An article in today’s New York Times, by former WSJ Law Blog writer Dan Slater, discusses changing law firm business models. Much of the piece covers ground that will be familiar to ATL readers. But the article contains some interesting new information about Kaye Scholer (where Slater once worked).
According to the Times article, it appears that the firm essentially lied to some of its new associates:
In the summer of 2008, Kaye Scholer’s New York office extended offers of full-time employment to 31 students, many from top schools. They would return to law school for their third years, they thought, then graduate, take the bar exam and begin at the firm in January 2010, at a base salary approximating the current level of $160,000.
About two months before the start date, however, the firm notified 18 of the 31, a group including law graduates from Columbia, New York and Northwestern Universities, that they would be relegated, upon arrival, to the firm’s public interest group. There, they would work on pro bono matters and make $60,000 a year.
All 18 accepted the revised offer.
In March, about two months after starting, 17 of the 18 were assigned to a document review project, for a paying client, and told to bill 40 hours a week. For this, these associates will make an extra $30 an hour, approximately the hourly rate of their base salary.
We reported on Kaye Scholer’s $60,000 a year, pro bono associate plan back in October. How did the firm characterize it to us at the time?
An ATL favorite, Quinn Emanuel, is making a change to its firm name. From the Quinn press release:
John B. Quinn announced today that the firm he and Eric Emanuel founded 25 years ago will change its name, and henceforth be known as Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP. The decision to add Kathleen M. Sullivan as a name partner was made in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the firm and the profession. Sullivan is a partner in the firm’s New York City office and heads the firm’s national appellate practice.
Congratulations to former Stanford Law School dean Sullivan.
Of course, now that she’s a name partner, we are eagerly awaiting for the ATL community to honor Kathleen Sullivan with her own meme. John Quinn doesn’t use capital letters. Bill Urquhart … really likes capital letters. We can’t wait to see what Sullivan comes up with.
Read the full press release, plus an UPDATE with some observations from Lat, after the jump.
* Well, my resolution to be hopeful about the future of Biglaw in 2010 lasted all of five days. Thanks, Larry Ribstein, I guess I’ll still need to hang onto my Lexapro prescription. [Ideoblog]
* Why do lawyers make so much money? Kash and Lat’s cover story for Washingtonian magazine, which addresses this question, is now online (along with the list of D.C.’s top lawyers). [Washingtonian]
* Do law school career services operations need a complete overhaul? [Lawyerist]
* An old tale of sex in the champagne conference room at Skadden. [Clusterstock]
* Interested in making the transition from law to media? Above the Law’s sister site, Dealbreaker, is looking for an additional writer. [Dealbreaker]
* Thanks to all the readers who voted for Above the Law in ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 contest. Above the Law won the News category. We’ll keep it coming in 2010. [ABA Journal]
Ed. note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the firm has not yet communicated to its associates about salaries. This was correct as of late December, but shortly before the new year, the firm made its announcement. We have amended the post accordingly, and we apologize for the error.
It’s a brand new year. Yay. Will this be the year that the recession ends? We’re hopeful, as are you (based on the results of our reader poll thus far).
Here’s some good news to start off the day. A source at Arnold & Porter reports on the firm’s unfreezing of salaries (as well as lump-sum payments representing deferred comp):
Arnold & Porter just announced we are bumping one class year, plus those in good standing are getting their deferred 2009 compensation. Classes of 2008 and 2009 are both at $160,000 for 2010.
This salary thaw is certainly welcome news — but note that it doesn’t take A&P up to the full New York scale. In 2010, under the NYC scale, class of 2008 associates should be earning $170,000 (not $160,000), class of 2007 associates should be earning $185,000 (not $170,000), etc.
The full memorandum, which was issued on December 30, also confirms upcoming bonus payments:
Consistent with the Firm’s longstanding commitment to be competitive in the marketplace, the Firm will be paying bonuses to eligible associates in respect of their 2009 performance. The bonuses will be based not only on the number of billable, pro bono and business development hours but also with attention to the results of the associate review process, particularly the quality of work and whether an individual has performed at a level commensurate with his or her seniority. Compliance with Firm policies also will be taken into consideration.
What can be expected regarding bonuses at Arnold & Porter? A second tipster explains:
A&P pays no “base” bonus. Bonuses have traditionally been based on hours. Last year, I ended up with more than I would have on the standard New York scale. But some ended up with much less, or none.
Bonuses have been announced over at Weil Gotshal — and, at least for some associates, WGM is paying above the market. Eat your heart out, Cravath.
In addition, Weil is giving its associates their standard seniority-based pay raises for 2010. The firm is using the regular NYC pay scale: $160K – $170K – $185K – $210K – $230K, etc. The pay raise won’t hit bank accounts until the February 5 deposit, but it will be retroactive to January 1.
Should above-market bonuses from Weil come as a surprise? On the one hand, the firm has been having a good year, thanks to its work on marquee bankruptcies like Lehman Brothers and GM. On the other hand, the firm tends to be cheap about such things historically hasn’t been a compensation leader.
For associates receiving an “overall strong” rating, the firm will pay bonuses on the Sullivan & Cromwell scale. We hear that achieving this rating isn’t difficult: “[P]retty much everyone gets that. No hours requirement. I’ve never heard of anyone not getting a bonus if they are still employed on pay day.”
