Alston & Bird

pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgWhile many firms announced their decisions to freeze 2009 salaries at the end of 2008, a few waited until now to make up their minds.

Memos went out before the first paychecks of the year to associates at Atlanta-based Alston & Bird and Washington, D.C.-based Hogan & Hartson. Alston’s is a Slurpee freeze with the firm saying it may “revisit” the decision at an unspecified time this year. Hogan’s is a Solid Ice freeze; salaries are locked at 2008 levels throughout 2009.

The language of these memos has become fairly uniform– a jumble of “economic downturn,” “challenging,” “distress,” and “2009 may really suck for us.” Okay, maybe not the last phrase, but that’s the gist. Check out the memos, after the jump.

We’ve also received word that Schulte Roth & Zabel has frozen salaries until further notice, but the language leaves hope for a decision in the near future for a raise:

The firm has not yet made any decision with respect to associate salaries for 2009. We expect a decision will be made in the next few weeks, and any change will be retroactive to January 1.

Not all firms are bracing themselves for a difficult 2009 by freezing salaries. In response to our requests for salary raise information, we heard back from associates at Cleary; Stoel Rives; Perkins Coie‏; Fried Frank; Irell; and Schiff Hardin. A host of others are named in Firms that have not frozen, a post in the ATL Community section.

Memos from Alston, Hogan, and Schulte about frozen salaries, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Freeze Watch: Brrr! Things are getting chilly beneath the Mason-Dixon Line”

Alston Bird retirement watch.JPGLast week, older support staff at Alston & Bird received a memo encouraging them to think about the future:

We are pleased to introduce the Alston & Bird Staff Early Retirement Incentive Program. This Program is offered in response to requests from many of you and in our effort to continue to improve our staffing ratios in all offices. The Program is completely voluntary and is available to any paralegal, secretary or staff employee who has been employed by Alston & Bird for at least 10 years and is at least 55 years of age. If you qualify and are interested in participating in the Program, you must sign the Acknowledgement form at the end of this memo and return it to Michael Stephens no later than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 26, 2008.

Employees who accept this offer may continue their employment through December 31, 2008. Employees can choose one of the following two benefit options, with payments beginning after termination of employment on December 31, 2008 (or such earlier date as may be agreed upon by the employee and the Firm).

“Completely voluntary?” How many people believe that the early retirement program is being offer because of overwhelming staff desire to “improve staffing ratios?”

For staffers with over 20 years at the firm, the early retirement plan offers 23 weeks of salary, or 16 weeks of salary plus a $450 health care subsidy.

Sound fair? Let’s fast forward to the end of the message:

Once again, please note that the deadline for electing to participate in the Program closes at 5:00 p.m. on November 26, 2008. The Firm may not offer this or any other early retirement or similar program again at a later date. If we do not receive an adequate number of responses in certain areas, the firm may need to take additional steps to adjust our staffing ratios.

An “adequate number of responses” reminds me of the scene in Gladiator when Commodus suffocates his father under the guise of a hug. How callous do you have to be to essentially threaten 55-year-old people who have worked for your company for over a decade with “additional steps to adjust our staffing ratios?” I know we’re in the midst of a serious financial crisis, but there’s a way to be a person about these things.

Predictably, older staff, younger staff, even attorneys at A&B are freaking out. A tipster reports:

Older staff is in panic. Get pressured into package now, or get laid off later with nothing. (Wonder how they’re going to fill those extra 2 floors they just leased in the NY office in this economic environment?) Nothing equivalent for lawyers yet, but A&B is very youth-worshiping, so it’s just a matter of time I expect.

We dig deeper into the “incentive program” and post it in full after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Alston & Bird Staff: You Don’t Have To Go Home But You Can’t Stay Here”

comparing.jpgWe’re entering the second half of the Vault 100. This is part of a series of open threads to discuss the firms considered to be the profession’s most prestigious. Because we know you love prestige. And the opportunity for “TTT” accusations. [FN1]
Here’s the next bunch of firms, with prestige scores in parentheses:

51. Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP (5.851)
52. Dechert LLP (5.838)
53. Vinson & Elkins LLP (5.822)
54. Goodwin Procter LLP (5.815)
55. Jenner & Block LLP (5.778)
56. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP (5.728)
57. Alston & Bird LLP (5.715)
58. Fish & Richardson P.C. (5.706)
59. Cooley Godward LLP (5.692)
60. Irell & Manella LLP (5.635)

doughboy.jpgVault notes that attorneys at Pillsbury are treated to “freshly baked cookies.” But they also have to put up with being referred to as “Pillsburians” by Vault.
Compare, contrast, discuss… and if you’re at Pillsbury, have a chocolate chip cookie for us.
Earlier: Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009
[FN1] We periodically get e-mails asking for the definition of “TTT,” which appears so often in comment threads. As the uninitiated have surely gathered, it’s a derogatory term. Likely originating on AutoAdmit, it stands for “third tier toilet.” For more, see Urban Dictionary.


Alston Bird LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgJust to close the loop on this prior report, the talks between Alston & Bird and Los Angeles-based Weston Benshoof have borne fruit. Alston’s acquisition of Weston is official. From a firm-wide email just issued by A&B managing partner Richard Hays:

This morning, the partners voted overwhelmingly to expand the firm into California with the opening of two new offices. The Los Angeles-based Weston Benshoof firm and their 83 attorneys will become a part of Alston & Bird and, additionally, we will be opening an office in Silicon Valley with a group of eleven (11) intellectual property lawyers formerly with Akin Gump.

The complete memo appears after the jump. The official press release from Alston & Bird appears here (PDF).
Elsewhere on the A&B front, we’ve been hearing all sorts of rumors about goings-on over there — some of them in comments, and some by email. There may be nothing to them; but if there’s anything to report, you know where to reach us. Thanks.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Merger Mania: Alston & Bird Swoops In on Weston Benshoof”

tarot card.jpgWe heard through the grapevine that Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit gave ATL a shout out during a Federalist Society lunch earlier this month. According to our tipsters, “his biggest advice to any summer associates in the audience was ‘don’t show up on David Lat’s blog, Above the Law.'”

Well, the first summer associate tale of 2008 has made its way into our tips inbox from Atlanta. A summer associate at Alston & Bird decided to share his quirky sense of humor and alter ego with the rest of his summer class. Our tipster explains:

[This e-mail] was sent by an Alston & Bird summer… (as his cross-dressing alter-ego Divljan Shatterhand Steele) to the entire Atlanta summer class. The email, besides being super weird, is pretty innocuous. However, the pictures on his Facebook account could give him some serious trouble — besides the multiple pictures of him dressed in drag as his alter-ego, there is a picture of a pie with a gummy-bear swastika…

Needless to say, the email has already been widely circulated. A&B has a progressive reputation, but this might be a bit much. Given the current state of the market, Alston might be regretting hiring such a huge summer class (look at the recipient list, which likely only includes the summers who are working the first half) in Atlanta. This guy isn’t doing himself any favors.

The bizarre e-mail, involving tarot cards and multiple personalities, is available after the jump. If you’ve been wondering about the history of neckties, you’ll definitely want to check it out.

We have redacted the SA’s name and ask that you not identify the person in the comments. Feel free to refer to him as “Divljan” only. Thanks.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Summer Associate of the Day: Alter Ego ‘Divljan Shatterhand Steele’”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGAs we reported earlier this week, the Atlanta office of Paul Hastings has adopted a new pay scale, with a starting salary of $160,000.
The Fulton County Daily Report picks up the news today. It’s not new, since it was announced on Wednesday. But the article, by Meredith Hobbs, has a nice round-up of where things stand in the Atlanta market, post-Paul Hastings:

Like most of their competitors, Paul Hastings paid first-years $130,000 in 2007, the rate established by last spring’s round of pay raises. The firm had delayed unveiling its response to the increase to $145,000 triggered by Alston & Bird in August (with smaller raises up the classes) until now.

Paul Hastings’ new pay scale goes from $160,000 for first-years — the current market rate for first-years in more expensive cities such as Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York — to $215,000 for seventh-years.

By comparison, King & Spalding announced in October a 2008 scale starting at $145,000 for first-years and going to $195,000 for seventh-years. At that time, King & Spalding established a richer bonus system, which upped pay for first-years receiving bonuses to $152,500, and star seven-years to as high as $250,000.

