Billy Merck

Posts by Billy Merck

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpg
The two-headed monster has matched. Memo’s after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Dewey & LeBoeuf Matches”

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And the bonus news just keeps rolling in. Willkie Farr has matched. The memo:

From: The Executive Committee
Sent: Friday, November 02, 2007 4:51 PM
To: ASSOCIATES – NY; ASSOCIATES – DC
Cc: PARTNERS – NY; PARTNERS – DC
Subject: Associate Bonuses
The Executive Committee is pleased to announce the following year end bonuses for associates:
Class of 2007: Year-end bonus of $35,000 (pro-rated)
Class of 2006: Year-end bonus of $35,000; special bonus of $10,000
Class of 2005: Year-end bonus of $40,000; special bonus of $15,000
Class of 2004: Year-end bonus of $45,000; special bonus of $20,000
Class of 2003: Year-end bonus of $50,000; special bonus of $30,000
Class of 2002: Year-end bonus of $55,000; special bonus of $40,000
Class of 2001: Year-end bonus of $60,000; special bonus of $50,000
Class of 2000 and senior: Year-end bonus of $65,000; special bonus of $50,000
Bonuses will be paid in December, consistent with our customary practices.
All of the Firm’s partners greatly appreciate your hard work and contributions to our success.
We are also pleased to announce that the firm will be paying a special bonus to our administrative staff, whose hard work, dedication and loyalty have been a critical part of our accomplishments.

A bonus for the staff too! Good on ‘em. We haven’t seen any other firms doing this, but we think it’s great. You should always show your staff that you appreciate them too.

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Cahill Gordon & Reindel has matched, but won’t pay until January 2008. From the memo:

MEMORANDUM TO COUNSEL, SENIOR ATTORNEYS
AND ASSOCIATES
November 2, 2007
We are pleased to announce that our regular and special merit bonuses for 2007
for associates in good standing at December 31, 2007 will be as follows:
Class Regular Bonus Special Merit Bonus
Class of 2007 – $35,000 (pro -rated) —
Class of 2006 – $35,000 $10,000
Class of 2005 – $40,000 $15,000
Class of 2004 – $45,000 $20,000
Class of 2003 – $50,000 $30,000
Class of 2002 – $55,000 $40,000
Class of 2001 – $60,000 $50,000
Class of 2000 – $65,000 $50,000
Class of 1999 – $65,000 $50,000
Class of 1998 – $65,000 $50,000
Bonuses for Counsel, Senior Attorneys and other associates will be determined on
an individual basis. Bonuses will be paid by January 11, 2008. Counsel, Senior Attorneys and
Associates who were on unpaid leave or worked part-time during any part of this year and those
who started during this year will be eligible for pro-rated bonuses.
Thank you for your dedication, hard work and continued contribution to the success
of the Firm.
Executive Committee

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It seems like you can’t throw a web cam these days without hitting a lawyer trying to use the internet to sexually prey on our kids. Reference recent lawyers of the day here and here, for just a couple of examples. And remember that prosecutor in Texas that blew his head off because To Catch a Predator was coming? Well, here’s another one:

An attorney arrested in an Internet child-sex sting in the basement of the Ohio Statehouse thought he was going to meet a 15-year-old girl he had met online, authorities said.
Barry Mentser, 48, a former children’s services lawyer, was taken into custody Wednesday moments after the police officer who conducted the sting testified two floors above in favor of a bill that would increase penalties for such offenses.
Lt. Jeff Braley, a detective from Hamilton Township in Warren County in southwest Ohio, said he posed as the girl to set up a Statehouse meeting with the man.

[FOX News]
Wow, the Statehouse, really? Is that the hot hangout spot for the teenagers in Columbus? Perhaps Mentser should have been a little suspicious.
What’s the deal with all these lawyers getting busted for this? Is there something about the legal profession that drives lawyers to this in higher than usual numbers? Or do we just hear about all the lawyers that get busted because everybody hates lawyers and is looking for any excuse to ridicule them? We suspect it’s the latter, but we’re still given a little pause by it all.
A little more discussion after the jump.
Attorney Seeking 15-Year-Old Girl He Met Online Arrested in Sex Sting at Ohio Statehouse [FOX News]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Barry Mentser”

We would’ve had this up a few minutes ago, but the technical difficulties that Lat mentioned yesterday are still lurking around. Bring on the new fancy servers.
At any rate, Cleary Gottlieb has matched, and the memo is after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Cleary Matches”

