Arnold & Porter

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWow. Late Friday afternoon, we briefly discussed an article by D.C. bar president James J. Sandman, a partner at Arnold & Porter in Washington, bemoaning the recent associate pay raises. The article generated a strong reaction, judging from the avalanche of reader comments (75 and counting; mostly insightful, and mostly disagreeing with Sandman).

We emailed James Sandman, offering him space in ATL to offer a further defense of his article. We haven’t heard back from him yet; but if we do, we’ll let you know.

In the meantime, here’s an American Lawyer article that raises similar concerns. It’s a news rather than opinion piece, but the partners quoted in it voice sentiments similar to Sandman’s. Some excerpts:

A partner at Greenberg Traurig was meeting with attorneys from five law firms when he learned that Simpson Thacher & Bartlett had raised associate salaries across the board.

“Every BlackBerry in the room started flashing,” he recalls.

It was 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 22. At least five firms matched the next day, and by the end of the week, the sticker price for a new associate in the New York market was up for the second time in a little more than a year — to $160,000.

The raise surprised competitors and legal consultants alike and caused many to question whether another pay increase makes sense. They point out that pay isn’t associates’ main gripe (uncertain partnership prospects and grueling hours top this list). Robert Link Jr., managing partner of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, goes even further. If improving associate morale was Simpson’s goal, says Link, the raise may do more harm than good.

A higher salary “puts more pressure on productivity and hours,” says Link, exacerbating precisely the quality-of-life issues that make junior lawyers unhappy.

“I don’t know what Simpson was thinking,” he adds.

It’s similar to Sandman’s comment:

“I don’t understand what causes a firm be the first to increase the salary of a brand-new lawyer from an already eye-popping $145,000 to $160,000. There is no competitive advantage in doing so. Other firms will surely follow suit, and the firm that led the market will quickly be indistinguishable from the rest of the pack.”

So, what WAS Simpson thinking? Discussion continues after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: More Criticism of Associate Pay Raises”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWe have to step away from the computer for a while. Here’s an open thread about compensation issues to carry us through the weekend.
Three items for possible discussion (which some of you have already started talking about in a prior thread):
1. DLA Piper Singles Out Patent Litigators for Higher Pay [The Recorder]
This follows on the heels of Dechert’s D.C. office announcing higher pay for associates in its financial services practice group. Is differential compensation — a move away from lockstep — a hot new Biglaw trend?
James Sandman James J Sandman Jim Sandman Above the Law Blog.jpg2. The High Price of Escalating Associate Salaries [DC Bar]
From DC bar president James J. Sandman (at right), a partner at Arnold & Porter, writing in the March 2007 issue of Washington Lawyer magazine:

[F]irst-year associate salaries at big firms have gotten to a level where increases are very bad. They are bad for the law firms that pay them, for the associates who receive them, for the clients who foot the bill for them, and for the society we serve.

Sandman takes a swipe at the firm that initiated the latest round of pay raises (Simpson Thacher, cough cough):

I don’t understand what causes a firm be the first to increase the salary of a brand-new lawyer from an already eye-popping $145,000 to $160,000. There is no competitive advantage in doing so. Other firms will surely follow suit, and the firm that led the market will quickly be indistinguishable from the rest of the pack.

To read Sandman’s interesting and provocative argument against the recent raises, click here.
3. Finally, here’s the latest departure from the LIST OF SHAME: Baker & Hostetler.
From a source at the firm:

Baker Hostetler announced raises yesterday effective March 1 (for its New York office only). First-year associates will be making $160K; the managing partner didn’t say how much other classes would be making, but that associates would get letters about next week telling them what their new salary would be.

That leaves, as far as we know, just seven firms on the LIST OF SHAME.

amazons female lady warrior fighter.jpg
Congratulations to these five law firms, which just made Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 Best Companies To Work For:

Alston & Bird (#19)
Arnold & Porter (#26)
Nixon Peabody (#49)
Perkins Coie (#64)
Bingham McCutchen (#94)

The Recorder has a write-up of the results, which contains some fun factoids. Did you know that each Perkins Coie office has a “Happiness Committee,” which throws surprise parties for lawyers and staff?
This is unusual. Many law firms have “Unhappiness Committees,” which are sometimes called “Personnel Committees” or “Associate Life Committees.” But we don’t know of any other firm with a “Happiness Committee.”
And here’s something we didn’t know about the #94 company on the list, Bingham McCutchen (whose name we keep on misspelling):

[A]t Bingham, women outnumber men two to one and make up 23 percent of the partner ranks — believed to be the highest percentage in the industry, according to the Fortune report.

