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, David 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 book reviews editor of the Yale Law Journal. David has received several awards for his work on ATL, including recognition as an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, a group of innovators within the legal profession, and inclusion as a member 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 follow him on Twitter.
Since last week’s hearing, things have been quiet on the Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell front. Perhaps the parties are working diligently towards a settlement.
But the airwaves aren’t completely dead. We have more coverage on the way, including additional photographs and the long-awaited fashion write-up. And here are recent news and blog items from elsewhere on the internet:
1. Web Week [TheLawyer.com]
Second item. Includes a shout-out to ATL.
2. Associates’ Pay Up, Partners’ Profits Down? [Daily Intelligencer / New York Magazine]
The first link is about Brokeback Lawfirm (and it links to ATL). The next two links — about a Thacher Proffitt & Wood associate pleading guilty to insider trading, and about the impact of associate pay raises upon partner profits — are worth checking out, too.
3. White Shoe Bias Case Escalates [Gay City News]
Not much new in this article; it’s just a recap. Describes the Jack Scheich controversy as follows:
“Scheich’s departure [from LeGal] came in response to an uproar, much of it originating on Internet blogs, over comments he made to ABC News…”
“The answer is I suppose, first and foremost, that Aaron Charney could be any one of us. As a gay lawyer, I cannot walk away from the ABC v S&C v ABC case(s) without understanding for myself what is going on here….”
“Having worked so diligently, for so many years to achieve professional success, the coveted position of M&A Associate at one of the world’s most prestigious law firms, it is difficult to imagine that [Charney] would be so imprudent as to throw it all away on a lawsuit if did not feel strongly that he was treated egregiously, and that a legal remedy existed for the misconduct alleged.”
Not all practice groups are created equal. Some law firm groups are flagships, oozing revenue and prestige. They’re touted to law students in glossy recruiting brochures and bragged about in interviews with the media.
Other groups are basically just deadweight. The firm would shed them if it could — if not for the need to please a major institutional client, or to show respect to an aging name partner.
If you’re an associate in a favored group — at our former home, Ed Herlihy’s FIG guys were the “green berets” of M&A — you’re on a rocket ship to partnership. And if you’re in a loss leader of a practice group, your days are numbered.
But Biglaw shops generally PRETEND that all practice groups are on the same footing. It’s a genteel fiction. You may work in a sexy and lucrative practice area, and your fellow associate two doors down may work in a backwater. But you both get the same pay and benefits.
Not so in the Washington office of Dechert. The firm just announced a “differential pay scale” that they concede in their memo is “unusual.” Under that scale, “FSG Associates” — associates in Dechert’s prestigious financial services practice group — earn higher salaries than their non-FSG colleagues, starting in year three ($175K to $170K). By the time they reach their eighth year, FSG associates are earning $30,000 more than their non-FSG counterparts ($280K to $250K).
We reprint the Dechert memo after the jump.
Here’s an open thread for discussion of associate pay raise developments in general. The last Skaddenfreude thread we created, which you can access by clicking here, can now be devoted entirely to clerkship bonuses.
We can verify the accuracy of the Dechert base salary news. A squished version of the Dechert memo appears after the jump.
We have to step away for a bit. So we’ll do what we typically do under such circumstances, and set up an open thread.
Earlier today, a number of you expressed an interest in chatting about Biglaw clerkship bonuses. Feel free to use this thread as a forum for that conversation. You can compare notes on what different firms offer, voice complaints about insufficient bonuses for law clerks, etc,
If there’s enough interesting material, then perhaps we’ll do some follow-up coverage, too. Thanks!
Our condolences to Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan. Dean Kagan, who was under consideration for the president of Harvard University, was passed over for the job in favor of historian Drew Gilpin Faust (aka “Dr. Faust”).
But maybe it’s for the best. As Harvard president, it can be tough not to make enemies. See, e.g., Larry Summers.
(Unless you want to be kinda boring and ineffectual. See, e.g., Neil Rudenstine.)
And enemies are not what a possible Supreme Court nominee wants. Especially a nominee who, like John Roberts and Samuel Alito, generally plays well with others — even those who hold divergent ideological views.
From a Princeton tipster:
The most recent edition of the Princeton Alumni Weekly has an interesting tidbit about Anne-Marie Slaughter and Elena Kagan (who have creepily similar resumes):
“‘Elena has an extraordinary talent for not making enemies,’ says Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, who became friendly with Kagan when both were Sachs Scholars at Oxford (Kagan coxed the boat in which Slaughter rowed), and later taught with her at Chicago and Harvard law schools.”
How hot is that??? Perhaps you could create a “fantasy legal academic crew team,” with, e.g., Charles Fried as stroke (naturally — he’s quite the gym bunny) and Bruce A. in bow. Think of the Photoshop head-pasting potential!