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McDermott, Will & Emery has come up with a more creative way to deal with soaring associate salaries. The firm has announced that it will be creating a “second tier” of associates to deal solely with low-level tasks like, e.g., document review.
As Cal Law points out, hiring cheaper lawyers to do this type of work is nothing new; this type of stuff is the staple of contract attorneys in most biglaw firms these days. The new part is making these contract attorneys a lower class of associates, essentially making them “permanent contract attorneys”, as Cal Law puts it:

While some firms quietly turn to contract attorneys, or even ship grunt work overseas, McDermott, Will & Emery plans to create a new tier of attorneys — think of them as permanent contract associates — to handle lower-end tasks at lower billing rates.

First-year associates at big firms now earn $160,000. Meanwhile, electronic discovery has dramatically increased the amount of basic work that usually goes to those high-priced associates.
“This is a topic of great importance, since the cost of document review has become intolerable for everyone,” said David Balabanian, the head of Bingham McCutchen’s litigation group.
While hiring contract attorneys is nothing new, creating a second class of full-timers is.

[The Recorder via Cal Law]
Is this a good or bad thing? On the one hand, it increases the competition even more for the “real associate” positions and institutionalizes to an even greater extent the law school tier system into biglaw law firms.
On the other hand, it may be beneficial to those attorneys now doing the contract work. It will establish them as associates in the firm, even if not on the same level as the top tier associates. They will likely receive things like benefits. The top tier associates will likely do more substantive work sooner. And the clients won’t find themselves paying top tier prices for stuff like document review, as still occasionally happens.
So what do you guys think? Will other firms adopt this model? Once again, it makes sense to us.
And hey, L2L, maybe you should apply.
Related:
Firm to Fill Cheap Seats [The Recorder via Cal Law]
McDermott To Create a New Class of BigLaw Attorneys [WSJ Law Blog]

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The Atlanta firm Arnall Golden Gregory is refusing to match the recent round of raises to $145,000 for first year associates by Alson & Bird and several other competitor firms. They put a lot of thought into the decision:

AGG matched the February increase on March 1. Ever since, Kitchens said, he and his partners have been pondering their response to the inevitable next round of raises. “Before now, we didn’t feel we needed to study the matter as much as we’ve studied this,” he said.

[Fulton County Daily Report via Law.com]
Ultimately they decided that the best way to deal with the infamous Atlanta compression was to let first and second-years take the hit:

AGG’s new salary plan tries to reward more experienced and productive associates, he said. “What we tried to do was to have a correlation between the economic value of an associate to the firm and the base compensation.”
Kitchens declined to say how much his firm will raise pay for midlevel and senior associates, but said the base salaries are comparable to those set by Alston & Bird in August, with roughly $10,000 increases between classes.
Clients were concerned that additional salary increases for newer associates would increase their legal bills, said Kitchens. “We don’t want to be in a position where we can’t use first- and second-year associates. We don’t want clients to think they’re not getting value.”
“We have to write off a portion of first- and second-year time because they’re learning,” Kitchens said. “We don’t make a profit. It’s a sunk investment, so adding the additional sunk investment of $15,000 didn’t make sense.”
“We’re trying not to have our midyear and higher associates feel they’re underpaid in the marketplace based on their situation and their peer group at other firms. Obviously, with first- and second-years there will be a differential.”

Easy for us to say, since we’re not in biglaw and certainly not one of those first-years taking the hit, but this actually seems like a good explanation for a reasonable course of action to us. What you do guys think?
Arnall Golden Gregory Holds the Line on Associate Pay [Fulton County Daily Report via Law.com]

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The Atlanta firm Arnall Golden Gregory is refusing to match the recent round of raises to $145,000 for first year associates by Alson & Bird and several other competitor firms. They put a lot of thought into the decision:

AGG matched the February increase on March 1. Ever since, Kitchens said, he and his partners have been pondering their response to the inevitable next round of raises. “Before now, we didn’t feel we needed to study the matter as much as we’ve studied this,” he said.