Paul Hastings does not calculate bonuses until after the end of its fiscal year, so associate bonuses correlating to 2008 compensation will not be determined until the end of February 2009, said Philip J. Marzetti, the firm’s Atlanta managing partner.

More excerpts and discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: The Lay of the Land in Atlanta”

Best Companies To Work For Fortune CNN Money Above the Law blog.jpgCongratulations to this quintet of five law firms, which just made Fortune magazine’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies To Work For (listed below in rank order):

19. Arnold & Porter: “Staffers get 12 weeks paid maternity leave and profit sharing of 7.5% of salary. The less you make, the less you pay for health-insurance premiums.”

Actually, a correction: 18 weeks (as of January 1, 2008).

31. Alston & Bird: “Both the legal and nonlegal staff get super benefits, including 90 days of paid maternity leave, coverage of fertility treatments, and concierge services.”

Concierge services? Fabulous. Atlantans, stop yer whining!

41. Bingham McCutchen: “They’re proud of their elite grads: 72 from nearby Harvard Law, 24 from Yale, and 20 from Stanford. They all start at $160,000 a year.”

55. Perkins Coie: “They value fun at this law firm. At 2007’s Lawyerpalooza battle of the bands, the Perkins Coie rock & rollers brought down the house (and took home the top prize).”

See also Nixon Peabody: “Fun is not prohibited here.” Speaking of which…

66. Nixon Peabody: “The law firm excels on policies for GLBT employees (a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign); it targets 3% of billable hours annually for pro bono work.”

Please send us any theme songs that are composed to commemorate these honors. Thank you.
100 Best Companies To Work For (2008) [Fortune]
Earlier: Bingham McCutchen: Land of the Amazons?

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGAfter Sullivan & Cromwell announced its new bonus program for senior associates, we received a bunch of messages like this one:

Can you please do a thread to see if other NYC firms have matched or plan to match the S&C recent bonus pool system for senior associates? Seems like there’s been no reaction to this by any other firms.

Does this mean the other firms no longer offer top-of-the-market compensation for senior associates?

We’re not aware of any other New York firms matching the S&C move. But we hear that Skadden is… establishing a committee!
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Else Is Paying Senior Associate Bonuses? Bueller, Bueller…”

logo_alston_bird.gifAlston & Bird lost four partners from its Washington office to DLA Piper on Tuesday, according to this report from The Lawyer:

Alston & Bird’s Washington office was rocked yesterday (Tuesday 2 October) by the exit of four partners to DLA Piper, including DC co-managing partner and chair of the firm’s executive committee, Frank Rusty Conner.

DLA Piper logo Above the Law blog.jpgThe departing group also includes the former head of Alston’s legislative and public policy group, Tom Boyd. Boyd joins DLA Piper as co-head of the firm’s government affairs practice in Washington with Governor Jim Blanchard.

The exit of the four partners will be a significant blow to Alston’s corporate ambitions. Conner, at the firm for almost 30 years, was also co-head of its corporate group while the two other, as yet unnamed partners, are understood to be from the corporate group.

Alston lost a fifth partner to DLA Piper in September. If this was the NFL, Alston would be getting compensatory draft picks.
DLA Piper raids Alston for former chair and team [TheLawyer.com]

Kilpatrick Stockton LLP AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe broke the news of the Kilpatrick Stockton pay raise earlier this month. Today’s Fulton County Daily Report has an article about it here.
The Kilpatrick move is old news — it was actually announced before Labor Day — but Meredith Hobbs’s piece does contain a helpful summary of where the big Atlanta firms stand:

Alston & Bird sparked this round of Atlanta pay raises on Aug. 1 when it increased associate pay across the board, starting at $145,000 for first-years and rising to $190,000 for seventh years—the same scale that Hunton & Williams instituted in February during the year’s first round of associate salary increases. At that time, most of the city’s big firms increased first-year pay from $115,000 to $130,000. That followed a similar $15,000 pay increase at the beginning of 2006, also sparked by Alston.

Other firms that have announced they will raise local first-year pay to $145,000 in January include Troutman Sanders, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan and Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. Jones Day will raise first-year pay to $150,000 at that time.

Kilpatrick first-years join the $145K club [Fulton County Daily Report]
Earlier: Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Kilpatrick Stockton

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