We are well aware of Dean Kagan’s hotness (since she was nominated in our law school deans hotties contest). But we had no idea she was also an athlete.
How neat! Dean Kagan, you can yell “Stroke!” at us anytime. A ‘Rebellious Daughter’ to Lead Harvard [New York Times]
When it comes to legal hotties contests, Above the Law is a market leader — and everybone else has yet to match.
We’re previously held beauty contests for America’shottest ERISA lawyers, law school deans, and 3L students at NYU Law. And we have tons of ideas for future contests.
We asked for your help in picking our next contest. Here’s how you voted:
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to ATL’s latest hotties contest: LAW LIBRARIANS!!!
It’s not as strange as it might seem. Librarians get a bad rap; they’re regarded as frumpy and, well, bookish. But we know there are lots of hot legal librarians out there just waiting to be discovered.
To name just one, there’s the fun and fabulous Martha-Ann Alito, the wife of Justice Samuel A. Alito. They met when he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Newark, New Jersey, and she was the USAO’s law librarian. Some people find their angels in the centerfold; Sam Alito found his in the center stacks!
Okay, time for contest logistics. Do you know a hot law librarian — whether at a law school, a law firm, a courthouse, or elsewhere — who deserves to be considered?
Please check out the nomination rules and guidelines, which appear after the jump. Thanks!
As regular ATL readers well know, we’ve been offering wall-to-wall coverage of Shanetta Y. Cutlar. If you’re not familiar with her, Ms. Cutlar is the nightmarish awesomely overachieving diva who oversees the Special Litigation Section (SPL), part of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Shanetta Cutlar is a strong leader with a distinctive managerial style. She drives lawyers and staff away in droves sometimes rubs people the wrong way. But even if it’s lost on her underlings, we appreciate SYC’s deliciousness!
Some of you have wondered whether Chief Cutlar is aware of ATL’s coverage of her and, if so, what she thinks of it. We had heard through the grapevine that she is aware of this site and finds the attention amusing. Now we have more concrete confirmation.
At a recent meeting of the Section Chiefs of the Civil Rights Division, Shanetta Y. Cutlar whipped out a tiara. She then placed it on her head and proclaimed:
“I GUESS I’M A DIVA NOW!!!”
This is a clear reference to ATLs’ naming Cutlar our DOJ Diva of the Day — on two separateoccasions.
We draw the following conclusions from this tiara incident:
1. Shanetta Cutlar is even more fabulous than we thought. The woman owns a tiara, for chrissakes. And she brings it to meetings of high-level DOJ officials.
2. Shanetta Cutlar has a healthy, self-deprecating sense of humor. The commenters who defend her so earnestly on ATL, like “Life” — see this thread — need to relax. They should follow their idol’s lead, and just laugh it off.
3. Shanetta Cutlar is completely confident in her ability to keep her post. She’s unfazed by the attention she has received, and she’s unfraid of, say, congressional investigations of SPL. She knows she’s not going anywhere.
WE LOVE YOU SHANETTA!!!
P.S. Where did SYC get the tiara? On a totally random note, our cousin-in-law is a leading maker of wedding tiaras.
In the reader poll to pick a nickname for the litigation between gay lawyer Aaron Charney and his former employer, Biglaw behemoth Sullivan & Cromwell, we were rooting for “Sullying Cromwell.”
We thought it was reasonably cute and nicely captured the essence of the litigation. We viewed “Brokeback Lawfirm” as a bit dated, and “White Shoe Diaries” as too opaque.
But we’ve been outvoted — just as we were when we tried to push “Noajeannie” over “Feldsuk” as the mono-moniker for celebrity professors Noah Feldman and Jeannie Suk. And we will listen to the will of the people.
We kept the polls open for a while, in the hope that the results would change. But there’s one clear winner, and gaming the timing won’t change the results:
To the devoted partisans of “White Shoe Diaries,” we’re sorry. Your tastes are too refined and too erudite for the gutter world of tabloid journalism.
As we think about it a bit more, “Brokeback Lawfirm” is growing on us. It has a “so bad it’s good” quality to it. It’s kinda lame, but defiant rather than embarrassed about its lameness. We think it will do just fine.
We like your idea of drawing up a list of major law firms that have not (yet) joined in the latest round of associate pay raises.
Such lists have been floating around in the comments over the past few weeks. But we thought we’d try and prepare an “official” LIST OF SHAME. Law students, law clerks, and potential lateral associates:
When thinking about whether or not to accept an offer from a particular Biglaw shop, consider whether they appear on the List of Shame — along with all the non-compensation-related variables that should be considered when choosing a firm.
But do hold their presence on the List of Shame against them. That’s why we call it the List of Shame!
No, we have not canceled Legal Eagle Wedding Watch. We’re just a little behind. Okay, very far behind.
So let’s not waste any more time. For the weekend of January 13-14, we’ll take a look at these three couples:
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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!