[Fulton County Daily Report via Law.com]
Ultimately they decided that the best way to deal with the infamous Atlanta compression was to let first and second-years take the hit:

AGG’s new salary plan tries to reward more experienced and productive associates, he said. “What we tried to do was to have a correlation between the economic value of an associate to the firm and the base compensation.”
Kitchens declined to say how much his firm will raise pay for midlevel and senior associates, but said the base salaries are comparable to those set by Alston & Bird in August, with roughly $10,000 increases between classes.
Clients were concerned that additional salary increases for newer associates would increase their legal bills, said Kitchens. “We don’t want to be in a position where we can’t use first- and second-year associates. We don’t want clients to think they’re not getting value.”
“We have to write off a portion of first- and second-year time because they’re learning,” Kitchens said. “We don’t make a profit. It’s a sunk investment, so adding the additional sunk investment of $15,000 didn’t make sense.”
“We’re trying not to have our midyear and higher associates feel they’re underpaid in the marketplace based on their situation and their peer group at other firms. Obviously, with first- and second-years there will be a differential.”

Easy for us to say, since we’re not in biglaw and certainly not one of those first-years taking the hit, but this actually seems like a good explanation for a reasonable course of action to us. What you do guys think?
Arnall Golden Gregory Holds the Line on Associate Pay [Fulton County Daily Report via Law.com]

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Hello and good morning everyone. This is Billy Merck once again (yes, yes, “we hate you” and so forth; get it all out on the first post), filling in for Lat today. Don’t worry, we’re still going to be on the lookout for associate bonus announcements, so send them in if they happen and we’ll get them up pronto.
But we don’t know of any new announcements yet this morning, so we’ll start with an update on your favorite Nevada state judge, the immeasurable Elizabeth Halverson.
Yesterday the Nevada Supreme Court upheld an interim suspension of Judge Halverson by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. The slip opinion can be accessed here.
Our favorite part is the section dealing with Halverson’s propensity for falling asleep on the bench:

The deputy district attorney in the child molestation case testified that Judge Halverson had fallen asleep on the bench during the trial testimony before the jury. According to this witness, by that time, Judge Halverson had generated a reputation for falling asleep on the bench. Additionally, Judge Halverson’s former bailiff testified that Judge Halverson fell asleep on the bench virtually every day. Although the former JEA’s testimony did not reflect that Judge Halverson consistently slept while on the bench, the former JEA did testify that she had seen Judge Halverson dozing on a few occasions, and that on one occasion, she was called in by the former bailiff and a former court clerk because they could not awaken her.
With respect to this one occasion, the former bailiff and former JEA gave differing accounts as to Judge Halverson’s views on why she had fallen asleep. The former bailiff testified that she claimed that her blood pressure “must be going up” and that she “did not feel well.” The former JEA testified that Judge Halverson blamed the problem on medication “that did not agree with her” and also on the former JEA’s failure to “let her take a long enough nap” in chambers before trial proceedings recommenced. Judge Halverson did not testify at the hearing, but she did submit an affidavit to the Commission, which indicated that she lapsed into slumber on one occasion because of low blood sugar arising from her diabetes and her failure to eat. Although the record demonstrates that the occasion of sleeping described in Judge Halverson’s affidavit did not occur during the criminal trial, as depicted by the deputy district attorney, the record does not specify whether or not this instance of sleeping was the same as that described by Judge Halverson’s former staff.
The only testimony contradicting the testimony about Judge Halverson’s propensity to sleep while on the bench was the statement given by the JEA working for Judge Halverson at the time of the hearing that, in her two months with the judge, she had never seen the judge fall asleep on the bench.
The Commission’s written order noted that one confirmed occasion of falling asleep on its own would not warrant an interim suspension, but that when added to the other conduct, her sleep issues formed part of the basis for its decision. Additionally, the Commission noted that although a physical reason could explain Judge Halverson’s sleep issues, the judge had not offered any proof regarding the possible etiology of this tendency.

Come on, Halverson, don’t let pride make a fool of you. We suspect there are “physical reasons” for most of your difficulties. You should have embraced this as an ADA case, and you probably would’ve been able to stay on the bench.
As it is, you’re just obnoxious and large, and most definitely not in charge.
Prior ATL Halverson coverage
Slip opinion upholding Halverson’s suspension [Nevada Supreme Court (PDF)]

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* Yeah, but SCOTUS will stay the executions. [AP via How Appealing]
* Tuna : Chicken of the Sea :: ______ : Law of the Sea? [Jurist]
* Drug sentencing still separate, now a litte more equal. [ New York Times]
* Here we go again with the veto and the whole bit. [New York Times]
* Look, he’s a lawyer and everything. I don’t know why you have to ask all these convoluted questions about “torture” and stuff. Just confirm him already, jeez. [Jurist]

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