No wonder the Bingham men are so happy.
Five Law Firms Score Places on Fortune Magazine’s ‘Best Companies’ List [The Recorder via Law.com]
100 Best Companies To Work For [Fortune]


Musical Chairs Above the Law Legal Blog Above the Law Legal Tabloid Above the Law Legal Gossip Site.GIFPersonnel changes are everywhere today — and not just on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon. Some notable moves within the legal profession:
Lateral Moves:
* Private equity and M&A lawyer Dennis Barsky, to Jones Day, from Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
* Corporate lawyer Jonathan Stapleton and investment-funds lawyer Margaret Paradis, to Baker & McKenzie (NY), from Arnold & Porter and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, respectively.
* Insurance and financial services lawyer Chiu-Ti Jansen, to Sidley Austin, from LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.
Government to Private Sector:
* Marc Agnifilo, former head of the violent and organized crime unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey, is joining Brafman and Associates. Yes, that Brafman — renowned criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman, Diddy-defending attorney to the stars.
(Disclosure: Marc Agnifilo is a former colleague of ours, as well as a tremendously experienced and exceptionally talented lawyer. He has a fantastic sense of humor. And he’s the nephew of celebrated writer Don DeLillo.)
Firm Adds Two NY Corporate Partners [NYLawyer.com]
NY Private Equity Partner Switches Firms [NYLawyer.com]
NY Lawyers On the Move [NYLawyer.com]
Baker & McKenzie LLP Announces Ambitious New Strategy and Leadership Team in New York [Baker & McKenzie]

aquagirl cleary gottlieb summer associate Above the Law aquagirl.JPGYesterday we told you the tale of Aquagirl — the Clearly Goatlips Cleary Gottlieb summer associate who stripped down to her underwear and dove into the Hudson River. At a summer associate event. At night. At Chelsea Piers. Seriously.
In the comments, some of you updated us on Aquagirl’s fate. Now we’re happy to bring you this very detailed report:

I worked with [Aquagirl] at Arnold & Porter this summer. On our first day as summers, we were taken to lunch at a nearby restaurant. We were seated at round tables, with at least one partner and one associate at every table. During the lunch, one of the partners asked each of the summers to tell her something funny that had happened to us while we were working at a previous job.

After a few people told their silly, harmless stories, [Aquagirl] was up. She announced to all of us that she was the girl at Cleary that everyone had talked about last summer. She said she hoped no one would hold it against her, and that she could have a fresh start.

Um, talk about uncomfortable situation? I mean, what do you say to that?

What do you say to that? How about “You go, girl!” In a single evening, Aquagirl transformed herself from some random summer associate into a mini-celebrity of the legal profession. And instead of trying to conceal her scandalousness, she OWNED it. Magnificent!!!
One of yesterday’s commenters stated that Arnold & Porter “didn’t realize her Hudson-jumping proclivities.” But our correspondent begs to differ:

[T]he people who interviewed her at Arnold & Porter DID know about what happened to [Aquagirl] at Cleary, and decided to hire her anyway. (Although summer gossip was that she wasn’t allowed to participate in alcohol-related afterhours activities; it may very well be that she did not attend events because she was at bar review class.)

I was told that all the summers at A&P got an offer to come back, but she hasn’t responded to our email chain about her plans for next year (she’s clerking now).

Anyway, we’re glad to hear that everything worked out for Aquagirl. Fitzgerald — F. Scott, not Patrick J. — famously observed that “there are no second acts in American lives.” But, based on Aquagirl’s post-scandal success — an offer from Arnold & Porter, a prestigious federal appellate court clerkship — it seems there ARE second acts in American law.
Earlier: The Cautionary Tale of Aquagirl

legal eagle wedding watch david lat above the law legal blog law blog david lat david lat atl.JPGWe’re almost caught up here at Legal Eagle Wedding Watch. Today we discuss and score couples featured in the New York Times weddings page of October 8, 2006.
Again, a bit of a slow weekend for weddings involving lawyers. Here are the three couples under review:

1. Amanda Biles, Lee Reeves II

2. Katherine Dowling, Marc Axelbaum

3. Emily Weisenbach, Michael Burke

Numerical scores and commentary for each couple, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch: October 8, 2006″

legal eagle wedding watch david lat above the law legal blog law blog david lat david lat atl.JPGLawyer weddings come, and lawyer weddings go. The weekend of September 16-17, a veritable cornucopia of attorney nuptials, was followed by the weekend of September 23-24 — not an embarrassment of riches, but just an embarrassment.*
No way are we writing about Cheryl Connolly and Kyle Lewis — Lewis was wounded in Iraq, so the guy’s been through enough. Here are the couples in contention:

1. Elizabeth Kennedy, Nicholas Vitek

2. Cameron Schroeder, Justin Levitt

3. Anne Davis, Charles Wollenhaupt

Who will secure the final berth in the September 2006 Couple of the Month contest? Find out, after the jump.
* Speaking of embarrassments, we realize we are weeks behind in Legal Eagle Wedding Watch (“LEWW”). We’re writing about weddings that took place last month; some of these couples are probably divorced by now. See — we really do need some help around here! If we can find the right writer, we’d even consider outsourcing LEWW.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch: September 24, 2006″

legal eagle wedding watch david lat above the law legal blog law blog david lat david lat atl.JPGAnother summer weekend, another raft of attorney weddings. Plenty of fodder for this week’s edition of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, in which we review selected lawyer nuptials from the New York Times wedding announcements — and assign numerical scores to each couple. We rate them in three to four categories: on their résumés, their families, their couple balance, and their beauty (if pictured).
Today four couples are vying for the coveted title of highest-flying legal eagles:

1. Cecily Baskir, John Freedman

2. Arminda Bepko, Victor Suthammanont

3. Alexandra Block, Curtis Weiss

4. Christine Varnado, Anthony O’Rourke

So which couple will prevail? Find out, after the jump.
(In blogspeak, “after the jump” means “click on that ‘continue reading’ link below.” So go ahead, what are you waiting for? Click away!)

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