David Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Observer, Washingtonian magazine, and New York magazine. Prior to ATL, he launched Underneath Their Robes, a blog about federal judges. Before entering the journalism world, he worked as a federal prosecutor in Newark, New Jersey; a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, in New York; and a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. David graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. He has received several awards for his work on ATL, including recognition as one of the American Lawyer’s Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years; one of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels, a group of pioneers within the legal profession; and one of the Fastcase 50, "the fifty most interesting, provocative, and courageous leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology." You can connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.
These are interesting times for the world of Biglaw. Some large law firms are feeling so flush they’re giving out not one but two bonuses this year. Others are laying off associates. Sharing space in the pages of ATL are dueling features: Associate Bonus Watch and Nationwide Layoff Watch.
Before the next round of bonus news, it’s time for some layoff coverage. In the New York Law Journal, Anthony Lin has this report:
In one of the first clear signs that slumping credit markets are causing economic pain at law firms, Clifford Chance on Monday laid off a group of associates in the structured finance area.
John Christian, the partner in charge of the London-based firm’s U.S. personnel committee, said the firm had made a difficult “business decision” to lay off the six associates in a practice group that worked exclusively for credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s. The lawyers in the group had reviewed the documentation S&P used to rate mortgage-backed securities, the market for which has collapsed in recent months.
“We concluded this work just wasn’t coming back,” Christian said. He declined to discuss the severance packages offered to the associates, but one of those terminated said they were offered three months’ salary with no bonus. Indeed, the associate said the timing of the layoffs seemed designed to deprive the targeted associates, all of whom were relatively senior, of their bonuses.
Interesting. So are associate bonuses and layoffs just two sides of the same coin?
More after the jump.
Apologies for the delay. The bonus announcement of Sullivan & Cromwell was made by firm chairman H. Rodgin Cohen at 5:10 p.m. today, but it took us a few hours to get our hands on the memo.
For associates in the class of 2007 through the class of 2004, S&C is paying the standard year-end and special bonuses. But for more senior associates, it’s paying lump-sum bonuses — none of this “special” business — of $80,000 (2003), $95,000 (2002), and $110,000 (2001 and above).
These amounts reflect the new S&C senior associate bonuses — in part. More cash will be forthcoming in 2008. From Rodge Cohen’s memo:
As announced earlier this year, the Firm will pay senior associates compensation in addition to salary and bonus through our new Senior Associate Supplemental Bonus Plan (“the Plan”). We have decided to accelerate payments under this new Plan to result in the following amounts being paid on December 14 to our senior associates, with final supplemental payments to be made in the Spring of ’08.
One of our favorite firms here at ATL, Quinn Emanuel, has announced bonuses. And in true QE fashion, they’re doing things a little differently (which is why we like them so much — they keep things interesting).
Their year-end bonuses are standard, but their “special” bonuses are, well, special. In some ways, the Quinn scheme is better: mo’ money. In some ways, it’s worse: half of the special bonus paid this month, half in June 2008.
For details, check out the memo, after the jump.
P.S. We’d like to do a little write-up of the QE Deer Valley recruiting trip. Can any of you help us? Please submit any info by email. Thanks.
* Are you in DC and looking for something cool to do later tonight? Attend the talk and book signing for Professor Daniel Solove’s latest work, The Future of Reputation (previously discussed here). [Concurring Opinions]
* Are lawyers really a**holes? Or are they just doing their jobs? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Some thoughts on possibly increased bank regulation, from our colleague, John Carney: “Resistance to a new wave of banking regulation requiring bank breakups and dividing Wall Street according to regulatory fiats rather than market demand is likely to be weak in an era when many think the financial supermarket model has failed…. No one expends much time, money or energy defending a right to do something they don’t want to do anyway.” [DealBreaker]
* Don’t forget to vote for ATL! Even if you did so before, you can do so again — once every 24 hours, ending November 8th. [2007 Weblog Awards]
The firm of McKee Nelson — which has been having some issues, thanks to the credit crunch, but is making valiant efforts to deal with them — just announced its standard bonus scale. It is availing itself of the fig leaf provided by Cravath’s bifurcated bonus scheme: it’s not paying “special” bonuses, just regular year-end bonuses.
As explained in the memo:
[A]n individual associate’s bonus will be determined by the quality of such associate’s work, his or her overall contribution to the Firm, and the number of billable hours worked. [B]ased on these factors certain associates will receive more than, and others less than, the standard scale for their class.
* Lawyers arrested in Pakistani protests, as government suspends constitution and declares martial law. [New York Times; CNN]
* Tonight’s talk shows to be awkward, slightly less funny, as execs hold out on e-profits. [CNN]
* Actor sentenced to 40 months in a hopefully high-security prison. [MSNBC]
* Wal-Mart lawyers to below market! [WSJ Law Blog]
* Wireless company gets litigious. [Engadget]
Thanks to everyone who answered our plea and nominated Above the Law as “Best Law Blog,” in the 2007 Weblog Awards. We’re pleased to announce that ATL is one of the finalists.
Now we need your help once again. We’re getting our a** kicked by the Volokh Conspiracy, which is currently leading the voting for Best Law Blog, with 49.5 percent of the vote (compared to ATL’s measly 9 percent). If you’d like the associate compensation and bonus coverage to keep coming, please click here, and vote for ATL.
You can vote in the poll once every 24 hours, and the polls will remain open until November 8. So please vote for ATL, early and often. Thanks!
P.S. Is our campaigning undignified? Maybe. But ATL has never been about dignity (except for the stripping of it). And if distinguished law professors like Glenn Reynolds and Eugene Volokh are campaigning, then surely it’s appropriate for us to do so. Best Law Blog [The 2007 Weblog Awards] 2007 Weblog Awards [Volokh Conspiracy] Earlier: What’s Your Favorite Law Blog?
Here is the latest Job of the Week, courtesy of ATL’s career partner, Lateral Link. Because Lateral Link does no cold-calling and is more efficient than traditional recruiting firms, successful candidates receive $10,000 upon placement. Position: Bankruptcy Attorney Location: Los Angeles Description: One of the most selective firms in the Los Angeles market, with numerous recognitions for its top notch litigation practice, is currently seeking a Bankruptcy Attorney with 3 – 5 years of experience. Among Vault’s Top 50 most prestigious firms. “Uppers” include:
Egalitarian culture; Geniuses for colleagues; and Lots of responsibility early on. “Notable Perks” include: Friday in-house happy hour (“the Sherry Sip”); Annual weekend retreat for attorneys and their families; In-house lunches served three days per week with frequent prominent guest speakers; and Generous clerkship bonuses.
To apply for this position, or to learn about other career opportunities, please visit laterallink.com. Earlier: Prior Job of the Week listings (scroll down)
We’ve had this news for a while, but technical difficulties prevented us from posting on the main page. We did note it in the comments.
Milbank has matched. Memo after the jump.
Due to the aforementioned technical difficulties — we’re switching to new servers later this month, thankfully — we’re signing off for the day. If any more bonus news surfaces while we’re gone, feel free to discuss it in the comments (and also please email us, since we don’t read every last comment). Thanks.
KIRKLAND & ELLIS LLP
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Firmwide Associates
cc: Firmwide Partners
FROM: Associate & NSP Compensation Committee
RE: Year-End Bonuses
Several New York-based firms recently announced their 2007 bonuses. Please be aware that we intend to continue our practice of paying year-end bonuses in December. As in the past, we expect that those bonuses will be competitive in each of the markets in which we are located, and that they will continue to reflect our historical, meritocratic approach. Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication.
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
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!