But wait, there’s more. Certain more-senior associates, from the class of 2005 on up, will receive “distinguished” bonuses.
Above the Law has obtained what appear to be notes or minutes from a June 2009 partners’ meeting at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. As you would expect, they are riveting reading.
A caveat: the notes appear authentic to us, and they’ve been making the rounds at Simpson, but the firm has not officially confirmed their authenticity. In addition, a firm spokesperson stated that STB does not maintain official minutes of partnership meetings. So please read this post with these warnings in mind. (We welcome private feedback on the notes and their contents; please feel free to email us.)
Let’s start with the important stuff. Back in June, when this meeting took place, Simpson seriously considered doing layoffs, in the truest sense of the word — large in scale, and open and notorious (not stealth). To their credit, however, the partners decided not to go down that path — even though it meant taking a financial hit, by forfeiting potential cost savings. From the minutes:
• Headcount: We continue to be oversized relative to demand in New York corporate, particularly among the younger classes and in California corporate. We have been working closely with Personnel and have aggressively been moving out underperformers and people who have been passed over for partner….
Obviously, we could “right size” faster if we implemented a lay-off (100 attys). And, we could target the younger corporate classes in New York and the younger classes in California. However, none of the top-tier firms has engaged in lay-offs. We do not want to be the first top-tier firm to engage in lay-offs. From a financial point of view, given the market practice that has developed, with respect to severance, the cost savings produced by a lay-off, as opposed to our aggressive performance-based reductions, is modest [no savings this year / $30K per/point next year].
More discussion, plus the complete minutes, after the jump.
If you have a job these days, especially a job at a high-paying law firm, you should be grateful, right? Right.
But that doesn’t mean work is all sunshine and lollipops. Many attorneys continue to experience a high amount of stress, which often manifests itself in the form of illness. A friend who works at a law firm sent us this suggestion:
I’m swamped, but I had to run out of the office for a doctor’s appointment. I was diagnosed with an ulcer last year, and apparently it still hasn’t healed.
Maybe you should do an ATL piece on ostensibly stress-related illnesses suffered by attorneys. What are some of the most “popular” maladies suffered by attorneys at an inappropriately young age?
Good question. Take our survey, and a stroll through the various maladies that have afflicted Elie Mystal, after the jump.
As Justice Brandeis famously observed, “[s]unlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” A certain amount of transparency keeps organizations honest and ethical. Alas, it seems that some law firms, like vampires, have a lower tolerance for sunlight than others.
In late August, we ran an offer rate open thread. There were over 550 comments, and some of the ones about WilmerHale were a little disturbing. They came to our attention when an individual weighing offers from WilmerHale and other top law firms sent us this message:
Could you follow up on all of the negative comments re: WilmerHale in your Summer Offer Rate Open Thread? I’m considering an offer from this firm, and there seem to be a ton of disgruntled associates there. The whole thing seems to center around an internal memo warning associates not to send tips to ATL. This deserves some investigation. Thanks for running an excellent blog.
So we took a closer look at the WH comments on the thread. Like this one:
The firm has made it abundantly clear that no one should provide tips to ATL or post comments. The clear message is that if caught, you’ll be fired. I, however, have already been “transitioned out”, so I have nothing to worry about other than feeding my family.
Didn’t you just love the scathing internal memo meant to scare the living &*^$ out of those who were even thinking about tipping ATL? Apparently it worked, because it didn’t end up here (though it should have). I guess the few that were spared from the bloodbath are shaking in their boots.
We haven’t received the memo itself — yet — but we certainly received an awful lot of detail about it.
More reactions to the memo, plus comment from the firm, after the jump.
* Mel Gibson’s DUI arrest has been officially expunged from the record. It’s almost like it never happened, kind of like Apocalypto. [TMZ]
* The FTC is requiring bloggers who review products to disclose their connections with advertisers. Our sister site Fashionista has some questions. [Fashionista]
* George Washington Law School got the U.S. News law school rankings message. Man, that U.S. News is one powerful magazine. [WSJ Law Blog]
* The dangers of being a process server could make for a movie subplot. [Adventures in Process Serving]
* Is Georgetown Law professor Chai Feldblum, nominated to serve on the EEOC, the victim of a smear campaign? [Re:Act / The NLGJA Blog]
* Mental note: Do not piss off Matt Taibbi. [True/Slant]
* Last call for entries for ATL’s law firm swag contest. (We’ve been disappointed by the submissions so far.) [Above the Law]
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
The proper hair styling product might just be the only thing standing between you and your dream job. And the best way to find what works for you is to try the best stuff on the market. Join Birchbox Man for $20 a month and you’ll get customized shipments of the best grooming and lifestyle gear on the market every month—everything from haircare and shaving supplies to style accessories and tech gadgets.
As the leading discovery commerce platform, Birchbox is redefining the retail process by offering consumers a unique and personalized way to discover, learn about, and shop the best grooming and lifestyle products out there. It’s a full 360-degree process: try, learn, buy. Once you sign up and fill out your profile, head over to Birchbox Man’s online magazine to find article and video tutorials on how to get the most out your monthly box products. Pick up full-size versions of anything you like in the Birchbox Shop and earn points for every purchase.
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!