David Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, New York magazine, Washingtonian magazine, and the New York Observer. 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." His first book, Supreme Ambitions: A Novel, will be published in 2015. You can connect with David on Twitter and Facebook.
Here are the members of the “$50K/$70K Club” — the elite law firms that pay clerkship bonuses of $50,000, for one year of clerking, or $70,000, for two years:
1. Cravath, Swaine & Moore
2. LeBoeuf Lamb
3. Skadden Arps
4. Sullivan & Cromwell
5. Weil Gotshal & Manges
One of these things is not like the others…
Yes, that’s right: LeBoeuf Lamb, while certainly a prestigious firm, historically hasn’t been regarded as “in the same league” with the others.
But perhaps that will change, given the firm’s intent to go after top legal talent, as expressed through their clerkship bonuses. And see also their website:
We actively recruit associates who have completed judicial clerkships and reward them with clerkship bonuses and advanced standing. Effective fall 2007, LeBoeuf Lamb lawyers who join the firm immediately after completing law school and a qualifying judicial clerkship receive $50,000 if they have participated in a one-year clerkship or $70,000 if they have participated in a two-year clerkship. Candidates are encouraged to ask for more details about our clerkship bonus program during the interview process.
We have confirmed the rumor from the comments that Cooley Godward Kronish raised associate salaries yesterday.
Actually, here’s a better way of saying it: Cooley has matched the market. Because, let’s face it, the $160K scale is the new going rate in California.
(And it effectively is in Washington, DC, where Hogan & Hartson, Akin Gump, and all the D.C. offices of New York and West Coast firms pay on the $160K scale. We’ll have to wait and see, however, with respect to Chicago, Texas, and a few other major legal markets.)
We confirmed the fact of the raise with a source at the firm; but we don’t have a copy of the Cooley memo yet (assuming there was one). If you have one, please email it to us (or post it in the comments). Thanks. Update: No memo; but more details. From a tipster: “The raise is effective June 1. All offices. No discussion of effect on bonuses.”
Do you work for a law firm in Midtown Manhattan? If so, feel free to drop in and say hello to your undersigned writer.
Last night we drove up from our regular base of operations, Washington, DC, to the Big Apple. Right now we’re hanging out, and working from, the Starbucks on the northeast corner of 51st and Broadway.
If you have some gossip you’d like to share — stuff that’s too juicy to send us by email — please swing by. Or just come by and say hi. (And do leave us with one of your business cards, so we can add you to the list of tipsters we use to verify information about specific firms.)
Hope to see some of you later today, when you’re on a lunch or coffee break. Thanks!
(After the jump: A random photo we took this morning, while walking through Rockefeller Center, of Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, of the Today show, with Antonio Banderas.)
What more could you ask for in a law firm? As reported by several commenters, and confirmed by the Legal Times, Akin Gump has raised starting salaries in its Washington and California offices to $160,000 (with corresponding increases up the seniority ladder).
Cynics might wonder: Is this an attempt to distract attention from the scandal of the Akin Gump Escort? Akin Gump associates might respond: Who cares? Some people subscribe to the “mo money mo problems” school of thought. But to most Biglaw associates, “mo money is mo money.”
We realize, of course, that the real reason behind the Akin Gump raise is Hogan & Hartson’s earlier move to $160K. We just enjoy working references to the Akin Gump Escort into as many stories as possible, no matter how gratuitous.
Even if the Akin Gump Escort Affair (hehe) played a supporting role in the timing of this raise, there would be no shame in that. Increases in associate compensation sometimes have their roots in scandal. Fallout from the Aaron Charney lawsuit, for example, may have led Sullivan & Cromwell to raise its clerkship bonus to $50,000, in anticipation of a tough fall recruiting season. That increase, of course, gave rise to clerkship bonus mania across the country, in which firms untainted by scandal ponied up more dough for law clerks.
For those of you who are curious, the Akin Gump memo appears after the jump.
P.S. Apologies for the delay in posting this news. We’ve been on the road for most of the evening. Akin Jumps on the $160K Bandwagon [The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]
That’s what some of you were wondering with respect to Maury B. Saiger, the associate at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in New York, who sent out a now infamous email yesterday. After we posted his email, his bio disappeared from the Stroock website. Had he been fired?
No. Maury Saiger’s bio is back online. Our sources at Stroock tell us that they are not aware of any adverse employment action being taken with respect to Mr. Saiger.
But we do hear that the firm’s Executive Committee threw a s**t fit yesterday, after we posted Saiger’s email. There were some very unhappy campers at Stroock yesterday.
More about the fallout from this episode appears after the jump.
Today seems to be White & Case day here at ATL. This morning we wrote about Emily Pataki, a supervised legal intern an associate at White & Case, acing the New York bar exam. And now we have some W&C news on the clerkship bonus front.
In an earlier comment thread, there was debate over the size of White & Case’s clerkship bonus. Was it $15,000? Or $35,000?
That debate is now moot. We just received word from official sources at the firm:
White & Case — Judicial Clerkship Bonuses Update
DC, Los Angeles, Palo Alto and New York at $50,000
Miami at $35,000
For Biglaw-bound law clerks, this is very good news. As various commenters noted here, White & Case falls just outside the Vault Top 20 (and below most other members of the $50K Club on that list). But now that White & Case has raised, we expect many more firms — and pretty much everyone in the top 20 — to step up to the plate.
Three cheers for White & Case!
We’ve been doing a lot of Biglaw coverage lately. But since Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is being raked over the coals as we type, in an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, let’s take a timely detour into the U.S. Department of Justice.
The DOJ isn’t looking terribly competent right now. And this latest story won’t burnish their reputation. From a tipster:
As you know, the Justice Department produced a number of documents to Congress, concerning the controversial U.S. Attorney firings. These document productions have not been huge — maybe just a few thousand pages. Nothing like what you see in major commercial litigation.
One such document production showed up on Capitol Hill, in four sets: two sets for the Senate Judiciary Committee (Democrats and Republicans), and two sets for the House Judiciary Committee (Democrats and Republicans). The production arrived on a weekday evening.
A Republican staffer immediately started looking through the production. The staffer noticed that the produced documents didn’t have Bates stamps on them. Oops. Guess the DOJ forgot to have them stamped — a screw-up, although not a cardinal sin.
A few pages later, the staffer noticed something else, on a document with redactions on it. There was redacting tape that was STILL ON THE DOCUMENT. One could access the redacted, privileged material simply by peeling off the tape.
Holy crap. Instead of sending over Bates-stamped photocopies, the DOJ had produced its ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS to the Congress.
Nice. Apparently the Justice Department is less competent than a second-year litigation associate: they can’t do a proper document production.
It gets worse. More after the jump.
In yesterday’s post about Cravath, Swaine & Moore starting up a bankruptcy department, to be launched by lateral hire Richard Levin (from Skadden), we wrote:
Cravath isn’t big on lateral hiring. When they hired tax lawyer Andrew Needham away from Willkie Farr & Gallagher in 2005, he was their first lateral partner in more than six decades (per Wikipedia).
Nor has Cravath been into bankruptcy work. Even though many other white-shoe firms have entered that historically “icky” practice area, CSM has stayed on the sidelines.
The statement that Cravath has avoided bankruptcy work was in error. From a knowledgeable tipster:
I want to correct your assertion that Cravath has traditionally stayed away from bankruptcy. Cravath historically has been very involved with bankruptcy and insolvency — Paul Cravath himself was the leading railroad insolvency lawyer of his generation, helping JPMorgan and the like swindle railroad bondholders out of billions.
For the bankruptcy geeks among you, our source schools us further, after the jump.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.