gottlieb; Debevoise & Plimpton; Cravath; and Akin Gump.

Let’s learn who they are….

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